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Dr. Aline Frossard - Persönliche Homepage

Organisationseinheit Waldböden und Biogeochemie
Adresse Eidg. Forschungsanstalt WSL
Zürcherstrasse 111
8903 Birmensdorf

Raum Bi MG D 29
Kontakt Tel: +41 44 739 2357
Fax: +41 44 7392 215
Web / E-Mail

Research Interests

My main research interest is in unraveling relationship between ecosystem functioning and microbial diversities and activities. Trained as a microbial ecologist with experience in soil and freshwater systems, I am exploring microbial communities and their biogeochemical functions in relation to the cycling of major elements such as carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus. I am especially interested in the effect of climate changes on microbial diversity and functions. As these effects are particularly strong in certain extreme environments such as high alpine, polar, or hot deserts regions, I focused part of my work on these environments. 

Current Research Projects

  • Long- and short-term effects of mercury contamination on the soil microbiome.
  • KEYSOM (Soil Fauna - Key to Soil Organic Matter Dynamics and Modelling). Research project within the framework of the Cost Action ES1406.
  • CLIMARCTIC: Climate change impacts on Arctic soil and lake microbiomes. Research project within the BiodivERsA consortium (European research on biodiversity and ecosystem services).
  • CryoLink: Understanding the impacts of climate change on Arctic, Antarctic and Alpine permafrost microbiomes. (SNF Swiss - South Africa Joint Research Programme).

Academic Experiences

2015 (October) – Present: Post-doctoral fellow

Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research (WSL), Birmensdorf, Switzerland. Main projects: see current research projects.

2013 (March) – 2015 (September): Post-doctoral fellow (NRF Innovation Fellowship, SA)

Centre for Microbial Ecology and Genomics (CMEG), University of Pretoria, South Africa.

Main project: Spatio-temporal patterns of microbial communities in the Namib Desert and effect of water events on hot desert soil microbial communities. Advisor: Prof. Don Cowan.

2011 (September) – 2012 (August): Post-doctoral Fellow

Experimental Limnology, Leibniz Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries (IGB), Berlin, Germany.

Main project: Bacterial community assembly of stream sediment bacterial communities assessed by amplicon DNA sequencing. Advisor: Prof. Mark Gessner.

2007 (August) – 2011 (July): PhD of Sciences

Eawag / ETH Zurich, Switzerland. Date of oral defense: 24.06.2011.

Title of thesis: Microbial dynamics during stream ecosystem succession: community structure and enzyme activities.

Advisors: Prof. Mark Gessner, Eawag/ETH and PD Dr. Michael Mutz, BTU Cottbus (Germany).

PhD project carried out as part of an integrative project (SFB TRR 38) funded by the German Research Council (DFG).

2004 (October) – 2006 (December): Master of Sciences in Biogeosciences (Magna Cum Laude)

University of Neuchâtel, Switzerland.

Title of thesis: Structure and activities of rhizosphere microbial communities along a recent glacier forefield in the Swiss Alps. Advisors: Prof. Michel Aragno, Dr. Jakob Zopfi and Dr. Sonia Tarnawski.

2001 (October) – 2004 (September): Bachelor of Sciences in Biology

University of Neuchâtel, Switzerland.


Frossard, A., Hartmann, M., Frey, B., 2017. Tolerance of the forest soil microbiome to increasing mercury concentrations. Soil Biology and Biochemistry 105, 162-176.

Zablocki, O., Adriaenssens, E.M., Frossard, A., Seely, M., Ramond, J.-B., Cowan, D., 2017. Metaviromes of Extracellular Soil Viruses along a Namib Desert Aridity Gradient. Genome Announcements 5, e01470-01416.

Gunnigle, E., Frossard, A., Ramond, J.-B., Guerrero, L., Seely, M., Cowan, D.A., 2017. Diel-scale temporal dynamics recorded for bacterial groups in Namib Desert soil. Scientific reports 7, 40189.

Mendoza‐Lera, C., Frossard, A., Knie, M., Federlein, L.L., Gessner, M.O., Mutz, M., 2017. Importance of advective mass transfer and sediment surface area for streambed microbial communities. Freshwater Biology 62, 133-145.

Frossard, A., Hammes, F., Gessner, M.O., 2016. Flow cytometric assessment of bacterial abundance in soils, sediments and sludge. Frontiers in Microbiology 7.

de Scally, S., Makhalanyane, T., Frossard, A., Hogg, I., Cowan, D., 2016. Antarctic microbial communities are functionally redundant, adapted and resistant to short term temperature perturbations. Soil Biology and Biochemistry 103, 160-170.

Frossard, A., Ramond, J.-B., Seely, M., Cowan, D.A., 2015. Water regime history drives responses of soil Namib Desert microbial communities to wetting events. Scientific reports 5.

Makhalanyane, T.P., Valverde, A., Gunnigle, E., Frossard, A., Ramond, J.-B., Cowan, D.A., 2015. Microbial ecology of hot desert edaphic systems. FEMS microbiology reviews 39, 203-221.

Ronca, S., Frossard, A., Guerrero, L.D., Makhalanyane, T.P., Aislabie, J.M., Cowan, D.A., 2015. Draft genome sequence of Sphingomonas sp. strain Ant20, isolated from oil-contaminated soil on Ross Island, Antarctica. Genome Announcements 3, e01309-01314.

Gunnigle, E., Ramond, J.-B., Frossard, A., Seeley, M., Cowan, D., 2014. A sequential co-extraction method for DNA, RNA and protein recovery from soil for future system-based approaches. Journal of microbiological methods 103, 118-123.

Frossard, A., Gerull, L., Mutz, M., Gessner, M.O., 2013. Shifts in microbial community structure and function in stream sediments during experimentally simulated riparian succession. FEMS microbiology ecology 84, 398-410.

Frossard, A., Gerull, L., Mutz, M., Gessner, M.O., 2013. Litter supply as a driver of microbial activity and community structure on decomposing leaves: a test in experimental streams. Applied and environmental microbiology 79, 4965-4973.

Mutz, M., Gessner, M.O., Frossard, A., Gerull, L., 2013. C transformation and C accumulation during initial stream succession.

Frossard, A., Gerull, L., Mutz, M., Gessner, M.O., 2012. Disconnect of microbial structure and function: enzyme activities and bacterial communities in nascent stream corridors. The ISME journal 6, 680-691.

Frossard, A., Gerull, L., Mutz, M., Gessner, M.O., 2012. Fungal importance extends beyond litter decomposition in experimental early‐successional streams. Environmental microbiology 14, 2971-2983.

Gerull, L., Frossard, A., Gessner, M.O., Mutz, M., 2012. Effects of shallow and deep sediment disturbance on whole-stream metabolism in experimental sand-bed flumes. Hydrobiologia 683, 297-310.

Gerull, L., Frossard, A., Gessner, M.O., Mutz, M., 2011. Variability of heterotrophic metabolism in small stream corridors of an early successional watershed. Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences 116.