• Centre for Microbiology and Environmental Systems Science

  • CUBE - Computational Systems Biology

  • DOME - Microbial Ecology

  • EDGE - Environmental Geosciences

  • TER - Terrestrial Ecosystem Research


Latest publications

Specific micropollutant biotransformation pattern by the comammox bacterium Nitrospira inopinata

The recently discovered complete ammonia-oxidizing (comammox) bacteria are occurring in various environments, including wastewater treatment plants. To better understand their role in micropollutant biotransformation in comparison with ammonia-oxidizing bacteria (AOB) and ammonia-oxidizing archaea (AOA), we investigated the biotransformation capability of Nitrospira inopinata (the only comammox isolate) for 17 micropollutants. Asulam, fenhexamid, mianserin, and ranitidine, were biotransformed by N. inopinata, Nitrososphaera gargensis (AOA) and Nitrosomonas nitrosa Nm90 (AOB). More distinctively, carbendazim, a benzimidazole fungicide, was exclusively biotransformed by N. inopinata. The biotransformation of carbendazim only occurred when N. inopinata was supplied with ammonia but not nitrite as the energy source. The exclusive biotransformation of carbendazim by N. inopinata was likely enabled by an enhanced substrate promiscuity of its unique AMO and its much higher substrate (for ammonia) affinity compared with the other two ammonia oxidizers. One major plausible transformation product (TP) of carbendazim is a hydroxylated form at the aromatic ring, which is consistent with the function of AMO. This TP was further transformed, and smaller linear TP candidates were identified. These findings provide fundamental knowledge on the micropollutant degradation potential of a comammox bacterium, to better understand the fate of micropollutants in nitrifying environments. 

Han P, Yu Y, Zhou L-J, Tian Z, Li Z, Hou L, Liu M, Wu Q, Wagner M, Men Y
2019 - Environ Sci Technol, in press

Soil multifunctionality is affected by the soil environment and by microbial community composition and diversity

Microorganisms are critical in mediating carbon (C) and nitrogen (N) cycling processes in soils. Yet, it has long been debated whether the processes underlying biogeochemical cycles are affected by the composition and diversity of the soil microbial community or not. The composition and diversity of soil microbial communities can be influenced by various environmental factors, which in turn are known to impact biogeochemical processes. The objectives of this study were to test effects of multiple edaphic drivers individually and represented as the multivariate soil environment interacting with microbial community composition and diversity, and concomitantly on multiple soil functions (i.e. soil enzyme activities, soil C and N processes). We employed high-throughput sequencing (Illumina MiSeq) to analyze bacterial/archaeal and fungal community composition by targeting the 16S rRNA gene and the ITS1 region of soils collected from three land uses (cropland, grassland and forest) deriving from two bedrock forms (silicate and limestone). Based on this data set we explored single and combined effects of edaphic variables on soil microbial community structure and diversity, as well as on soil enzyme activities and several soil C and N processes. We found that both bacterial/archaeal and fungal communities were shaped by the same edaphic factors, with most single edaphic variables and the combined soil environment representation exerting stronger effects on bacterial/archaeal communities than on fungal communities, as demonstrated by (partial) Mantel tests. We also found similar edaphic controls on the bacterial/archaeal/fungal richness and diversity. Soil C processes were only directly affected by the soil environment but not affected by microbial community composition. In contrast, soil N processes were significantly related to bacterial/archaeal community composition and bacterial/archaeal/fungal richness/diversity but not directly affected by the soil environment. This indicates direct control of the soil environment on soil C processes and indirect control of the soil environment on soil N processes by structuring the microbial communities. The study further highlights the importance of edaphic drivers and microbial communities (i.e. composition and diversity) on important soil C and N processes.

Zheng Q, Hu Y, zhang S, Noll L, Böckle T, Dietrich M, Herbold CW, Eichhorst SA, Woebken D, Richter A, Wanek W
2019 - Soil Biology and Biochemistry, 136: Article 107521

Diversity decoupled from sulfur isotope fractionation in a sulfate reducing microbial community

Colangelo J, Pelikan C, Herbold CW, Altshuler I, Loy A, Whyte LG, Wing BA
2019 - Geobiology, In press

Lecture series

Advanced Chemical Microscopy for Life Science and Precision Medicine

Ji-Xin Cheng
Boston University, USA
12:00 h
Lecture Hall HS4, UZA2, Althanstrasse 14, 1090 Wien