RTF II: Evolution and ecology of microbes

Coordinators: H. Schulenburg (CAU, MPI), S. Niemann (RCB, UzL), P. Rosenstiel (CAU)

Many chronic inflammatory diseases are influenced by microorganisms, either by individual pathogens or by a community of numerous microorganisms (e.g. the microbiome). Evolutionary and/or ecological changes in the interaction with these microbes are often key to the emergence of a disease, but are frequently neglected in medical research. RTF II is based on the newly-created research area of evolutionary medicine. The researchers in RTF II use evolutionary approaches to improve our understanding of the ecological and evolutionary basis of microbe-induced, patient-specific inflammatory diseases such as COPD, tuberculosis and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

What does this research area’s work build on?

Northern Germany has become one of the hot spots in Europe for evolutionary research, and evolutionary medicine in particular. Members of PMI have developed a variety of approaches to better understand the evolutionary and ecological dynamics of disease-associated microbes or microbial communities. On the basis of these activities, several major research initiatives in evolutionary medicine have been funded, including the Leibniz ScienceCampus Evolutionary Medicine of the Lung (EvoLUNG), the Clinician Scientist Program in Evolutionary Medicine (CSEM) and the Research Training Group "Translational Evolutionary Research" (RTG TransEvo).

 

What are the main research objectives?

The primary goal of RTF II is to analyze the evolutionary and ecological dynamics which contribute towards microbe-induced chronic inflammatory diseases. As a central approach, RTF II is setting up an experimental evolution platform to assess the influence of eco-evolutionary changes in individual microbes or microbial communities on disease-specific characteristics (e.g. antibiotic resistance or virulence in COPD-related Pseudomonas aeruginosa). RTF II will also establish a patient-specific microbiome library related to IBD, to serve as the basis for further eco-evolutionary analyses and possible interventions.

 

What makes this research area special?

Evolutionary and ecological processes are at the core of many chronic diseases, in particular those, which are characterized by individual microbes or the entire microbiome, but their importance has been largely neglected in medical research, if not ignored completely. RTF II specifically considers the evolutionary and ecological processes to gain a deeper understanding of microbe-associated diseases. The medium-term goal of this approach is to improve the sustainability of novel interventions against chronic inflammatory diseases. To this end, RTF II combines evolutionary medicine with the challenges of precision medicine.

 

What does the research area contribute to precision medicine in chronic inflammation?

The microbe-related eco-evolutionary processes often vary between patients, and thereby influence whether certain diseases occur at all. RTF II’s experimental approach provides insights into how such eco-evolutionary processes are connected with disease-related characteristics. With the data obtained, precision medicine therapies which target the individual microbes or the composition of the microbiome can be developed - examples of such forms of treatment are microbial/microbiome transfer, evolution-based antibiotic therapy or diet-related measures.

 

Cooperation with other research areas in the cluster

Characterization and validation of organisms from evolution experiments or the patient-specific microbiome are carried out in cooperation with RTF V (metabolomic analysis), RTF VI (sequence-based profiling) and RTF IV (experimental inflammation models). The results are utilized in the theoretical modeling of RTF VIII (theoretical models of inflammation) to develop a predictive precision medicine framework, which should particularly be applied in CD-3 (individualized antibiotic therapy) and TI-1 (microbiome-related therapy), but also in CD-2 (tryptophan metabolism and inflammation) and CD-5 (T-cell-oriented therapy).

 

Members

Dr. Nadia Andreani

Associated member

Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology
Institute of Experimental Medicine
AG Prof. Baines

Prof. Dr. John Baines

Full member

Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology
Institute of Experimental Medicine
Evolutionary Genomics

Dr. rer. nat. Corinna Bang

Assocciated member

Kiel University
Institute of Clinical Molecular Biology
AG Prof. Franke

Dr. Meriem Belheouane

Associated member

Research Center Borstel - Leibniz Lung Center
Evolution of the Resistome
Priority Research Area Infections
AG Prof. Merker

Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Dr. h. c. Thomas Bosch

Full member

Kiel University
Institute of Zoology
Cell and Developmental Biology

Prof. Dr. Hauke Busch

Full member

UKSH Campus Lübeck
Lübeck Institute for Experimental Dermatology
System Biology of Inflammatory Diseases

Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Tal Dagan

Full member

Kiel University
Institute of General Microbiology
Genomic Microbiology

Dr. Katja Dierking

Full member

Kiel University
Institute of Zoology
Evolutionary Ecology and Genetics

Dr. Margo Diricks

Associated member

Research Center Borstel - Leibniz Lung Center
Molecular and Experimental Mycobacteriology
Priority Research Area Infections
AG Prof. Niemann

Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Andre Franke

Full member

Kiel University
Institute of Clinical Molecular Biology
Genetics & Bioinformatics

PD Dr. Andreas Frey

Full member

Research Center Borstel - Leibniz Lung Center
Mucosal Immunology and Diagnostic
Priority Research Area Asthma and Allergy

Dr. Alibek Galeev

Associated member

Kiel University
Institute of Experimental Medicine
AG Dr. Unterweger

Dr. rer. nat. Simon Graspeuntner

Associated member

UKSH Campus Lübeck
Department of Infectious Diseases and Microbiology
AG Prof. Rupp

