Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research
Royal Netherlands
Institute for Sea Research
Ocean Systems (OCS)
  • Abiotic carbon fixation
  • Origin of Life
  • Hydrogen in geochemical systems
  • Mineral catalysis
  • Nanoparticles in hydrothermal systems

Dr. Martina Preiner


Research Interest

I am working on the impact of hydrothermal nanoparticles on ocean biogeochemistry, a joint project between UU and NIOZ (I-NANO).

Education and research

Since October 2021: Postdoctoral researcher, Department of Ocean Systems, Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research (NIOZ), ‘t Horntje, Texel& Department of Earth Sciences, Utrecht University, The Netherlands | Catalytic properties of nanoparticles found in- and outside hydrothermal vent systems

January 2020 – September 2021: Postdoctoral researcher, Institute for Molecular Evolution, Heinrich Heine University, Düsseldorf, Germany | The role of hydrogen, mineral catalysts and water activity in a prebiotic, hydrothermal context

October 2016 – January 2020: PhD student at Heinrich Heine University, Düsseldorf, Germany, including extensive research stays at the University of Strasbourg, France, the University of Durham, UK, and the Max Planck Institute for Coal Research in Mülheim/Ruhr, Germany | Thesis: The abiotic pattern of biotic CO2 fixation

October 2006 – December 2009: MSc student at Ludwig-Maximilians-University, Munich, Germany; Physical and inorganic chemistry, biochemistry | Thesis: Monitoring protein conformation and DNA protein interactions via single molecule fluorescence resonance energy transfer

October 2004 – September 2007: BSc student at Ludwig-Maximilians-University, Munich, Germany; Chemistry and biochemistry | Thesis: Site-directed mutagenesis of circulary-permutated red fluorescent proteins

Professional Science communication/journalism experience

April 2018 – September 2020: Science Podcast ‘Undoder zum Quadrat’ (German), Audible Deutschland | Researching and presenting complex scientific topics together with science journalist Franziska Konitzer

December 2009 – September 2016: Freelance science journalist for various German media (Deutschlandfunk, Spektrum der Wissenschaft, Westdeutscher Rundfunk, Quarks & Co., Neue Zürcher Zeitung, Süddeutsche Zeitung, Die Welt)



Google Scholar



  • Preiner M, Martin WF: Life in a carbon dioxide world. Nature 592: 688–689 (2021). doi: 10.1038/d41586-021-00977-1.
  • Wimmer JLE, do Nascimento Vieira A, Xavier JC, Kleinermanns K, Martin WF, Preiner M: The autotrophic core: An ancient network of 404 reactions converts H2, CO2, and NH3 into amino acids, bases, and cofactors. Microorganisms 9: 458 (2021). doi: 10.3390/microorganisms9020458.
  • do Nascimento Vieira A, Kleinermanns K, Martin WF, Preiner M: The ambivalent role of water at the origins of life. FEBS Lett 594: 2717–2733 (2020). doi: 10.1002/1873-3468.1381.
  • Preiner M, Igarashi K, Muchowska KB, Yu M, Varma SJ, Kleinermanns K, Nobu MK, Kamagata Y, Tüysüz H, Moran J, Martin WF: A hydrogen-dependent geochemical analogue of primordial carbon and energy metabolism. Nat Ecol Evol 4:534–542 (2020). doi: 10.1038/s41559-020-1125-6.
  • Preiner M, Asche S, Becker S, Betts HC, Boniface A, Camprubi E, Chandru K, Erastova V, Garg SG, Khawaja N, Kostyrka G, Machné R, Moggioli G, Muchowska KB, Neukirchen S, Peter B, Pichlhöfer E, Radványi Á, Rossetto D, Salditt A, Schmelling NM, Sousa FL, Tria FDK, Vörös D, Xavier JC: The future of origin of life research: Bridging decades-old divisions. Life (Basel) 10 (2020). doi: 10.3390/life10030020.
  • Preiner M, Xavier JC, Vieira ADN, Kleinermanns K, Allen JF, Martin WF: Catalysts, autocatalysis and the origin of metabolism. Interface Focus 9:20190072 (2019). doi: 10.1098/rsfs.2019.0072.
  • Preiner M, Xavier JC, Sousa FL, Zimorski V, Neubeck A, Lang SQ, Greenwell HC, Kleinermanns K, Tüysüz H, McCollom TM, Holm NG, Martin WF: Serpentinization: Connecting geochemistry, ancient metabolism and industrial hydrogenation. Life 8:41 (2018). doi: 10.3390/life8040041.
  • Xavier JC, Preiner M, Martin WF: Something special about CO-dependent CO2 fixation. FEBS J 285:4181–4195 (2018). doi: 10.1111/febs.14664. doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1007518.
  • Weiss MC, Preiner M, Xavier JC, Zimorski V, Martin WF: The last common ancestor between ancient Earth chemistry and the onset of genetics. PLoS Genet 14:e1007518 (2018). doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1007518.
  • Sousa FL, Preiner M, Martin WF: Native metals, electron bifurcation, and CO2 reduction in early biochemical evolution. Curr Opin Microbiol 43:77–83 (2018). doi: 10.1016/j.mib.2017.12.010.

Linked blogs

Monday 22 August 2022
BLOG I-Nano cruise | Exploring deep-sea nanomaterials
Nanomaterials and nanoparticles are usually connected with high-tech industrial processes. But they have been a natural part of our planet from the very beginning, they show unique catalytic capabilities that may have (had) a major influence on…

NIOZ publications

  • 2022
    Henriques Pereira, D.P.; Leethaus, J.; Beyazay, T.; Nascimento Vieira, A.; Kleinermanns, K.; Tüysüz, H.; Martin, W.F.; Preiner, M. (2022). Role of geochemical protoenzymes (geozymes) in primordial metabolism: specific abiotic hydride transfer by metals to the biological redox cofactor NAD+. The FEBS Journal 289(11): 3148-3162.