Publications in peer reviewed journals

44 Publications found
  • Reduced alpha diversity of the oral microbiome correlates with short progression-free survival in patients with relapsed/refractory multiple myeloma treated with ixazomib-based therapy (AGMT MM 1, phase II trial)

    Ludwig H, Hausmann B, Schreder M, Pönisch W, Zojer N, Knop S, Gunsilius E, Egle A, Petzer A, Einsele H, Hajek R, Weisel K, Krenosz KJ, Lang A, Lechner D, Greil R, Berry D
    2021 - eJHaem, 2: 102-106


    Alterations in the human microbiome have been linked to several malignant diseases. Here, we investigated the oral microbiome of 79 patients with relapsed/refractory multiple myeloma (MM) treated with ixazomib-thalidomide-dexamethasone. Increased alpha diversity (Shannon index) at the phylum level was associated with longer progression-free survival (PFS) (10.2 vs 8.5 months, P = .04), particularly in patients with very long (>75% quartile) PFS . Additionally, alpha diversity was lower in patients with progressive disease (P < .05). These findings suggest an interrelationship between the oral microbiome and outcome in patients with MM and encourage a novel direction for diagnostic and/or therapeutic strategies.

  • Sustained nitrogen loss in a symbiotic association of Comammox Nitrospira and Anammox bacteria

    Gottshall EY, Bryson SJ, Cogert KI, Landreau M, Sedlacek CJ, Stahl DA, Daims H, Winkler M
    2021 - Water Res, 202: 117426


    The discovery of anaerobic ammonia-oxidizing bacteria (Anammox) and, more recently, aerobic bacteria common in many natural and engineered systems that oxidize ammonia completely to nitrate (Comammox) have significantly altered our understanding of the global nitrogen cycle. A high affinity for ammonia (Km(app),NH3 ≈ 63nM) and oxygen place Comammox Nitrospira inopinata, the first described isolate, in the same trophic category as organisms such as some ammonia-oxidizing archaea. However, N. inopinata has a relatively low affinity for nitrite (Km,NO2 ≈ 449.2μM) suggesting it would be less competitive for nitrite than other nitrite-consuming aerobes and anaerobes. We examined the ecological relevance of the disparate substrate affinities by coupling it with the Anammox bacterium Candidatus Brocadia anammoxidans. Synthetic communities of the two were established in hydrogel granules in which Comammox grew in the aerobic outer layer to provide Anammox with nitrite in the inner anoxic core to form dinitrogen gas. This spatial organization was confirmed with FISH imaging, supporting a mutualistic or commensal relationship. The functional significance of interspecies spatial organization was informed by the hydrogel encapsulation format, broadening our limited understanding of the interplay between these two species. The resulting low nitrate formation and the competitiveness of Comammox over other aerobic ammonia- and nitrite-oxidizers sets this ecological cooperation apart and points to potential biotechnological applications. Since nitrate is an undesirable product of wastewater treatment effluents, the Comammox-Anammox symbiosis may be of economic and ecological importance to reduce nitrogen contamination of receiving waters.

  • Pangenomics reveals alternative environmental lifestyles among chlamydiae

    Köstlbacher S, Collingro A, Halter T, Schulz F, Jungbluth SP, Horn M
    2021 - Nature Commun, 12: 4021


    Chlamydiae are highly successful strictly intracellular bacteria associated with diverse eukaryotic hosts. Here we analysed metagenome-assembled genomes of the “Genomes from Earth’s Microbiomes” initiative from diverse environmental samples, which almost double the known phylogenetic diversity of the phylum and facilitate a highly resolved view at the chlamydial pangenome. Chlamydiae are defined by a relatively large core genome indicative of an intracellular lifestyle, and a highly dynamic accessory genome of environmental lineages. We observe chlamydial lineages that encode enzymes of the reductive tricarboxylic acid cycle and for light-driven ATP synthesis. We show a widespread potential for anaerobic energy generation through pyruvate fermentation or the arginine deiminase pathway, and we add lineages capable of molecular hydrogen production. Genome-informed analysis of environmental distribution revealed lineage-specific niches and a high abundance of chlamydiae in some habitats. Together, our data provide an extended perspective of the variability of chlamydial biology and the ecology of this phylum of intracellular microbes.

  • Nano-scale imaging of dual stable isotope labeled oxaliplatin in human colon cancer cells reveals the nucleolus as a putative node for therapeutic effect

    Legin AA, Schintlmeister A, Sommerfeld NS, Eckhard M, Theiner S, Reipert S, Strohofer D, Jakupec MA, Galanski M, Wagner M, Keppler BK
    2021 - Nanoscale Advances, 3: 249-262


    Oxaliplatin shows a superior clinical activity in colorectal cancer compared to cisplatin. Nevertheless, the knowledge about its cellular distribution and the mechanisms responsible for the different range of oxaliplatin-responsive tumors is far from complete. In this study, we combined highly sensitive element specific and isotope selective imaging by nanometer-scale secondary ion mass spectrometry (NanoSIMS) with transmission electron microscopy to investigate the subcellular accumulation of oxaliplatin in three human colon cancer cell lines (SW480, HCT116 wt, HCT116 OxR). Oxaliplatin bearing dual stable isotope labeled moieties, i.e. 2H-labeled diaminocyclohexane (DACH) and 13C-labeled oxalate, were applied for comparative analysis of the subcellular distribution patterns of the central metal and the ligands. In all the investigated cell lines, oxaliplatin was found to have a pronounced tendency for cytoplasmic aggregation in single membrane bound organelles, presumably related to various stages of the endocytic pathway. Moreover, nuclear structures, heterochromatin and in particular nucleoli, were affected by platinum-drug exposure. In order to explore the consequences of oxaliplatin resistance, subcellular drug distribution patterns were investigated in a pair of isogenic malignant cell lines with distinct levels of drug sensitivity (HCT116 wt and HCT116 OxR, the latter with acquired resistance to oxaliplatin). The subcellular platinum distribution was found to be similar in both cell lines, with only slightly higher accumulation in the sensitive HCT116 wt cells which is inconsistent with the resistance factor of more than 20-fold. Instead, the isotopic analysis revealed a disproportionally high accumulation of the oxalate ligand in the resistant cell line.

  • Cyanate is a low abundance but actively cycled nitrogen compound in soil

    Mooshammer M, Wanek W, Jones SH, Richter A, Wagner M
    2021 - Communications Earth & Environment, 2: 161
    Cyanate soil


    Cyanate can serve as a nitrogen and/or carbon source for different microorganisms and as an energy source for autotrophic ammonia oxidizers. However, the extent of cyanate availability and utilisation in terrestrial ecosystems and its role in biogeochemical cycles is poorly known. Here we analyse cyanate concentrations in soils across a range of soil types, land management practices and climates. Soil cyanate concentrations were three orders of magnitude lower than ammonium or nitrate. We determined cyanate consumption in a grassland and rice paddy soil using stable isotope tracer experiments. We find that cyanate turnover was rapid and dominated by biotic processes. We estimated that in-situ cyanate production rates were similar to those associated with urea fertilizer decomposition, a major source of cyanate in the environment. We provide evidence that cyanate is actively turned over in soils and represents a small but continuous nitrogen/energy source for soil microbes.

  • Increased microbial expression of organic nitrogen cycling genes in long-term warmed grassland soils

    Séneca J, Söllinger A, Herbold CW, Pjevac P, Prommer J, Verbruggen E, Sigurdsson BD, Peñuelas J, Jannsens IA, Urich T, Tveit AT, Richter A
    2021 - ISME Commun, 1: 69


    Global warming increases soil temperatures and promotes faster growth and turnover of soil microbial communities. As microbial cell walls contain a high proportion of organic nitrogen, a higher turnover rate of microbes should also be reflected in an accelerated organic nitrogen cycling in soil. We used a metatranscriptomics and metagenomics approach to demonstrate that the relative transcription level of genes encoding enzymes involved in the extracellular depolymerization of high-molecular-weight organic nitrogen was higher in medium-term (8 years) and long-term (>50 years) warmed soils than in ambient soils. This was mainly driven by increased levels of transcripts coding for enzymes involved in the degradation of microbial cell walls and proteins. Additionally, higher transcription levels for chitin, nucleic acid, and peptidoglycan degrading enzymes were found in long-term warmed soils. We conclude that an acceleration in microbial turnover under warming is coupled to higher investments in N acquisition enzymes, particularly those involved in the breakdown and recycling of microbial residues, in comparison with ambient conditions.

