Christina Schäfer


Christina Schäfer
PhD Student

Department of Microbial Biotechnology
Working Group Microbiology of Anaerobic Systems
Helmholtz Centre for
Environmental Research - UFZ
Permoserstr. 15, 04318 Leipzig, Germany

in cooperation with

Deutsches Biomasseforschungszentrum (DBFZ)
Torgauer Str. 116, 04347 Leipzig, Germany

Phone +49 341 243 4403


CV / Scientific Career

Since August 2021

PhD student

Topic: Engineering microbial communities for the conversion of lignocellulose into medium-chain carboxylates

Project Cell4Chem:

Supervisors: Prof. Dr. Hauke Harms, Dr. Heike Sträuber, Dr. Sabine Kleinsteuber

Department Environmental Microbiology, Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research - UFZ

2018 - 2021

Master of Science in Microbiology and Biochemistry

Germany, University of Rostock

Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences, Institute of Life Sciences

Master Thesis: Development and application of an inducible expression system for the optimization of vector mediated establishment of programmed cardiac pacemaker cells

2015 – 2018

Bachelor of Science in Life Sciences

Institute of Life Sciences, University of Rostock, Germany

Bachelor Thesis: Growth of interacting Serratia plymuthica species

Current Research Interests

Production of medium-chain carboxylates (MCCs) by anaerobic fermentation of lignocellulose with microbial consortia is environmentally friendly, because lignocellulose is an abundant and renewable resource. The two bottlenecks in the production of MCCs from lignocellulose are efficient cellulose hydrolysis and internal production of lactate that is needed as electron donor for microbial chain elongation. Lignocellulose is highly resistant to enzymatic hydrolysis, and so far, no anaerobic lactate producing strain has been discovered, that is able to hydrolyze cellulose efficiently.
One major goal of the ERA CoBioTech project Cell4Chem is to establish and study anaerobic mixed cultures by engineering synthetic consortia consisting of recombinant strains, wildtype strains and enrichment cultures, with different metabolic functions including efficient hydrolyzation of cellulose and hemicellulose, lactate production and microbial chain elongation, which can overcome the bottlenecks and produce MCCs from lignocellulosic biomass in a concerted manner.
The construction of synthetic consortia using strains with known metabolic traits is a promising approach to improve the anaerobic fermentation of lignocellulose to produce valuable platform chemicals.