International Symposium 2014

Biogeochemical Interfaces in Soil:

Towards a Comprehensive and Mechanistic Understanding of Soil Functions


During pedogenesis, mineral, organic and biological soil components are "glued" together to form an aggregated porous media, that defines a three-dimensional, extremely large and heterogeneous biogeochemical interface (BGI). BGI may be considered as an inhabited and discontinous domain that seperates the immobile phases from the mobile liquid and gaseous phases, and which maintains strong gradients. The BGIs properties will have a significant impact on the soil processes and functions, i.e., the formation and the stability of soil aggregates, the bioavailability of (in-)organic compounds ir the spatio-temporal distribution of solutes and gases. Visualizing and characterizing the architecture of BGIs, identifying the factors controlling their formation and maturation, as well as examining processes occuring at BGIs have been identified as a decadal challenge in soil science (Totsche et al., 2010). Yet, quantitative understanding of the role of BGIs in the functioning of soils required a multidisciplinary approach, combining the knowledge on their composition and properties obtained from advanced spectroscopic, (spectro-)microscopic and tomographic techniques, with the information on their processes and functions acquired from theoretical models and concepts that ultimately will link the processes to functions across spatial and temporal scales.
The symposium aims at annealing different approaches and concepts developed in soil physicochemistry, soil hydrology and soil ecology to identify factors controlling the architecture of BGIs, to link the processes operative at the molecular. and organism-scale zo the phenomena active at the aggregate-scale in a mechanistic way, and to explain the medium- to long-term behaviour of soltes and colloids in soil with a general mechanistic framework. We heartily invite scientists from all fields of soil-related reserach that are occupies and intrigues in gaining a mechanistic undertsnading of the formation and functioning of soils in a perpetully changing environment.


Scientific topics:

  • Unravelling BGI structure: Formation & architecture of BGIs
  • BGIs in changing environments: BGIs dynamics & heterogeneity with consequences for the properties & processes at BGIs
  • Microbial ecology of BGIs: Soil (micro-)organisms as "architects" & "actors"  of BGIs
  • Exploring BGIs: New avenues for "provocative" joint experiments & complementary cutting-edge techniques, including spectroscopy, (spectro-)microscopy & tomography 
  • Quantitative understanding of BGIs functions: Theoretical concepts & models to explain structure, properties & functions of BGIs


Keynote speakers:

  • Thilo Eickhorst (University of Bremen, Germany)
  • Martin H. Gerzabek and Georg Haberhauer (BOKU Vienna, Austria)
  • George A. Kowalchuk (Utrecht University, The Netherlands)
  • Ingrid Kögel-Knabner (Technische Universität München, Germany)
  • Henry Lin (Pennsylvania State University, US)
  • Chris Oostenbrink (BOKU Vienna, Austria)
  • Dani Or (ETH Zürich, Switzerland)
  • James Prosser (University of Aberdeen, UK)
  • Kornelia Smalla (Julius Kühn Institute, Braunschweig, Germany)
  • Barth F. Smets (Technical University of Denmark, Copenhagen, Denmark)
  • Kai Uwe Totsche (Friedrich Schiller University of Jena, Germany)
  • Hans-Jörg Vogel (Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research - UFZ, Halle, Germany)
  • Iain Young (University of New England, Australia)


Scientific board:

  • Reviewers of the SPP 1315
  • Principal investigators of the SPP 1315


Date: 6.10. - 8.10.2014

Venue: Kubus at the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research - UFZ, Leipzig (Germany)

Programme of the symposium:

Monday Morning, October 6th

  • 8:20-8:30 Kai Uwe Totsche - Opening Note

Session I: Unravelling BGI structure: Formation & Architecture of BGIs (Chaired by: Geertje Pronk and Joanna Hanzel)

