„I am interested in a group of microbes called methanogens, which have the ability to produce methane, a greenhouse gas as well as a biofuel“, says Wagner. „With my group, I aim to understand, at the molecular level, how methanogens are surviving and growing in extreme environments. How do they generate methane from different sources of carbon so efficiently? How do they convert minerals into the elementary bricks of life? And how do they protect themselves against stresses from their natural environment?”
Tristan Wagner joins us from the Max Planck Institute for Terrestrial Microbiology in Marburg, where he worked in the „Microbial protein structure“-group of Seigo Shima. He carried out his Ph.D. at Institut Pasteur in Paris, focusing on the regulation of the citric acid cycle in mycobacteria. Since, he decided to switch from the bacterial world to the archaeal one and studied their metabolisms. He was active as a microbiologist and biochemist to elucidate how methanogens are able to fix carbon dioxide and generate methane by elucidating their enzymatic machineries at the structural level.
“During my first collaboration with the Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology, I felt the great dynamic of this place and realized that it would be a perfect match for my work”, Wagner emphasizes. “This institute is at the first stage to discover new microorganisms from the deep ocean, a terra incognita where a lot of discoveries are waiting for us. This is a gold nugget for biochemists like me, which are looking for new metabolisms and new enzymes from freshly characterized microorganisms. As a structural biologist, I am highly excited to interact with the other teams of the Max Planck institute in Bremen, to look at the metabolic pathways they work with and look for unforeseen enzymes. Moreover, this institute will help to widen my perspective, to zoom out of the atomic world and get a global picture at the ecosystem scale.”