Microbial natural products – a hidden treasure trove

Everywhere on earth - in soils and oceans or even on and in all living beings including humans - microorganisms live together in close proximity, in microbiomes. Natural products structure these microbial communities, determine their composition and their behaviour towards the outside world. They are the language of microorganisms, the mediators of biological communication. Genome analyses suggest that bacteria, fungi and other microorganisms produce numerous natural products, only a small part of which we know. We would like to tap into this "treasure trove" of interesting compounds and examine their potential for applications, especially in medicine.

In particular, we also focus on the ecological context and biological function of newly discovered natural products. In addition to the structure and biosynthesis of these molecules, we want to understand why microorganisms produce these substances and what are the underlying general patterns. For most natural products, we do not yet know the true ecological significance in the habitat. With better knowledge, we could understand the complex interactions of microorganisms in detail and use them for the benefit of humans and nature.