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Dr. Ivano Brunner - Personal Homepage

Ivano Brunner
head of research unit
Organisational unit
Address Swiss Federal Research Institute WSL
Zürcherstrasse 111
8903 Birmensdorf

Room Bi LG B 25
Contact Phone: +41 44 739 2284
Fax: +41 44 7392 215
Web / E-Mail


Head of the Research Unit "Forest Soils and Biogeochemistry"


  • 1978-82: Study of Biologie ETH Zürich, dipl. Natw. ETH
  • 1983-87: PhD thesis at Geobotanical Institute ETH Zürich, Dr. sc. nat. ETH
  • 1987-89: PostDocs at University of Alaska, Fairbanks, and at Virginia Polytechnic Institute, Blacksburg, USA

Research interests

  • Biochemical and physiological reactions of tree fine roots to alterations in soils and after experimental treatments (soil acidification, heavy metals, irrigation, addition of wood ash, nitrogen)
  • Fine root growth and turnover and the aspect of 'global change'
  • Molecular identification of tree roots on species and individuum level
  • Establishement and maintenance of a steril poplar clone as a model for 'soil-root interaction'
  • Experimental treatments of sterile poplars to investigate biochemical and molecular reactions of the roots (formation of callose, exudation of organic acids)
  • Ecology of fungi

International activities

  • International Committee Member of the "7th Woody Root Conference" from 26th-29th June 2017 in Tartu, Estonia
  • Management Committee Substitute Member of the new COST Action ES1406 "Soil fauna - Key to Soil Organic Matter Dynamics and Modelling (KEYSOM)", 2015-2019
  • International Committee Member of the "6th Woody Root Conference" from 8th-13th Sept. 2014 in Nagoya, Japan
  • Management Committee Member of the COST Action FP1305 "BioLink: Linking Belowground biodiversity and ecosystem function in European forests", 2014-2018
  • Chair of the former COST Action FP0803  "Belowground carbon turnover in European forests", 2009-2013
  • Vice-chair of the former COST Action E38 "Woody Root Processes", 2004-2008


  • "Plant Root", an electronic journal of plant root sciences



  • "Biology and ecology of the fungi in forest " (Bachelor course ETH 551-0421-00L, together with Daniel Rigling and Simon Egli)
  • "Selected Topics in Forest Mycology" (Master lecture ETH 551-1104-00S, together with Daniel Rigling and Simon Egli)

Publication list

Newest publications

  • Hartmann M, Brunner I, Hagedorn F, Bardgett RD, Stierli B, Herzog C, Chen X, Zingg A, Graf‐Pannatier E, Rigling A, Frey B. 2017. A decade of irrigation transforms the soil microbiome of a semi‐arid pine forest. Molecular Ecology, DOI: 10.1111/mec.13995. Abstract.
  • Endrulat T, Buchmann N, Brunner I. 2016. Carbon allocation into different fine-root classes of young Abies alba trees is affected more by phenology than by simulated browsing. PLoS ONE 11(4): e0154687. Open access.
  • Salehi M, Zahedi Amiri G, Attarod P, Salehi A, Brunner I, Schleppi P, Thimonier A. 2016. Seasonal variations of throughfall chemistry in pure and mixed stands of Oriental beech (Fagus orientalis Lipsky) in Hyrcanian forests (Iran). Annals of Forest Science 73, 371-380. Abstract.

