Biologie and Geography

In General Zoology, research continued in the main areas of interest, behavioural ecology and sensory biology. Two model animals – the group of mole-rats (subterranean rodents from Africa) and the great tit – were used as modelorganisms in this research.
In water science, the two main focuses – the restoration and the assessment of freshwater ecosystems – were extended to include various groups of organisms. The University of Duisburg-Essen again succeeded in winning responsibility for a major EU project, WISER (Framework Programme 7 project), with a total of 25 international partners coordinated by the Department of Applied Zoology /  Hydrobiology.
Further projects with international partners continued. These are: Euro-Limpacs (Framework Programme 6 project) with University College London, the National Environmental Research Institute Denmark and the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences Uppsala, among others, and at international level Assess-HKH (Framework Programme 6 project) with partners including BOKU Wien (University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences, Vienna) and several partners in Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan.
Other main areas of research were the investigation of the biological availability of platinum metals and the question of how far aquatic hosts are affected by parasites and environmental contaminations.
In Botany, activities concentrated on eco­physiological and botanical research into theeffects of extreme, post-volcanic CO2 emissions (mofettes) on plants (carbon dioxide, sulphurdioxide), and the quantification and modelling of the photosynthetic carbon gain through stem photosynthesis (corticular bark photosynthesis) of woody plants, along with the influence exerted on them by changing abiotic environmentalfactors during climate change.
Other studies dealt with the absorption of particulate matter on surfaces of living and dead plants.
The subject of investigation in Microbiology is the role of microorganisms in the environment. One major area of research is the volatilisation of metals and metalloids; it deals in particular with the identification and heterologous expressionof enzymes taken from methanoarchaea, which catalyse the transformation of metals and metalloids into volatile methyl derivatives. This reaction is of significant importance both in ecology and medicine.
The metabolism of hyperthermophilic organisms was another central point of interest. Detailed insights were gained into the carbo­hydrate metabolism of Thermoproteus tenax,a representative of hyperthermophilic archaea.
With its commitment to empirical educational research, the Didactics of Biology hasbeen successfully integrated into the DFG “Teaching Natural Sciences” Research Training Group and the only German Research Foundation (DFG) Research Unit of its kind in Germany.Research in this area covers performancemeasurement and competence modelling, context-oriented learning, teaching quality, and teacher professionalisation. These issues are also integral elements of the BMBF “Biology in Context” pro­ject.