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Prof. Dr. Kai-Uwe Hinrichs



Organic Geochemistry


+49 421 218-65700


+49 421 218-65715



MARUM I, 2600

Kai-Uwe Hinrichs

www:      Hinrichs Lab

Selected quick facts:

Gottfried-Wilhelm-Leibniz Prize, 2011

Two ERC Advanced Grants (2009 and 2014 competitions); one ERC Synergy Grant (2023 competition)

Elected Member of the Leopoldina - German National Academy of Sciences (2019)

More than 200 peer-reviewed publications (Google Scholar Profile)

Vice-Speaker of "Ocean Floor" Cluster of Excellence at MARUM, 2019 ff.

Recipient of the Alfred Treibs Award (2020) and C.C. Patterson Award (2017) by the Geochemical Society


General Information, Research Interests:

I am a biogeochemist studying the interactions between microbial life and the carbon cycle on a range of spatial, temporal and molecular scales. I am interested in which and how microbes shape element cycles and what the related environmental consequences are. In order identify and ideally quantify microbial processes, my research group studies the information encoded in distributions and isotopic compositions of organic biomarker molecules in geological and environmental samples, ranging in size from 1 to ~100 C-atoms. My group consists of closely collaborating biologists, chemists, geochemists, and marine geoscientists. In our research projects, we combine analyses of environmental samples with experimental, laboratory-based approaches. Our current research foci encompass the deep subsurface biosphere, methane biogeochemistry, life in extreme environments, development and application of new geochemical-analytical techniques, prokaryotic membrane lipid taxonomy, and the study of paleoenvironments associated with major perturbations of the C-cycle.

Curriculum vitae

Since 2002Full Professor (tenured) of Organic Geochemistry, Department of Geosciences/MARUM, University of Bremen, Germany
2004 - 2010Adjunct Scientist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
2000 - 2002Assistant Scientist (tenure-track faculty), Department of Geology and Geophysics, Woods Hole Oceanograhpic Institution, MA, USA
1997 - 2000Postdoctoral Fellow/Investigator, Department of Geology and Geophysics, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, MA, USA
1997Ph.D. thesis in Organic Geochemistry, Institute for Chemistry and Biology of the Marine Environment, University of Oldenburg, Germany
1994Diploma Degree: Major in Chemistry; Thesis in Organic Geochemistry, Institute for Chemistry and Biology of the Marine Environment, University of Oldenburg, Germany

Detailed CV

Publications (full list)

Selected peer-reviewed publications

Anaerobic Oxidation of Methane

  • Hinrichs, K.-U., Hayes, J.M., Sylva, S.P., Brewer, P.G., and DeLong, E.F. (1999) Methane-consuming archaebacteria in marine sediments. Nature, 398, 802-805.
  • Hinrichs, K.-U., Summons, R.E., Orphan, V., Sylva, S.P., & Hayes, J.M. (2000) Molecular and isotopic analyses of anaerobic methane-oxidizing communities in marine sediments. Organic Geochemistry, 31, 1685-1701.
  • Orphan, V.J., House, C.H., Hinrichs, K.-U., McKeegan, K.D., & DeLong, E.F. (2001) Methane-consuming archaea revealed by directly coupled isotopic and phylogenetic analysis. Science, 293, 484-487.
  • Hinrichs, K.-U. and Boetius, A. (2002) The anaerobic oxidation of methane: New insights in microbial ecology and biogeochemistry. Ocean Margin Systems (eds. G. Wefer, D. Billett, D. Hebbeln, B.B. Jørgensen, M. Schlüter, T.C.E. van Weering), Springer Verlag, Berlin-Heidelberg, pp. 457-477.
  • Rossel, P.E., Lipp, J.S., Fredricks, H.F., Arnds, J., Boetius, A., Elvert, M., Hinrichs, K.-U. (2008) Intact polar lipids of anaerobic methanotrophic archaea and associated bacteria. Organic Geochemistry, 39, 992-999.

Deep Biosphere

  • Biddle, J.F., Lipp, J.S., Lever, M., Lloyd, K., Sørensen, K., Anderson, R., Fredricks, H.F., Elvert, M., Kelly, T.J., Schrag, D.P., Sogin, M.L., Brenchley, J.E., Teske, A., House, C.H., Hinrichs, K.-U. (2006) Heterotrophic Archaea dominate sedimentary subsurface ecosystems off Peru. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, U.S.A., 103, 3846-3851.
  • Hinrichs, K.-U., Hayes, J.M., Bach, W., Spivack, A., Hmelo, L.R., Holm, N., Johnson, C.G., Sylva, S.P. (2006) Biological formation of ethane and propane in the deep marine subsurface. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, U.S.A., 103, 14684-14689.
  • Lipp, J.S., Morono, Y., Inagaki, F., Hinrichs, K.-U. (2008). Significant contribution of Archaea to extant biomass in marine subsurface sediments. Nature, 454, 991-994.
  • Heuer, V.B., Pohlman, J.W., Torres, M.E., Elvert, M., Hinrichs, K.-U. (2009) The stable carbon isotope biogeochemistry of acetate and other dissolved carbon species in deep sub-seafloor sediments at the northern Cascadia Margin. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 73, 3323-3336.

Analytical Developments/New Biomarkers

  • Sturt, H.F., Summons, R.E., Smith, K.J., Elvert, M., and Hinrichs, K.-U. (2004) Intact polar membrane lipids in prokaryotes and sediments deciphered by ESI-HPLC-MSn – new biomarkers for biogeochemistry and microbial ecology. Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry, 18, 617-628.
  • Heuer V., Elvert M., Tille S., Krummen M., Prieto Mollar X., Hmelo L.R., Hinrichs K.-U. (2006) Online d13C analysis of volatile fatty acids in sediment/porewater systems by liquid chromatography-isotope ratio-mass spectrometry. Limnology and Oceanography-Methods, 4, 346-357.
  • Schmidt, F., Elvert, M., Koch, B., Witt, M., Hinrichs, K.-U. (2009) Molecular characterization of dissolved organic matter in pore water in continental shelf sediments. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 73, 3337-3358.
  • Schubotz, F., Wakeham, S.G., Lipp, J.S., Fredricks, H.F., Hinrichs, K.-U. (2009) Detection of microbial biomass by intact membrane lipid analysis in the water column and surface sediments of the Black Sea. Environmental Microbiology, 11, 2720-2734.


  • Hinrichs, K.-U. (2002) Microbial fixation of methane-carbon at 2.7 Ga: was an anaerobic mechanism possible? Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems, 3, doi:10.1029/2001GC000286.
  • Hinrichs K.-U., Hmelo L.R., and Sylva, S.P. (2003) Molecular fossil record of elevated methane levels in late Pleistocene coastal waters, Science, 299, 1214-1217.
  • Sepúlveda, J.C., Wendler, J., Summons, R.E., Hinrichs, K.-U. (2009) Rapid resurgence of marine productivity after the Cretaceous-Paleogene mass extinction, Science, 326, 129-132.
Shipping address: University of Bremen
Leobener Str. 8/MARUM; Room 2600
28359 Bremen