Microbial Ecology, Limnology
and General Microbiology

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Dr. Michael Pester

University assistant

E-Mail: Michael.Pester@uni-konstanz.de
Telefon: +49 7531 88-3282
Fax: +49 7531 88-4047
Raum: M940
Sprechzeiten: stop by anytime



Research interests in brief: hidden sulfur cycle, sulfate reducing microorganisms, lake nitrification


My research interests encompass the biology and interactions of biogeochemically important microorganisms from an ecophysiological and ecosystem service perspective. In my group, we are particularly interested in microorganisms driving the sulfur and nitrogen cycle in freshwater environments such as peatlands, rice paddy fields, and lakes. Our current projects encompass:


(i) Identifiying microorganisms that drive the hidden sulfur cycle in peatlands using metagenomics, single cell genomics, metatranscriptomics, and high-throughput amplicon sequencing. In addition, we follow specific microbial taxa by qPCR analyses and monitor biogeochemical parameters using techniques like capillary electrophoresis and gas chromatography.


(ii) Eco-systems biology of the hidden sulfur cycle in rice paddy fields. Here, we are aiming to elucidate the identity and ecophysiology of sulfate reducing and sulfur oxidizing microorganisms using RNA and Protein stable isotope probing, metaproteogenomics, high-trouhghput amplicon sequencing, and anaerobic cultivation.


(iii) Comparative genomics of Desulfosporosinus spp. Desulfosporosinus spp. can be important sulfate reducers in freshwater environments because they are able to compensate their very low natural abundance with high cell-specific sulfate reduction rates. This makes them an interesting model for highly active rare biosphere members that contribute to biogeochemical cycling of elements. Using comparative genomics and subsequent proteomic analyses, we aim to understand why Desulfosporosinus spp. are so successful as low abundance poulations and what ecological forces prevent these microorganisms of becoming more abundant despite their success.


(iv) Nitrification in a changing lake ecosystem. In this project, we study the influence of global warming on microorganisms driving the conversion of ammonia to nitrate in Lake Constance as an important prealpine lake and drinking water reservoir. Using process measurements of ammonia conversion and high-throughput amplicon sequencing of functional marker genes targeting the various microbial groups that drive nitrification, we are aiming to understand how the steadily increasing water temperatures in lakes influence population dynamics of nitrifying microorganisms and as a consequence the process of nitrification itself.


(v) Succession of bacterioplankton in Lake Constance over the annual cycle. In this collaborative project with the junior research group of David Schleheck, the Limnology Institute and the Genomics Center of Konstanz, we are aiming to characterize major bacterioplancton populations in Lake Constance and follow their succession over the annual cycel.

Curriculum Vitae

2014-present Member of the Zukunftskolleg of the University of Konstanz
2013-present Group leader of the Wetland group, Chair of Microbial Ecology, University of Konstanz, Germany
2010-2012  Project leader at the Dept. of Microbial Ecology, University of Vienna, Austria
2007-2010 Postdoc at the Dept. of Microbial Ecology, University of Vienna, Austria
Fellow of the Alexander von Humboldt-foundation
2006-2007 Postdoc in the Gut Microbiology and Symbiosis-group at the Max Planck Institute for Terrestrial Microbiology, Marburg, Germany
2003-2006 PhD thesis in the Gut Microbiology and Symbiosis-group at the Max Planck Institute for Terrestrial Microbiology, Marburg, Germany
2002                          Diploma thesis (Master thesis) at the University of Konstanz, Germany


Wörner, S., Zecchin, S., Dan, J., Todorova, N. H., Loy, A., Conrad, R., Pester, M. (2016) Gypsum amendment to rice paddy soil stimulates bacteria involved in sulfur cycling but largely preserves the phylogenetic composition of the total bacterial community. Environ. Microbiol. 8: 413–423

Pelikan, C., Herbold, C.W., Hausmann, B., Müller, A.L., Pester, M., Loy, A. (2016) Diversity analysis of sulfite- and sulfate-reducing microorganisms by multiplex dsrA and dsrB amplicon sequencing using new primers and mock community-optimized bioinformatics. Environ. Microbiol. 18:2994–3009

Hausmann, B., Knorr, K.-H. Schreck, K., Tringe, S.G., Glavina del Rio, T., Loy, A., Pester, M. (2016) Consortia of low-abundance bacteria drive sulfate reduction-dependent degradation of fermentation products in peat soil microcosms. ISME J. 10: 2365–2375


Bornemann, M., Bussmann, I., Tichy, L., Deutzmann, J., Schink, B., Pester, M. (2016) Methane release from sediment seeps to the atmosphere is counteracted by highly active Methylococcaceae in the water column of deep oligotrophic Lake Constance. FEMS Microbiol. Ecol. Published ahaed of print, doi: 10.1093/femsec/fiw1123.

