Abteilung Geobiologie

Welcome to the Department of Geobiology!

Geological and biological processes are often directly related, and have greatly influenced the biodiversity and shape of our planet. The Geobiology Group studies the evolution of organisms and the interactions between the biosphere and the geosphere, in the present and throughout Earth's history since life originated at least 3.5 billion years ago.

In addition to multicellular animals and plants, which are in the focus of classical paleontology, we are also interested in microorganisms that once made our planet habitable to animals and higher plants, and which have dominated the biosphere for over 80% of Earth's history. We want to know what these microorganisms are, understand their metabolic and survival strategies, and gain insight into how they have had, and continue to make, a lasting impact on Earth’s element cycles.

Geobiology is a highly interdisciplinary science. Our research employs state-of-the-art methods ranging from paleontology, geochemistry, microbiology, zoology, botany, and molecular genetics. Geobiological research generates knowledge that can address real world problems, for example the extraction and recycling of industrial raw materials and the rehabilitation of contaminated ecosystems. Geobiology also provides important fundamental knowledge for managing ecosystems, responding and adapting to the challenges of today’s global climate change, and also to understanding how extra-terrestrial geological and potential biological systems may have evolved.


Press release: Algae reveal clues about climate changes over millions of years
Rampen S. W., Friedl T., Rybalka N. & Thiel V. (2022): The Long chain Diol Index: A marine palaeotemperature proxy based on eustigmatophyte lipids that records the warmest seasons. - PNAS 119, e2116812119. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.2116812119

Arp, G., Dunkl, I., Jung, D., Karius, V., Lukács, R., Zeng, L., Reimer, A. & Head, J.W. III (2021): A volcanic ash layer in the Nördlinger Ries impact structure (Miocene, Germany): Indication of crater fill geometry and origins of long-term crater floor sagging. - Journal of Geophysical Research Planets 126, e2020JE006764. https://doi.org/10.1029/2020JE006764 (open access)

Duda J.-P., König H., Reinhardt M., Shuvalova J., Parkhaev P. (2021) Molecular fossils within bitumens and kerogens from the~ 1 Ga Lakhanda Lagerstätte (Siberia, Russia) and their significance for understanding early eukaryote evolution. - Paläontologische Zeitschrift 95, 577-592. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12542-021-00593-4 (open access)

Mißbach H., Duda J.-P., van den Kerkhof A. M. Lüders V., Pack A., Reitner J., Thiel V. (2021) Ingredients for microbial life preserved in 3.5 billion-year-old fluid inclusions. Nature Communications 12, article number: 1101. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-021-21323-z (open access)

Wolkenstein, K., Arp, G. (2021): Taxon- and senescence-specific fluorescence of colored leaves from the Pliocene Willershausen Lagerstätte, Germany. Paläontologische Zeitschrift 95, 747-756. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12542-020-00538-3 (open access)