New IBL-professor in Ultrastructural Biology: Ariane Briegel
Ariane Briegel has been appointed Professor in the fìeld of Ultrastructural Biology within the Faculty of Science at the Institute of Biology from the 1st of December 2015. Her expertise is in using electron cryotomography to study how microbes sense and respond to their environment.
Education and research
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.
“The unique environment at Leiden University, with the Netherlands Centre for Electron Nanoscopy (NeCEN) embedded within the Institute of Biology (IBL), provides access to world-class electron cryomicroscopy equipment as well as access to biological expertise of outstanding research groups in microbiology and host-pathogen interactions” – Dr. Prof. A. Briegel
By the time Briegel’s postdoctoral training was complete in 2010, electron cryotomography was becoming established in the scientific community as a uniquely powerful tool to investigate the three-dimensional cellular ultrastructure at macromolecular resolution with minimal preparative artifacts. However, the number of laboratories that had access to such expensive and specialized equipment was still limited. She decided to stay at Caltech, as a Research Specialist, where she had access to several of the world’s best electron microscopes. Briegel established and lead a prokaryotic chemotaxis subgroup within the Jensen laboratory.
New direction: native environments
Ariane Briegel will continue her work on chemoreceptor arrays at the IBL and will pursue a new line of research to understand bacterial ultrastructure in native environments. So far, studies of bacterial ultrastructure have largely been limited to bacterial cells grown in liquid monocultures. But an increasing number of studies demonstrate that bacteria undergo radical morphological changes depending on environmental conditions.