New paper in Science
Nitrospira are the key nitrite-oxidizing bacteria in most natural habitats and wastewater treatment plants. So far, they were considered as metabolically specialized and their presence was commonly associated with nitrification. Hanna Koch, Holger Daims, and a team of researchers from Vienna, Denmark, Germany, and France showed now that Nitrospira can also grow chemolithoautotrophically on hydrogen as alternative substrate. Being the first nitrifiers shown to have a lifestyle completely outside the N-cycle, Nitrospira are metabolically more flexible than previously assumed and their ecological roles must be reconsidered. Article News release [English] News release [German] ORF.at [German] APA Natur&Technik [German]
Massive expansion of gene families within the Chlamydiae
Chlamydiae are obligate intracellular bacteria comprising important pathogens of humans as well as ubiquitous symbionts of protists. In a recent study published in MBE, Daryl Domman, Matthias Horn and colleagues analyzed the gene family landscape of members of this phylum. They discovered massive and lineage-specific expansions of eukaryotic-like ubiquitination-related genes, unmatched among bacteria. Gene birth-and-death evolution in concert with genomic drift might be responsible for the evolution of these gene families, which represents a previously undescribed mechanism by which isolated bacterial populations diversify. Article
New paper in The ISME Journal
N2 fixation is an important process in photosynthetic microbial mats, but the contribution of different diazotrophs is still poorly understood. In an international collaboration, Dagmar Woebken, Faris Behnam, Arno Schintlmeister, and Michael Wagner showed that the cyanobacterium Lyngbya spp. is the most active diazotroph in microbial mats at Guerrero Negro, Mexico. Furthermore, the effect of CARD-FISH on the isotopic composition of microbial cells in SIP-NanoSIMS investigations was elucidated.
A preprint will be available shortly.
Michael Wagner Highly Cited Researcher in Microbiology
Thomson Reuters has generated in 2014 a new list of Highly Cited Researchers in the sciences and social sciences. In total 114 microbiologists earned this distinction. Among them less than 30 are working in Europe and Michael is one of two highly cited microbiologists working in Austria. In the 22 research fields analyzed over 3000 scientists were identified as Highly Cited Researchers, 20 of them have their primary affiliation in Austria. Thomson Reuters Highly Cited Researchers APA-Science Report (German) uni:view Magazin (German) Austrian Academy of Sciences: News (German)
Dr. rer. nat. Jan Dolinsek
Jan successfully defended his PhD thesis entitled "Novel molecular tools for microbial ecology: development and application to decipher trophic structures of nitrifying communities". The board of examiners included Edouard Jurkevitch, Martin Wagner, and Holger Daims. Congratulations!
Video feature: Dagmar Woebken on the trail of microbes
Dagmar talks about her research in this University of Vienna video feature (in German). Watch video
Austrian microbiology prize for David Berry
David was awarded the prize from the Austrian Society for Hygiene, Microbiology and Preventative Medicine (ÖGHMP) in recognition of a study he performed together with Alexander Loy and colleagues from the Medical University of Vienna. In the study, which was recently published in American Journal of Gastroenterology, fecal microbiota transplantation was evaluated as novel therapy for individuals with ulcerative colitis. Article
Focus of Excellence Award for Dagmar Woebken
The Focus of Excellence Award of the Faculty of Life Sciences at the University of Vienna is granted annualy to promote young research scientists. DoME's group leader Dagmar Woebken received this year's award for her work on diazotrophy and cellulose degradation in terrestrial ecosystems. Focus of Excellence awardees
DoME welcomes Dr. Craig Herbold. Craig was a postdoc at the University of Waikato (NZ), a research affiliate at the Joint Genome Institute and is now senior scientist for bioinformatics at DoME.
