Professor Dr. rer. nat. Joachim Reitner


Professor Dr. rer. nat. Joachim Reitner

Georg-August-University of Goettingen, Germany, Department of Geobiology, Centre for Geosciences,
Faculty of Geosciences and Geography

Goldschmidtstr. 3
37077 Göttingen, Germany
Fax: +49-(0)551-39 7996


Born May 6, 1952, in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Bavaria, Germany

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Short curriculum and Awards

Professional career

  • 1980: Diploma in Geology/Palaeontology, University of Tübingen
  • 1980 - 1984: doctoral research fellow, Eberhard Karls University Tübingen
  • 1984: Dr. rer. nat. in Geology/Palaeontology, University of Tübingen
  • 1984 - 1988: postdoctoral research fellow, FU-Berlin
  • 1989 - 1994: Assistant Professor, FU-Berlin
  • 1991: Habilitation in Geology/Palaeontology, FU-Berlin
  • 1993: Visiting Professor, University of Paris-Sud XI/Orsay
  • 1998: Academician of the Academy of Science of Göttingen
  • 1999: Call C4 Professorship for Palaeontology, University of Erlangen
  • since 2006: Visiting Professor, North-West University of Xian (China)
  • since 1994: Full Professor (C4) in Palaeontology and Geobiology, University of Göttingen
  • since 2011: Visiting Professor, Nanjing University & Academy of Science-NIGPAS (China)


  • 1996: G.W. Leibniz Award of the DFG
  • 1998: Academician of the Göttingen Academy of Science
  • 2011: Famous Foreign Scholar Award (University of Nanjing, Chinese Government Award)

Editorial Service

  • Section Editor: PalZ(Springer)
  • Editor in Chief: Lecture Notes in Earth Sciences (Springer)
  • Editor: Carbonates and Evaporites (Springer)
  • Associated Editor: Geomicrobiology Journal (Taylor & Francis)
  • Editorial Board: Göttinger Universitätsverlag
  • Guest Editor: Sedimentary Geology (Elsevier)
  • Guest Editor: Archaea


  • EGU
  • DGGV
  • Paläontologische Gesellschaft
  • Zoologische Gesellschaft
  • SEPM
  • Geological Society of America
  • AGU
  • Geologische Vereinigung

Scientific duties

  • Head of the Geobiology Department of GZG and chair of Paleontology and Geobiology
  • Director of the Geoscience Museum, Collection, and Geoparc of the GZG
  • 2012-2018 President of the „Paläontologische Gesellschaft“ of Germany
  • 2005-2008 Vice President of the German „Paläontologische Gesellschaft“ (2005-2008)
  • 2012-2017 Chairman of German National Committee IUGS
  • 2002-2004 Dean of the faculty of Geosciences and Geography
  • 2001-2002 and 2005-2007 Vice Dean of the faculty of Geosciences and Geography
  • Member of the steering committee of Göttingen Centre for Biodiversity and Ecology (GCBE)
  • 2005-2010 Member of the research commission of the academic senate (Univ. Göttingen)
  • 2005-2007 Deputy senator of the academic senate of the University of Göttingen
  • 2005-2011 DFG selection board Heinz Maier-Leibnitz award
  • Referee for funding agencies: DFG, NERC, ARC, NSF-USA, NSF-China, Schweizer National Fonds, Humboldt-Foundation, et al.
  • Referee for scientific journals: Nature, Science, Geochimica, Cosmochimica Acta, Palaeo3, Facies, Jour. Paleontology, Geomicrobiology Journ., Geology, et al.
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Main Fields of Research

  • Geobiology of prebiotic and early life processes
  • Astrobiology
  • Biomineralization and biodiversity of rock-forming organo-films,  biofilms and microbial mats
  • Geomicrobiology and biogeochemistry of the deep subterranean biosphere
  • Microbial palaeo-ecology of modern and ancient seep and other extreme environments
  • Phylogeny and biogeochemistry of ancestral metazoans (sponges, cnidarians)
  • Biogeochemistry of biomineralisation of carbonates and silicates
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Research Profile