  • Acidobacteria are active and abundant members of diverse atmospheric H2-oxidizing communities detected in temperate soils

    Giguere AT, Eichorst SA, Meier D, Herbold CW, Richter A, Greening C, Woebken D
    2021 - ISME J, 2: 363-376


    Significant rates of atmospheric H2 consumption have been observed in temperate soils due to the activity of high-affinity enzymes, such as the group 1h [NiFe]-hydrogenase. We designed broadly inclusive primers targeting the large subunit gene (hhyL) of group 1h [NiFe]-hydrogenases for long-read sequencing to explore its taxonomic distribution across soils. This approach revealed a diverse collection of microorganisms harboring hhyL, including previously unknown groups and taxonomically not assignable sequences. Acidobacterial group 1h [NiFe]-hydrogenases genes were abundant and expressed in temperate soils. To support the participation of acidobacteria in H2 consumption, we studied two representative mesophilic soil acidobacteria, which expressed group 1h [NiFe]-hydrogenases and consumed atmospheric H2 during carbon starvation. This is the first time mesophilic acidobacteria, which are abundant in ubiquitous temperate soils, have been shown to oxidize H2 down to below atmospheric concentrations. As this physiology allows bacteria to survive periods of carbon starvation, it could explain the success of soil acidobacteria. With our long-read sequencing approach of group 1h [NiFe]-hydrogenases genes, we show that the ability to oxidize atmospheric levels of His more widely distributed among soil bacteria than previously recognized and could represent a common mechanism enabling bacteria to persist during periods of carbon deprivation.

  • Electrochemical enrichment of marine denitrifying bacteria to enhance nitrate metabolization in seawater

    De La Fuente MJ, de la Iglesia R, Farías L, Daims H, Lukumbuzya M, Vargas I
    2021 - J Environ Chem Eng, 9: 105604


    High concentrations of nitrate from industrial discharges to coastal marine environments are a matter of concern owing to their ecological consequences. In the last years, Bioelectrochemical Denitrification Systems (BEDS) have emerged as a promising nitrate removal technology. However, they still have limitations, such as the enrichment strategy for specific microbial communities in the electrodes under natural conditions. In this study, three-electrode electrochemical cells were used to test microbial enrichment from natural seawater by applying three reported potentials associated with the dissimilatory denitrification process (-130, -260, and -570 mV vs. Ag/AgCl). The microbial community analysis showed that by applying -260 mV (vs. Ag/AgCl) to the working electrode, it was possible to significantly enrich denitrifying microorganisms, specifically Marinobacter, in comparison with the control. Furthermore, -260 mV (vs. Ag/AgCl) led to a significantly higher nitrate removal than other conditions, which, combined with cyclic voltammetry analysis, suggested that the polarized electrodes worked as external electron donors for nitrate reduction. Hence, this work demonstrates for the first time that it is possible to enrich marine denitrifying microorganisms by applying an overpotential of -260 mV (vs. Ag/AgCl) without the need for a culture medium, the addition of an exogenous electron donor (i.e., organic matter) or a previously enriched inoculum.

  • Nitrogen kinetic isotope effects of nitrification by the complete ammonia oxidizer Nitrospira inopinata

    Liu S, Jung MY, Zhang S, Wagner M, Daims H, Wanek W
    2021 - mSphere, 6: e00634-21


    Analysis of nitrogen isotope fractionation effects is useful for tracing biogeochemical nitrogen cycle processes. Nitrification can cause large nitrogen isotope effects through the enzymatic oxidation of ammonia (NH3) via nitrite (NO2-) to nitrate (NO3-) (15εNH4+→NO2- and 15ɛNO2-→NO3-). The isotope effects of ammonia-oxidizing bacteria (AOB) and archaea (AOA), and nitrite-oxidizing bacteria (NOB), have been analyzed previously. Here we studied the nitrogen isotope effects of the complete ammonia oxidizer (comammox) Nitrospira inopinata that oxidizes NH3 to NO3-. At high ammonium (NH4+) availability (1 mM) and pH between 6.5 and 8.5, its 15εNH4+→NO2- ranged from −33.1 to −27.1‰ based on substrate consumption (residual substrate isotopic composition) and −35.5 to −31.2‰ based on product formation (cumulative product isotopic composition), while the 15ɛNO2-→NO3- ranged from 6.5 to 11.1‰ based on substrate consumption. These values resemble isotope effects of AOB and AOA, and of NOB in the genus Nitrospira, suggesting the absence of fundamental mechanistic differences between key enzymes for ammonia and nitrite oxidation in comammox and canonical nitrifiers. However, ambient pH and initial NH4+ concentrations influenced the isotope effects in N. inopinata. The 15εNH4+→NO2- based on product formation was smaller at pH 6.5 (−31.2‰) compared to pH 7.5 (−35.5‰) and pH 8.5 (−34.9‰), while 15ɛNO2-→NO3- was smaller at pH 8.5 (6.5‰) compared to pH 7.5 (8.8‰) and pH 6.5 (11.1‰). Isotopic fractionation via 15εNH4+→NO2- and 15ɛNO2-→NO3- was smaller at 0.1 mM NH4+ compared to 0.5 to 1.0 mM NH4+. Environmental factors, such as pH and NH4+ availability, therefore need to be considered when using isotope effects in 15N isotope fractionation models of nitrification.

  • Lipid synthesis at the trophic base as the source for energy management to build complex structures.

    Schnorr SL, Berry D
    2021 - Curr Opin Biotechnol, 364-373


    The review explores the ecological basis for bacterial lipid metabolism in marine and terrestrial ecosystems. We discuss ecosystem stressors that provoked early organisms to modify their lipid membrane structures, and where these stressors are found across a variety of environments. A major role of lipid membranes is to manage cellular energy utility, including how energy is used for signal propagation. As different environments are imbued with properties that necessitate variation in energy regulation, bacterial lipid synthesis has undergone incalculable permutations of functional trial and error. This may hold clues for how biotechnology can improvise a short-hand version of the evolutionary gauntlet to stimulate latent functional competences for the synthesis of rare lipids. Reducing human reliance on marine resources and deriving solutions for production of essential nutrients is a pressing problem in sustainable agriculture and aquaculture, as well as timely considering the increasing fragility of human health in an aging population.

  • Rapid evolutionary turnover of mobile genetic elements drives bacterial resistance to phages.

    Hussain FA, Dubert J, Elsherbini J, Murphy M, VanInsberghe D, Arevalo P, Kauffman K, Rodino-Janeiro BK, Gavin H, Gomez A, Lopatina A, Le Roux F, Polz M
    2021 - Science, 6566: 488-492


    [Figure: see text].

  • Successional dynamics and alternative stable states in a saline activated sludge microbial community over 9 years.

    Wang Y, Ye J, Ju F, Liu L, Boyd JA, Deng Y, Parks DH, Jiang X, Yin X, Woodcroft BJ, Tyson GW, Hugenholtz P, Polz M, Zhang T
    2021 - Microbiome, 1: 199


    Microbial communities in both natural and applied settings reliably carry out myriads of functions, yet how stable these taxonomically diverse assemblages can be and what causes them to transition between states remains poorly understood. We studied monthly activated sludge (AS) samples collected over 9 years from a full-scale wastewater treatment plant to answer how complex AS communities evolve in the long term and how the community functions change when there is a disturbance in operational parameters.
    Here, we show that a microbial community in activated sludge (AS) system fluctuated around a stable average for 3 years but was then abruptly pushed into an alternative stable state by a simple transient disturbance (bleaching). While the taxonomic composition rapidly turned into a new state following the disturbance, the metabolic profile of the community and system performance remained remarkably stable. A total of 920 metagenome-assembled genomes (MAGs), representing approximately 70% of the community in the studied AS ecosystem, were recovered from the 97 monthly AS metagenomes. Comparative genomic analysis revealed an increased ability to aggregate in the cohorts of MAGs with correlated dynamics that are dominant after the bleaching event. Fine-scale analysis of dynamics also revealed cohorts that dominated during different periods and showed successional dynamics on seasonal and longer time scales due to temperature fluctuation and gradual changes in mean residence time in the reactor, respectively.
    Our work highlights that communities can assume different stable states under highly similar environmental conditions and that a specific disturbance threshold may lead to a rapid shift in community composition. Video Abstract.