Patil, Y., Junghare, M., Pester, M., Müller, N., Schink, B. (2015) Characterization and phylogeny of Anaerobium acetethylicum gen. nov., sp. nov., a strictly anaerobic gluconate-fermenting bacterium isolated from a methanogenic bioreactor. Int. J. Syst. Evol. Microbiol. 65: 3289-3296

Müller, A.B., Kjeldsen, K.U., Rattei, T., Pester, M., Loy, A. (2015) Phylogenetic and environmental diversity of DsrAB-type dissimilatory (bi)sulfite reductases. ISME J (Nature Publishing Group) 9: 1152-1165


Müller, N., Scherag, F.D., Pester, M., Schink, B. (2015) Bacillus stamsii sp. nov., a facultatively anaerobic sugar degrader that is numerically dominant in freshwater lake sediment. Syst. Appl. Microbiol. 38: 379-389


Schlotz, N., Pester, M., Freese, H., Martin-Creuzburg, D. (2014) A dietary polyunsaturated fatty acid improves consumer performance during challenge with an opportunistic bacterial pathogen. FEMS Microbiol. Ecol. Accepted


Gruber-Dorninger, C., Pester, M., Kitzinger, K., Savio, D. F., Loy, A., Rattei, T., Wagner, M., and Daims, H. (2014) Functionally relevant diversity of closely related Nitrospira in activated sludge. ISME J. accepted


Pester, M., Maixner, F. ,Berry, D., Rattei, T., Koch. H., Lücker, S., Nowka, B., Richter, A., Spieck, E., Lebedeva, E., Loy, A., Wagner, M., and Daims, H. (2013) NxrB encoding the beta subunit of nitrite oxidoreductase as novel functional and phylogenetic marker for nitrite-oxidizing Nitrospira. Environ. Microbiol. doi: 10.1111/1462-2920.12300

Pester, M., Brambilla, E., Alazard, D., Rattei, T., Weinmaier, T., Han, J. et al. (2012) Complete genome sequences of Desulfosporosinus orientis DSM765T, Desulfosporosinus youngiae DSM17734T, Desulfosporosinus meridiei DSM13257T, and Desulfosporosinus acidiphilus DSM22704T. J Bacteriol. 194: 6300–6301


Vandieken, V., Pester, M., Finke, N., Hyun, J.-H., Friedrich, M.W., Loy, A., and Thamdrup, B.  (2012) Three manganese oxide-rich marine sediments harbor similar communities of acetate-oxidizing manganese-reducing bacteria. ISME J. 6: 2078–2090


Pester, M., Knorr, K.-H., Friedrich, M.W., Wagner, M., and Loy, M. (2012) Sulfate reducing microorganisms in wetlands – fameless actors in carbon cycling and climate change. Front. Microbiol. 3: doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2012.00072


Pester, M., Rattei, T., Flechl, S., Gröngröft, A., Richter, A., Overmann, J., Reinhold-Hurek, B., Loy, A., and Wagner, M. (2012) amoA-based consensus phylogeny of ammonia-oxidizing archaea and deep sequencing of amoA genes from soils of four different geographic regions. Environ. Microbiol. 14: 52–539


Pester, M., Schleper, C., Wagner, M. (2011) The Thaumarchaeota: An emerging view of their phylogeny and ecophysiology. Curr. Opin. Microbiol. 14: 300–306


Steger, D., Wentrup, C., Braunegger, C., Deevong, P., Hofer, M., Richter, A., Baranyi, C., Pester, M., Wagner, M., and Loy, A. (2011) Microorganisms with novel dissimilatory (bi)sulfite reductase genes are widespread and part of the core microbiota in low-sulfate peatlands. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 77: 1231–1242


Loy, A., Pester, M., and Steger D. (2011) Phylogentic microarrays for cultivation-independent identification and metabolic characterization of microorganisms in complex samples. Methods Mol. Biol. 688:187–206


Loy, A. and Pester, M. (2010) Probing identity and physiology of uncultured microorganisms with isotopic labeling techniques. In Geomicrobiology: Molecular and Environmental Perspective. Barton, L., Mandl, M., Loy, A. (eds.). Springer: Heidelberg, pp. 127–146


Pester, M., Bittner, N., Deevong, P., Wagner, M., and Loy, A. (2010) A 'rare biosphere' microorganism drives sulfate reduction in a peatland. ISME J. 4:1591–1602


Tholen, A., Pester, M., and Brune, A. (2007) Simultaneous methanogenesis and oxygen reduction by Methanobrevibacter cuticularis at low oxygen fluxes. FEMS Microbiol. Ecol. 62: 303–312


Pester, M. and Brune, A. (2007) Hydrogen is the central free intermediate during lignocellulose degradation by termite gut symbionts. ISME J. 1: 551–565


Pester, M., Tholen, A., Friedrich, M. W., and Brune, A. (2007) Methane oxidation in termite hindguts – absence of evidence and evidence of absence. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 73: 2024–2028


Pester, M. and Brune, A. (2006) Expression profiles of fhs (FTHFS) genes support the hypothesis that spirochaetes dominate reductive acetogenesis in the hindgut of lower termites. Environ. Microbiol. 8: 1261–1270


Brune, A. and Pester, M. (2005) In situ measurements of metabolite fluxes: microinjection of radiotracers into insect guts and other small compartments. In Methods in Enzymology. Leadbetter, J. R. (ed). Elsevier: London, pp. 200–212


Bussmann, I., Pester, M., Brune, A., and Schink, B. (2004) Preferential cultivation of type II methanotrophic bacteria from littoral sediments (Lake Constance). FEMS Microbiol. Ecol. 47: 179–189


Pester, M., Friedrich, M. W., Schink, B., and Brune, A. (2004) pmoA-based analysis of methanotrophs in a littoral lake sediment reveals a diverse and stable community in a dynamic environment. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 70: 3138–3142