Dr. Rebecca Cooper


Phone: +49 (0)3641 9-494 83






  (Foto: Jan-Peter Kasper/FSU)


Microbial iron respiration is a central component of a variety of environmentally important processes, including the biogeochemical cycling of iron and carbon, degradation of hazardous pollutants, bioremediation of radionuclide-contaminated water, and the generation of electricity by microbial fuel cells.  Iron chelating organic compounds, such as siderophores, and organic shuttles are proposed to play a role in the biogeochemical cycling of iron and the undoubtedly influence the rates of both Fe(III) reduction and Fe(II) oxidation.     

The project goals of my current research include studying the competing effects between iron chelators (i.e. siderophores) and exogenous organic ligands (i.e. humic acid), and the impact on the rates of Fe(III) reduction and Fe(II) oxidation in co-culture experiments with an Fe(III)-reducer (Shewanella sp.), an Fe(II)-oxidizer (Sideroxydans sp.), and a siderophore producer (Pseudomonas sp.).  This co-culture system will be used to identify ligands or shuttles in organic-rich environments capable of forming complexes with the iron species.  The effects of organic ligands or shuttles on Fe(III) reduction and Fe(II) oxidation rates in this co-culture system will studied using voltammetric analyses.   Stable isotope probing (SIP) will be employed to identify active organisms and metabolic pathways in the co-culture system.  Transcriptomics will be used to identify the genes actively expressed by the bacteria in our co-culture system.  In addition, we seek to identify and inactivate the genes responsible for the production and regulation of the currently unknown chemical mediators (i.e. ligands or shuttles) that influence iron cycling in complex biological systems.

This project is embedded in the frame of the Collaborative Research Centre 1127 ChemBioSys.

University training and degree

2004-2008 B.S. in Biology, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA, USA

2008-2010 M.S. in Cell and Molecular Biology, Appalachian State University, Boone, NC, USA; supervisor: Dr. Ece Karatan


Advanced academic qualifications

2010-2015 PhD studies in Biology, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA, USA; supervisor: Dr. Thomas J. DiChristina


Postgraduate professional career

Since 2015 Postdoctoral researcher, Institute of Ecology, Aquatic Geomicrobiology, FSU Jena (CRC 1127 ChemBioSys)

Other (Awards, Grants, Memberships)

Since 2016 Member of the International Society for Microbial Ecology (ISME)

Since 2015 Member of the European Association of Geochemistry (EAG)

Since 2011 Member of the American Society of Microbiology (ASM)

2012 CETL/BP Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA, USA

2011-2014 Department of Education GAANN Fellowship, School of Biology, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA, USA

2009 Sigma Xi Grants-in-Aid of Research (GIAR) Award


Dr. Georg Pohnert, Institute for Inorganic and Analytical Chemistry Bioorganic Analytics, Friedrich Schiller University Jena, Germany

Dr. Nico Ueberschaar, Institute for Inorganic and Analytical Chemistry Bioorganic Analytics, Friedrich Schiller University Jena, Germany

Dr. Karin Eusterhues, Institute of Geosciences, Friedrich Schiller University Jena, Germany

Dr. Ralph Bolanz, Institute of Geosciences, General and Applied Minerology,  Friedrich Schiller University Jena, Germany

Dr. Thomas DiChristina, School of Biological Sciences, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA, USA

Dr. Anna Heintz-Buschart, Department of Soil Ecology, Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ), Halle, Germany


 Google scholar



13. Li Q., Cooper R.E., Wegner C.-E., Küsel K. (2020) Molecular mechanisms underpinning aggregation in Acidiphilium sp. C61 isolated from iron-rich pelagic aggregates. Microorganisms 8(3): 314. Doi: 10.3390/microorganisms8030314.

12. Cooper R.E., Wegner C.-E., McAllister S.M., Shevchenko O., Chan C.S., Küsel K. (2020) Draft genome sequence of Sideroxydans sp. strain CL21, an Fe(II)-Oxidizing bacterium. Microbiology Resource Announcements 9(2): e01444-19. Doi: 10.1128/MRA.01444-19.



11. Cooper R.E. and DiChristina T.J. (2019) Fe(III) oxide reduction by anaerobic biofilm formation-deficient S-Ribosylhomocysteine lyase (LuxS) mutant of Shewanella oneidensis. Geomicrobiology Journal 36(7): 639-650.

10. Hädrich A., Taillefert M., Akob D.M., Cooper R.E., Litzba U., Wagner F.E., Nietzsche S., Ciobota V., Rösch P., Popp J., Küsel K. (2019) Microbial Fe(II) oxidation by Sideroxydans lithotrophicus ES-1 in the presence of Schlöppnerbrunnen fen-derived humic acids. FEMS Microbiology Ecology 95(4): fiz034.

9. Kügler S., Cooper R.E., Wegner C-E., Mohr J.F., Wichard T., Küsel K. (2019) Iron-organic matter complexes accelerate microbial iron cycling in an iron-rich fen. Science of the Total Environment 646: 972-988.



8. Bolanz, R. M., Grauer, C., Cooper, R. E., Göttlicher, J., Steininger, R., Perry, S., Küsel K. 2017. Incorporation of molybdenum(VI) in akaganéite (β-FeOOH) and the microbial reduction of Mo-akaganéite by Shewanella loihica PV-4. CrystEngComm. 19: 6189-6198. doi: 10.1039/C7CE01569K

7. Cooper, R. E., Eusterhues, K., Wegner, C.-E., Totsche, K. U., Küsel, K. 2017. Ferrihydrite-associated organic matter (OM) stimulates reduction by Shewanella oneidensis MR-1 and a complex microbial consortia. Biogeosciences 14(22): 5171-5188.

6.  Mori J.F., Ueberschaar N., Lu S., Cooper, R.E, Pohnert G., Küsel K. 2017. Sticking together: Inter-species aggregation of bacteria isolated from iron snow is controlled by chemical signaling. The ISME Journal. 10: 1696-1705.



5.  Cooper, R.E., Goff, J.L., Reed, B.C., Sekar, R., and T.J. DiChristina (2016).  Breathing Iron: Molecular Mechanisms of Microbial Iron Reduction by Shewanella oneidensis. Manual of Environmental Microbiology, Fourth Edition. American Society of Microbiology:Chapter 5.2.1



4.  Cooper, R.E., Burns, J.L., and T.J. DiChristina.  Shewanella oneidensis LuxS mutants are unable to form anaerobic biofilms on Fe(III) oxide surfaces yet retain wild-type Fe(III) oxide reduction activity. Manuscript under review.

3.  Cooper, R.E., Sekar, R., and T.J. DiChristina.  Quorum sensing signal Autoinducer-2 as sole carbon and electron source for anaerobic respiration. Manuscript in preparation.

2.  Cooper, R.E., Sekar, R., Eitel, E., Taillefert, M., and T.J. DiChristina.  Bacterial Fe(III) and Mn(III, IV) reduction driven by organic sulfur electron metabolism. Manuscript in preparation.



1.  Cockerell, S.R., Rutkovsky, A.C., Zayner, J.P., Cooper, R.E., Porter, L.R., Pendergraft, S.S., Parker, Z.M., McGinnis, M.W., and E. Karatan (2014) Vibrio cholerae NspS, a homologue of ABC-type periplasmic solute binding proteins, facilitates transduction of polyamine signals independent of their transport. Microbiology. 160: 832-843.