  • Gilbert's Syndrome and the Gut Microbiota - Insights From the Case-Control BILIHEALTH Study.

    Zöhrer PA, Hana CA, Seyed Khoei N, Mölzer C, Hörmann-Wallner M, Tosevska A, Doberer D, Marculescu R, Bulmer AC, Herbold CW, Berry D, Wagner KH
    2021 - Front Cell Infect Microbiol, 701109


    The heme catabolite bilirubin has anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidative and anti-mutagenic effects and its relation to colorectal cancer (CRC) risk is currently under evaluation. Although the main metabolic steps of bilirubin metabolism, including the formation of stercobilin and urobilin, take place in the human gastrointestinal tract, potential interactions with the human gut microbiota are unexplored. This study investigated, whether gut microbiota composition is altered in Gilbert's Syndrome (GS), a mild form of chronically elevated serum unconjugated bilirubin (UCB) compared to matched controls. Potential differences in the incidence of CRC-associated bacterial species in GS were also assessed. To this end, a secondary investigation of the BILIHEALTH study was performed, assessing 45 adults with elevated UCB levels (GS) against 45 age- and sex-matched controls (C). Fecal microbiota analysis was performed using 16S rRNA gene sequencing. No association between mildly increased UCB and the composition of the gut microbiota in this healthy cohort was found. The alpha and beta diversity did not differ between C and GS and both groups showed a typical representation of the known dominant phyla. Furthermore, no difference in abundance of and , which have been associated with the mucosa of CRC patients were observed between the groups. A sequence related to the strain YIT 12065 was identified with a weak association value of 0.521 as an indicator species in the GS group. This strain has been previously associated with a lower body mass index, which is typical for the GS phenotype. Overall, sex was the only driver for an identifiable difference in the study groups, as demonstrated by a greater bacterial diversity in women. After adjusting for confounding factors and multiple testing, we can conclude that the GS phenotype does not affect the composition of the human gut microbiota in this generally healthy study group.

  • Novel Alcaligenes ammonioxydans sp. nov. from wastewater treatment sludge oxidizes ammonia to N with a previously unknown pathway.

    Wu MR, Hou TT, Liu Y, Miao LL, Ai GM, Ma L, Zhu HZ, Zhu YX, Gao XY, Herbold CW, Wagner M, Li DF, Liu ZP, Liu SJ
    2021 - Environ Microbiol, 11: 6965-6980


    Heterotrophic nitrifiers are able to oxidize and remove ammonia from nitrogen-rich wastewaters but the genetic elements of heterotrophic ammonia oxidation are poorly understood. Here, we isolated and identified a novel heterotrophic nitrifier, Alcaligenes ammonioxydans sp. nov. strain HO-1, oxidizing ammonia to hydroxylamine and ending in the production of N gas. Genome analysis revealed that strain HO-1 encoded a complete denitrification pathway but lacks any genes coding for homologous to known ammonia monooxygenases or hydroxylamine oxidoreductases. Our results demonstrated strain HO-1 denitrified nitrite (not nitrate) to N and N O at anaerobic and aerobic conditions respectively. Further experiments demonstrated that inhibition of aerobic denitrification did not stop ammonia oxidation and N production. A gene cluster (dnfT1RT2ABCD) was cloned from strain HO-1 and enabled E. coli accumulated hydroxylamine. Sub-cloning showed that genetic cluster dnfAB or dnfABC already enabled E. coli cells to produce hydroxylamine and further to N from ( NH ) SO . Transcriptome analysis revealed these three genes dnfA, dnfB and dnfC were significantly upregulated in response to ammonia stimulation. Taken together, we concluded that strain HO-1 has a novel dnf genetic cluster for ammonia oxidation and this dnf genetic cluster encoded a previously unknown pathway of direct ammonia oxidation (Dirammox) to N .

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

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


    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.

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

    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, 10: 1558-1572.e6


    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.

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

    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, Stelzl E, Stoiber H, von Laer D, Zuber J, Müller T, Strenger V, Wagner M
    2021 - Euro Surveill, 26: pii=2100797


    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).

  • Prevalence of RT-qPCR-detected SARS-CoV-2 infection at schools: First results from the Austrian School-SARS-CoV-2 prospective cohort study.

    Willeit P, Krause R, Lamprecht B, Berghold A, Hanson B, Stelzl E, Stoiber H, Zuber J, Heinen R, Köhler A, Bernhard D, Borena W, Doppler C, von Laer D, Schmidt H, Pröll J, Steinmetz I, Wagner M
    2021 - Lancet Reg Health Eur, 100086


    The role of schools in the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic is much debated. We aimed to quantify reliably the prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 infections at schools detected with reverse-transcription quantitative polymerase-chain-reaction (RT-qPCR).
    This nationwide prospective cohort study monitors a representative sample of pupils (grade 1-8) and teachers at Austrian schools throughout the school year 2020/2021. We repeatedly test participants for SARS-CoV-2 infection using a gargling solution and RT-qPCR. We herein report on the first two rounds of examinations. We used mixed-effects logistic regression to estimate odds ratios and robust 95% confidence intervals (95% CI).
    We analysed data on 10,734 participants from 245 schools (9465 pupils, 1269 teachers). Prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 infection increased from 0·39% at round 1 (95% CI 028-0·55%, 28 September-22 October 2020) to 1·39% at round 2 (95% CI 1·04-1·85%, 10-16 November). Odds ratios for SARS-CoV-2 infection were 2·26 (95% CI 1·25-4·12,  = 0·007) in regions with >500 vs. ≤500 inhabitants/km, 1·67 (95% CI 1·42-1·97, <0·001) per two-fold higher regional 7-day community incidence, and 2·78 (95% CI 1·73-4·48, <0·001) in pupils at schools with high/very high vs. low/moderate social deprivation. Associations of regional community incidence and social deprivation persisted in a multivariable adjusted model. Prevalence did not differ by average number of pupils per class nor between age groups, sexes, pupils vs. teachers, or primary (grade 1-4) vs. secondary schools (grade 5-8).
    This monitoring study in Austrian schools revealed SARS-CoV-2 infection in 0·39%-1·39% of participants and identified associations of regional community incidence and social deprivation with higher prevalence.
    BMBWF Austria.

  • Comparison of genovars and Chlamydia trachomatis infection loads in ocular samples from children in two distinct cohorts in Sudan and Morocco.

    Ghasemian E, Inic-Kanada A, Collingro A, Mejdoubi L, Alchalabi H, Keše D, Elshafie BE, Hammou J, Barisani-Asenbauer T
    2021 - PLoS Negl Trop Dis, 8: e0009655


    Trachoma is a blinding disease caused by repeated conjunctival infection with different Chlamydia trachomatis (Ct) genovars. Ct B genovars have been associated with more severe trachoma symptoms. Here, we investigated associations between Ct genovars and bacterial loads in ocular samples from two distinct geographical locations in Africa, which are currently unclear. We tested ocular swabs from 77 Moroccan children (28 with trachomatous inflammation-follicular (TF) and 49 healthy controls), and 96 Sudanese children (54 with TF and 42 healthy controls) with a Ct-specific real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assay. To estimate bacterial loads, Ct-positive samples were further processed by multiplex real-time qPCR to amplify the chromosomal outer membrane complex B and plasmid open reading frame 2 of Ct. Genotyping was performed by PCR-based amplification of the outer membrane protein A gene (~1120 base pairs) of Ct and Sanger sequencing. Ct-positivities among the Moroccan and Sudanese patient groups were 60·7% and 31·5%, respectively. Significantly more Sudanese patients than Moroccan patients were genovar A-positive. In contrast, B genovars were significantly more prevalent in Moroccan patients than in Sudanese patients. Significantly higher Ct loads were found in samples positive for B genovars (598·596) than A genovar (51·005). Geographical differences contributed to the distributions of different ocular Ct genovars. B genovars may induce a higher bacterial load than A genovars in trachoma patients. Our findings emphasize the importance of conducting broader studies to elucidate if the noted difference in multiplication abilities are genovar and/or endemicity level dependent.

  • Microaerobic lifestyle at nanomolar O2 concentrations mediated by low-affinity terminal oxidases in abundant soil bacteria.

