Microbiota-Associated Natural Products
Dr Julian Hegemann
Natural products are produced by all living organisms and are a prime source for new drug leads. Our group focuses on natural products produced by bacteria found in the human microbiota to harness the host protective properties of these compounds for medical purposes.
Our research and approach
Humans are colonized by a plethora of microorganisms; our microbiota. Many of these organisms, so-called commensals, live in symbiosis with us. For example, they can help us with digesting foods or even protect us against infections. The microbiota produces a manifold of biologically active molecules, also called natural products, who can directly influence our health and the course of diseases. In the focus of our research are a specific subclass of natural products, which are often also produced by commensals: ribosomally synthesized and post-translationally modified peptides (RiPPs). Our group is therefore researching the general effects of RiPPs on the microbiota and on humans. Here, we are trying to identify antimicrobially active substances that act selectively against pathogens and hence could be used for drug development. In addition, we are investigating RiPPs that are produced by pathogens to study the potential roles of these natural products in pathogenicity and virulence.