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Soil aggregation and organic carbon allocation induced by plant and microbial activity in the rhizosphere

Project Description

The project ‘Self differentiation of soil aggregation and organic carbon allocation induced by plant and microbial activity in the rhizosphere’ is part of the DFG priority program 2089 “Rhizosphere Spatiotemporal Organisation – a Key to Rhizosphere Functions” (

Project description: The project aims to investigate the formation and properties of soil aggregates formed in the rhizosphere as compared to the bulk soil. This ranges from the single root up to the root system integrating quantitative and qualitative approaches from micron to profile scale, thus covering single roots in lab experiments as well as complete root systems in the field. We will intimately link classical quantitative with state-of-the-art spectromicroscopic approaches (NanoSIMS) to be able to follow the spatial and temporal development of aggregated soil structures fostering carbon sequestration in the rhizosphere and identify how the legacy of roots is imprinted on soil structure. The candidate will work at TU Munich in Freising-Weihenstephan, a 30 min train ride from downtown Munich.

Qualifications: We seek an enthusiastic graduate student holding an MSc degree in geoscience, geoecology, environmental sciences, biology or related disciplines, with a focus on soil science and with a strong passion for research. Prior knowledge on stable isotope analyses, organic geochemistry and microbiology is an asset, but not required. Experience in soil fractionation, soil chemical and biochemical analyses as well as microscopic techniques is highly welcome. The candidate should have great social/verbal/communication and analytical skills and eagerness to develop multidisciplinary skills. Good written and spoken English is required. A Class B driving licence is an asset.

Funding Notes

The successful candidate will be offered a position funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) for a fixed-term of 3 years. The earliest starting date is 01.05.2019. Salary is TV-L E13 (65%) according to the German TV-L system (Tarifvertrag für den Öffentlichen Dienst der Länder).


Baumert V.L., Vasilyeva N., Vladimirov A.A., Meier I.C., Kögel-Knabner I., Mueller C.W. (2018): Root exudates induce soil macroaggregation facilitated by fungi in subsoil. Frontiers in Environmental Science. Frontiers in Environmental Science 6(140)

Angst G., Messinger J., Greiner M., Häusler W., Hertel D., Kirfel K., Kögel-Knabner I., Leuschner C., Rethemeyer J., Mueller C.W. (2018): Soil organic carbon stocks in topsoil and subsoil controlled by parent material, carbon input in the rhizosphere, and microbial-derived compounds. Soil Biology and Biochemistry. DOI: 10.1016/j.soilbio.2018.03.026

Vidal A., Hirte J., Bender F., Mayer J., Gattinger A., Höschen C., Schaedler S., Iqbal T., Mueller C.W. (2018): Linking 3D soil structure and plant-microbe-soil carbon transfer in the rhizosphere. Frontiers in Environmental Science. DOI: 10.3389/fenvs.2018.00009

Steffens M., Rogge D., Mueller C.W., Höschen C., Lugmeier J., Kölbl A., Kögel-Knabner I. (2017): Identification of distinct functional microstructural domains controlling C storage in soil. Environmental Science and Technology. DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.7b03715

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