Research Group for Microbial Biotechnology

Our research is focused on anaerobic bacteria and their utilization for the degradation of plant biomass. We are inspired by the idea of a biorefinery in terms of degrading the plant cell walls by microbial enzymes down to sugars to produce fuels, power, heat, and value-added chemicals. This is in accordance with renewable energy concepts. Consequently the majority of our projects center around efficient biomass conversion by enzymatic hydrolysis and microbial fermentation.

We constantly isolate new hydrolytic and solventogenic microorganisms from environmental samples, evaluate their potential for biomass degradation and characterize the responsible enzyme systems together with the product formation capacity of these bacteria.

One research area, which relates to several projects, concentrates on the conversion of carbonaceous residues to n-butanol. We also investigate the composition of the biomass (energy crops) degrading bacteria present in biogas plants and try to understand their role in the process and the ongoing cooperation between them to improve the efficiency of biogas formation.

Over more than two decades we investigated the composition and function of the most efficient cellulose degrading enzyme system in nature, the cellulosome of Clostridium thermocellum. Several past and present projects address the identification and characerization of the individual thermophilic cellulosome enzymes and their use in biomass degradation.

In all research areas we pursue our projects with multinational corporations, SMEs, and academic partners.

To learn more about our research please review a selection of the Research Projects.