The research at the Institute for Food Safety and Hygiene (ILS) focuses on  the following areas:

Epidemiology, characteristics and stress response of bacterial foodborne pathogens

The long-term objective of our work is to enhance the safety of food through the following: (i) an improved understanding of the ecology and epidemiology of foodborne pathogens and their transmission along the food chain (ii) phenotypic and genotypic characterization of strains to determine possible differences in their virulence (iii) an improved understanding of molecular stress response mechanisms in foodborne pathogens (iv) development and application of molecular methods for rapid detection and identification of foodborne pathogens.

Current main projects:

- Whole genome-based characterization of Salmonella, STEC, Campylobacter jejuni and Listeria monocytogenes

project overview_WGS and foodborne pathogens (PDF, 218 KB)

- Deciphering the global roles of cold shock proteins in Listeria monocytogenes nutrient metabolism, stress tolerance and virulence

project overview_CSP L. monocytogenes (PDF, 218 KB)

- Unravelling the genotypic and phenotypic diversity of the psychrophilic Clostridium estertheticum complex, a meat spoilage agent

project overview_Clostridium estertheticum (PDF, 193 KB)

Foodborne bacterial toxins

Foodborne bacterial toxins such as the ones produced by Staphylococcus aureus and different species of the Bacillus cereus group represent a major threat to consumer health and lead to considerable economic losses. The overarching objective of our work (group of Sophia Johler) is to advance the current understanding of foodborne intoxications and toxico-infections, increase food safety and enable improved risk assessment by (i) quantifying toxin expression during food production and storage, (ii) deciphering the intricate interplay of regulatory mechanisms controlling toxin expression, (iii) identifying biomarkers linked to toxicity, (iv) leveraging whole genome sequencing, MALDI-TOF and FTIR spectroscopy based approaches to improve source attribution and identification of foodborne bacterial toxin producers.

Current main projects:

-Deciphering staphylococcal enterotoxin expression and its regulatory control under stress encountered during food production and preservation

project oveview_Staphylococus Entertoxins (PDF, 161 KB)

-Elucidating the hazardous potential of members of the Bacillus cereus group and developing strategies and tools for risk-based screening and control

project overview_Bacillus (PDF, 183 KB)


Antibiotic resistances in microorganisms isolated along the food chain

The worldwide increase of the prevalence of antibiotic resistant microorganisms in food is of growing concern and is designated by the World Health Organization as an emerging public health problem. The main objectives of our studies are (i) to determine resistance prevalence and resistance patterns of indicator bacteria and foodborne pathogens along the meat and milk food chain and (ii) to identify possible risk factors associated with the occurrence of resistances.

Current main projects:

- Further characterization of ESBL producing Enterobacteriaceae along the foodchain - elucidating the molecular epidemiology

- Assessment of the spread of florfenicol resistant enterococci harboring oxazolidinone resistance genes – a "One Health" approach

project overview_florfenicol enterococci (PDF, 164 KB)