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Two new junior research groups

We extend a warm welcome to Amelia Barber and Martin Taubert who are each starting their own junior research group within our Cluster of Excellence “Balance of the Microverse”.

After completing her Ph.D. at the University of Utah, Amelia Barber moved to Jena in 2016 where she conducted her postdoctoral research at the Leibniz Institute for Natural Product Research and Infection Biology. As a junior group leader, she will investigate the interactions of fungi in their native environments as well as under conditions when they establish infections in humans using metagenomic and transcriptomic analyses. Many microorganisms, including certain fungi, have their primary habitat in the environment where they contribute to a healthy and functioning ecosystem. However, in humans some of these fungi have acquired the ability to cause severe illness. Amelia aims to identify how the underlying mechanisms that ensure survival in the environment relate to virulence in humans.

Martin Taubert completed his Ph.D. and a postdoctoral fellowship at the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research, Leipzig. He previously held a senior research associate position at Norwich, UK, before moving to Jena in 2015, where he is a researcher at the Friedrich Schiller University and participates in the Collaborative Research Center AquaDiva. Martin Taubert will investigate how microbes interact with each other using targeted ‘fishing’ to look for microbial interaction partners. The focus will be on ultra-small bacteria that show a high degree of dependency on other microorganisms because of their reduced genome size and limited biosynthetic capacity. They can be found in a wide range of environments, from ground water to association with hosts such as plants and humans. Identifying their partner organisms and developing ways to cultivate them in the laboratory remains an important challenge to overcome towards a comprehensive understanding of microbial communities.

We wish Amelia and Martin lots of success with this significant career step and look forward to their contribution of new impulses in our Microverse community.

Text: Angela Köhler & Alena Gold