As researchers have become aware of the importance of an overall concept that no longer sees individuals in isolation, but in the context of their associated microorganisms, more and more research has been done in this area (see Links to related research projects). This overall concept is represented by the so-called holobiont. The holobiont defines a host together with its permanently, but also transiently associated microorganisms, which are called microbiomes or microbiota. Despite all efforts, numerous key questions remain unanswered, which we address with our research:
1) Which factors structure the microbiome and how are microbial communities established and stabilized?
2) How do microbes in complex communities interact with each other and with their host? How are host signals transmitted to the microbial community?
3) How do microbial communities evolve? Is there evolutionary synchronization? What are the consequences of community evolution on gene flow?