The bacterial genus Aquirufa, which was discovered and scientifically described in cooperation with pupils, is the eponym and focus of the research project. The aim is to research the ecology, biodiversity and distribution of Aquirufa in water bodies through the active and creative participation of citizen scientists in the entire research process.
Many people only know bacteria as pathogens, although only a small proportion of bacteria belong to this group. Environmental bacteria drive material cycles and are involved in primary production; without their metabolic activities, the ecosphere as we know it would not exist. They are also absolutely essential organisms for our ecosystems, such as water bodies. Despite this importance, there is still a great need for research. According to estimates, there are probably several million species of bacteria, but only a little over 20,000 of them have been named and described. This enormous wealth of species is therefore still largely undiscovered. The project therefore aims to draw attention to this world hidden from the naked eye and to awaken understanding for scientific work, especially basic research.
School classes and other citizen scientist groups will collect water samples from self-selected or specified water bodies and process them microbiologically under supervision. Smaller groups will also work in the laboratory and help with sampling campaigns. With the involvement of the citizen scientists, newly discovered Aquirufa species will also be scientifically named and described during the course of the project.
Interested citizens can participate in the project in workshops in Mondsee and in the Weitwörther Au (near Salzburg). More information is available on the project homepage. You can also follow the project on Instagram.
In 2023, poject coordinator Alexandra Pitt held a lecture about the project Aquirufa (in German) as part of the lecture series "Citizen Science Seminar" at the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences Vienna (BOKU). You can watch the video recording of the lecture at the end of this page.
Videos (in German)