Institut für Systembiotechnologie

Thriving in high salt – systems biology of the osmostress response of Bacillus subtilis

The gram-positive soil bacterium Bacillus subtilis is an important production organism for industrial biotechnology. It is used because of its ability to secrete proteins for the production of detergent enzymes, but also for the synthesis of the vitamin riboflavin and of the antibiotic bacitracin. In addition, B. subtilis is an important model organism to elucidate fundamental cellular processes. Together with European partners, we explore the complex cellular response of bacteria to osmotic stress caused by high amounts of salts and sugars. Osmotic stress is one of the major stress factors to which microorganisms are exposed during industrial fermentation processes. Our project goal is a better understanding of the systems-wide stress response in order to develop more robust production strains.

  • 13C metabolic flux analysis for the quantification of the in-vivo activity of individual metabolic pathways in carbon and nitrogen metabolism
  • Multi-omics experiments in defined continuous culture under salt stress, sugar stress and reference conditions
  • Systems Biology of the action of the protective substance glycine betaine
  • Integrative modeling of the cellular stress response


Kohlstedt M, Kumar Sappa P, Meyer H, Maaß S, Zaprasis A, Hoffmann T, Becker J, Steil L, Hecker M, van Dijl JM, Lalk M, Mäder U, Stülke J, Bremer E, Völker U, Wittmann C (2014) Adaptation of Bacillus subtilis carbon core metabolism to simultaneous nutrient limitation and osmotic challenge: a multi-omics perspective. Environ. Microbiol. 16: 1898-1917. Link.

Kohlstedt M, Becker J, Wittmann C (2010) Metabolic fluxes and beyond - systems biology understanding and engineering of microbial metabolism. Appl. Microbiol. Biotechnol. 88:1065-1075. Link.