- Gut microbiome composition of non-model species
- Shotgun metagenomic sequencing
Mankind prides itself in shaping the environment it inhabits, yet all too often fails at realizing the environment’s omnipresent impact on mankind. For me, one of the most fascinating unknowns is how and to which extent humans ultimately affect themselves through their – often neglecting – interactions with the environment. This lured me not only study to biology in the first place, but continues to shape my research interests to this day.
As an undergraduate, I became captivated by the gut microbiome and its intrinsic, symbiotic role, not only in aiding digestion, but also in the overall health of its host. For my undergraduate thesis, I investigated how the ingestion of different quantities of toxic plant secondary compounds affects the composition of the gut microbiome in a large mammalian herbivore, the moose (Alces alces). To do so, I applied a state-of-the-art metagenomic shotgun sequencing approach to not only determine taxonomy, but also functional, gene-related information about the gut microbial community. In applying such a sequencing approach, my thesis marked the first description and functional investigation of the role of the gut microbiome in detoxification of a large herbivore.
Growing up in the era of “reduce, reuse, recycle”, I was all too aware of the problem of our ever-increasing consumption of plastic. Despite being numerous decades into the age of plastic, the manifold impacts of these non-biodegradable materials are still being investigated, whilst microplastics are just being identified as a persistent environmental pollutant. For my PhD thesis, I have decided to combine my fascination with the gut microbiome with microplastics and am currently in the process of setting this project in motion.
Fackelmann G, Sommer S (2019) Microplastics and the gut microbiome: How chronically exposed species may suffer from gut dysbiosis. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 143, 193-203.
MICRO 2018 Fate and Impact of Microplastics: Knowledge, Actions and Solutions - November 2018