Current projects


Biofilms in the food processing environment

Source: Wagner EM

In nature, microorganisms are primarily found in biofilms; they cluster together on a surface producing extrapolymeric substances (EPS). The self-built matrix allows them to live in a community, which is protected from various environmental stresses. Microorganisms living in a biofilm show distinct phenotypes and altered gene expression compared to planktonic bacteria. The detection and eradication of biofilms in the food industry is difficult.
Therefore they represent a relevant risk factor in the food industry as they potentially contaminate food products with (pathogenic) microorganisms, endangering food safety and consumers’ health.

The aim of this project is to characterize biofilms in the food processing environment in regard of their microbial diversity and EPS composition. Additionally we will establish an in vitro biofilm model in order to study the impact of food-borne pathogens on the formation of multi-species biofilms mimicking conditions of the food processing environment.

This project is part of the Austrian competence centre FFoQSI- Feed and Food Quality, Safety and Innovation 3.


The role of hypervariable genetic hotspots in Listeria monocytogenes in stress response and virulence.


Listeria (L.) monocytogenes is a facultative intracellular foodborne pathogen responsible for listeriosis, a rare but severe illness in humans. L. monocytogenes can resist extreme environmental stress and survives therefore in multiple habitants e.g. in the host or the food producing environment.
Recent genome analyses have revealed that L. monocytogenes comprises multiple hypervariable genetic hotspots harbouring accessory genes which could provide advantage to survive extreme conditions or be involved in virulence. However the function of most genes located in hypervariable genetic hotspots is unknown.
We aim to characterize two hypervariable genetic hotspot: lmo0443-lmo0449 and lmo2025-lmo2028
Hotspot lmo0443-lmo0449 harbours at least three different inserts: the stress survival islet SSI-1, lin0464/lin0465 and homologues of the LMOf2364_0481 gene. Our hypothesis is that the different insert types of the hypervariable genetic hotspot lmo0443-lmo0449 lead to increased survival under distinct stress conditions resulting in adaptation to different environments.
The genetic hotspot lmo2025-lmo2028 harbors among others four novel internalin-like proteins, which are present also in an Austrian quargel outbreack strains, involved in 14 listeriosis cases including five with fatal outcome. Our aim is to study the role of the four novel internalin-like proteins in virulence of L. monocytogenes.

This project is funded by the Austrian Science fund-FWF and an internal start-up project from the University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna, Austria


BiMM-Bioactive microbial metabolites

The research platform BiMM -Bioactive Microbial Metabolites provides a discovery pipeline for bioactive substances.
There are three subunits in the BiMM:

  1. Automated preparation and selection
  2. Automated activity testing and
  3. Analytical characterization including metabolomics.

The members of the BiMM are the Division of Microbial Genetics and Pathogen Interaction of the BOKU Department of Applied Genetics and Cell Biology (DAGZ), the Institute for Milk Hygiene at the VETMED and the Center for Analytical Chemistry at the Department of Agrobiotechnology (IFA) of the BOKU.

This project is funded by the Province of Lower Austria, the Federal Ministry of Science, Research and Economy and the universities BOKU and VETMED.

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