Dr. Frank Bengelsdorf
I am working as a senior scientist at the Institute of Microbiology and Biotechnology at Ulm University. My group has extensive expertise in physiology and metabolic regulation of obligately anaerobic bacteria. Special focus is set to metabolic engineer the model organisms Clostridium ljundahlii and Acetobacterium woodii. These acetogenic bacteria use the so-called Wood-Ljungdahl pathway for growth and form (naturally or genetically modified) acetate, butyrate, butanol, ethanol, hexanoate, hexanol, and 2,3-butanediol from gaseous substrates such as CO or CO2 + H2 (see figure). I am currently working at my habilitation thesis under guidance of Prof. Dr. Peter Dürre and I am involved in projects, focusing on metabolic engineering of bacteria for acetone, isobutanol, 1,4 butanediol, and hexanol production.
Recently, I managed to isolate and describe a previously unknown anaerobic bacterium that produces caproate. This bacterium was named Caprobacter fermentans and description was published in the journal "International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology". First experiments showed that C. fermentans is genetically accessible and I am very interested in establishing a genetic toolbox for this bacterium. Subsequently, C. fermentans could be used as a model organism for the so far barely studied caproate fermentation.
Comparative physiological and genomic analyzes of anaerobic bacteria are often my methods of choice as because they allow the derivation of new hypotheses regarding their metabolism. These hypotheses are then tested by the construction of respective recombinant strains to finally gain new findings.
A further research line is dedicated to microbial communities in anaerobic biogas reactors converting different types of substrates into methane. In general, I am interested in identifying “key player microbes” digesting different types of substrates.
My research projects have been and are funded, respectively, by grants of the BMBF (German Ministry of Education and Research), FNR (Fachagentur Nachwachsende Rohstoffe e.V.), and DFG (German Research Council).