Community characterization and functional analysis of the microbiomes of livestock
The microbiota of vertebrates contributes significantly to various fundamental aspects of animal
productivity and health. Whereas the human microbiome has been studied in great detail and depth,
the microbiomes of farm animals are much less well known. Our research focuses on analyzing the
variation in the microbiota in livestock in response to different nutrition, reproduction, and disease
Food safety – persistence of Listeria monocytogenes in food production environments
The food-borne pathogen Listeria monocytogenes is a great concern for food safety because of the high
mortality rate associated with listeriosis and because of the wide occurrence of Listeria monocytogenes
in food production environments. Furthermore, the long-term survival of Listeria monocytogenes in
food production environments – which is also called “persistence”, poses additional risks on food safety.
However, the molecular mechanisms enabling the persistence of Listeria monocytogenes are still largely
unknown. We are studying Listeria monocytogenes genomes, transcriptomes and apply molecular
microbiology approaches to better understand the mechanisms for survival of Listeria monocytogenes in
food and food production environments.
Symbiosis research - Host cell interaction of the insect symbiont Cardinium hertigii
This area of our research focuses on obligate intracellular bacterial symbionts of amoebae and we
investigated how these symbionts interact with their host cells. One focus was the characterization of
nucleotide transport proteins which are used by the symbionts to import nucleotides from the host, to
compensate for their inability to synthesize nucleotides themselves.
Most insects carry bacteria that live within their cells and these bacteria are inherited from their
mothers. These bacteria may manipulate their insect hosts’ reproduction in ways that improves the
health or number of female hosts harboring the bacterium. Some of these bacterial symbionts can
sabotage host sperm such that fertilized eggs laid by females without the bacterium die early in life a
process known as “cytoplasmic incompatibility” or “CI”. Specifically, we are interested in the symbiont
Cardinium hertigii and we are interested to discover the molecular mechanism by which Cardinium
causes CI in insects.
Lab Page & Publications