Legionella populations in freshwater systems in Germany, Palestine and Israel

Understanding the ecology and virulence of Legionella spp. populations in freshwater systems in Germany, Palestine and Israel

Immunofluroszenzmikroskopie von Legionella pneumophila im Trinkwasserbiofilm.

Immunofluroszenzmikroskopie von Legionella pneumophila (grüne Zellen) in Trinkwasserbiofilm (blau).

Bacteria of the genus Legionella cause waterborne infections resulting in severe pneumonia. In Europe, 70% of the cases of the so-called Legionnaires’ disease (LD) originate from strains of L. pneumophila serogroup (Sg) 1, 20% from other L. pneumophila serotypes and 10% from other Legionella species. In contrast, in the Middle East most legionella infections are due to L. pneumophila Sg3.

The overall objective of this project is to advance current knowledge on the ecology of legionella in freshwater systems, the environmental factors affecting their occurrence, virulence potential and infectivity and to understand their transmission to humans. We will analyze the major environmental factors regulating the abundance of legionella, such as grazing and assimable dissolved organic carbon, because the occurrence of these heterotrophic bacteria in aquatic habitats is highly dependent on these factors.

We will use an integrated molecular approach based on high-resolution diagnostics of environmental samples and clinical isolates to determine the abundance, activity and virulence potential of Legionella populations in-situ. Combining environmental and molecular epidemiological data, we aim at understanding the link between ecology and population dynamics of legionella and cases of LD. The project will result in a novel understanding of the molecular epidemiology of legionella and provide new surveillance tools and strategies to prevent LD.


Project Leader - Germany

Dr. Priv. Doz. Manfred Höfle

Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research

Dept. Vaccinology and Applied Microbiology

Inhoffenstraße 7

38124 Braunschweig


Tel. +49 531-6181-4234

Fax +49 531-6181-4699

Email: Manfred.Hoefle@helmholtz-hzi.de



Prof. Dr. Dina M. Bitar

Al-Quds University, Faculty of Medicine,

Department of Microbiology and Immunology,

P.O. Box 19356, Jerusalem, Abu Dies, Palestine

Tel: +972 22799203

Fax: +972 22796110

Email: dbitar@med.alquds.edu



Dr. Malka Halpern

University of Haifa, Faculty of Natural Sciences,

Department of Science Education - Biology,

Oranim, Tivon, Israel, 36006.

Tel.: +972 49838978

Fax: +972 48451644

Email: mhalpern@research.haifa.ac.il


  • Prof Dr Manfred Höfle

    Manfred Höfle

    Head of the Research Group Microbial Diagnostics

    +49 531 6181-4234

    +49 531 6181-4699


    CV and Publications


Funding Agency