Thomas Böttcher

Thomas Böttcher

© Inka Reiter

The human body is colonized by a great number of microorganisms that play important roles in both physiological and disease-related processes. These microorganisms are in turn attacked by numerous and diverse viruses. Viruses only infecting bacteria are called phages. They often exist in a latent form as prophages, in which they become an integral part of the genome of the bacterial cell. Prophages can be passively copied with each division of the host cell and have beneficial effects on bacterial populations. Under certain conditions, however, these prophages become active and use the cell as a factory for new virus particles, which ultimately destroy the cell and infect new host cells. As part of the ERC Consolidator Project CAPSID, Thomas Böttcher and his team are investigating which chemical substances control the transition of phages from the latent to the active state and how this can be used, for example, to develop alternatives to antibiotics.