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Dr. Laura Steindler (Head of the Lab) Dr laura Steindler


Dr. Rinat Bar Shalom (Lab manager) Dr. Rinat Bar Shalom


I culture representative isolates of dominant groups of oligotrophic marine bacteria (e.g. SAR11, Verrucomicrobia) that we have isolated from the Eastern Mediterranean Sea to study their physiologic and genomic adaptations to the ultra-oligotrophic conditions typical of this marine region. Further, I work on sponge bacterial isolates that contain gene clusters involved in the production of secondary metabolites, to determine the growth conditions that regulate the expression of genes of biotechnological interest.
Dr. Markus Haber (post-doc) Dr. Markus Haber (post-doc)


My current research interests are in environmental microbiology, microbial ecology and physiology. I am working on two systems:
  • Host-microbe interactions – by comparative genomics I aim to find general and lineage specific adaptations to life of symbionts inside marine sponges.
  • Bacterial photoheterotrophy - Using diverse culture-dependent and –independent approaches my aim is to analyze the abundances, dynamics and functional roles of photoheterotrophy in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea.
Maya Britstein (PhD student)  Maya Britstein (PhD student)


The aim of my research is to understand molecular mechanisms underlying host-microbe interactions using the facultative association with the sponge Petrosia ficiformis with the endocellular photosynthetic Candidatus Synechococcus feldmannii, as a model system. 
Ilia Burgsdorf (PhD student)    Ilia Burgsdorf (PhD student)


More than 25 phyla of bacteria compose the unique microbiome of one of the oldest metazoans on Earth, sponges.  Host-symbiont, symbiont-symbiont and phage-symbiont interactions within this complex holobiont (sponge-host and related microbes) are of great interest because of their long evolutionary history and genomic singularity. My study involves both bioinformatic (comparative genomics, metagenomic analyses) and molecular (genetic engineering) approaches. 
Zoya Harbuzova (PhD student) Zoya Picture


Faunistics and ecological aspects of the deep sea benthic free living nematode communities in the Mediterranean coast of Israel and their microbiome (co-supervised with Dr. Hadas Lubinevsky, IOLR).
Matan Lahyani (MSc student) Matan Lahyani (MSc student)


Isolating and culturing novel oligotrophic bacteria from the Eastern Mediterranean Sea in view of further investigation that can provide a better understanding of element cycling in the marine ecosystem. Further I am interested in cellular mechanisms involved in starvation-survival in the wide-spread marine oligotroph Candidatus Pelagibacter ubique .
Sofia Sizikov (MSc student) Sofia Sizikov
Cyanobacterial symbionts of marine sponges have general adaptations to life inside the sponge. One of the suggested mechanisms of adaptation is the common absence of genes involved in synthesis of O-antigen in these symbionts (Burgsdorf et al., MBio 2015). In this project, I try to understand the role of O-antigen in cyanobacteria-sponge symbiosis by preventing its expression in free-living cyanobacteria.     



Previous post-doctoral fellows

Dr. Kumar Saurav               Presently post-doctoral fellow at Algatech, T?ebo?, Czech Republic


Previous MSc & PhD studentss 

Vadim Dubinski (MSc)         Thesis: Sub-mesoscale structuring of marine microbial communities. Now PhD student at Tel Aviv University, Laboratory of Uri Gophna.

Maya Britstein (MSc)           N-acyl homoserine lactone quorum sensing in the association between marine sponges and their symbiotic bacteria communities.

Ilia Burgsdorf (MSc)            Cyanobacteria from sponge holobionts: genomic adaptations and interactions with the microbiome.

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