Institute of Plant Science and Microbiology, Universität Hamburg, Germany (UHH)
A central aspect of our research is the utilization of non-cultivated organisms and their metagenomes/ metatranscriptomnes/ metaproteomes to provide new biocatalysts and other valuable biomolecules for biotechnology applications.
Biocatalysts from metagenomes for industry: With regard to the identification and supply of biocatalysts, we have worked on different classes of enzymes for industrial applications. In this respect we now have one of the largest lipase/esterase and cellulolytic enzyme collections with over 230 active and characterize biocatalysts (Metacat collection). In addition, there are lactonases, hydrogenases, glycosyltransferases, decarboxlyases and other enzymes, which we have often characterized up to the 3D structure. We are constantly expanding our metagenome enzyme collection, which forms the basis for many of our research projects.
Biofilms – detection and analysis: Biofilm analysis and diagnostics are often very difficult and costly in industry and clinical environment. For this purpose, we use the whole range of omics analysis, EPS analysis, image-representing methods, such as electron microscopy to gain deep insights into the functioning of these consortia.
Control and avoidance of microbial biofilms: In this field we are interested in how microorganisms talk to each other. We are looking for new signalling molecules, and we are investigating how growth in a biofilm can be specifically controlled. We are working with mixed and multispecies consortia on the level of entire populations as well in the field of single cell analysis. In principle, it is better to inhibit biofilms very early in growth. We have achieved initial successes with enzymes that intervene in cell-cell communication, but also with molecules from the group of flavonoids and diorcinols. The long-term goal of this work is to change the biofilm population in such a way that no biofilms are formed or that a rapid detachment takes place.
Methodologically, the lab has a great deal of expertise in the fields of DNA/RNA technologies, genomics and metagenomics, transcriptomics, GC and HPLC analysis, protein purification and 3D biofilm and confocal laser scanning system. In addition, the laboratory has expertise in the handling of a number of model organisms that are important in biotechnology and industrial microbiology.