• 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

  • DoME hosted "Let's talk about symbiosis" workshop

    16.11.18
    Event

    This week, DoME hosted the 11th „Let’s talk about symbiosis“ workshop. For one day, students, PhD students, postdocs and PIs interested in microbial symbiosis got together to discuss their current ...

  • Panel discussion on "Microbiome and the environment"

    13.11.18
    Outreach

    Jillian Petersen and David Berry participated in a panel discussion on the human microbiome and the environment at the Natural History Museum of Vienna. Together with other Viennese researchers and ...

  • Habilitation of Marc Mussmann

    19.10.18
    News

    Marc Mussmann received his Venia Legendi from the University of Bremen after his habilitation lecture "Microbial sulfur oxidation in coastal marine sediments" at the Max-Planck-Institute for Marine Microbiology. Congratulations Privatdozent Dr. Marc! ...

  • Hochschuljubiläumsstiftung funding for Petra Pjevac and Andrew Giguere

    12.10.18
    News

    The Hochschuljubiläumsstiftung of the City of Vienna awarded funding to Petra and Andrew for their project "Can soil help the city breathe?". Petra and Andrew will investigate the capacity ...

Latest publications

Sulfate is transported at significant rates through the symbiosome membrane and is crucial for nitrogenase biosynthesis

Legume-rhizobia symbioses play a major role in food production for an ever growing human population. In this symbiosis, dinitrogen is reduced ('fixed') to ammonia by the rhizobial nitrogenase enzyme complex and is secreted to the plant host cells, while dicarboxylic acids derived from photosynthetically-produced sucrose are transported into the symbiosomes and serve as respiratory substrates for the bacteroids. The symbiosome membrane contains high levels of SST1 protein, a sulfate transporter. Sulfate is an essential nutrient for all living organisms, but its importance for symbiotic nitrogen fixation and nodule metabolism has long been underestimated. Using chemical imaging, we demonstrate that the bacteroids take up 20-fold more sulfate than the nodule host cells. Furthermore, we show that nitrogenase biosynthesis relies on high levels of imported sulfate, making sulfur as essential as carbon for the regulation and functioning of symbiotic nitrogen fixation. Our findings thus establish the importance of sulfate and its active transport for the plant-microbe interaction that is most relevant for agriculture and soil fertility. 

Schneider S, Schintlmeister A, Becana M, Wagner M, Woebken D, Wienkoop S
2018 - Plant Cell Environ, in press

Transcriptomic and proteomic insight into the mechanism of cyclooctasulfur- versus thiosulfate-oxidation by the chemolithoautotroph Sulfurimonas denitrificans

Chemoautotrophic bacteria belonging to the genus Sulfurimonas (class Campylobacteria) were previously identified as key players in the turnover of zero-valence sulfur, a central intermediate in the marine sulfur cycle. S. denitrificans was further shown to be able to oxidize cyclooctasulfur (S ). However, at present the mechanism of activation and metabolism of cyclooctasulfur is not known. Here, we assessed the transcriptome and proteome of S. denitrificans grown with either thiosulfate or S as the electron donor. While the overall expression profiles under the two growth conditions were rather similar, distinct differences were observed that could be attributed to the utilization of S . This included a higher abundance of expressed genes related to surface attachment in the presence of S , and the differential regulation of the sulfur-oxidation multienzyme complex (SOX), which in S. denitrificans is encoded in two gene clusters: soxABXY Z and soxCDY Z . While the proteins of both clusters were present with thiosulfate, only proteins of the soxCDY Z were detected at significant levels with S . Based on these findings a model for the oxidation of S is proposed. Our results have implications for interpreting metatranscriptomic and -proteomic data and for the observed high level of diversification of soxY Z among sulfur-oxidizing Campylobacteria. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

Götz F, Pjevac P, Markert S, McNichol J, Becher D, Schweder T, Mussmann M, Sievert SM
2018 - Environ Microbiol, in press

Genomic Insights Into the Acid Adaptation of Novel Methanotrophs Enriched From Acidic Forest Soils.

Soil acidification is accelerated by anthropogenic and agricultural activities, which could significantly affect global methane cycles. However, detailed knowledge of the genomic properties of methanotrophs adapted to acidic soils remains scarce. Using metagenomic approaches, we analyzed methane-utilizing communities enriched from acidic forest soils with pH 3 and 4, and recovered near-complete genomes of proteobacterial methanotrophs. Novel methanotroph genomes designated KS32 and KS41, belonging to two representative clades of methanotrophs ( of and of ), were dominant. Comparative genomic analysis revealed diverse systems of membrane transporters for ensuring pH homeostasis and defense against toxic chemicals. Various potassium transporter systems, sodium/proton antiporters, and two copies of proton-translocating F1F0-type ATP synthase genes were identified, which might participate in the key pH homeostasis mechanisms in KS32. In addition, the V-type ATP synthase and urea assimilation genes might be used for pH homeostasis in KS41. Genes involved in the modification of membranes by incorporation of cyclopropane fatty acids and hopanoid lipids might be used for reducing proton influx into cells. The two methanotroph genomes possess genes for elaborate heavy metal efflux pumping systems, possibly owing to increased heavy metal toxicity in acidic conditions. Phylogenies of key genes involved in acid adaptation, methane oxidation, and antiviral defense in KS41 were incongruent with that of 16S rRNA. Thus, the detailed analysis of the genome sequences provides new insights into the ecology of methanotrophs responding to soil acidification.

Nguyen NL, Yu WJ, Gwak JH, Kim SJ, Park SJ, Herbold CW, Kim JG, Jung MY, Rhee SK
2018 - Front Microbiol, 1982

Lecture series

Toward a predictive understanding of microbiome response to environmental change in peatlands

Joel Kostka
Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, USA
03.12.2018
13:30 h
Lecture Hall 5, UZA II