Katja Dierking

Short CV

  • 2009 onwards: Research scientist, Kiel University, Germany
    (02/2012-02/2013 and 03/2014-03/2015 maternity leave)
  • 2009 PhD degree, Université de la Méditerranée Aix-Marseille II, France.
    Dissertation: "Control of antimicrobial peptide expression in the Caenorhabditis elegans epidermis".
  • 2005-2009 PhD student at the Centre d'Immunologie de Marseille Luminy, France.
    PhD Advisor: Dr. Jonathan Ewbank
  • 2003-2005: Research Associate in the Retrovirology Research Laboratory, University of Hawai'i at Manoa, USA.
    Research advisor: Dr. Vivek Nerurkar
  • 2003 Diploma degree, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Germany.
    Thesis (conducted at the University of Hawai'i, USA): "Cellular mechanisms underlying JC virus replication".
  • 2000-2003 Studies in Parasitology (major), Molecular Biology/Genetics, and Microbiology (minors) at the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Germany.
  • 1997-2000 Studies in Biology at the Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel, Germany.


C. elegans pathogen defense mechanisms

In my work, I use the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans as a model organism to study pathogen defense mechanisms and the impact of the microbiota on pathogen defenses. The work with C. elegans has, amongst others, the big advantage that it is easy to genetically manipulate the worm, e.g. to generate mutants and transgenic animals and to turn off genes using RNAi. Because of these powerful genetic tools available, C. elegans is a highly efficient model for the study of host-pathogen and host-microbe interactions. Moreover, several immune-related similarities are found between C. elegans and humans, including immunity signaling cascades and also the morphology and function of intestinal cells, which are the site of most infection in the worm; thus, new findings in C. elegans have potential implications for human immunity and disease.

Current research projects:


