Four more years of metaorganism research in Kiel

German Research Foundation funds Collaborative Research Centre 1182 at Kiel University with 11 million euros

Great success for the scientists of the Collaborative Research Centre (CRC) 1182 “Origin and Function of Metaorganisms” at Kiel University: The German Research Foundation (DFG) continues to support the joint research project led by Kiel University until the end of 2023. The researchers of the CRC 1182 will thus be able to start the second funding phase at the beginning of next year and further advance research into the relationships between host organisms and their colonizing microorganisms. The DFG, which announced its decision today, 25 November, thus confirms the importance of this successful interdisciplinary research project and is providing scientists with a total of around 11 million euros over the next four years.

“On behalf of the entire executive board of the University, I would like to congratulate all those involved on this great success. The commitment of the most important German research funding institution makes clear how important the investigation of the interactions of host and microbes is for the health of humans, animals and plants,” says Kiel University’s Vice-President for Research, Professor Karin Schwarz. “I am particularly pleased for the many committed scientists who can now successfully continue their work at Kiel University. They thus continue to provide a special example of cutting-edge research in Schleswig-Holstein,” Schwarz continued.

Successful research network
Founded in 2016 at Kiel University, the CRC 1182 brings together around 80 scientists from six predominantly North German institutions in a total of 15 interdisciplinary research projects. The researchers from the Institutes of Zoology, Clinical Molecular Biology, General Microbiology, Experimental Medicine and the Botanical Institute at Kiel University work together with colleagues from the GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel, the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology in Plön, the Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf, the Leibniz Institute for Science and Mathematics Education and the Muthesius University of Fine Arts and Design in Kiel. Together they want to understand bit by bit the functional consequences of the interactions of host organisms and microbial communities.

“In the successful first funding period, we were able to gain a broad understanding of the cooperation between host organisms and microbes on the basis of a number of model organisms and identify the players involved,” explains Professor Thomas Bosch, spokesperson for the CRC 1182. „Now we want to take the next step and understand the molecular and evolutionary mechanisms underlying these symbiotic interactions,” Bosch outlines the research program for the coming years.

Applying fundamental principles
The scientists of the CRC 1182 convinced the DFG with their very interdisciplinary research concept. The last decisive factor was an excellent on-site review last summer, in which the researchers and their partner institutions presented past successes and future goals. In addition to the excellent scientific results of the first phase, which were published in around 80 high-ranking publications, the CRC 1182 was also convincing in important cross-sectional topics. In particular, the intensive promotion of young researchers with two independent funding lines and a tailor-made mentoring programme, especially for female researchers at different career levels, were rated particularly positively. An emphasis on communicating the center’s research in innovative outreach formats to the public was also evaluated very positively. In total, a third funding phase and thus the maximum possible twelve-year support from the DFG is within reach.

In the second phase, which starts at the beginning of 2020, the scientists of the CRC 1182 will now define common and universally valid principles of host-microbe relationships for all living creatures and thus come closer to their overarching goal: From research into the metaorganism, they intend to derive therapeutic approaches for numerous diseases caused by civilisation, which are based on an imbalance of the symbiotic bacterial community of the body. “Only those who have understood the mechanisms and functions of the multi-organismic relationships between host and microbes from bottom up will be able to find ways of manipulating a disturbed microbiome, changing it and thus treating diseases in the future that have not yet been understood,” predicts Bosch, who will continue to lead the CRC.

About the CRC 1182:
The Collaborative Research Centre “Origin and Function of Metaorganisms” is an interdisciplinary network involving around 80 researchers that investigates the interactions of specific microbial communities with multicellular host organisms. It is supported by the German Research Foundation (DFG) and deals with the question of how plants and animals including humans form functional units (metaorganisms) together with highly specific communities of microbes. The aim of the CRC 1182 is to understand why and how microbial communities enter into these long-term connections with their host organisms and what functional consequences these interactions have. The CRC 1182 brings together scientists from five faculties of the Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel (CAU), the GEOMAR Helmholtz-Zentrum für Ozeanforschung Kiel, the Max-Planck-Institut für Evolutionsbiologie Plön, the Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf, the Leibniz Institute for Science and Mathematics Education and the Muthesius University of Fine Arts and Design.

Photos are available for download:
Caption: Around 80 scientists from Kiel University and its partner institutions form the Collaborative Research Centre 1182 “Origin and Function of Metaorganisms”.
© Christian Urban, Kiel University
Caption: In the first funding period, the CRC 1182 researchers investigated the interactions of hosts and microbes using different model organisms – from simply organised sponges to vertebrates.
© Science Communication Lab
Caption: Head of the CRC 1182 since the start of funding in 2016: Cell and developmental biologist Professor Thomas Bosch from Kiel University.
© Christian Urban, Kiel University
Caption: With the Biology Centre (in the background) and the Centre of Molecular Biosciences (ZMB), the Collaborative Research Centre 1182 also has a spatial home at Kiel University.
© Christian Urban, Kiel University

Prof. Thomas Bosch
Spokesperson CRC 1182 “Origin and Function of Metaorganisms”,
Kiel University
Tel.: +49 (0) 431-880-4170

More information:
Press Release of the German Research Foundation (DFG):

Additional details

Institutions & Partners