Lone Gram

Lone Gram's web-page



Education, employment, memberships

Professor at the Department for Biotechnology and Biomedicine (previously Systems Biology) (2013-), Technical University of Denmark, at DTU National Food Institute (2010-2012), at DTU Aqua and DTU SystemBiology (2005-2010) and at the Danish Institute for Fisheries Research (2000-2005).

From 2018 to 2028, leader of a Center of Excellence: Center for Microbial Secondary Metabolites, CeMiSt

Received the Villum-Kann Rasmussen Annual Award (2016), the Fritz Kaufmann Mindefond award (2008) and Tagea Brandt travel award (2008). Ridder af Dannebrogordenen (2018). Elected to the Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters (2020). Member of the Danish Academy of Technical Sciences (2021) 

Visiting research scientist in 2009 at Professor Roberto Kolter, Harvard Medical School, Boston, USA and in 1994-95 and 1999 at Professor Staffan Kjelleberg, University of New South Wales, Australia.

Member and Vice chair of the board of the Independent Research Fund Denmark (since 2019), chairman of the Danish Research Council for Natural Sciences (2015-2016), vice chair (2014) and member (2013-2018). Editor of Applied and Environmental Microbiology (2006-2012), member of the Danish Council for Research Policy (2007-2011)

External associate professor at the RVAU 1989-2000. Consultancies for the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO) on projects and courses related to fish technology

Member (1998-2007) and secretary (2003-2007) of ICMSF; the International Commission on Microbiological Specifications for Foods (revised March 2007)

M.Sc. in food science (1980-1985) and Ph.D. (1989) from the Royal Veterinary and Agricultural University (RVAU)

In 2006, I joined a global scientific marin cruise (Galathea3) where we determined the distribution of culturable bacteria with antibacterial activity in the marine environment . Specifically, we have searched for organisms belonging to the Roseobacter clade but our work has also demonstrated that Pseudoalteromonas spp. and Vibrio spp. have inhibitory properties. This work can potentially be of interest in drug discovery work. A short Danish description of the project is available.

Author of >245 peer reviewed articles. Web of Science: 13,500 citations, h-index 62. ORCID-ID: 0000-0002-1076-5723


The research of my group aims at understanding how and why bacteria interacti; especially based on bacterial secondary metabolites. We also explore the natural roles of such secondary metabolites in microbiomes and in the producer organisms. We use this understanding to design biocontrol and other bio-process oriented solutions. In part, novel antibacterials are derived from (marine) bacteria and we use bacteria with desired characteristics (probiotics, producers of bioactive compounds) in our quest to control bacteria that are pathogenic either to man or to fish. Below is  brief list of topics and articles related to work in the group. You can find a description of the Bacterial Ecophysiology and Biotechnology Group. 

Natural role(s) of microbial secondary metabolites. Many microorganisms produce compunds (secondary metabolites) with antibiotic activity, as exemplified by Dr. Alexander Fleming's discovery of penicillin in 1928. We have since then explored these microbial compounds as antibiotics and other drugs and have also perceived their role in natural systems as defense and competitive compounds. However, in natural systems, the concentrations are much lower that those required for antibiotic activity and we are exploring in marine and soil systems how these compounds affect the producing bacteria, as well as the assembly and development of natural microbiomes. More can be found at www.cemist.dtu.dk.

Novel antibacterial compounds. We have a constant need for controlling unwanted bacteria - be it infectious or spoiling microorganisms. We spend a vast amount of our time removing or killing bacteria; washing, cleaning, disinfecting, in food preservation - and in treatment of infectious diseases. We have worked with a multitude of novel antibacterial compounds - bacteriocins, antimicrobial peptides, enzymes and compounds affecting quorum sensing. We are currently (2013) focusing on antibacterial compounds produced by marine bacteria and the use of antimicrobial peptides. Key to this work has been our participation in the Galathea 3 global marine research expedition. Here we collected hundreds of culturable marine bacteria capable of antagonizing other bacteria. We have from these (roseobacters, pseudoalteromonads and vibrios) isolated a suite of antibacterial compounds. Using genome-mining we have demonstrated that their potential for secondary metabolite production is even larger than hitherto thought. We also study how use of natural carbon-sources can elicit the expression of these presumed silent gene clusters.

Fish probiotics and interactions between marine bacteria. An ever increasing amount of fish is being produced in aquaculture - today almost 50% of fish used for human consumption are farmed. Although vaccines have been tremendously succesful as disease control measures, antibiotics are still used against several bacterial fish diseases. Due to the concerns raised vis-a-vis development of antibiotic resistance, alternative disease control measures must be sought. Probiotics (live microbial cultures which when supplied to the host confers a beneficial effect) have, in some scenarios, been succesful. We are currently especially interested in the potential of marine Roseobacter as fish larval probiotics. We collaborate with German, Norwegian, Greek and American research groups on this organism

Listeria monocytogenes - ecology and virulence. Listeria monocytogenes is an important food-borne pathogen that, in high risk population groups, can cause the serious infectious disease, listeriosis. The disease is typically transmitted with ready-to-eat food products in which the organism has grown to high numbers. We study measures to control the organism. This includes its prevalence in the environment, its persistance in food processing, its biofilm formation, prevention of growth using bioprotection - and recently also its interaction with eucaryotic cells and hosts.

Hygiene and biofilms. In the environment most bacteria will grow adhered to surfaces and not as free living cells. The ability to grow at surfaces as biofilms is also important in food processing environments. We have studied the biofilm formation and the subsequent removal of biofilms by several methods. We have, in model systems  evaluated different surface modifications and have determined the effect of surface roughness (of stainless steel) on bacterial adhesion. Currently, we collaborate with Elplatek A/S on developing copper-silver alloys as antibacterial coatings.

Quorum related interactions between marine bacteria Bacteria will through antagonistic and synergistic activities interact and influence the growth and metabolism of one another. Many pathogenic bacteria and symbiotic bacteria employ acylated homoserine lactones (AHLs) in cell-to-cell communication. This communication enables them to coordinate gene expression, e.g. toxin production, in a population. We have assessed the importance of AHL communication in food spoilage and the effect of specific quorum sensing inhibtiors (QSIs). We also study AHL-signalling in fish pathogenic bacteria and have demonstrated that compounds interfereing with AHL-systems (so-called quorum sensing inhibtors) reduce vibriosis mortality in rainbow trout.

Ecology and detection of Shewanella putrefaciens . The spoilage of aerobically stored iced fish is mainly caused by growth and metabolism of S. putrefaciens. We have used the spoilage reactions (e.g. reduction of trimethylamine oxide and production of H2S or antibody technology for specific detection of this organism. We have also studied its siderophore-based iron uptake systems. Many mesophilic strains formerly identified as S. putrefaciens belong to a different species, Shewanella algae which may cause wound infections and bacteremia in humans. S. algae is a marine bacterium and can be detected in Danish marine waters when the water temperature is above 15°C. Our work has, in collaboration with American collegues, led to the identification of several new Shewanella species

18 MAY 2024