The research group Microscale Bioengineering, headed by Dr. Dietrich Kohlheyer, was founded in 2010 at the institute IBG-1:Biotechnology at the Forschungszentrum Jülich. Research is focusing on the development and application of novel microfluidic cultivation systems and time-lapse microscopy for microbial single cell analysis, with a strong focus on applications in biotechnology. Since 2014 the group has the status of a Helmholtz Young Investigator group. Together with the AVT at RWTH Aachen University a Junior professorship has been established.
Microbial cultures are often confronted with inhomogeneous and highly dynamic environments. These environmental factors often trigger the occurrence of severe population heterogeneity, allowing cells in nature to cope with changing and complex conditions. Applying classical analysis it is nearly impossible to unravel these phenomena correctly. To overcome this limitation the group is developing specifically tailored microfluidic structures, the size of several micrometers and smaller, to cultivate single cells and isogenic colonies under very well defined conditions. Full spatial and temporal resolution at the single cell level is achieved by automated microscopy and subsequent image analysis.