Sebastian Behrens

Sebastian Behrens

Sebastian Behrens

Associate Professor, Director of Graduate Studies, & Mental Health Advocate, Department of Civil, Environmental, and Geo- Engineering


Civil Engineering Building
Room 244
500 Pillsbury Drive SE
Minneapolis, MN 55455


BioTechnology Institute - Office: Snyder Hall, Room #338


  • B.S., 1998, University of Bremen, Germany, Biology
  • M.S., 2000, University of Bremen, Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology, Germany, Microbiology
  • Ph.D., 2003, University of Bremen, Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology, Germany, Molecular Microbial Ecology

Professional Background

  • Postdoctoral research fellow, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Stanford University, 2004-2008
  • Research associate (Asst. Professor), Center for Applied Geosciences, University of Tuebingen, Germany, 2008-2014
Research Interests

Behrens Research Group | Experts@Minnesota | Google Scholar Citations

My research interests include microbial processes for bioremediation of (in)organic environmental contaminants (mining wastes, agriculture runoff) and the recovery of valuable resources from municipal/industrial wastes.

My area of research is situated at the interface of Molecular Microbial Ecology, Geomicrobiology, and Environmental Biotechnology. In the lab we use classical microbiology and state-of-the-art molecular tools to identify and quantify the ‘lifestyle’ of environmental microorganisms. Through comprehensive ecosystem-level analyses of geochemical parameters, microbial community composition, and in situ functions at various spatial and temporal scales we obtain insights into key microbial-mediated transformation processes in various environments and engineered bioprocess systems.

Selected Publications

Büsing, J, Buchner, D, Behrens, S, Haderlein, S B 2020. Deciphering the Variability of Stable Isotope (C, Cl) Fractionation of Tetrachloroethene Biotransformation by Desulfitobacterium strains Carrying Different Reductive Dehalogenases Enzymes. Environmental Science and Technology, 54(3), 1593-1602. doi: 10.1021/acs.est.9b05606

J Johnston, T LaPara, S Behrens. 2019. Composition and Dynamics of the Activated Sludge Microbiome during Seasonal Nitrification Failure. Scientific Reports 9 (1), 4565.

C Tominski, T Lösekann-Behrens, A Ruecker, N Hagemann, et. al. 2018. Insights into Carbon Metabolism Provided by Fluorescence In Situ Hybridization-Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry Imaging of an Autotrophic, Nitrate-Reducing, Fe (II)-Oxidizing. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 84 (9), e02166-17.

C Tominski, H Heyer, T Lösekann-Behrens, S Behrens, A Kappler. 2018. Growth and population dynamics of the anaerobic Fe (II)-oxidizing and nitrate-reducing enrichment culture KS. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 84 (9), e02173-17.

HM Krause, R Hüppi, J Leifeld, M El-Hadidi, J Harter, A Kappler, et. al. 2018. Biochar affects community composition of nitrous oxide reducers in a field experiment. Soil Biology and Biochemistry 119, 143-151.

C Tominski, T Lösekann-Behrens, A Ruecker, N Hagemann, et. al. 2018. FISH-SIMS imaging of an autotrophic, nitrate-reducing, Fe (II)-oxidizing enrichment culture provides insights into carbon metabolism. Appl. Environ. Microbiol., AEM. 02166-17.

Melton ED, Swanner ED, Behrens S, Schmidt C, Kappler A (2014) The interplay of microbially mediated and abiotic reactions in the biogeochemical Fe cycle. Nature Reviews Microbiology 12: 797-808.

Harter J, Krause HM, Schuettler S, Ruser R, Fromme M, Scholten T, Kappler A, Behrens S (2014). Linking N2O emissions from biochar-amended soil to the structure and function of the N-cycling microbial community. ISME Journal 8: 660-674.

Amann R, Fuchs BM, Behrens S (2001). The identification of microorganisms by fluorescence in situ hybridization. Current Opinion in Biotechnology 12: 231-236.