    Trojan D, Garcia-Robledo E, Meier DV, Hausmann B, Revsbech NP, Eichorst SA, Woebken D
    2021 - mSystems, e0025021


    High-affinity terminal oxidases (TOs) are believed to permit microbial respiration at low oxygen (O2) levels. Genes encoding such oxidases are widespread and their existence in microbial genomes are taken as an indicator for microaerobic respiration. We combined respiratory kinetics determined via highly sensitive optical trace O2 sensors, genomics and transcriptomics to test the hypothesis that high-affinity TOs are a prerequisite to respire micro- and nanooxic concentrations of O2 in environmentally relevant, model soil organisms – acidobacteria. Members of the Acidobacteria harbor branched respiratory chains terminating in low- (caa3-type cytochrome c oxidases) as well as high-affinity (cbb3-type cytochrome c oxidases and/or bd-type quinol oxidases) TOs, potentially enabling them to cope with varying O2 concentrations. The measured Km(app) values for O2 of selected strains ranged from 37–288 nmol O2 L-1, comparable to values previously assigned to low-affinity TOs. Surprisingly, we could not detect expression of the conventional high-affinity TO (cbb3-type) at micro- and nano-molar O2 concentrations, but of low-affinity TOs. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first observation of microaerobic respiration imparted by low-affinity TOs at O2 concentrations as low as 1 nanomolar. This challenges the standing hypothesis that a microaerobic lifestyle is exclusively imparted by the presence of high-affinity TOs. As low-affinity TOs are more efficient at generating ATP than high-affinity TOs, their utilization could provide a great benefit, even at low-nanomolar O2 levels. Our findings highlight energy conservation strategies that could promote the success of Acidobacteria in soil but might also be important for yet unrevealed microorganisms.

  • Recently photoassimilated carbon and fungus-delivered nitrogen are spatially correlated in the ectomycorrhizal tissue of Fagus sylvatica.

    Mayerhofer W, Schintlmeister A, Dietrich M, Gorka S, Wiesenbauer J, Martin V, Gabriel R, Reipert S, Weidinger M, Clode P, Wagner M, Woebken D, Richter A, Kaiser C
    2021 - New Phytol, 6: 2457-2474


    Ectomycorrhizal plants trade plant-assimilated carbon for soil nutrients with their fungal partners. The underlying mechanisms, however, are not fully understood. Here we investigate the exchange of carbon for nitrogen in the ectomycorrhizal symbiosis of Fagus sylvatica across different spatial scales from the root system to the cellular level. We provided N-labelled nitrogen to mycorrhizal hyphae associated with one half of the root system of young beech trees, while exposing plants to a CO atmosphere. We analysed the short-term distribution of C and N in the root system with isotope-ratio mass spectrometry, and at the cellular scale within a mycorrhizal root tip with nanoscale secondary ion mass spectrometry (NanoSIMS). At the root system scale, plants did not allocate more C to root parts that received more N. Nanoscale secondary ion mass spectrometry imaging, however, revealed a highly heterogenous, and spatially significantly correlated distribution of C and N at the cellular scale. Our results indicate that, on a coarse scale, plants do not allocate a larger proportion of photoassimilated C to root parts associated with N-delivering ectomycorrhizal fungi. Within the ectomycorrhizal tissue, however, recently plant-assimilated C and fungus-delivered N were spatially strongly coupled. Here, NanoSIMS visualisation provides an initial insight into the regulation of ectomycorrhizal C and N exchange at the microscale.

  • Limitation of Microbial Processes at Saturation-Level Salinities in a Microbial Mat Covering a Coastal Salt Flat.

    Meier DV, Greve AJ, Chennu A, van Erk MR, Muthukrishnan T, Abed RMM, Woebken D, De Beer D
    2021 - Appl Environ Microbiol, 17: e0069821


    Hypersaline microbial mats are dense microbial ecosystems capable of performing complete element cycling and are considered analogs of early Earth and hypothetical extraterrestrial ecosystems. We studied the functionality and limits of key biogeochemical processes, such as photosynthesis, aerobic respiration, and sulfur cycling, in salt crust-covered microbial mats from a tidal flat at the coast of Oman. We measured light, oxygen, and sulfide microprofiles as well as sulfate reduction rates at salt saturation and in flood conditions and determined fine-scale stratification of pigments, biomass, and microbial taxa in the resident microbial community. The salt crust did not protect the mats against irradiation or evaporation. Although some oxygen production was measurable at salinities of ≤30% (wt/vol) , at saturation-level salinity (40%), oxygenic photosynthesis was completely inhibited and only resumed 2 days after reducing the porewater salinity to 12%. Aerobic respiration and active sulfur cycling occurred at low rates under salt saturation and increased strongly upon salinity reduction. Apart from high relative abundances of , photoheterotrophic , , and , the mat contained a distinct layer harboring filamentous , which is unusual for such high salinities. Our results show that the diverse microbial community inhabiting this salt flat mat ultimately depends on periodic salt dilution to be self-sustaining and is rather adapted to merely survive salt saturation than to thrive under the salt crust. Due to their abilities to survive intense radiation and low water availability, hypersaline microbial mats are often suggested to be analogs of potential extraterrestrial life. However, even the limitations imposed on microbial processes by saturation-level salinity found on Earth have rarely been studied . While abundance and diversity of microbial life in salt-saturated environments are well documented, most of our knowledge on process limitations stems from culture-based studies, few studies, and theoretical calculations. In particular, oxygenic photosynthesis has barely been explored beyond 5 M NaCl (28% wt/vol). By applying a variety of biogeochemical and molecular methods, we show that despite abundance of photoautotrophic microorganisms, oxygenic photosynthesis is inhibited in salt-crust-covered microbial mats at saturation salinities, while rates of other energy generation processes are decreased several-fold. Hence, the complete element cycling required for self-sustaining microbial communities only occurs at lower salt concentrations.

  • Mucosal Biofilms Are an Endoscopic Feature of Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Ulcerative Colitis.

    Baumgartner M, Lang M, Holley H, Crepaz D, Hausmann B, Pjevac P, Moser D, Haller F, Hof F, Beer A, Orgler E, Frick A, Khare V, Evstatiev R, Strohmaier S, Primas C, Dolak W, Köcher T, Klavins K, Rath T, Neurath MF, Berry D, Makristathis A, Muttenthaler M, Gasche C
    2021 - Gastroenterology, 4: 1245-1256.e20


    Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and inflammatory bowel diseases result in a substantial reduction in quality of life and a considerable socioeconomic impact. In IBS, diagnosis and treatment options are limited, but evidence for involvement of the gut microbiome in disease pathophysiology is emerging. Here we analyzed the prevalence of endoscopically visible mucosal biofilms in gastrointestinal disease and associated changes in microbiome composition and metabolism.
    The presence of mucosal biofilms was assessed in 1426 patients at 2 European university-based endoscopy centers. One-hundred and seventeen patients were selected for in-depth molecular and microscopic analysis using 16S ribosomal RNA gene amplicon-sequencing of colonic biopsies and fecal samples, confocal microscopy with deep learning-based image analysis, scanning electron microscopy, metabolomics, and in vitro biofilm formation assays.
    Biofilms were present in 57% of patients with IBS and 34% of patients with ulcerative colitis compared with 6% of controls (P < .001). These yellow-green adherent layers of the ileum and right-sided colon were microscopically confirmed to be dense bacterial biofilms. 16S-sequencing links the presence of biofilms to a dysbiotic gut microbiome, including overgrowth of Escherichia coli and Ruminococcus gnavus. R. gnavus isolates cultivated from patient biofilms also formed biofilms in vitro. Metabolomic analysis found an accumulation of bile acids within biofilms that correlated with fecal bile acid excretion, linking this phenotype with a mechanism of diarrhea.
    The presence of mucosal biofilms is an endoscopic feature in a subgroup of IBS and ulcerative colitis with disrupted bile acid metabolism and bacterial dysbiosis. They provide novel insight into the pathophysiology of IBS and ulcerative colitis, illustrating that biofilm can be seen as a tipping point in the development of dysbiosis and disease.

  • Degradation of host translational machinery drives tRNA acquisition in viruses.

