Bacteria are remarkable in that they are able to survive and grow in basically every niche on the planet. They are able to respond and adapt to adverse environmental stressors such as heat or cold, high or low pH, antimicrobials or even the human immune system, by changes in gene expression, ensuring their survival (bacterial stress response).
This adaptation process is mainly mediated by a striking combination of transcriptional regulatory networks, which allow bacteria to sense and convert extracellular, physical or chemical stimuli into a specific cellular response, resulting in altered gene expression and enzyme activities (signal transduction). Whereas some of these alterations are reversible and disappear when the stress is over, others are maintained and can even be passed on to surviving bacteria.
Bacterial adaptation and stress response networks
The focus of this KIT research group is the investigation of bacterial stress responses and their involvement in the development of resistance and persistence particularly with respect to biofilm formation as an important bacterial survival strategy. A better knowledge of bacterial stress response and biofilm networks including the identification of stress-inducing effectors and key molecular switches is the basis of understanding and controlling bacterial growth and biofilm formation in any environmental setting.