Applied and Ecological Microbiology
The department essentially studies the degradation of natural compounds as well as xenobiotics by anaerobic bacteria or aerobic fungi, respectively. The studies mainly focus on vitamin B12-dependent enzymes of the energy metabolism that are involved in the anoxic ether cleavage or the reductive dechlorination of chlorinated hydrocarbons as an energy conserving process. The biochemical principles of these reactions as well as their energetics, molecular biology, and regulation are investigated.
General Microbiology and Microbe Genetics
The main focus of interest is the understanding of development and molecular signaling in sexual and parasitic interactions of zygomycetes. We are mainly using a basal model system within this taxon addressing the mechanisms of cellular communication between interacting partners.
The research concerns the mating type loci which encode pheromone receptors of the seven transmembrane domain family and their ligands, lipopeptide pheromones. Host and substrate specificity are investigated with fungi of the genus Tricholoma that are able to form a mutual symbiotic relationship with trees. Using fingerprinting techniques over 100 genes specifically induced during establishing and function of the symbiotic tissues could be detected. Streptomycetes from a heavy metal containing site of the former uranium mining site Wismut in Eastern Thuringia are used to determine the mechanisms of heavy metal resistance in this group of important soil microbes.
Microbiology and Molecular Biology
Research aims to elucidate the pathobiology of A. fumigatus, including the areas of physiology/biochemistry, signal transduction, improvement of genetic techniques, genomics, proteomics, transcriptomics, glycoconjugates, pathogen/host interaction and an animal model. Fungi produce numerous of secondary metabolites. Some of these compounds are used as antibiotics or as immunosuppressants. Besides the identification and characterisation of novel microorganisms producing secondary metabolites, recent research has aimed at elucidating the molecular regulation of the biosyntheses of secondary metabolites.
Jena Microbial Resource Collection
The Jena Microbial Resource Collection (JMRC) was founded via fusion of the microbial collections of the Leibniz Institute for Natural Product Research and Infection Biology – Hans Knöll Institute and University of Jena on 1st of October, 2010. Our current research projects are:
1. De novo sequenced genome from Lichtheimia corymbifera, an ancient human pathogenic basal lineage fungus causing mucormycoses.
2. De novo sequenced genome from Conidiobolus coronatus, an ancient human pathogenic basal lineage fungus causing entomophthoromycoses.
3. Exploring the pathogenic potential of Lichtheimia spp.
4. Mycoparasitism of mucoralean fungi (Mucoromycotina, “Zygomycota”).
5. Spatial investigation of oil vesicles in Mortierellales with micro-Raman spectroscopy with respect to the evolution of the Mortierellomycotina as rapidly evolving group.
6. Survival strategies of clinically relevant zygomycetes in human macrophages: an interdisciplinary approach combining cell biology, immunbiology and systembiolog.