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


Prof. Dr. Jan MarienhagenHead of Synthetic Cell FactoriesBuilding 15.21 / Room 5033+49 2461/61-2843


Karin KrumbachTechnicianBuilding 15.21 / Room R 5032+49 2461/61-84375
Dominik OskampEngineerBuilding 15.21 / Room 5034+49 2461/61-84376

PhD students

Daniela BrückerPh.D. studentBuilding 15.21 / Room 5034+49 2461/61-84376
Niels HollmannPh.D studentBuilding 15.21 / Room 5032+49 2461/61-2573
Melanie KrinkePh.D. studentBuilding 15.21 / Room 5034+49 2461/61-84376
Dominic KöstersPh.D studentBuilding 15.21 / Room 5032+49 2461/61-6773


Alexander DuvalMaster studentBuilding 15.21 / Room 5002+49 2461/61-84182
Liam WesemannMaster studentBuilding 15.21 / Room 5002+49 2461/61-84182


May 2024

Jan gives two talks at the summer school “Short Course in Biocatalysis” at the Interdisciplinary Centre of Marine and Environmental Research (CIIMAR) in Porto, Portugal.

April 2024

Florian Gätgens joins the group for his doctoral studies. He will work on the efficient utilization of biomass-derived xylose within the graduate cluster AUFBRUCH. Welcome, Florian!

April 2024

The graduate cluster for sustainable bioeconomy AUFBRUCH starts!

AUBFRUCH is funded by the BMBF as part of the structural transformation of the Rheinische Revier. The graduate cluster brings together the eight key partners of the bioeconomy: RWTH Aachen University, Aachen University of Applied Sciences, the Cluster of Industrial Biotechnology (CLIB), Dortmund University of Technology, Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf, Forschungszentrum Jülich, TH Köln and Hochschule Niederrhein. The combined expertise from biotechnology, chemistry, process engineering, logistics, economics, social sciences and spatial planning is intended to decisively advance the transformation of the Rheinische Revier into a sustainable regional bioeconomy. The Synthetic Cell Factories Group of the IBG-1 is happy to take part in the graduate cluster AUFBRUCH and to contribute to this process.

March 2024

Data from our collaborative project with Nicolai Kallscheuer (Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena) on type III polyketide synthases in Planctomycetota published in “Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology” (

February 2024

“Automated, model-driven performance screening of a BsGDH-CatIB library in combination with Thompson sampling for decision making” - paper with the group of Marco Oldiges published in “Microbial Cell Factories” (

January 2024

…and here is Mario´s second paper: “Metabolic engineering of Corynebacterium glutamicum for the production of anthranilate from glucose and xylose“, published in “Microbial Biotechnology” ( Congratulations, Mario!

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!


Last Modified: 21.05.2024