Interfaculty Institute of Microbiology and Infection Medicine

Welcome to Microbial Genetics

Members of the genus Staphylococcus are widespread as commensals of humans and animals where they colonize the skin or mucous membranes (Götz et al., 2006). While this co-existence remains mostly untroubled, especially for the healthy host, the bacteria may pose a serious threat for the human or animal host when they get access to inner layers of the body through breaches in skin or membranes. Among the members of the genus a wide span exists in the ability to cope with the hostile conditions encountered in the blood stream of the living host as a scarce supply of certain nutrients, attacks of the immune system or anti-infective measures undertaken in the clinical field. In this respect, S. aureus is by far the most versatile species of the genus. Its equipment with a huge repertoire of different virulence factors and additional supportive gene products that increase the capability to survive within the living host makes S. aureus the leading pathogen not only within the genus but also one of the most threatening microorganisms regarding hospital and community-acquired infections. Compared with S. aureus, the other virulent species of the genus like S. epidermidis, S. lugdunensis, S. saprophyticus and S. haemolyticus have a more limited arsenal of virulence factors resulting in a specialized spectrum of diseases and a generally lower degree of pathogenicity. Besides the highly and medium-pathogenic staphylococci, the genus comprises also species like S. carnosus, S. xylosus and S. equorum that are generally inconspicuous regarding clinical occurrences (Rosenstein & Götz, 2013). Some strains of this group are used in food industry and have GRAS (general recognized as safe) status (Löfblom et al., 2017). The Microbial Genetics group is studying the physiology of staphylococci and their interaction with the host and the immune system. In most cases S. aureus is our favorite Gram-positive model bacterium.

Götz, F., T. Bannerman & K.H. Schleifer, (2006) The Genera Staphylococcus and Macrococcus. In: Procaryotes. M. Dworkin (ed). New York: Springer, pp. 5-75.

Löfblom, J., R. Rosenstein, M.T. Nguyen, S. Stahl & F. Götz, (2017) Staphylococcus carnosus: from starter culture to protein engineering platform. Appl Microbiol Biotechnol.

Rosenstein, R. & F. Götz, (2013) What distinguishes highly pathogenic staphylococci from medium- and non-pathogenic? Current topics in microbiology and immunology 358: 33-89.