Department of Limnology and Biological Oceanography


news from the Department of Limnology and Bio-Oceanography:

Hans and Lotte Hass Award for Marine Conservation

The "Hans and Lotte Hass Award for Marine Conservation" was granted to Michael Stachowitsch from the department and his team  for "Conservation of sea turtles and their habitats in Turkey", a long-term project in the framework of a university field course. The ceremony took place in the Aqua Terra Zoo (Haus des Meeres) in Vienna on 17 November 2016 (l. to r.: Sabrina Wagner, tutor; Daniel Abed-Navandi , vice director; M. Stachowitsch; Jörg Ott, chairman of the board; Marie Lambropoulos, co-lecturer)



We would like to cordially invite you to the upcoming workshop "LET'S TALK ABOUT SYMBIOSIS" on THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 24TH in the DIVISION OF MICROBIAL ECOLOGY (DOME) SEMINAR ROOM.

The workshop is an initiative of the Symbiosis’ Research Focus of the University of Vienna and aims to gather students, postdocs, and faculty interested in symbiosis research in an informal one-day meeting.

As usual, besides oral presentations, we will provide time for discussion, a lunch buffet and coffee breaks.

To participate, please register by emailing here not later than November 17.

If you wish to give an oral presentation, please include the title of your talk.

Attached you will find the announcement flyer.


review on Patterns and processes in the drift of early developmental stages of fish in rivers published

“Patterns and processes in the drift of early developmental stages of fish in rivers: a review” a new publication by Aaron Lechner and co-workers has been published in Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries:


Current-mediated downstream dispersal by the early developmental stages of fish in rivers is a common phenomenon. Knowledge of patterns and processes in the dispersal, or ‘drift’, of young fishes provides important information on spawning location and spawning success, habitat use, movement paths and flow-ecology relationships more generally, all of which are critical for effective river conservation and management. But despite the importance of such information, our understanding of the patterns and processes of the drift of the early life stages of riverine fishes is limited. Furthermore, riverine fish drift research has tended to occur in isolation from movement studies of other organisms, limiting its integration with higher level concepts and theory. This manuscript reviews the literature on the dispersal of young fishes in running waters. Relevant studies from all climatic zones and geographical regions are investigated, with particular attention given to the types and life history stages of fishes that drift and the seasonal and diel patterns of drifting. We then consider how fish enter the drift and their mode of drifting, attempting to reconcile a long-running discussion, under what we call the ‘active–passive conundrum’. We argue that, aside from eggs, the early stages of fish are not exclusively either passive or active drifters, but usually a mixture of the two, which we term ‘actipassive’ drift. Finally, we evaluate existing knowledge in the context of a general conceptual framework for movement ecology, identifying gaps in our understanding of the roles of internal state, navigation capacity, motion capacity, external factors and internal factors in influencing the dispersal process.


Full text available here

Paper which shows that hydraulics is a key driver of microbial life in streams and rivers published

A recent publication, which shows that hydraulics is a key driver of microbial life in streams and rivers, has been published by Robert Niederdorfer and co-workers in nature Microbiology


Small-scale hydraulics affects microbial behaviour at the cell level1, trophic interactions in marine aggregates and the physical structure and function of stream biofilms. However, it remains unclear how hydraulics, predictably changing from small streams to large rivers, impacts the structure and biodiversity of complex microbial communities in these ecosystems. Here, we present experimental evidence unveiling hydraulics as a hitherto poorly recognized control of microbial lifestyle differentiation in fluvial ecosystems. Exposing planktonic source communities from stream and floodplain ecosystems to different hydraulic environments revealed strong selective hydraulic pressures but only minor founder effects on the differentiation of attached biofilms and suspended aggregates and their biodiversity dynamics. Key taxa with a coherent phylogenetic underpinning drove this differentiation. Only a few resident and phylogenetically related taxa formed the backbone of biofilm communities, whereas numerous resident taxa characterized aggregate communities. Our findings unveil fundamental differences between biofilms and aggregates and build the basis for a mechanistic understanding of how hydraulics drives the distribution of microbial diversity along the fluvial continuum.

