Prof. Dr. Matthias Ullrich

Molecular Plant Microbiology
School of Science
Constructor University Bremen gGmbH
Campus Ring 6 / 28759 Bremen / Germany
Phone number
+49 421 200-3245
Fax number
+49 421 200-3249
Email Address
Research II, Room 60
Research Interests

Our research in Molecular Microbiology at the Dept. of Life Sciences and Chemistry of Jacobs University can be summarized as such: We are working on Frontiers in Microbiology, Plant Sciences and Marine Sciences. From Cocoa Metabolomics via Diatom-Bacteria Interactions, Vibrio in Seawater/Oysters, and Antibiotics Research to Bioactivity of Rhododendron - what unifies our attempts are heterotrophic bacteria interacting with phototrophic eukaryotes.

In individual research projects, we study the proteome(s) and genome(s) of plants and developed a number of genetically accessible model systems for plant-bacteria interactions. This included analyzing the role(s) of exopolymer synthesis and bacterial attachment, of regulatory proteins and metabolic pathways important for the interactions, of plant defense elicitor such as the phytotoxin coronatine as well as of plant-borne substances affecting bacterial cells and their multidrug efflux pumps. Finally we focus on the importance of (bioactive) compounds synthesized during the fermentation and processing of cocoa beans. In order to get all these amazing analyses making sense, we cooperate with dedicated high-tech data science specialists and experts in high-resolution chemistry.

University Education
  • Diploma: 1990 in Biology / Major: Microbiology - Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena / Germany 
  • Ph.D.: 1992 in Microbiology - Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena / Germany and Max-Planck-Institute for Medical Research Heidelberg, Germany
  • Habilitation: 2000 in Microbiology - Phillips-University Marburg / Germany
Fellowships and Awards
  • Graduate Student Fellowship, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena              1989-1992
  • Chemical Industry Foundation Fellowship                                                 1991
  • German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) Postdoctoral Fellowship   1992-1994
  • DAAD Short-term Lectureship India                                                           2004
  • Professor of the Year-Award 2006/2007, Jacobs University Bremen         2007
  • DAAD Short-term Lectureship Uzbekistan                                                 2008
  • Professor of the Year-Award 2008/2009, Jacobs University Bremen        2009
  • Honorary Professorship, Amity University, Uttar Pradesh, India                2021
Research and Teaching Positions
  • since 2002:       Professorship at Jacobs University Bremen (annual or semester-long lectures)
Undergraduate Teaching (all once a year):
  1.  Microbiology (5 ECTS, 50-60 students)
  2.  Plant Metabolism and Natural Products Methods Course (5 ECTS, 60-70 students)
  3.  Microbiology Laboratory Course (2.5 ECTS, 30-40 students) 
  4.  Microbial Pathogenicity (2.5 ECTS, 50-60 students)
  5.  BSc Thesis supervision (taught jointly with 3 colleagues and 30-40 students)
Supervised PhD theses (31 completed and 2 running)
Funded Projects
Grants the last 10 years:
  1. Industry cooperation Cabosse N.V. “Peptide Research on Cocoa III”, two postdoctoral fellows (2021-2023).
  2. Bremer Aufbaubank BioActPhyt “Nachhaltige Entwicklung natürlicher bioaktiver Phytoextrakte aus Lebensmittelabfällen zur Anwendung in der alternativen Hygienetechnology“, one graduate students (2020-2022).
  3. Industry cooperation Cabosse N.V. “Turning Knowledge to Profit – Peptide Research on Cocoa II”, three postdoctoral fellows (2020-2021).
  4. Industry cooperation Barry Callebaut AG “Cocoa Metabolomics”, Extension, one postdoctoral fellow, two technician positions (2020-2023).
  5. Industry cooperation Cabosse N.V. “Peptide Research on Cocoa I”, one postdoctoral fellow (2018-2019).
  6. DFG grant UL 169/6-2 extension proposal, “Molecular Dissection of Bacteria-Diatom Interactions”, one graduate student (2016-2019).
  7. DFG-ANR grant UL 169/7-1 “Impact of environmental changes on coastal pathogen systems (ENVICOPAS), one graduate student (2016-2019).
  8. Incentive Fund MARUM, University of Bremen “Sustainable Deep-Sea Mining Initiative, MARUM-Jacobs University Bremen, one graduate student (2015-2018).
  9. Industry cooperation Barry Callebaut AG “Cocoa Metabolomics”, two graduate student positions, one technician position (2014-2020).
  10. Research cooperation, Stiftung Rhododendronpark e.V. “Detection and identification of bio-active compounds from the genus Rhododendron”, two graduate students (2012-2015).
  11. Helmholtz Foundation grant POLMAR “Proteomics in marine bacteriology”, one graduate student (2012-2015).
  12. DFG grant UL 169/6-1 “Molecular characterization of the aggregate formation-inducing interaction between Marinobacter adhaerens HP15 and the diatom, Thalassiosira weissflogii”, one graduate student (2012-2015). Renewal applied for in Jan 2016 – request for two graduate students.
  13. Industry cooperation Phytolutions GmbH “Antiviral activities of marine microalgae interacting with bacteria”, one postdoctoral fellow (2009-2012).
  14. Helmholz Foundation grant POLMAR “Molecular Analysis of diatom-bacteria interactions”, one graduate student (2009-2012).
  15. DFG grant UL 169/5-1 “Transcriptional regulation, differential secretion, and eco-physiological function(s) of levansucrase in the plant pathogen, Pseudomonas syringae”, one postdoctoral fellow and one graduate student (2009-2012).
 Grants 1996-2007: more than 15 third-party fundings
Selected Publications

