Claudia Mirretta Barone

Lipids in microbiome-host interactions

Max Planck Insitute for Biology
Faculty in: TIPP


  • PhD at the Hearing Research Center, University of Tübingen, 2012-2015
  • Postdoc at the Institute of Physiology, University of Hohenheim, 2015-2017
  • Postdoc in the Department of Microbiome Science, 2017-2022
  • Project Leader in the Department of Microbiome Sciences since 2022

Research Interest
We started to look at how gut microbes interact with fats in the diet with a study of dietary soy bean oil and its effect on Lactobacilli in the small intestine (Di Rienzi, 2018). This led us to think more broadly about the fats produced by gut bacteria themselves, and we chose to focus on a particular class of lipids, sphingolipids, because only a restricted group of bacteria (i.e., the Bacteroidetes) make these lipids in the gut (Heaver, 2018). Through genetic manipulation of a prominent Bacteroides species (B. thetaiotaomicron) and studies in mice, we showed that the capacity to produce sphingolipids in the gut affects levels of sphingolipids (ceramides) in the liver (Johnson, 2020), which can be relevant for metabolic disease. We are now delving into other lipid classes and organ systems to assess how lipids produced by gut bacteria affect the host lipidome.

Available PhD Projects 

  • Bacterial Lipidomics: We are using a combination of bacterial genetics, mass spectrometry and MALDI imaging to study the role of lipids in microbiome-host interactions. Recently, sphingolipids and inositol lipids produced by the commensal gut bacterium Bacteroides thetaiotaomicron (Bt) have gained significant attention for their impact on intestinal homeostasis, immune responses and host lipid profiles. However, the identity and mechanism of the genes responsible have not yet been fully characterized. In response, we plan to use a
    Bt transposon insertion library for mass spectrometry-based lipidomic screening to explicitly identify and characterize the genetic determinants of Bt lipid biosynthesis and study their role in host-microbiome symbiosis.

    For more information and to apply, have a look at the PhD project page.
    Applications will open on 1 July.

Selected Reading

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