Dr Altermann is a scientist in the Animal Science Group at AgResearch, Palmerston North. He received his PhD at the University of Kaiserslautern, Germany in 1999. His main interest at that time was centred on bacteriophage and bacteriophage development programmes in lactobacilli. Between 2000 and 2006 he worked in the group of Prof Todd Klaenhammer at the North Carolina State University (NC, USA) first as a Post Doctoral Fellow and then as a Senior Research Scientist. He was involved in the first Lactobacillus genome sequencing projects including Lactobacillus acidophilus NCFM, Lactobacillus gasseri and Lactobacillus johnsonii (in a collaboration with Nestlé). Later on, he was also part of the Lactic Acid Bacteria Genome Consortium (LABGC), the first large scale microbial genome sequencing project conducted by the Joint Genome Institute (CA, USA).
In 2006 he accepted a position as Senior Research Scientist at AgResearch, New Zealand where he is now working mainly on identifying and developing biological avenues to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions originating from New Zealand ruminants. He is developing software packages for genome annotation and comparative genome analyses, investigating the genetic makeup of methanogens, archaea that are responsible for the production of methane in all ruminants.
In 2009 Dr Altermann joined the Riddet Institute CoRE as Associate Investigator, analysing the genetic blueprint of intestinal lactobacilli. Although many lactic acid bacteria are recognised as delivering beneficial effects to their hosts, some strains may be detrimental to health and well-being. Together with Drs Nicole Roy and Wayne Young, he is supervising MSc and PhD students in a program that aims to determine the genetic basis for these observed adverse phenotypes. More recently, he became interested in the application of a biological nanobeads platform that has been pioneered by Prof Rem (Massey University) and commercialised through PolyBatics, a New Zealand based company. He currently leads research programs that have utilised novel archaeal enzymes displayed on these bionanoparticles to inhibit methanogens in vitro and in rumen simulations.
Further extending the application of tailored bionanoparticles, Dr Altermann has joined Costanoan Biotechnologies Inc. (USA) as Chief Technology Officer in 2016. Costanoan Bio is developing high value therapeutics against cancer and viral diseases such as Hepatitis C, Dengue Fever and Zika Fever.