The group currently works on three different spatial scales, but with common underlying methodological frameworks:
- genes, proteins and small molecules
- molecular and cellular networks
- microbial communities.
Bork Group usually work in new or emerging research areas and balance methodological work with biological discoveries. They currently have a number of ocean microbiome projects in the context of the Tara Oceans expedition (Bork et al., Science 2015 and references therein); however, they mainly focus on the human gut microbiome. They employ metagenomics to uncover the principles of microbial communities in humans, in both health and disease. They identified three main 'enterotypes' – or gut microbial community compositions – in developed countries (Arumugam et al., Nature 2011), and showed that each human appears to carry individual strains (Schloissnig et al., Nature 2013). With a view to practical applications, they (i) identified microbial markers for a number of diseases such as obesity (Le Chatelier et al., Nature2013) and colon cancer (Zeller et al., Mol.Sys.Biol. 2014), useful for diagnostics, (ii) demonstrated the implications of drugs on the gut microbiome (e.g. Forslund et al., Nature 2015) with impact for treatment and (iii) tried to reveal mechanistic aspects of faecal microbiota transplantation (Li et al., Science 2016).