    Yang JY, Fang W, Miranda-Sanchez F, Brown JM, Kauffman KM, Acevero CM, Bartel DP, Polz M, Kelly L
    2021 - Cell Syst, 8: 771-779.e5


    Viruses are traditionally thought to be under selective pressure to maintain compact genomes and thus depend on host cell translational machinery for reproduction. However, some viruses encode abundant tRNA and other translation-related genes, potentially optimizing for codon usage differences between phage and host. Here, we systematically interrogate selective advantages that carrying 18 tRNAs may convey to a T4-like Vibriophage. Host DNA and RNA degrade upon infection, including host tRNAs, which are replaced by those of the phage. These tRNAs are expressed at levels slightly better adapted to phage codon usage, especially that of late genes. The phage is unlikely to randomly acquire as diverse an array of tRNAs as observed (p = 0.0017). Together, our results support that the main driver behind phage tRNA acquisition is pressure to sustain translation as host machinery degrades, a process resulting in a dynamically adapted codon usage strategy during the course of infection.

  • Genomic insights into diverse bacterial taxa that degrade extracellular DNA in marine sediments

    Wasmund K, Pelikan C, Schintlmeister A, Wagner M, Watzka M, Richter A, Bhatnagar A, Noel A, Hubert CRJ, Rattei T, Hofmann T, Hausmann B, Herbold CW, Loy A
    2021 - Nat Microbiol, 6: 885–898


    Extracellular DNA is a major macromolecule in global element cycles, and is a particularly crucial phosphorus, nitrogen and carbon source for microorganisms in the seafloor. Nevertheless, the identities, ecophysiology and genetic features of DNA-foraging microorganisms in marine sediments are largely unknown. Here, we combined microcosm experiments, DNA stable isotope probing (SIP), single-cell SIP using nano-scale secondary isotope mass spectrometry (NanoSIMS) and genome-centric metagenomics to study microbial catabolism of DNA and its subcomponents in marine sediments. 13C-DNA added to sediment microcosms was largely degraded within 10 d and mineralized to 13CO2. SIP probing of DNA revealed diverse ‘Candidatus Izemoplasma’, Lutibacter, Shewanella and Fusibacteraceae incorporated DNA-derived 13C-carbon. NanoSIMS confirmed incorporation of 13C into individual bacterial cells of Fusibacteraceae sorted from microcosms. Genomes of the 13C-labelled taxa all encoded enzymatic repertoires for catabolism of DNA or subcomponents of DNA. Comparative genomics indicated that diverse ‘Candidatus Izemoplasmatales’ (former Tenericutes) are exceptional because they encode multiple (up to five) predicted extracellular nucleases and are probably specialized DNA-degraders. Analyses of additional sediment metagenomes revealed extracellular nuclease genes are prevalent among Bacteroidota at diverse sites. Together, our results reveal the identities and functional properties of microorganisms that may contribute to the key ecosystem function of degrading and recycling DNA in the seabed.

  • An economical and flexible dual barcoding, two-step PCR approach for highly multiplexed amplicon sequencing

    Pjevac P, Hausmann B, Schwarz J, Kohl G, Herbold CW, Loy A, Berry D
    2021 - Front Microbiol, 12: 669776


    In microbiome research, phylogenetic and functional marker gene amplicon sequencing is the most commonly-used community profiling approach. Consequently, a plethora of protocols for the preparation and multiplexing of samples for amplicon sequencing have been developed. Here, we present two economical high-throughput gene amplification and sequencing workflows that are implemented as standard operating procedures at the Joint Microbiome Facility of the Medical University of Vienna and the University of Vienna. These workflows are based on a previously-published two-step PCR approach, but have been updated to either increase the accuracy of results, or alternatively to achieve orders of magnitude higher numbers of samples to be multiplexed in a single sequencing run. The high-accuracy workflow relies on unique dual sample barcoding. It allows the same level of sample multiplexing as the previously-published two-step PCR approach, but effectively eliminates residual read missasignments between samples (crosstalk) which are inherent to single barcoding approaches. The high-multiplexing workflow is based on combinatorial dual sample barcoding, which theoretically allows for multiplexing up to 299,756 amplicon libraries of the same target gene in a single massively-parallelized amplicon sequencing run. Both workflows presented here are highly economical, easy to implement, and can, without significant modifications or cost, be applied to any target gene of interest.

  • Anaerobic Sulfur Oxidation Underlies Adaptation of a Chemosynthetic Symbiont to Oxic-Anoxic Interfaces.

    Paredes GF, Viehboeck T, Lee R, Palatinszky M, Mausz MA, Reipert S, Schintlmeister A, Maier A, Volland JM, Hirschfeld C, Wagner M, Berry D, Markert S, Bulgheresi S, König L
    2021 - mSystems, 3: e0118620


    Chemosynthetic symbioses occur worldwide in marine habitats, but comprehensive physiological studies of chemoautotrophic bacteria thriving on animals are scarce. Stilbonematinae are coated by thiotrophic . As these nematodes migrate through the redox zone, their ectosymbionts experience varying oxygen concentrations. However, nothing is known about how these variations affect their physiology. Here, by applying omics, Raman microspectroscopy, and stable isotope labeling, we investigated the effect of oxygen on " Thiosymbion oneisti." Unexpectedly, sulfur oxidation genes were upregulated in anoxic relative to oxic conditions, but carbon fixation genes and incorporation of C-labeled bicarbonate were not. Instead, several genes involved in carbon fixation were upregulated under oxic conditions, together with genes involved in organic carbon assimilation, polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA) biosynthesis, nitrogen fixation, and urea utilization. Furthermore, in the presence of oxygen, stress-related genes were upregulated together with vitamin biosynthesis genes likely necessary to withstand oxidative stress, and the symbiont appeared to proliferate less. Based on its physiological response to oxygen, we propose that " T. oneisti" may exploit anaerobic sulfur oxidation coupled to denitrification to proliferate in anoxic sand. However, the ectosymbiont would still profit from the oxygen available in superficial sand, as the energy-efficient aerobic respiration would facilitate carbon and nitrogen assimilation. Chemoautotrophic endosymbionts are famous for exploiting sulfur oxidization to feed marine organisms with fixed carbon. However, the physiology of thiotrophic bacteria thriving on the surface of animals (ectosymbionts) is less understood. One longstanding hypothesis posits that attachment to animals that migrate between reduced and oxic environments would boost sulfur oxidation, as the ectosymbionts would alternatively access sulfide and oxygen, the most favorable electron acceptor. Here, we investigated the effect of oxygen on the physiology of " Thiosymbion oneisti," a gammaproteobacterium which lives attached to marine nematodes inhabiting shallow-water sand. Surprisingly, sulfur oxidation genes were upregulated under anoxic relative to oxic conditions. Furthermore, under anoxia, the ectosymbiont appeared to be less stressed and to proliferate more. We propose that animal-mediated access to oxygen, rather than enhancing sulfur oxidation, would facilitate assimilation of carbon and nitrogen by the ectosymbiont.

  • Functional iron-deficiency in women with allergic rhinitis is associated with symptoms after nasal provocation and lack of iron-sequestering microbes.

    Petje LM, Jensen SA, Szikora S, Sulzbacher M, Bartosik T, Pjevac P, Hausmann B, Hufnagl K, Untersmayr E, Fischer L, Vyskocil E, Eckl-Dorna J, Jensen-Jarolim E, Hofstetter G, Afify SM, Krenn CG, Roth GA, Rivelles E, Hann S, Roth-Walter F
    2021 - Allergy, 9: 2882-2886
  • Novel taxa of Acidobacteriota implicated in seafloor sulfur cycling.

    Flieder M, Buongiorno J, Herbold CW, Hausmann B, Rattei T, Lloyd KG, Loy A, Wasmund K
    2021 - ISME J, 15: 3159–3180


    Acidobacteriota are widespread and often abundant in marine sediments, yet their metabolic and ecological properties are poorly understood. Here, we examined metabolisms and distributions of Acidobacteriota in marine sediments of Svalbard by functional predictions from metagenome-assembled genomes (MAGs), amplicon sequencing of 16S rRNA and dissimilatory sulfite reductase (dsrB) genes and transcripts, and gene expression analyses of tetrathionate-amended microcosms. Acidobacteriota were the second most abundant dsrB-harboring (averaging 13%) phylum after Desulfobacterota in Svalbard sediments, and represented 4% of dsrB transcripts on average. Meta-analysis of dsrAB datasets also showed Acidobacteriota dsrAB sequences are prominent in marine sediments worldwide, averaging 15% of all sequences analysed, and represent most of the previously unclassified dsrAB in marine sediments. We propose two new Acidobacteriota genera, Candidatus Sulfomarinibacter (class Thermoanaerobaculia, "subdivision 23") and Ca. Polarisedimenticola ("subdivision 22"), with distinct genetic properties that may explain their distributions in biogeochemically distinct sediments. Ca. Sulfomarinibacter encode flexible respiratory routes, with potential for oxygen, nitrous oxide, metal-oxide, tetrathionate, sulfur and sulfite/sulfate respiration, and possibly sulfur disproportionation. Potential nutrients and energy include cellulose, proteins, cyanophycin, hydrogen, and acetate. A Ca. Polarisedimenticola MAG encodes various enzymes to degrade proteins, and to reduce oxygen, nitrate, sulfur/polysulfide and metal-oxides. 16S rRNA gene and transcript profiling of Svalbard sediments showed Ca. Sulfomarinibacter members were relatively abundant and transcriptionally active in sulfidic fjord sediments, while Ca. Polarisedimenticola members were more relatively abundant in metal-rich fjord sediments. Overall, we reveal various physiological features of uncultured marine Acidobacteriota that indicate fundamental roles in seafloor biogeochemical cycling.

