The rational design of industrial production strains is carried out by applying emerging genome research technologies. High throughput sequencing, transcriptomics, proteomics and metabolomics in combination with bioinformatics play a crucial role.

Previous and Current Research

A. Pühler retired from the Chair of Genetics at the Faculty of Biology, Bielefeld University, in 2008, however, he continued his research at Bielefeld University.

In particular, he started the Senior Research Group “Genome Research of Industrial Microorganisms” which is involved in various research projects funded by the EU, the BMBF, the BMEL and industrial companies. At the moment A. Pühler is the coordinator of the BMBF joint-project de.NBI – German Network for Bioinformatics Infrastructure.

Until his retirement, A. Pühler was engaged in the establishment of a nation-wide research network for the genome analysis of bacteria playing a role in agriculture, environment and industrial biotechnology (GENOMIK and GENOMIK Plus). The network, funded by the BMBF, was composed of partners from universities, research institutes and industrial companies with Bielefeld University providing the coordination and a technology platform for genome sequencing and microarray analyses.

At the CeBiTec A. Pühler continued to analyze genome sequences of microorganisms, plants and animals of biotechnological relevance. An important project was the establishment of the genome sequence of the Chinese hamster and derived CHO cell lines. This sequencing project was conducted in collaboration with the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna (BOKU Wien) and the pharmaceutical company Novartis, Basel.

The Senior Research group of A. Pühler is currently involved in two industrial projects dealing with the bacterial production of acarbose and xanthan. Acarbose is a medical compound synthesized by Actinoplanes sp. and industrially produced by Bayer AG, Wuppertal. The substance is used in the treatment of Diabetes mellitus type 2. Xanthan is commercially produced by Jungbunzlauer AG, Wulzeshofen, Austria. It is an exopolysaccharide synthesized by Xanthomonas campestris pv. campestris which is used as a thickening agent for various purposes. Postdocs and PhD students in both research projects try to unravel the transcriptional regulation in production strains using omics technologies. Both industrial projects are carried out together with J. Kalinowski and K. Niehaus.

Since several years A. Pühler and A. Schlüter, member of the Senior Research group, are busy to analyze the microbial community residing in industrial scale biogas plants by sequencing community DNA. It is of special interest that part of this work is realized in cooperation with the DOE Joint Genome Institute (JGI), Walnut Creek, California, USA.

Future Projects and Aims

The industrial projects for the production of acarbose and xanthan will continue for the next two years. The aim of these two projects is the enhancement of the production of both biosubstances by employing omics technologies. Also the metagenome analysis of the microbial communities of biogas plants is ongoing. The collaboration with the JGI will provide data on the genomic and transcriptomic level. It is also planned to sequence the genomes of isolated single cells, which will help to interprete metagenomic data. All work on microbial community analysis is performed in close cooperation with A. Sczyrba from the bioinformatics platform of the CeBiTec.

Latest Publications of the Group