Research cooperations


LOEWE Research Center for Synthetic Microbiology (SYNMIKRO)



The Philipps-Universität and the Max Planck Institute for Terrestrial Microbiology recently were granted more than 40 million Euro in funding from 2010 to 2015 to establish the LOEWE Research Center for Synthetic Microbiology (SYNMIKRO). The LOEWE Program is an excellence initiative of the state of Hessen to support excellent research at universities and other research institutions in Hessen.
Website of SYNMIKRO



LOEWE research cluster FACE2FACE - Effects of climate change, adjusting to climate change and reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 (Werner Liesack "Soil microbiota")
Elevated atmospheric CO2 concentrations lead to increased above-ground plant growth and increased production of fine roots, as well as to changes in C and N fluxes in soils and soil aggregates. Effects of global climate change on the phylogenetic and functional diversity of rhizosphere microbial communities were repeatedly analyzed, but with inconsistent results. Reasons may be differences in the experimental conditions (e.g., related to soil type, composition of plant communities, climate), but also in the sensitivity of the methods used for analysis. This workpackage of FACE2FACE aims to assess the effects of an increase in atmospheric CO2 concentration and air temperature on the diversity and activity of microbial communities in agricultural soils pertaining to pastureland, viticulture and horticulture. The research will be performed using cultivation-independent molecular ecology techniques, in particular next-generation sequencing of total RNA.
Website Face2Face



The Marburg Graduate School 1216 "Intra- and Intercellular Transport and Communication" (Prof. Lotte Søgaard-Andersen, Prof. Dr. Regine Kahmann).
Research in the graduate school focuses on underlying cell–cell communication, cell polarity, and cellular compartmentalization using state-of-the-art methods in molecular and, cellular biology including live-cell imaging and biochemistry. The faculty members of the graduate school are from the Max Planck Institute or the Philipps-Universität. Graduate students follow a structured training program.
Website: Graduate School: Intra- and Intercellular Transport and Communication.



International Max Planck Research School for Environmental, Cellular and Molecular Microbiology.



Research in the graduate school aims at understanding how microorganisms compete, adapt, and differentiate in response to changes in the environment. To reach this aim, microbial ecology is tightly integrated with molecular and cellular microbiology and microbial physiology and biochemistry. The faculty members of the graduate school are from the Max Planck Institute or the Philipps-Universität.
Website: Graduate School: IMPRS for Environmental, Cellular & Molecular Microbiology



Collaborative Research CenterSFB987: Microbial Diversity in Environmental Signal Response.
Microorganisms are omnipresent in the biosphere and provide the greatest diversity of life on our planet. They successfully colonize almost every possible ecological niche, regardless of welcoming or hostile conditions, either as highly specialized individual cells, as microbial communities or by forming complex multi-cellular structures. A key factor for their success in colonizing varying habitats is the enormous biochemical, physiological and cellular adaptation potential of microorganisms in response to countless environmental conditions and cues. By generating microbial species with unique metabolic and cellular attributes, microbial diversity is the answer to the demands of evolution. This sets the stage for their ability to adapt to changing conditions within a given ecosystem and to explore new opportunities in novel environmental settings. For most microorganisms there is only one certainty: change!
Website: SFB 987: Microbial Diversity in Environmental Signal Response



DFG Research Group FOR1680 CRISPR/Cas: "Unraveling the prokaryotic immune system" (Dr. Lennart Randau) The FOR1680 consortium teams up scientists with expertise in microbiology, bioinformatics, structural biology and mass spectrometry. Their common goal is the elucidation of a recently discovered prokaryotic immune system based on "Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats" (CRISPR). CRISPR elements are found in the genomes of many Bacteria and nearly all Archaea and present small RNA-based mechanisms to defend the host cell against the attack of mobile genetic elements. (Coordinator: Prof. Dr. Anita Marchfelder, Universität Ulm)
Website: FOR1680 CRISPR/Cas



