The primary focus of our research is on quantitative analysis of real-time functioning of cellular networks in microorganisms. We are particularly interested in elucidating mechanisms behind evolutionary selected properties that are common to most networks, such as capability to function robustly in a noisy environment and to detect and integrate multiple extra- and intracellular cues with high sensitivity. Ultimately, we would like to understand why the observed network designs were evolutionary selected out of a large number of possibilities and to use these established principles of “evolutionary design” for rational construction of novel robust and sensitive synthetic networks.
One major goal of our research within SYNMIKRO is to understand principles underlying detection and processing of environmental information by microorganisms, and to use the derived knowledge for the development of biosensory networks. Another goal is to establish general design principles for post-translational and transcriptional networks that are robust against various intra- and extracellular perturbations. As model systems, we primarily use chemotaxis, two-component signaling and sugar uptake in E. coli and B. subtilis, as well as pheromone signaling in S. cerevisiae. We further investigate how experimental microevolution can lead to tuning and rewiring of signalling networks in bacteria and yeast and how self-organization leads to emergence of spatial organization within bacterial cells. Finally, we investigate existing and create artificial microbial communities.