Research overview - departments, research areas and group leaders

Research overview

The mission of the Max Planck Institute for Terrestrial Microbiology is to understand how microorganisms function at the molecular, cellular, and community levels. In particular, we aim to elucidate the mechanisms underlying the metabolic diversity of microorganisms, their ability to adapt and differentiate in response to changes in the environment, the mechanisms involved in cell cycle regulation and cell polarity as well as the biogeochemical processes involved in the exchange of climatically relevant trace gases. These analyses include all levels of microbial functions from the atomic/structural level, the genomic, molecular and cellular levels, biochemistry/physiology to the microbial community level and plant–microbe interactions.

Research at the institute is carried out in four departments. In addition the institute hosts three Max Planck Research Groups, one Emmy Noether Research Group, three department-independent research group, two Emeritus groups, and one Max Planck Fellow.


Department of Biogeochemistry

Methanogenic degradation and microbial metabolism of trace gases

Prof. Dr. R. Conrad

Methanogenic degradation and microbial metabolism of trace gases [more]

Department of Ecophysiology

Bacterial adaption and differentiation

Prof. Dr. L. Søgaard-Andersen

Bacterial adaption and differentiation [more]
The intracellular organization and differentiation of bacteria

S. Ringgaard, Ph.D.
(Research Group Leader)

The intracellular organization and differentiation of bacteria [more]

Department of Organismic Interactions

Molecular phytopathology

Prof. Dr. R. Kahmann

Molecular phytopathology [more]

Department of Systems and Synthetic Microbiology

Department of Biochemistry and Synthetic Metabolism

Understanding and Building Metabolism

Dr. T. Erb

Understanding and Building Metabolism [more]

Department-independent groups

Max Planck Research Groups

Complex Adaptive Traits

Dr. I. Bischofs-Pfeifer

Complex Adaptive Traits [more]
Bacterial Biofilms

Prof. Dr. K. Drescher

Bacterial Biofilms [more]
Prokaryotic Small RNA Biology

Dr. L. Randau

Prokaryotic Small RNA Biology [more]

Emmy Noether Research Groups

Dynamic Control of Metabolic Networks

Dr. H. Link

Dynamic Control of Metabolic Networks [more]

Research Groups

Microbial protein structure

Seigo Shima, Ph.D.

Microbial protein structure [more]
Insect gut microbiology and symbiosis

Prof. Dr. A. Brune
(Research Group Leader)

Insect gut microbiology and symbiosis [more]
Biochemistry of anaerobic microorganisms

Prof. Dr. Rudolf K. Thauer (Emeritus)

Biochemistry of anaerobic microorganisms [more]
Methanotrophic bacteria<br />Eco-genomics/transcriptomics

PD Dr. W. Liesack
(Research Group Leader)

Methanotrophic bacteria
Eco-genomics/transcriptomics [more]

Max Planck Fellows

Bacterial Cell Biology

Prof. Dr. M. Thanbichler

Bacterial Cell Biology [more]
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