General Information

The pedosphere is a major determinant in global water, carbon and other biogeochemical cycles. Since soil represents a natural body covering essentially the entire non-aqueous surface of planet earth, it is intimately involved in the absorption, storage, transfer and release of heat, water, gases and other chemicals; it serves as a reservoir for biological diversity and has a profound influence on the environments of all living organisms. Biogeochemical processes in soils are a primary driving force for key ecosystem functions including plant productivity and water quality. These processes also ultimately control the fate and transport of contaminants and nutrients. An emerging realization of the global interrelationships and relevance of these effects dictates the need for detailed mechanistic understanding of these processes.

Scientific goals

The research within SPP 1315 "Biogeochemical Interfaces in Soil" aims at the systematic structural characterisation and functional exploration of biogeochemical interfaces in soil and at unravelling their role for the fate and effect of organic chemicals.
The overall joint scientific goal is to gain a mechanistic understanding of the interplay and interdependencies of the physical, chemical, and biological processes operative at biogeochemical interfaces.
The grand challenges are to identify the factors controlling the architecture of biogeochemical interfaces, to link the processes operative at the molecular and organism scale to the phenomena active at the aggregate scale in a mechanistic way and to explain the medium- to long-term behaviour of organic chemicals in soil within a general mechanistic framework.

Methodological approach

Utilisation and cross-linking of new and emerging techniques adopted from the fields of molecular biology and material- and nano-sciences with soil physical, chemical and biological methods.
Joint application of new generation spectro-microscopic and tomographic techniques in combination with advanced approaches in computational chemistry and molecular biology to link the information on the local and organismic scale to the formation, maturing, and functioning of biogeochemical interfaces at the continuum scale.
Well defined joint experiments will make available direct information on structure, dynamics, function and interaction in situ and in real-time over ranges of concentration, composition, and environmental conditions at the highest possible spatial and temporal resolution.