(over the last 10 years) 

  • Rohit Dey, Franziska Ortiz Tena, Song Wang, Josef Martin Messmann, Christian Steinweg, Claudia Thomsen, Clemens Posten, Stefan Leu, Matthias S. Ullrich, Laurenz Thomsen. 2023. Exploring advanced phycoremediation strategies for resource recovery from secondary wastewater using a large scale photobioreactor. Bioresource Technology 391, 129986 (2023)
  • Jean-Baptiste Raina , Marco Giardina1, Douglas R. Brumley, Peta L. Clode, Mathieu Pernice, Paul Guagliardo, Jeremy Bougoure,Himasha Mendis, Steven Smriga, Eva C. Sonnenschein, Matthias S. Ullrich, Roman Stocker & Justin R. Seymour.  Chemotaxis increases metabolic exchanges between marine picophytoplankton and heterotrophic bacteria. nature microbiology. Published 09.02.2023 doi: 10.1038/s41564-023-01327-9 (2023)
  • Vincent Ninkuu, Jianpei Yan, Zenchao Fu, Tengfeng Yang, James Ziemah, Matthias S Ullrich, Nikolai Kuhnert, Hongmei Zeng. Lignin and Its Pathway-Associated Phytoalexins Modulate Plant Defense against Fungi.    Journal of Fungy, 2022 Dec 29;9(1):52.    doi: 10.3390/jof9010052. (2022)





Other Professional Activities
  • American Society for Microbiology, USA
  • International Society for Molecular Plant-Microbe Interactions,USA
  • Deutsche Phytomedizinische Gesellschaft, Germany
  • Vereinigung für Allgemeine und Angewandte Mikrobiologie, Germany
  • Faculty and 2nd Speaker, International Max Planck Research School “Marine Microbiology”
  • Scientific Advisory Board Stiftung Rhododendronpark Bremen
  • Scientific Advisory Board Botanika Bremen – Green Science Center, Bremen
Work Experience
  • 1991-1992        Research Associate, Max-Planck-Institute for Medical Research, Heidelberg
  • 1992-1996        Postdoctoral Research Associate, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, OK, USA
  • 1996-2002        Head of the Independent Research Group „Ecophysiology“, Max-Planck-Institute for Terrestrial Microbiology, Marburg.
  • 2000                  Habilitation (venia legendi) in Microbiology, Philipps-University Marburg.
  • since 2002        Full Professor (C4) for Microbiology, Jacobs University Bremen.
  • since 2006        Vice Speaker of the International Max Planck Research School for Marine Microbiology Bremen
  • 2011-2015        Speaker, Molecular Life Science Research Center, Jacobs University
  • since 2012        Project coordinator, Rhododendron Biochemistry Research, Jacobs University
  • since 2014        Project head, Cocoa Metabolomics Research, Barry Callebaut – Jacobs University