Microbial Community Engineering

Group leader: Claus Sternberg

Microbial Community Engineering is about understanding and utilizing the complex physiology of microbial communities.

In nature microorganisms live mostly as surface associated communities or aggregates - biofilms. In recent years, it has become evident that many bacterial infections are associated with biofilm growth. Since bacterial biofilms are usually highly resistant to antibiotics and because biofilm communities may act as reservoirs of genetic variant sub-populations there is an increasing realization that novel treatment strategies must be developed to solve the biofilm infection problem.

Biofilms are also relevant in other contexts as these communities, due to their robustness can withstand stressful conditions, which can be exploited for expression of harmful compounds, enabling biosynthesis of chemicals which otherwise are difficult to manufacture. The composition of the communities as well as the mode of propagation are relevant factors that need to be investigated and engineered for each specific application.

Multispecies communities can exhibit complicated interspecies interactions on both short terms and long terms, giving rise to temporary or permanent adaptation of the involved species. These interactions have profound impact on the physiology of the communities and can be manipulated to alter the performance. A deeper understanding of these interactions is therefore important both at a molecular and a physiological level.

In the Microbial Community Engineering group we investigate these properties using a range of technologies ranging from genetic manipulation to high throughput confocal microscopy and nanotechnology.

We collaborate with research groups encompassing disciplines such as nanotechnology, polymer chemistry, biotechnological process technology, and bioinformatics.

As part of our ongoing research we have additionally developed a flow chamber system that is now used by research groups worldwide.


Claus Sternberg
Assoc. Professor
DTU Bioengineering
+45 45 25 27 70