Bacteria-animal partnerships in the sea

Harald Gruber-Vodicka

»I focus on marine symbioses, where marine animals and bacteria work together. I am specifically interested in intracellular symbioses, where bacteria reside in cells and support or even completely provide nutrition for the host from there. These intracellular nutritional symbioses with bacteria are more common in the sea than generally assumed and play an immense role in the biology of their hosts. My team and I are researching which bacterial partners are found in ancient animal groups such as placozoa (“flat animals”), mouthless flatworms and, since coming to the CAU, also in cnidarians. We are looking into how the partnerships function, how their evolution took place and is still happening. In doing so, I'm examining the cellular processes, the molecules being worked with and the transmission of the most important genes in order to develop a fundamental understanding.«

Harald Gruber-Vodicka, 45 years old, born in Vienna. Since February 2023: Professor (Heisenberg) of Marine Symbiosis at Kiel University. Previously project leader at the Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology, Bremen. 2012: Doctoral degree at the University of Vienna, Austria.

Text: Kerstin Nees