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Prof. Dr. Nicole Dubilier

Marine Ecology, Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology Bremen and University of Bremen

Prof. Dr. Nicole Dubilier

Prof. Dr. Nicole Dubilier

© DFG / David Ausserhofer

Nicole Dubilier is an internationally renowned marine microbiologist. Her special area of interest is the study of symbiosis, in which she studies ecological and evolutionary adaptations between bacteria and marine invertebrates. She finds the objects of her research on expeditions to deep-sea hydrothermal vents as well as more easily accessible seagrass meadows and sulphide-rich coastal sediments. The common feature of all these habitats is the low availability of energy and nutrients, which forces the host organisms to use organic carbon compounds produced by their bacterial symbionts through a process of chemosynthesis. In the gutless worm Olavius algarvensis, Dubilier discovered a particularly complex symbiotic relationship with two classes of bacterial partners. The sulphide produced by the secondary symbionts through the reduction of sulphate is used by the primary symbionts as an energy source to fix the vital carbon. Through this and other discoveries, for example relating to mollusks, whose symbiotic relationship with sulphur- and methane-oxidising bacteria enables high productivity, Dubilier has generated new insights into the dependencies of symbiotic organisms and the way in which marine organisms obtain energy.

After completing her degree and doctorate in biology, in 1992 Nicole Dubilier began working as a postdoctoral researcher at Harvard. She subsequently worked at the Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology in Bremen and as a visiting professor in Paris. In October 2013 she became a Director of the Max Planck Institute in Bremen and in 2012 she was appointed professor in the Faculty of Biology and Chemistry at the University of Bremen. In 2013 she received an ERC Advanced Grant. In addition to her research work, she gives exciting talks to raise public awareness of the global importance of marine microbiological systems.