Dr Sabine Lengger

Dr Sabine Lengger

Lecturer in Chemistry

School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences (Faculty of Science and Engineering)


Lecturer in Organic Chemistry


2013 PhD Marine Organic Biogeochemistry Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands 2008 Dipl.Ing. (=MChem) Chemistry / Biochemistry Graz University of Technology, Graz, Austria 2007/2008 Exchange programme Cranfield University, Cranfield, UK 2004/2005 Socrates/Erasmus exchange programme University of Oviedo, Oviedo, Spain

Teaching interests

My teaching interests are aligned with my research interests in analytical and organic chemistry, mass spectrometry, and organic geochemistry. CHM3015 - Advanced Organic Chemistry (Module leader), CHM3013, CHM2016, CHM3011, and CHM010 (organic).

Research interests

Past, present and future of methane emissions from wetlands: Identifying pathways of methanogenesis via the carbon stable isotopic composition of biomarkers. Methane, a potent greenhouse gas, plays a crucial role in the global climate system. The majority of methane emissions is produced by methanogenic archaea in wetlands. These organisms generate methane mainly via two pathways: fermentation of acetate, a product of organic matter degradation, and CO2 reduction with hydrogen. Relative amounts of methane produced by each pathway differ amongst settings, and which pathway is dominant depends on various environmental conditions. To assess the global methane budget both today and in the past, it is crucial to be able to distinguish between these pathways. However, methane formation in ancient settings cannot yet be determined. A promising approach could be the carbon isotopic composition of methanogen derived lipids since the two pathways appear to result in lipids with different values. As this is based on limited data, I propose to develop a novel method for the rapid determination of the stable carbon isotope composition of tetraether lipids. I will study the suitability of tetraether lipids as biomarkers for methanogens and their isotopic compositions as potential proxy for methanogenic pathways, and apply this proxy to past environments, thereby increasing our understanding of the methane cycle in the past, present and future.

Other research

My research topics have developed out of a strong interest in analytical techniques for detection of biomarkers / polar molecules and microbial ecology / biogeochemistry. I worked on Archaea (production and biodegradation of lipids) in sediments, on products of microbial biodegradation of oil, on polar compounds (sterols) in sponges and fossil concretions. Now, I am working on a way to enable the determination of the stable isotopic composition of large, polar biomarkers for the methane cycle. For my research, I use highly developed analytical methods such as HPLC-ESI-MSn, GC-IRMS, GCxGC-TOFMS and GC-IRMS. I am also very interested in the use of advanced data processing and statistical methods for geochemistry, in order to investigate patterns of naturally produced and anthropogenic compounds in the environment, and to compare recent organisms or samples with fossil biomarker distributions.

Grants & contracts

2014 Rubicon Fellowship (NWO, Netherlands Organization for scientific research), for conducting research on the methane cycle at the University of Bristol with Prof. R. Pancost (151 000 €) 2007 Double Degree program (Cranfield University / Graz University of Technology), for courses in Environmental Diagnostics and Master’s dissertation at Cranfield University, UK (ca. 4 000 €) 2006 Vulcanus in Japan Fellowship, EU/Japan Center for industrial Cooperation, for studies of Japanese language/business culture and internship (15 000 €) 2006 Faculty of science grant, University of Graz, for attendance of a course in Arctic Microbiology, University of Trømsø – The University Center in Svalbard, Norway (ca.1 000 €) 2004 Erasmus scholarship, Graz University of Technology, for studies at the University of Oviedo, Spain (ca. 4 000 €)

Research groups

  • Biogeochemistry Research Centre (BGC)
  • Petroleum and Environmental Geochemistry

