Master-Thesis "Characterizing the niche of the prominent gut commensal Prevotella copri within a defined microbial community"



The department Microbial Immune Regulation of Prof. Dr. Till Strowig at the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research (HZI) in Braunschweig, Germany is offering a Master-Thesis for students in the field of Biology, Biochemistry and Biotechnology (FH, Uni)


Title: Characterizing the niche of the prominent gut commensal Prevotella copri within a defined microbial community

Description of the project: Human gut microbiomes are commonly dominated by species from the Bacteroides or Prevotella genus. Studies of Bacteroides spp. have provided critical insights into understanding gut commensals and their role in human health. Yet, how Prevotella spp. become dominant members of the microbiota and what are the consequences for human health remain underexplored. Notably, species from either genus often dominate exclusively suggesting potential antagonism. The most common member of the Prevotella genus, Prevotella copri, ambiguously correlates with health benefits and disease states in humans warranting further research. Large strain diversity of P. copri is present in human populations consuming a plant-based fiber-rich diet and have been associated with improved glucose and insulin tolerance. Conversely, P. copri exacerbates inflammation and has been linked to inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis. These reports point towards important health aspects associated with P. copri that are yet to be fully understood.

We use human isolates of Prevotella copri to investigate the niche and physiology of this commensal. We have established a defined microbial community of human gut isolates that supports large P. copri and Bacteroides spp. niches. Using different conditions in vitro, we characterize strain dynamics within those communities and mechanisms of competition and cooperation among different members.     

Aim of the thesis: The aim of this project is to characterize conditions that enrich either Prevotella or Bacteroides genus within defined gut communities and identify antagonistic or cooperative interactions between individual members.


  1. Growing, controlling and propagating various gut commensal isolates in anaerobic chambers.
  2. Generation and maintenance of commensal communities.
  3. Processing and analysis of communities with 16S rRNA amplicon sequencing and quantitative PCR.
  4. Isolation of DNA samples from cultures and feces.
  5. Establishing growth assays using different growth media and conditions.
  6. Sampling of gnotobiotic mouse experiments.
  7. Introduction to high-throughput sequencing data analysis.


Starting date: flexible

Published:      March 09th, 2023

Closing date: March 31st, 2023


For more details regarding the position, please contact Dr. Caroline Taouk via email:, or by phone: +49 531 6181-4709.

Further information about the institute and the research group of Prof. Dr. Till Strowig can be found on our website:



Hauptsitz Braunschweig




Bewerbungsschluss ist der  31.03.2023

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