Ass.-Prof. Evelyne Selberherr PhD.

Group Leader
Institute of Milk Hygiene, Milk Technology and Food Science
University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna
Veterinaerplatz 1
1210 Vienna, Austria




Curriculum Vitae


Research topics

Photo credits: Stefanie Wetzels

Uncovering the microbiome of farm animals. The mammalian gastrointestinal tract (GIT) represents one of the most complex ecosystems on this planet, harboring eukaryotes, bacteria, archaea and viruses. The bacterial fraction is estimated to harbor 10- 100 trillion bacteria. As for nearly all natural ecosystems, the whole extent of biodiversity has not been fully uncovered yet. The GIT of farm animals is shaped by an intimate coexistence of the host and its microbial colonizers. These colonizers are in homeostatic balance, driven by dynamics in selection, competition and competitive exclusion of microbes. The representative sum of bacterial gut colonizers in an ecological niche of the GIT is termed ‘bacterial microbiome’. The definition of a microbiome was first suggested by J. Lederberg: “The microbiome signifies the ecological community of commensal, symbiotic, and pathogenic microorganisms that literally share our body space” (Lederberg et al., 2001) .The knowledge of this microbiome and its function is of utmost importance for applied research in livestock. The microbiome is known to have a central role in food digestion, metabolism (e.g. fat metabolism), development of immunity of the host, maintenance of intestinal homeostasis and enteric neuro-regulation, and ultimately contribute to the systemic health of the host. The microbiome underlies physiological and pathological processes. Alterations of the microbiome, characterized by shifts in the community structure, can prompt both- dysbiosis (GIT disturbances or systemic diseases) or GIT-protective activity in form of probiosis. The ecosystem in the GIT is very dynamic and beside of the autochthonous community, allochthonous members are constantly passing the GIT derived from food, water or the environment and animals are constantly tackled with various pathogenic species. Indeed the host is also constantly tackled with various pathogenic species. Apart from the classical infection route of one pathogenic species, another type of pathogenicity was proposed by Ley and colleagues in 2006: A ‘pathogenic bacterial microbiome’ was defined, which is characterized by properties contributing to disease status by having aetiopathologic consequences for dysbiosis. In this microbiome, no single species is pathogenic but the whole community has negative effects on the host in context of certain risk factors. Our research addresses the diversity and the transcriptional profile of microbes and aims to understand the function of these microbes in relation to physiological or pathological host responses. Mucosal bacteria and translocation processes which both regulate the host's immune homeostasis are critical key players for keeping a delicate balance in the gut. Key approaches are the use of ~omics technologies, which enable to study the uncultured majority of microbes.


Microbiome research in food science. Microbial contamination during slaughter and food processing is often a hidden process which is complex to trace and monitor. If a contamination occurs, many food products provide a manifold niche for microbes because they have high water content, they are rich in nutrients and they are often stored until processing. Besides of product and economical losses, the presence of pathogenic microorganisms (and/ or their toxins) can cause foodborne diseases and should be prevented in raw meat, regardless of further production steps (Sofos, 2005). We aim to define marker species which should be used to estimate the actual contamination extent of certain products.

Photo credits: Alex Wild

Cytoplasmic incompatibility caused by Cardinium in parasitoid wasps. Cytoplasmic incompatibility (CI) is a symbiont associated reproductive manipulation that has long intrigued biologists for its subtlety. At its simplest, female hosts fail to produce viable offspring when infected males mate with uninfected females, a phenomenon that favors the survival of symbiont-infected insects. CI is associated primarily with Wolbachia (alpha-Proteobacteria), but concerted efforts have failed to reveal the molecular mechanism that allows bacteria-modified sperm to effectively recognize whether the egg cytoplasm is infected with related symbionts. We compare transcription of Cardinium genes in male and female Encarsia, and analyze the transcription of candidate genes in more detail in a panel of male and female Cardinium-infected Encarsia species, including CI and non-CI strains.




Evelyne Selberherr

Ass.-Prof. Evelyne Selberherr PhD.
T +43 1 25077-3510
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