The Institute of Technical Microbiology
The Institute of Technical Microbiology, directed by Prof. Garabed Antranikian, is well-known for its research in the field of extremophilic microorganisms. These fascinating organisms are able to withstand temperatures between -10 and 120 °C, at pH values between 0 and 11, or at salt concentrations up to 35 %. Studying the features enabling life under these conditions and using these organisms for application in environmentally friendly industrial biotechnology is the focus of our research.
In an interdisciplinary manner around 25 researchers of the institute develop processes starting from high-throughput screening to fermenation up to 300 L-scale.
Biotransformation / High-Throughput-Screening
HT systems are employed for the identification of biotransformation reactions under harsh conditions. Modification and degradation of various substrates can be tested under various conditions prevailing in the industrial process. Modern genetic engineering techniques such as synthetic biology, e.g. incorporation of non-canonical amino acids and directed evolution, are used to create more robust enzymes.
Recombinant enzyme production / Fermentation
Molecular biological techniques are used for the production of recombinant proteins especially extremozymes with improved catalytic performance for various biotechnological applications. For the production of novel enzymes microbial hosts such as Escherichia coli, Bacillus sp., Pichia sp. and Thermus sp. are used. High-throughput fusion techniques and the generation of posttranslationally fused multifunctional enzymes are developed.
Bioinformatics and Computational biology
Analysis of Next-Generation-Sequencing datasets including Genomics, Metagenomics and Metatranscriptomics are performed by using self-implemeted, computer-aided bioinformatics pieplines. De novo and reference based genome assembly and annotation pipelines are used for complete genome sequencing projects of bacterial genomes, especially of extremophiic microorganisms. Annotated datasets are analysed for industrial-relevant enzymes, that will be characterized biochemically afterwards. For biodiversity approaches datasets of environmental samples are analysed for a better understanding of the underlying adaption processes and the corresponding complex networks of these biological systems.
Natural diversity of microbial communities is a valuable treasure for biotechnology. By applying cultivation dependent and independent metagenomic approaches, the potential wealth of biological resources can be exploited. Understanding the relationship between community structure and function enables us to rationally optimize biotechnological processes employing mixed cultures. Cultivation independent approaches elucidate community composition and monitor changes with regard to process variations.
Biomass-degrading enzymes / Biorefinery
Finite fossil energy reserves, environmental pollution and climate change demand substantial structural changes from an oil-based to a bio-based industrial production. In this respect biocatalysis is one of the key technologies to produce energy and fine chemicals from biomass. Finding new enzymes for efficient hydrolysis and conversion of e.g. lignocellulosic biomass or for other industrial processes is a constant challenge in the development of new biotechnological applications. Extremozymes with their increased tolerance against organic solvents and high thermostability are particularly valuable tools for innovative and sustainable solutions.
The doctoral program in Technical Microbiology focuses on the recent developments in the field of microbial ecology, physiology and enzymology, especially of extremophiles. During the research work, modern technologies such as genomics, molecular biology and DNA-chip technology are applied. The doctoral program is completed in approximately 3 years. The doctoral thesis can be submitted in English.