Institute for Molecular Bio Science



There are currently eleven working groups at the Institute; they investigate a wide variety of molecular aspects of life. This research primarily focuses on microorganisms and plants. Membrane Biology is traditionally one of the strongest areas at the Institute. In this context, the focal point is the analysis of the structure and function of membrane-bound proteins, as well as their regulation and participation in intracellular signalling cascades. In the field of Biotechnology, work is being conducted on the development of microbial cell factories using both classical and recombinant methods to bring about overproduction of a range of enzymes and chemicals. Another new aspect of this field is the identification, characterisation and application of new metabolites from the secondary metabolism of entomopathogenic microbes. Metabolic pathways are selectively altered, e.g. to produce biofuels or to develop therapeutic methods of improving cellular defence.

In Microbial Physiology the emphasis is on metabolic physiology, specifically on its regulation and genetic basis in the Archaea, Bacteria and Eukaryota. The results of this study form the basis of analysis by membrane biologists and biotechnologists, leading to close networking both within the faculty and beyond. Research topics in Molecular Plant Physiology are the energy metabolism of photosynthetic organisms and its underlying organelle interactions. Physiological, structural, biochemical and genetic investigation all play an important part in this research.

Degenerative Processes and Molecular Stress focuses on the investigation of molecular aging mechanisms, especially the role of mitochondria in the aging process, as well as the analysis of cellular responses to heat and light stress. The groups working on Protective Functions of Carotenoids are investigating the molecular mechanism of carotenoid function in strong light conditions, as well as in protection from reactive oxygen species and membrane damage caused by external factors. In the field of Regulatory RNAs, the research focuses on structural and functional analysis of regulatory non-coding RNAs and their interactions with proteins, as well as their biological functions and cellular regulation.



The Institute is involved the Bachelor's Programmes in Biological Sciences, Biophysics and Bioinformatics as well as in Teacher Education in Biological Sciences and in the biological training of medical science students. In addition, it offers two master's programmes, Molecular Biological Sciences and Molecular Biotechnology, as well as participating in interdisciplinary master's programmes.



The talks starts at 17:15 

Campus Rieberg, Biocenter, Section of the Building 260 Room 3.13

Thursday, 12.03.2020 - Dr. Jan Schuller - MPI für Biochemie, Martinsried

Modular Evolution and Functional Adaption of the Photosynthetic Complex I

The cyanobacterial carbon concentration mechanism takes advantage of the functional and structural diversity of the cyanobacterial photosynthetic NADH dehydrogenase-like complex I (NDH-1) that function as energy-converting ferredoxin plastoquinone oxidoreductases. A distinguishing feature of the cyanobacterial NDH-1 complexes is their role in CO2 hydration. Specialized forms of the NDH-1 complex, the NDH-1MS and NDH-1MS' complexes, contain alternative subunits that drive the conversion of CO2 to HCO3- against the equilibrium using redox energy supplied by ferredoxin. Using cryo-EM single particle analysis we could obtain the first structure of a carbon concentrating NDH-1 complex. Our structure reveals a novel catalytic carbonic anhydrase (CA) module that possess a unique active site harbouring a Zn2+ ion ligated in a different way compared to the well-known α and ß CAs. Supported by theoretical calculations we demonstrate that the propagation of the proton translocation along the membrane part of the complex facilitates the removal of the proton that is released by the CO2 hydration. Unexpectedly, we found that the terminal anti-porter like subunit NdhF3 is not a functional proton pump, but instead harbours a hydrophobic channel that might enable the flow of CO2 molecules directly to the active site of CupA. Taken all this together we present a mechanistic model in which the out of equilibrium CO2 hydration is driven by a push- and pull mechanism.

Cancelled - Abgesagt

05.05.2020 - Dr. Danny Ionescu - Leibniz Institut Stechlin

Achromatium oxaliferum - A compartmentalized super bacterium with multiple-personalities

Polyploid bacteria are common, but the genetic and functional diversity resulting from polyploidy is not fully understood. Achromatium sp. is the largest freshwater bacterium. Its cells contain multiple calcite bodies whose evolutionary role has not been determined. Like other large-sulfur bacteria, it has multiple chromosomes as seen by nucleic acid staining. Using single-cell genomics, metagenomics, single- cell amplicon sequencing and fluorescence in-situ hybridization, we show that individual cells Achromatium harbor genetic diversity typical of multi-species populations. Interestingly, the rRNA distribution inside the cells hints to spatially- differential gene expression. Broad-scale surveys of short-read archives show that Achromatium sp. is globally present in rivers, freshwater lakes, and marine environments but no environment-specific phylogenetic clustering of the 16S rRNA gene is observed. This is likely due to high intra-cellular and population-wide phylogenetic diversity further supporting our findings. We show that these cells contain and also express tens of transposable elements, which likely contribute the unprecedented diversity that we observe in the sequence and synteny of genes. Accordingly, we suggest that the multiple chromosomes of Achromatium do not represent copies of its genome. Nevertheless, our analysis shows that most proteins are under conservation pressure. Thus, given the high single-cell diversity of functional genes and the usually conserved 16S rRNA gene, we suggest that gene convergence is limited to chromosomal clusters formed by the large calcite bodies in the cell. We further suggest that upon cell division, these cluster are shuffled resulting in two daughter cells different from each other as well as from the mother cell. To obtain information on how many alleles of a gene are expressed from the complete repertoire available in each cell, we are developing a method to simultaneously obtain both the genome and transcriptome of each single cell. This allows overcoming the lack of a common genome sequence to the entire population.


Institute for Moelcular Bio Science

Campus Riedberg

Building N210-207
Post office box 6
Max-von-Laue-Str. 9
D-60438 Frankfurt

T +49 69 798-29603
F +49 69 798-29600

Managing Director: Prof. Dr. Claudia Büchel

Assis. Managing Director: Prof. Dr. Jens Wöhnert

Further information: eMail
Dr. Markus Fauth
Tel: 069 798 29603
Dr. Matthias Rose
Tel: 069 798 29529

Secretary: Brunhilde Schönberger

Campus Riedberg
Biozentrum N250 0.05
Max-von-Laue-Straße 9
60438 Frankfurt
Tel: 069 798 29558