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Maria Hoernke

Lipid selectivity

We face rapidly increasing antibiotic resistance. The current urge to understand the role of lipids in defense against pathogens is driven by two strategies: killing pathogens and protecting the cell from infection, both involving the cell membrane. Not killing cells or microbes, but doing so selectively is crucial for combatting emerging multidrug resistant microbes. Lipid selectivity is therefore the core of my research.


Natural antimicrobial compounds and even more so their synthetic mimics that compromise the integrity of cell membranes, are promising alternatives to classical antibiotics. My team studies the mechanisms for selectivity that involve the (local or global) properties of the membrane, defined by the (local or global) lipid composition. The interactions of antimicrobial compounds with model membranes are examined by biophysical methods such as calorimetry, spectroscopy and lipid monolayer methods.

Doctoral researchers: Anja Stulz, Shuai Shi

Project students: Catharina Conzelmann, Xiaokang Li, Larissa Akil, Jingxuan Wang, Abdul Rhman Al Masri, Annika Vogt, Ndjali Quarta

Collaborators: Dr. Karen Lienkamp (IMTEK Freiburg University), Prof. Runhui Liu (University of East China), Prof. Heiko Heerklotz (Freiburg University), Dr. Radek Sachl (Czech Academy of Sciences)

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