Anti-infectives from Microbiota

The department of Prof Christine Beemelmanns focuses on the identification and functional analysis of novel anti-infective natural products from microbial communities. Co-cultivation studies as well as cell-based assays in combination with chemical-analytical and molecular-biological methods are used to evaluate and prioritize novel natural product producers. The department uses established and innovative metabolomic-, activity and genome-based methods to identify and determine the structure of the secreted natural products. Based on the isolated novel natural substances, the functional analysis and evaluation of their range of effects is carried out. This department is located at the Helmholtz Institute for Pharmaceutical Research Saarland (HIPS).


Our research

The spread of antibiotic-resistant human pathogenic microorganisms poses an increasing threat to human health, and the development of new anti-infective agents and a better understanding of their function and mode of action is urgently needed.

The department MICA pursues a microbiota-based strategy to identify new active substances from microorganisms.

What does "microbiota" mean?

Microbial communities (microbiota) are composed of a large number of different bacteria, fungi and representatives of unicellular and few-celled eukaryotes, as well as viruses.

Microbiota are found, among other things, on human, animal and plant tissue surfaces, where they can assume essential functions for the host. In many cases, the composition of the microbiota correlates with its localization and thus its function.

What role do natural substances play?

Microorganisms regulate and manipulate their coexistence by emitting bioactive natural substances. Microbial natural products can act as antibiotics to protect producers, but can also act as a cellular signal, act as a morphogen for the host organism, or being metabolized as a nutrient. However, the chemical structures of many of these modulating natural substances are unknown, and their natural function, as well as their influence on the microbiota and possible application potentials are only very little known to date.

How can we harvest the biosynthetic potential of micoorganisms?

Since natural products play important roles in microbial interactions, their production is closely linked to the composition of the microbiota. The Beemelmanns group analyzes representative microbial communities to unlock this chemical space.

Target-oriented bioassays based on bacteria-bacteria and bacteria-fungus interaction studies are being used to stimulate the production of bioactive natural products. The group uses established and innovative analytical methods to elucidate the structure of the secreted natural substances.

The resulting natural products are synthesized for their anti-infective mode of action and natural products with high potency to better understand their structure-activity relationships and advance the profiling of the most promising candidates.

In addition, the influence of the characterized natural substances on symbiotic communities is investigated using microbiome studies. With the help of these studies, we hope to be able to make better statements about the stability and dynamics of microbial communities.

The elucidation of the biosynthetic pathways of new natural products and their regulation is also an important part of our research in order to improve our biocatalytic understanding and advance the development of biotechnological approaches.

Members of the department have different scientific educational backgrounds, which includes analytical and synthetic chemistry as well as microbiology, biochemistry and pharmacy.

Further Information

A current overview of the team and further information about the research group can be found on the HIPS page.

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