• Our new home

    since summer 2021.

  • 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

  • Doctoral School in Microbiology and Environmental Sciences

  • PhD program in Microbial Symbioses

    A special FWF funded track in our doctoral school

Dome News

Latest publications

Prokaryotic viruses impact functional microorganisms in nutrient removal and carbon cycle in wastewater treatment plants.

As one of the largest biotechnological applications, activated sludge (AS) systems in wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) harbor enormous viruses, with 10-1,000-fold higher concentrations than in natural environments. However, the compositional variation and host-connections of AS viruses remain poorly explored. Here, we report a catalogue of ~50,000 prokaryotic viruses from six WWTPs, increasing the number of described viral species of AS by 23-fold, and showing the very high viral diversity which is largely unknown (98.4-99.6% of total viral contigs). Most viral genera are represented in more than one AS system with 53 identified across all. Viral infection widely spans 8 archaeal and 58 bacterial phyla, linking viruses with aerobic/anaerobic heterotrophs, and other functional microorganisms controlling nitrogen/phosphorous removal. Notably, Mycobacterium, notorious for causing AS foaming, is associated with 402 viral genera. Our findings expand the current AS virus catalogue and provide reference for the phage treatment to control undesired microorganisms in WWTPs.

Chen Y, Wang Y, Paez-Espino D, Polz MF, Zhang T
2021 - Nat Commun, 1: 5398

Aberrant gut-microbiota-immune-brain axis development in premature neonates with brain damage.

Premature infants are at substantial risk for suffering from perinatal white matter injury. Though the gut microbiota has been implicated in early-life development, a detailed understanding of the gut-microbiota-immune-brain axis in premature neonates is lacking. Here, we profiled the gut microbiota, immunological, and neurophysiological development of 60 extremely premature infants, which received standard hospital care including antibiotics and probiotics. We found that maturation of electrocortical activity is suppressed in infants with severe brain damage. This is accompanied by elevated γδ T cell levels and increased T cell secretion of vascular endothelial growth factor and reduced secretion of neuroprotectants. Notably, Klebsiella overgrowth in the gut is highly predictive for brain damage and is associated with a pro-inflammatory immunological tone. These results suggest that aberrant development of the gut-microbiota-immune-brain axis may drive or exacerbate brain injury in extremely premature neonates and represents a promising target for novel intervention strategies.

Seki D, Mayer M, Hausmann B, Pjevac P, Giordano V, Goeral K, Unterasinger L, Klebermaß-Schrehof K, De Paepe K, Van de Wiele T, Spittler A, Kasprian G, Warth B, Berger A, Berry D, Wisgrill L
2021 - Cell Host Microbe, in press

Sensitivity and specificity of the antigen-based anterior nasal self-testing programme for detecting SARS-CoV-2 infection in schools, Austria, March 2021

This study evaluates the performance of the antigen-based anterior nasal screening programme implemented in all Austrian schools to detect SARS-CoV-2 infections. We combined nationwide antigen-based screening data obtained in March 2021 from 5,370 schools (Grade 1–8) with an RT-qPCR-based prospective cohort study comprising a representative sample of 244 schools. Considering a range of assumptions, only a subset of infected individuals are detected with the programme (low to moderate sensitivity) and non-infected individuals mainly tested negative (very high specificity).

Willeit P, Bernar B, Zurl C, Al-Rawi M, Berghold A, Bernhard D, Borena W, Doppler C, Kerbl R, Köhler A, Krause R, Lamprecht B, Pröll J, Schmidt H, Steinmetz I, Evelyn S, Stoiber H, von Laer D, Zuber J, Müller T, Strenger V, Wagner M
2021 - Eurosurveillance, 26: pii=2100797

Lecture series

Making chemistry visible in complex biological systems

Klaus Koren
Aarhus University, Demark
22.04.2021
12:00 h
Webinar

Exploring viral diversity from the global oceans to the human gut

Ann Gregory
KU Leuven, Belgium
15.04.2021
12:00 h
Webinar