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The Symbiotic and Pathogenic Interactions (SPI) group studies diverse topics related to molecular mechanisms of host infection and survival of the symbiotic nitrogen-fixing bacterium Rhizobium etli and the opportunistic human pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa and the model bacterium Escherichia coli.

Prior to and during invasion, both symbiotic and pathogenic bacteria need to migrate across surfaces to reach their host and to withstand diverse biotic and abiotic stresses, often for prolonged periods of time. Upon sensing specific signals from their host, they differentiate to symbiotic or virulent forms leading to symbiotic nitrogen fixation at the benefit of both partners or to pathogenesis. We analyze fundamental processes contributing to symbiosis, pathogenesis or both. To this end, a combination of molecular genetic, high-throughput genomics and transcriptomics, and microscopic techniques are used. With these results, we aim at contributing to the improvement of the symbiotic interaction between rhizobia and legumes and to the discovery of novel antibacterials.

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