Functional Biopolymers and Molecular Phytopathology

AG Prof. Dr. Bruno Moerschbacher
© AG Moerschbacher
  • We are an international group of ca. 20 students, doctoral and post-doctoral researchers as well as research technicians...

    ...with strong international and interdisciplinary links to partners from Academia and Industry, mainly in Europe, but also overseas. The main focus of our research projects is on functional biopolymers such as chitosans and their synthesising, modifying, and degrading enzymes. Our work aims to bridge the gap between fundamental research to gain knowledge on the one hand, and applied development of knowledge-based products on the other hand, to support the transition of today’s petrol-based economy to tomorrow’s bio-based economy. We are using chemo-enzymatic approaches for the biotechnological production and characterisation of partially acetylated chitosan oligomers and polymers, aiming to understand and improve their bioactivities by elucidating their molecular structure-function relationships and cellular modes of action. Eventually, we target environment-friendly and consumer-safe plant protectants and biostimulants for sustainable agriculture. In collaborations, we are also targeting biomedical applications, e.g. for targeted drug delivery using nano-formulated chitosans or for scar-free wound healing, as well as applications in material sciences, e.g. to design chitosan derivatives for uses in greener batteries. All of our projects rely on excellent, highly motivated BSc and MSc students who regularly strengthen our team during their study modules and their final theses. Our projects are supported financially by the European Union, Federal or NRW Ministries such as BMBF, BMWi, BMEL, or MWIDE, some by the German Research Council DFG or by individual doctoral fellowships from DAAD, DBU, or agencies from abroad. Most of our projects are pursued in collaboration with industry to improve transfer of our research results into marketable products, but members of our group have recently also begun to set up their own start-up biotech companies such as Evorion Biotechnologies and Bex-Biotech. Our service unit, ChitoProf, offers structural analyses of chitosans to researchers in Academia and Industry, to support the use of well-characterised chitosans, a prerequisite for achieving reproducible results and for developing reliable products. We are proud that our research over the past two decades has contributed significantly to the availability of well-defined ‘second-generation’ chitosans which are currently invigorating chitosan-based applications and industries, and we are now pioneering the development of more natural ‘third-generation’ chitosans. If you want to keep informed, check out our news section. If you want to join us, dig deeper and read our publications.