DFG reviews “Origin and Function of Metaorganisms”

The German Science Foundation’s (DFG) reviewing process of the funding proposal for the new Collaborative Research Centre (CRC) „Origin and Function of Metaorganisms” at Kiel University is entering its crucial phase: On July 6 and 7, the DFG-panel visits Kiel for its two-day review process. This peer review panel draws up funding recommendations on the Collaborative Research Centre as a whole that are presented to the responsible Grants Committee for decision making. The final funding decision is made during the second meeting of the DFG’s Grants Committee at the end of this year, which hopefully turns out to be favourable.

Led by Professor Thomas Bosch from the Zoological Institute, 26 colleagues from the Faculties of Medicine and Mathematics and Natural Sciences and from the central administration of Kiel University collaborated in writing the funding proposal. Additional support came from colleagues of the Max-Planck-Institute for Evolutionary Biology in Plön, the Max-Planck-Institute for Marine Microbiology in Bremen and from the University of Hamburg.

The following abstract is taken from the proposal:

Origin and Function of Metaorganisms
From protists to humans, all animals and plants are inhabited by microbial organisms. There is an increasing appreciation that these resident microbes influence fitness of their plant and animal hosts, ultimately forming a metaorganism consisting of a uni- or multicellular host and a community of associated microorganisms. Research on host-microbe interactions has become an emerging cross-disciplinary field. In both vertebrates as well as invertebrates a complex microbiome confers immunological, metabolic and behavioural benefits; its disturbance can contribute to the development of disease states. However, the molecular and cellular mechanisms controlling interactions within the metaorganisms are poorly understood and many key interactions between the associated organisms remain unknown. The ultimate goal of the Collaborative Research Center is to understand why and how microbial communities form long-term associations with hosts from diverse taxonomic groups. We are particularly interested in the specific functional consequences of the interactions, the underlying regulatory principles, and also the resulting impact on host life history and evolutionary fitness in selected host systems.