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)


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
  • Notification about acceptance: July 28
  • End of early registration: August 11
  • 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