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Unit 11: Enteropathogenic Bacteria and Legionella

Antje Flieger
Angelika Fruth

The unit of Enteropathogenic Bacteria and Legionella (unit 11) analyzes important food- and water-borne bacteria pathogenic to humans, such as Salmonella (S.) enterica (including S. Typhi and S. Paratyphi), Escherichia coli, Campylobacter spp., Listeria monocytogenes, Yersinia enterocolitica, Shigella spp., and the lung pathogen Legionella pneumophila. Unit 11 also provides diagnostic methods for the taxonomic analysis and outbreak detection for other Enterobacteriaceae. For the analysis of Vibrio cholerae isolates, the RKI Unit ZBS 2 – Highly pathogenic Microorganisms should be contacted.

Unit 11 performs laboratory-based epidemiological surveillance of the aforementioned gastrointestinal pathogens, deals with the molecular analysis of pathogen evolution and traces the appearance of emerging clones. The characterization of epidemic clones and antibiotic resistance monitoring are also among its main objectives. Another important focus is the investigation of virulence, resistance and persistence strategies of gastrointestinal bacteria and of Legionella.

The National Reference Centre for Salmonella and other enteric pathogens and the Consultant Laboratory for Listeria are embedded within unit 11. Both provide information for the German public health service (ÖGD) and medical doctors on the above-mentioned pathogens including their diagnostics and also provide support for epidemiological analyses.

Pathogen surveillance and epidemiology


  • Surveillance of clinical strain populations of gastrointestinal bacterial pathogens by subtyping using classical, molecular and genome sequence-based methods,
  • Determination of pathogen subtypes and detection of infection clusters through whole genome sequencing for linking these data with epidemiological information in the framework of the Integrated Genomic Surveillance program (IGS),
  • Molecular-epidemiological analysis of outbreaks in cooperation with the RKI Unit 35– Gastrointestinal Infections, Zoonoses and Tropical Infections, the public health service (ÖGD), pathogen surveillance networks (e. g. migenomesurv), National Food and Animal authorities, the European Food- and Waterborne Diseases and Zoonoses Network (FWD-Net) of the European Center for Disease Control and Prevention (ECDC),
  • Identification of pathogen attributes and markers to improve diagnostics and risk profiling,
  • Monitoring and analysis of the development of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) for selected gastrointestinal pathogens and reporting though GERMAP


  • Analysis of virulence mechanisms of the lung pathogen Legionella pneumophila (including DFG funded projects, e. g. Priority Program SPP 2225 "Exit of Intracellular pathogens")
  • Growth, spread and virulence of Listeria monocytogenes (including projects funded by the DFG, the BMG and other funding agencies)
  • Analysis of pathogenicity, growth, spread and persistence as well as epidemic virulence of further pathogens handled in unit 11
  • DFG project MISSIoN "Multidrug resistant invasive non-typhoidal Salmonella (NTS) disease in children: The role of carriage in humans and environmental contamination in an endemic setting in Kenya" (2021-2024)
  • BMG project GenoSalmSurv "Integrated genome-based surveillance of Salmonella" (2019-2023)
  • EU-JPI-AMR project HECTOR (2018-2022)
  • BMG project IGS (2023-2025)
  • BMG project "9-Punkte-Plan" (2021-2024)



Unit 11 scientists are involved in different teaching activities of the TU Braunschweig and the University of Magdeburg. We offer topics for scientific theses for students of biology, biochemistry, human biology and related degree programs. Please simply contact us, if you are interested.

Date: 08.12.2023