  • 8:30-9:15 Henry Lin - Formation of Preferential Flow and Architecture of Biogeochemical Interfaces in Soil
  • 9:15-9:35 Anja Miltner - Formation and Maturation of Biogeochemical Interfaces in Soil
  • 9:35-9:55 Karl Ritz - A Light Issue: Microbial Controls Upon the Architecture of the Soil:Atmosphere Interface
  • 9:55-10:25 Rest-Coffee Break
  • 10:25-11:10 Iain Young - Root Architects and Plastic Plumbers
  • 11:10-11.30 Matthias Kästner - Contribution of Microbial Biomass to the Formation of Soil Organic Matter and BGI
  • 11:30-11:50 Geertje Pronk - An Interdisciplinary Approach Towards Understanding Biogeochemical Interface Formation Using Artificial Soils
  • 11:50-12:10 Michael Schloter - Hot Spots and Hot Moments: Effect of Plant Litter on the Formation of Biogeochemical Interfaces in Soil
  • 12:10-12:30 Marc-Oliver Göbel - Soil Particle Wettability as a Controlling Factor in Biogeochemical Interface Formation
  • 12:30-13:45 Lunch


Monday Afternoon, October 6th
Session II: Exploring BGIs: New Avenues for "Provovative" Joint Experiments and Complementary Cutting-Edge Techniques (Chaired by: Ingrid Kögel-Knabner and Sascha Oswald)

  • 13:45-14:30 Hans-Jörg Vogel - Imaging BGIs: A Simultaneous Look from Different Perspectives May Offer Clues
  • 14:30-14:50 Katja Hesiter - Preferential Sequestration of Organic Matter in Organo-Mineral Clusters as Revealed by Nano-Scale Secondary Ion  Mass Spectrometry and Isotopic Tracing
  • 14:50-15:10 Thomas Ritschel - Quantification of pH-Dependent Species of Organic Molecules with UV/VIS Spectroscopy and Factor Analysis
  • 15:10-15:30 Nicole Rudoplh-Mohr - Multi-Imaging Approach to Study the Root-Soil Interface
  • 15:30-15:50 Baharsadat Razavidezfuly - Visualization of Enzyme Activities at Soil-Root Interface
  • 15:50-16:20 Rest-Coffee Break
  • 16:20-17:05 Thilo Eickhorst - Revealing (Bio-)Physical Structure and Microbial Colonization of BGI in Soil: From Qualitative Observation to Quantitative Modelling
  • 17:05-17:25 Susanne K. Woche - X-Ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy (XPS) as a Versatile Tool to Relate Surface Chemical Composition and Wetting Properties
  • 17:25-17:45 Christian Buchmann - Characterization of Wet Aggregate Stability of Soils by 1H-NMR Relaxometry
  • 17:45-18:00 Eric Michel - How Can Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Help Understanding Colloidal Particle Transport in Soils
  • 18:05-18:25 Michael Matthies - Rapid Formation of Non-Extractable Residues of Sulfonamides: Paramagnetic Spin Probing Revealed Covalent Bonding of Aromatic Amino Group
  • 18:25-18:45 Andreas Schäffer - The Influence of Extracellular Oxidative Enzymes on the Formation of Non-Extractable Residues (NER) of 14C-Metalaxyl in Soil
  • 18:45-19:05 Katharina Reichel - Effect of Phenanthrene and Hexadecane on the Release and Transport of Mobile Organic Matter in Soil
  • 19:05-20:30 Dinner
  • 20:30-22:00 ac. - Poster Session I, Chaired by: Anja Miltner


Tuesday Morning, October 7th

Session III: Microbial Ecology of BGIs: Soil (micro-)organisms as "Architects" & "Actors" of BGIs (Chaired by: Lukas Y. Wick and Ellen Kandeler)

  • 8:30-9:15 George A. Kowalchuk - Microbial Diversity at the Interface
  • 9:15-9:35 Michael Hemkemeyer - Influence of Organic Matter on Microbial Community Structure and Activity in Soil Microhabitat
  • 9:35-9:55 Doreen Babin - Transport of Phenanthrene in Soil Columns Influence the Bacterial Community Structure9:55:10:40 James Prosser - Spatial Heterogeneity, Diversity, and Ecosystem Function
  • 10:40-11:10 Rest-Coffee Break
  • 11:10-11:55 Kornelia Smalla - Microorganisms: Active Inhabitants and Architects of BGIs in Artificial Soils
  • 11:55-12:15 Lasse Pedersen - Reducing Diffusion Limitation Shifts the Dominant Nitrate Reduction Metabolism from Incomplete Denitrification to Dissimilatory Nitrate Reduction to Ammonium
  • 12:15-12:35 Christian Poll - The Soil-Litter Interface: A Hot Spot for Biogeochemical Interactions
  • 12:35-14:00 Lunch


