Molecular Infection Biology

Gastrointestinal infections are counted among the most common types of infectious diseases worldwide. In particular in developing countries, diarrhoeal diseases are still a leading course of death. Indeveloped countries, diarrhoeal diseases are under better control, but they still represent a very common affliction, especially among children and the elderly. Among the most important bacterial pathogens of food-animal origin are Salmonella, Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli, and enteropathogenic Yersinia species. Their primary route of transmission from animals to humans is through contaminated food. Once inside our bodies, they trigger an impressive range of different intestinal disorders from diarrhoea to acute infections of the small and large intestines – at times with severe consequences! Our primary focus is on Yersinia. We study the ways in which these bacteria adhere to the intestinal epithelium, penetrate it, and ultimately spread within the host.

Research Projects

  • Underlying principles of bistability in the expression of the pivotal virulence regulator RovA in Yersinia pseudotuberculosis and role for virulence: SPP 1617
  • TTU 06.801: Identification of novel inhibitors targeting coloisation and virulence of gastrointestinal pathogens: DZIF: GASTROINTESTINAL INFECTIONS
  • TP4: Regulation of virulence - associated traits of C. difficile: NZMG - C. DIFFICILE

Finished Projects

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  • Identification of host-adapted metabolic functions important for Yersinia pseudotuber­culosis virulence : SPP 1316
  • Sensory and regulatory RNAs in Prokaryotes: SPP 1258
  • Pathobiology of the Intestinal Mucosa: SFB 621
  • Development of Biotechnological Processes by Integrating Genetic and Engineering Methods – From Gene to Product: SFB 578
  • TP10: Serotype and host specific colonisation of enteropathogenic Yersinia and its persistence in the host and in food: FBI-ZOO

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  • Prof Dr Petra Dersch

    Petra Dersch

    Head of the Department Molecular Infection Biology

    +49 531 6181-5700

    +49 531 6181-5709


    CV and Publications


Audio Podcast

  • Bakterien mit Thermometer - Vom Kühlschrank in den Körper
    Yersinien machen uns Bauchschmerzen. Wenn wir die Bakterien mit verseuchtem Fleisch zu uns nehmen, infizieren sie unsere Darmzellen und vermehren sich. Aber wie wissen die Yersinien, dass sie nicht mehr in der vergammelten Wurst sind sondern in unserem Körper? Die Antwort ist simpel: Die Bakterien haben ein Thermometer. Hören Sie zu, wie das funktioniert...