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Polar Biological Soil Crust Project


Biological Soil Crusts (BSC) are communities of green eukaryotic microalgae, cyanobacteria, lichen, fungi, heterotrophic bacteria and bryophytes. As primary producers and ecological indicators they are essential for regions with sparse or no vascular plants. The Polar BSC Project investigates crust covers in the Arctic (Svalbard) and the Antarctic Peninsula.

The project is DFG funded (KA899/23-1; BE1779/18-1; BU666/17-1) and executed as a collaboration between the University of Cologne, the University of Rostock and the University of Kaiserslautern. While the colleagues in Rostock and Kaiserslautern focus on a culture based approach to isolate green algae and cyanobacteria, respectively, our group is working on metagenomics and metatranscriptomics:


Samples were collected during two expeditions: The first one was to Spitsbergen, Svalbard (Arctic), in August 2014 and the second to Livingston Island, Antarctic Peninsula in January 2015. By means of Next Generation Sequencing and bioinformatics we are studying the biodiversity of these communities with special focus on green algae and cyanobacteria and also analyze the functional expression patterns to shed light on ecological interactions and stress responses and resilience.