Department for Bacteria and Toxins

Lead: LtCol (VC) Dr Heiner von Buttlar

The department focuses on bacteria that are highly infectious and life threatening to human and animals. Next to bacterial pathogens, the department investigates a variety of biological toxins.

The various working groups of the department develop and optimise methods to diagnose pathogens and biotoxins as well as conduct epidemiologic investigations. A priority of the department is to improve bioforensic techniques using next-generation sequencing (NGS), fluorescence in situ hybridisation (FISH), and electron microscopy. The institute’s diagnostic unit offers all new diagnostic methods developed by the department.

The department also harbours the national reference laboratories for Brucella and Plague.


The department collaborates nationally and internationally with various civilian and military research institutions, such as the Swedish Defence Research Agency, the Institut Pasteur de Madagascar, the Italian Army Medical and Veterinary Research Center or the Mongolian National Center for Zoonotic Diseases. Especially in the field of bacterial genotyping, the department closely works with groups in the USA, Great Britain and Italy.

Current extramural funding

since 2020 FORTE Eurothrax Dr Graß
since 2016 Ukrainian-German Biosecurity Initiative for Risk Management of Zoonosis close to the European Border Dr von Buttlar
since 2013 Georgia: Network for Development of Biosecurity in the Caucasus Region Dr von Buttlar