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Manuel Kleiner

Asst Professor

Microbiomes and Complex Microbial Communities Cluster


Thomas Hall 4510B


Area(s) of Expertise

Microbial communities are ubiquitous in all environments on Earth that support life, and they play crucial roles in global biogeochemical cycles, plant and animal health, and biotechnological processes. However, most microbial species from a given habitat cannot be cultured and thus cannot be experimentally characterized in the laboratory. Therefore, to study environmental microbes we rely on so-called cultivation-independent methods that allow us to study microorganisms directly in their environment.

We study the metabolism, physiology, and evolutionary ecology of microbial symbioses and uncultured microorganisms. To this end we develop and use cultivation-independent approaches such as metagenomics, metaproteomics, and metabolomics, as well as more targeted approaches such as enzyme assays, single-cell imaging methods, and stable isotope-based experiments. We combine the study of uncultured microorganisms with genetic, molecular, and biochemical studies on cultivable microorganisms to gain an in-depth understanding of specific metabolic pathways and physiological strategies.

The current projects focus on:

  • factors governing energy efficiency of metabolism in free-living and symbiotic bacteria, looking specifically at a novel CO2¬†fixation pathway
  • the role of horizontal gene transfer in the metabolic evolution of bacterial symbionts
  • development of cutting-edge methods for microbial community analyses focusing on metagenomics and high-end mass spectrometry based metaproteomics


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Ph.D., Marine Microbiology, Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology, Germany (2012)
Diplom, Biology, University of Greifswald, Germany (2008)