Full text available here

Guest Lecture by Eric Achterberg, Helmholtz centre for ocean research, kiel, germany

Title: A story of the oceans, phytoplankton, trace elements and carbon.

November 29th, 2016, 4:00 pm, Lecture Hall 2, UZA I, Althanstrasse 14.


You may also download the flyer as a pdf file.


East African Soda Lakes - book recently released (Editor Michael Schagerl, Springer publishing house)

This compendium covers various aspects of soda lakes from development over organisms to uses and threats. It provides an ideal introduction of these ecosystems provides reviews and recent findings of the unique East African soda lakes, summarized by authoritatives from various scientific disciplines provide new insights into soda lake research. Around 140 figures including many color photo-plates invite the readers to dip into the fascinating lakes.

Available here

Paper on aquatic methane dynamics in a human-impacted river-floodplain of the Danube River published

A publication on aquatic methane dynamics in a human-impacted river-floodplain of the Danube River was published by the Peduzzi-lab in Limnology & Oceanography.


Although the importance of hydrological events has been recognized, the effect of flooding on CH4 concentrations and emissions from European, human-impacted river-floodplains is largely unknown. This study evaluated aquatic concentrations and emissions of CH4 from a highly modified, yet partly restored river-floodplain system of the Danube near Vienna (Austria).


Authors: Sieczko, A., K. Demeter, G. Singer, M. Tritthart, S. Preiner, M. Mayr, K. Meisterl & P. Peduzzi (2016).


Full text available here

Paper on Network-Scale Carbon Dioxide evasion of pre-alpine streams published in Limnology&Oceanography

A paper on Network-scale CO2 evasion authored by Jakob Schelker and Co-Authors has been published in the journal Limnology and Oceanography.


Schelker, J., G. A. Singer, A. J. Ulseth, S. Hengsberger, and T. J. Battin (2016). CO2 evasion from a steep, high gradient stream network: importance of seasonal and diurnal variation in aquatic pCO2 and gas transfer. Limnol. Oceanogr. DOI:10.1002/lno.10339.


Link to article.

paper on the drift of early life stages from two fish
families of high ecological concern published in

David Ramler, Harald Ahnelt, Hans Leo Nemeschkal & Hubert Keckeis 2016.
The drift of early life stages of Percidae and Gobiidae (Pisces:
Teleostei) in a free-flowing section of the Austrian Danube.

Hydrobiologia DOI 10.1007/s10750-016-2845-0


Link to article

The microbiome of coral surface mucus is decisive for coral health

In a recently published paper in the ISME Journal, our former MSc student Bettina Glasl and PostDoc Pedro Frade, both now at AIMS, Townsville, Australia, describe the microbial community composition in the mucus layer of several coral species. This research highlights the decisive contribution of microbes associated with the surface mucus layer of corals to the health and homeostasis of their hosts.


Full text available here:


Bettina Glasl, Gerhard J Herndl and Pedro R Frade (2016) The microbiome of coral surface mucus has a key role in mediating holobiont health and survival upon disturbance. The ISME Journal 1-13; doi:10.1038/ismej.2016.9

Seminar series Program online


The new program for the summer seminar series 2016 is online.

More information can be found here.

Manuela Trobej won the Algological studies prize

Manuela Trobej (center) of Michael Schagerl´s Team Phycology won the Algological studies prize for the best master talk at the Phycology meeting in Leipzig (Germany). Title: Island in the landscape – travertine springs and their algal communities

Foto: Kerstin Hoef-Emden


Aquatic Viruses and Global Climate Change

A recent chapter by Peter Peduzzi summarizes the current state of research in the new book “Climate Change and Microbial Ecology: Current Research and Future Trends”, edited by J. Marxsen, Caister Academic Press (; March 2016


