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, 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
  • H. Babel and I. B. Bischofs
    Molecular and cellular factors control signal transduction via switchable allosteric modulator proteins (SAMPs)
    BMC Systems Biology 10:35, 2016
  • 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

Max Planck Tag: Wie kann man Bakterien wachküssen?

Contact: E-Mail (Last update: 28/01/2020)

Ilka Bischofs

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

Research News


Read about our latest research on B.subtilis spores here (oder lieber auf deutsch hier).

Selected as the paper of the month by SubtiWiki.

The link to the paper is here.

Watch all videos here.

Read the "Behind the paper" blog here.

Research in collaborations

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


Benedikt Steinfeld has contributed to a review article on Phenotypic heterogeneity in bacterial quorum sensing systems together with the labs of Anke Becker and Wolfgang Streit. Journal of Molecular Biology, 431 (23), 4530 -4546


Charlotte Kaspar has received a FEMS Travel Award for attending the European Spores Conference in Naples. Congratulations!



Theresa Fink has joined the lab for her Master thesis.


Ilka Bischofs and Jürgen Lassak have been elected as Speakers of the VAAM Study Section Regulation and Signal Transduction in Prokaryotes.


Coming up: Minisymposium on  in Moonlighting Proteins and Promiscuous Enzymes at the VAAM General Meeting in Leipzig on March 9th. It is organized by F. Commichau and J. Lassak!


September 2020: Summer School on Gene Regulation in Heidelberg organized by I. Bischofs, T. Mignot and J. Lassak


Lab News: BacStream

Theresa Kordaß launches the database BacStream.

Thanks also to Stephi Trauth and Bernhard Kordaß and all µCATs for their contributions!