Tuesday Afternoon, October 7th
Session IV: BGIs in Changing Environments: BGIs Dynamics & Heterogeneity with Consequences for Properties & Processes (Chaired by: Nicole Rudolph-Mohr and Jörg Bachmann)

  • 14:00-14:45 Dani Or - Trophic Interdependencies Shape Spatial Self-Organization of Microbial Consortia on Complex Hydrated Soil Surfaces
  • 14:45-15:05 Jan Achtenhagen - Bacterial Impact on the Wetting Properties of Soil Minerals
  • 15:05-15:25 Flavia Pinzari - Fungal-Mineral Interface During Leaf Litter Decomposition
  • 15:25-15:45 Brian P. Kelleher - How Does the Addition of Sulphur to Soil Influence Chemosynthesis and Carbon Flux?
  • 15:45-16:05 Sonja Schmidt - Understanding Root Growth Induced Changes in Soil
  • 16:05-16:40 Rest-Coffee Break
  • 16:40-17:25 Barth F. Smets - Active Microbial Dispersal in Soils: Effect of Spatial Heterogeneity and Varying Hydration Conditions
  • 17:25-17:45 Naoise Nunan - Soil Organic Matter Decomposition - the Roles of Microbial Habitats and of Microbial Communities
  • 17:45-18:05 Muhammad Sanaullah - Drought Impact on Spatial Heterogeneity of Enzyme Activities on the Root-Soil Interface
  • 18:05-18:50 Georg Haberhauer - The Dynamics and Properties of Biogeochemical Interfaces in Soil: The Impact of Changing Environments
  • 18:50-20:30 Dinner
  • 20:30-22:00 ac. - Poster Session II, Chaired by: Susanne K. Woche


Wednesday Morning, October 8th
Session V: Quantitative Understanding of BGIs: Theoretical Concepts & Models to Explain Structure, Properties & Functions of BGIs (Chaired by: Friederike Lang and Thilo Streck)

  • 8:30-9:15 Chris Oostenbrink - Molecular Models and Simulations of Soil Organic Matter: Structure, Dynamics and Interactions with Other Entities
  • 9:15-9:35 Yamuna Kunhi Mouvenchery - Organic Functional Group Density and Structural Dynamics of Soil Organic Matter Take Key Role in Cation Bridge Formation
  • 9:35-9:55 Michael Borisover - Organic Sorbate Induced Cooperative Hydration of Soil Organic Matter
  • 9:55-10:15 Jaane Krüger - Linking Physicochemical and Structural Properties of Biogeochemical Interfaces in Soils to Sequestration of Organic Pollutants
  • 10:15-10:35 James Kubicki - Modeling Surface Chemistry of Ferrihydrite Invited:
  • 10:35-11:00 Rest-Coffe Break
  • 11:00-11:45 Ingrid Kögel- Knabner & Kai U. Totsche - A Conceptual Approach to Experimental Pedology
  • 11:45-12:05 Martin Elsner - Delineation of Biogeochemical Processes Controlling Contaminant Fate in an Mesoscale Aquifer by Compound-Specific Isotope Analyses
  • 12:05-12:25 Holger Pagel - Micro-Scale Modeling of Pesticide Degradation Coupled to Carbon Turnover in the Detritusphere
  • 12:25-12:45 Thomas Ritschel - Hierarchical Structure of Biogeochemical Interfaces to Predict the Transport of Reactive Chemicals in Soil
  • 12:45 Patricia Schmitz-Möller & Kai Uwe Totsche - A Final Note and The End of the Symposium


Full programme of the symposium can be found here


To register for the conference, please click here


Important dates:

  • Abstract submission deadline: Ended on July 7. If you are interested in submitting an abstract, please contact us
  • End of free of charge registration: September 12 (charge: 50euro)
  • End of registration: September 26


Further information:



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For the Call for Abstracts please click here