VIB-KU Leuven Center for Microbiology

​Science director : Kevin Verstrepen

Yeast as a subject, model and tool for biotechnological applications. The aim of the center is to combine leading fundamental research on yeast with top applied research and industrial valorisation. Using its extensive knowledge and know-how of yeast molecular genetics and biochemistry, the center is developing the best characterised and most comprehensive nutrient-sensing and signalling system in eukaryotic cell biology. Sensing mechanisms have been identified for glucose and other sugars, for ammonium and amino acids, and for phosphate. They trigger activation of the protein kinase A and closely-related signalling pathways. These pathways have dramatic effects on yeast cell physiology and development and are also closely connected to the mechanisms that control growth and proliferation of the cells.
Recent work by the center has led to major progress in identifying the sensing and signaling mechanisms for essential nutrients. A major goal of the future research is to elucidate their precise functioning, to identify downstream components of the signaling pahways, the integration between the different nutrient-sensing systems and the connection with the mechanisms responsible for the stimulation of growth. Glucose sensing in yeast is closely connected to initial glucose metabolism and a major focus of research in this respect has been the role of glucose phosphorylation and its control by trehalose metabolism. Nutrient-signaling in yeast has a dramatic effect on cellular stress resistance, metabolic activity and cellular proliferation. These properties are crucial for many industrial applications with yeast. Starting from the fundamental knowledge on nutrient signaling mechanisms, the center aims to become a world leader in specific biotechnological applications with yeast. Stress-resistant industrial yeast strains are developed for the bioethanol production, brewing, distilled spirits and baking industry. Using novel genetic analysis methods the center also focusses on other commercially-important properties of industrial yeast strains, such as flavour compound production, ethanol yield and titer, and pentose fermentation. Nutrient sensing systems, trehalose metabolism and other systems in the pathogenic fungus Candida albicans are explored as novel targets for antifungal therapy. Trehalose metabolism is studied in Arabidopsis thaliana and is being explored as a tool for improvement of stress resistance and productivity in crop plants. In addition, yeast is also used as a tool to isolate and characterize mammalian genes with medical importance.
The VIB collaborators of the VIB-KU Leuven Center for Microbiology are spread over 4 locations.
The postal and main address is:
VIB-KU Leuven Center for Microbiology
Bioincubator, Gaston Geenslaan 1 bus 2147, 3001 Heverlee
Kevin Verstrepen Lab
The other 3 addresses are.
VIB-KU Leuven Center for Microbiology
Kasteelpark Arenberg 31 bus 2438, 3001 Leuven

VIB-KU Leuven Center for Microbiology
Kasteelpark Arenberg 20 bus 2460, 3001 Leuven
VIB-KU Leuven Center for Microbiology
Campus Gasthuisberg, Rega Instituut, Herestraat 49 bus 1030, 3000 Leuven

VIB-KU Leuven Center for Microbiology

Scientists & research:

  • Jan Michiels Lab
    persistence - antibiotic - bacteria - evolution - stress tolerance
  • Jeroen Raes Lab
    bioinformatics - next-generation sequencing - metagenomics - human microbiome - ecosystems biology
  • Johan Thevelein Lab
    transceptors stress tolerance - flavour ester synthesis - bioethanol production - medical applications
  • Patrick Van Dijck Lab
    yeast - nutrient sensing - signal transduction - stress resistance - Candida albicans - Arabidopsis - Physcomitrella
  • Kevin Verstrepen Lab
    yeast - S. cerevisiae - genetics - epigenetics - fermentation


VIB-KU Leuven Center for Microbiology
Bioincubator Gaston Geenslaan 1 bus 2471  3001 HEVERLEE BELGIUM
+32 16 75 13 90


Click here for an overview of the supporting staff