Research topics

Cellular organisation & architecture

The IMPRS-µLife research groups in Cellular organisation & architecture focus on understanding how cellular organisation enables them to execute basic tasks such as growth, division and adaptation.

Murray group studies the positioning of proteins or chromosomal loci to specific locations within the cell which is crucial for processes such as chromosome segregation, cell division and motility. Søgaard-Andersen group studies cell differentiation, motility and cell cycle in Myxococcus xanthus. Thanbichler group investigates the molecular mechanisms underlying the spatiotemporal organization of bacterial cells, with an emphasis on the model bacteria Caulobacter crescentus, Hyphomonas neptunium, and M. xanthus. Graumann and Waidner groups focus on chromosome dynamics and cell shape maintenance in Bacillus subtilis and Helicobacter pylori.

Bölker group studies production of glycolipids and in unicellular fungus Ustilago maydis and protein transport and dual localization in peroxisomes of fungi. Diepold groups studies bacterial type III secretion system, an injection device for toxic effector proteins. Maier group focuses on endosymbioses, especially secondary endosymbiosis, its resulting complex plastids and transport of proteins across memberanes. Mösch group studies molecular and structural basis of cell adhesion, cell wall biogenesis, signal transduction and transcriptional regulation.

Finally, Schindler group focuses on synthetic genomics, i.e., in silico design of a genome, construction in vitro and characterisation in vivo. Dominik Heider's group develops bioinformatics tools for analysis of genome assembly and functional annotation of (meta-)genomic and (meta-) transcriptomic data of microorganisms.

Metabolism & physiology

The IMPRS-µLife research groups in Metabolism & physiology study the molecular basis of fundamental biological processes to understand the chemistry of life.

Erb lab focuses on discovery, understanding and engineering of novel enzymes and pathways, especially those that capture and convert the carbon dioxide. Rebelein lab focuses on the activation of nitrogen and carbon dioxide by the enzyme nitrogenase. Schuller lab specializes in cryoEM single particle analysis in biological systems that are responsible for biological carbon fixation, biological energy conversion and transport. Shima lab is working on enzymes involved in methanogenesis, anaerobic oxidation of methane and hydrogenation. Kurth group investigates novel metabolic pathways of anaerobic archaea and bacteria by combining microbial physiology, protein biochemistry and environmental microbiology. Klatt lab aims at deepening our understanding of microbially driven element cycling in Earth’s present and past humid realm by studying a wide range of ecosystems and microbial key players. 

The group of Johann Heider focuses on the characterisation of pathways for degradation of anaerobic hydrocarbon compounds such as aromatic molecules and pollutants. Lill lab studies biosynthesis of cellular iron-sulfur proteins in eukaryotic organisms and their impact on cellular iron homeostasis. Bange lab studies different aspects of microbial response to changes in the environment: molecular framework of nutritional alarmone (p)ppGpp, proteins at the host-microbe interface, bacterial motility and microbial immunity (i.e. CRISPR-Cas). Essen group investigates molecular mechanisms of light sensing, transmembrane conductance and adhesion. Finally, Hochberg group studies how evolution produced the current protein diversity.

Randau group investigates the functionality of small non-coding RNA molecules in archaeal and bacterial model organisms. Höfer lab studies the epitranscriptomic mechanisms of gene regulation based on NAD-capped RNAs in bacteria. Vázquez lab focuses on the design and development of innovative chemical tools (e.g., peptides, nucleic acids) for sensing biological processes and remote manipulation of molecular machines inside cells.

Microbial communities & interaction

IMPRS-µLife research groups in this section study the interaction of microorganisms with one another and with their environment, as well as the host-pathogen interactions.

Brune group studies the the gut microbiota of termites, and in particular the evolutionary history of the intestinal symbiosis and the functional role of individual populations in the digestion of lignocellulose and humus. Bode lab aims at understanding of microbial metabolite function in the environment using entomopathogenic nematodes and their associated bacteria as model systems. Schmeck lab studies the transcriptional and proteomic networks in in bacterial (Streptococcus pneumoniae, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Legionella pneumophila) and host cells, and intercellular communication by extracellular vesicles.

Becker lab focuses on soil-dwelling alphaproteobacterial rhizobia that are capable of entering a nitrogen-fixing root nodule endosymbiosis with leguminous plants. Junker lab studies microbial effects on the plant phenotype, and how plant traits shape microbial communities and interaction networks.

Sourjik lab investigateshow biofilms and swarms emerge from chemical and physical interactions between bacteria as well as from bacterial differentiation, interaction of bacteria with bacteriophages as well.

Signal transduction & information processing

Signal transduction & information processing within networks regulate key cellular processes and behaviours.

Bischofs-Pfeifer group aims to understand the signaling networks involved in spore formation and quorum sensing. Sourjik lab investigates chemotaxis and bacterial motility. All groups commonly use high-end microscopy techniques, in combination with molecular microbiology and systems and synthetic biology tools.