Dr. Petra Pjevac
My current research focuses of the identification and characterization of factors driving niche differentiation, co-existence and microbial interactions in nitrifying microbial communities. We are using a full-scale wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) as model system to investigate NOB and AOB microdiversity, as well as interactions between these two functional groups and other WWTP microorganisms. We apply Raman-enabled single nitrifier microfloc sorting, followed by genome amplification and sequencing. This enables us to assess overlaps and distinctions in the genomic potential of microdiverse, co-existing nitrifier populations and generate hypotheses on niche partitioning mechanisms which can be tested under laboratory conditions.
Additionally, we are working on the development and establishment of fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) based methods for the visualization of genetic and functional microdiversity in environmental systems.
I am generally interested in the evolutionary concepts and environmental drivers of microdiversity and functional redundancy in microbial communities. Especially, the diversity of sulfur and nitrogen compound oxidizing chemolitotrophs in the environment and their role for sulfur, nitrogen and carbon cycling are in the focus of my research.