Biodiversity & Metagenomics

One of the major research interests of our group is to explore and to exploit the enormous and largely untapped physiological, metabolic, and genetic diversity of environmental microorganisms by culture-independent metagenomic and metatranscriptomic approaches. This comprises the development of methods for direct isolation of high-quality nucleic acids from various habitats such as water samples, soil, marine sediments, freshwater sediments, ice, and volcanic regions and the construction of small-insert and large-insert metagenomic libraries from isolated DNA.


To recover novel genes and gene products from environmental samples the libraries are screened by function-driven or sequence-based approaches. This work has led, i.e., to the successful identification and characterization of novel proteases, oxidoreductases, B12-dependent dehydratases, lipases, and DNA polymerases from metagenomes.
To gain insights into the genomes of the uncultivated microorganisms and to deduce the metabolic potential and to determine key functions of the microbial community present in the studied environments direct sequencing, annotation of metagenomic DNA and cDNA (generated from mRNA), and comparative genomics are carried out.


The sequencing data are also used to determine the phylogenetic origin of the sequenced DNA fragments. In addition, the phylogenetic distribution of the microorganisms in the environmental sample is analyzed by classical analysis of the 16S rRNA genes. In addition to metagenomes and metatranscriptomes, sequencing and analysis of genomes derived from individual microorganisms is also performed.

Contact: Dr. Dominik Schneider ()