Chair for Geobiotechnology, Institute for Biotechnology, TU Berlin

Chair for Geobiotechnology

Prof. Dr. Lorenz Adrian

The chair Geobiotechnology was jointly established between TU Berlin and the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research - UFZ in Leipzig, Department Environmental Biotechnology

We investigate and teach molecular aspects of anoxic microbial processes and how such processes can contribute to environmentally relevant topics, such as mitigation of climate change or biodegradation of pollutants

  • Microbial remediation of pollutants in surface water, ground water, and soils (antibiotics, solvents, pesticides)
  • Energy-efficient production of chemicals and fuels
  • Energy-efficient waste water treatment (anaerobic digestion, anaerobic transformation of pollutants, anaerobic ammonium oxidation "Anammox")
  • Early evolution of life
  • Biodegradation of plastics (polyurethane)

We are a team of 20-30 researchers (full scientists, PostDocs, doctoral researchers, students and technicians). Our labs are at the Department Environmental Biotechnology, Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research - UFZ in Leipzig.


Environmental Biotechnology of Anaerobes

We investigate anoxic microbial processes. We do this by looking mostly at the molecular basics (genomes, proteins, small molecules) underlying such processes. We also study how anoxic microbial processes can help society. This can be for a clean environment (surface water, ground water, sediments and soils), for energy-efficient production processes, for waste water treatment (anaerobic digestion, Anammox) or for production of fuels. We do biotechnology at different Technology Readiness Levels, meaning that we investigate the fundamental molecular drivers of a process but we also develop applications.

More in detail, we study bacteria that metabolically transform toxic halogenated aromatics and how we can use them for aquifer decontamination or productive biotechnology. We study the biochemistry and physiology of anammox bacteria to apply anammox stages for ammonium removal from wastewater. We study transformation of antibiotics and other trace contaminants to establish transformation processes in designated wastewater treatment stages. Also, we investigate microbial processes in soil to understand carbon incorporation to improve the fertility of soils and to understand the fate of pesticides in soils.

Microbial processes evolved over time and their fundamental understanding is only possible in the light of evolution. We therefore develop a framework for early evolution on the basis of autotrophic anaerobiosis.

Electron micrograph of strain CBDB1



Prof. Dr. L. Adrian


see actual lists at

Instruments & Methods

  • Anaerobic cultivation
  • Anaerobic biochemistry
  • High-resolution mass spectrometry for protein (nLC-MS/MS, Thermo Orbitrap Fusion) and metabolilte (Sciex) identification; data procession pipelines
  • We are happy too cooperate on mass spectrometry of proteins
  • GC-MS, GC-FID, ion chromatography, Elemental analyzer
  • Wetland greenhouse


Administration office: Ackerstraße 76, 13355 Berlin-Wedding

The labs of the work group are located at the Helmholtz-Centre for Environmental Research - UFZ in Leipzig: Permoserstraße 15, 04318 Leipzig


Teaching & Study

Master/Bachelor theses, PhD theses, PosDoc stays, Research stays

Students can contribute to our research in the frame of their master or bachelor theses in Leipzig. PhD theses, PostDoc research or other research stays with external funding are also welcome. Contact: lorenz.adrian[at]

Teaching Overview

We offer Bachelor and Master theses at our labs at Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research - UFZ in Leipzig. When interested, please look at our research pages in Leipzig and contact either the respective working group head or L. Adrian. We also offer 6-week lab internships as preparation for Master theses and this can be recognized within the master course Biotechnology (6 LP) as "Vertiefungspraktikum Geobiotechnologie".

Regularly hold modules:

  • Lecture series Geobiotechnology / Environmental Biotechnologie: Summer semester, 2 SWS, 3 LP, Wahlpflichtbereich A, Prof. Lorenz Adrian
  • Practical course Geobiotechnology / Environmental Biotechnologie: Winter semester, 3 LP, Wahlpflichtbereich A, Prof. L. Adrian
  • Lecture series Enzyme Technology: Winter semester, 2 SWS, 3 LP, freie Wahl, Dr. Darja Deobald
  • Integrated course Molecular Environmental Engineering: Winter semester, Lecture series & Practical, 3 LP, freie Wahl, Dr. Chang Ding

For details, please see below.

Details on courses

Geobiotechnology VL

Summer semester Mo 8:15-9:45, Prof. Lorenz Adrian, 2 SWS, 3 LP, Wahlpflichtbereich A. Lecture series in English. This couse will be held mostly online (2/3) but with in-person meetings (1/3). For details please see Isis-Course 28460. No limitation of participants.

  • Microbially catalyzed reactions in the environment and their biotechnological application
  • Geobiochemistry & Geobiotechnology
  • Genomics, transcriptomics and proteomics of environmental processes
  • Bioinformatic tools (alignment, trees, annotation, databases, pathways)
  • Functional analysis of genomes

Geobiotechnology PR

Winter semester (Feb/March), Prof. Dr. Lorenz Adrian, 3 LP, Wahlpflichtbereich Master Biotechnology, area A, language is English and German. This is a one-week practical course at the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research - UFZ in Leipzig shortly after the lecture time; for details please see Isis-course 30756; participation is limitied to 8 students of the Master courses Biotechnology or Environmental Technology;

  • Practical experiments with environmentally relevant microorganisms
  • Biochemical experiments
  • Anaerobic activity tests
  • Chemical analytics (GC, HPLC)
  • Proteomics
  • Native gel electrophoresis

Enzyme Technology

Winter semester. Dr. Darja Deobald, 2 SWS, 3 LP, elective course in German. Lecture series Fridays 4-5.30 pm. For details please see Isis-Course 30775. No limitation of participation.

  • Enzyme kinetics
  • Protein characterisation
  • Enzyme classes
  • Cloning and heterologous expression
  • Translational modification of proteins
  • Protein complexes
  • Membrane proteins
  • ...

Molecular Environmental Engineering

Winter semester. Dr. Chang Ding. 3 LP, elective couse in English. Integrated course (6 lectures Mo 4-6 pm and a 4-days practical course at Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research in Leipzig in March). For details see ISIS-course 30760. The course is limited to 8 participants, preferentially from the Master courses Biotechnology or Environmental Technology.