Bacterial Lifestyles – Choices and Weaponry
Bacteria communicate with each other and behave as either individuals and act as multi-cell and/or multi-species communities. Through signalling molecules, they can also cross-talk with eukaryotic hosts. Bacteria deploy a whole armoury of devices within these processes, ranging from modulation of gene expression and their cell wall composition to production of specialized nano-machines to combat predators and competitors and deliver virulence factors into host-cells. Our research includes elucidating the underlying molecular mechanisms within these processes which are important for both human and environmental health.
Microbial Infection Biology
Microbes – bacteria, fungi, viruses and parasites – are nanometre- to micron-sized organisms that have a profound impact on human health. Some microbes are "accidental tourists" – so called opportunistic pathogens, while others are dedicated pathogens. Yet others, have complex lifecycles that involve intermediary transmission hosts. Basic research underscores our effort to understand the molecular mechanisms involved in these aspects of pathogenicity to provide new strategies for prevention and treatment of infection diseases.
Genetics, Epigenetics and Evolution
A major challenge in biology is to link genomic variations to biological functions. Differences in gene sequences together with how, when and where genes are activated and expressed result in differences among individuals and species. Comparative sequence analysis allows us to, for example, predict novel antibiotic resistance determinants for experimental validation and retrace the molecular evolution of resistance factors from housekeeping genes. Using model organisms we study gene regulation, epigenetics, genome structure and function and their role in evolution. In our different projects we use classical genetic techniques combined with large scale sequencing technologies and bioinformatics analysis.
Cell Growth, Disease and Cancer Biology
Eukaryotic cells are exposed to a diversity of stimulatory factors and danger signals that alter their growth trajectories. Stimulatory factors drive cell proliferation through modulation of tight transcriptional and translational control, while danger signal subvert growth and can even lead to cell death. Malfunctioning of these systems can promote inflammatory diseases and facilitate processes that ultimately lead to tumour and/or cancer progression.
Cell Physiology and Development
Understanding cell physiology is a major task of basic molecular biology within many different research areas. Our research includes elucidating the development of the wiring of our senses, the underlying structural components that shape our cells, and the mechanisms of our immune systems. Such molecular-level understanding is required to decipher the workings of multicellular organisms and their transient and persistent interactions with microbes.