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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 human pathogenic bacteria, such as Salmonella enterica, Escherichia coli, Campylobacter spp., Listeria monocytogenes, Yersinia enterocolitica, Shigella spp., and the lung pathogen Legionella pneumophila. Salmonella, intestinal pathogenic E. coli, Listeria and Legionella are of special interest. Expertise with respect to taxonomy and epidemiology is also provided for other Enterobacteriaceae.

At the unit of Enteropathogenic Bacteria and Legionella laboratory-based epidemiological surveillance of relevant microbial agents of gastroenteritis is performed. Further, pathogen change and evolution, new occurrence and disappearance of epidemic clones, as well as development of antibiotic resistance are analyzed by means of classical and molecular tools. In addition, virulence and persistence strategies are studied.

The National Reference Centre for Salmonella and other Bacterial Enterics is embedded within unit 11. It provides information for the German public health service (ÖGD) and medical doctors on the above mentioned pathogens including their diagnostics and support for epidemioilogical analyses of respective infections.


  • Laboratory-based surveillance of food-borne bacterial intestinal pathogens with emphasis on Salmonella and EHEC
  • Laboratory-based epidemiological investigations of epidemics, expert statements and opinions in cooperation with other Public Health authorities to support on request other Public Health authorities in outbreak investigations and the elucidation of infection routes and sources
  • Pathogen subtyping by means of classical and molecular methods
  • Analysis of pathogen properties and identification of indicators for improved pathogen diagnostics.
  • Analysis of antibiotic resistance properties of selected pathogens
  • Analysis of pathogenicity and virulence strategies of selected bacterial pathogens, especially characterization of virulence gene profiles and secreted proteins
  • Analysis of persistence strategies of selected bacterial pathogens including analysis of the viable but non-culturable state and the ability to colonize environmental amoeba


  • Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) consortium "Food-borne human zoonotic infections" (FBI-Zoo)
  • BMBF consortium "Profiling Pathogen-host interactomes coordinating Legionella survival strategies" (LegioProTect)
  • Virulence mechanisms analysis of the lung pathogen Legionella pneumophila including projects funded by Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG)
  • Molecular virulence mechanisms of Listeria monocytogenes including projects funded by DFG and German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD)
  • Molecular analysis of pathogen persistence including the viable but non-culturable (VBNC) state in Salmonella, EHEC, and Legionella including projects funded by BMBF
  • Participation in the intensified Listeria monocytogenes surveillance, project: molecular epidemiological investigation of L. monocytogenes isolates from human infections
  • Contact Point of the Food- and Water-borne Diseases (FWD) commission of the European Centre for Disease Control (ECDC)
  • Network for diagnostics of enteric infections

Date: 22.04.2013