Rhizosphere in Peatlands

Carbon and nitrogen turnover in the rhizosphere of Patagonian peatlands

  • Bog in Patagonia


    Peatlands in Southern Patagonia have received increasing attention in the past years. Due to extremely low nutrient deposition and little human disturbance, these sites are suitable to study peatlands under very pristine conditions. Moreover, in Patagonia there exist – besides sphagnum peatlands – peatlands dominated by cushion plants. It is to date not known, under which conditions such cushion plant dominated sites form and how much carbon they accumulate compared to sphagnum dominated sites. First results indicated that peat accumulation under cushion plants is considerably slower than under sphagnum. Additionally, nitrogen contents of the peat seem to be significantly higher under cushion plants.

    As cushion plants have a very dense and aerenchymatic rooting system, a high impact on decomposition processes and turnover can be postulated. This project thus aims at identifying carbon and nitrogen turnover in the rhizosphere and root turnover of vascular plants, especially of cushion plants, compared to sphagnum dominated sites.

  • Methods

    The project involves field and laboratory approaches to study carbon and nitrogen turnover in-situ and in controlled batches. Stable isotope techniques are used to trace carbon and nitrogen input and turnover, as well as radiocarbon dating. As a basis, we investigate above and below ground biomass and element inventories of the plants and peats.

  • Students

    Graduate and undergraduate research opportunities:
    Currently we are analyzing samples from our last campaigns. There is always help needed for analytical work in the laboratory, please do not hesitate to ask. In case of successful funding, M.Sc. thesis may be offered.

    For more details, especially in case of interest for a thesis or work as a student assistant, please contact Prof. Dr. Klaus-Holger Knorr.

  • Infothek

    Projectpartner und Contact:

    University of Münster
    Institute for Landscape Ecology, Ecohydrology and Biogeochemistry Research Group
    Principal Investigator: Prof. Dr. Klaus-Holger Knorr

    University of Bayreuth
    Department of Soil Ecology
    Co-Investigator: apl. Prof. Dr. Werner Borken

    Project Duration and Funding:

    This project is currently being funded on institutional funding, but has been supported by:

    • Prof. Dr. Christian Blodau, institutional money (2010)
    • University of Bayreuth, Department of Hydrology, Prof. Dr. S. Peiffer (2010, 2013)
    • BayLAT: Bavarian Latin-American Research Alliance (2013)
    • Faculty of Geosciences, University of Münster (2014)
  • News

    2014 spring field campaign has been successfully finished (see pictures in the next tab).


  • Pictures


    • © K.H.Knorr
    • © K.H.Knorr