Dr. Stephanie A. Eichorst
University of Vienna
Department of Microbiology and Ecosystem Science
Phone: 0043 14277 76610
MAIN AREAS OF RESEARCH
Exploring the niches of microbial cellulose degradation in temperate soils.
Investigating the function of the ubiquitous acidobacteria in terrestrial environments form genome to in situ analysis.
Single-cell method development for investigations in soils.
Microbial cellulose degradation
Soils contain the largest pool of carbon on Earth. Cellulose is a major source of this carbon, as it comprises ca. 30 to 50% of plant dry weight.Members of the Bacteria, Archaea, and Fungi are capable of degrading cellulose in several ecosystems, yet their exact contributions or specific niches remain unresolved. We are investigating the active participants in this process using a multidisciplinary approach including process level measurements, stable isotope probing, next generation sequencing along with single-cell approaches such as fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) and nanometer-scale secondary ion mass spectrometry (NanoSIMS) to investigate this process at a more relevant spatial scale. Using this approach, we seek to not only identify the active participants in this process, but also identify the different niches of the cellulose-responsive guilds.
Functions of acidobacteria in terrestrial environments
Members of the phylum Acidobacteria are found in soils worldwide. They comprise a monophyletic phylum of astonishing diversity with 26 currently recognized subdivisions. Their common occurrence and high abundance based on ribosomal gene sequences suggest that they are likely a major component of the microbial community in soils and play ecologically significant roles in the soil environment. However, their roles remain largely unknown due to the limited number of cultivated representatives and a paucity of information on their genetic potential. The overarching goal of this project is to elucidate the ecophysiology and therefore the success and ubiquity
of members of the phylum Acidobacteria in terrestrial ecosystems by combining genomic, growth-based, molecular and single-cell functional analyses. Our goal is to better link the genetic potential of acidobacteria with their in situ functions in soil.
Single-cell method development to investigate soil microorgansisms
One aspect of our multidisciplinary approach in various research projects is to investigate the active participants at the single-cell level to confirm their activity and to gain additional information at this scale. As such, we are developing pipelines and are optimizing tools that permit the analysis of our targeted processes down to the single-cell level, such as FISH, NanoSIMS and Raman microspectroscopy combined with stable isotope tracers (such as 13C, 15N and D2O) in complex systems, such as soil.
Some of our developments have been highlighted by the Joint Genome Institute, Science Highlights: A Single-Cell Pipeline for Soil Samples.
CURRENT RESEARCH PROJECTS
Summer Workshope entitled "What would the world look like without microbes?". Course description: Microbes are all around us and are very important. Imagine what the world would look like without them? Come spend some time at our MIcrobial Exhibition and learn more. We will explore what microbes do in nature, for instance in dirt and in lakes, how they help us make food, and how they help plants to grow.
American International School (2014)
3-day workshop for school childgren entitled "An Underground Adventure. Dirt - The Scoop on Soil". This 3-day workshop was a synthesis of presentations, discussions and hands-on activities to develop an awareness and appreciation for soil and soil microorganisms. The themes covered topics such as "What is Soil?", "What lives in soil?", and what we can do to save/preserve the soil, along with a question-and-answer session with students.