The viral component in aquatic systems clearly needs to be incorporated into future ocean and inland water climate models. Viruses have the potential to influence carbon and nutrient cycling in aquatic ecosystems significantly. Changing climate likely has both direct and indirect influence on virus-mediated processes, among them an impact on food webs, biogeochemical cycles and on the overall metabolic performance of whole ecosystems. Here I synthesize current knowledge on potential climate-related consequences for viral assemblages, virus-host interactions and virus function, and in turn, viral processes contributing to climate change. There is a need to increase the accuracy of predictions of climate change impacts on virus-driven processes, particularly of those linked to biological production and biogeochemical cycles. Comprehension of the relationships between microbial/viral processes and global phenomena is essential to predict the influence on as well as the response of the biosphere to global change.

New paper in PLoS ONE

We published a new paper on the inhibition of bacterial growth by the trophosome of the giant deep-sea tubeworm Riftia pachyptila.


Julia Klose, Karin Aistleitner, Matthias Horn, Liselotte Krenn, Verena Dirsch, Martin Zehl, Monika Bright: Trophosome of the deep-sea tubeworm Riftia pachyptila inhibits bacterial growth Endosymbionts escape dead hydrothermal vent tubeworms to enrich the free-living population. PLoS ONE 11(1): e0146446. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0146446


The giant deep-sea tubeworm Riftia pachyptila lives in a mutualistic association with the chemoautotrophic gammaproteobacterium Cand. Endoriftia persephone, harbored in the host’s trophosome. Symbiont transmission is horizontal in each host generation. Escape of symbionts happens after the host dies. Surprisingly, no microbial fouling was found in degrading trophosome tissue. In high-pressure incubation experiments we could show, the antimicrobial effect of the tubeworm’s trophosome. Mainly Gram-positive bacterial strains were inhibited in growth. We could identify lysophospholipids and free fatty acids, well known antimicrobial and anitfouling substances by a liquid chromatography-mass spectrometric analysis. As a result of tissue autolysis, the abundance of the free fatty acids increased with time and correlated with an increased growth inhibition of two bacterial strains. After death, the host cannot provide nutrients to the chemoautotrophic symbiont. Therefore, it is tempting to speculate that under post mortem host conditions, Endoriftia switches to a heterotrophic life style to feed on the dead host until it escapes.


Renate Degen received the three-year Hertha Firnberg grant from the Austrian Science Fund (FWF) to study the functions of macro- and megabenthic communities in the Arctic Ocean. While in recent years some information was gathered about the structural variability of Arctic benthos, information on the functional variability is currently still lacking. The aim of this project is to fill these knowledge gaps by means of a pan-Arctic, integrated approach, including i) the analysis of benthic functioning on Arctic shelves and basins and along a shelf-slope-basin gradient in the Eurasian and the Amerasian part of the Arctic, ii) the identification of functions and regions most susceptible to changes, and iii) the prediction of benthic ecosystem functioning in a future, seasonally ice free Arctic Ocean.


Barbara Bayer, Jana Vojvoda, Pierre Offre, Ricardo J. E. Alves, Nathalie H. Elisabeth, Juan A. L. Garcia, Jean-Marie Volland, Abhishek Srivastava, Christa Schleper, and Gerhard J. Herndl

The ISME Journal, Nov 3, 2015; (in Press), doi: 10.1038/ismej.2015.200.

Ammonia-oxidizing Archaea (AOA) are ubiquitous throughout the oceanic water column; however, our knowledge on their physiological and ecological diversity in different oceanic regions is rather limited. Here, we report the cultivation and characterization of two novel Nitrosopumilus strains, originating from coastal surface waters of the Northern Adriatic Sea. The combined physiological and genomic information revealed that each strain exhibits different metabolic and functional traits, potentially reflecting contrasting life modes. Strain NF5 contains many chemotaxis-related genes and is able to express archaella, suggesting that it can sense and actively seek favorable microenvironments such as nutrient-rich particles. In contrast, strain D3C is non-motile and shows higher versatility in substrate utilization, being able to use urea as an alternative substrate in addition to ammonia. Furthermore, it encodes a divergent, second copy of the AmoB subunit of the key enzyme ammonia monooxygenase, which might have an additional catalytic function and suggests further metabolic versatility. However, the role of this gene requires further investigation. Our results provide evidence for functional diversity and metabolic versatility among phylogenetically closely related thaumarchaeal strains, and point toward adaptations to free-living versus particle-associated life styles and possible niche differentiation among AOA in marine ecosystems


for the project "Significance of selected major microbial groups in the oxygenated deep ocean".

