Research in the Department of Microbiology & Biochemistry

Our Research Projects

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Project start: 01.01.2021
Project end: 31.12.2023
Sponsor: German Research Foundation

We have started our work on predator yeasts funded by the EU Innovative Training Network Fungibrain. This resulted in one PhD thesis and two high profile papers (Scientific Reports and PLoS Pathogens) along with several other publications. Predator yeasts belong to the genus Saccharomycopsis. They are necrotrophic mycoparasites that invade and kill fungal prey cells via a penetration peg. We have started to develop molecular genetic tools to investigate the unique and fascinating biology of these yeasts. In this project we will characterize key virulence genes of Saccharomycopsis schoenii and analyze the contribution of these genes for predation and virulence. We will study the process of predation both from the viewpoint of the predator and the prey, for which we use the model eukaryote Saccharomyces cerevisiae as prey.

Project start: 01.12.2017
Project end: 31.05.2022
Sponsor: European Commission

This project aims to train the next generation of researchers to provide knowledge and expertise for two major industries in the EU, namely the beer and wine industries. Yeasts belonging to the Saccharomyces stricto sensu group are the workhorses of these industries and an understanding of how yeasts contribute to the complex flavours and aromas of beer and wine is essential for the improvement of existing fermentation technology and for the development new flavoursome beverages. The research objectives of the consortium is to examine the biochemistry and genetics of the production of flavour compounds in yeasts used in wine and beer fermentations, to generate new strains of yeasts with improved or more varied flavour profiles and to develop novel approaches to expanding flavour profiles through co-fermentation of different yeasts. The network will provide a comprehensive education in yeast genetics, synthetic biology, flavour chemistry and fermentation technology for Early Stage Researchers through individual mentored research training in both academic and industrial institutions, through inter- and intra-sectoral exchanges and secondments and through academic workshops. The involvement of industry leaders in the consortium ensures that ESRs will be exposed to real challenges facing fermentation industries and through training in Innovation and Entrepreneurship, ESRs will develop the skills to provide solutions to these challenges. Scientific discourse and communication will be a cornerstone in the training network. ESRs will be encouraged to communicate their ideas with scientific peers and with the public at large to promote an understanding of the role scientific endeavor in the economic development of two of our most important EU industries. The research developed in this project will provide scientific innovation and new and exciting opportunities for the major fermentation industries and for emerging craft beer brewing SMEs.

Project start: 15.10.2010
Project end: 14.05.2014
Sponsor: Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture

Of the possibilities investigated for alcohol reduction by microbiological and biochemical means, positive results were found for the use of enzymes (glucose oxidase), the use of non-sSaccharomyces yeasts and the dosed addition of must sugar to a yeast suspension. In the case of enzyme utilisation using GOX as well as "non-sSaccharomyces", the application is relatively easy and entails a low to medium financial input. The use of current genetically modified yeast strains did not produce satisfactory results. Legal regulations are necessary for all the processes examined.