Systems and Synthetic Biology of Genetic Networks

Calin Guet

The Guet Group's scientific curiosity is centered around understanding systems of interacting genes and proteins that constitute themselves into genetic networks in bacteria. These bio-molecular networks are involved in a constant process of decision making and computation that takes place over various time scales: from seconds to the division time of an organism and beyond. By studying existing networks or by constructing networks de novo in living cells using synthetic biology approaches, he aims to uncover universal rules that govern biological genetic networks.

The group uses Escherichia coli as our favorite model system and is generally interested in microbial genetic systems given their relative simplicity and powerful experimental genetic tools available. An emphasis is placed on understanding the molecular biology and physiology of the single cell, since often population level measurements mask the behavior of the individual cell. To this end they use and develop in vivo techniques that are minimally invasive in order to quantitatively characterize the temporal dynamics of gene expression.

Călin Guet
Institute of Science and Technology Austria (IST Austria)
Am Campus 1
A – 3400 Klosterneuburg
Phone: +43 (0)2243 9000-4001


Publication list

Louis Alesch

Phone: +43 (0)2243 9000-1032


  • Anna Andersson, Postdoc (jointly with Tkacik Group)
  • Remy Chait, Postdoc
  • Rok Grah, PhD Student (jointly with Tkacik Group)
  • Kirti Jai, Postdoc 
  • Claudia Igler, PhD Student (jointly with Bollback Group)
  • Moritz Lang, Postdoc
  • Anna Nagy-Staron, Postdoc
  • Nela Nikolic, Postdoc
  • Maros Pleska, PhD Student
  • Magdalena Steinrück, PhD Student
  • Isabella Tomanek, PhD Student (jointly with Bollback Group)
  • Kathrin Tomasek, PhD Student (jointly with Sixt Group)

Current Projects

  • Information processing at complex promoters
    Promoters perform very basic information processing: physiological information from diverse cellular sources is integrated at the promoter level in order to produce a mostly binary response: gene activation or gene repression. Natural promoters have been shaped by evolutionary processes and reveal only a subset of all possible information processing capabilities. By building synthetic promoters we aim to understand the constraints imposed by the molecular hardware on the information processing potential of bacterial promoters.
  • Systems biology of the Mar Regulon
    The multiple antibiotic resistance or mar operon, as the name suggests, is an important genetic locus responsible for multiple antibiotic resistance in gram negative bacteria. Several genes that are components of the wider mar regulon integrate a variety of intra and extracellular signals. We are interested in a systems level description of the mar regulon at the level of the single cell, in order to gain a deeper understanding of how resistance towards a variety of different chemicals emerges in natural settings.

Selected Publications

  • Steinrueck M and Guet CC. 2017. Complex chromosomal neighborhood effects determine the adaptive potential of a gene under selection. eLife 6, e25100
  • Bergmiller T, Andersson AMC, Tomasek K, Balleza E, Kiviet DJ, Hauschild R, Tkacik G, Guet CC. 2017. Biased partitioning of the multidrug efflux pump AcrAB-TolC underlies long-lived phenotypic heterogeneity. Science 356 (6335), 311-315
  • Lagator M, Paixao T, Barton N, Bollback JP, Guet CC. 2017. On the mechanistic nature of epistasis in a canonical cis-regulatory element. eLife 6, e25192
  • Pleška M, Qian L, Okura R, Bergmiller T, Wakamoto Y, Kussell E, Guet CC. 2016. Bacterial autoimmunity due to a restriction-modification system. Current Biology 26 (3), 404-409


2011 Assistant Professor, IST Austria
2009 Postdoc, Harvard University, Cambridge, USA
2005–2008 Postdoc, University of Chicago, USA
2004 PhD, Princeton University, USA

Selected Distinctions

2011 HFSP Grant
2005-2007 Yen Fellow, Institute for Biophysical Dynamics, University of Chicago, USA1997 Sigma XI Membership

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