  • Combined hormonal contraceptives are associated with minor changes in composition and diversity in gut microbiota of healthy women.

    Mihajlovic J, Leutner M, Hausmann B, Kohl G, Schwarz J, Röver H, Stimakovits N, Wolf P, Maruszczak K, Bastian M, Kautzky-Willer A, Berry D
    2021 - Environ Microbiol, 6: 3037-3047


    Recent human and animal studies have found associations between gut microbiota composition and serum levels of sex hormones, indicating that they could be an important factor in shaping the microbiota. However, little is known about the effect of regular hormonal fluctuations over the menstrual cycle or CHC-related changes of hormone levels on gut microbiota structure, diversity and dynamics. The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of CHCs on human gut microbiota composition. The effect of CHC pill intake on gut microbiota composition was studied in a group of seven healthy pre-menopausal women using the CHC pill, compared to the control group of nine age-matched healthy women that have not used hormonal contraceptives in the 6 months prior to the start of the study. By analysing the gut microbiota composition in both groups during one menstrual cycle, we found that CHC usage is associated with a minor decrease in gut microbiota diversity and differences in the abundance of several bacterial taxa. These results call for further investigation of the mechanisms underlying hormonal and hormonal contraceptive-related changes of the gut microbiota and the potential implications of these changes for women's health.

  • In vitro interactions of Alternaria mycotoxins, an emerging class of food contaminants, with the gut microbiota: a bidirectional relationship.

    Crudo F, Aichinger G, Mihajlovic J, Varga E, Dellafiora L, Warth B, Dall'Asta C, Berry D, Marko D
    2021 - Arch Toxicol, 7: 2533-2549


    The human gut microbiota plays an important role in the maintenance of human health. Factors able to modify its composition might predispose the host to the development of pathologies. Among the various xenobiotics introduced through the diet, Alternaria mycotoxins are speculated to represent a threat for human health. However, limited data are currently available about the bidirectional relation between gut microbiota and Alternaria mycotoxins. In the present work, we investigated the in vitro effects of different concentrations of a complex extract of Alternaria mycotoxins (CE; containing eleven mycotoxins; e.g. 0.153 µM alternariol and 2.3 µM altersetin, at the maximum CE concentration tested) on human gut bacterial strains, as well as the ability of the latter to metabolize or adsorb these compounds. Results from the minimum inhibitory concentration assay showed the scarce ability of CE to inhibit the growth of the tested strains. However, the growth kinetics of most of the strains were negatively affected by exposure to the various CE concentrations, mainly at the highest dose (50 µg/mL). The CE was also found to antagonize the formation of biofilms, already at concentrations of 0.5 µg/mL. LC-MS/MS data analysis of the mycotoxin concentrations found in bacterial pellets and supernatants after 24 h incubation showed the ability of bacterial strains to adsorb some Alternaria mycotoxins, especially the key toxins alternariol, alternariol monomethyl ether, and altersetin. The tendency of these mycotoxins to accumulate within bacterial pellets, especially in those of Gram-negative strains, was found to be directly related to their lipophilicity.

  • Sulfoquinovose is a select nutrient of prominent bacteria and a source of hydrogen sulfide in the human gut.

    Hanson BT, Kits KD, Löffler J, Burrichter AG, Fiedler A, Denger K, Frommeyer B, Herbold CW, Rattei T, Karcher N, Segata N, Schleheck D, Loy A
    2021 - ISME J, 15: 2779–2791


    Responses of the microbiota to diet are highly personalized but mechanistically not well understood because many metabolic capabilities and interactions of human gut microorganisms are unknown. Here we show that sulfoquinovose (SQ), a sulfonated monosaccharide omnipresent in green vegetables, is a selective yet relevant substrate for few but ubiquitous bacteria in the human gut. In human feces and in defined co-culture, Eubacterium rectale and Bilophila wadsworthia used recently identified pathways to cooperatively catabolize SQ with 2,3-dihydroxypropane-1-sulfonate as a transient intermediate to hydrogen sulfide (HS), a key intestinal metabolite with disparate effects on host health. SQ-degradation capability is encoded in almost half of E. rectale genomes but otherwise sparsely distributed among microbial species in the human intestine. However, re-analysis of fecal metatranscriptome datasets of four human cohorts showed that SQ degradation (mostly from E. rectale and Faecalibacterium prausnitzii) and HS production (mostly from B. wadsworthia) pathways were expressed abundantly across various health states, demonstrating that these microbial functions are core attributes of the human gut. The discovery of green-diet-derived SQ as an exclusive microbial nutrient and an additional source of HS in the human gut highlights the role of individual dietary compounds and organosulfur metabolism on microbial activity and has implications for precision editing of the gut microbiota by dietary and prebiotic interventions.

  • Conjugative plasmids interact with insertion sequences to shape the horizontal transfer of antimicrobial resistance genes.

    Che Y, Yang Y, Xu X, Břinda K, Polz M, Hanage WP, Zhang T
    2021 - Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 6: e2008731118


    It is well established that plasmids play an important role in the dissemination of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) genes; however, little is known about the role of the underlying interactions between different plasmid categories and other mobile genetic elements (MGEs) in shaping the promiscuous spread of AMR genes. Here, we developed a tool designed for plasmid classification, AMR gene annotation, and plasmid visualization and found that most plasmid-borne AMR genes, including those localized on class 1 integrons, are enriched in conjugative plasmids. Notably, we report the discovery and characterization of a massive insertion sequence (IS)-associated AMR gene transfer network (245 combinations covering 59 AMR gene subtypes and 53 ISs) linking conjugative plasmids and phylogenetically distant pathogens, suggesting a general evolutionary mechanism for the horizontal transfer of AMR genes mediated by the interaction between conjugative plasmids and ISs. Moreover, our experimental results confirmed the importance of the observed interactions in aiding the horizontal transfer and expanding the genetic range of AMR genes within complex microbial communities.

  • Survival strategies of ammonia-oxidizing archaea (AOA) in a full-scale WWTP treating mixed landfill leachate containing copper ions and operating at low-intensity of aeration.

    Yang Y, Herbold CW, Jung MY, Qin W, Cai M, Du H, Lin JG, Li X, Li M, Gu JD
    2021 - Water Res, 116798


    Recent studies indicate that ammonia-oxidizing archaea (AOA) may play an important role in nitrogen removal by wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs). However, our knowledge of the mechanisms employed by AOA for growth and survival in full-scale WWTPs is still limited. Here, metagenomic and metatranscriptomic analyses combined with a laboratory cultivation experiment revealed that three active AOAs (WS9, WS192, and WS208) belonging to family Nitrososphaeraceae were active in the deep oxidation ditch (DOD) of a full-scale WWTP treating landfill leachate, which is configured with three continuous aerobic-anoxic (OA) modules with low-intensity aeration (≤ 1.5 mg/L). AOA coexisted with AOB and complete ammonia oxidizers (Comammox), while the ammonia-oxidizing microbial (AOM) community was unexpectedly dominated by the novel AOA strain WS9. The low aeration, long retention time, and relatively high inputs of ammonium and copper might be responsible for the survival of AOA over AOB and Comammox, while the dominance of WS9, specifically may be enhanced by substrate preference and uniquely encoded retention strategies. The urease-negative WS9 is specifically adapted for ammonia acquisition as evidenced by the high expression of an ammonium transporter, whereas two metabolically versatile urease-positive AOA strains (WS192 and WS208) can likely supplement ammonia needs with urea. This study provides important information for the survival and application of the eutrophic Nitrososphaeraceae AOA and advances our understanding of archaea-dominated ammonia oxidation in a full-scale wastewater treatment system.

