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Research interests

I am working at the intersection of such scientific disciplines as soil microbiology, biogeochemistry and soil science. I prefer quantitative approaches as a basis for solid scientific conclusions and consider the modeling as most prominent tool in answering scientific questions. More specifically my interests are in:

  1. The theory of microbial growth and its application in ecology.
  2. Investigating bacterial and fungal biomass and activity dynamics in soils of different ecosystems.
  3. Quantification of the role of soil microbes in production and uptake of greenhouse gases: modelling and measuring of N2O, CH4 and CO2 emission from soil.

Current Projects

INPLAMINT (2021-2024) - Increasing agricultural nutrient-use efficiency by optimizing plant-soil-microorganism interactions.

The main objectives of Phase III of BMBF-funded project INPLAMINT will be to demonstrate that our approach of targeted HCA (high carbon amendment) application to the arable soil after N-rich crops is generally applicable and increases soil N retention and nitrogen use efficiency (NUE) of the crop sequence for a variety of different sites (soils) and climatic conditions. Task of the Cologne University is to analyze the temporal dynamics of the microbial responses under the different site conditions and experimentally induced drought regimes with subsequent rewetting. To evaluate stoichiometric and physiological responses of soil microorganisms to induced drought, soil analyses will be conducted in the framework of the field experiments run at Hohenhschulen (Uni Kiel) and Klein Altendorf (Uni Bonn). Soil microbial biomass C, N, (and P) will be measured as well as substrate-induced growth response of soil microorganisms in soil amended with growth substrates in different combinations (C as glucose, and main macroelements added as N, P, NP). Based on the amount of respired carbon during growth phase of microorganisms supplied with nutrients or without them, the nutrient limitation will be estimated.

C-timing (2022-2025) - Carbon and energy use efficiency of soil microorganisms unfolding over time

This project is a part of the DFG priority program Soil Systems (SPP 2322). http://www.soilsystems.net The incomplete understanding of soil carbon cycle reflects itself in uncertain prediction of the general system reaction, which is often mysterious and cannot be reliably captured by model approaches excluding soil microorganisms. The idea of C-timing project is that developing in time soil microbial community induces the cascade of events either reducing/stabilizing or intensifying decomposition process. The routes of decomposition cascade are restricted by the energy input and shaped by the energy distribution through the foodwebs channels. The stabilization level and number of active cascades at each time point is regulated by microbial competition for C and nutrients, by efficiency of microbial metabolism and by oxygen availability. Biological processes influencing the carbon use efficiency will be considered and modelled in this project. They include substrate uptake by microorganisms, microbial growth, maintenance, CO2 emission, recycling of microbial biomass, and microbial death due to predation by grazers. Several models of increasing complexity with different representation of the listed processes will be built and analyzed in respect of i) equilibrium ratios of main soil C pools (stabilized, dissolved and microbial OM) at steady state, ii) transient dynamics of main pools either in response to substrate input or to stress impact suppressing microbial growth and causing microbial die-off.

The metabolic efficiency of microorganisms in soil is strongly affected by a prevailing electron acceptor that controls energy and carbon conversion in soil microhabitats. Due to soil heterogeneity, aerobic and anaerobic conditions co-occur within the same soil volume but their relative fractions are changing in time. Therefore, modeling of microbial growth and turnover considering anaerobic soil volume will be a specific task of C-timing.

The aim of the project is to develop a microbial-explicit model of soil organic matter turnover describing in parsimonious way the dynamics of carbon and energy use efficiency, constrained by biotic interactions and soil boundary conditions.

Diplomas and degrees

  • 03/2012 Dr of Biological Sciences (Habilitation), Moscow State University, Dept of Soil Science, Russia: “Microbial biomass and modelling of nitrogen turnover in soil”
  • 06/2006 Docent in Microbiology, Russian Supreme Attestation Commission, Moscow
  • 10/1987 PhD in Microbiology and Soil Science, Moscow State University, Dept of Soil Science, Russia: “Microbiological immobilization of nitrogen in arable grey forest soils under different management”
  • 06/1983 MSc in Soil Science and agricultural chemistry, Moscow State University, Dept of Soil Science, Russia

Professional employment

  • 2012 – pres Research Fellow, Institute for Plant Production and Agroecology in the Tropics and Subtropics, University of Hohenheim, Stuttgart, Germany
  • 2010 – 2012 Research Fellow, Institute of Biological and Environmental Sciences School of Biological Sciences, University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen, UK
  • 2006 – pres Leading research scientist, Institute of physico-chemical and biological problems in soil science, Russian Academy of Science, Pushchino, Russian Federation
  • 2009-2010 Visiting scientist, Institute of Meteorology und Climate Research – Institute of Environmental Research, Research Centre Karlsruhe, Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany
  • 2008–2009 Alexander von Humboldt research Fellow, University of Bayreuth, Germany
  • 2000–2005 Senior research scientist, Institute of physico-chemical and biological problems in soil science, Russian Academy of Science
  • 2005 Visiting scientist at Hohenheim University, Institute of soil science and land evaluation, Stuttgart, Germany
  • 2003–2004, 2008 Visiting scientist, Institute of Meteorology und Klimate Research – Institute of Environmental Research, Research Centre Karlsruhe, Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany
  • 2001–2002 Visiting scientist at Biosphere-2 Center, Oracle AZ, USA
  • 2000–2002 Part-time lecturer (associate professor) at Pushchino State University, Soil Science and Ecology Department, Pushchino, Russian Federation
  • 2000–2001 Visiting scientist, Institute of Agroecology, Federal Agricultural Research Center (BFAL), Braunschweig, Germany;
  • 1997–2000 1988–1995 Research scientist, Institute of Soil Science and Photosynthesis, Russian Academy of Science, Pushchino, Russian Federation
  • 1995–1997, 1999 Alexander von Humboldt research Fellow, Institute of Geography and Geoecology, Technical University of Carolo-Wilhelmina, Braunschweig, Germany
  • 1987–1988 Junior research scientist, Institute of Soil Science and Photosynthesis, Russian Academy of Science, Pushchino, Russian Federation
  • 1983–1986 Postgraduate student, Institute of Soil Science and Photosynthesis, Russian Academy of Science, Pushchino, Russian Federation

Awards and achievements

  • John Waid Award for the best Review paper in Soil Biology & Biochemistry published in 2012
  • Alexander von Humboldt Research Fellowships in 1996-1997 and in 2008-2009