"Chemical ecology of cross-kingdom interactions"
The focus of our research group is to elucidate the mutualistic interactions between prokaryotes and eukaryotes ("cross-kingdom cross-talk"). Our previous work has shown that challenges of chemical ecology - at the interface between biology and chemistry - can only be resolved successfully by an interdisciplinary research approach. The consistent combination of classical bioassays and chemical analytical methods reveals novel insights into the complex networks of infochemicals and signal molecules along with their ecophysiological significance. Our research approach focuses on the fundamental understanding of the functioning of infochemicals in biocoenoses that can be mimicked in laboratory studies after which field experiments are conducted to prove their ecological significance.
To reach this goal, we have developed the marine green seaweed Ulva (Chlorophyta) into a model organisms.
Major research initiatives have been established:
I. Studies of the symbiotic interactions between bacteria and marine macroalgae
- To decipher the chemosphere of the marine green algae Ulva sp. and its associated bacteria.
- To understand the cross kingdom talk of bacteria and Ulva sp. based on infochemicals.
II. Regulation of gametogenesis and gametes release in Ulva
- To identify sporulation inhibitors controlling the differentiation of blade cells into gametangia
III. Studies of metal-recruitment by algae and bacteria via metallophores
- To identify metallophores for the metal uptake by these bacteria.
- To measure the bioavailability of trace metals essential for the nitrogenase.