Group Michael Lebert


Photo- and graviorientation of flagellates

Our group is interested in the molecular understanding of the sensing of light and gravity in single cells. As a model system for this research we use Euglena gracilis, a unicellular, motile, photosynthetic flagellate. Euglena uses light and gravity as environmental hints to reach and stay in regions optimal for growth and reproduction. It uses a highly sophisticated sensoric system for the orientational movements, namely photo- and gravitaxis. For the analysis of these systems we use a whole wealth of methods covering physiology, biochemistry and molecular biology. In addition, the experimental access of gravitaxis requires the manipulation of gravity which can only be done in space. We were and are involved in numerous space missions including TEXUS and MAXUS (ballistic rockets), FOTON and SHENZHOU (Russian and Chinese orbiting satellites) and the International Space Station. Furthermore we use parabolic flights to do short term experiments.

Especially for the long-term missions, but also in ground research we are using Controlled Environmental Systems (CES) which we develop in collaboration with the University of Hohenheim (Prof. Hibig) and an industrial partner (Kayser-Threde, Munich, Germany). These systems are the result of a fascinating mix of hardware and software development and a close understanding of the biology of Euglena, fish, snails, Daphnia, bacteria and higher plants.

For further information’s please contact us.


Dr. Peter Richter
Dr. Sebastian M. Strauch

Ferdinand Haag