Prof. Dr. Dr. h. c. Michael Wagner






Vice Director of the Centre for Microbiology and Environmental Systems Science

☎ +43 1 4277 91200

Humans are strongly impacting the global nitrogen cycle by massive use of nitrogen fertilisers. Nitrification leads to fertiliser loss, eutrophication, and greenhouse gas emission, but is essential for efficient wastewater treatment. Research in Michael Wagner‘s group focuses on the ecology, physiology, and evolution of nitrifying microorganisms. Michael Wagner’s group has discovered, cultured, and characterised important new nitrifying bacteria and archaea, including the long sought-after complete nitrifiers, describing unexpected physiological traits in the process.
Michael also has a strong interest in microbial communities driving sewage treatment and in the microbiomes of marine sponges. His group also develop innovative single cell tools to study functional properties of microbes in their natural environment. Michael is an EMBO member, has received an ERC Advanced Grant, the FWF Wittgenstein Award (highest Austrian science award), the Jim Tiedje Award of the International Society for Microbial Ecology, and the Schrödinger Prize of the Austrian Academy of Sciences. He is the director of the FWF Cluster of Excellence “Microbiomes Drive Planetary Heath”.

Ongoing Research Projects

Join the Team

If you are interested in joining our team, explore our open positions and learn more about available PhD and postdoc stipends here.


To view Michael Wagner's teaching activities at the University of Vienna, visit u:find.

Group Members


Wang, B., Qin, W., Ren, Y., Zhou, X., Jung, M-Y., Han, P., Eloe-Fadrosh, E. A., Li, M., Zheng, Y., Lu, L., Yan, X., Ji, J., Liu, Y., Liu, L., Heiner, C., Hall, R., Martens-Habbena, W., Herbold, C. W., Rhee, S-K., ... Jia, Z. (2019). Expansion of Thaumarchaeota habitat range is correlated with horizontal transfer of ATPase operons. The ISME Journal: multidisciplinary journal of microbial ecology, 13(12), 3067–3079.

Moeller, F. U., Webster, N. S., Herbold, C. W., Behnam, F., Domman, D., Albertsen, M., Mooshammer, M., Markert, S., Turaev, D., Becher, D., Rattei, T., Schweder, T., Richter, A., Watzka, M., Nielsen, P. H., & Wagner, M. (2019). Characterization of a thaumarchaeal symbiont that drives incomplete nitrification in the tropical sponge Ianthella basta. Environmental Microbiology, 21(10), 3831-3854.

Jung, M-Y., Gwak, J-H., Rohe, L., Giesemann, A., Kim, J-G., Well, R., Madsen, E. L., Herbold, C., Wagner, M., & Rhee, S. K. (2019). Indications for enzymatic denitrification to N2O at low pH in an ammonia-oxidizing archaeon. The ISME Journal: multidisciplinary journal of microbial ecology, 13(10), 2633-2638.

Kjeldsen, K. U., Schreiber, L., Thorup, C. A., Boesen, T., Bjerg, J. T., Yang, T., Dueholm, M. S., Larsen, S., Risgaard-Petersen, N., Nierychlo, M., Schmid, M., Bøggild, A., van de Vossenberg, J., Geelhoed, J. S., Meysman, F. J. R., Wagner, M., Nielsen, P. H., Nielsen, L. P., & Schramm, A. (2019). On the evolution and physiology of cable bacteria. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS), 116(38), 19116-19125.