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First name:Sandra
Last name:Schöttner
Thesis Subject:
Exploring Diversity, Structure and Dynamics of Associated Prokaryotic Communities
04/2007 - 12/2010
Ph.D. studies -- Marine Microbiology
Microbial Habitat Group, Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology, Bremen; Coral Reef Ecology Work Group, Ludwig Maximilians University, Munich; Jacobs University, Bremen, Germany
10/2005 - 03/2007
M.Sc. studies -- Marine Microbiology
Microbial Habitat Group, Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology, Bremen; Coral Reef Ecology Work Group, Ludwig Maximilians University, Munich; University, Bremen, Germany
10/2004 - 09/2005
Diploma studies -- Marine Biology
Bremen University, Bremen, Germany
10/2002 - 09/2004
Intermediate diploma studies -- Biology
Bremen University, Bremen, Germany
Scientific Interests and Goals:
* Ecology and biogeochemistry of benthic deep-sea habitats
* Cold-water coral reef ecosystems
* Microbe-fauna interactions
* Global carbon-cycle processes
* Deep-sea in situ technologies

Cold-water coral reefs are recognized as key ecosystems and biodiversity hotspots in cold, deep and mostly nutrient-rich waters. By forming enormous three-dimensional structures, which are predominantly composed of the skeletal frameworks of scleractinian species, cold-water corals provide a complex habitat for a variety of associated organisms. The potential of these ecosystems to foster enhanced species diversity in the ocean is undisputed. However, little is known about the putative role that cold-water coral reefs play as biodiversity hotspots for the “unseen majority” in the oceans: microbial communities!

As part of the ESF EuroDIVERSITY project MiCROSYSTEMS, this study aims at exploring the community structure, specificity and potential ecological role of microbes associated with different cold-water coral species (order: Scleractinia) along horizontal and vertical gradients in the reef ecosystem. Special focus is thereby given to the question in how far cold-water corals act as “ecosystem engineers” for microbial communities by shaping their diversity via habitat formation or release of organic matter.

A combination of high-resolution molecular tools, microscopy techniques and multivariate statistics is applied to investigate different microbial habitats in the reef ecosystem such as coral mucus, coral skeleton surface and coral tissue, as well as proximal sediments and ambient seawater. In addition, incubation experiments with coral exudates are performed. A sub-project is dedicated to the cross-ecosystem comparison of microbial diversity and specificity in cold- vs. warm-water coral reefs.

By clearly accounting for potential fine-scale differences in both habitat and microbial-community structure, this study represents an unprecedented approach to the characterization of cold-water coral-microbe associations. The molecular aspects of this work will be complemented with the biogeochemical analyses conducted by Laura Wehrmann (MPI-MM, Bremen) and Dr. Christian Wild (LMU, Munich).
Selected Publications:
Schöttner S, Wild C, Hoffmann F, Boetius A, Ramette A (2012) Spatial scales of bacterial diversity in cold-water coral reef ecosystems. PLoS ONE 7: e32093.

Schöttner S, Pfitzner B, Grünke S, Rasheed M, Wild C, Ramette A (2011) Drivers of bacterial diversity dynamics in permeable carbonate and silicate coral reef sands from the Red Sea. Environ Mircrobiol 13: 1815-1826.

Schöttner S (2010) Bacterial habitat differentiation in cold- and warm-water coral reef ecosystems. Dissertation. Jacobs University Bremen.

Boetius A, Bienhold C, Schöttner S, Ufkes J, Ramette A (2009) Fingerabdrücke mikrobieller Gemeinschaften im Meer. BIOspektrum 07: 726-729.

Schläppy, ML, Schöttner S, Lavik G, Kuypers MMM , de Beer D, Hoffmann F (2009) Evidence of nitrification and denitrification in high and low microbial abundance sponges. Mar Biol 157: 593-602.

Wild C, Wehrmann LM, Mayr C, Schöttner S, Allers E, Lundälv T (2009) Microbial degradation of cold water coral-derived organic matter – potential implication for organic C cycling in the water column above Tisler Reef. Aquat Biol 7: 71-80.

Schöttner S, Hoffmann F, Wild C, Rapp HT, Boetius A, Ramette A (2009) Inter- and intra- habitat bacterial diversity associated with cold-water corals. ISME J 3: 756-759.

Wild C, Mayr C, Wehrmann LM, Schöttner S, Naumann M, Hoffmann F, Rapp HT (2008) Organic matter release by cold-water corals and its implication for fauna-microbe interaction. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 372: 67-75.