  • Distribution of Mixotrophy and Desiccation Survival Mechanisms across Microbial Genomes in an Arid Biological Soil Crust Community.

    Meier DV, Imminger S, Gillor O, Woebken D
    2021 - mSystems, 1: in press


    Desert surface soils devoid of plant cover are populated by a variety of microorganisms, many with yet unresolved physiologies and lifestyles. Nevertheless, a common feature vital for these microorganisms inhabiting arid soils is their ability to survive long drought periods and reactivate rapidly in rare incidents of rain. Chemolithotrophic processes such as oxidation of atmospheric hydrogen and carbon monoxide are suggested to be a widespread energy source to support dormancy and resuscitation in desert soil microorganisms. Here, we assessed the distribution of chemolithotrophic, phototrophic, and desiccation-related metabolic potential among microbial populations in arid biological soil crusts (BSCs) from the Negev Desert, Israel, via population-resolved metagenomic analysis. While the potential to utilize light and atmospheric hydrogen as additional energy sources was widespread, carbon monoxide oxidation was less common than expected. The ability to utilize continuously available energy sources might decrease the dependency of mixotrophic populations on organic storage compounds and carbon provided by the BSC-founding cyanobacteria. Several populations from five different phyla besides the cyanobacteria encoded CO fixation potential, indicating further potential independence from photoautotrophs. However, we also found population genomes with a strictly heterotrophic genetic repertoire. The highly abundant () genomes showed particular specialization for this extreme habitat, different from their closest cultured relatives. Besides the ability to use light and hydrogen as energy sources, they encoded extensive O stress protection and unique DNA repair potential. The uncovered differences in metabolic potential between individual, co-occurring microbial populations enable predictions of their ecological niches and generation of hypotheses on the dynamics and interactions among them. This study represents a comprehensive community-wide genome-centered metagenome analysis of biological soil crust (BSC) communities in arid environments, providing insights into the distribution of genes encoding different energy generation mechanisms, as well as survival strategies, among populations in an arid soil ecosystem. It reveals the metabolic potential of several uncultured and previously unsequenced microbial genera, families, and orders, as well as differences in the metabolic potential between the most abundant BSC populations and their cultured relatives, highlighting once more the danger of inferring function on the basis of taxonomy. Assigning functional potential to individual populations allows for the generation of hypotheses on trophic interactions and activity patterns in arid soil microbial communities and represents the basis for future resuscitation and activity studies of the system, e.g., involving metatranscriptomics.

  • Coastal bacterial community response to glacier melting in the Western Antarctic Peninsula.

    Alcamán-Arias ME, Fuentes-Alburquenque S, Vergara-Barros P, Cifuentes-Anticevic J, Verdugo J, Polz M, Farías L, Pedrós-Alió C, Díez B
    2021 - Microorganisms, 9: 88


    Current warming in the Western Antarctic Peninsula (WAP) has multiple effects on the marine ecosystem, modifying the trophic web and the nutrient regime. In this study, the effect of decreased surface salinity on the marine microbial community as a consequence of freshening from nearby glaciers was investigated in Chile Bay, Greenwich Island, WAP. In the summer of 2016, samples were collected from glacier ice and transects along the bay for 16S rRNA gene sequencing, while in situ dilution experiments were conducted and analyzed using 16S rRNA gene sequencing and metatranscriptomic analysis. The results reveal that certain common seawater genera, such as , and HTCC2207, responded positively to decreased salinity in both the bay transect and experiments. The relative abundance of these bacteria slightly decreased, but their functional activity was maintained and increased the over time in the dilution experiments. However, while ice bacteria, such as and , tolerated the increased salinity after mixing with seawater, their gene expression decreased considerably. We suggest that these bacterial taxa could be defined as sentinels of freshening events in the Antarctic coastal system. Furthermore, these results suggest that a significant portion of the microbial community is resilient and can adapt to disturbances, such as freshening due to the warming effect of climate change in Antarctica.

  • Transkingdom interactions between Lactobacilli and hepatic mitochondria attenuate western diet-induced diabetes.

    Rodrigues RR, Gurung M, Li Z, García-Jaramillo M, Greer R, Gaulke C, Bauchinger F, You H, Pederson JW, Vasquez-Perez S, White KD, Frink B, Philmus B, Jump DB, Trinchieri G, Berry D, Sharpton TJ, Dzutsev A, Morgun A, Shulzhenko N
    2021 - Nat Commun, 1: 101


    Western diet (WD) is one of the major culprits of metabolic disease including type 2 diabetes (T2D) with gut microbiota playing an important role in modulating effects of the diet. Herein, we use a data-driven approach (Transkingdom Network analysis) to model host-microbiome interactions under WD to infer which members of microbiota contribute to the altered host metabolism. Interrogation of this network pointed to taxa with potential beneficial or harmful effects on host's metabolism. We then validate the functional role of the predicted bacteria in regulating metabolism and show that they act via different host pathways. Our gene expression and electron microscopy studies show that two species from Lactobacillus genus act upon mitochondria in the liver leading to the improvement of lipid metabolism. Metabolomics analyses revealed that reduced glutathione may mediate these effects. Our study identifies potential probiotic strains for T2D and provides important insights into mechanisms of their action.

  • Interaction with Ribosomal Proteins Accompanies Stress Induction of the Anticancer Metallodrug BOLD-100/KP1339 in the Endoplasmic Reticulum.

    Neuditschko B, Legin AA, Baier D, Schintlmeister A, Reipert S, Wagner M, Keppler BK, Berger W, Meier-Menches SM, Gerner C
    2021 - Angew Chem Int Ed Engl, 60: 5063-5068


    The ruthenium-based anticancer agent BOLD-100/KP1339 has shown promising results in several in vitro and in vivo tumour models as well as in early clinical trials. However, its mode of action remains to be fully elucidated. Recent evidence identified stress induction in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) and concomitant down-modulation of HSPA5 (GRP78) as key drug effects. By exploiting the naturally formed adduct between BOLD-100 and human serum albumin as an immobilization strategy, we were able to perform target-profiling experiments that revealed the ribosomal proteins RPL10, RPL24, and the transcription factor GTF2I as potential interactors of this ruthenium(III) anticancer agent. Integrating these findings with proteomic profiling and transcriptomic experiments supported ribosomal disturbance and concomitant induction of ER stress. The formation of polyribosomes and ER swelling of treated cancer cells revealed by TEM validated this finding. Thus, the direct interaction of BOLD-100 with ribosomal proteins seems to accompany ER stress-induction and modulation of GRP78 in cancer cells.

  • Polyphenol Exposure, Metabolism, and Analysis: A Global Exposomics Perspective.

    Oesterle I, Braun D, Berry D, Wisgrill L, Rompel A, Warth B
    2021 - Annu Rev Food Sci Technol, 461-484


    Polyphenols are generally known for their health benefits and estimating actual exposure levels in health-related studies can be improved by human biomonitoring. Here, the application of newly available exposomic and metabolomic technology, notably high-resolution mass spectrometry, in the context of polyphenols and their biotransformation products, is reviewed. Comprehensive workflows for investigating these important bioactives in biological fluids or microbiome-related experiments are scarce. Consequently, this new era of nontargeted analysis and omic-scale exposure assessment offers a unique chance for better assessing exposure to, as well as metabolism of, polyphenols. In clinical and nutritional trials, polyphenols can be investigated simultaneously with the plethora of other chemicals to which we are exposed, i.e., the exposome, which may interact abundantly and modulate bioactivity. This research direction aims at ultimately eluting into atrue systems biology/toxicology evaluation of health effects associated with polyphenol exposure, especially during early life, to unravel their potential for preventing chronic diseases.

  • Optofluidic Raman-activated cell sorting for targeted genome retrieval or cultivation of microbial cells with specific functions.

