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ERC Consolidator Grant - Evolution of gut-associated microbial communities and its functional relevance in health and disease (EvoGutHealth)

  • Project leader: Prof. Dr. Bärbel Stecher
  • Affiliation: Max von Pettenkofer Institute
  • Funding: 2020 to 2025

Project descriotion:

Microbiologist Bärbel Stecher, Professor of Medical Microbiology and Hospital Epidemiology at LMU‘s Max von Pettenkofer Institute, studies the microbiome of the gastrointestinal tract. – The gut ecosystem encompasses a rich community of microorganisms, whose activities have a major impact on human health. Its members comprise a highly diverse collection of bacteria. Together, they form metabolic networks which help to digest our food, as well as producing a wide range of bioactive metabolites and suppressing infections. In addition, mutational events and horizontal gene transfer enable the bacterial lineages that populate the gastrointestinal tract to adapt rapidly to changing conditions. However, little is known about these evolutionary processes and their significance both for these microbial communities itself and their relationships with their human hosts. This is largely due to the lack of appropriate model systems in which to investigate these issues in detail. Stecher’s ERC project “EvoGutHealth” is designed to remedy this situation. She works with defined systems made up of bacterial model species, which facilitates the analysis of how a microbial community takes shape in the host environment. This approach also makes it possible to study how adaptive processes enable collective metabolic pathways to evolve, which ultimately result in global microbiome functions, such as mechanisms that prevent the establishment of enteric pathogens.