  • Zárate-Potes A and Dierking K (2021) Guard proteins keep watch at epithelial walls. Immunity 
  • Pees B, Yang W, Kloock A, Peters L, Fan L, Friedrichsen M, Petersen C, Zárate-Potes A, Schulenburg H, Dierking K (2021) Effector and regulator: Diverse immune functions of C. elegans C-type lectin-like domain proteins. PLoS Pathogens
  • Zárate-Potes A, Yang W, Andresen B, Nakad B, Haase D, Rosenstiel P, Dierking K*, Schulenburg H* (2021) The effects of nested miRNAs and their host genes on immune defense against Bacillus thuringiensis infection in Caenorhabditis elegans. Developmental & Comparative Immunology
  • Zárate-Potes A, Yang W, Pees B, Schalkowski R, Segler P, Andresen B, Haase D, Nakad R, Rosenstiel P, Tetreau G, Colletier JP, Schulenburg H* & Dierking K* (2020) The C. elegans GATA transcription factor elt-2 mediates distinct transcriptional responses and opposite infection outcomes towards different Bacillus thuringiensis strains. PLoS Pathogens
  • Dierking K & Pita L (2020) Receptors mediating host-microbiota communication in the metaorganism: the invertebrate perspective. Frontiers in Immunology
  • Zimmermann J*, Obeng N* , Yang W, Pees B, Petersen C, Waschina S, Kissoyan KAB, Aidley J, Hoeppner MP, Bunk B, Spröer C, Leippe M, Dierking K , Kaleta C* & Schulenburg H* (2019). The functional repertoire contained within the native microbiota of the model nematode Caenorhabditis elegans. The ISME Journal. *Shared first or senior authorship
  • Yang W*, Petersen C*, Pees B*, Zimmermann J, Waschina S, Dirksen P, Rosenstiel P, Tholey A, Leippe M, Dierking K , Kaleta C* & Schulenburg H* (2019) The inducible response of the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans to members of its natural microbiota across development and adult life. Frontiers in  Microbiology. *Shared first or senior authorship
  • Kissoyan KAB, Drechsler M, Stange EL, Zimmermann J, Kaleta C, Bode H & Dierking K (2019) Natural C. elegans microbiota protects against infection via production of a cyclic lipopeptide of the viscosin group. Current Biology 
  • Cassidy L, Petersen C, Treitz C & Dierking K, Schulenburg H, Leippe M, Tholey A (2018) The C. elegans Proteome Response to Naturally Associated Microbiome Members of the Genus Ochrobactrum. Proteomics
  • Pees B, Kloock A, Nakad R, Barbosa C & Dierking K (2017) Enhanced behavioral immune defenses in a C. elegans C-type lectin-like domain gene mutant. Developmental and Comparative Immunology.
  • Zhang F, Berg M, Dierking K, Félix MA, Shapira M, Samuel B & Schulenburg H (2017) Caenorhabditis elegans as a model for microbiome research. Frontiers in Microbiology.
  • Yang W, Dierking K, Rosenstiel PC & Schulenburg H (2016) GATA transcription factor as a likely key regulator of the Caenorhabditis elegans innate immune response against gut pathogens. Zoology.
  • Nakad R, Snoek LB, Yang W, Ellendt S, Schneider F, Mohr TG, Rösingh L, Masche AC, Rosenstiel PC, Dierking K, Kammenga JE & Schulenburg H (2016) Contrasting invertebrate immune defense behaviors caused by a single gene, the Caenorhabditis elegans neuropeptide receptor gene npr-1. BMC Genomics.
  • Dierking K, Yang W &Schulenburg H (2016) Antimicrobial effectors in the nematode C. elegans ¨C an outgroup to the Arthropoda. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society London B. 
  • Sheppard AE, Nakad R, Saebelfeld M, Masche AC, Dierking K, Schulenburg H. High instability of a nematicidal Cry toxin plasmid in Bacillus thuringiensis. Journal of Invertebrate Pathology. 
  • Yang W, Dierking K & Schulenburg H (2015) WormExp: a web-based application for a Caenorhabditis elegans-specific gene expression enrichment analysis. Bioinformatics.
  • Pees B, Yang W, Zarate-Potes A, Schulenburg H & Dierking K (2015) High innate immune specificity through diversification of C type lectin-like domain proteins in invertebrates. Journal of Innate Immunity.
  • Yang W*, Dierking K*, Esser D, Tholey A, Leippe M, et al. (2015) Overlapping and unique signatures in the proteomic and transcriptomic responses of the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans toward pathogenic Bacillus thuringiensis. Developmental & Comparative Immunology. *shared first authorship
  • Hornung C, Poehlein A, Haack FS, Schmidt M, Dierking K, Pohlen A, Schulenburg H, Blokesch M, Plener L, Jung K, Bonge A, Krohn-Molt I, Utpatel C, Timmermann G, Spieck E, Pommerening-Röser A, Bode E, Bode HB, Daniel R, Schmeisser C & Streit WR (2013) The Janthinobacterium sp. HH01 genome encodes a homologue of the V. cholerae CqsA and L. pneumophila LqsA autoinducer synthases. PLoS One.
  • Bijtenhoorn P, Mayerhofer H, Muller-Dieckmann J, Utpatel C, Schipper C, Hornung C, Szesny M, Grond S, Thruner A, Brzuszkiewicz E, Daniel R, Dierking K, Schulenburg H & Streit WR (2011) A novel metagenomic short-chain dehydrogenase/reductase attenuates Pseudomonas aeruginosa biofilm formation and virulence in Caenorhabditis elegans. PLoS One.
  • Dierking K, Polanowska J, Omi S, Engelmann I, Gut M, Lembo F, Ewbank JJ & Pujol N (2011) Unusual Regulation of a STAT Protein by a SLC6 Family Transporter in Caenorhabditis elegans Epidermal Innate Immunity. Cell Host Microbe.

Previous publications under maiden name (Katja Ziegler)

  • Ziegler K, Pujol N (2009) Caenorhabditis elegans defence mechanisms. Médecine sciences.
  • Ziegler K, Kurz CL, Cypowyj S, Couillault C, Pophillat M, Pujol N, Ewbank JJ (2009) Antifungal innate immunity in Caenorhabditis elegans: PKCdelta links G protein signaling and a conserved p38 MAPK cascade. Cell Host Microbe.
  • Pujol N, Cypowyj S, Ziegler K, Millet A, Astrain A, Goncharov A, Jin Y, Chisholm AD, Ewbank JJ (2008) Distinct innate immune responses to infection and wounding in the Caenorhabditis elegans epidermis. Current Biology.
  • Verma S, Ziegler K, Ananthula P, Co JKG, Frisque RJ, Yanagihara R, Nerurkar VR (2006) JC virus induces altered patterns of cellular gene expression: Interferon-inducible genes as major transcriptional targets. Virology.
  • Ziegler K, Bui T, Frisque RJ, Grandinetti A, Nerurkar VR (2004) A rapid in-vitro polyomavirus DNA replication assay. Journal of Virological Methods.