KLS connected - the newsletter of Kiel Life Science

Issue 01/2022


Dear KLS members,


today we are back with a new issue of our newsletter "KLS connected”. Since the launch of this format at the end of last year, exciting new developments have taken place in Kiel Life Science: Today, we would like to inform you for example about current research and achievements of our members, important events and much more. A central role of our priority research area is to create the critical mass for new research collaborations and thus to accompany the emergence of new thematic centers in the life sciences. At the moment, this process is taking place in the plant sciences at Kiel University, with researchers at the Botanical Institute and their partner institutions forming the Kiel Plant Center (KPC). More insights into this process will be the focus of the second issue.

Scientist in the Lab

New work from the KPC examines the transition from aquatic to terrestrial life as one of the greatest challenges during the evolution of plants. About 500 million years ago, some evolutionary ancestor of today's land plants succeeded in making this drastic change in habitat, thus creating the basis of today's plant diversity. Researchers from the Department of Pharmaceutical Biology at the Pharmaceutical Institute of Kiel University led by Professor Birgit Classen are studying the adaptation of the plant cell wall to these changed conditions. As part of a new research project, the scientists were able to gain new insights into the evolution of individual cell wall components and thus learn more about the relationships and origins of algae and land plants.


The EU-funded research consortium SymbNET links Kiel's life sciences with major European partner institutions in symbiosis research. From 3. – 16. July, SymbNET again hosts a summer school for PhD students interested in host-microbe symbioses at the Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência in Portugal. This event is designed for PhD students interested in host-microbe symbioses to acquire an in depth understanding of the field from diverse perspectives through the interaction with experts in this research area. The summer school will have an emphasis on functionally understanding these symbioses, with approaches including genomics and metabolomics. The event is organized by Martin Blaser (Rutgers University), Margaret McFall-Ngai (Carnegie Institution) and KLS speaker Thomas Bosch together with Luis Teixeira and Karina Xavier from the Gulbenkian Institute. During the two-week summer school, the 35 doctoral students will be taught by a total of 19 lecturers, including Hinrich Schulenburg from the Kiel Evolution Center.


KLS researchers are participating in a worldwide initiative to preserve microorganisms: In the so-called Microbiota Vault, it should be possible in future to identify, collect and permanently preserve as wide a range of microorganisms as possible before they are lost forever under the increasing influence of civilization such as the overuse of antibiotics or unhealthy diets. The conservation of a complete repertoire of the original microbial diversity is, for example, a prerequisite for the development of future therapies to restore a healthy intestinal microbiome and thus the basis for combating various environmental diseases. KLS spokesperson Thomas Bosch was recently elected to the Microbiota Vault’s board of directors and will now actively help shape the further development of the project.


Two men during an award ceremony

Humboldt Research Award Winner Professor Brendan Bohannan from the University of Oregon in Eugene is currently on a research stay at Kiel University. In close cooperation with colleagues at Kiel Life Science he will deepen his research on microbial ecology and evolution. The Oregon scientist and university lecturer investigates ecological and evolutionary principles that govern microbial communities in various animal and plant hosts. His field of work strongly overlaps with various research consortia at Kiel University, especially the Collaborative Research Center (CRC) 1182 "Origin and Function of Metaorganisms" and the various evolutionary initiatives affiliated to the Kiel Evolution Center (KEC).


The "KLS Award for Early Career Postdocs" has been announced again this year, the awards are endowed with 6,000 euros each. The call is open to postdocs within the life sciences in Kiel who have completed their PhD no more than 3 years ago. The deadline for applications is August 20, 2022.


The anual KPC Master Thesis Award-call for 2022 will be issued soon. It is sponsored by the Deutsche Botanische Gesellschaft who award the best master thesis in plant science in each German university. It includes 200 Euros and a great recognition of the students work. The postdocs involved who evaluate the projects also benefit from the experience.

Eva Stukenbrock

The renowned French Académie des Sciences appoints excellent researchers from all over the world, including numerous Nobel laureates, as members and thus honours them as outstanding representatives of their field. The Academy announced recently that it has appointed KLS member Eva Stukenbrock, Professor of Environmental Genomics at Kiel University and Fellow at KPC spokesperson to this prestigious scientific community. The formal admission ceremony took place in June in the French capital.


Portrait of a man

Professor Remco Stam joined Kiel University from the Technical University of Munich at the beginning of April 2022 as head of the Institute of Phytopathology at the Faculty of Agricultural and Nutritional Sciences and will be an important contributor to plant research in Kiel. He has already been involved in planning future research initiatives and networks including as part of the Kiel Plant Center. Stam and his group are interested in the diversity and evolution of molecular plant microbe interactions, focusing particularly on the wild tomato species, Solanum chilense. His main research interest is looking at the evolution and diversity of pathogen resistance mechanisms in wild plant species.

Gruppenfoto der Preisträgerinnen und Preisträger
Next Generation

The Kiel Oncology Network (KON) recently presented its Young Investigator Awards for the second time. The association of oncology researchers within Kiel Life Science was able to award a total of four prizes to its most successful young scientists of the past year. The winners in the medical field are Dr Lilli Otto from the Institute for Experimental Tumour Research (IET) at Kiel University and the University Hospital Schleswig-Holstein (UKSH), Kiel Campus, and Luise Pieper, a doctoral student in the Haematopathology Section of the Institute of Pathology at the University Hospital Schleswig-Holstein (UKSH), Kiel Campus. Dr Lukas Pfeifer from the Institute of Pharmacy and Dr Sascha Rahn from the Institute of Biochemistry, both Kiel University, were honoured for their work in the field of natural science research.


Screenshot of a website
Outreach & Transfer

The new website of the Kiel Life Science priority research area was recently launched with modernised pages and revised content in the current Kiel University design. The visually appealing pages, which are increasingly equipped with images and graphics, are intended to allow easy and intuitive use. All news and dates of the priority research area are accessible here at a glance at the usual address. Praise, criticism and further comments are welcome!


Event Poster

KPC-Summer Event

On the 5th September there will be the KPC Summer Event around the topic of Plant Phytopathology. It includes talks, a poster session and a get-together in the botanical gardens as an in person event.


Invited keynote speakers:


• Prof. Dr. Gert Kema, Wageningen University, The Netherlands

• Prof. Dr. Remco Stam, Institute of Phytopathology, Kiel University

• Prof. Dr. Isabel Saur, University of Cologne



KPC member Sandra Spielvogel and colleagues recently published a new study titled: "Microbial functional changes mark irreversible course of Tibetan grassland degradation".