What we do?

The Sommer Lab studies the organization and dynamics of microbial communities as they relate to human health and industrial biotechnology. We develop and apply novel technologies within the fields of systems biology, functional metagenomics, synthetic biology, lab evolution, microfluidics and microbiomics to study:

Antibiotic resistance in human pathogens and microbial communities
Interactions between the human microbiome and its host
Microbial conversion of biomass to value chemicals
Biosynthetic platform strain development
Bacterial evolution and evolutionary constraints
Synthetic microbial communities


Our work is broadly aimed towards understanding how biological systems establish, organize and evolve. We use cutting edge technology and aim to translate our basic research findings into entities, policies and education that provide long term benefits to society.

Antibiotic resistance

Evolution is rendering our medicines against many infections useless threatening to bring us back to the pre-antibiotic era. In many cases resistance to a particular antibiotic did not evolve within the resistant human pathogen, but rather was acquired by lateral gene transfer from other resistant bacteria. These resistant donor bacteria need not be pathogenic, yet they contribute to the evolution of antibiotic resistance in human pathogens by serving as an accessible reservoir of resistance genes. We are using a variety of culture-dependent and culture-independent methods to characterize how these reservoirs are interacting, with the ultimate goal of creating quantitative models for how antibiotic resistance genes arise in human pathogens.
We also study the adaptive mechanisms of drug resistance using a combination of laboratory evolution and sampling of clinical isolates, with the goal of developing novel treatment strategies for countering resistance development.

Synthetic biology for sustainable generation of value chemicals

Increasing concerns related to climate change caused by our reliance on fossil fuels for many processes in our society prompt the need to look for alternatives. Biological systems can be engineered to perform conversions of renewable input substrates to value added products using much less energy than conventional methods. We use a variety of metagenomic and culture based techniques for harnessing biological diversity useful for generation of biofuels and other value chemicals.

Structure and evolution of synthetic and natural microbial communities

An overwhelming number of important processes ranging from dietary processing in humans to global carbon cycling are driven by microbial communities. The community structure is complex and the underlying principles governing the establishment and evolution of these communities are poorly understood. We are studying a combination of synthetic engineered communities and natural communities to further our understanding of these fundamental principles.

Collateral Sensitivity

Lejla Imamovic introduces the principle of collateral sensitivity cycling.


Here you will find current and past members.

Permanent Staff

  • Morten O. A. SommerMorten O. A. Sommer, Professor
  • Mari Rodriguez de EvgrafovMari Rodriguez de Evgrafov, PhD

Post docs

  • Ana Machado, PhDAna Machado, PhD
  • Elizabeth Rettedal, PhDElizabeth Rettedal, PhD
  • Christian MunckChristian Munck, PhD
  • Lejla Imamovic, PhDLejla Imamovic, PhD
  • Marius Boulas Faza, PhDMarius Boulas Faza, PhD
  • Mostafa Ellabaan, PhDMostafa Ellabaan, PhD
  • Sailesh Malla, PhDSailesh Malla, PhD
  • Solvej Sieder, PhDSolvej Sieder, PhD
  • Stefano Cardinale, PhDStefano Cardinale, PhD

PhD students

  • Christina LehningChristina Lehning
  • Eric van der HelmEric van der Helm
  • Hans GeneeHans Genee
  • Heidi GumpertHeidi Gumpert
  • Mads BondeMads Bonde
  • Peter RugbjergPeter Rugbjerg
  • Rachel HickmannRachel Hickmann


  • img05Andre Brannvoll
  • img06Andreas Porse
  • img06Anne Pihl Bali
  • img06Arkan Vasie
  • Carola HeesemannCarola Heesemann
  • Inge KjærbøllingInge Kjærbølling
  • Kira Sarup-LytzenKira Sarup-Lytzen
  • Kristian JensenKristian Jensen
  • Mads Valdemar AndersonMads Valdemar Anderson
  • Michael Schantz KlausenMichael Schantz Klausen
  • Minna NielsenMinna Nielsen
  • Nils Myling-PetersenNils Myling-Petersen

