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Molecular Bacteriology

Hospital germs are a huge problem - despite controlled hygiene numerous patients capture so-called hospital acquired infections in addition to their actual disease. In many cases the pathogens are resistant to antibiotics and, therefore, very difficult to combat. Read more about how bacteria join forces and what the researchers can do to avoid that. The group Molecular Bacteriology is based at the TWINCORE in Hannover.

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An electron microscope photograph of Pseudomonas aeruginosa © HZI/Rohde

Highly robust pathogens are a great danger for people with a weak immune system. Especially in hospitals, pathogens are able to spread rapidly from patient to patient and, by that, develop to a serious threat. One of these dangerous pathogens is Pseudomonas aeruginosa – a very stable bacterium that exists nearly everywhere. Mainly patients with burns or cystic fibrosis tend to become chronically infected with Pseudomonas aeruginosa: there is no other bacterial species that is more often present in the lung of cystic fibrosis patients. The consequence is a severe, often fatal pneumonia.

A petri dish with the bacterial species Pseudomonas aeruginosa. © HZI

The department Molecular Bacteriology concentrates on the molecular mechanisms underlying the development of chronic infections with bacteria. Particularly infections with Pseudomonas aeruginosa are in the major focus of the group. The researchers suppose that the formation of biofilms by bacteria is responsible for severe diseases. In those cases, bacteria build dense layers, in which they "talk" to each other via secreted messenger molecules. This communication guarantees both a correct coordination of the biofilm structure and the bacterial behavior. Through the formation of biofilms bacteria protect themselves from attacks by the immune system and additionally are able to inhibit the effect of antibiotics.

As a consequence, it is essential to interrupt the bacterial in order to successfully repel an acute infection. Therefore, the researchers have to find out, which messenger molecules contribute to the exchange of information between the bacteria and how the bacterial works in detail – both research subjects of the department Molecular Bacteriology.

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  • Wehrhafte BiofilmeEin Bakterium kommt selten allein; wenn es erst hinreichend viele sind, schließen sie sich zu Lebensgemeinschaften zusammen: Biofilmen. Und diese Biofilme verteidigen sich gegen Angreifer mit chemischen Waffen. Lassen Sie sich von dem Wissenschaftler Carsten Matz in die Welt der Biofilme mitnehmen.
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