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Publication in The FEBS Journal

In this study, we characterized a surface protein, GMSusD from the planktonic BacteroidetesGramella sp. MAR_2010_102 that thrives during algal blooms. Our biochemical and structural analyses show that GMSusD binds glucose polysaccharides such as branched laminarin and linear pustulan. We queried metagenomes of global surface water datasets for the occurrence of SusD‐like proteins and found sequences with the three structurally conserved residues in different locations in the ocean. Our findings provide insight into the molecular details of β‐glucan binding by GMSusD and our bioinformatic analysis reveals that this molecular interaction may contribute to glucan cycling in the surface ocean (Link).



We welcome Guoying Huang as new PhD student and fellow of the China Scholarship Council (CSC).


© S. Becker, MARUM

Glycobiology session at the ISME 17 conference

Nicole Koropatkin (UMich) and Jan-Hendrik Hehemann chaired the first session on the 'Importance of glycobiology in microbial interactions' at the 17th conference of the International Society for Microbial Ecology in Leipzig, Germany. Invited speakers were Otto X. Cordero (MIT) and Mario Murakami (CNPEM).



Two new publications in The ISME Journal

  • Biphasic cellular adaptations and ecological implications of Alteromonas macleodii degrading a mixture of algal polysaccharides (Link)


  • Polysaccharide utilization loci of North Sea Flavobacteriia as basis for using SusC/D-protein expression for predicting major phytoplankton glycans (Link)



Publication in The ISME Journal

In this study, we use environmental proteomics and metagenomics in combination with cultivation experiments and biochemical characterizations to investigate the molecular details of in situ polysaccharide degradation mechanisms during microalgal blooms. We show that highly specialized bacterial strains of the Bacteroidetes phylum repeatedly reached high abundances during North Sea algal blooms and dominated laminarin turnover. It was revealed that genome reduction, enzyme fusions, transporters and enzyme expansion, as well as a tight coupling of carbon- and nitrogen metabolism provide the tools, which make Formosa spp. so competitive during microalgal blooms (Link).


Photo: W. Rademacher/Wikipedia; CC-BY-SA 3.0

Retreat on the island of Norderney

For three days our group retreated to the island of Norderney, in the western part of the German Bight, one of our main research areas. We discussed the future directions of our scientific work. Besides, we took windsurfing lessions and explored the island by bike.


Successful PhD defense of Stefan Becker

Congratulation to Stefan Becker, who successfully defended his doctoral thesis with the title "Biocatalytic quantification of laminarin - a major carbohydrate polymer in the ocean".



Poster prize for Nadine Gerlach

Congratulation to Nadine Gerlach, who won the third poster prize during the 15th edition of the Summer Course Glycosciences in Wageningen (Netherlands) for her poster on the "Molecular enzymatic recycling of sulfated algal polysaccharides by marine microbes"



Publication in Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology

Biochemical characterization of an ulvan lyase from the marine flavobacterium Formosa agariphila KMM 3901 (Link)



Publication in Bio-Protocol

In the spirit of the open science movement and in order to further promote its application, we published an easy-to-use protocol of our method paper from 2017 (Link) on the open-access platform Bio-Protocol (Link).


Just published: Bacteria go vegetarian!

New publication in the Journal of Bacteriology (Link).



We welcome Alek Bolte as new technician in our group.


Jan-Hendrik Hehemann will talk at GRC

Jan-Hendrik Hehemann is going to give a talk at the Gordon Research Conference on Organic Geochemistry, which will take place from July 29 to August 3 at the Holderness School in Holderness, New Hampshire, United States


© T. Wilfried und Nature chemical biology

Publication in Nature Chemical Biology

The discovery of a new class of sugar demethylating enzymes from the P450 cytochrome monooxygenase family defines a mechanism to enhance bacterial agar degradation (Link).





Jan-Hendrik Hehemann will talk at UVIC

At 5th January 2018, Jan-Hendrik Hehemann is going to give a talk at the University of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada



We welcome Tina Trautmann as new technician in our group.


Publication in Protein Science

Crystal structure of a marine glycoside hydrolase family 99‐related protein lacking catalytic machinery (Link)


© S. Becker, MARUM

Retreat on the island of Neuwerk

For three days our group retreated to the island of Neuwerk, in the middle of the Wadden Sea National Park in the German Bight, one of our main research areas. We had fruitful discussions and were able to explore the Wadden Sea on foot.



We welcome Nadine Gerlach as new PhD student in our group.



Participation in the POMPU research project

The Hehemann Lab is taking part in the POMPU research project together with our partners at the Ernst-Moritz-Arndt-Universität in Greifswald, the Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology in Bremen and the Alfred-Wegener-Institute for Polar and Marine Research in Helgoland. The DFG research unit FOR 2406 (Proteogenomics Of Marine Polysaccharide Utilization (POMPU)) is working on mechanisms of bacterial polysaccharide utilization during marine phytoplankton blooms. Our task is the functional analysis of glycan-binding proteins and glycan transporters (Subproject A3). Link



NSERC Postdoctoral Fellowships awarded

Congratulations to Melissa Cid Robb and Craig Robb for both receiving Postdoctoral Fellowships of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC)!


Publication in Environmental Microbiology

Aquatic adaptation of a laterally acquired pectin degradation pathway in marine gammaproteobacteria (Link)



Plasmids deposited at the Addgene plasmid repository

February 2017: In our recent study (Link) we described two enzymes that are used for the fast, stereo and sequence specific analysis of laminarin in marine organic matter. The respective plasmid are now available at the Addgene plasmid repository. FaGH17A is a highly specific endo-β-1,3-glucanase hydrolyzing the β-1,3 glucose backbone of laminarin (Link), whereas FbGH30 is an exo-β-1,6-glucanase that removes the β-1,6-glucose side chains (Link).


Publication in Applied and Environmental Microbiology

February 2017: Marine algae produce varieties of glycans, which fulfill diverse biological functions and fuel the carbon and energy demand of heterotrophic microbes. However, the common approach to analyze marine organic matter using acid to hydrolyze its glycans into measurable monosaccharides does not distinguish between glycans in natural samples. Stefan Becker and colleagues developed a method to selectively digest and thereby quantify laminarin in particulate organic matter by using carbohydrate active enzymes from marine Flavobacteria. The results demonstrate the potential of enzymes as toolkits for faster, stereo and sequence specific analysis of select glycans in marine organic matter. (https://doi.org/10.1128/AEM.03389-16)