Bacillus subtilis is a non-pathogenic soil bacterium and the prevalent model organism for all low GC Gram-positive bacteria. When B. subtilis cells are starved, they initiate a developmental program that culminates in the formation of highly resistant endospores (also referred to as spores). Based on their extraordinary high resistance spores have been used as biodosimetric system for environmental monitoring and astrobiological studies both in space flight and ground-based simulations in order to obtain information on the biological damage produced by space conditions. Onboard of several spacecrafts (Apollo 16, Spacelab 1, LDEF, D2, FOTON) spores of B. subtilis were exposed to selected parameters of space, such as space vacuum and different spectral ranges of solar UV-radiation and cosmic rays, applied separately or in combination The extremely high resistance of bacterial spores to environmental stress factors has intrigued researchers since long time and many characteristic spore features, especially those involved in the protection of spore DNA, have already been uncovered. The disclosure of the complete genomic sequence of B. subtilis 168 and the rapid development of transcriptional microarray techniques have opened new opportunities of gaining further insights in the enigma of spore resistance. In my research, I am interested to elucidate the mechanisms of bacterial spores resistance by applying those advanced biochemical, genetic and molecular biology techniques. My emphasis is to reach a better understanding of the DNA protection and repair strategies, which allow B. subtilis spores to cope with DNA damage induced by extreme terrestrial and extraterrestrial environmental conditions (solar UV and galactic cosmic radiation).
2003: Diploma in Biology (Microbiology, Biochemistry, Biotechnology), Braunschweig University of Technology, Germany2007: PhD (Microbiology, Genetics, Biochemistry), Braunschweig University of Technology, Germany
2003 - present: Visiting scientist at Max-Planck-Institute for Infection Biology (MPI-IB), Microarray Core Facility, Berlin, Germany2003: Visiting scientist at Ernst-Moritz-Arndt-University to Greifswald, Institute for Microbiology, Department of Microbial Physiology, Greifswald, Germany2003 - 2007: Visiting scientist at German Collection of Microorganisms and Cell Cultures (DSMZ), Braunschweig, Germany 2004 + 2008: Visiting scientist at University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida, USA and Department of Microbiology and Cell Science, Kennedy Space Center (NASA), Florida, USA2005 - present: Visiting scientist at Heavy-Ion Radiobiology Research Group, Research Center for Charged Particle Therapy, National Institute of Radiological Sciences (NIRS), Japan
2003 – 2007: German Research Foundation (DFG) research project “Meteorite ejection and life” (Co-Investigator)2005 – present: Principal Investigator in two HIMAC (Heavy Ion Medical Accelerator at National Institute of Radiological Sciences at Chiba, Japan) research projects [17B463 and 20B463] 2005 – present: ESA-DLR project “Molecular adaptation strategies of microorganisms (ADAPT)” on National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) mission STS-122 (Co-investigator)2005 – present: ESA-DLR project “Resistance of spacecraft isolates to outer space for planetary protection purposes (PROTECT)” on NASA mission STS-122 (Co-investigator)2009 – present: North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Science for Peace research project CBP.EAP.CLG.983747: “Destruction of bacterial spores by solar UV radiation (DEBACS)” (Principal investigator/Project coordinator)
2003: Travel grant (3rd European Workshop on Exo-/Astrobiology (EANA) in Madrid, Spain)2008: ESA Award “Contribution to Columbus Increment 17”2009: NATO Science for Peace: Collaborative linkage grant (CLG)
Advances in Space Research, Archives of Microbiology, Astrobiology, Canadian Journal of Microbiology, Chemical Reviews, Drug News and Perspectives, Current Microbiology, FEMS Microbiology Letters, Nucleic Acids Research
German Aerospace Center (German-Swedish BEXUS program), NASA Astrobiology Institute (NAI), Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO): Council for Earth and Life Sciences (ALW)