Project Area B
Understanding the Mechanisms that Generate Community Structures
This project area will investigate the underlying regulative mechanisms that lead to a change in metabolic signatures within complex communities and the associated function of such changes. We will examine regulation on a genetic, biochemical, as well as on a metabolic level and underscore the dynamic modulation of the metabolism in specific interactive or stress situations.
Focus of project area B is the elucidation of regulative principles controlling the release and perception of metabolites active at a community level.
Chemical imaging techniques (also in conjunction with Z2) will help monitor the chemical landscape in communities thereby answering central questions about the formation of signaling hot spots or chemospheres around single organisms or consortia. We will also incorporate the development of functional polymer-based stimuli responsive delivery systems. With these tools, we will deliver natural products that are identified as candidates for the mediation of complex interactions. It should be emphasized that this approach will allow for a local delivery of compounds (e.g. from micrometer-sized beads as point sources or from surfaces). In this way, we will mimic the release of metabolites from individual microbes or biofilms.
This approach will allow all partners to overcome the shortcomings of established bioassays that often rely on the determination of average concentrations of metabolites in, e.g., cultures, and the application of solutions of these metabolites. The effect of abiotic factors such as metal composition or light on the metabolic interplay of different interaction partners in soil, biofilms or plankton will be another focus. Additionally, several projects will be linked through the examination of another core topic regarding the regulation of specific enzymatic switches and the activation of silent gene clusters in the presence of a complex multi-organism community.