Research

In the Briegel lab, we are interested in understanding how microbes sense and respond to their environment. How are the cells able to actively seek out their preferred environmental niches, how can they effectively evade toxins and predators, and how can they adapt to thrive in changing environments?

In order to gain insight into the structure and function of the molecular complexes involved in these behaviors, we use electron cryotomography (ECT). This technique allows us to directly study microbes in their native state at resolutions capable of visualizing individual proteins.

Research areas View publicationsCollaborators

research

People

Ariane Briegel

Professor

As part of Briegel’s masters studies in biology at the Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich, she received in-depth training in traditional electron microscopy techniques. For her doctoral thesis, Briegel joined the laboratory of Wolfgang Baumeister in Martinsried, Germany. As a PhD student she investigated the structure and function of prokaryotic macromolecular complexes in situ. After completing her PhD, Ariane Briegel joined the laboratory of Professor Grant Jensen at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech, Pasadena, CA, USA) as a postdoctoral fellow, where she continued her research in electron cryotomography as a tool for understanding microbial ultrastructure.

Wen Yang

Graduate Student

I have an interdisciplinary educational background including a bachelor’s degree in pharmacy and a master’s degree in biomedical engineering. Nevertheless,...

Wen Yang

Graduate Student

I have an interdisciplinary educational background including a bachelor’s degree in pharmacy and a master’s degree in biomedical engineering. Nevertheless, in recent years I have been involved in a series of research projects with a shared focus within life science and biology, from pharmacodynamics studies aiming for target drug release to revealing the molecular mechanism of functional amyloid polymerization in bacteria. In the past two years my primary research focus has been on the “structure and assembly of functional amyloids.” Through this research I have come to realize how exciting, yet challenging, it is to reveal the structure and function of proteins, because this can not be accomplished without a complex set of expertise and techniques and through extensive collaboration across various disciplines.

Eveline Ultee

Graduate Student with the Claessen and Briegel labs

In the past years I have obtained a Bachelor’s degree and Master’s degree in biology. As a result of...

Eveline Ultee

Graduate Student with the Claessen and Briegel labs

In the past years I have obtained a Bachelor’s degree and Master’s degree in biology. As a result of my study program, I have gained a broad educational background in research related to health and disease. I got the chance to participate in divers research projects: from a project investigating the effect of oral bacteria on cell proliferation in the human oral cavity, to research focussing on the role of genes in the Campylobacter chemotaxis system. The researchers and experts I have got the opportunity to work with inspired me and gave me an insight into the numerous challenges and possibilities that lay within microbiological research.

Susanne Brenzinger

Postdoc

I started my bachelor training in cellular and molecular biology at the University of Osnabrueck, Germany, in 2005 and was...

Susanne Brenzinger

Postdoc

I started my bachelor training in cellular and molecular biology at the University of Osnabrueck, Germany, in 2005 and was immediately drawn to the question of how microbes are capable solving a multitude of tasks with only the tools that are available in one single cell. After a brief excursion into the area of human genetics, I continued my training (now towards the master degree) at the Philipp University of Marburg, Germany, where I joined the lab of Kai Thormann in 2011 to study physiological aspects of the flagellar motor in γ-proteobacteria. For my PhD thesis, I continued to work with Prof. Thormann (since 2013 at the University of Giessen, Germany), now also focusing on questions related to cell polarity and chemotaxis. My PhD studies have further cemented my interest in bacterial cell physiology, which I now seek to understand and analyze in more detail and with higher resolution at the Briegel lab. To do so I received a fellowship in 2017 funded by the German National Academy of Science Leopoldina.

Jamie Depelteau

Graduate Student

After receiving my bachelor’s degree in microbiology and cell sciences from the University of Florida, I continued my education at...

Jamie Depelteau

Graduate Student

After receiving my bachelor’s degree in microbiology and cell sciences from the University of Florida, I continued my education at The Ohio State University where I earned a master’s degree in education and completed three years of biomedical science graduate coursework and research. Most recently at the University of California, Berkeley, I had multiple roles including researcher, lecturer, and manager for undergraduate affairs. My research experiences range from genetic and cellular studies of animal models of disease to employing genome editing to generate cell lines that facilitate the study of actin nucleation and how intracellular pathogens hijack this process. My current research interests include understanding the fundamental mechanisms that regulate host-pathogen interactions, specifically how bacteria adjust to changes in the host environment. The Briegel research group and the Institute of Biology provide the tools, expertise, and support to do this with unprecedented clarity.

Equipment

Electron Tomography (ECT)

Cellular electron cryotomography allows the study of individual microbial cells in their native state and in three dimensions at macromolecular resolutions. Our experiments rely on highly sophisticated and specialised equipment.

We have access to the electron microscopes at the NeCEN, the dutch cryo-electron microscopy center located in the Biology Institute of the Leiden University. The available instruments include 2 TITAN Krios microscopes with state-of-the-art equipment for highest quality data collection, as well as a fully equipped sample preparation laboratory.

Location

Leiden is a city and municipality in the Dutch province of South Holland. The municipality of Leiden has a population of 122,565, but the city forms one densely connected agglomeration with its suburbs Oegstgeest, Leiderdorp, Voorschoten and Zoeterwoude with around 190,000 inhabitants. Leiden is located on the Old Rhine, at a distance of some 20 kilometres (12 miles) from The Hague to its south and some 40 kilometres (25 miles) from Amsterdam to its north. The recreational area of the Kaag Lakes (Kagerplassen) lies just to the northeast of Leiden.