Claudia Breitkreuz

Scientific Guest



My name is Claudia Breitkreuz and I am working in the group of Dr. Thomas Reitz “Field Experimental Soil Ecology – GCEF” at the UFZ in Halle. I studied Biology at the Leipzig University until 2015. After the completion of my Master Thesis under supervision of Dr. Thomas Reitz and PD Dr. Mika Tarkka - “Impact of drought and plant communities on the functional diversity of the genus Pseudomonas” – I successfully applied for a DBU scholarschip for doctoral researchers. In the application process, iDiv and especially yDiv offered great support and this convinced me to become a member of iDiv as doctoral researcher in the “Young Biodiversity Research Training Group – yDiv”.

I focus my research mainly on microbial communities in soils, their functional and structural diversity as well as plant microbe interactions in the context of climate change. Particularly, I am interested in how microbial communities preserve ecosystem services and productivity even under stress conditions like drought and nutrient deficiency. Therefore my current research is about functional and structural diversity of plant growth promoting rhizobacteria (PGPR) in agricultural ecosystems under drought stress conditions using wheat as a case study.

Research Project


The title of my project is “Impact of plant growth promoting rhizobacteria (PGPR) on stress resistance of winter wheat”. Global change is one of the major topics of our contemporary society. Climate models predict a decrease in summer precipitation and an increase in average annual temperatures. These changes in environmental conditions have severe consequences for the agricultural productivity in Germany. Taking in account existing data of the past years, yield losses were already recorded in combination with longer drought periods occurring in summer and spring months. The risks of yield loss will increase, especially in regions with soils characterized by low water retention capacities and nutrient availabilities. The negative effects on the agricultural productivity can be mitigated by so called plant growth promoting rhizobacteria. These bacteria provide a wide range of functional traits enabling them to support plants growth even under drought stress conditions. Until now, a lot of studies have been done in arid regions showing the positive effect of PGPR on agricultural productivity, but only a few studies exist for Germany. In order to moderate the impact of climate change on agricultural systems my project addresses the microbial communities in the soils identifying important mechanisms in structural and functional diversity of the whole community and single species to increase resistance of agro-ecosystems in Germany to climate change. The main questions are how quickly and to what extent structural and/or functional adaptation of the microbial communities in the soil are going to happen and do these adaptations really reduce drought stress for wheat plants. I expect to happen the adaptation of the communities to drought stress and additionally that the adapted communities reduce drought stress by promoting root growth and improving nutritional supply for the plants. typo3/Furthermore, I expect that the microbial community responses differ among farming systems, soil type and wheat cultivar being more pronounced for ecological farming systems, in sandy soils and for drought sensitive wheat cultivars.

With this work I refer to the iDiv questions concerning biodiversity patterns and functions as I investigate the structural and functional diversity of the soil borne microbial communities that promote plant growth under drought over the year. Since wheat is the most intensively cultivated cereal in Germany and plays an important role in food industry, it is essential to understand the impact of climate change on the interactions between microbial communities in agricultural soils and wheat. Knowledge on wheat-microbe interactions is fundamental for ensuring yield and guaranteeing production security under stress conditions.

Short CV


Since 2016
PhD Student at the Department of Soil Ecology, Leipzig University, Germany
Supervised by Prof. Dr. François Buscot, PD Dr. Mika Tarkka and Dr. Thomas Reitz

Research Assistant in the group of Dr. Thomas Reitz, Field Experimental Soil Ecology – GCEF, UFZ Halle, Germany

January 2015
Master of Science in Biology, Leipzig University, Germany
Thesis title: “The impact of drought and plant communities on the functional diversity of the genus Pseudomonas"

Master studies in Biology, Leipzig University, Germany
Core subject: “Biodiversity and Evolution: Plants”

June 2012
Bachelor of Science in Biology, Leipzig University, Germany
Thesis title: “Vorstellung einer Methode zur Vermessung der Blattnervatur an herbarisierten Blättern”

Bachelor studies in Biology, Leipzig University, Germany 

Abitur at Conrad Felix-Müller Gymnasium, Geithain, Germany

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Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research – UFZ
Theodor-Lieser-Strasse 4
06120 Halle (Saale)

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+49 345 5585101
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