News from the group

Christine received the prestigous ERC Starting Grant in 2018!

For more news, please check out our news!


Small Molecules Mediate Cross-Kingdom Interactions

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.  However in most cases, the factors driving and influencing the cross-kingdom interactions are unknown.

Our Aims

We aim to connect natural products to their genetic basis and ecological function!

  • Functional and structural analysis of microbial signaling molecules from microbial symbionts 
  • Isolation and characterization of antibacterial and antifungal natural products
  • Total synthesis of natural products and derivatives

Our Expertise

  • Analytical Chemistry (UHPLC, UHPLC-MS, NMR, MALDI etc.)
  • Organic Synthesis (total synthesis and natural product derivatization)
  • Genome Mining and Molecular Biology 

Our Model Systems

We have selected two model systems to structurally identify the microbial chemical mediators that are important to maintain the symbiotic life style.

  1. Fungus-growing termites rear in specialized combs a symbiotic fungus as a food source. Termites have developed several strategies to 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.
  1. The life cycle of the marine hydroid polyp Hydractinia echinata has a motile (larvae) and sessile 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.

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.