• Centre for Microbiology and Environmental Systems Science

  • CUBE - Computational Systems Biology

  • DOME - Microbial Ecology

  • EDGE - Environmental Geosciences

  • TER - Terrestrial Ecosystem Research


Latest publications

A Bioinformatics Guide to Plant Microbiome Analysis.

Recent evidence for intimate relationship of plants with their microbiota shows that plants host individual and diverse microbial communities that are essential for their survival. Understanding their relatedness using genome-based and high-throughput techniques remains a hot topic in microbiome research. Molecular analysis of the plant holobiont necessitates the application of specific sampling and preparatory steps that also consider sources of unwanted information, such as soil, co-amplified plant organelles, human DNA, and other contaminations. Here, we review state-of-the-art and present practical guidelines regarding experimental and computational aspects to be considered in molecular plant-microbiome studies. We discuss sequencing and "omics" techniques with a focus on the requirements needed to adapt these methods to individual research approaches. The choice of primers and sequence databases is of utmost importance for amplicon sequencing, while the assembly and binning of shotgun metagenomic sequences is crucial to obtain quality data. We discuss specific bioinformatic workflows to overcome the limitation of genome database resources and for covering large eukaryotic genomes such as fungi. In transcriptomics, it is necessary to account for the separation of host mRNA or dual-RNAseq data. Metaproteomics approaches provide a snapshot of the protein abundances within a plant tissue which requires the knowledge of complete and well-annotated plant genomes, as well as microbial genomes. Metabolomics offers a powerful tool to detect and quantify small molecules and molecular changes at the plant-bacteria interface if the necessary requirements with regard to (secondary) metabolite databases are considered. We highlight data integration and complementarity which should help to widen our understanding of the interactions among individual players of the plant holobiont in the future.

Lucaciu R, Pelikan C, Gerner SM, Zioutis C, Köstlbacher S, Marx H, Herbold CW, Schmidt H, Rattei T
2019 - Front Plant Sci, 1313

The Prevotella copri Complex Comprises Four Distinct Clades Underrepresented in Westernized Populations.

Prevotella copri is a common human gut microbe that has been both positively and negatively associated with host health. In a cross-continent meta-analysis exploiting >6,500 metagenomes, we obtained >1,000 genomes and explored the genetic and population structure of P. copri. P. copri encompasses four distinct clades (>10% inter-clade genetic divergence) that we propose constitute the P. copri complex, and all clades were confirmed by isolate sequencing. These clades are nearly ubiquitous and co-present in non-Westernized populations. Genomic analysis showed substantial functional diversity in the complex with notable differences in carbohydrate metabolism, suggesting that multi-generational dietary modifications may be driving reduced prevalence in Westernized populations. Analysis of ancient metagenomes highlighted patterns of P. copri presence consistent with modern non-Westernized populations and a clade delineation time pre-dating human migratory waves out of Africa. These findings reveal that P. copri exhibits a high diversity that is underrepresented in Western-lifestyle populations.

Tett A, Huang KD, Asnicar F, Fehlner-Peach H, Pasolli E, Karcher N, Armanini F, Manghi P, Bonham K, Zolfo M, De Filippis F, Magnabosco C, Bonneau R, Lusingu J, Amuasi J, Reinhard K, Rattei T, Boulund F, Engstrand L, Zink A, Collado MC, Littman DR, Eibach D, Ercolini D, Rota-Stabelli O, Huttenhower C, Maixner F, Segata N
2019 - Cell Host Microbe, in press

Berry-enriched diet in salt-sensitive hypertensive rats: metabolic fate of (poly)phenols and the role of gut microbiota.

Diets rich in (poly)phenols are associated with a reduced reduction in the incidence of cardiovascular disorders. While the absorption and metabolism of (poly)phenols has been described, it is not clear how their metabolic fate is affected under pathological conditions. This study evaluated the metabolic fate of berry (poly)phenols in an in vivo model of hypertension as well as the associated microbiota response. Dahl salt-sensitive rats were fed either a low-salt diet (0.26% NaCl) or a high-salt diet (8% NaCl), with or without a berry mixture (blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, Portuguese crowberry and strawberry tree fruit) for 9 weeks. The salt-enriched diet promoted an increase in the urinary excretion of berry (poly)phenol metabolites, while the abundance of these metabolites decreased in faeces, as revealed by UPLC-MS/MS. Moreover, salt and berries modulated gut microbiota composition as demonstrated by 16S rRNA analysis. Some changes in the microbiota composition were associated with the high-salt diet and revealed an expansion of the families and . However, this effect was mitigated by the dietary supplementation with berries. Alterations in the metabolic fate of (poly)phenols occur in parallel with the modulation of gut microbiota in hypertensive rats. Thus, beneficial effects of (poly)phenols could be related with these interlinked modifications, between metabolites and microbiota environments.

Gomes A, Oudot C, Macià A, Foito A, Carregosa D, Stewart D, Van de Wiele T, Berry D, Motilva MJ, Brenner C, Dos Santos CN
2019 - Nutrients, 11: in press

Lecture series

Carbon cycling in groundwater ecosystems – what do we know and where are the knowledge gaps?

Prof. Dr Christian Griebler
Department of Limnology and Bio-Oceanography, University of Vienna, Austria
16:30 h
Eberhard Clar-Saal (2B 204), Althanstrasse 14 UZA II, 1090 Vienna

Non-genetic inheritance, trait evolution, and primary production in changing aquatic environments

Sinead Collins
Edinburgh University
12:00 h
Lecture Hall HS2, UZA1, Althanstrasse 14, 1090 Wien

Climate Change Impacts on Rice: Soil Microbiome Controlling Grain Quantity and Quality

Dr Marie Mühe
Department of Geomicrobiology, University of Tübingen, Germany
16:30 h
Eberhard Clar-Saal (2B 204), Althanstrasse 14 UZA II, 1090 Vienna