• Hunting for microbes since 2003

  • We seek to understand

    the role of microorganisms in Earth's nutrient cycles

    and as symbionts of other organisms

  • Cycling of carbon, nitrogen and sulfur

    affect the health of our planet

  • The human microbiome -

    Our own social network of microbial friends

  • Ancient invaders -

    Bacterial symbionts of amoebae

    and the evolution of the intracellular lifestyle

  • Marine symbioses:

    Listening in on conversations

    between animals and the microbes they can't live without

  • Single cell techniques offer new insights

    into the ecology of microbes

  • Apply for the DOME International PhD/PostDoc program

Dome News

Latest publications

Stable-Isotope Probing of Human and Animal Microbiome Function

Humans and animals host diverse communities of microorganisms important to their physiology and health. Despite extensive sequencing-based characterization of host-associated microbiomes, there remains a dramatic lack of understanding of microbial functions. Stable-isotope probing (SIP) is a powerful strategy to elucidate the ecophysiology of microorganisms in complex host-associated microbiotas. Here, we suggest that SIP methodologies should be more frequently exploited as part of a holistic functional microbiomics approach. We provide examples of how SIP has been used to study host-associated microbes in vivo and ex vivo. We highlight recent developments in SIP technologies and discuss future directions that will facilitate deeper insights into the function of human and animal microbiomes.

2018 - Trends Microbiol, In press

Biodegradation of synthetic polymers in soils: Tracking carbon into CO2 and microbial biomass

Plastic materials are widely used in agricultural applications to achieve food security for the growing world population. The use of biodegradable instead of nonbiodegradable polymers in single-use agricultural applications, including plastic mulching, promises to reduce plastic accumulation in the environment. We present a novel approach that allows tracking of carbon from biodegradable polymers into CO2 and microbial biomass. The approach is based on 13C-labeled polymers and on isotope-specific analytical methods, including nanoscale secondary ion mass spectrometry (NanoSIMS). Our results unequivocally demonstrate the biodegradability of poly(butylene adipate-co-terephthalate) (PBAT), an important polyester used in agriculture, in soil. Carbon from each monomer unit of PBAT was used by soil microorganisms, including filamentous fungi, to gain energy and to form biomass. This work advances both our conceptual understanding of polymer biodegradation and the methodological capabilities to assess this process in natural and engineered environments.

Zumstein MT, Schintlmeister A, Nelson TF, Baumgartner R, Woebken D, Wagner M, Kohler H-PE, McNeill K, Sander M
2018 - Science Advances, 4: eaas9024

Ammonia monooxygenase-mediated cometabolic biotransformation and hydroxylamine-mediated abiotic transformation of micropollutants in an AOB/NOB co-culture

Biotransformation of various micropollutants (MPs) has been found to be positively correlated with nitrification in activated sludge communities. To further elucidate the roles played by ammonia-oxidizing bacteria (AOB) and nitrite-oxidizing bacteria (NOB), we investigated the biotransformation capabilities of an NOB pure culture (Nitrobacter sp.), and an AOB (Nitrosomonas europaea) / NOB (Nitrobacter sp.) co-culture for fifteen MPs, whose biotransformation were reported previously to be associated with nitrification. The NOB pure culture did not biotransform any investigated MP, whereas the AOB/NOB co-culture was capable of biotransforming asulam, and five other MPs. Two transformation products (TPs) of asulam were identified and tentative structures were proposed. Inhibition studies with octyne, an ammonia monooxygenase (AMO) inhibitor, suggested that AMO was the responsible enzyme for asulam transformation that occurred co-metabolically. Interestingly, hydroxylamine, a key intermediate of all aerobic ammonia oxidizers, was found to react with several MPs at concentrations typically occurring in AOB batch cultures. All of these MPs were also biotransformed by the AOB/NOB co-culture. Moreover, the same asulam TPs were detected in both biotransformation and hydroxylamine-treated abiotic transformation experiments. Thus, in addition to cometabolism likely carried out by AMO, an abiotic transformation route indirectly mediated by AMO might also contribute to MP biotransformation by AOB. 

Yu Y, Han P, Zhou L-J, Li Z, Wagner M, Men Y
2018 - Environ Sci Technol, in press

Lecture series

Exploring new branches on the tree of life

Brett Baker
University of Texas, Austin, USA
06.09.2018
12:00 h
Lecture Hall 2, UZA 1, Althanstr. 14, 1090 Wien