This fellowship program is an individual scholarship financed by the University of Vienna aiming at supporting excellent doctoral candidates for a three years period. The fellowship provides early stage researchers with conditions that allow them to focus exclusively on their research to make substantial contributions to science.

In her PhD thesis, Barbara will investigate the metabolic potential and activities of selected, thus far uncharacterized groups of Bacteria and Archaea in the deep ocean. Due to the enormous volume of the deep-sea, the metabolic processes of these uncharacterized microbial groups may be of great importance for global biogeochemical cycles.

Research project ‘Architecture of marine snow-associated prokaryotic communities (ARTEMIS)’ funded by the Austrian Science Fund (FWF)

Gerhard J. Herndl received funding for investigating coastal and open ocean marine snow. In ARTEMIS, focus will be put on the architecture of marine snow-associated microbial communities during the successional stages of marine snow by combining metagenomic and –proteomic analyses of physically and chemically characterized habitats within marine snow with metabolic rate measurements. Using advanced image analysis, microspatial coexistence of individual microbial taxa will be investigated. Quantification of functional genes indicative for C, N and S cycling will be performed on sections through marine snow particles and related to the physical and chemical microenvironment. Taken together, ARTEMIS should elucidate the microspatial architecture of microbial communities during the succession of marine snow, particularly the changes related to increasing oxygen depletion in the interior of marine snow. Funding is provided for one Post Doc and one PhD student for three years.

Else Richter grant on "Exo-proteomics of marine dissolved organic matter” to Roberta Hansman

Roberta Hansman received a four-year Else Richter grant from the Austrian Science Fund (FWF) to analyze dissolved proteins found in seawater. Proteins comprise about 50% of all living organisms, including the millions of microbes present in every liter of seawater, and thus become a major component of the dissolved organic material found in the ocean. This work will identify and quantify proteins dissolved in seawater in order to gain insight into what organic material in the ocean is composed of and what role microorganisms play in structuring dissolved organic matter composition. The project will be conducted within the ViMe (Vienna Metabolomics Center; research platform here at the University of Vienna.

Experimental Work on streamside Flumes on stream c-cycling Featured in ORF 2 State TV Program

Experimental work of the Stream Biofilm and Biogeochmistry Group at the Lunzer:::Rinnen Experimental Flumes was featured in a TV program aired on the ORF2 TV Channel on Suturday, 2015-11-2. Please visit the ORF website to watch the program (in German, availiable till 2015-12-11).

Maria Pinto received the prestigious DOC-grant

from the Austrian Academy of Sciences to work on her PhD thesis on the microbial colonization and biodegradation of microplastics in the ocean. The amount of plastic produced globally has doubled from the year 2001 to 2014 amounting at present 280 million tons per year. A considerable fraction of this plastic production ends up in the ocean forming plastic islands in the oceanic gyres. A substantial part of this plastic, however, sinks apparently into the ocean’s interior. In her PhD thesis, Maria will investigate the dynamics of the microbial biofilm on plastic material in different depth layers of the open ocean and in the northern Adriatic and the interaction between solar radiation and microbial activity in degrading plastic material in the sea. 

Seminar series Program online


The new program for the fall seminar series 2015 is online.

More information can be found here.

