Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research

Multiple Stressor Ecology Working Group

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The Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research - UFZ, established 1991, is exclusively devoted to environmental research in a great variety of fields. It currently employs 1200 people, committed to the goal of ensuring the sustainability of biodiversity, functioning ecosystems, clean water and intact soils in the face of global change and to identifying ways in combining social development and a healthy environment. The Pharm-ERA project is embedded in the Research Unit Chemicals in the Environment, Department Ecotoxicology, Multiple Stressor Ecology Working Group, in which we aim to decipher the interacting effects of chemical and non-chemical stressors on aquatic communities by combining ecological, ecotoxicological and molecular tools

Research interests & main objectives

The Multiple Stressor Ecology Research Group carries out research to assess and mechanistically understand the interacting effects of single and combined stressors. We focus on chemical and climate-related stressors and microplastics and study exposure scenarios in agricultural landscapes. Towards these aims we

  • use single species and community assays to assess and predict the effects of chemical mixtures (effect-based monitoring)
  • aim to understand the assembly rules of stress-induced community changes like succession, tolerance and resilience towards combined stressors
  • provide knowledge on interactions of combined stressors in microbial communities on a phenotypical and molecular level
  • develop tools and strategies to define toxicity thresholds and to link stress responses across biological scales (e.g. DRomics)

Principal investigator

Mechthild Schmitt-Jansen – Senior scientist (group leader) in multiple stressor ecology and aquatic microbial ecotoxicology

Staff involved in Pharm-ERA

Multiple Stressor Ecology Research Group : Dr. Eberhard Küster & Dr. Stefan Lips

Equipment and processes

The UFZ provides fully equipped laboratories for physiological and tolerance characterization and molecular biology of biofilm samples: e.g. Imaging-Maxi PAM, Phyto-PAM, non-destructive contactless oxygen measurements; molecular – biological techniques (metabarcoding, NGS); GC-ToF-MS for metabolite analysis, in-house computing capacity and pipelines for multi-omics data analysis ; cultivation chambers,  micro- and mesocosm facilities for stream-bypass experiments and biofilm cultivation.

UFZ - microcosm facilities
UFZ - imaging of biofilms
UFZ - Dromics


Mechthild.Schmitt at ufz.de

See also

Modification date : 13 March 2024 | Publication date : 06 March 2024 | Redactor : Emilie EGEA