CECAD scientist wins funding for research on the microbiome

22.11.2022 | TopNews

Dr. Gilles Storelli

Biologist Dr Gilles Storelli receives coveted ERC Grant / The European Research Council awards ERC Starting Grants to excellent early-career researchers for five years with up to 1.5 million euros

Dr. Gilles Storelli, research group leader at the University of Cologne’s CECAD Cluster of Excellence in Aging Research, was awarded the renowned ERC Starting Grant for his project ‘Dissection of the host-microbe crosstalk that controls metabolism and physiology in intestinal symbiosis’ (METABIONT). The project will receive a total of 1.5 million euros from the European Research Council over a five-year period.

The intestinal mucosa is populated by trillions of microorganisms, collectively known as the microbiome. The microbiome plays important roles in many physiological processes in the body, for example in the breakdown of food components. There are also indications that it influences the development of diseases. How host-microbe interactions unfold in the intestine and how they exactly contribute to health or disease remains however little understood. With the project METABIONT, Dr Gilles Storelli and his team will investigate how hosts and their symbiotic bacteria cooperate to influence metabolism in the intestine and other physiological processes in the body.

The scientists will use approaches from different fields, including microbiology, genetics, and cell biology. Using the intestinal tract of the fruit fly Drosophila, Dr Storelli’s team will determine how the metabolism of a model intestinal bacterium is regulated in the different sections of the digestive tract. To reach this objective, the scientists will use complex multi-omics analyses to visualize the genetic and metabolic interactions between hosts and their bacteria.

In parallel, previous work by the team suggests that symbiotic bacteria act through epithelial bacterial sensing and epigenetic mechanisms to exert extensive control over gut digestive and metabolic activities. The researchers will decipher these regulatory relationships in fruit flies, and investigate their conservation in mammals.

Finally, the scientists have evidence that hosts cooperate with their intestinal microbes to regulate gastrointestinal transit, an important factor that influences nutrition in both partners. The team will use two-sided genetic screens to identify the bacterial metabolites and the host factors that regulate transit, and determine if this dialogue involves the gut-brain axis.

‘We need a better understanding of the nutritional and metabolic interactions between animal hosts and their intestinal bacteria. The Starting Grant will enable our team to conduct the complex and elaborate studies that are necessary to reach this goal’, said Dr Storelli.

Media Contact:
Dr Gilles Storelli
Research Group Leader, Principal Investigator
CECAD Cologne
+49 221 478-84386

Press and Communications Team:
Mathias Martin
+49 221 470-1705

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