Publications

Publications in peer reviewed journals

19 Publications found
  • Indications for enzymatic denitrification to N2O at low pH in an ammonia-oxidizing archaeon

    Jung M-Y, Gwak J-H, Rohe L, Giesemann A, Kim J-G, Well R, Madsen EL, Herbold CW, Wagner M, Rhee S-K
    2019 - ISME J, in press
    P450 NOR in AOA

    Abstract: 

    Nitrous oxide (N2O) is a key climate change gas and nitrifying microbes living in terrestrial ecosystems contribute significantly to its formation. Many soils are acidic and global change will cause acidification of aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems, but the effect of decreasing pH on N2O formation by nitrifiers is poorly understood. Here, we used isotope-ratio mass spectrometry to investigate the effect of acidification on production of N2O by pure cultures of two ammonia-oxidizing archaea (AOA; Nitrosocosmicus oleophilus and Nitrosotenuis chungbukensis) and an ammonia-oxidizing bacterium (AOB; Nitrosomonas europaea). For all three strains acidification led to increased emission of N2O. However, changes of 15N site preference (SP) values within the N2O molecule (as indicators of pathways for N2O formation), caused by decreasing pH were highly different between the tested AOA and AOB. While acidification decreased the SP value in the AOB strain, SP values increased to a maximum value of 29‰ in N. oleophilus. In addition, 15N-nitrite tracer experiments showed that acidification boosted nitrite transformation into N2O in all strains, but the incorporation rate was different for each ammonia oxidizer. Unexpectedly, for N. oleophilus more than 50 % of the N2O produced at pH 5.5 had both nitrogen atoms from nitrite and we demonstrated that under these conditions expression of a putative cytochrome P450 NO reductase is strongly upregulated. Collectively, our results indicate that N. oleophilus might be able to enzymatically denitrify nitrite to N2O at low pH.  

  • The cooling tower water microbiota: Seasonal dynamics and co-occurrence of bacterial and protist phylotypes

    Tsao HF, Scheikl U, Herbold CW, Indra A, Walochnik J, Horn M
    2019 - Water Res., 159: 464-479

    Abstract: 

    Cooling towers for heating, ventilation and air conditioning are ubiquitous in the built environment. Often located on rooftops, their semi-open water basins provide a suitable environment for microbial growth. They are recognized as a potential source of bacterial pathogens and have been associated with disease outbreaks such as Legionnaires’ disease. While measures to minimize public health risks are in place, the general microbial and protist community structure and dynamics in these systems remain largely elusive. In this study, we analysed the microbiome of the bulk water from the basins of three cooling towers by 16S and 18S rRNA gene amplicon sequencing over the course of one year. Bacterial diversity in all three towers was broadly comparable to other freshwater systems, yet less diverse than natural environments; the most abundant taxa are also frequently found in freshwater or drinking water. While each cooling tower had a pronounced site-specific microbial community, taxa shared among all locations mainly included groups generally associated with biofilm formation. We also detected several groups related to known opportunistic pathogens, such as Legionella, Mycobacterium, and Pseudomonasspecies, albeit at generally low abundance. Although cooling towers represent a rather stable environment, microbial community composition was highly dynamic and subject to seasonal change. Protists are important members of the cooling tower water microbiome and known reservoirs for bacterial pathogens. Co-occurrence analysis of bacteria and protist taxa successfully captured known interactions between amoeba-associated bacteria and their hosts, and predicted a large number of additional relationships involving ciliates and other protists. Together, this study provides an unbiased and comprehensive overview of microbial diversity of cooling tower water basins, establishing a framework for investigating and assessing public health risks associated with these man-made freshwater environments.

