Susceptibility to infection: How do bacteria and viruses manage to remain in the body?

Some pathogenic bacteria or viruses take hold in the human body: they persist in sites including the lung, liver or on implants. Chronic infections of this nature represent significant medical challenges, for example in people who suffer from cystic fibrosis. Biofilms form in their lungs; these are well organized microbial communities that are protected from the body’s immune defences and from antibiotics.

Lungs of CF patients are colonised by Pseudomonas aeruginosa bacteria, which cause pneumonia and ultimately compromise the lives of those affected. Dental and other implants, too, may be colonised by biofilms consisting of many different bacteria.

But how can the bacteria living in biofilms survive, and why are they so resistant to therapeutic agents? What part does the immune system play here? Why are these infections mild in some people but severe in others? Is there a connection with the human microbiome? RESIST analyses the underlying mechanisms so that the severity of an infection and antibiotic tolerance can be predicted and drugs targeting those bacteria can be discovered in future.

Projects in Area C (bacterias)


Biofilm profiling: How can a precise characterisation of microbial communities result in the development of new strategies against biofilm-associated infections?

Bacteria in biofilms are embedded in a self-produced extracellular matrix and exhibit an increased resistance to adverse conditions. In the human host, biofilm bacteria are responsible for persistent infections and efficiently withstand antibiotic treatment and the host immune response…

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Biofilm formation: Which individual human factors favour the formation of biofilms?

Implant-associated infections represent a serious health burden in the clinics. They are the consequence of microorganisms that are able to colonise biological surfaces or surfaces of indwelling medical devices, and to form biofilms there. Biofilms are communities of microorganisms attached to such hydrated interfaces and enclosed in self-produced extracellular matrices…

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Chronic lung diseases: How can we affect bacterial communities?

All mammals are inhabited by communities of microorganisms. These commensal communities, the microbiome, make vital contributions to the normal shape and function of the body by supporting energy homeostasis, metabolism, immunologic activity, and (neuro)development. An essential function of the microbiome is to protect outer surface epithelia (e.g. the lung epithelium) from pathogenic intruders…

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What influence does genetic diversity have on the bacterial phenotype?

We usually think of genetic differences in the context of human genetics. And so we are familiar with the fact that two people differ on average at about five million sites in the genome – that is, at only about 0.8 per cent of the entire genome. But genetic variation in bacteria has a completely different dimension: For example, two strains of Escherichia coli can differ in up to 60 percent…

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