  • Xu Z, Ren H, Li MH, Brunner I, Yin J, Liu H, Kong D, Lü XT, Sun T, Cai J, Wang R, Zhang Y, He P, Han X, Wan S, Jiang Y. 2016. Experimentally increased water and nitrogen affect root production and vertical allocation of an old-field grassland. Plant and Soil, DOI 10.1007/s11104-016-3071-2. Abstract.
  • Brunner I, Herzog C, Dawes MA, Arend M, Sperisen C. 2015. How tree roots respond to drought. Frontiers in Plant Science 6:547. Open access.
  • Rime T, Hartmann M, Brunner I, Widmer F, Zeyer J, Frey B. 2015. Vertical distribution of the soil microbiota along a successional gradient in a glacier forefield. Molecular Ecology 24, 1091-1108. Abstract.
  • Brunner I, Schlumpf A. 2014. Organic acids exuded by pioneering fungi from a glacier forefield help to weather the granitic sediments. Chimia 68, 567. Open access.
  • Brunner I, Goren A, Schlumpf A. 2014. Patterns of organic acids exuded by pioneering fungi from a glacier forefield are affected by carbohydrate sources. Environmental Research Letters 9:025002 (9 pp). Open access.
  • Herzog C, Steffen J, Graf Pannatier E, Hajdas I, Brunner I. 2014. Nine years of irrigation cause vegetation and fine root shifts in a water-limited pine forest. PLoS ONE 9(5): e96321 (11 pp). Open access.
  • Brunner I, Sperisen C. 2013. Aluminum exclusion and aluminum tolerance in woody plants. Frontiers in Plant Science 4:172. Open access.
  • Brunner I, Bakker MR, Björk RG, Hirano Y, Lukac M, Aranda X, Børja I, Eldhuset TD, Helmisaari HS, Jourdan C, Konôpka B, López BC, Miguel Pérez C, Persson H, Ostonen. I. 2013. Fine-root turnover of European forest trees revisited: an analysis of data from sequential coring and ingrowth cores. Plant and Soil, 357-372. Open access.
  • Brunner I, Børja I, Dalsgaard L, Deckmyn G, Ekblad A, Godbold DL, Guerra Avalos I, Lukac M, Kalbitz K, Kriiska K, Ostonen I, Schnepf A, Simončič P, Vanguelova E. 2013. Belowground C turnover of European forests: Fine roots, mycorrhizal mycelia, soil organic matter and soil models. A Technical Report for National C reporters, LULUCF experts and ecosystem modellers. COST Action FP0803. Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research, WSL, Birmensdorf. 67+61 pp. Download pdf.
  • Richter AK, Hajdas I, Frossard E, Brunner I. 2013. Soil acidity affects fine root turnover of European beech. Plant Biosystems 147, 50-59. Abstract.
  • Rieder S, Brunner I, Daniel O, Liu B, Frey B. 2013. Methylation of mercury in earthworms and the effect of mercury on the associated bacterial communities. PLoS One 8(4), e61215. Open access.
  • Hirano Y, Frey B, Brunner I. 2012. Contrasting reactions of roots of two coniferous tree species to aluminum stress. Environmental and Experimental Botany 77, 2-18
  • Lapanje A, Wimmersberger C, Furrer G, Brunner I, Frey B. 2012. Pattern of elemental release during the granite dissolution can be changed by aerobic heterotrophic bacterial strains isolated from Damma glacier (Central Alps) deglaciated granite sand. Microbial Ecology 63, 865-882.
  • Zumsteg A, Luster J, Göransson H, Smittenberg R, Brunner I, Bernasconi S, Zeyer J, Frey B. 2012. Bacterial, archaeal and fungal succession in the forefield of a receding glacier. Microbial Ecology 63, 552-564.
  • Bernasconi S, Bauder A, Bourdon B, Brunner I, Bünemann E, Christl I, Edwards P, Farinotti D, Frey B, Frossard E, Furrer G, Gierga M, Göransson H, Gülland K, Hagedorn F, Hajdas I, Hindshaw R, Jansa J, Jonas T, Kiczka M, Kretzschmar R, Lemarchand E, Luster J, Magnusson J, Mitchell E, Olde-Venterinck H, Plötze M, Reynolds B, Smittenberg R, Stähli M, Tamburini F, Tipper E, Wacker L, Welc M, Wiederhold J, Zeyer J, Zimmermann S, Zumsteg A. 2011. Chemical and biological gradients along the Damma Glacier soil chronosequence (Switzerland). Vadose Zone Journal 10, 867-883.
