Life on our planet ultimately depends on microorganisms. Microorganisms have pivotal roles in biomass conversion, photosynthesis, and in promoting plant growth. They have important functions in the production of food products, and genetically modified microorganisms have transformed the pharmaceutical and biotechnological industry. On the other hand, microorganisms cause many human, animal and plant diseases. The goal of the Max Planck Institute for Terrestrial Microbiology is to understand how microorganisms accomplish these tasks. Scientists at the institute explore the metabolic diversity of microorganisms, their ability to adapt and differentiate, the mechanisms involved in cell cycle regulation and cell polarity, biogeochemical processes, and how microorganisms cause plant diseases. Methods used include genomics, protein structure determination, molecular and cellular analyses, and microbial community analyses.
The institute hosts 19 research groups, that have close collaborations with the Philipps University, giving microbial research in Marburg a unique breadth. Since 2010, the institute is part of the LOEWE Research Center for Synthetic Microbiology.