Mammalian intestines are colonized by some of the world’s densest and most productive microbial communities. The intestinal mucosa serves as a protective barrier containing this massive microbiota safely as well as a biological interface conveying its pervasive effects on human health.
Using a combination of innovative host and microbial model systems we aim at improving our mechanistic understanding of the complex host-microbial and microbial-microbial interactions signifying health and disease. A special focus lies on the mutualistic interactions between host and microbes that regulate the immune system and protect against intestinal infection. We study the biological mechanisms of bacteria-bacteria competition limiting pathogen colonization (“colonization resistance”), the immune responses that recognize and inhibit pathogenic microbes specifically, and metabolic bacteria-host interactions, such as the co-production of secondary bile acids. We also develop bioengineered intestinal bacteria for intestinal vaccination and microbial biocontrol.