Jan-Ulrich Kreft
Abteilung für Theoretische Biologie der Universität Bonn

Portrait of me in front of our Institute

Foto: Frank Darchinger

Final news

I have moved to the University of Birmingham, UK (not Alabama), to join the new Centre for Systems Biology as a Lecturer in Computational Biology in September 2007.

I am now looking back on six enjoyable years in Wolfgang Alt's group of Theoretical Biology, a time in which I diversified my research agenda and made a couple of interesting contributions to science, such as the evolution of altruism in biofilms, the evolution of metabolic division of labour in nitrification, and the effect of spatial structure on cell-cell communication by autoinducer sensing.

My new address is:
Dr Jan-Ulrich Kreft
Centre for Systems Biology
School of Biosciences
University of Birmingham
Birmingham B15 2TT, UK
Phone: +44 (0)121 41-48851
Fax: +44 (0)121 41-48844
Email: j.kreft@bham.ac.uk

For more recent information, please visit my new fledgling web site.

Brief History

After school, I wanted to do something useful during my "Zivildienst" (community service) and helped the German nature conservation organisation "Naturschutzbund" for 18 months.

I studied Biology at the University of Surrey, Guildford, UK (1985), the University of Konstanz, Germany (1985-1987), and the University of Tübingen, Germany (1987-1990).

During my "Diplom" (1990-1991) and PhD thesis (1991-1995), and as a Postdoc (1995-1996) with Bernhard Schink's group, I investigated the physiology and biochemistry of a new anaerobic isolate that intrigued me because of its unusual properties. Previously, no bacterium was known to couple O2-independent ether cleavage with the production of dimethyl sulfide from inorganic sulfide. This fascinating bacterium furthermore combines two pathways, demethylation and ring degradation, that were known from its competitors, into one longer pathway, which yields more ATP, but the bacteria grow more slowly than the competitors that only demethylate or only degrade the aromatic ring. I did not understand why this bacterium grows more slowly during my work in the Schink lab, but many years later while at Bonn, I came across kinetic theory that can in fact explain this observation.

At the end of my PhD, I stumbled over a book on the Complex Adaptive Systems and Artificial Life research carried out at the Santa Fe Institute. This sparked my interest in computer simulations of ecological scenarios and I decided to go into individual-based modelling.

My aim in joining Julian Wimpenny in Cardiff (1997-2001) was to establish Individual-based Modelling (IbM) in Microbial Ecology. The first step was to prove that IbM of bacteria is feasible by writing an IbM of colony growth of Escherichia coli, which I called BacSim. As the next step, I extended this model to multi-species, multi-substrate biofilms, choosing nitrification as a simple example of a foodchain. Later, I included Extracellular Polymeric Substance (EPS) formation in the model.

Following my move to Wolfgang Alt's TheoBio group here at the University of Bonn in September 2001, I have continued to work on IbM of biofilms and begun to teach Mathematical Modelling in Ecology, Evolution, and Microbiology. My research areas have expanded and I work on many interesting problems, such as the evolution of cooperation and altruism in biofilms, the explanation of metabolic division of labour by kinetic theory of optimal pathway length, the individual-based modelling of horizontal gene transfer in biofilms, the osmoregulation by production of compatible solutes in halophilic bacteria, the growth of Salmonella in eggs, the evolution of diversity in biofilms, the image analysis of confocal laser scanning microscopy time series, and the dynamics of cell-cell contact and aggregation of bacteria in biofilms.

Here is my CV for download

Address: Jan-Ulrich Kreft, Theoretical Biology, Institute of Molecular and Cellular Botany, University of Bonn, Kirschallee 1, D-53115 Bonn, Germany, Tel.: +49 228 73-2081, Fax: +49 228 73-5513, Email: kreft@uni-bonn.de, Web: http://www.theobio.uni-bonn.de/people/jan_kreft/