Chair of Molecular Biology

Microorganisms form an important part of our ecosystem by enabling the cycling of carbon, oxygen, nitrogen, sulphur and other elements. They possess versatile metabolic pathways which enable them to grow on many different substrates and under different environmental conditions. Our knowledge about their innovative metabolic pathways is still very scarce and needs further study. Consequently, most environmental microorganisms have still not been successfully isolated from their natural niches under standard laboratory conditions. To overcome this problem, we are studying microorganisms directly from their natural niches by modern molecular-biological methods, without previous isolation of strains. Only in this way will we better understand the role of each group of microorganisms in the environment, their relationships to each other and their relationship to other higher organisms. This knowledge will also enable us to retain the natural balance in our environment.

Many microorganisms synthesize products which can be applied in different branches of industry. This is why one of the microbial groups that concern our research work comprises acetic acid bacteria. From two genera, Acetobacter and Gluconobacter, which have been known since the end of the 19th century, an additional eleven genera have been established in the last ten years. Acetic acid bacteria were originally known for their ethanol oxidation to acetic acid. Today we know many other important characteristics of these bacteria, among them production of stereospecific sugars, organic acids, cellulose etc. Most of these products are successfully used by different biotechnological companies. Moreover, the acetic acid bacteria have established among different organisms, especially insects, symbiotic relationships, which are the subject of intense research in the European community.

Head of the Chair of Molecular Biology
Assist. Prof. Janja Trcek

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