Research area 1. “Carbohydrates and their interactions influencing microbial cells”

In Research Area 1 “Carbohydrates and their interactions influencing microbial cells”, a focus has developed on glycan-based therapies targeted to Helicobacter pylori, primarily based on anti-adhesive polysaccharides of plant origin as pioneered by Hensel, and their interaction with surface-expressed virulence factors studied by Niyaz or glycosphingolipids studied by Müthing. Lalitha will use a bioinformatics approach to identify genes coding for glyco-interacting proteins in the H. pylori genome. Giri will likely contribute to this area by supplying novel lichen derived bioactive glycoconjugates. Goycoolea is supporting these projects with his expertise in nano-formulation of polysaccharides, aiming to decorate e.g. chitosan nanoparticles with anti-adhesive glycans blocking the adhesins on the bacterial surface. In future, studies on plant lectins and their glycan-specificities (Mormann, Siva Kumar, Swamy) may contribute to these projects. Other anti-bacterial strategies exploiting smart nanoparticles quenching quorum-sensing signals (Goycoolea) or the bacteriostatic properties of chitosans (Moerschbacher) may eventually also contribute to this goal, e.g. by using antibacterial chitosans for the generation of nanoparticles surface-imprinted to quench quorum-sensing signals and surface-decorated with anti-adhesive plant polysaccharides or lectins.

Projects in research area 1.

Prof. Dr. Goycoolea
One of the main research lines of Goycoolea’s group deals with the study of new strategies to interfere with, and hence inhibit, bacterial cell-cell signaling mechanisms that allow bacteria to control the expression of genes a as function of cell density, a series of processes collectively known as quorum sensing (QS).
Prof. Dr. Appa Rao
 Our interest is to identify and exploit new bacterial chitinases that generate longer chain COS with defined DP, DA and, if possible, also a defined PA. In addition, we also aim to improve the properties of chitinases towards synthesis of longer COS by a directional evolution approach.

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