Judith Klatt Was The Oxygenation of the Earth Linked to Increasing Day Length?

Judith Klatt is a Research Scientist in the Microsensor Group at the Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology in Bremen where she completed her PhD. Klatt has also been a postdoctoral researcher in Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of Michigan. Her main research interests include the origins of photosynthesis, the physiology of versatile phototrophs and microbial mats as windows into the ancient oceans. Her work is field-oriented and she explores extreme microbial ecosystems all over the world, such as in the high altitude Andes.

Area of Research

Microbial Ecology

Gregory J. Dick, Sharon L. Grim and Judith M. Klatt. "Controls on O2 Production in Cyanobacterial Mats and Implications for Earth's Oxygenation." Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences 46 (2018): 123–147. doi:10.1146/annurev-earth-082517-010035.  

since 2018

Research Scientist

Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology (more details)

Microsensor Group


Postdoctoral Researcher

University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

Geomicrobiology Lab, Earth and Environmental Sciences


Dr. rer. nat

Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology (more details)

Thesis: ´Regulation of photosynthetic activity in sulphidic environments` (Summa cum laude) University of Bremen


MA Marine Microbiology

Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology (more details)

Thesis: ‘Role of light in oxygen and carbon cycling by anoxygenic phototrophs in microbial mats’


BA Life Science

University of Hanover (Leibniz Universität Hannover)







- Turner Fellowship, Department of Earth And Environmental Sciences, University of Michigan (2015 - 2017)


- 65th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting (2015)

- 'For Women in Science Award’ by LOreal, the German UNESCO agency and the Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard foundation (2011)

- Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard foundation grant for mothers in science (2011)

- NSF, Revealing the interplay between light, sulfur cycling, and oxygen production in cyanobacterial mats (c-author; PI: Greg Dick, 2017 - 2019)

Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology


At the Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology (MPIMM), we are investigating microorganisms in the sea and other waters. What role do they play, what are their characteristics and how great is their biodiversity? What is the contribution of microorganisms to the global cycles of carbon, nitrogen, sulfur and iron? What does this mean for our environment and our climate? These and many other questions will be answered by researchers from around the world, engineers, technicians and numerous others at the MPIMM. Their fields of expertise range from microbiology to microsensors, geochemistry to genome analysis and molecular ecology to modelling.
The MPIMM was founded in 1992 and is part of the Max Planck Society (MPG). Since 2002, the MPIMM has been running the International Max Planck Research School of Marine Microbiology (MarMic), a program for highly qualified master students and graduates of our institute and the Bremen Research Alliance partner Bremen University, Alfred Wegener Institute Helmholtz Center for Polar and Marine Research (AWI) and Jacobs University.


Mi­cro­sensor Group

We stud­y mi­cro­bial eco­logy in a wide range of en­vir­on­ments: seep sys­tems, deep-sea and coastal sed­i­ments, coral reefs, an­oxic lakes, mi­cro­bial mats, an­imal-as­so­ci­ated mi­crobes and more. The re­search is highly di­verse, en­com­passing themes of pho­to­syn­thesis, ni­tro­gen and sul­fur cyc­ling, cal­ci­fic­a­tion, hab­itat map­ping, eco­sys­tem pro­ductiv­ity and cell physiology.

Most themes in­volve the study of the func­tion­ing of in­tact mi­cro­bial com­mu­nit­ies with non-in­vas­ive meth­ods that al­low as dir­ect an ob­ser­va­tion as pos­sible. To this end, we de­velop, con­struct and use mi­cro­sensors for labor­at­ory and in-situ meas­ure­ments. These tiny sensors, typ­ic­ally made of ex­truded glass, have tip sizes in the or­der of 5-50 μm and can rap­idly meas­ure chem­ical fluxes caused by cells.These mi­cro­sensors are also ap­plied to­wards meas­ur­ing eco­sys­tem fluxes with the eddy co­v­ari­ance tech­nique. We also de­velop and use sev­eral ima­ging tech­no­lo­gies to non-in­vas­ively map the func­tion and de­scribe the struc­ture of hab­it­ats. The tech­no­lo­gies we em­ploy are hy­per­spec­tral ima­ging, planar op­tode ima­ging and beta ra­di­ation ima­ging. Nat­ur­ally, we com­bine these non-in­vas­ive stud­ies with labor­at­ory ana­lyses such as pho­topig­ment and gas chro­ma­to­graphy, iso­topic in­cub­a­tions. nu­tri­ent ana­lyses, etc.

To­gether with the MPI work­shops, we con­tinu­ously strive to de­ve­lop novel meth­ods, and ap­ply them in our re­search. We col­lab­or­ate widely with other in­sti­tu­tes and with groups within the in­sti­tute to share know­ledge and ideas.


Daylength on Earth has increased very gradually from something like 4-12 hours 4.5 billion year ago to 24 hours at present. In this video, JUDITH KLATT explores whether the emergence of oxygen on our planet, vital to the evolution of life, can be linked to changes in the Earth’s rotation rate (daylength). Klatt’s study focuses on the release of oxygen from microbial mats. Modeling and testing in the Middle Island Sinkhole under Lake Huron reveals a positive relationship between daylength and oxygen release. Further research will seek to more specifically identify how microbial mats imprint in the geological record.

LT Video Publication DOI: https://doi.org/10.21036/LTPUB10945

Possible Link Between Earth’s Rotation Rate and Oxygenation.

  • J.M. Klatt, A. Chennu, B.K. Arbic and et al.
  • Nature Geoscience
  • Published in 2021
J.M. Klatt, A. Chennu, B.K. Arbic and et al.. "Possible Link Between Earth’s Rotation Rate and Oxygenation." Nature Geoscience (2021). doi:10.1038/s41561-021-00784-3.