DFG Research Group FOR 1701 Introducing Non-Flooded Crops in Rice-Dominated Landscapes: Impact on Carbon, Nitrogen and Water Cycles (ICON):
"Effect of crop rotation on the processes and microbial communities involved in methane production in rice fields". (Prof. Dr. Ralf Conrad)
The interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary research unit ICON aims at exploring and quantifying the ecological consequences of future changes in rice production in SE Asia. A particular focus will be on the consequences of altered flooding regimes (flooded vs. non-flooded), crop diversification (wet rice vs. dry rice vs. maize) and different crop management strategies (N fertilization) on the biogeochemical cycling of carbon and nitrogen, the associated green-house gas emissions, the water balance, and other important ecosystem services of rice cropping systems. Website: Project details at GEPRIS



Studies of biosynthesis of the active-site iron-complex from [Fe]-hydrogenase
Aim and contents of the research
In this project, we study biosynthesis of the active-site iron-complex from [Fe]-hydrogenase. This enzyme, found in methanogenic archaea, catalyzes production and oxidation of molecular hydrogen. The results of this study will be used as crucial knowledge for synthesis of new model compounds catalyzing activation of molecular hydrogen.
Period of the Collaboration: From 1st October 2009 to 31st March 2015
Principal Researchers
Dr. Seigo Shima, Max Planck Institute for Terrestrial Microbiology
Professor Dr. Haruo Inoue, Tokyo Metropolitan University
Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST), PRESTO program



DIP project "Spatial and temporal regulation of macromolecular complex formation in bacteria"
Research in this project focuses on unraveling the spatial distribution of macromolecular complexes in bacterial cells and its underlying mechanisms, as well as to explore the physiological roles of this subcellular spatiotemporal organization. Specifically, we want to elucidate strategies for spatial regulation of bacterial. The five project members are from the Hebrew University, Jerusalem (Shoshy Altuvia, Orna Amster-Choder, Ady Vaknin) and the Max Planck Institute for Terrestrial Microbiology (Victor Sourjik, Lotte Søgaard-Andersen). DIP is an excellence program that aims to strengthen excellence in German-Israeli research cooperation and give substantial support to joint projects of outstanding quality.

Synthetic Biology Community Science Project - DOE Joint Genome Institute: "COFIX GENOMICS" (Tobias Erb)
Carbon dioxide (CO2) is a potent greenhouse gas that is a critical factor in global warming. At the same time CO2 is a cheap and readily available carbon source. Because chemistry lacks suitable catalysts to functionalize the CO2 molecule, there is an increasing need to understand and exploit CO2 fixing enzymes and pathways offered by Nature. The project "COFIX-GENOMICS" within the framework of the Synthetic Biology Community Science Program of the US Department of Energy (DOE) - Joint Genome Institute aims at identifying and characterizing novel CO2 fixing enzymes in microbial genomes. Synthetic genes and operons will be delivered by the DOE - Joint Genome Institute and functional characterized in the laboratory of Tobias Erb.



DOE Joint Genome Institute Community Science Program: Exploring the genome diversity of Mycorrhizal fungi to understand the evolution and functioning of symbiosis in woody shrubs and trees (Alga Zuccaro).
We are sequencing a phylogenetically and ecologically diverse suite of mycorrhizal fungi (Basidiomycota and Ascomycotina), which include the major clades of symbiotic species. Analyses of these genomes will provide insight into the diversity of mechanisms for the mycorrhizal symbiosis, including ericoid, ectendo- and ectomycorrhiza. In concert with the sequencing of a suite of fungal wood decayers these genomes will illuminate the functional basis of transitions between decayer and symbiotic lifestyles. Principal investigator: Francis Martin, INRA, France. Website: Why sequence plant root-associated fungi?



National Institutes of Health (NIH) project "History dependence of chemosensing strategy in Escherichia coli" (Victor Sourjik)
The aim of this collaborative research project is to investigate dependence of the signal processing within the chemotaxis network of E. coli on the history of cells' exposure to temperature, nutrient abundance and other environmental factors.Other participating groups: Ned Wingreen (Princeton University, USA; coordinator); Yigal Meir (Ben-Gurion University, Israel); William Ryu (University of Toronto, Canada)



Max Planck Research Network in Synthetic Biology "MaxSynBio" (Victor Sourjik)
The goal of this Max Planck Society consortium is to pursue bottom-up synthetic biology, reconstituting functional cell-like systems or modules from well-characterized components (Coordinator: Prof. Dr. Kai Sundmacher, MPI for Dynamics of Complex Technical Systems, Margeburg; MaxSynBio: Synthetic Biosystems from Functional Modules