  • Mitigating anticipated effects of systematic errors supports sister-group relationship between Xenacoelomorpha and Ambulacraria

    Philippe H, Poustka AJ, Chiodin M, Hoff KJ, Dessimoz C, Tomiczek B, Schiffer PH, Müller S, Domman D, Horn M, Kuhl H, Timmermann B, Satoh N, Hikosaka-Katayama T, Nakano H, Rowe ML, Elphick MR, Thomas-Chollier M, Hankeln T, Mertes F, Wallberg A, Rast JP, Copley RR, Martinez P, Telford MJ
    2019 - Curr. Biol., in press
     Xenoturbella japonica

    Abstract: 

    Xenoturbella and the acoelomorph worms (Xenacoelomorpha) are simple marine animals with controversial affinities. They have been placed as the sister group of all other bilaterian animals (Nephrozoa hypothesis), implying their simplicity is an ancient characteristic; alternatively, they have been linked to the complex Ambulacraria (echinoderms and hemichordates) in a clade called the Xenambulacraria, suggesting their simplicity evolved by reduction from a complex ancestor. The difficulty resolving this problem implies the phylogenetic signal supporting the correct solution is weak and affected by inadequate modeling, creating a misleading non-phylogenetic signal. The idea that the Nephrozoa hypothesis might be an artifact is prompted by the faster molecular evolutionary rate observed within the Acoelomorpha. Unequal rates of evolution are known to result in the systematic artifact of long branch attraction, which would be predicted to result in an attraction between long-branch acoelomorphs and the outgroup, pulling them toward the root. Other biases inadequately accommodated by the models used can also have strong effects, exacerbated in the context of short internal branches and long terminal branches. We have assembled a large and informative dataset to address this problem. Analyses designed to reduce or to emphasize misleading signals show the Nephrozoa hypothesis is supported under conditions expected to exacerbate errors, and the Xenambulacraria hypothesis is preferred in conditions designed to reduce errors. Our reanalyses of two other recently published datasets produce the same result. We conclude that the Xenacoelomorpha are simplified relatives of the Ambulacraria.

  • Cometabolic biotransformation and microbial-mediated abiotic transformation of sulfonamides by three ammonia oxidizers.

    Zhou LJ, Han P, Yu Y, Wang B, Men Y, Wagner M, Wu QL
    2019 - Water Res., 444-453

    Abstract: 

    The abilities of three phylogenetically distant ammonia oxidizers, Nitrososphaera gargensis, an ammonia-oxidizing archaeon (AOA); Nitrosomomas nitrosa Nm90, an ammonia-oxidizing bacterium (AOB); and Nitrospira inopinata, the only complete ammonia oxidizer (comammox) available as a pure culture, to biotransform seven sulfonamides (SAs) were investigated. The removals and protein-normalized biotransformation rate constants indicated that the AOA strain N. gargensis exhibited the highest SA biotransformation rates, followed by N. inopinata and N. nitrosa Nm90. The transformation products (TPs) of sulfadiazine (SDZ), sulfamethazine (SMZ) and sulfamethoxazole (SMX) and the biotransformation mechanisms were evaluated. Based on the analysis of the TP formulas and approximate structures, it was found that during biotransformation, i) the AOA strain carried out SA deamination, hydroxylation, and nitration; ii) the AOB strain mainly performed SA deamination; and iii) the comammox isolate participated only in deamination reactions. It is proposed that deamination was catalyzed by deaminases while hydroxylation and nitration were mediated by nonspecific activities of the ammonia monooxygenase (AMO). Additionally, it was demonstrated that among the three ammonia oxidizers, only AOB contributed to the formation of pterin-SA conjugates. The biotransformation of SDZ, SMZ and SMX occurred only when ammonia oxidation was active, suggesting a cometabolic transformation mechanism. Interestingly, SAs could also be transformed by hydroxylamine, an intermediate of ammonia oxidation, suggesting that in addition to enzymatic conversions, a microbially induced abiotic mechanism contributes to SA transformation during ammonia oxidation. Overall, using experiments with pure cultures, this study provides important insights into the roles played by ammonia oxidizers in SA biotransformation.

