Shraddha Shitut


I have done both my Bachelors and Masters in Science from India in the field of microbiology. During this time I worked on (i) antibiotic producing Actinomycetes isolated from soil and (ii) the plant pathogen Magnaporthe oryzae and its process of infection in rice.

Before moving on to my PhD I spent 9 months as a research assistant in the Indian Institute of Science, Education and Research (IISER) in Pune (my hometown). My project here was to identify the effect of replication fork stalling on the cell length in Escherichia coli.

In 2012 I moved to Germany to start a PhD with Dr. Christian Kost at the Max Planck Institute for chemical ecology in Jena. Here I shifted focus to bacterial interactions involving an exchange of metabolites for growth known as cross-feeding. I used cross-feeding genotypes of E. coli that harbor specific mutations in amino acid biosynthetic pathways that render them dependent on an external source of one amino acid (auxotrophy) and simultaneously synthesize more of another amino acid (overproduction). Upon coculturing two complementary cross-feeders we observed a nanotube-mediated transport of amino acids between the two cell types. I further investigated the physiological consequences of this exchange as well as additional genetic elements involved in the process of cross-feeding.

Research interests: Microbial community interactions, symbiotic associations, intercellular communication; evolution of multicellularity, transitions in individuality.


Mechanisms underlying the stability of chromosomal coexistence