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Christine received the prestigous ERC Starting Grant in 2018!
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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 and fungi influence the life cycle, and are essential for the homeostasis of many eukaryotes. However, in most cases, the factors driving and influencing the cross-kingdom interactions are unknown.
Our research focuses on the structural identification of microbial chemical mediators that are important to maintain the symbiotic life style of the producing organisms.
In case of fungus-growing termites, the insects rear a symbiotic fungus as a food source in specialized combs. 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.
For further details, please have look at our topic secondary metabolites from insect-associated microbes.
In case of the marine hydroid polyp Hydractinia echinata the metamorphosis of larvae is induced by compounds of the biofilm produced by specific bacterial species (Pseudoalteromonas spp).
For further details, please have look at our topic analysis of morphogenic signals.
To study the chemical signals we apply state-of-the-art analytical tools:
- Analytical Chemistry (UHPLC, UHPLC-MS, NMR, MALDI etc.)
- Genome Mining and Molecular Biology
- Organic Synthesis (total synthesis and natural product derivatization)