Prof. Dr. Axel A. Brakhage

Vice President of the DFG since 2020

Professor Dr. Axel A. Brakhage

Professor Dr. Axel A. Brakhage

Friedrich Schiller University of Jena
Institute of Microbiology
Chair of Microbiology and Molecular Biology
Leibniz Institute of Natural Product Research and Infection Biology (Leibniz-HKI)


since 2005Scientific Director, Leibniz Institute for Natural Product Research and Infection Biology - Hans Knöll Institute (HKI), Jena
since 2005Head of Department Molecular and Applied Microbiology, 
HKI Jena
since 2004Full Professor and Chair of Microbiology and Molecular Biology, Institute of Microbiology, Friedrich Schiller University (FSU) Jena
2001 - 2004Full Professor and Chair of Microbiology, Leibniz University Hannover
1998 - 2001Associate Professor of Microbiology, Technical University of Darmstadt
1996Habilitation in microbiology, LMU Munich
1992 - 1998Assistant professor (C1), Institute of Genetics and Microbiology, LMU Munich; mentor Prof. Dr. August Böck
1990 - 1992Research assistant, University of Sheffield, UK, funded by a postdoctoral fellowship from the DFG
1989 - 1990Group leader, biotechnology, BASF AG, Ludwigshafen
1989Doctorate (Dr. rer. nat.) in microbiology, summa cum laude, University of Münster and Institut de Biologie Physico-Chimique (IBPC), Paris
1985Studies in biology/chemistry, degree (Diplom) in biology at WWU Münster

Leadership of Research Programmes

since 2019Spokesperson, DFG Cluster of Excellence "Balance of the Microverse", FSU Jena
since 2013Spokesperson, DFG-CRC/Transregio 124 FungiNet "Pathogenic Fungi and their Human Host: Networks of Interaction"
since 2012Spokesperson, Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) consortium "InfectControl 2020 - New Anti-Infection Strategies – Research • Society • Industry"
2010 - 2020Spokesperson, Leibniz Research Cluster "Biotechnology 2020+"
since 2007Spokesperson, DFG Excellence Graduate School Jena School for Microbial Communication
2006 - 2008Founding spokesperson of the Graduate School International Leibniz Research School (ILRS) for Microbial and Biomolecular Interactions
2004 - 2010Spokesperson, DFG Priority Programme 1160 "Colonisation and Infection by Human-pathogenic Fungi"
2003 - 2009Member of the programme committee, DFG Priority Programme 1152 Evolution of Metabolic Diversity

Research Policy Activities and Roles

since 2020Elected as senator, Section 13 – Microbiology and Immunology, German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina
since 2019Board of trustees, Regensburg Center for Interventional Immunology
since 2019Scientific advisory board, Heinrich Pette Institute, Hamburg
since 2018Scientific advisory board, Interdisciplinary Centre for Clinical Research, University Hospital Münster
since 2017Scientific advisory board, Robert Koch Foundation
since 2017International Scientific Advisory Board, MRC Centre for Medical Mycology, Exeter, UK
since 2015Scientific advisory board, Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology, Berlin
2013 - 2020Deputy spokesperson, Leibniz Research Alliance "Bioactive Compounds and Biotechnology"
2010 - 2018Scientific advisory board, Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research (HZI), Braunschweig
2010 - 2018Scientific advisory board, Helmholtz Institute for Pharmaceutical Research, Saarbrücken
2010 - 2020Scientific advisory board, Research Center Borstel, deputy chair since 2013
since 2009Scientific advisory board, Interdisciplinary Centre for Clinical Research (IZKF), Julius Maximilian University of Würzburg
2009 - 2016Supervisory board, Leibniz Institute DSMZ – German Collection of Microorganisms and Cell Cultures, Braunschweig
2009 - 2011President, German Association for General and Applied Microbiology (VAAM)
2008 - 2019University Council (re-appointed in 2011, 2014), FSU Jena
2008 - 2015Member and spokesperson (2012-2015) of the DFG Review Board 204 Microbiology, Virology and Immunology
2007 - 2016Liaison officer for scientific misconduct, FSU Jena
2007 - 2009First Vice President, German Association for General and Applied Microbiology (VAAM)
2005 - 2010Scientific advisory board, Göttingen Center for Molecular Biosciences (GZMB), University of Göttingen
since 2005Faculty Council, Faculty of Biological Sciences, FSU Jena
2003 - 2004Dean, Department of Biology, Leibniz University Hannover
2003 - 2010Scientific advisory board, Center for Microbial Biotechnology, Technical University of Denmark (DTU)
2002 - 2006 /
2009 - 2015
Scientific advisory board, Center for Infectious Diseases, University of Würzburg (JMU)
since 1998Editor of various journals, including eLife, Applied and Environmental Microbiology, Molecular Microbiology, Applied and Microbial Biotechnology, Frontiers in Microbiology, microLife
since 1995Involvement in projects of the European Union

Prizes and Honours

Year Description
2019 Foundation Lecture, British Society for Medical Mycology, Sheffield, UK
2017 Elected as Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology
2016 Elected as Fellow of the European Academy of Microbiology
2015 Honorary member of the German-Speaking Mycological Society (DMykG)
2014 Career Award (Hauptpreis) of the German Society for Hygiene and Microbiology
2008 Elected member of the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina
2006 Heinz Seeliger Prize for Infection Biology
1990 DFG postdoctoral fellowship

Core Research Areas

  • Infection biology of human-pathogenic fungi, host-pathogen interactions
  • Biotechnology and development of microbial bioactive compounds / antibiotics
  • Microbial communication – functional microbiome research


Number of publications in peer-reviewed journals: 260, plus 7 patents

Selected Publications

  • Stroe MC, Netzker T, Scherlach K, Krüger T, Hertweck C, Valiante V, Brakhage AA (2020) Targeted induction of a silent gene cluster of Aspergillus fumigatus encoding the bacteria-specific spore germination inhibitor fumigermin by Streptomyces rapamycinicus. eLife 9, e5254.

