Scientific talk

Lipid selectivity in antimicrobial activity

Dr. Maria Hörnke

Albert-Ludwigs-Universität, Freiburg i.Br.

Date and time


Lecture hall Louis Pasteur

There is an imminent need to combat emerging antibiotic resistance. Natural antimicrobial peptides and even more so their synthetic mimics studied here offer a promising alternative to classical antibiotics through their action on membrane integrity with low induced resistance. Therefore, it is highly beneficial to judge and favor antimicrobial activity by characterizing membrane permeabilization. Not killing cells or microbes, but doing so selectively is crucial for combatting emerging multidrug resistant microbes.

The lipid composition differs greatly among organisms and even tissues. The simplest selectivity mechanism is net charge of the outer layer of the membrane. We study more subtle selectivity mechanisms such as lipid clustering and correlate our findings to biological activity.  A systematical understanding of the requirements for antimicrobial activity and selectivity may assist in the design of antimicrobial compounds.