Great success of SoWa researchers in the Czech Science Foundation competition

For the year 2019, SoWa researchers achieved excellent results in the Czech Science Foundation competition (GA CR). Petr Porcal and Eva Kaštovská gained standard grants; Gerrit Angst and Roey Angel gained junior grants. This achievement allows further development of our Infrastructure and will yield new and significant scientific results.

The project of Petr Porcal is focused on small lentic water bodies and their microbial communities:

Small lentic water bodies, with short water residence time, located on headwater streams represent promising model ecosystems of combined highly plastic characteristics of lotic vs. lentic microbial communities, depending on hydrological conditions and environmental (terrestrial & aquatic) chemistry. In the project, using such an ecosystem as a study site, Petr Porcal and his team would like to address the general mechanisms driving microbial consortia transformation and reassembly, especially the role of alternation of hydrological conditions together with the changes in the pool of dissolved organic matter in this process.


The project of Eva Kaštovská is focused on microbial SOM formation and accumulation, and how it is affected by nutrient availability and substrate complexity:

The soil organic matter (SOM) is of fundamental importance in maintaining soil productivity due to the retention of carbon, nutrients and water. Inadequately managed arable soils lose their SOM in the long-term thus current farming practices should initiate and support SOM accumulation. Stable SOM is importantly contributed by compounds of microbial origin. Factors influencing the efficiency of microbial metabolism such as type (complexity) of plant inputs and soil nutrient status thus directly affect microbial SOM formation, composition and stability. The team of Eva Kaštovská aims to study microbial processes responsible for substrate transformation into microbial SOM in conditions of different soil nutrient status and to identify conditions supporting stable SOM accumulation in arable soils.


The project of Gerrit Angst is focused on mechanisms of soil organic matter stabilization as affected by substrate quality and soil C saturation status:

Recent estimates propose that only a small increase in global soil Carbon (C) sequestration may mitigate recent rises in atmospheric CO2. However, there remains a gap of knowledge in the formation mechanisms and chemical composition of stable, mineral-protected soil organic matter (SOM), whose understanding is crucial for effective C sequestration as well as for better conceptualization of global C models. While latest conceptualizations consider microbial-derived compounds as dominant precursors of mineral-protected SOM, recent studies find substantial amounts of ‘recalcitrant’ plant-derived compounds (i.e., lignin or lipids) in this SOM pool. By combining comprehensive field and laboratory experiments with state of the art soil physical fractionation, molecular, and isotopic methods (13C, 15N, and 2H labelling), Gerrit Angst and his team aim to solve these inconsistencies and will determine the predominant C-sources and controls on mineral-protected SOM formation and thus improve recent conceptualizations on C dynamics in soil.


The project of Roey Angel is focused on microbiome structure and function of millipedes:

Millipedes are one of the largest and most important invertebrate classes. Typically detritivores, millipedes are considered keystone species in many terrestrial ecosystems. Like most arthropods, millipedes host a diverse microbiome in their guts, yet the exact roles of this gut microbiome remain unclear. Millipede species share much of their diet but differ in their gut conditions and hence likely in the microbially-derived processes occurring in them, as evident by the fact that only some species are methanogenic. Therefore, millipedes make an excellent model system for studying the microbiome structure and function, and the role of small anaerobic niches in the functions of terrestrial ecosystems. This project aims at evaluating to what degree do millipedes depend on their microbiome, and to elucidate the microbial food networks in methanogenic and non-methanogenic species. This will produce mechanistic knowledge not only about the ecological function and importance of millipedes but also about how similar microbial networks behave under different redox conditions.

For this project, we search a PhD student: https://www.isme-microbes.org/jobs/phd-student-millipede-microbiome-metagenome-and-functions!


Additionally, our postdoc Sofia Semitsoglou gained a CAS grant from the Programme for research and mobility support of early-stage researchers and will initiate an international collaboration that joins expertise and instrumentation between the SoWa Biology Centre CAS and SIO-UCSD (Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego), which consistently ranks among the top 10 research universities in the USA:

The overarching research objective is to constrain the mechanisms of organic matter transport and reactivity between terrestrial and marine environments, and thus aligns the scopes of SoWa-BC-CAS and SIO-UCSD. Organic matter that accumulates in aquatic systems is approximately equal to the amount of carbon in the atmosphere. For decades, organic geochemists have struggled to define the chemical structure and reactivity of these compounds. Carotenoids were recently identified as a probable source of this uncharacterized and presumably recalcitrant organic matter; however, their degradation pathways and turnover in the environment remains unknown. The project will combine oxidation experiments and mass spectrometry to investigate carotenoid diagenetic products and their potential to serve as biomarkers of recalcitrant organic matter.



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