Email: Silke Niemann
Our group works on different aspects of Staphylococcus aureus pathogenesis. S. aureus is an extreme versatile pathogen that can not only colonize epithelial surfaces, but can also induce different kinds of infections, including very serious infections such as endocarditis, osteomyelitis, soft tissue infections and pneumonia. To establish an infection S. aureus needs to adhere to host structures and invade host cells. In separate projects we are investigating bacterial factors that are required for the adherence and invasion of mammalian cells, or for the formation of biofilms on foreign material such as catheters. Furthermore, we analyse, which bacterial products (toxins, enzymes, peptides, wall-components) induce inflammatory reactions and cytotoxic effects in the host, also in connection with the nationality of people (Europe versus Africa) (Cooperation Prof. F. Schaumburg, Institute for Medical Microbiology, Münster). In another joint project, we are investigating the pathogenicity of S. schweitzeri (also belonging to the S. aureus complex), which is commonly found in African bats and monkeys, but which is (so far) rarely reported to spread to humans.
Together with colleagues from the Translational Research Imaging Center (TRIC), Münster, we analyse pathogenic mechanisms of clinical S. aureus isolates to induce infective endocarditis.
In a further collaboration with the European Institute for Molecular Imaging (EIMI), we are addressing the question of how to visualize life-threatening bacterial infections non-invasively in vivo. For this purpose we are developing and validating specific imaging probes based on selective metabolic uptake into bacteria.