Prof. Dr. Gabriele Berg strengthens microbiome research at the ATB



28.06.2021 14:23

Prof. Dr. Gabriele Berg strengthens microbiome research at the ATB

On July 1, 2021, Prof. Dr. Gabriele Berg jointly headed the “Bioprocess Engineering” department at the Leibniz Institute for Agricultural Engineering and Bioeconomy eV (ATB) and the “Plant Microbiome Management” chair at the Institute for Biochemistry and Biology at the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences at the University of Potsdam. Prof. Berg will strengthen and further expand the ATB’s research in the field of microbiome research.

Microorganisms and their metabolism play an important role in all ecosystems, whether in natural, agricultural or technical systems such as biogas plants or biorefineries. A deeper understanding of the microbiome, i.e. the entirety of all microorganisms in an ecosystem, is essential for a bio-based circular economy that uses healthy soils, plants and animals for the production of healthy food, efficiently utilizes residues and energy and climate efficiency as well as the profitability increased.

The ATB has therefore been researching microorganisms in their numerous functions for a long time, whether as service providers in the soil, in conversion processes such as in biogas plants or as spoilage agents, for example on fruit and vegetables. The studies focus on individual species through to complex microbial communities and their respective interactions. The ATB research aims at a fundamental understanding of the microbial diversity within metabolic networks as a prerequisite for a targeted control of microbiomes for the production, use and recycling of biomass.
“In the future, we will focus even more strongly than before on the smallest and most important players in the bioeconomy,” said Prof. Dr. Barbara Sturm, Scientific Director of the ATB. “We are very pleased that Prof. Berg will strengthen our team with her profound competence in the field of microbiome research. With her, the ATB wins an outstanding scientist with the highest international reputation, a visionary who is passionate about microbiome research. ”

Prof. Dr. rer. nat. habil. Gabriele Berg has been Professor of Environmental Biotechnology at the Graz University of Technology since 2005. She is among the top 1% of the most cited scientists in her discipline. Born in Potsdam, she studied biology at the Universities of Rostock and Greifswald and received her doctorate in microbiology in 1995. In 2001 she received the Venia Legendi for microbiology with her habilitation thesis on “Antagonistic Microorganisms”. In 2003 she was awarded a Heisenberg scholarship from the German Research Foundation (DFG) and was finally appointed to a scientific chair at Graz University of Technology in 2005 as the first female professor. As of July 1, she will take over the management of “Bioprocess Engineering” at the ATB, and the appointment as professor for “Plant Microbiome Management” at the Institute for Biochemistry and Biology at the University of Potsdam has already been made on May 1, 2021.

“The joint appointment will give new impulses for the cooperation of both institutions and open up new possibilities for the research and use of microbial communities of plants”, say Prof. Dr. Elke Dittmann, managing director of the Institute for Biochemistry and Biology at the University of Potsdam and ATB director Prof. Dr. Barbara Sturm agreed.

Prof. Dr. Gabriele Berg is looking forward to the new challenges and adds: “I am also looking forward to returning to my hometown. It was here that my interest in the natural sciences was awakened, on the one hand at home and on the other hand at the Hermann-von-Helmholtz Gymnasium as part of my practical scientific work at the University of Potsdam. With my research I would like to contribute to the solution of current global health issues. There are ideal conditions and partnerships for this at the ATB and the Potsdam location. ”


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