Our work lays in upcycling carbon compounds as they occur in natural systems, anthropogenic waste streams, or as part of energy harvesting processes from renewable sources. The research is divided in four areas.
Area 1 aims to produce medium-chain carboxylic acids from waste sources via anaerobic fermentation.
Area 2 aims to produce methane or proteins via biological carbon dioxide reduction and carbon fixation.
Area 3 aims to elucidate the microbial interactions in the human microbiome, with methanogen-specific viruses, or by microbial electrochemistry.
Area 4 aims to produce high-value chemicals through metabolic engineering of anaerobic microbes.
Almost all our conversion processes take place in oxygen - free environments containing potent reducing agents. These conditions force the microbes to perform reactions at a lower energetic limit to sustaining their metabolism. Therefore, high turnover rates with few side reactions are necessary, which is beneficial for any biotechnological application because this leads to high product selectivity. The interdisciplinary nature of our group allows an in-depth investigation of our subjects. So far, this work resulted in two transitions from academic research to industrial application. (Electrochaea, Planegg, Germany; Capro-X, Ithaca, NY, USA)