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Sonja Blasche studied Biology in Hamburg and Freiburg (Germany). During her PhD at the German Cancer Research Center (Heidelberg) and the J. Craig Venter Institute in Rockville (Maryland), Sonja assessed the pathogen-host interactions of phage lambda - E. coli and enterohemorrhagic E. coli (EHEC) - human and identified the EHEC effector NleF as a potent inhibitor of human caspases. In 2014 Sonja got a fellowship that allowed her to spend 6 months in the lab of Prof. Liping Zhao at the Jiao Tong University (Shanghai, China), where she worked with the gut microbiota of obese children. Thereafter she joined the group of Prof. Kiran Patil at EMBL in Heidelberg to examine species interactions and cross feeding in microbial communities using milk kefir as a community model system and to investigate the role of gut bacteria in modulating the availability of therapeutic drugs. In 2020 Sonja moved to Cambridge together with the Patil lab where she will continue her work with food fermenting microbial communities and the interaction between gut bacteria and food compounds and pollutants. 

Research Interests:

Microbes grow almost everywhere, also in human food and body, and they share their environment with many other species, first of all other microbes. As a consequence, they have evolved a number of strategies to compete for nutrients, communicate and interact with other species and respond to environmental challenges such as presence of potentially toxic organic and inorganic compounds. 

My research interests focus on interspecies-interactions in microbial communities, their effects and benefits, as well as bacterial responses to xenobiotic compounds like human-targeted drugs and environmental pollutants. Many of these compounds potentially affect bacterial metabolism and can thus lead to changes in growth, secretion patterns and microbial interactions, which as a consequence may alter the composition of microbial communities. 
I'm keenly interested in understanding how microbes deal with such chemical challenges and aim at resolving the underlying mechanisms in gut bacteria and model communities. 
Current and future projects: 
1) Bioaccumulation of human-targeted drugs by human gut bacteria. 
2) Impact of food-compounds, sweeteners and environmental pollutants on gut bacteria 
3) Assessing metabolite capabilities of gut bacteria


Key Publications:

  1. Klünemann, M.§, Andrejev, S.§, Blasche, S.§, Mateus, A.§ et al. (2021). Bioaccumulation of therapeutic drugs by human gut bacteria. Nature.
  2. Blasche, S., Kim, Y., Mars, R.A.T., Machado, D., Maansson, M., Kafkia, E., Milanese, A., Zeller, G., Teusink, B., Nielsen, J., et al. (2021). Metabolic cooperation and spatiotemporal niche partitioning in a kefir microbial community. Nat. Microbiology doi:10.1038/s41564-020-00816-5 
  1. Melkonian, C., Gottstein, W., Blasche, S., Kim, Y., Abel-Kistrup, M., Swiegers, H., Saerens, S., Edwards, N., Patil, K.R., Teusink, B., MolenaarDouwe (2019). Finding Functional Differences Between Species in a Microbial Community : Case Studies in Wine Fermentation and Kefir Culture. Front. Microbiol. 10, 1–14 
  1. *Blasche, S. §, Kim, Y. §, Mars, R., Kafkia, E., Maansson, M., Machado, D., Teusink, B., Nielsen, J., Benes, V., Neves, R., et al. (2019). Emergence of stable coexistence in a complex microbial community through metabolic cooperation and spatio-temporal niche partitioning. bioRxiv 
  1. Hildebrand, F., Moitinho-silva, L., Blasche, S., Thomas, M., Jahn, T., Gossmann, T.I., Cepas, J.H., Hercog, R., Luetge, M., Bahram, M., et al. (2019). Antibiotics-induced monodominance of a novel gut bacterial order. Gut Microbiota 1–10. 
  1. Blasche, S., Kim, Y., Oliveira, A.P., Patil, K.R. (2017): Model Microbial Communities for Ecosystems BiologyCurrOpin. Syst. Biol.6:51–57. 
  1. Kim, Y., Blasche, S., Patil, K.R. (2017): Draft Genome Sequences of Three Novel Low-Abundance Species Strains Isolated from Kefir Grain. Genome Announc. 2017, 5:57–58. 
  1. Blasche, S., Kim, Y., Patil, K.R. (2017): Draft Genome Sequence of Corynebacterium kefirresidentii SB, Isolated from KefirGenome Announc. 2017, 5:16–17. 
  1. Blasche, S., Arens, S., Ceol, A., Siszler, G., Schmidt, M.A., Häuser, R., Schwarz, F., Wuchty, S., Aloy, P., Uetz, P.Stradal, T. and Kögl, M. (2014). The EHEC-host interactome reveals novel targets for the translocated intimin receptor. Sci. Rep. 2014, 4:7531. 
  1. Blasche, S., Mortl, M., Steuber, H., Siszler, G., Nisa, S., Schwarz, F., Lavrik, I., Gronewold, T. M., Maskos, K., Donnenberg, M. S. et al. (2013). The E. coli Effector Protein NleF Is a Caspase Inhibitor. PLoS One 8, e58937. 
  1. Blasche, S., Wuchty, S., Rajagopala, S. V, and Uetz, P. (2013). The protein interaction network of bacteriophage lambda with its host, Escherichia coli. J. Virol. 87, 12745–12755. 
  1. Blasche, S. and Koegl, M. (2013). Analysis of Protein-Protein Interactions Using LUMIER Assays. Methods Mol Biol 1064, 17-27. 
  1. Hauser, R., Blasche, S., Dokland, T., Haggard-Ljungquist, E., von Brunn, A., Salas, M., Casjens, S., Molineux, I. and Uetz, P. (2012). Bacteriophage protein-protein interactions. Adv Virus Res 83, 219-98. 
Senior Research Associate

Contact Details

MRC Toxicology Unit
Gleeson Building
Tennis Court Road


Telephone and Email

Level 4 Shared Office
+44 (0)1223 3 35563