TEDxCopenhagen - Morten Sommer - What Bacteria means for the Good life


Full list from pubmed >
*Denotes equal contribution
# corresponding author

  • Sandberg TE, Pedersen M, LaCroix RA, Ebrahim A, Bonde M, Herrgaard, MJ, Palsson BO, Sommer MOA, Feist AM# 'Evolution of Escherichia coli to 42 degrees C and Subsequent Genetic Engineering Reveals Adaptive Mechanisms and Novel Mutations' (2014) Molecular Biology and Evolution - - Download link
  • Mads T Bonde, Guido Makransky, Jakob Wandell, Mette V Larsen, Mikkel Morsing, Hanne Jarmer, Morten O A Sommer# 'Improving biotech education through gamified laboratory simulations' (2014) Nature Biotechnology - Vol. 32, issue 7 P 694-697 - Download link
  • Machado AMD, Sommer MOA# 'Human Intestinal Cells Modulate Conjugational Transfer of Multidrug Resistance Plasmids between Clinical Escherichia coli Isolates' (2014) Plos ONE - Vol. 9, issue 6 e1007339 - Download link
  • Malla M, Sommer MOA# 'A sustainable route to produce the scytonemin precursor using Escherichia coli' (2014) Green Chem. - Vol. 16 p 3255-3265 - Download link
  • Bonde MT, Kosuri S, Genee HJ, Sarup-Lytzen K, Church GM, Sommer MO, Wang HH 'Direct Mutagenesis of Thousands of Genomic Targets using Microarray-derived Oligonucleotides' (2014) ACS Synth Biol. - 2014 May 23 - Download link
  • Sommer MO 'Microbiology: Barriers to the spread of resistance' (2014) Nature - Vol 509 issue 7502 p.. 567-8 - Download link
  • Genee HJ, Bonde MT, Bagger FO, Jespersen JB Sommer MO, Wernersson R, Olsen LR 'Software-supported USER cloning strategies for site-directed mutagenesis and DNA assembly' (2014) ACS Synth Biol. - 2014 May 9 - Download link
  • Bonde MT, Klausen MS, Anderson MV, Wallin Al, Wang HH, Sommer MO 'MODEST: a web-basd design tool for ligonucleotide-mediated genome engineering and recombineering' (2014) Nucleic Acids Res. - 2014 May 16 - Download link
  • Dantas G, Sommer MOA 'How to Fight Back Against Antibiotic Resistance' (2014) American Scientist - Vol. 102, P 42-51 - Download link
  • Marvig RL, Jochumsen N, Johansen NK, Høiby N, Molin S, Sommer MO 'Draft Genome Sequences of Pseudomonas aeruginosa B3 Strains isolated from a Cystic Fibrosis Patient Undergoing Antibiotic Chemotherapy' (2013) Genome Announc. - Vol. 1, Issue 5, p. e00804-13 - Download link
  • Imamovic L & Sommer MOA# 'Use of Collateral Sensitivity Networks to Design Drug Cycling Protocols that Avoid Resistance Development' (2013) Science Translational Medicine - Vol. 5, Issue 204, p. 204ra132 - Download link
  • Dantas G, Sommer MOA, Degnan PH, Goodman AL 'Experimental Approaches for Defining Functional Roles of Microbes in the Human Gut' (2013) Annual Review of Microbiology - Vol. 67: 459-475 - Download link
  • Dantas G, Sommer MO 'Context matters - The complex interplay between resistome genotypes and resistance phenotypes' (2012) Curr Opin Microbiol. - Vol. 5, Issue 5, p. 577-82 - Download link
  • Forsberg KJ*, Reyes A*, Wang B, Selleck EM, Sommer MOA#, Dantas G# 'The shared antibiotic resistome of soil bacteria and human pathogens' (2012) Science - 337:1107-1111. - Download link
  • Dantas G#, Sommer MOA#, 'Ecological and clinical consequences of antibiotic subsistence by environmental microbes' (2012) in Antimicrobial Resistance in the Environment Eds. P. Keen and M Monforts. Wiley-VCH
