Institut for Biologi

Aarhus Universitets segl

Kai Finster

Professor

Kai Finster
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MY RESEARCH

My research revolves around two foci points: Aeromicrobiology and Astrobiology. The first is on the role of Ice-forming bacteria in processes in Earth atmosphere and the second is on the role of wind-driven processes in Martian surface chemistry.


EXAMPLES OF RESEARCH PROJECTS

Thus, I am studying the structure and function of an ice forming protein produced by the plant pathogen Pseudomonas syringae. It is the aim of the studies to find out to what extend this and related bacterial species influence processes in the atmosphere such as cloud and rain formation; processes of relevance for weather and climate. With respect to Mars, my research goal is contributing to a better understanding of the processes that determine the chemical conditions of the Martian surface and their influence of biomarker degradation and the discovery of life.
Read more: Bacteria in the atmosphere


IMPORTANT METHODS AND RESULTS

In aeromicrobiology, we use various methods depending on the questions that we are addressing. As an example, we use a modified vacuum cleaner to take air samples to investigate the microbial air community. We use molecular methods in combination with flow cytometry and electron microscopy to elucidate the structure and function of proteins that promote the formation of ice in clouds. In astrobiology, we use spectroscopic methods to study processes that lead to the high reactivity of minerals as we find them on Mars and investigate their participation in aerosol-gas chemistry. 


COLLABORATION

All my projects are interdisciplinary and are altogether a group effort. In aerobiology, we collaborate with AU colleagues from chemistry, molecular biology and engineering. Internationally, we closely collaborate with e. g. climate modelers from Sweden, atmospheric physicists from Germany and microbial ecologists from Austria. The astrobiology group, includes geologist, physicists and chemists from Aarhus University. We collaborated with e. g. planetary scientists from Germany, geologists from France and geochemists from Spain.
Read more: Aeromicrobiology Research Group


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