  • Brunner I, Plötze M, Rieder S, Zumsteg A, Furrer G, Frey B. 2011. Pioneering fungi from the Damma glacier forefield in the Swiss Alps can promote granite weathering. Geobiology 9, 266-279.
  • Richter AK, Hirano Y, Luster J, Frossard E, Brunner I. 2011. Soil base saturation affects root growth of European beech seedlings. Journal of Plant Nutrition and Soil Science 174, 408-419.
  • Rieder S, Brunner I, Horvat M, Jacobs A, Frey B. 2011. Accumulation of mercury and methylmercury by mushrooms and earthworms from forest soils. Environmental Pollution 159, 2861-2869.
  • Endrulat T, Saurer M, Buchmann N, Brunner I. 2010. Incorporation and remobilization of 13C within the fine-root systems of individual Abies alba trees in a temperate coniferous stand. Tree Physiology 30, 1515-1527.
  • Frey B, Rieder SR, Brunner I, Plötze M, Koetzsch S, Lapanje A, Brandl H, Furrer G. 2010. Weathering-associated bacteria from the Damma glacier forefield: physiological capabilities and impact on granite dissolution. Applied and Environmental Microbiology 76, 4788-4796.
  • Grisel N, Zoller S, Künzli-Gontarczyk M, Lampart T, Münsterkotter M, Brunner I, Bovet L, Metraux J-P, Sperisen C. 2010. Transcriptomic response to aluminum stress in roots of aspen (Populus tremula). BMC Plant Biology 10:185, 1-15. Open access.
  • Brunner I, Graf Pannatier E, Frey B, Rigling A, Landolt W, Zimmermann S, Dobbertin M. 2009. Morphological and physiological responses of Scots pine fine roots to water supply in a climatic dry region in Switzerland. Tree Physiology 29, 541–550.
  • Brunner I, Luster J, Günthardt-Goerg MS, Frey B. 2008. Heavy metal accumulation and phytostabilisation potential of tree fine roots in a contaminated soil. Environmental Pollution 152, 559-568.
  • Brunner I, Godbold DL. 2007. Tree roots in a changing world. Journal of Forest Research 12, 78-82.
  • Ostonen I, Püttsepp U, Biel C, Alberton O, Bakker MR, Lõhmus K, Majdi H, Metcalfe D, Olsthoorn A, Pronk A, Vanguelova E, Weih M, Brunner I. 2007. Specific root length as indicator of environmental change. Plant Biosystems 141, 426-442. Open access.
  • Finér L, Helmisaari H-S, Lõhmus K, Majdi H, Brunner I, Børja I, Eldhuset TD, Godbold DL, Grebenc T, Konopka B, Kraigher H, Möttönen M-R, Ohashi M, Oleksyn J, Ostonen I, Uri V, Vanguelova E. 2007. Variation in fine root biomass of three European tree species: Beech (Fagus sylvatica L.), Norway spruce (Picea abies Karst.) and Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.). Plant Biosystems 141, 394-405. Open access.
  • Hirano Y, Mizoguchi T, Brunner I. 2007. Root parameters of forest trees as sensitive indicators of acidifying pollutants: a review of Japanese research. Journal of Forest Research 12, 134-142.
  • Qin R, Hirano Y, Brunner I. 2007. Exudation of organic acid anions from poplar roots after exposure to Al, Cu and Zn. Tree Physiology 27, 313-320.
  • Richter AK, Walthert L, Frossard E, Brunner I. 2007. Does low soil base saturation affect the vitality of fine roots of European beech? Plant and Soil 298, 69-79.
  • Richter A, Frossard E, Brunner I. 2007. Polyphenols in the woody roots of Norway spruce and European beech reduce TTC. Tree Physiology 27, 155-160.
  • Vanguelova E, Hirano Y, Eldhuset TD, Sas-Paszt L, Bakker MR, Püttsepp U, Brunner I, Lõhmus K, Godbold DL. 2007. Tree fine root Ca/Al molar ratio – Indicator of Al and acidity stress. Plant Biosystems 141, 460-480. Open access.
  • Helmisaari HS, Brunner I. 2006. Root growth and morphology. In: Luster J, Finlay R, (eds.). Handbook of Methods used in Rhizosphere Research. Swiss Federal Research Institute WSL, Birmensdorf. p. 16–24. Download pdf.