Honorary doctorate for Michael Wagner
Michael received an honorary doctorate from Aalborg University (Denmark) in the framework of its 40 year jubilee for his distinguished efforts in the field of Natural Sciences. The certificate was presented to him in the presence of crown prince Frederik. Michael is also visiting professor at Aalborg University and has intensively collaborated with the group of Prof. Per Nielsen for 15 years. uni:view Magazin (German) Aalborg University News (Danish) Aalborg University Event Website (Danish)
"We all start out as scientists"
"Science is passion, vision, and life and none of that is necessarily synonymous with sacrifice", says Celine Lesaulnier who received a Back-to-Research Grant from the University of Vienna, supporting researchers who reduced or interrupted their academic research in order to care for their children. univ:view Magazin
Invading the nucleus of amoebae
In a new paper published in the ISME journal, Frederik Schulz, Matthias Horn and co-authors describe the discovery of a bacterial symbiont with an unusual intracellular niche. Within few hours after infection the bacteria have invaded the amoeba nucleus, where they mutliply with surprisingly little effect on host fitness. This microbial association is an ideal model system to further investigate evolution and molecular mechanisms of the rare phenomenon of intranuclear symbiosis. Article univ:view Magazin [German] Frankfurter Allgemeine [German] DerStandard.at [German]
New Paper in The ISME Journal
If the biogeography of microorganisms in the environment is also determined by limitations in passive dispersal is still under debate. By using endospores of thermophilic bacteria in cold marine sediments as indicators, Albert Müller and Alexander Loy now show that marine microbial biogeography is indeed impacted by geographic dispersal barriers such as limited connectivity of local water masses to world ocean circulation. Article Press release [German] APA [German] DerStandard.at [German] Kronen Zeitung [German]
New Paper in Nature Communications
The majority of bacteria possess a peptidoglycan sacculus consisting of a disaccharide backbone crosslinked by peptide chains, which is crucial for cell division, maintaining cell shape and resisting osmotic stress. Whether chlamydiae contain this structure has long been debated, but in an international collaboration Karin Aistleitner and Matthias Horn now show that the amoeba symbiont Protochlamydia amoebophila does synthesize peptidoglycan. Article Research Highlight in Nature Reviews Microbiology
Postdoctoral fellowships "Interdisciplinary Cancer Research" (INDICAR)
Postdoctoral Fellowships for the Marie Curie project "Interdisciplinary Cancer Research" (INDICAR) at the University of Vienna are available. We welcome applications of postdocs interested in intestinal microbiota and cancer research.
Please contact David Berry or Alexander Loy. Further information
Movember at DoME
Thirteen Bros and Sistas from DoME joined this year's Movember movement. Movember
Open Postdoc and PhD student positions in Microbial Experimental Evolution
Two positions are available in the group of Matthias Horn within the ERC StG Project EVOCHLAMY. The project comprises aspects of evolutionary biology, microbiology, genomics, and bioinformatics. Job advertisement Postdoc [PDF] Job advertisement PhD student[PDF]
Two new FWF projects
Dagmar Woebken and David Berry received funding for new projects from the Austrian Science Fund. Dagmar will be "Investigating the function of the ubiquitous Acidobacteria in terrestrial environments". David will work on "The boundary keepers: Intestinal mucus-associated microbes". FWF Project database
DoME at castle Riegersburg
The DoME team visited a famous chocolate factory in Styria and conquered castle Riegersburg.
New collaborative large-scale project with the JGI
Michael Wagner and Holger Daims together with members of the Joint Genome Institute will sequence and analyze the whole genome amplification (WGA) products of 100 nitrifier microcolonies from a single activated sludge sample. The microcolonies will be identified by Raman microspectroscopy and sorted by optical tweezing for WGA. The major goal of this project is to understand the evolutionary history and ecological consequences of nitrifier microdiversity. This project will be funded in the framework of the community science program (CSP) of the JGI. CSP Sequencing Plans 2014 of DOE JGI
EMI cover image
The cover of the November issue of Environmental Microbiology features an image taken by Barbara Sixt. The cover page shows chlamydiae infecting terrestrial isopods after recovery in insect cell lines and immunofluorescence staining. The corresponding article is entitled "Developmental cycle and host interaction of Rhabdochlamydia porcellionis, an intracellular parasite of terrestrial isopods". Article
New Master curriculum Microbial Ecology
We have revised and updated the master curriculum Microbial Ecology. Studying microbial ecology is now part of the master studies Molecular Microbiology, Microbial Ecology, and Immunobiology. The new master is held completely in English; students are trained in microbial ecology, symbiosis research, molecular biology & evolution, genetics, environmental chemistry, and bioinformatics. Program overview and courses Announcement [German]
New paper in the American Journal of Gastroenterology
Together with colleagues from the Medical University of Vienna, Alexander Loy and David Berry explored if and how fecal microbiota transplantation support microbial recolonization of the gut of ulcerative colitis patients. They show that temporal bacterial community dynamics and therapy success varied strongly among individual patients that received this unusual treatment. Article News release Der Standard [German] Ö1 radio report in "Dimensionen" [MP3] [German]
New Paper in PLoS Pathogens
Chlamydial elementary bodies have mostly been thought of as dormant, spore-like particles. However, Barbara Sixt, Alexander Siegl, Matthias Horn and colleagues now demonstrate metabolic activity in chlamydial elementary bodies that is linked to infectivity. Challenging textbook knowledge, these results suggest that the infective stage is much more dependent on its environment (and thus potentially vulnerable) than previously recognized. Article uni:view Magazin [German]