Gerhard J. Herndl
The Microbial Oceanography group is studying the interaction between the hydrology, biogeochemistry and microbial community structure and function of the main deep-water masses driving the meridional ocean circulation in the North Atlantic. The overarching goal is to arrive at a mechanistic understanding on the microbial food web dynamics mediating the biogeochemistry of the dark ocean.
Hot Vents - Cold Seeps
The Emerging Field Deep Sea Hot Vents & Cold Seeps is studying meiobenthic communities from hydrothermal vents of the East Pacific Rise and hydrocarbon seeps of the Gulf of Mexico in order to understand the processes and underlying mechanisms of vent and seep meiobenthic community structure and succession. Further, we study the morphological organization, cell cycle dynamics, and infection processes of siboglinid symbioses in the vent giant tubeworm Riftia pachyptila, a new seep species of Sclerolinum, and whale fall Osedax to develop models on the evolution of bacterial symbiosis.
The Benthic Ecology group is working on shallow coastal hypoxia and anoxia in the Northern Adriatic (Mediterranean Sea). The behavioural reactions, mortality sequences and recovery patterns of the epi- and endobenthos (macro- and meiofauna) are being recorded with a state-of-the-art camera- and sensor-equipped chamber, which artificially induces oxygen deficiencies in situ. The results provide insight into changes on the species- and community-level and will help to better determine the status and stability of benthic communities here and elsewhere.
Shallow Water Symbiosis
The research of the Shallow-water Symbiosis group focuses on invertebrates and protozoans associated with microbial symbionts, in particular thiotrophic chemoautotrophs. We are interested in the phylogeny and biogeography of the partners, as well as the molecular mechanisms that allow symbiosis establishment and maintenance.