Synthetic Cell Factories


We want to contribute to the understanding of bacterial metabolism and are interested in expanding the biosynthetic capabilities of microorganisms for applied purposes.

We focus on the engineering of Corynebacterium glutamicum and Escherichia coli for the sustainable production of value-added small molecules such as natural products, fine chemicals or pharmaceutical building blocks from biomass and other carbon-rich waste streams.

In addition, we are developing new molecular tools for genome editing and high-throughput screening of metabolite producing bacteria at the single cell level using biosensors and fluorescence-activated cell sorting (FACS).

Research Topics

Microbial synthesis of aromatic (plant) natural products and other aromatic molecules of biotechnological interest

Substrates from Biomass for a Sustainable Industrial Biotechnology

Development of Transcription Factor-based Biosensors and their Utilization for High-throughput Screening of Microorganisms using FACS

Research activities take place at Forschungszentrum Jülich GmbH whereas most teaching activities are conducted at the RWTH Aachen University (Chair of Biotechnology).


Prof. Dr. Jan Marienhagen


Building 15.4 / Room 232

+49 2461/61-2843


Syncell Group
Synthetic Cell Factories



October 2023

Mario´s first paper is out! Microbial production of p-coumaric acid with Corynebacterium glutamicum. ( Congratulations!

September 2023

Paper published in Nature Communications. “Membrane manipulation by free fatty acids improves microbial plant polyphenol synthesis.”  Congratulations, Apilaasha! (

September 2023

Congratulations, Philipp! The “gigantic” paper on the biosensor-guided isolation of 100 strain variants published in BMC Biology (

May 2023

“A Pseudomonas taiwanensis malonyl-CoA platform strain for polyketide synthesis” – paper published with the Wierckx group (

February 2023

Paper on bio-succinate production published with the Noack group (

December 2022

Niels Hollmann joins the group to work on the AutoBiotech project! Welcome!

April 2022

Dominic starts his PhD-thesis to work on CRISPR-Cas12a mediated genome engineering in C. glutamicum. Welcome in the group!

March 2022

Daniela Brücker joins the “SynCells” for her Doctoral thesis – Welcome!

January 2022

Api´s cover design for an issue was selected by ACS Sustainable Chemistry and Engineering (

December 2021

Api´s paper on “Microbial Polyphenol Production in a Biphasic Process” accepted by ACS Sustainable Chemistry and Engineering (

November 2021

Joined manuscript with Julia Frunzke´s group on biosensor-based isolation of amino acid-producing Vibrio natriegens strains published (

September 2021

Melanie Krinke joins the group for the practical work on her Doctoral thesis – Welcome!


Last Modified: 03.11.2023