Meet Frederik: taking a really close look at DOM

Hello everyone, my name is Frederik Lange. I started recently as a Ph.D. student at the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry in Jena. Here, I work in the Molecular Biogeochemistry group with Gerd Gleixner as my supervisor.

Before coming to Jena, my studies focused on environments quite different than rainforests – the oceans of our planet. Specifically, I studied Marine Geosciences with a biogeochemical focus at the University of Bremen, Germany. For my master thesis, I was lucky to be able to conduct amazing fieldwork as well. I got to spend a few weeks on a research cruise off the coast of Mauritania, Africa. There, I investigated heterotrophic metabolization of amino acids by bacteria.

However, having grown up in a small village in northern Germany, I’ve always loved the nature on land. Therefore, I wanted to shift gears towards terrestrial environments for my future. So now I am more than happy to be able to work on really interesting topics in an environment as fascinating as the Amazon rainforest.

In my Ph.D. project, I am studying ecosystem functioning via the analysis of dissolved organic matter (DOM) in soils. The pool of DOM is comprised of many thousands of compounds. Ecosystem processes and properties are reflected in these molecules, so DOM carries fingerprints of ecosystem functioning. I am using ultrahigh-resolution mass spectrometry for the analysis – as the name already suggests, the ultrahigh resolution allows me to decipher the molecular composition in detail. The focus of my work will be on differences between terra firme and whitesand ecosystems. In addition, I will investigate the effects of seasonality to see how belowground processes and nutrient cycling are affected by seasonality and particularly variations in precipitation.

As I only started a few months back, I haven’t been to ATTO yet. But I’m already excited to catch up with this once it’s properly possible again and also to hopefully start meeting some people involved in this great project.