I am a microbiologist and microbial ecologist working at UiT since 2019, currently as a researcher in the Cells in the Cold Laboratory. Ever since my PhD at the University of Vienna, Austria, I am utilizing state-of-the-art cultivation-independent methods, such as multi-omics techniques, to study microorganisms, their functions, and their responses to climate change in a broad variety of habitats including grasslands, forests, peatlands, and animal intestinal tracts.
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I am a microbiologist and microbial ecologist by training and still fascinated by the tremendous impact microorganisms have on our planet and all life on Earth.
In my early scientific life (besides microscoping dead grasshoppers at the age of ten), I studied and cultivated, at that time poorly characterized, methane producing microorganisms (methanogens), the Methanomassiliicoccales, focusing on their role in the global carbon cycle and their importance as greenhouse gas producers.
During my PhD at the University of Vienna, Austria, and the University of Greifswald, Germany (where I stayed for a postdoc position), I started to use metatranscriptomics, metagenomics, and proteomics to study microorganisms in pure culture as well as complex free-living and host-associated microbial communities with relevance for greenhouse gas mitigation, human health, and ecosystem stability.
In early 2019, I moved into the Arctic and adapted my personal and my scientific work to colder temperatures. Within the project Cells in the Cold, led by Alexander T. Tveit, and the international ForHot project, I am currently focusing on investigating functional changes in cold-adapted microbial communities in soils exposed to warming.
Recently, we identified the first common microbial physiological response to weeks, years, and decades of grassland soil warming (+6 °C) – the downregulation of the bacterial protein biosynthesis machinery (Söllinger et al., Science Advances, 2022). In other words, cellular numbers of ribosomes, the macromolecular complexes synthesising proteins, are reduced at higher temperatures. By reducing the cellular ribosome content, substantial amounts of energy and matter can be spared and potentially re-allocated.
In my ongoing and future work, I want to follow up on these findings and reveal the relevance of cellular ribosome reduction across seasons and ecosystems, expanding from soil to freshwater and marine systems. Furthermore, I want to assess multifaceted consequences including alterations of terrestrial and aquatic food webs and greenhouse gas emissions, ultimately needed to project and manage climate change impacts on Arctic ecosystems and human welfare in the High North.
Follow one of the links below to access my publications:
Even though my current position technically does not included teaching, I have been supervising and co-supervising bachelor, master, and PhD students at UiT since I started working here and I am currently taking the UNIPED-100 course (foundational course in university pedagogy).
Furthermore, together with a former colleague, I founded the Microbiology @ UiT Journal Club in April 2022 and have been organizing it ever since.