  • Sommer MOA#, Dantas G#, 'Antibiotics and the resistant microbiome' (2011) Current Opinion in Microbiology - doi:10.1016/j.mib.2011.07.005 - Download link
  • Moore AM*, Munck C*, Sommer MO#, Dantas G.#, 'Functional metagenomic investigations of the human intestinal microbiota' (2011) Frontiers Microbiology 2:118 - Download link
  • Stojanoff V, Jakoncic J, Oren DA, Nagarajan V, Poulsen JCN, Adams-Cioaba MA, Bergfors T, Sommer MOA#, 'From screen to structure with a harvestable microfluidic device' (2011) Acta Cryst. F67:971-975 - Download link
  • Yang L*, Jelsbak L*, Marvig RL, Damkiær S, Workman CT, Rau MH, Hansen SK, Folkesson A, Johansen HK, Ciofu O, Høiby N, Sommer MOA, Molin S, 'Evolutionary dynamics of bacteria in a human host environment' (2011) Proceedings of the National Academy of Science USA 108:7481-7486. - Download link
  • Sommer Mo, Church GM, Dantas G, 'The human microbiome harbours a diverse reservoir of antibiotic resistance genes' (2010) Virulence, Vol. 1, Issue 4, p. 299-303 - Download link
  • Sommer MOA#, Church GM, Dantas G.#, 'A functional metagenomic approach for expanding the synthetic biology toolbox for biomass conversion' (2010). Nature/EMBO Molecular Systems Biology 6:360 - Download link
  • Sommer MOA*#, Dantas G*#, Church GM. 'Metagenomic functional characterization of the antibiotic resistance reservoir of human microbiomes' (2009). Science, 325:1128-31 - Download link
  • Dantas G*, Sommer MOA*, Oluwasegun R, Church GM#. 'Bacteria Subsisting on Antibiotics' (2008) Science 320:100-103 * Denotes equal contribution - Download link
  • Sommer MOA, Larsen S#. 'Crystallizing proteins on the basis of their precipitation diagrams determined using a microfluidic formulator' (2005) Journal of Synchrotron Radiation 12:779-785 - Download link
  • Hansen, C.L., Sommer, M.O.A., Self, K., Berger, J. and Quake, S.R.: 'Micro-crystallization' in Protein Crystallization in Drug Discovery Edited by Babine and Abdel-Meguid, (2004) Wiley-VCH
  • Hansen, C.L., Sommer, M.O.A. and Quake, S.R.: 'Systematic Investigation of Protein Phase Behavior with a Microfluidic Formulator'. (2004) Proceedings of the National Academy of Science USA 101:14431-14436. - Download link

Joining the Lab

Post docs and PhD students

Talented and motivated applicants interested in joining our lab as a post doctoral fellow or a PhD-student should send their application, including CV and references to:

Morten Sommer

While funding is available for some positions, we encourage candidates to apply for their own funding (salary).

Undergraduate and Master student projects

The Sommer lab has a wide range of projects available for master students (speciale) and undergraduates. If you are interested in our research and would like to do a project in the lab please contact Morten Sommer for further information. Please include CV and your grades from your studies so far.

Get in touch

Department of Systems Biology

Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Biosustainability

Danmarks Tekniske Universitet
Building 301
DK-2800 Kgs. Lyngby

Lab: Room 159,161
Offices: Rooms 154-160

Morten Sommer contact info

Email: msom@bio.dtu.dk
Phone: +45 4525 2507
Fax: +45 4593 2809
Office: 158

Need directions? Follow this link

Kogle Alle 6
DK-2970 Hoersholm