The group deals with the taxonomic, physiological and molecular characterisation of microorganisms with the aim of their utilisation as starter cultures and/or protective cultures for the optimisation of food fermentations, the access of new raw materials and the prevention of food spoilage. A focus is on the identification of special, functional properties such as autolysis behaviour, polysaccharide or vitamin formation, but also on aspects of microbiological safety such as the prevalence of virulence-associated factors such as biofilm formation and antibiotic resistance. In addition, fermentation and spoilage of food serve as suitable model systems to study mechanisms of microbial interaction. The methods used range from analyses of metabolites, comparative genomics/transcriptomics/proteomics to design of knockout mutants. The systems worked on include fermentations using raw material of animal origin (ham/salami) as well as plant raw materials such as (pseudo) cereals or grain legumes. The predominantly processed microorganisms are lactic acid bacteria, acetic acid bacteria and staphylococci.