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Multicellular organisms first took their place in the evolutionary chain some 450 million years ago. In this video, THOMAS BOSCH seeks to extend our understanding of how human and animal bodies function via analysis of these ancient creatures. Focusing on the freshwater polyp Hydra and employing techniques including molecular cell biology, modern sequencing technology and in depth study of stem cell behavior, Bosch argues that what were heretofore considered ancient simple creatures, are, in fact, decidedly complex. Providing important new insight into the microbial world, Bosch’s work underlines the fact that all life is multiorganismic, raising fundamental philosophical questions about how we define individuality.


Professor Thomas Bosch is Director of the Kiel Life Science (KLS) Interdisciplinary Research Center at Kiel University. A Senior Fellow of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR), Bosch also leads the German Science Foundation’s “Origin and Function of Metaorganisms” Collaborative Research Center. His research interests include the individual as metaorganism, stem cells and ageing and evolutionary immunology. Editor in Chief of Zoology, Bosch was awarded an honorary doctorate from St. Petersburg State University in 2004.


Collaborative Research Center 1182 „Origin and Function of Metaorganisms“ (Kiel University)

From protists to humans, all animals and plants are inhabited by microbial organisms. There is an increasing appreciation that these resident microbes influence fitness of their plant and animal hosts, ultimately forming a metaorganism consisting of a uni- or multicellular host and a community of associated microorganisms. Research on host-microbe interactions has become an emerging cross-disciplinary field. In both vertebrates as well as invertebrates a complex microbiome confers immunological, metabolic and behavioural benefits; its disturbance can contribute to the development of disease states. However, the molecular and cellular mechanisms controlling interactions within the metaorganisms are poorly understood and many key interactions between the associated organisms remain unknown. The CRC 1182 at Kiel University adresses theses questions particularly by investigating: ·          the specific functional consequences of the interactions, ·          the underlying regulatory principles, ·          the resulting impact on host life history and evolutionary fitness in selected host systems. ( )
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Original publication

Rethinking the Role of the Nervous System: Lessons from the Hydra Holobiont

Klimovich Alexander V. and Bosch Thomas C.G.
Published in 2018

How the Microbiome Challenges our Concept of Self

Rees Tobias, Bosch Thomas and Douglas Angela E.
PLoS Biology
Published in 2018

A Secreted Antibacterial Neuropeptide Shapes the Microbiome of Hydra

others, Augustin René, Schröder Katja, Rincón Andrea P Murillo, Fraune Sebastian, Anton-Erxleben Friederike, Herbst Eva-Maria, Wittlieb Jörg, Schwentner Martin, Grötzinger Joachim and Wassenaar Trudy M.
Nature Communications
Published in 2017

Back to the Basics: Cnidarians Start to Fire

others, Bosch Thomas C.G., Klimovich Alexander, Domazet-Lošo Tomislav, Gründer Stefan, Holstein Thomas W., Jékely Gáspár, Miller David J., Murillo-Rincon Andrea P., Rentzsch Fabian and Richards Gemma S.
Trends in Neurosciences
Published in 2017

The Holobiont Imperative - Perspectives from Early Emerging Animals

Bosch Thomas C.G. and Miller David J.
Published in 2016

Reading recommendations

Grow With the Challenge – Microbial Effects on Epithelial Proliferation, Carcinogenesis, and Cancer Therapy

von Frieling Jakob, Fink Christine, Hamm Jacob, Klischies Kenneth, Forster Michael, Bosch Thomas C. G., Roeder Thomas, Rosenstiel Philip and Sommer Felix
Frontiers in Microbiology
Published in 2018

Rethinking the Role of Immunity: Lessons from Hydra

Bosch Thomas C.G.
Trends in Immunology
Published in 2014

Animals in a Bacterial World, a New Imperative For the Life Sciences

others, Bosch Thomas C.G., Douglas Angela E., Domazet-Lošo Tomislav, McFall-Ngai Margaret, Hadfield Michael G., Carey Hannah V., Dubilier Nicole, Eberl Gerard, Fukami Tadashi and Gilbert Scott F.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Published in 2013