16.06.2021 | MIE Group News

MIE hosts research team Martin Schlegel

Stefan Schaffer and Jule Freudenthal

Note for the media: Use of the pictures provided by iDiv is permitted for reports related to this media release only, and under the condition that credit is given to the picture originator.

In the upcoming two years, MIE will host the team of professor Martin Schlegel (UL) in our molecular lab. Here you see Stefan Schaffer and Jule Freudenthal in the lab, working hard to process the samples. More about the project you will find below.

Deep molecular characterization of eukaryotic microorganisms´ diversity and community composition in forest soils and the canopy region using a metatranscriptomics approach (micDiv II), a joint research project of Michael Bonkowski, Kenneth Dumack (Terrestrial Ecology, University of Cologne) and Martin Schlegel (Biodiversity and Evolution, iDiv and University of Leipzig).  

Tree canopies form the most important interface between Earth’s terrestrial biomass and the atmosphere. Using a metabarcoding approach, we detected spatially huge and heterogeneous habitats colonized by highly diverse and until now, still poorly characterized communities of microbial eukaryotes (protists) (micDiv I). Tree canopies - from a microbial perspective, resemble island-like isolated biogeographic entities, offering a diversity of microhabitats due to interspecific differences of bark and leaf surface texture, and are further structured by deadwood, tree holes, a variety of epiphytic microhabitats offered by lichen and moss species, and overall differences in canopy size and structure. These features make tree canopies ideal model systems to study the neutral and selective processes shaping evolution, community composition and biodiversity of microbial eukaryotes, that we are tackling now using a metatranscriptomics approach because it mainly targets the active microeukaryote community whose whole diversity can be assessed at once (micDiv II). We took samples in tree canopies of the Leipzig floodplain forest with the Leipzig Canopy Crane facility (LCC), and are at the moment isolating total environmental RNA and DNA from leaves, bark and epiphytic mosses for subsequent high throughput sequencing. The aim is to disentangle the patterns of protist community assembly between different taxa at small spatial scales.

This joint project is funded by the DFG within the priority programme (SPP 1991): “Taxon-Omics: New ways in discovering and naming biodiversity”. The picture shows Phd researcher Jule Freudenthal (Cologne) and Stefan Schaffer (Leipzig) at work isolating environmental RNA. MS, and MB and KD are thankful to iDiv and especially Nicole van Dam for providing laboratory facilities and Ron Richter for support with the LCC.   

Welcome Jule, Martin and Stefan!

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