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.

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
  • D. Wolf, V. Rippa, J.C. Mobarec, P.Sauer, L. Adlung, P. Kolb and I. B. Bischofs
    The quorum sensing regulator ComA from Bacillus subtilis activates transcription using topologically distinct DNA motifs
    Nucleic Acids Research 44, No.5, 2160-2172, 2016

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Contact: E-Mail (Last update: 24/11/2020)

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

Charlotte Kaspar has contributed to an interesting study on evolution by phage recombination in sporulating Bacilli headed by Anna Dragos from the lab of A. Kovacs. BioArXiv


Katja Nagler has contributed to exciting research of the Joazeiro lab on proteolysis in ribosome-associated quality control in B. subtilis. Cell, 178(1),76-90, 2019


Theresa Fink has completed her Master thesis in Systems Biology.



Tamara Schmidt has joined the lab for an internship.