Inter-specific interaction mechanisms

  • Secondary metabolites of microbial symbionts of marine and terrestrial invertebrates
  • Interactions between fungi and bacteria associated with insects
  • Structural identification of signaling molecules which induce morphogenesis and multi-cellularity
  • Structural and functional characterization of antibacterial and antifungal natural products

Since the development of microbes and higher eukaryotes coevolution has resulted in specific interaction mechanisms. It is well known that symbiotic bacteria influence the life cycle, and are essential for the homeostasis of the eukaryotic host. We are currently investigating two model systems to understand the molecular interaction mechanisms in more detail and to identify a general mode of actions. Furthermore, we want to harvest the biosynthetic potential of the bacterial symbionts to find novel natural products and chemotypes with selective pharmacological potential. Due to the ever-rising numbers of multi-drug resistant pathogens, there is a growing need for antimicrobial compounds suitable for medicinal application.

  1. Fungus-growing insects rear in specialized combs a symbiotic fungus as a food source. By using various methods, insects can combat invading fungi species, which can be life-threatening to the insect colony. Especially defensive symbionts support the homeostasis of the colony by secretion of selective antimicrobial and antifungal products. With our research, we aim to investigate the expression levels and influence of secondary metabolites of defensive symbionts. Due to the ecological context, we expect the secondary metabolite to have a highly selective pharmacological potential with a possible broad application.
  1. The life cycle of the marine hydroid polyp Hydractinia echniata has a motile (larvae) and sessil reproductive phase (polyp). The metamorphosis of the larvae is induced by compounds of the biofilm produced by specific bacterial species (Pseudoalteromonas spp). We aim to identify the bacterial molecular cues and the receptor in the marine hydroid polyp to understand the interaction mechanisms in more detail. Despite the ecological role of marine microbes, we want to harvest the biosynthetic potential of bacterial symbionts for finding new drug leads.

New video clip about our research

Termite Fungiculture – A Hidden Treasure Trove

For further details, please have look at our topic secondary metabolites from insect-associated microbes.

Our research topics
  • Chemical analysis of secondary metabolites from microbial symbionts 
  • Functional and structural analysis of microbial signaling molecules
  • Isolation and characterization of antibacterial and antifungal natural products
  • Total synthesis of natural products and derivatives
Our expertise

We use state-of-the-art analytical methods to isolate and characterize microbial signaling molecules:

  • Analytical chemistry (UHPLC, UHPLC-MS, NMR, MALDI etc.)
  • Molecular Biology and Biochemistry (metagenomic, proteomics etc.)
  • Organic synthesis (total synthesis using new methodologies)
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JSMC talk by Michael Poulsen

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