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About me

I am a microbiologist specialized in human microbiota research and its implications in health and disease. I am especially interested in how the gut and skin microbiota affect disease development through different mechanisms. My current research focuses on the effect of environmental microbial biodiversity on allergy development. Additionally I am studying how the skin microbiota is related to atopic dermatitis and psoriasis.

For my PhD research I studied the human intestinal microbe Akkermansia muciniphila, which promotes beneficial interactions in the gut. Currently the most convincing evidence of its beneficial effect on health comes from studies linking A. muciniphila to metabolic disorders, such as diabetes and obesity. My PhD thesis focused on characterizing the metabolic pathways, outer membrane proteome and host immune response of this bacterium.


  • Ph.D. in Microbiology from Wageningen University, the Netherlands, 2015
  • M.Sc. in Food Development from the University of Turku, Finland, 2009
  • B.Sc. in Health Biosciences from the University of Turku, 2008

PhD-thesis: Host interactions and substrate utilization of the gut symbiont Akkermansia muciniphila (available electronically at

Research description

Impact of environmental biodiversity on human microbiota and allergy responses

This project aims at connecting human living environment, commensal microbiota, and health, with respect to chronic inflammatory disorders. The work builds around the biodiversity hypothesis of allergic disease, proposing that contact with environmental biodiversity is important for the education of the immune system in early life, in turn affecting the risk of allergy later in life. Exposure to a diverse environmental microbiota can take place in multiple ways and it is not clear how and when should this exposure occur to ensure that the immune system receives sufficient educational signalling from bacteria.

The project is performed in collaboration with the University of Helsinki: The research group of Lasse Ruokolainen at the Department of Biosciences and the the research group of Harri Alenius at the Department of Bacteriology and Immunology.

For more information click here.

Composition and activity of the skin microbiome in atopic dermatitis

This project continues on the work of the EU-project MAARS (Microbes in Allergy and Autoimmunity Related to the Skin), which explores the nature and duration of microbial stimuli and associated changes in the epithelial barrier leading to the development of skin-related allergy and autoimmunity. Atopic dermatitis and psoriasis serve as models for investigation of the programming of the immune system towards an allergic or autoimmune inflammation. The aim of the study is to identify microbe-host-interaction networks involved in the development and persistence of atopic dermatitis and psoriasis. The project will pave the way for progress in prevention, new diagnostic strategies and treatment options for allergy and autoimmunity related skin diseases.

More information on the MAARS-project website.


Action and function of Akkermansia muciniphila in microbiome ecology, health and disease
Ottman N, Geerlings Sy, Aalvink S, De Vos Wm, Belzer C
Best practice & research. Clinical gastroenterology 2017;31(6):637-642

A purified membrane protein from Akkermansia muciniphila or the pasteurized bacterium improves metabolism in obese and diabetic mice
Plovier H, Everard A, Druart C, Depommier C, Van Hul M, Geurts L, et al
Nature medicine 2017;23(1):107-113

Genome-Scale Model and Omics Analysis of Metabolic Capacities of Akkermansia muciniphila Reveal a Preferential Mucin-Degrading Lifestyle
Ottman N, Davids M, Suarez-diez M, Boeren S, Schaap Pj, Dos Santos Vapm, et al

Pili-like proteins of Akkermansia muciniphila modulate host immune responses and gut barrier function
Ottman N, Reunanen J, Meijerink M, Pietilä Te, Kainulainen V, Klievink J, et al
PloS one 2017;12(3):e0173004-

Characterization of Outer Membrane Proteome of Akkermansia muciniphila Reveals Sets of Novel Proteins Exposed to the Human Intestine
Ottman N, Huuskonen L, Reunanen J, Boeren S, Klievink J, Smidt H, et al
Frontiers in microbiology 2016;7():1157-

Akkermansia muciniphila Adheres to Enterocytes and Strengthens the Integrity of the Epithelial Cell Layer
Reunanen J, Kainulainen V, Huuskonen L, Ottman N, Belzer C, Huhtinen H, et al

The function of our microbiota: who is out there and what do they do?
Ottman N, Smidt H, De Vos Wm, Belzer C
Frontiers in cellular and infection microbiology 2012;2():104-