Martina Matzke is a Ph.D. student in the "Biodeterioration and Reference Organisms" Division. She researches rapid, microbiological test procedures and cooperates with the Berlin Technical University in her Ph.D. thesis.
"Blue colouring is a good sign for me. I am testing a microorganism for the laccase enzyme. Blue means that laccase is present. My Ph.D. revolves around this evidence and I have been researching for two years during which have managed to modify microorganisms so that they produce laccase.
What is the reason for this elaborate path? All these experiments with genetic modifications, waiting to see if the colour changes or not? The general aim is to develop rapid tests. How can certain microorganisms be detected quickly? I work in laboratories where wood preservatives are being tested – and there lies the specific cause of my research. Swift laccase detection facilitates the work. For example, laccase shows when the white rot fungus is in its virulent phase. The fungus can only destroy wood in this phase and that is when it makes sense to use the test. Detecting whether the fungus is virulent or not usually requires weeks of testing. This could soon be avoided.
I am also searching for a rapid test for legionella in drinking water. The procedure is similar to that of laccase. So far, detecting legionella reliably also takes a long time. Far too long considering that these bacteria are very dangerous to humans. My research has a tremendously strong practical relevance. The results are in demand. In addition, as a Ph.D. student at BAM, I also meet many scientists from different disciplines. Even the room allocation is characteristic: I share my Ph.D. student’s room with three entomologists. They approach their subjects differently to how I do in microbiology. But the exchange of information is worth a lot. I even wrote my master’s thesis at BAM."