Current projects

Research projects

  • Giant viruses as symbionts in amoeba

    The discovery of giant viruses changed our perception of the viral world. With genome and particle sizes comparable to those of bacteria and a number of cellular features, such as nearly complete sets of translation-related genes, giant viruses sparked a [...]


    Many ants live in symbiotic relationships with plants (myrmecophytes) that provide nesting space (domatia) and plant-derived food sources in the form of extrafloral nectar and/or specialised food bodies. Importantly, recent studies have shown that also other groups of organisms are [...]

  • Chromosome segregation in animal associated bacteria

    Bacterial chromosome segregation has been only studied in free-living organisms under controlled culturing conditions. In the course of my PhD, I investigate this fundamental process in Gammaproteobacteria that thrive attached to animal surfaces and cannot be reared in the laboratory. [...]

  • Genome evolution and metabolic characterization of Lucinid symbionts and close relatives

    Aims: Expand our knowledge of the metabolic capabilities of Lucinid symbiont and compare the genome structure and functions to free-living relatives. This will allow for A) determining the evolutionary origin of Lucinid symbionts (Deep or shallow sea) and B) determining [...]


    Knowledge of the identity of the partners in mutualism, their taxonomic placement and their potential functional repertoire is crucial basic information in mutualism research. The mutualism between the giant ciliate Zoothamnium niveum and its chemoautotrophic ectosymbiont Cand. Thiobios zoothamnicoli from [...]

  • Characterization of natural chlamydial communities

    Chlamydiae, such as Chlamydia trachomatis or C. pneumoniae, are well known bacterial pathogens of humans and animals. Only in the past 20 years closely related bacteria have been found in diverse environments where they thrive as symbionts in protists or [...]

  • Chlamydiae in woodlice: Studying microbe-host interaction in the natural environment

    Chlamydia are well-known pathogens of humans and animals but are also ubiquitous in the environment. Rhabdochlamydia porcellionis infecting the rough woodlouse Porcellio scaber represents a good model system for studying natural chlamydial populations, their genetic heterogeneity, infection and developmental cycle [...]

  • The role of the virome in the metabolic landscape of the neonate gut microbiome

    Though bacteriophages are abundant in the gut, an understanding of their importance to the microbiome is lacking. Phages may control populations, contribute to dysbiosis, and facilitate horizontal gene transfer. They also offer a targeted means to modulate the microbiota (i.e. [...]

  • Host-microbe interactions in marine lucinid clams

    The symbiosis between lucinid clams and their chemosynthetic endosymbionts is ideal for understanding effects of seasonality; the symbionts rely on energy sources such as hydrogen sulfide from the environment, thus symbiont activity is intimately linked to environmental conditions. Lucinids experience [...]

  • Compaction and organization of animal symbiont chromosomes

    The bacterial nucleoid is highly condensed and forms compartment-like structures within the cell. Although its dynamic organisation is being investigated, we ignore the importance of chromosome structure for adaptation to changing environments and, in particular, for symbiosis maintenance. In this PhD project, [...]