Research Group "Human Microbiome"

Head: Dr. Bärbel Fösel

The microbiome associated with our body can be considered as the “humans’ second genome”, as the genetic information provided by those microbes is essential for our life and defines to a large extent human health and wellbeing. Our main focus is related to the gut and lung microbiome. However, still it is unclear which factors drive the development of stable human microbiomes and which factors induce shifts into non-stabile, labile forms of microbial networks. Thus the following questions are in the focus if our research.

1. How do microbiomes develop during aging?

2. How do lifestyles and environmental factors influence the human microbiome?

3. Is there an exchange of genetic information between environmental microbiomes and the human microbiome mainly in the case of antibiotic resistance?

4. Can differences in microbiomes explain personalized responses of subjects towards drugs and environmental conditions – thus how important is the human microbiome for future initiatives in the field of personalized medicine?

Based on these questions we want to define a core microbiome which is essential for human health. We want to address the question if this core microbiome can be stabilized by pre- and probiotics in case of disease.

Research is done using selected mice models but also samples derived from clinical settings or trials. Here we developed close lines of research with hospitals and medical orientated research groups.

With our expertise in environmental microbiology, we have learnt about major genetic potentials of the microbes living in various habitats and want to use these traits for the development of new drugs. We are mainly focussing on substances which have antibacterial and antiviral properties and want to identify the related microbes or communities needed to produce the compounds of interest in situ.