Main interest of my research is the interplay between organisms and their metabolic processes with various abiotic parameters. Many geological processes can be understood as geo-physiological processes, allowing chemical reactions that would never run under standard thermodynamic con­ditions. Therefore, major research goal of my activities is the investigation of the evolution of these processes, visible in biosignatures and biomineralization patterns, and its interaction with biogeo­chemical cycles. These reactions are generally controlled by organic molecules and often pushed by enzymatic pathways. Fundamental geo-physiological changes of biotic processes navigated bioevents and special biochemical cycles known from earth history. These coupled geo- and biological pro­cedures are possibly not restricted to the earth system and may be realized also on other planets with comparable geological conditions. The search for life on other planets requires the knowledge of certain biosignatures which could tell us the presence of certain life processes.

Biofilms and microbial mats have an important geobiological force and control many geological processes, e.g. cementation and degradation of rock surfaces. This basic research has been funded for several years by a DFG Research Unit: Geobiology of Organo- and Biofilms.
Therefore, geomicrobiological and biogeochemical investigations, especially from extreme environ­ments and the deep subsurface biosphere play a major role in my research. These activities are focussed on mineral-forming options of basically chemolitho- and generally autotrophic micro­organisms. The investigation of the deep subsurface biosphere is an intriguing new research project which probably allows new insights into the dynamic of the planet earth.

Of central interest are also submarine seep-, spring-, and vent locations which harbour various systems of metazoan-microbial communities with geobiological significance. The microbial communities of methane Cold Seeps and their rock-forming ability are in the focus of my recent geobiological research.

The relationship of microorganisms with metazoans is a further main topic of my research. Basic metazoans like sponges harbour significant amounts of symbiontic microbes. The sponge microbial communities exhibit structural and metabolic patterns which are similar to thick microbial mats. Therefore important research foci are the deep phylogenetic roots of these ancestral animals based on molecularbiological and geobiological methods.

These organisms were the first ones in the history of earth which produce enzymatically controlled biominerals like silicate- and calcareous spicules, and calcareous basal skeletons. The reconnaissance of the primary environmental conditions and biochemical formation of the sponge skeletons are important points of my current research activities.

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Current funded projects

Selection of the most important research projects

A) Coordination of the DFG Research Unit FOR 571: Geobiology of Organo- and Biofilms


  • Biodiversity and DNA-taxonomy of algae and cyano bacteria in calcifying biofilms
  • Microbial control of mineralization processes in non-marine biofilms
  • Biomineralization processes, biochemistry, and biodiversity of chemolithotroph microorganisms in the tunnel of Äspö (Sweden)
  • In situ structure and function of biofilm systems in mineralization of carbonates
  • Biological influence on calcification and iron oxide formation
  • Time-of Flight-Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry (ToF-SIMS): exploring the sources and distributions of microbial biomarkers at the µm-range

B) Excellence Initiative (finished)

Coordination of the Göttingen “Courant Research Centre:
Geobiology – Development of Early Life and Organic Matter Controlled by Rock and Mineral Forming Processes

