Dr. Katharina Besemer
Research InterestI believe that understanding freshwater systems is vital to protect freshwater ecosystems and preserve our most important resource - clean water. I am fascinated by the microbes that inhabit freshwater ecosystems because in spite of their small size, microbes greatly contribute to ecosystem functions and even to global biochemical cycles. Especially microbial biofilms, the ensemble of autotrophic and heterotrophic microorganisms that grow at the sediment-water interface of streams and rivers, play a key role in the self-purification processes of streams and rivers.
My research focuses on the structure and function of microbial communities in streams and rivers. Microbes are the most abundant and diverse organisms on earth and I am particularly interested in the distribution of this huge biodiversity in landscapes ranging from millimetres to kilometres. I apply next-generation sequencing technologies to characterize microbial communities and interpret the data within the framework of ecological theory. Understanding the interactions of biofilm microorganisms with their environment is crucial to predict the functioning of aquatic ecosystems in the context of global change.