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Alexander Kirschner
Dr. Mag. Alexander KirschnerHead of research group "Ecology of Health-Related Microorganisms", Vice-head of "Interuniversity Cooperation Centre Water & Health"

Center for Pathophysiology, Infectiology and Immunology (Institute for Hygiene and Applied Immunology)
Position: Associate Professor

T +43 1 40160 33060

Further Information


Water Microbiology

Research interests

The focus of my working group is on understanding the ecology of health related microorganisms, predominantly bacteria. Research projects have been dealing with the ecology of Vibrio cholerae nonO1/nonO139, with Legionella spp, with faceal indicator bacteria like E.coli and Enterococci or with the natural drinking water and groundwater microbiota. We want to elucidate the factors that drive and control growth, abundance and survival of these microorganisms in the environment for risk assessment and management purposes. As a prerequisite, reliable methods for the detection and quantification of the microorganisms are necessary. In my group we focus on culture independent, cell-based detection and quantificatoin methods.

My working group is part of the Water Hygiene unit at the Institute for Hygiene and Applied Immunology and of the Interuniversity Cooperation Centre Water and Health.

Techniques, methods & infrastructure

Methods focus on techniques suitable for the cell based, culture-independent quantification of microorganisms, with a special focus on bacteria: epifluorescence microscopy, solid phase cytometry and flow cytometry.

Cells are eiter stained unspecifically or with specific methods (FISH, CARD-FISH, antibodies)

Selected publications

  1. Pretzer C, Druzhinina IS, Amaro C, Benediktsdottir E, Hedenström I, Hervio-Heath D, Huhulescu S, Schets FM, Farnleitner AH, Kirschner AKT (2017) High genetic diversity of Vibrio cholerae in the European lake Neusiedler See is associated with intensive recombination in the reed habitat and the long-distance transfer of strains. Environ Microbiol. 19(1): 328-344
  2. Kirschner AKT (2016) Determination of viable legionellae in engineered water systems: Do we find what we are looking for? Water Research 93: 276-288
  3. Schauer S, Jakwerth S, Bliem R, Baudart J, Lebaron P, Huhulescu S, Kundi M, Herzig A, Farnleitner AH, Sommer R, Kirschner A. Dynamics of Vibrio cholerae abundance in Austrian saline lakes, assessed with quantitative solid-phase cytometry. Environmental Microbiology 17(11):4366-4378. DOI:10.1111/1462-2920.12861 (2015)
  4. Bliem R, Schauer S, Plicka H, Obwaller A, Sommer R, Steinrigl A, Alam M, Reischer GH, Farnleitner AH, Kirschner A. A Novel Triplex Quantitative PCR Strategy for Quantification of Toxigenic and Nontoxigenic Vibrio cholerae in Aquatic Environments. Appl Environ Microbiol 81(9): 3077-3085 (2015)
  5. Stevenson M.E., A.P. Blaschke, S. Schauer, M. Zessner, R. Sommer, A.H. Farnleitner and A.K.T. Kirschner. Enumerating Microorganism Surrogates for Groundwater Transport Studies Using Solid-Phase Cytometry. Water, Air and Soil Pollution 225 (2): 1827 (2014)