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The functions of microorganisms

Microorganisms are found everywhere in the environment and play a leading role in countless natural processes. Among other things, they operate the basic drug cycles that are necessary for the plants' supply of nutrients via the reaction of organic matter in soil. At these processes, greenhouse gases are released to the atmosphere at the same time, so microorganisms also play a key role in relation to climate and climate change.

In addition to exercising their function in the environment, microorganisms also have a great potential for use. Some bacteria and fungi, so-called biocontrol organisms, can inhibit the growth of harmful microorganisms, technical enzymes and enzymes for food production can be isolated from bacteria, yeasts and fungi, which are also major suppliers of pharmaceuticals such as e.g. antibiotics.

Microorganisms can therefore be seen as suppliers of so-called "ecosystem services", which are fundamental to the environment and to human life and activity. The Section for Microbiology and Biotechnology is therefore researching the following topics:

  • The effect of biochar in agricultural soil - eg what effect does the supply of biochar have on the soil's microorganisms and macrofauna (eg earthworms).
  • Enzymes from Arctic bacteria whose physiology is adapted to very cold temperatures and which therefore have enzymes that have potential technical / industrial utility, for example in sustainable industrial food processes and in washing powders that work efficiently at energy-saving low washing temperatures.
  • Interactions between micro-organisms and between micro-organisms and plants that can enhance our understanding of how we can utilize nature's useful microbiological resources to combat plant pathogens and as manufacturers of pharmaceuticals (eg antimicrobial, antiviral, antioxidant, anticancer).
  • Find good bioindicators for microorganisms that destroy food under storage conditions - especially volatile metabolites that can act as early warning bioindicators.
  • Biodegradation of foreign matter in soil and groundwater (here a link to the areas that focus on this topic).