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As many people first read the acknowledgments section of a thesis (including me), I decided to make this section something very special. I should advice, that this is a brazilian acknowledgements section, which means: filled with emotion and … very, very long (my PhD colleagues would say “kitschig” or “peinlich”). I hope that all of you, which were mentioned here, will realize that your support was really very important to me.

As I decided coming to Germany for my doctoral studies I contacted Rita Adrian. She didn’t want supervising me. It was really very hard to show her that this would be a mistake. After bombarding her a couple weeks long with e-mails and project hypotheses she finally agreed to supervise me. So, I came to Berlin, and I was very anxious for starting the doctorate, I was extremely motivated, and without speaking German! I could thank Rita for being my supervisor, for giving me good advices and supporting my work, for motivating me when I received the notice that a manuscript (or two) had been rejected, for all nice moments during our weekly meetings and “Literatur-Seminar”. I could thank her for all those things, but I think I should thank her for something much more important: for having accepted me four years ago.

My sincere gratitude goes to Prof. Norbert Walz for accommodating my research at the institute and giving me support in the course of my work.

I owe thanks to Angela Krüger, Manfred Wirth, and Johnny Ogunji. Without their methodological assistance with the biochemical analyses this work would certainly take two more years. I specially thank Angela Krüger, for our nice talks and for her constant efforts to improve my German. I also thank Hanna Winkler, Marianne Graupe, Renate Rusche, Helgard Täuscher, Katrin Lehman, Astrid Voß, Magdalena Sieber, Thomas Hintze, Rüdick Biskupeck, and Johannes Hochschild for their technical support and for making me feel “at home” in the institute. Specially, I would like to thank Marianne for giving me knitting lessons and Thomas for the nice billiard matches. To all “Abteilung- 2ler” for the good convivence during these 4 years: Danke!

My special thanks to Daniela Pflanz, Corinna Enderes, Peer Martin, and Marika Harz for their assistance with cultures, analyses, sample counting, etc, etc, etc.

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The room of the PhD students at the Müggelseedamm 301 is known from the institute’s personal as the “Kinderzimmer” – the “kids’ room”. It was amazing the time I spend at the kids’ room. We have discussed about our thesis, assisted one-each-other, we have talked about future perspectives, etc. The only problem was in winter, when I turned the heating on. My colleagues had never understand (except perhaps for Susann), why a room temperature of less than 25°C was unacceptable for me. But they have learned to work by tropic temperatures and to appreciate a good coffee and “bananinhas”. I would like to thank all my colleagues from the “kids’ room”: Susanne Fietz, Susann Wilhelm, Björn Gücker, Volker Meyer, Astrid Schwalb, Peer Martin, and Sebastian Schuran for the nice time we spent together. Specially, I would like to thank Volker Meyer for his assistance with cultures and methodological support. Susann Wilhelm for the helpful discussions, for proof reading this work and, of course, because she never let me eat sweeties alone. My special thanks to Sebastian Schuran, who kindly provide some results of his MSc to one chapter of this thesis.

I thank Dr. Dörthe Müller-Navarra, who kindly spent some hours of her time giving me helpful advices. My acknowledgments also to Prof. Karl-Otto Rothhaupt, Prof. Klaus Hausmann, and Prof. Thomas Weisse, who kindly provided me with the cultures of heterotrophic protists I used in this work, and to Winfried Weiler for his support with the supplementation method. Here I would like to thank all my co-authors for their support: Rita Adrian, Angela Krüger, Sebastian Schuran, and Guntram Weithoff.

I would like to special thank Björn Gücker for his support and patience during the last 2 years, especially during the last phase of my doctorate, which was certainly for him an endless “TPM”. For proof reading each part of this work and giving me precious assistance. And because he “also” never let me eat sweeties (and “salties!”) alone!

My sincere gratitude goes to my family, my father Carlos Augusto, my mother Terezinha, my sister Melly, and my uncle José Eduardo, who have always supported me, even from miles of distance.

Finally I would like to thank someone very, very special: my son Diogo. He was the person, who mostly suffers within these four years of my PhD. Filho, desculpa pela minha ausência e pela falta de paciência nos momentos de maior stress. Pelo menos o meu doutorado serviu para te proporcionar uma experiência única de vida, de morar num outro país, aprender novas línguas e novas culturas (tão [page 140↓]diferentes da nossa), de fazer novos amigos e de abrir os seus horizontes. Essa experiência você vai levar com você por toda a sua vida, e quem sabe um dia, você também poderá proporcionar aos seus filhos a mesma oportunidade, durante o seu doutorado (se é que depois de ver o que eu passei com o meu você ainda se anima)!

There is a last group of important persons, who also deserve my special grant: the numerous reviewers of my manuscripts. Their comments, although sometimes very peculiar, improved this work enormously. Whoever you are, thank you!!

This doctorate would never been possible without a grant from the German Academic Exchange Program (Deutscher Akademischer Austausch Dienst – DAAD). My most sincere gratitude to DAAD.

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