A hairy case: The evolution of filtering carnivorous caddisflies

Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 93 (2015): 249–260, by Simon Vitecek, Wolfram Graf, Ana Previšič, Mladen Kucinič, János Oláh, Miklós Bálint , Lujza Keresztes, Steffen U. Pauls & Johann Waringer

The caddisfly subfamily Drusinae BANKS comprises roughly 100 species inhabiting mountain ranges in Europe, Asia Minor and the Caucasus. A 3-gene phylogeny of the subfamily previously identified three major clades that were corroborated by larval morphology and feeding ecologies: scraping grazers, omnivorous shredders and filtering carnivores. Larvae of filtering carnivores exhibit unique head capsule complexities, unknown from other caddisfly larvae. Here we assess the species-level relationships within filtering carnivores, hypothesizing that head capsule complexity is derived from simple shapes observed in the other feeding groups. We summarize the current systematics and taxonomy of the group, clarify the systematic position of Cryptothrix nebulicola, and present a larval key to filtering carnivorous Drusinae. We infer relationships of all known filtering carnivorous Drusinae and 34 additional Drusinae species using Bayesian species tree analysis and concatenated Bayesian phylogenetic analysis of 3805 bp of sequence data from six gene regions (mtCOI5-P, mtCOI3-P, 16S mrDNA, CADH, WG, 28S nrDNA), morphological cladistics from 308 characters, and a total evidence analysis. All analyses support monophyly of the three feeding ecology groups but fail to fully resolve internal relationships. Within filtering carnivores, variation in head setation and frontoclypeus structure may be associated with progressive niche adaptation, with less complex species recovered at a basal position. We propose that diversification of complex setation and frontoclypeus shape represents a recent evolutionary development, hypothetically enforcing speciation and niche specificity within filtering carnivorous Drusinae.

Endosymbionts escape dead hydrothermal vent tubeworms to enrich the free-living population.

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Aug, 17, 2015; (in Press), doi:10.1073/pnas.1501160112,  by Julia Klose, Martin F. Polz, Michael Wagner, Mario P. Schimak, Sabine Gollner, Monika Bright


The giant tubeworm Riftia pachyptila is nourished by a bacterial endosymbiont, which is acquired by each new generation of worm larvae. Maintaining this arrangement requires the symbionts to be able to escape from their hosts and replenish the free-living bacterial population. The article describes the bacterial release from dead host tissue under simulated deep-sea and hydrothermal vent conditions in the laboratory. This suggests that several million to over one billion bacteria escape upon host death of a single tubeworm clump. The escaped bacteria settled on surfaces where they proliferated.  Monitoring of tubeworm clumps at a hydrothermal vent field at the East Pacific Rise following a volcanic eruption exhibited rapid turnover within two years, suggesting that large numbers of bacteria could be released over a relatively short time. The connection between the host-associated and free-living bacterial populations might explain how the symbiotic relationship between tubeworms and bacteria has remained stable over evolutionary time scales.



Virus ecology of fluvial systems: a blank spot on the map?

Biological Reviews, Juni 2015 (doi: 10.1111/brv.12202)

A recent review by Peter Peduzzi on virus ecology of fluvial systems summarizes the current state of research in the journal BIOLOGICAL REVIEWS. Although viruses are present in high numbers in all aquatic systems, their role in flowing waters (as important part of the global water cycle) are still largely unexplored. Here, physical and biological drivers seem to act in concert, strongly linked to the often very variable environmental settings (lotic and lentic conditions). Also the effect of anthropogenic alterations of fluvial systems on viruses-related processes requires attention. The identification of existing considerable knowledge gaps should foster future research efforts. The outcome of such studies can be expected to contribute significantly to modern concepts of fluvial systems.

Link zu Artikel:

Outstanding Editor Award for the journal Biogeosciences to Gerhard J. Herndl


Gerhard J. Herndl receives the First Outstanding Editor Award for the journal Biogeosciences.

