Isabelle Barth

Short Bio

I began my early scientific journey with my microscope in my playroom, as my parents always encouraged me to discover new things. This curiosity drove me forward and I was already thinking about a scientific career at the end of my bachelor's degree. I got to know and love this location through my studies in Bio- and Pharmaceutical Engineering, which I started in 2015, and the Master's degree in Bioprocess Engineering at the Environmental Campus Birkenfeld. I have been a doctoral student at the campus since the beginning of 2023 and I am researching a topic that has already accompanied me in different projects and my master's thesis. The fermentation of filamentous fungi is challenging and offers plenty of scope for my own ideas to further develop the process.


The design and optimization of reactor internals should serve to implement new fermentation concepts with regard to optimal fungal cultivation. By comparing mixing time experiments and CFD calculations, the shear forces prevailing during fermentation can be quantified. The results could significantly simplify the production of active pharmaceutical ingredients. New processes could thus be established that weren't economically due to the unfavorable fermentation conditions. The results can also be used to optimize current processes.

"I like the synergy between laboratory work, the establishment of new experiments and the opportunity to work and exchange ideas with other scientists."


For my doctoral thesis, I am investigating the effects of shear forces on the morphology and production of filamentous fungi. Filamentous fungi such as Penicillium have been established in the biotechnological industry for many years. A well-known example is the production of antibiotics or the production of citric acid by Aspergillus niger. Filamentous fungi produce a very wide range of interesting substances that are just waiting to be researched. In my work, I am focusing on the filamentous fungus Penicillium sp. IBWF 040-09, which is of interest because it produces a protease-inhibiting substance that could help in the fight against African sleeping sickness.

The growth of filamentous fungi can occur in two forms, either as pellets (small spheres) or as free mycelia (filaments). Depending on which growth form (morphology) occurs, production can be favored or reduced. My aim is to find the mechanical influencing factors and to optimize the reactor together with a doctoral student in mechanical engineering. It has already been shown that different flow conditions cause morphological changes in the fungus. The shear forces in the medium are to be determined by investigating the mixing time and CFD calculations. The interdisciplinary approach in our ParaMorphoPharm project should make it possible to obtain new bioreactor geometries in order to influence the fungal morphology during fermentation in the desired direction. In the project I am also working closely with two research groups at the Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz and a research group at the Technical University of Bingen, which are testing the extracts and the substances they contain against cancer cells or important targets against diseases or viruses.

A normal work day takes place almost completely in the lab. It consists of planning experiments, fermentation, i.e. growing the fungus and analyzing the experiment. After appr. one week of fermentation, it is possible to extract the products from the biomass formed. The analysis is carried out by separating the extract into different fractions using chromatography and performing an inhibition assay, i.e. a test that can detect the inhibition of a protease. This extraction process consists of many individual steps, which also have to be adapted and optimized. In addition to fermentation, I also carry out mixing time experiments in which a video of a color reaction is made and analyzed with different flows. This is used to assess the bioreactor setup and as a comparison for the CFD simulations of the flow. These results can then be used to plan new fermentations with other stirrers, internals or other bioreactor geometries. I am also considering new experiments with which I can quantify and qualify the growth form. To do this, I first plan the setup on paper. If individual parts are then required, I can design them using CAD and produce them using the 3D printer.


Isabelle Barth, M.Sc.
Doktorandin FB Umweltplanung/Umwelttechnik


Birkenfeld | Building 9913 | Room 123
  • Supervision of practical course in the bioprocessing laboratory for the Bachelor's and Master's degree programs in Bio- and Pharmaceutical Engineering, Bioprocess Engineering and Bio-, Pharmaceutical and Process Engineering 
  • Teaching the ELCHSE exercise course
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