• 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

Arbuscular Mycorrhiza and Nitrification: Disentangling Processes and Players by Using Synthetic Nitrification Inhibitors

Both plants and their associated arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi require nitrogen (N) for their metabolism and growth. This can result in both positive and negative effects of AM symbiosis on plant N nutrition. Either way, the demand for and efficiency of uptake of mineral N from the soil by mycorrhizal plants are often higher than those of nonmycorrhizal plants. In consequence, the symbiosis of plants with AM fungi exerts important feedbacks on soil processes in general and N cycling in particular. Here, we investigated the role of the AM symbiosis in N uptake by Andropogon gerardii from an organic source (15N-labeled plant litter) that was provided beyond the direct reach of roots. In addition, we tested if pathways of 15N uptake from litter by mycorrhizal hyphae were affected by amendment with different synthetic nitrification inhibitors (dicyandiamide [DCD], nitrapyrin, or 3,4-dimethylpyrazole phosphate [DMPP]). We observed efficient acquisition of 15N by mycorrhizal plants through the mycorrhizal pathway, independent of nitrification inhibitors. These results were in stark contrast to 15N uptake by nonmycorrhizal plants, which generally took up much less 15N, and the uptake was further suppressed by nitrapyrin or DMPP amendments. Quantitative real-time PCR analyses showed that bacteria involved in the rate-limiting step of nitrification, ammonia oxidation, were suppressed similarly by the presence of AM fungi and by nitrapyrin or DMPP (but not DCD) amendments. On the other hand, abundances of ammonia-oxidizing archaea were not strongly affected by either the AM fungi or the nitrification inhibitors.
IMPORTANCE Nitrogen is one of the most important elements for all life on Earth. In soil, N is present in various chemical forms and is fiercely competed for by various microorganisms as well as plants. Here, we address competition for reduced N (ammonia) between ammonia-oxidizing prokaryotes and arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi. These two functionally important groups of soil microorganisms, participating in nitrification and plant mineral nutrient acquisition, respectively, have often been studied in separation in the past. Here, we showed, using various biochemical and molecular approaches, that the fungi systematically suppress ammonia-oxidizing bacteria to an extent similar to that of some widely used synthetic nitrification inhibitors, whereas they have only a limited impact on abundance of ammonia-oxidizing archaea. Competition for free ammonium is a plausible explanation here, but it is also possible that the fungi produce some compounds acting as so-called biological nitrification inhibitors.
Dudáš M, Pjevac P, kotianová M, Gančarčíková K, Rozmoš M, Hršelová H, Bukovská P, Jansa J
2022 - Applied and Environmental Microbiology, in press

Microbial community composition and hydrochemistry of underexplored geothermal waters in Croatia

In Croatia, a variety of geothermal springs with a wide temperature range and varied hydrochemical conditions exist, and they may harbor different niches for the distribution of microbial communities. In this study, 19 different sites, mainly located in central and eastern Croatia, were selected for primary characterization of spring hydrochemistry and microbial community composition. Using 16S rRNA gene amplicon sequencing, it was found that the bacterial communities that dominated most geothermal waters were related to Proteobacteria and Campylobacteria, while most archaeal sequences were related to Crenarchaeota. At the genus level, the prokaryotic community was highly site-specific and was often dominated by a single genus, including sites dominated by HydrogenophilusSulfuricurvumSulfurovumThiofaba and Nitrospira, while the most abundant archaeal genera were affiliated to the ammonia-oxidizing archaea, Candidatus Nitrosotenuis and Candidatus Nitrososphaera. Whereas the microbial communities were overall highly location-specific, temperature, pH, ammonia, nitrate, total nitrogen, sulfate and hydrogen sulfide, as well as dissolved organic and inorganic carbon, were the abiotic factors that significantly affected microbial community composition. Furthermore, an aquifer-type effect was observed in the community composition, but there was no pronounced seasonal variability for geothermal spring communities (i.e. the community structure was mainly stable during the three seasons sampled). These results surprisingly pointed to stable and geographically unique microbial communities that were adapted to different geothermal water environments throughout Croatia. Knowing which microbial communities are present in these extreme habitats is essential for future research. They will allow us to explore further the microbial metabolisms prevailing at these geothermal sites that have high potential for biotechnological uses, as well as the establishment of the links between microbial community structure and the physicochemical environment of geothermal waters.

Mitrović M, Kostešić E, Marković T, Selak L, Hausmann B, Pjevac P, Orlić S
2022 - Systematic and Applied Microbiology, in press

Impaired Mucosal Homeostasis in Short-Term Fiber Deprivation Is Due to Reduced Mucus Production Rather Than Overgrowth of Mucus-Degrading Bacteria.

The gut mucosal environment is key in host health; protecting against pathogens and providing a niche for beneficial bacteria, thereby facilitating a mutualistic balance between host and microbiome. Lack of dietary fiber results in erosion of the mucosal layer, suggested to be a result of increased mucus-degrading gut bacteria. This study aimed to use quantitative analyses to investigate the diet-induced imbalance of mucosal homeostasis. Seven days of fiber-deficiency affected intestinal anatomy and physiology, seen by reduced intestinal length and loss of the colonic crypt-structure. Moreover, the mucus layer was diminished, expression decreased, and impaired mucus secretion was detected by stable isotope probing. Quantitative microbiome profiling of the gut microbiota showed a diet-induced reduction in bacterial load and decreased diversity across the intestinal tract, including taxa with fiber-degrading and butyrate-producing capabilities. Most importantly, there was little change in the absolute abundance of known mucus-degrading bacteria, although, due to the general loss of taxa, relative abundance would erroneously indicate an increase in mucus degraders. These findings underscore the importance of using quantitative methods in microbiome research, suggesting erosion of the mucus layer during fiber deprivation is due to diminished mucus production rather than overgrowth of mucus degraders.

Overbeeke A, Lang M, Hausmann B, Watzka M, Nikolov G, Schwarz J, Kohl G, De Paepe K, Eislmayr K, Decker T, Richter A, Berry D
2022 - Nutrients, 18: in press

Lecture series

DOME Lecture: "Microbial processing of dissolved and particulate organic matter in the mesopelagic ocean"

Alyson Santoro
Assoc. Prof. in Ecology, Evolution and Marine Biology, University of California Santa Barbara, USA
12:00 h
hybrid, UBB HS 1

DOME Lecture: "Recycling versus loss: the pivotal role of nitrite in the marine nitrogen cycle"

Laura Bristow
Assistant Professor for Marine Sciences, University of Gothenburg, Sweden
12:00 h
hybrid, UBB HS 1