Biotechnology of microbial energy conservation

Group of Dr. Darja Deobald

Research focus

We mainly investigate microbial anoxic respiration processes and proteins involved in the different steps of the energy conservation. The focus of our research is on the isolation or heterologous production and characterization of the membrane-bound respiration complex of Dehalococcoides mccartyi strain CBDB1. D. mccartyi strains are very extraordinary in their metabolism and conserve energy by a process termed organohalide respiration (OHR), where toxic and persistent chlorinated and brominated organic compounds like phenol, benzene, aniline, dioxin are reductively dehalogenated. We try to get deeper insights into the organization of this protein complex by applying different biochemical methods like solubilization with detergents, purification and enrichment of the complex with different chromatographical methods or by blue native-PAGE and heterologous production coupled to mass spectrometry.

Organohalide-Respiration complex of Dehalococcoides mccartyi strain CBDB1

Additionally, we are also interested in metabolic processes that are strongly conserved in microorganisms with ancient traits like Dehalococcoidia. By identifying, purifying and characterizing proteins involved in these “old” metabolic processes, we can shed light in early evolution of proteins and life. With this information we can predict how and to what extend anoxic processes in general and different proteins were involved in the generation and evolution of life and how they are contributing to natural and artificial matter cycles.
At the end, our working group tries to develop fundamental concepts in different scientific areas on the basis of data we gain from the fundamental research that we then try to transfer into applicable systems.
Students are warmly welcome to take part in our research during their Master or Bachelor thesis projects. We accept unsolicited applications at any time at

Cooperation opportunities:

Our lab is equipped with a high-resolution mass spectrometer for protein and metabolites identification (nLC-MS/MS, Thermo Orbitrap Fusion) and the data procession pipelines. We are glad to offer measuring time for cooperation in environmental topics, both on scientific cooperation or commercial basis.