Dr. Birgit Pfeiffer

Dr. Birgit Pfeiffer was employed at the IAPN in the time from October 2015 until December 2015. She investigates the role of microbial communities and their diversity in agricultural soils in terms of an effective nutrition of plants and the emission of greenhouse gases such as N2, N2O or CH4.


Microbial soil communities are affected directly and indirectly by a complex system of interactions between biotic and abiotic factors. As an example, different plant species and their respective root properties, soil nutrient levels, their pH levels and moisture content have a large impact on the composition and activity of the microbial community living in agricultural soils. Microorganisms in return, play an important role as drivers of the nutrient cycles or in the mobilization of nutrients and thus shape their environment.


Currently Mrs. Pfeiffer explores the complex relationships of microbial activity and diversity, and the mobilization of important nutrients (N, P, K) in the rhizosphere and soil, and follows the microbial formation of climate-relevant trace gases in soil. An important objective of this work is, among other things, to develop approaches for an optimized use of nutrients.


In 2013 Ms. Pfeiffer completed her doctorates/PhD within the framework of the Cluster of Excellence "Functional Biodiversity Research" at the Institute of Microbiology and Genetics, the University of Göttingen.




Publications in refereed journals and refereed conference proceedings.

Rummel, P.S.; Well, R.; Pausch, J.; Pfeiffer, B. & Dittert, K. (2021) Carbon availability and nitrogen mineralization control denitrification rates and product stoichiometry during initial maize litter decomposition. Applied Sciences, 11(11), doi:10.3390/app11115309.

Rummel, P.S.; Well, R.; Pfeiffer, B.; Dittert, K.; Floßmann, S. & Pausch, J. (2021) Nitrate uptake and carbon exudation – do plant roots stimulate or inhibit denitrification? Plant and Soil, 459(1), 17.doi:10.1007/s11104-020-04750-7.

Wang, H.T.; Beule, L.; Zang, H.D.; Pfeiffer, B.; Ma, S.T.; Karlovsky, P. & Dittert, K. (2020) The potential of ryegrass as cover crop to reduce soil N2O emissions and increase the population size of denitrifying bacteria. European Journal of Soil Science. Doi.org/10.1111/ejss.13047.

Köbke, S.; Senbayram, M.; Pfeiffer, B.; Nacke, H. & Dittert, K. (2018) Post-harvest N2O and CO2 emissions related to plant residue incorporation of oilseed rape and barley straw depend on soil NO3- content. Soil and Tillage Research 179, 105-113.

Cesarz, S.; Fender, A.-C.; Beyer, F.; Valtanen, K.; Pfeiffer, B.; Gansert, D. et al. (2013) Roots from beech (Fagus sylvatica L.) and ash (Fraxinus excelsior L.) differentially affect soil microorganisms and carbon dynamics. Soil Biol. Biochem. 61, 23–32. doi:10.1016/j.soilbio.2013.02.003.

Pfeiffer, B.; Fender, A.-C.; Lasota, S.; Hertel, D.; Jungkunst, H. F. & Daniel, R. (2013) Leaf litter is the main driver for changes in bacterial community structures in the rhizosphere of ash and beech. Appl. Soil Ecol. 72, 150–160. doi:10.1016/j.apsoil.2013.06.008.

Fender, A.-C.; Pfeiffer, B.; Gansert, D.; Leuschner, C.; Daniel, R. & Jungkunst, H. F. (2012) The inhibiting effect of nitrate fertilisation on methane uptake of a temperate forest soil is influenced by labile carbon. Biol. Fertil. Soils 48, 621–631. doi:10.1007/s00374-011-0660-3.

Kemmling, A.; Pfeiffer, B.; Daniel, R. & Hoppert, M. (2012) Bacterial diversity in biological soil crusts from extrazonal mountain dry steppes in northern Mongolia. Wiss. Beitr. Martin. Luther. Univ. Halle. Wittenberg. 12, 437–449.

Grote, J.; Labrenz, M.; Pfeiffer, B.; Jost, G. & Jürgens, K. (2007) Quantitative distributions of Epsilonproteobactena and a Sulfurimonas subgroup in pelagic redoxclines of the central Baltic Sea. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 73, 7155–7161. doi:10.1128/AEM.00466-07.

Lingner, A.; Dittert, K. & Pfeiffer, B. (2018): The cropping system matters – Contrasting responses of winter faba bean genotypes to drought stress. EUCARPIA Symposium on Breeding for Diversification, February 19th - 21st, Witzenhausen, Germany.

Lingner, A.; Dittert, K. & Pfeiffer, B. (2018): The cropping system matters – Contrasting responses of winter faba bean genotypes to drought stress. PLANT 2030 Status Seminar, February 05th - 07th, Potsdam, Germany.

Lingner, A.; Pfeiffer, B. & Dittert, K. (2017): Performance and drought stress response of winter faba bean genotypes in mixed cropping with winter wheat. XVIII. International Plant Nutrition Colloquium (IPNC), August 21st - 24th, Copenhagen, Denmark.

Lingner, A.; Pfeiffer, B. & Dittert, K. (2017): Winter faba bean growth in pure and mixed stands under water deficit conditions in the greenhouse. PLANT 2030 Status Seminar, February 20th - 22nd, Potsdam, Germany.

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