    Lee KS, Pereira FC, Palatinszky M, Behrendt L, Alcolombri U, Berry D, Wagner M, Stocker R
    2021 - Nat Protoc, 2: 634-676


    Stable isotope labeling of microbial taxa of interest and their sorting provide an efficient and direct way to answer the question "who does what?" in complex microbial communities when coupled with fluorescence in situ hybridization or downstream 'omics' analyses. We have developed a platform for automated Raman-based sorting in which optical tweezers and microfluidics are used to sort individual cells of interest from microbial communities on the basis of their Raman spectra. This sorting of cells and their downstream DNA analysis, such as by mini-metagenomics or single-cell genomics, or cultivation permits a direct link to be made between the metabolic roles and the genomes of microbial cells within complex microbial communities, as well as targeted isolation of novel microbes with a specific physiology of interest. We describe a protocol from sample preparation through Raman-activated live cell sorting. Subsequent cultivation of sorted cells is described, whereas downstream DNA analysis involves well-established approaches with abundant methods available in the literature. Compared with manual sorting, this technique provides a substantially higher throughput (up to 500 cells per h). Furthermore, the platform has very high sorting accuracy (98.3 ± 1.7%) and is fully automated, thus avoiding user biases that might accompany manual sorting. We anticipate that this protocol will empower in particular environmental and host-associated microbiome research with a versatile tool to elucidate the metabolic contributions of microbial taxa within their complex communities. After a 1-d preparation of cells, sorting takes on the order of 4 h, depending on the number of cells required.

  • Anaerobic bacterial degradation of protein and lipid macromolecules in subarctic marine sediment

    Pelikan C, Wasmund K, Glombitza C, Hausmann H, Herbold CW, Flieder M, Loy A
    2021 - ISME J, 15: 833-847


    Microorganisms in marine sediments play major roles in marine biogeochemical cycles by mineralizing substantial quantities of organic matter from decaying cells. Proteins and lipids are abundant components of necromass, yet the taxonomic identities of microorganisms that actively degrade them remain poorly resolved. Here, we revealed identities, trophic interactions and genomic features of bacteria that degraded 13C-labelled proteins and lipids in cold anoxic microcosms containing sulfidic subarctic marine sediment. Supplemented proteins and lipids were rapidly fermented to various volatile fatty acids within five days. DNA-stable isotope probing (SIP) suggested Psychrilyobacter atlanticus was an important primary degrader of proteins, and Psychromonas members were important primary degraders of both proteins and lipids. Closely related Psychromonas populations, as represented by distinct 16S rRNA gene variants, differentially utilized either proteins or lipids. DNA-SIP also showed 13C-labeling of various Deltaproteobacteria within ten days, indicating trophic transfer of carbon to putative sulfate-reducers. Metagenome-assembled genomes revealed the primary hydrolyzers encoded secreted peptidases or lipases, and enzymes for catabolism of protein or lipid degradation products. Psychromonas species are prevalent in diverse marine sediments, suggesting they are important players in organic carbon processing in situ. Together, this study provides new insights into the identities, functions and genomes of bacteria that actively degrade abundant necromass macromolecules in the seafloor.

  • Coevolving plasmids drive gene flow and genome plasticity in host-associated intracellular bacteria

    Köstlbacher S, Collingro A, Halter T, Domman D, Horn M
    2021 - Curr Biol, 2: 346-357.e3


    Plasmids are important in microbial evolution and adaptation to new environments. Yet, carrying a plasmid can be costly, and long-term association of plasmids with their hosts is poorly understood. Here, we provide evidence that the Chlamydiae, a phylum of strictly host-associated intracellular bacteria, have coevolved with their plasmids since their last common ancestor. Current chlamydial plasmids are amalgamations of at least one ancestral plasmid and a bacteriophage. We show that the majority of plasmid genes are also found on chromosomes of extant chlamydiae. The most conserved plasmid gene families are predominantly vertically inherited, while accessory plasmid gene families show significantly increased mobility. We reconstructed the evolutionary history of plasmid gene content of an entire bacterial phylum over a period of around one billion years. Frequent horizontal gene transfer and chromosomal integration events illustrate the pronounced impact of coevolution with these extrachromosomal elements on bacterial genome dynamics in host-dependent microbes.

  • Genomic and kinetic analysis of novel Nitrospinae enriched by cell sorting.

    Mueller AJ, Jung MY, Strachan CR, Herbold CW, Kirkegaard RH, Wagner M, Daims H
    2021 - ISME J, 15: 732–745


    Chemolithoautotrophic nitrite-oxidizing bacteria (NOB) are key players in global nitrogen and carbon cycling. Members of the phylum Nitrospinae are the most abundant, known NOB in the oceans. To date, only two closely affiliated Nitrospinae species have been isolated, which are only distantly related to the environmentally abundant uncultured Nitrospinae clades. Here, we applied live cell sorting, activity screening, and subcultivation on marine nitrite-oxidizing enrichments to obtain novel marine Nitrospinae. Two binary cultures were obtained, each containing one Nitrospinae strain and one alphaproteobacterial heterotroph. The Nitrospinae strains represent two new genera, and one strain is more closely related to environmentally abundant Nitrospinae than previously cultured NOB. With an apparent half-saturation constant of 8.7 ± 2.5 µM, this strain has the highest affinity for nitrite among characterized marine NOB, while the other strain (16.2 ± 1.6 µM) and Nitrospina gracilis (20.1 ± 2.1 µM) displayed slightly lower nitrite affinities. The new strains and N. gracilis share core metabolic pathways for nitrite oxidation and CO fixation but differ remarkably in their genomic repertoires of terminal oxidases, use of organic N sources, alternative energy metabolisms, osmotic stress and phage defense. The new strains, tentatively named "Candidatus Nitrohelix vancouverensis" and "Candidatus Nitronauta litoralis", shed light on the niche differentiation and potential ecological roles of Nitrospinae.

  • Flow-through stable isotope probing (Flow-SIP) minimizes cross-feeding in complex microbial communities.

    Mooshammer M, Kitzinger K, Schintlmeister A, Ahmerkamp S, Nielsen JL, Nielsen PH, Wagner M
    2021 - ISME J, 1: 348-353


    Stable isotope probing (SIP) is a key tool for identifying the microorganisms catalyzing the turnover of specific substrates in the environment and to quantify their relative contributions to biogeochemical processes. However, SIP-based studies are subject to the uncertainties posed by cross-feeding, where microorganisms release isotopically labeled products, which are then used by other microorganisms, instead of incorporating the added tracer directly. Here, we introduce a SIP approach that has the potential to strongly reduce cross-feeding in complex microbial communities. In this approach, the microbial cells are exposed on a membrane filter to a continuous flow of medium containing isotopically labeled substrate. Thereby, metabolites and degradation products are constantly removed, preventing consumption of these secondary substrates. A nanoSIMS-based proof-of-concept experiment using nitrifiers in activated sludge and C-bicarbonate as an activity tracer showed that Flow-SIP significantly reduces cross-feeding and thus allows distinguishing primary consumers from other members of microbial food webs.

Book chapters and other publications

1 Publication found
  • A genomic catalog of Earth's microbiomes

    Nayfach S, Roux S, Seshadri R, Udwary D, Varghese N, Schulz F, Wu D, Paez-Espino D, Chen IM, Huntemann M, Palaniappan K, Ladau J, Mukherjee S, Reddy TBK, Nielsen T, Kirton E, Faria JP, Edirisinghe JN, Henry CS, Jungbluth SP, Chivian D, Dehal P, Wood-Charlson EM, Arkin AP, Tringe SG, Visel A, IMG/M Data Consortium, Woyke T, Mouncey NJ, Ivanova NN, Kyrpides NC, Eloe-Fadrosh EA
    2021 - Nat Biotechnol, 39: 499-509


    The reconstruction of bacterial and archaeal genomes from shotgun metagenomes has enabled insights into the ecology and evolution of environmental and host-associated microbiomes. Here we applied this approach to >10,000 metagenomes collected from diverse habitats covering all of Earth's continents and oceans, including metagenomes from human and animal hosts, engineered environments, and natural and agricultural soils, to capture extant microbial, metabolic and functional potential. This comprehensive catalog includes 52,515 metagenome-assembled genomes representing 12,556 novel candidate species-level operational taxonomic units spanning 135 phyla. The catalog expands the known phylogenetic diversity of bacteria and archaea by 44% and is broadly available for streamlined comparative analyses, interactive exploration, metabolic modeling and bulk download. We demonstrate the utility of this collection for understanding secondary-metabolite biosynthetic potential and for resolving thousands of new host linkages to uncultivated viruses. This resource underscores the value of genome-centric approaches for revealing genomic properties of uncultivated microorganisms that affect ecosystem processes.