Ahmed Abdelfattah (Principle Investigator of applebiome)

Ahmed Abdelfattah

I’m a researcher at Graz University of TechnologyInstitute of Environmental Biotechnology  on a Marie Curie (MSCA-IF) fund to study the apple microbiome. My research mainly focuses on microbial communities associated to plants and understanding their community structure, function, and interaction with their host and the environment. Before TU Graz, I was a postdoctoral researcher at the Stockholm university, Department of Ecology, Environment, and Plant sciences to study the multitrophic interaction between oak-microbes-aphids, microbial inheritance in plants, and the effect of drought and temperature on oak microbial community. The latter was funded by the Bolin Center for Climate research. I obtained my PhD from Palermo University, Italy and my masters degree from CIHEAM IAMB – Mediterranean Agronomic Institute of Bari, Italy.

Gabriele Berg (Supervisor)

Prof. Gabriele Berg is the head of the Environmental Biotechnology department at the Graz University of Technology since 2005, the head of the working group Biological control”, and board member of ÖGMBT. With over 30 years of experience in the field, her research mainly focuses on plant-associated microorganisms, especially to understand their structure, function and interaction with plants and pathogens. Her researches have significantly contributed to the knowledge and understanding of plant-associated microbial communities and to the transfer of this knowledge into the development of new approaches for environmental biotechnology. Due to her pioneering role and contribution to the scientific community, she was awarded the “Science2Business” Award in Austria, “ÖGUT Umweltpreis”, and the “Fast Forward” Award in Styria, and was chosen to be a committee member in the Senate of TU GRAZ, International Verticillium Steering Committee ÖGBMT, Chair of the South Section, DPG Presidency AK Biological Control.


Daniel Höfle (Master’s student)

Daniel is in the Molecular Microbiology Master´s programme and in course of that he is doing his project laboratory. In his project he aims to get more insight into the biodiversity of the apple microbiome by analysing the metabolization of different carbon sources and consequently finding a more specific growing media for the apple microbiome. This huge world we cannot see with our bare eyes is very important for the whole life on earth. It influences almost everything from plant growth to human health and because of this it is urgent to know how this world functions and invent technologies to gain further insight. Daniel has a Bachelor´s degree in Molecular Biology and is fascinated by all the different microorganisms. The variety and their functions seem to be endless. His favourite microorganism is S. cerevisiae because of its wide range of applications in research and of course beer!



Franziska Jauernegger (Trainee)

Born on the 30th of December 1997, from Carinthia, Austria has finished her Bachelor in Molecular Biology at the Karl Franzens University of Graz in 2019. Currently she is doing her Master in Plant Sciences also on the Karl Franzens University of Graz. In course of this she chose the apple microbiome as topic for her project laboratory. The aim of her project is to cultivate and identify as many different bacteria and fungi of the “inherited” microbiome of apple seedlings as possible. Franziska picked this research topic because she believes that the findings of this project will be essential not only for a successful future agriculture but also for saving our environment.


Doris Ortner (Master’s student)

I have a bachelor’s degree in Molecular Biology at the Karl-Fanzens University of Graz. Currently I’m working on my Master Thesis to finish the Biotechnology Master’s programme at the Graz University of Technology. For my Thesis I study the composition of microorganisms of apple flowers and seeds. I find microorganisms to be most fascinating. They live in a complex and completely different world compared to us humans. These microbes can even be found on and inside other organisms. Microorganisms are profoundly influencing their habitat and therefore organisms in multiple ways. In plants for example, they help them thrive, grow, form flowers and fruits, and protect them against all kinds of threats. By studying them, we learn much more about their interactions and discover new ways to increase the plants health. The gathered knowledge can be used to increase the yield of fruits without the use of harmful pesticides and has the potential to reduce the amount of fertilizers used. I think that a better understanding of the microbiome of plants will lead not only to a healthier environment, but also to healthier crops and healthier food.


Katie Allen (Communication and outreach consultant)

Katie Allen is kindly helping and consulting with applebiome communication and outreach. She, however, is the director of the Conservation Fund’s Conservation Leadership Network (CLN) in the United States. Since 2010, Katie has designed and led several national and place-based initiatives for The Fund including the Federal Lands Livability Initiative, the National Workshop on Water Quality Trading, and Appalachian Gateway Community workshops and sustainable tourism assessments. She serves as facilitator for CLN’s long-standing and highly-acclaimed Balancing Nature and Commerce Course, Mitigation Banking for Inter-Agency Review Teams Course, and Conservation Banking Course, as well as their regional offerings across the country.  She holds a Masters of City and Regional Planning in Environmental and Land Use Planning from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and a Bachelor of Science in Communications from Boston University.