Plant biogeochemistry

Understanding soil-plant interactions 


Robinia plantation on reclaimed post-mining soils in Welzow SüdInvestigation of biological nitrogen fixation by back locustNitrogen and carbon interactions in nitrogen-fixating black locustBiogeochemistry of nitrogen and phosphate


In many terrestical natural and semi-natural ecosystems, a lack of nitrogen and phosphate often limits plant growth. Understanding the interactions between this nutrients and water is crucial for plant productivity. Furthermore, the selective uptake of ions by plants incluence the soil processes. We are particularly interested in the nitrogen cycle of plants and soils and their interactions with soil water and phosphate availability, especilly in in water and nutrient-limited ecosystems.

Field experiments using ecophysiologcial methods are linked with modelling approaches to determine nitrogen, carbon and water fluxes at different scales ranging from individual plants to ecosystems. We study the interactions between aboveground processes to soil processes, such as nutrient availability and uptake. Ther research approaches includes

  • modelling annual carbon fluxes from the leaf to the stands
  • use of stable isotopes
  • plant nutrient uptake and nutrient mineralization
  • soil-plant interactions in lysimeter experiments


The goals of our research are to:

  • increase basic understanding of nitrogen-water interactions for biological nitrogen fixation
  • discover how phosphate availability affects plant growth 
  • determine annual carbon fluxes of trees in agroforestry systems
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