In the field of microbial ecology, the focus of the investigations is on the detection and analysis of microbial diversity during the production, processing and storage of food. Of particular interest is the influence of production and storage parameters on population dynamics. Research is being conducted to determine which microorganisms are associated with quality losses due to food spoilage, preservation, and/or quality enhancement through fermentation and ripening processes. Additional work focuses on the use of starter, ripening, and protective cultures used in food production and the impact of reformulation strategies on these cultures and the overall microbiota. The impact of the use of starter, ripening and protective cultures on the growth and occurrence of pathogenic bacteria in food will be investigated in collaboration with the Institutes Foodborne Pathogens and Spoilage Working Group. Furthermore, the extent to which food-associated bacteria (including antibiotic-resistant bacteria) can enter the intestine via food and establish themselves there as part of the intestinal microbiota will be assessed. In addition, the transfer of antibiotic resistance from foodborne to gastrointestinal bacteria will be clarified.