• Centre for Microbiology and Environmental Systems Science

  • CUBE - Computational Systems Biology

  • DOME - Microbial Ecology

  • EDGE - Environmental Geosciences

  • TER - Terrestrial Ecosystem Research


Latest publications

A multicolor fluorescence in situ hybridization approach using an extended set of fluorophores to visualize microorganisms

Fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) with rRNA-targeted oligonucleotide probes is a key method for the detection of (uncultured) microorganisms in environmental and medical samples. A major limitation of standard FISH protocols, however, is the small number of phylogenetically distinct target organisms that can be detected simultaneously. In this study, we introduce a multicolor FISH approach that uses eight fluorophores with distinct spectral properties, which can unambiguously be distinguished by confocal laser scanning microscopy combined with white light laser technology. Hybridization of rRNA-targeted DNA oligonucleotide probes, which were mono-labeled with these fluorophores, to Escherichia coli cultures confirmed that the fluorophores did not affect probe melting behavior. Application of the new multicolor FISH method enabled the differentiation of seven (potentially up to eight) phylogenetically distinct microbial populations in an artificial community of mixed pure cultures (five bacteria, one archaeon, and one yeast strain) and in activated sludge from a full-scale wastewater treatment plant. In contrast to previously published multicolor FISH approaches, this method does not rely on combinatorial labeling of the same microorganisms with different fluorophores, which is prone to biases. Furthermore, images acquired by this method do not require elaborate post-processing prior to analysis. We also demonstrate that the newly developed multicolor FISH method is compatible with an improved cell fixation protocol for FISH targeting Gram-negative bacterial populations. This fixation approach uses agarose embedding during formaldehyde fixation to better preserve the three-dimensional structure of spatially complex samples such as biofilms and activated sludge flocs. The new multicolor FISH approach should be highly suitable for studying structural and functional aspects of microbial communities in virtually all types of samples that can be analyzed by conventional FISH methods.

Lukumbuzya M, Schmid M, Pjevac P, Daims H
2019 - Front Microbiol, 10: 1383

Characterization of a thaumarchaeal symbiont that drives incomplete nitrification in the tropical sponge Ianthella basta

Marine sponges represent one of the few eukaryotic groups that frequently harbor symbiotic members of the Thaumarchaeota, which are important chemoautotrophic ammonia-oxidizers in many environments. However, in most studies, direct demonstration of ammonia-oxidation by these archaea within sponges is lacking, and little is known about sponge-specific adaptations of ammonia-oxidizing archaea (AOA). Here, we characterized the thaumarchaeal symbiont of the marine sponge Ianthella basta using metaproteogenomics, fluorescence in situ hybridization, qPCR and isotope-based functional assays. “Candidatus Nitrosospongia ianthellae” is only distantly related to cultured AOA. It is an abundant symbiont that is solely responsible for nitrite formation from ammonia in I. basta that surprisingly does not harbor nitrite-oxidizing microbes. Furthermore, this AOA is equipped with an expanded set of extracellular subtilisin-like proteases, a metalloprotease unique among archaea, as well as a putative branched-chain amino acid ABC transporter. This repertoire is strongly indicative of a mixotrophic lifestyle and is (with slight variations) also found in other sponge-associated, but not in free-living AOA. We predict that this feature as well as an expanded and unique set of secreted serpins (protease inhibitors), a unique array of eukaryotic-like proteins, and a DNA-phosporothioation system, represent important adaptations of AOA to life within these ancient filter-feeding animals.

Moeller FU, Webster NS, Herbold CW, Behnam F, Domman D, Albertsen M, Mooshammer M, Markert S, Turaev D, Becher D, Rattei T, Schweder T, Richter A, Watzka M, Nielsen PH, Wagner M
2019 - Environmental microbiology, in press

Proteome Changes Paralleling the Olfactory Conditioning in the Forager Honey Bee and Provision of a Brain Proteomics Dataset.

The olfactory conditioning of the bee proboscis extension reflex (PER) has been extensively used as a paradigm in associative learning of invertebrates but with limited molecular investigations. To investigate which protein changes are linked to olfactory conditioning, we applied a non-sophisticated conditioning model using the PER in the honeybee (Apis mellifera). Foraging honeybees were assigned into three groups based on the reflex behaviour and training: conditioned using 2-octanone (PER-conditioned), and sucrose and water controls. Thereafter, the brain synaptosomal proteins were isolated and analyzed by quantitative proteomics using stable isotope labeling (TMT). Additionally, the complex proteome dataset of the bee brain was generated with a total number of 5411 protein groups, including key players in neurotransmitter signalling. The most significant categories affected during olfactory conditioning were associated with "SNARE interactions in vesicular transport" (BET1 and VAMP7), ABC transporters, and fatty acid degradation pathways. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

Sialana FJ, Menegasso ARS, Smidak R, Hussein AM, Zavadil M, Rattei T, Lubec G, Palma MS, Lubec J
2019 - Proteomics, e1900094

Lecture series

Microbial ecology of nitrogen cycling in paddy soils

Yong-Guan Zhu
Research Centre for Eco-Environmental Sciences & Institute of Urban Environment, Chinese Academy of Sciences
09:00 h
Lecture Hall HS 5, UZA2 (Geocentre), Althanstrasse 14, 1090 Vienna

Abiotic and biotic factors affecting diversity and distribution of nitrifying thaumarchaea

Sung-Keun Rhee
Chungbuk National University, South Korea
12:00 h
Lecture Hall HS2, UZA 1, Althanstrasse 14, 1090 Vienna