MSc thesis opportunity: Impacts of chemical stressors on the enzyme activity in microbes

We offer a Master thesis on effects of different chemical stressors on the activity of biopolymer-cleaving enzymes in leaf-associated microbial biofilms.

Setup of microcosm experiments (photo by P. Baudy)

Microorganisms play a central role in the nutrient cycling in stream ecosystems, e.g., during the decomposition of leaf material originating from the riparian vegetation. The decomposition process is facilitated by a range of biopolymer-cleaving enzymes, produced by leaf-associated microorganisms – particularly aquatic hyphomycete fungi. However, these key organisms can be affected by chemical stressors (e.g., pesticides and pharmaceuticals) released into the aquatic environment via anthropogenic activities. While impacts on these microorganisms’ functioning have been observed, a mechanistic understanding of these effects is still lacking. Therefore, this thesis will investigate the degradative capabilities of leaf-associated microbial communities to foster our knowledge.

During this MSc project the candidate will investigate the activity of a range of enzyme groups in available leaf samples obtained from different microcosm experiments using fungicides, antibiotics, or antihistamines as chemical stressors. Subsequently the results will be statistically evaluated.

You should bring:

–       Motivation

–       Ability to work in a team

–       Fundamental laboratory and statistics knowledge

If you are interested, please contact Patrick Baudy (, Jochen Zubrod (, or Mirco Bundschuh (