C)Academy of Science and Humanities Göttingen

Research Commission: Origin of Life
“Blumenbach”-Commission Advisory Board

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Recently finished projects

  • Relict faunas Queensland Plateau Australia (DFG WO 896/7-1), G.Wörheide & J. Reitner.
  • Sequenzierungen SPP 1174 (DFG WO 896/6-1), G. Wörheide & J. Reitner.
  • Raman-Mikro-Spektrometer (MWK Nds. 14.1-77 229-10-05-02), J. Reitner & S. Webb.
  • Characterization of matrix proteins of the coralline demosponge Astrosclera (DFG* WO 896/4-2), G. Wörheide & J. Reitner.
  • Vertretung für 2 Forschungssemester (DFG RE 665/29-1), J. Reitner.
  • Titan-Saphir-Lasersystem (MWK Nds. 11-76251-10-3/ 03 (ZN 1985), J. Reitner & G. Arp.
  • Deep Metazoan Phylogeny: Stammesgeschichte Großgruppe Tiere (DFG* WO 869/6-1), G. Wörheide, J. Reitner & B. Morgenstern.
  • Verbundprojekt COMET, TP3: Low Temperature Gas & Fluid Venting Systems (BMBF 03G0600D), A. Eisenhauer & J. Reitner.
  • Phylogenetische Charakterisierung der Hexactinellida...(DFG WO 896/5-2), G. Wörheide & J. Reitner.
  • FOG-TP3: "Steuerung v. Mineralisa-tionsprozesen durch Prokaryota" (DFG AR 335/5-2), G. Arp, Th.Friedl, E.Stackebrandt & J. Reitner.
  • FOG-TP2: "Algen u. Cyanobakterien in kalzifizierenden Biofilmen" ( DFG AR 335/6-2), G. Arp, Th.Friedl, E.Stackebrandt & J. Reitner.
  • FOG-TP1: "Äspö" (DFG RE 665/27-2), J. Reitner, B.T.Hansen, K.Simon, V. Thiel. FOG "Geobiologie von Organo- u. Biofilmen: " - Koordination (DFG RE 665/26-2), J. Reitner.
  • Characterization of matrix proteins of the coralline demosponge Astrosclera willeyana (DFG* WO 896/4-1,-4-2), G. Wörheide & J. Reitner.
  • Phylogenie u. molekulare Systematik der Kalkschwämme (DFG* WO 896/3-1, -3-2), G. Wörheide, J. Reitner & . V. Thiel.
  • Ancient endolithic microorganisms wihin ultramafic rocks... (SPP), (DFG* RE 665/25-1), J. Reitner, G. Schumann, M.E. Böttcher & J. Peckmann.
  • Evolution of multicellular systems and organo-mineralization (EMSO) DFG: Re 665/12-1 (Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz-Award).
  • Symbiontic microorganisms within the main clades of the taxon porifera (DFG Re 665/14-1).
  • Biogeochemistry of porifera-rich mud mounds as indicators of facies changes at the Devonian-Carboniferous boundary (DFG: Re 665/16-1 and 16-2).
  • Ancient endolithic microorganisms within ultramafic rocks (DFG Re 665/25-1, zusammen mit G.Schumann, Böttcher, M.E., Peckmann, J.) DFG-SPP 1144 Energie-, Stoff-, und Lebenszyklen
  • Coralline sponges as archives of geochemical and climatological proxies (DFG: Ei 272/10-1)
  • Porifera from deep water reef habitats of the Norwegian Shelf (Sula Ridge): Taxonomy and Geobiology (BOSMAN) (BMBF: O3FO256C3)
  • International Geological Correlation Programme (IGCP): Biosedimentology of Microbial Buildups (Project No. 380) project leader
  • Porifera-rich microbialites of the lowermost Liassic of the Eastern Alps. Strategies of re-colonization by ancestral benthic communities on drowned Rhaetian reefs (DFG: Re 665/17)
  • Biofilme, Makromoleküle und organische Restsubstanzen als Matrizen bei der Bildung von Organo- und Biomineralen – Geobiologische Faktoren bei der Evolution der Biomineralisation (DFG: Re 665/18)
  • Geobiology of saline fluids from the deep biosphere obtained from the KTB pump test (DFG: Re 665/19)
  • Coralline Schwämme als Archive geochemischer und klimatologischer Proxies (DFG: Ei 272/10-3; zusammen mit Prof. Dr. A. Eisenhauer et al.)
  • Die Rekonstruktion der delta44Ca-Isotope des Phanerozoischen Ozeans (DFG: Ei 272/13-1; zusammen mit Prof. Dr. A. Eisenhauer et al.)
  • BMBF Verbundprojekt(03F0358C) Koordination Prof. W. Michaelis (Hamburg): Boreale Schwämme als marine Naturstoffquelle (BOSMAN) TP2 Reitner: Geobiology and Biodiversity of Arctic and Boreal Porifera
  • BMBF Verbundprojekt (GO559A-D) Koordination Prof. W. Michaelis (Hamburg): Gas Hydrates: Occurences, Stability, Transformation, Dynamic, and Biology in the Black Sea – GHOSTDABS TP3 Reitner: Carbonate precipitates associated with methane seeps in the northern Black Sea.
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Publications as pdf (login required)

Reitner, Joachim Prof. Dr., Betreuer & Gutachter, Dissertationen

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