Research cooperations


Graduate Schools


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 Centers (SFBs)


SFB987: 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

SFB593: Mechanisms of cellular compartmentalization and the relevance for disease (Prof. Dr. Roland Lill, Prof. Dr. Regine Kahmann).
The Collaborative Research Centre 593 integrates several groups from the Philipps-Universität Marburg (Faculties of Medicine and Biology) and the Max Planck Institute for Terrestrial Microbiology with a common interest in mechanisms of cellular compartmentalization and the relevance for disease. Established by the German Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft/DFG) in 2003, the SFB 593 is now continuing its successful work in its second funding period of four years (2007–2010).
Website: SFB593: Mechanisms of cellular compartmentalization and the relevance for disease


SFB-TR1: Endosymbiosis: from prokaryotes to eukaryotic organelles (Prof. Dr. Andreas Brune, Prof. Dr. Roland Lill).
In the Transregional Collaborative Research Centre (TR1), leading groups at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf, Philipps-Universität Marburg and the MPI for Terrestrial Microbiology are studying the biology of cell organelles and their evolution from free-living bacteria and algae.
Website: SFB-TR1: Endosymbiosis: from prokaryotes to eukaryotic organelles


Projects funded by the European Union


ARIADNE–Signaling circuitry controlling fungal virulence: Identification and characterization of conserved and specific fungal virulence genes as common antifungal targets.
(Prof. Dr. Regine Kahmann)

ARIADNE is a FP7-funded Marie Curie Training Network consisting of 9 European groups that have joined their efforts to elucidate the signaling circuitry controlling fungal virulence in plant pathogenic fungi as well as human pathogenic fungi.
Website: ARIADNE


BMBF programs


Genomik-Transfer: ExpresSys. A platform of novel microbial expression systems for industrially relevant genes (Dr. Sonja-Verena Albers).
This collaborative project addresses some major limitations of the commonly used, established host/expression systems: Genes for enzymes with interesting properties of academic or industrial interest often are not expressed well in standard hosts such as E. coli. Furthermore, in functional metagenomic screenings only a fraction of the tremendous genetic diversity of microorganisms in nature can be accessed, which is mainly due to the limited expression capacity for foreign genes by the traditional hosts, and the inefficiency of establishing large (meta)genomic gene libraries in hosts other than E. coli.
Website: Genomik Transfer


DFG programs


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: ICON (DFG Research Group FOR 1701)


DFG Priority Program SSP1212 Microbial Reprogramming of Plant Cell Development (Dr. Gunther Döhlemann).
Microbial pathogens rob their hosts of nutrients and can kill plants, while symbiotic fungi and bacteria provide phosphate and nitrogen and improve plant health. Despite these differences, there are numerous parallels between these two types of interaction. Both microbial pathogens and symbionts reprogram plant cellular development.This priority program aims at uncovering the molecular switches that both cause and restrict disease in one system and lead to symbiosis in another. The program channels activities from different laboratories in a joint research strategy that exploits the plant model Arabidopsis.
Website: DFG Priority Program SSP1212


DFG Research Group FOR666 Mechanisms of compatibility: Reprogramming of plant metabolism by fungal effector molecules (Dr. Gunther Döhlemann)
The FOR666 consortium aims at a concerted in–depth comparative analysis of "compatibility mechanisms"in host–microbe interactions by comparing parasitic and mutualistic interactions of fungal model organisms exhibiting biotrophic and hemibiotrophic life styles with their cereal hosts. Major strategies of the consortium are defining complementary projects that collaboratively investigate both, the plant and the microbe side of an interaction, with a strong focus on the central experiment (CET) guided and supervised by a bioinformatics platform that computes all the transcriptome and metabolome data from the different systems. Since FOR666 scrutinizes crop plants, the principal facet of the consortium is to seek tangible solutions in sustainable plant production.
Website: DFG Research Group FOR 666


Other international projects


Human Frontier Science Program (Dr. Martin Thanbichler).
The aim of this project, funded by a Young Investigator Grant from the Human Fronier Science Program (HFSP), is the discovery and analysis of new cytoskeletal elements in bacteria. Fluorescent protein fusion libraries in conjunction with high-throughput microscopic analysis are used to identify filament-forming proteins in vivo. Subsequently, the function of these proteins is analyzed using cell biological, biochemical, and biophysical approaches. In addition, chemical libraries are screened for small molecule inhibitors of bacterial cytoskeletal proteins, suitable for basic research and medical applications
Website: Human Frontier Science Program


LOEWE Research Center for Synthetic Microbiology (SYNMIKRO)
The Philipps-Universität and the Max Planck Institute for Terrestrial Microbiology recently were granted 21 million Euro in funding from 2010 to 2012 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.

hessen   loewe

Website of SYNMIKRO