Message from Biogeosciences:  Gerhard has handled 37 manuscripts last year. Not only has he handled the biggest load among all of us last year, he has done so with admirable efficiency and effectiveness. Despite his heavy work load, Gerhard didn't miss a decision deadline and he seems to apply the right personal touch when motivating reviewers to provide their assessment and to do so on time. The official EGU certificate recognizing his contributions will be presented to Gerhard at the 2016 EGU meeting. 

Congratulations to Prof. Ott on receiving the ‘Goldenes Verdienstzeichen'


Prof. Jörg Ott, former head of the Department of Marine Biology, was awarded with the highly honored ‘Goldenes Verdienstzeichen des Landes Wien' on April 16, 2015. The presentation of the medal and the celebration took place in the presence of the major of Vienna, Dr. Michael Häupl, at the town hall of Vienna on April, 16, 2015.

More on the ceremony can be found here.

One of the Thousand


on April 16th, 2015 Julia Klose was ‘One of the Thousand' at the 650 Year Anniversary Concert of the University of Vienna playing Gustav Mahlers Symphonie Nr. 8.


From the lab coat to the running shirt - Vom Laborkittel ins Laufshirt


LimBO runners are on track, as the uni:view magazine reports. Read more here.

Seminar series Program online


The new program for the spring seminar series 2015 is online.


More information can be found here.

The dissolved organic carbon soup of the deep ocean isn’t too refractory for microbes it’s too thin.


This is the conclusion of a recent study published in Science on deep-water dissolved organic carbon utilization by heterotrophic microbes. The major part of the study was performed during the MEDEA cruise in the North Atlantic in the frame of the ERC Advanced Grant awarded to Gerhard J. Herndl.


Arrieta, J.M., E Mayol, R.L. Hansman, G.J. Herndl, T. Dittmar, C.M. Duarte: Dilution limits dissolved organic carbon utilization in the deep ocean. Science DOI: 10.1126/science.1258955. Link.

Position for a full Professor of Limnology open at the department


The The Faculty of Life Sciences of the University of Vienna is opening a position for a  Full Professor (Chair) of Limnology. For more information please follow the link to the official announcement.



The Faculty Research Focus Symbiosis will hold the next workshop at the seminar room DOME, April, 17, 2015. A flyer can be found here.


Registration deadline is March 27. Please register by email to Andrea Nussbaumer.



A study authored by Anna Sieczko, Maria Maschek and Prof. Peter Peduzzi on the fate of organic matter in Danube floodplains has been published in the journal 'Frontiers in Microbiology'. Please visit the link to the journal.


Two new species of caddisflies identified


A study Co-authored by Simon Vitecek and Prof. Johann Waringer identified two new endemic species from the Western Balkans by means of comparative morphology and molecular methods. The study is published in the journal 'Arthropod Systematics & Phylogeny'. Read and download the article here.


Master Thesis of Irene Teubner awarded as 'best Masters' by Springer


The Master thesis of Irene Teubner entiteld 'Viruses in the Danube Floodplains', supervised by Prof. Peter Peduzzi was selected for the 'Best Masters' series by Springer.


See more on the Springer website (in German).

Guest Lecture by Paul del Giorgio, University of Quebec at Montreal, Canada

Title: The taxonomic and functional biogeography of bacterial communities across boreal aquatic networks.

December 2nd, 2014, 12:00 pm (noon), Lecture Hall 5, UZA II, Althanstrasse 14.


You may also download the flyer as a pdf file.

De Bary Lecture by Christoph Hauert, University of British Columbia

the 'Research Focus Symbiosis' presents a De Bary Lecture by

Christoph Hauert, University of British Columbia, Canada with the
title: "Dynamics of Social Dilemmas: An evolutionary game theory perspective".

December 2, 1014 16.00 s.t., Seminar Room Limnology


Seminar series Program online


The new program for the fall seminar series 2014 is online.


More information can be found here.

Article Unifying River Ecosystem Concepts published in BioScience


A new article that unifies river ecosystem concepts has been published in the journal Bioscience. Title: "The River Wave Concept: Integrating River Ecosystem Models".


Link to journal article: