Biogeochemistry I

Lecturers: Marcus Elvert, Kai-Uwe Hinrichs, Moritz Holtappels, Sabine Kasten, Martin Könneke, Gunter Wegener


The course in "Biogeochemistry I" covers the research fields "Biogeochemistry", "Geomicrobiology" and "Molecular Geochemistry". Ideally, they will be taught as three successive blocks, giving the students an ideal opportunity for a deeper understanding of each field.

Biogeochemistry (Moritz Holtappels & Sabine Kasten):
In marine and terrestrial environments element cycles of carbon, nitrogen, sulphur, iron or manganese are affected by microbially mediated reactions, thus linking bio- and geochemistry. This course offers an introduction to biogeochemical processes and research methods applied during research cruises. The emphasis is on the formation and fate of particulate organic matter in pelagic and benthic marine systems, with cross references to the terrestrial environment.

Geomicrobiology (Martin Könneke & Gunter Wegener):
The course is designed to explain principles in microbiology including cellular structure, physiology and ecology. It provides an overview about the diversity and function of mircoorganisms in the marine environment and how they catalyse essential processes in the elemental cycling of carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus and sulfur. Specific biogeochemically relevant processes such as aerobic oxidation of ammonium and anaerobic oxidation of methane will be discussed in more details.

Molecular Geochemistry (Marcus Elvert & Kai-Uwe Hinrichs):
After a brief introduction to organic (geo)chemistry, this lecture will center around organic matter and the biomarker concept. We will define molecular biomarkers, introduce techniques to analyze them, and discuss recent applications to problems from a wide variety of marine science disciplines, including chemical oceanography, paleoceanography, marine biogeochemistry, and marine microbiology.


At the end of this course the student will be able to describe a) the functional relationships of microbially driven processes in aquatic environments and methods to study these processes, b) the physiology of important microbes in the marine environment and biogeochemical processes they are involved in, and c) the utilization of both geo- and biomolecules as sources of information for the study of paleoenvironmental and biogeochemical processes.


Oral exam focusing on the course topics (30 min). A score of 50% is necessary for the grade "sufficient" (4.0).


oral exam


Berner, R.A. (1980) Early Diagenesis: A Theoretical Approach
Libes, S. (1992) An Introduction to Marine Biogeochemistry
Schulz, H.D. and Zabel, M. (2006) Marine Geochemistry

Canfield, D.E., Kristensen, E., and Thamdrup, B. (2005) Aquatic Geomicrobiology.

Molecular Geochemistry:
Killops & Killops (2005) Introduction to Organic geochemistry, 2nd edition.
Peters, Walters and Moldowan (2005) The biomarker guide, 2nd edition.

Additionally, specific literature is recommended in each course block.

Homepage Martin Könneke
Homepage Moritz Holtappels
Homepage Gunter Wegener
Homepage Sabine Kasten
Homepage Marcus Elvert
Homepage Kai-Uwe Hinrichs