Understanding and Building Metabolism

Prof. Dr. Tobias Erb

Research area

Metabolism is one of the key features of living systems. In our everyday life we experience it in different forms: Plants, algae and many microorganism perform photosynthesis and convert carbon dioxide into carbohydrates. Other organisms (including us humans) consume the fixed carbon to cover their energetic needs, which closes the global cycle of carbon.

From a scientific point of view, metabolism can be defined as the dynamic biochemistry of life that provides cells with the energy and the building blocks required for their three- and four-dimensional self-organization.

In our lab, we aim at understanding and applying the fundamental design principles of metabolism. On the one hand, we study the function and organization of natural metabolism in the context of the living cell. On the other hand, we use our understanding to build novel, synthetic metabolism in a bottom-up fashion.


The group of Tobias Erb as per August 2017

Selected Publications

Schwander, T., Schada von Borzyskowski, L., Burgener, S., Cortina, N.S., and *Erb, T.J. (2016) A synthetic pathway for the fixation of carbon dioxide in vitro. Science 354:901-904 http://science.sciencemag.org/content/354/6314/900

Rosenthal, R.G., Vögeli, B., Quade, N., Capitani, G., Kiefer, P., Vorholt, J.A., Ebert, M.-O., and *Erb, T.J. (2015) The use of ene adducts to study and engineer enoyl-thioester reductases. Nature Chemical Biology 11:398-400 http://www.nature.com/nchembio/journal/v11/n6/full/nchembio.1794.html

Könneke, M., Schubert, D.M., Brown, P.C., Hügler, M., Standfest, S., Schwander, T., Schada von Borzyskowski, L., Erb, T.J., Stahl, D.A. and Berg, I.A. (2014) Ammonia-oxidizing archaea use the most energy-efficient aerobic pathway for CO2 fixation. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 111:8239-8244 http://www.pnas.org/content/111/22/8239

Rosenthal, R.G., Ebert, M.-O., Kiefer, P., Peter, D.M., Vorholt, J.A. and *Erb, T.J. (2014) Direct evidence for a covalent ene adduct intermediate in NAD(P)H-dependent enzymes. Nature Chemical Biology 10:50-55 http://www.nature.com/nchembio/journal/v10/n1/abs/nchembio.1385.html

Erb, T.J., Evans, B.S., Kyuil, C., Warlick, B.P., Sriram, J., Wood, B.M., Sweedler, J.V., Tabita, F.R., Gerlt, J.A. (2012). A RubisCO-like protein links SAM metabolism and isoprenoid biosynthesis. Nature Chemical Biology 8:926-923 http://www.nature.com/nchembio/journal/v8/n11/full/nchembio.1087.html

*Erb, T.J., Kiefer, P., Hattendorf, B., Günther, D., Vorholt, J.A. (2012) GFAJ-1 is an arsenate resistant, phosphate dependent organism. Science 337:467-70 http://science.sciencemag.org/content/early/2012/07/06/science.1218455

Selected Honors

Otto Bayer Award, Bayer Foundations, 2018

VAAM-Research Award, Association of General & Applied Microbiology (D), 2017

Heinz Maier-Leibnitz-Prize, German Resarch Foundation (DFG) & German Federal Minstry of Education and Research (BMBF), 2016

C&EN "Talented 12": Up-and-coming chemists of 2015, American Chemical Society

ERC-Starting Grantee 2015

SGM-Encouragement award, Swiss Society of Microbiology, 2013

Election and appointment as member of die Junge Akademie, 2013

Poster Award 22nd Enzyme Mechanisms Conference (US), 2011

Richard I. Gumport Travel Award, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (US), 2011

VAAM-PhD Award, Association of General & Applied Microbiology (D), 2010

Hans-Grisebach Prize, University of Freiburg (D), 2010

Alumni-Diploma Award, University of Freiburg (D), 2006

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