University of Heidelberg

Ilka Bischofs

Phone: +49 6221 54 51365
Email: ilka.bischofs(at)
BioQuant, INF 267, Room 602

Research News

Spore formation: more or better?

Read about or recent work on Bacillus life cycle strategies in the MPG news (oder auf deutsch).

The ISME J., 14, 2703-2714 (2020)

Congrats to Alper Mutlu and Charlotte Kaspar for their excellent work.


Resarch News

Ratio-sensing in bacterial populations

Read the press release about our latest research on bacterial cell-cell communication systems here (oder lieber auf deutsch hier).

Nature Communications 11, 1176, 2020.

Congratulations to former PhD student Heiko Babel and Pablo Naranjo for their excellent work!

Von den Grundlagen zur Anwendung

Ein Artikel im BioSpektrum beschreibt unsere Erkenntnisse zur Sporenbildung und deren Bedeutung für die Biotechnologie.

Research in collaborations

Check out the preprint on our methane project headed by Master student Leonard Ernst in collaboration with the labs of F. Keppler and D. Grimm.


Charlotte Kaspar has contributed to a study on Pervasive prophage recombination during evolution of spore-forming Bacilli headed by Anna Dragos from the lab of A. Kovacs. ISME J, 15, 1344–1358 (2021)


New Bachelor students Charlotte Westhoven and Daniel Wies have joined the lab.

The Bischofs lab studies complex adaptive traits (CATs) of stressed bacteria. Our goals are to understand, to control and to engineer such traits. Using tools from molecular biology, microscopy and mathematical modelling we investigate how signaling networks regulate CATs. We seek to reveal fundamental organizing principles that relate the molecular network design to population-level behavior and vice versa. This should facilitate rational manipulations of bacterial populations and the implementation of novel functionalities into “smart” communities in the future.

Our research specfically focuses on beneficial, spore-forming and industrially relevant Bacilli. We study the formation and the revival of endospores. We also investigate bacterial communication networks that regulate the production of stress-associated secondary metabolites which have beneficial effects on the lifes of plants, animals and humans. With our basic research findings we open up new ways to control bacterial populations and to engineer them for biotechnological applications.

The µCATs Lab is an independent Research Group of the MPI for Terrestrial Microbiology. We work in close collaboration with other groups from the BioQuant and the University of Heidelberg and also enjoy collaborating with external groups.

 Selected Publications

  • A. Mutlu, C. Kaspar, N. Becker and I. B. Bischofs
    A spore quality-quantity tradeoff favors diverse sporulation strategies in B. subtilis
    ISME J, 14, 2703-2714, 2020
  • H. Babel, P. Naranjo-Meneses, S. Trauth, S. Schulmeister, G. Malengo, V. Sourjik and I. B. Bischofs
    Ratiometric population sensing by a pump-probe signaling system in Bacillus subtilis
    Nature Communications 11, 1176, 2020
  • A. Mutlu, S. Trauth, M. Ziesack, K. Nagler, J. Bergeest, K. Rohr, N. Becker, T. Höfer and I. B. Bischofs
    Phenotypic memory in Bacillus subtilis links dormancy entry and exit by a spore quantity-quality tradeoff
    Nature Communications 9:69, 2018

Max Planck Tag: Wie kann man Bakterien wachküssen?

Contact: E-Mail (Last update: 04/05/2021)