Microbe-host Interaction: Pathogenesis
Medical University, Vienna, Austria
Prof. Kuchler’s group studies the molecular mechanisms of fungal pathogenicity and fundamental problems in infection biology, using a combination of molecular, as well as genome-wide and systems biology approaches.
On the pathogen side, his group uses reverse genetics approaches to identify virulence and antifungal drug resistance genes in human fungal pathogens such as Candida glabrata and C. albicans. On the host side, his team is studying the immune response in primary cells and mouse models infected with fungal pathogens, the interplay of adaptive and innate immunity in immune surveillance and the role of type I interferons (i.e, IFN-β) in fungal virulence and host dissemination.
Microbe-host Interaction: Symbiosis
Ludwig-Maximilians-University (LMU), Munich, Germany
The Parniske laboratory is investigating the interaction between plants and symbiotic or pathogenic microorganisms. Genetical, biochemical, and cell biological methods are used to elucidate the molecular processes that lead to the cellular reprogramming and redifferentiation associated with mutual compatibility or defence. Likewise, they explore natural diversity to identify allelic variation governing agriculturally important traits, like efficiency of nitrogen fixation, nutrient uptake, or disease resistance. These aspects are fundamental for the fight against plant pathogens and the optimised utilisation of beneficial plant-microbe symbioses and on the background of depleting natural resources.
Microbes in the environment
Department of Microbial Ecology, Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW), Wageningen, The Netherlands
George Kowalchuk leads a multifaceted research program with emphasis on environmental and rhizosphere microbiology. His research foci include environmental genomics of ecologically relevant micro-organisms, rhizosphere ecology, molecular community analysis of bacterial and fungal communities, microbial diversity in the rhizosphere, interactions between aboveground and belowground biota, effects of genetically modified plants on soil communities, and roles of plant-microbe interactions in C and N cycling. Much of this work is related to the development and application of the new molecular and genomics approaches for understanding not only the diversity but also the functions of the largely unexplored soil microbial communities.
The Hebrew University-Hadassah Medical School, Jerusalem, Israel
Sigal Ben-Yehuda is leading a laboratory at The Hebrew University-Hadassah Medical School, Jerusalem, Israe and deals with Bacillus subtilis as a primary model system for elucidating basic cellular mechanisms in bacteria. Her research covers the process of sporulation, social activity within bacterial communities (What is the composition and function of intercellular nanotubes? How do bacterial colonies form?), cell division and sub cellular structure (How do cells rapidly segregate their chromosomes? How is the chromosome organized within the cells?). In 2007, Dr. Ben-Yehuda was one of six young Hebrew University researchers who received five-year grants from the European Research Council. She has been awarded with the Sir Zelman Cowen Universities Fund Prize for Discovery in Medical Research. Her discoveries, which include the previously unknown nanotubes, reveal a tool for communication between cells, which seems to be fundamental for understanding the mechanisms of bacterial resistance to antibiotics.
Models and methods
University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom
Armitage's research is largely based on the motion of bacteria by flagellar rotation and the chemotactic mechanisms used to control that motion. Using techniques ranging from computerized image analysis, biochemistry, molecular genetics, bioinformatics and computer modeling, they investigate various aspects of the regulation and dynamics of the sensory pathways which result into stopping frequency of a single flagellum of bacterium Rhodobacter sphaeroides. Using single molecule optical techniques, molecular tweezers and a regulated ion gradient they are investigating the differences between stopping and switching motors, the dynamics of the proteins within the motors and the role of the ion gradient in both rotation and motor integrity.