Key publications are highlighted

Naeher S, Lengger SK & Grice K 2016 'A new method for the rapid analysis of 1H-Pyrrole-2,5-diones (maleimides) in environmental samples by two-dimensional gas chromatography time-of-flight mass spectrometry (GC×GC-ToF-MS)' Journal of Chromatography A , DOI PEARL
Frank RA, Milestone CB, Rowland SJ, Headley JV, Kavanagh RJ, Lengger SK, Scarlett AG, West CE, Peru KM & Hewitt LM 2016 'Assessing spatial and temporal variability of acid-extractable organics in oil sands process-affected waters' Chemosphere PEARL
Lengger SK, Fromont J & Grice K 2016 'Tapping the archives: The sterol composition of marine sponge species, as determined non-invasively from museum preserved specimens, reveals biogeographical features' Geobiology PEARL
Fromont J, Huggett MJ, Lengger SK, Grice K & Schönberg CHL 2015 'Characterization of Leucetta prolifera, a calcarean cyanosponge from south-western Australia, and its symbionts' Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom 1-12 , DOI PEARL
Jean MRN, Gonzalez-Rizzo S, Gauffre-Autelin P, Lengger SK, Schouten S & Gros O 2015 'Two New Beggiatoa Species Inhabiting Marine Mangrove Sediments in the Caribbean' PLOS ONE 10, (2) e0117832-e0117832 , DOI
Lengger SK, Scarlett AG, West CE, Frank RA, Hewitt LM, Milestone CB & Rowland SJ 2015 'Use of the distributions of adamantane acids to profile short-term temporal and pond-scale spatial variations in the composition of oil sands process-affected waters' ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE-PROCESSES & IMPACTS 17, (8) 1415-1423 Author Site , DOI PEARL
West CE, Pureveen J, Scarlett AG, Lengger SK, Wilde MJ, Korndorffer F, Tegelaar EW & Rowland SJ 2014 'Can two-dimensional gas chromatography/mass spectrometric identification of bicyclic aromatic acids in petroleum fractions help to reveal further details of aromatic hydrocarbon biotransformation pathways?' Rapid Commun Mass Spectrom 28, (9) 1023-1032 Author Site , DOI PEARL
Lengger SK, Hopmans EC, Sinninghe Damsté JS & Schouten S 2014 'Fossilization and degradation of archaeal intact polar tetraether lipids in deeply buried marine sediments (Peru Margin)' Geobiology 12, (3) 212-220 Author Site , DOI
Lengger SK, Hopmans EC, Sinninghe Damsté JS & Schouten S 2014 'Impact of sedimentary degradation and deep water column production on GDGT abundance and distribution in surface sediments in the Arabian Sea: Implications for the TEX86 paleothermometer' Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 142, 386-399 , DOI
Lengger SK, Lipsewers YA, de Haas H, Damste JSS & Schouten S 2014 'Lack of C-13-label incorporation suggests low turnover rates of thaumarchaeal intact polar tetraether lipids in sediments from the Iceland shelf' BIOGEOSCIENCES 11, (2) 201-216 Author Site , DOI
Rowland SJ, Pereira AS, Martin JW, Scarlett AG, West CE, Lengger SK, Wilde MJ, Pureveen J, Tegelaar EW & Frank RA 2014 'Mass spectral characterisation of a polar, esterified fraction of an organic extract of an oil sands process water' Rapid Commun Mass Spectrom 28, (21) 2352-2362 Author Site , DOI PEARL
Lengger SK, Scarlett AG, West CE & Rowland SJ 2013 'Diamondoid diacids ('O 4 ' species) in oil sands process-affected water' Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry 27, (23) 2648-2654 , DOI PEARL
Lengger SK, Kraaij M, Tjallingii R, Baas M, Stuut J-B, Hopmans EC, Damste JSS & Schouten S 2013 'Differential degradation of intact polar and core glycerol dialkyl glycerol tetraether lipids upon post-depositional oxidation' ORGANIC GEOCHEMISTRY 65, 83-93 Author Site , DOI
Lengger SK, Hopmans EC, Sinninghe Damsté JS & Schouten S 2012 'Comparison of extraction and work up techniques for analysis of core and intact polar tetraether lipids from sedimentary environments' Organic Geochemistry 47, 34-40 Author Site , DOI
Lengger SK, Hopmans EC, Reichart G-J, Nierop KGJ, Sinninghe Damsté JS & Schouten S 2012 'Intact polar and core glycerol dibiphytanyl glycerol tetraether lipids in the Arabian Sea oxygen minimum zone. Part II: Selective preservation and degradation in sediments and consequences for the TEX86' Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 98, 244-258 , DOI