Lab of Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology, Lab of Prof. Sarah Lebeer: The research team of Sarah Lebeer studies the beneficial microbiome of humans, animals and plants. We mainly focus on lactobacilli isolated from multiple habitats and environments to determine their role in human, animal and plant health. Applying molecular, immunological and computational techniques, we aim to develop novel biotechnological solutions for human, animal and crop protection against diseases.

ODORETION: Exploring biodegradation and entrapment of malodorous compounds by candidate beneficial bacteria

We are currently looking for a highly motivated PhD candidate with a passion for microbiology, bacteriology, biochemistry and/or enzymology to partake in a challenging and high-end project on the improvement of indoor air quality using sustainable, nature-base microbiological solutions. The project comprises a collaboration of four (inter)national renowned companies active in textile, home improvement, and air quality, and three Belgian knowledge institutions and universities.

The project combines fundamental knowledge on microbial indoor air remediation with a strong applied product-driven orientation. You will be able to do research on the fundamental cellular and genetic processes of microorganisms, as well as converting this new insights into real applications and industrial processes. A passion for multidisciplinary challenges and a goal-oriented vision is a must for prospective candidates. The outcome of this project are expected to result in a PhD degree for successful candidates. 

Interested? Please contact postdoc Sandra Condori:, apply before February 28, 2023.

ERC StG project Lacto-Be

Lactobacillus bacteria have a strong, but underexplored potential as sustainable bio-based solutions for many food and health-related problems. Since Nobel-laureate Eli Metchnikoff hypothesized that lactic acid bacteria can promote human health in the gut, the research on lactobacilli and probiotics has mainly focused on the human gut and fermented dairy foods. However, a major knowledge gap exists on the beneficial potential of Lactobacillus species in other human body sites (vagina, skin, upper respiratory tract), animals (e.g. chickens, honey bees), plants, crops, and even on abiotic surfaces. In addition, lactobacilli play a key role in many plant- and vegetable-based fermentations, where they promote the shelf life and nutritional value of food and feed.

Yet, why and how Lactobacillus species can be beneficial in such a wide variety of niches is currently underexplored. Therefore, the core aim of this project is a systematic and integrated analysis of the evolutionary history, ecology, and beneficial functions of Lactobacillus species.

We follow an unconventional approach situated at the intersections of molecular microbiology (focusing on a single microbe), molecular ecology (focusing on microbial communities) and comparative genomics with an evolutionary perspective on niche adaptation of lactobacilli. By looking deeper into Lactobacillus biology, a paradigm shift can be made moving from a classical ad hoc base to a unique knowledge-based framework for strain selection and analysis of fitness and performance.

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