  • Bacher P, Hohnstein T, Beerbaum E, Röcker M, Blango MG, Kaufmann S, Röhmel J, Eschenhagen P, Grehn C, Seidel K, Rickerts V, Lozza L, Stervbo U, Nienen M, Babel N, Milleck J, Assenmacher M, Cornely OA, Ziegler M, Wisplinghoff H, Heine G, Worm M, Siegmund B, Maul J, Creutz P, Tabeling C, Ruwwe-Glösenkamp C, Sander LE, Knosalla C, Brunke S, Hube B, Kniemeyer O, Brakhage AA, Schwarz C, Scheffold A (2019) Human antifungal Th17 immunity and pathology rely on cross-reactivity against Candida albicans. Cell 176, 1340-1355.

  • Stappers MHT, Clark AE, Aimanianda V, Bidula S, Reid DM, Asamaphan P, Hardison SE, Dambuza IM, Valsecchi I, Kerscher B, Plato A, Wallace CA, Yuecel R, Hebecker B, da Glória Teixeira Sousa M, Cunha C, Liu Y, Feizi T, Brakhage AA, Kwon-Chung KJ, Gow NAR, Zanda M, Piras, M, Zanato C, Jaeger M, Netea MG, van de Veerdonk FL, Lacerdai JF, Campos Jr. A, Carvalho A, Willment JA, Latgé J-P, Brown GD (2018) Recognition of DHN-melanin by a C-type lectin receptor is required for immunity to Aspergillus.
    Nature 555, 382-386.

  • Fischer J, Müller SY, Netzker T, Jäger N, Gacek-Matthews A, Scherlach K, Stroe MC, Garcia-Altares M, Pezzini F, Schoeler H, Reichelt M, Gershenzon J, Krespach MK, Shelest E, Schroeckh V, Valiante V, Heinzel T, Hertweck C, Strauss J, Brakhage AA (2018) Chromatin mapping identifies BasR, a key regulator of bacteria-triggered production of fungal secondary metabolites. eLife 7, pii: e40969.

  • Bacher P, Heinrich F, Stervbo U, Nienen M, Vahldieck M, Iwert V, Vogt K, Kollet J, Babel N, Sawitzki B, Schwarz C, Beereswill S, Heimesaat M, Heine G, Gadermaier G, Asam C, Assenmacher M, Kniemeyer O, Brakhage AA, Ferreira-Briza F, Wallner M, Worm M, Scheffold A (2016) Regulatory T cell specificity directs tolerance versus allergy against aeroantigens in humans. Cell 167, 1067-1078.

  • Gsaller F, Hortschansky P, Beattie SR, Klammer V, Tuppatsch K, Lechner BE, Rietzschel N, Werner ER, Vogan AA, Chung D, Mühlenhoff U, Kato M, Cramer RR, Brakhage AA*, Haas H* (2014) The Janus transcription factor HapX controls fungal adaptation to both iron starvation and iron excess. EMBO Journal 33, 2261-2276.
    *corresponding authors

  • Nützmann H-W, Reyes-Dominguez Y, Scherlach K, Schroeckh V, Horn F, Gacek A, Schümann J, Hertweck C, Strauss J, Brakhage AA (2011) Bacteria-induced natural product formation in the fungus Aspergillus nidulans requires Saga/Ada mediated histone acetylation. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 108, 14282-14287.

  • Burmester A, ……, Brakhage AA (2011) Comparative and functional genomics provide insights into the pathogenicity of dermatophytic fungi. Genome Biology 12, R8.

  • Thön M, Al-Abdalah Q, Hortschansky P, Scharf DH, Eisendle M, Haas H, Brakhage AA (2010) The CCAAT-binding complex coordinates the oxidative stress response in eukaryotes. Nucleic Acids Research 38, 1098-1111.

  • Aimanianda V, Bayry J, Bozza S, Kniemeyer O, Perruccio K, Elluru SR, Clavaud C, Paris S, Brakhage AA, Kaveri SV, Romani L, Latgé J-P (2009) Surface hydrophobin prevents immune recognition of airborne fungal spores. Nature 460, 1117-1121.

  • Schroeckh V, Scherlach K, Nuetzmann H-W, Shelest E, Schmidt-Heck W, Schuemann J, Martin K, Hertweck C*, Brakhage AA* (2009) Intimate bacterial-fungal interaction triggers biosynthesis of archetypal polyketides in Aspergillus nidulans. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 106, 14558-14563. *corresponding authors

  • Hortschansky P, Eisendle M, Al-Abdallah Q, Schmidt AD, Bergmann S, Kniemeyer O, Thön M, Abt B, Seeber B, Werner E, Kato M, Brakhage AA*, Haas H* (2007) Interaction of HapX with the CCAATbinding complex – a novel mechanism of gene regulation by iron. EMBO Journal 26, 3157-3168. *corresponding authors

  • Bergmann S, Schuemann J, Scherlach K, Lange C, Brakhage AA*, Hertweck C* (2007) Genomicsdriven discovery of PKS-NRPS hybrid metabolites from Aspergillus nidulans. Nature Chemical Biology 3, 213-217. *corresponding authors

Selected Patents

  • Mattern D, Valiante V, Petzke L, Herold A, Brakhage AA (2015) Gene cluster identification and manipulation for the fermentative production of different austin derivatives. EP 15200500.5