Dr. med. Espen Elias Groth

Associated member

LungenClinic Grosshansdorf
Section Pneumology

Dr. Yask Gupta

Associated member

UKSH Campus Lübeck
Lübeck Institute for Experimental Dermatology
AG Prof. Ludwig

Prof. Dr. Thomas Gutsmann

Full member

Research Center Borstel - Leibniz Lung Center
Biophysics
Priority Research Area Infections

Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Jürgen Harder

Full member

UKSH Campus Kiel
Department of Dermatology, Venereology and Allergology

Dr. rer. nat. Matthias Hübenthal

Associated member

UKSH Campus Kiel
Department of Dermatology, Venereology and Allergology
AG Prof. Weidinger

Prof. Dr. Saleh Ibrahim

Full member

UKSH Campus Lübeck
Lübeck Institute for Experimental Dermatology
Genetics of Inflammatory Diseases

Prof. Dr. Christoph Kaleta

Full member

UKSH Campus Kiel
Institute of Experimental Medicine
c/o Transfusion Medicine

Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Frank Kempken

Full member

Kiel University
Botanical Institute and Kiel Botanic Gardens
Botany with a Research Focus on Genetics and Molecular Biology

Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Ben Krause-Kyora

Full member

Kiel University
Institute of Clinical Molecular Biology
Ancient DNA Research

Prof. Dr. med. Susanne Krauss-Etschmann

Full member

Research Center Borstel - Leibniz Lung Center
Early Life Origins of CLD
Priority Research Area Asthma and Allergy

Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Christoph Lange

Full member

Research Center Borstel - Leibniz Lung Center
Medical Clinic Borstel

Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Matthias Leippe

Full member

Kiel University
Institute of Zoology
Comparative Immunobiology

Prof. Dr. rer. physiol. Edmund Maser

Full member

UKSH Campus Kiel
Institute of Toxicology and Pharmacology for Natural Scientists

Prof. Dr. Matthias Merker

Full member

Research Center Borstel - Leibniz Lung Center
Evolution of the Resistome
Priority Research Area Infections

Prof. Dr. Thomas F. Meyer

Full member

UKSH Campus Kiel
Institute of Clinical Molecular Biology
Senior RG Infection Oncology

Dr. Christian Nehls

Associated member

Research Center Borstel - Leibniz Lung Center
Biophysics
Priority Research Area Infections
AG Prof. Gutsmann

Prof. Dr. Stefan Niemann

Full member

Research Center Borstel - Leibniz Lung Center
Molecular and Experimental Mycobacteriology
Priority Research Area Infections

Dr. Laura Paulowski

Associated member

Research Center Borstel - Leibniz Lung Center
Diagnostic Mycobacteriology
Priority Research Area Infections

Prof. Dr. Gabriela Riemekasten

Full member

UKSH Campus Lübeck
Department of Rheumatology and Clinical Immunology

Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Thomas Roeder

Full member

Kiel University
Institute of Zoology
Molecular Physiology

Prof. Dr. med. Philip Rosenstiel

Full member

Kiel University
Institute of Clinical Molecular Biology
Molecular Cell Biology

M.Sc. Malte Rühlemann

Associated member

Kiel University
Institute of Clinical Molecular Biology
AG Prof. Franke

Prof. Dr. Jan Rupp

Full member

UKSH Campus Lübeck
Department of Infectious Diseases and Microbiology

Prof. Dr. Ulrich Schaible

Full member

Research Center Borstel - Leibniz Lung Center
Cellular Microbiology
Priority Research Area Infections

Prof. Dr. med. Katharina Schaufler

Full member

UKSH Campus Kiel
Institute for Infection Medicine

Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Ruth Schmitz-Streit

Full member

Kiel University
Institute of General Microbiology
Molecular Biology of Microorganisms

Prof. Dr. Hinrich Schulenburg

Full member

Kiel University
Institute of Zoology
Evolutionary Ecology and Genetics

Prof. Dr. Karin Schwarz

Full member

Kiel University
Institute of Human Nutrition and Food Science
Food Technology

Dr. Michael Stolpe

Full member

Kiel Institute for the World Economy
The Global Health Economy

Prof. Dr. Bernhard Thalheim

Full member

Kiel University
Department of Computer Science
Information System Engineering

Prof. Dr. Arne Traulsen

Full member

Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology
Evolutionary Theory

Dr. Leif Tüffers

Associated member

UKSH Campus Lübeck
Department of Infectious Diseases and Microbiology
AG Prof. Rupp

Prof. Dr. Daniel Unterweger

Full member

Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology
Institute of Experimental Medicine

Dr. Artem Vorobyev

Associated member

UKSH Campus Lübeck
Department of Dermatology, Allergology and Venerology

Prof. Dr. Stephan Weidinger

Full member

UKSH Campus Kiel
Department of Dermatology, Venereology and Allergology

Prof. Dr. Xinhua Yu

Full member

Research Center Borstel - Leibniz Lung Center
Pulmonary Immune Diseases
Priority Research Area Asthma and Allergy