Gnotobiology Platform

Our mission:
We are a core facility at the University Hospital Schleswig-Holstein (UKSH, Campus Kiel) offering the rederivation, maintenance and experimentation of germ-free and gnotobiotic (known microbiome) mice. Our facility employs both large flexible film isolators (Class Biological Clean) and ISOcages linked to an ISOcage Biosafety Station (Tecniplast) for breeding and experimentation.

The institutional website can be found here (only in German).

What we offer:

  • Germ-free rederivation of mouse lines
  • Maintenance of germ-free and gnotobiotic mice
  • Assistance with study design involving gnotobiotic mice
  • Support and execution of collaborative gnotobiotic experiments
  • Training in gnotobiotic in vivo experimentation
  • Shipping of gnotobiotic mice


PD Dr. Felix Sommer
Please send your enquiry via email to:

Background – why is gnotobiology important?

All animals and humans maintain a close symbiosis with their microbiome – the entirety of their associated microorganisms. Microorganisms colonize every surface of the host that comes into contact with the outside world. By far the most microorganisms are found in the intestine and the largest proportion of them are bacteria. The intestinal microbiome is dominated by anaerobic bacteria and is composed of approximately 500-1,000 species belonging to only a few phyla. It has become clear that the microbiome exerts an immense effect on numerous aspects of host physiology, for example by promoting the development of the immune system, providing calories and vitamins from otherwise indigestible dietary components or protecting against pathogenic colonization. The composition of the microbiome varies greatly between different people, yet within an individual, the composition of the microbiome is relatively stable over time. Deviations from this stable homeostasis, i.e. changes in microbiome composition, are referred to as dysbiosis and are associated with numerous diseases, such as diabetes, chronic inflammatory diseases or colon cancer. In most cases, however, it is not clear whether the dysbiosis is causally involved in the pathogenesis of the disease or whether it arises secondarily as a result of the disease or its treatment, e.g. through inflammatory reactions, medication or changes in eating habits. Functional studies, for example using gnotobiology, are therefore crucial to establish a causal relationship between changes in the microbiome and disease processes.

Figure from Sommer 2023 (DOI: 10.1691/pn.20230021), modified from Round 2018 (DOI: 10.1126/sciimmunol.aao1603).

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