  • Symbiont-mediated defense against Legionella pneumophila in amoebae

    König L, Wentrup C, Schulz F, Wascher F, Escola S, Swanson MS, Buchrieser C, Horn M
    2019 - mBio, 10: e00333-19

    Abstract: 

    Legionella pneumophila is an important opportunistic pathogen for which environmental reservoirs are crucial for the infection of humans. In the environment, free-living amoebae represent key hosts providing nutrients and shelter for highly efficient intracellular proliferation of L. pneumophila, which eventually leads to lysis of the protist. However, the significance of other bacterial players for L. pneumophila ecology is poorly understood. In this study, we used a ubiquitous amoeba and bacterial endosymbiont to investigate the impact of this common association on L. pneumophilainfection. We demonstrate that L. pneumophila proliferation was severely suppressed in Acanthamoeba castellanii harboring the chlamydial symbiont Protochlamydia amoebophila. The amoebae survived the infection and were able to resume growth. Different environmental amoeba isolates containing the symbiont were equally well protected as different L. pneumophila isolates were diminished, suggesting ecological relevance of this symbiont-mediated defense. Furthermore, protection was not mediated by impaired L. pneumophila uptake. Instead, we observed reduced virulence of L. pneumophila released from symbiont-containing amoebae. Pronounced gene expression changes in the presence of the symbiont indicate that interference with the transition to the transmissive phase impedes the L. pneumophila infection. Finally, our data show that the defensive response of amoebae harboring P. amoebophila leaves the amoebae with superior fitness reminiscent of immunological memory. Given that mutualistic associations between bacteria and amoebae are widely distributed, P. amoebophila and potentially other amoeba endosymbionts could be key in shaping environmental survival, abundance, and virulence of this important pathogen, thereby affecting the frequency of human infection.

  • Global diversity and biogeography of bacterial communities in wastewater treatment plants.

    Wu L, Ning D, Zhang B, Li Y, Zhang P, Shan X, Zhang Q, Brown M, Li Z, Van Nostrand JD, Ling F, Xiao N, Zhang Y, Vierheilig J, Wells GF, Yang Y, Deng Y, Tu Q, Wang A, Zhang T, He Z, Keller J, Nielsen PH, Alvarez PJJ, Criddle CS, Wagner M, Tiedje JM, He Q, Curtis TP, Stahl DA, Alvarez-Cohen L, Rittmann BE, Wen X, Zhou J
    2019 - Nat Microbiol, in press
    Sources of microbes in activated sludge

    Abstract: 

    Microorganisms in wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) are essential for water purification to protect public and environmental health. However, the diversity of microorganisms and the factors that control it are poorly understood. Using a systematic global-sampling effort, we analysed the 16S ribosomal RNA gene sequences from ~1,200 activated sludge samples taken from 269 WWTPs in 23 countries on 6 continents. Our analyses revealed that the global activated sludge bacterial communities contain ~1 billion bacterial phylotypes with a Poisson lognormal diversity distribution. Despite this high diversity, activated sludge has a small, global core bacterial community (n = 28 operational taxonomic units) that is strongly linked to activated sludge performance. Meta-analyses with global datasets associate the activated sludge microbiomes most closely to freshwater populations. In contrast to macroorganism diversity, activated sludge bacterial communities show no latitudinal gradient. Furthermore, their spatial turnover is scale-dependent and appears to be largely driven by stochastic processes (dispersal and drift), although deterministic factors (temperature and organic input) are also important. Our findings enhance our mechanistic understanding of the global diversity and biogeography of activated sludge bacterial communities within a theoretical ecology framework and have important implications for microbial ecology and wastewater treatment processes.

  • Low yield and abiotic origin of NO formed by the complete nitrifier Nitrospira inopinata.

    Kits KD, Jung MY, Vierheilig J, Pjevac P, Sedlacek CJ, Liu S, Herbold C, Stein LY, Richter A, Wissel H, Brüggemann N, Wagner M, Daims H
    2019 - Nat Commun, 1: 1836
    Nitrous oxide comammox

    Abstract: 

    Nitrous oxide (NO) and nitric oxide (NO) are atmospheric trace gases that contribute to climate change and affect stratospheric and ground-level ozone concentrations. Ammonia oxidizing bacteria (AOB) and archaea (AOA) are key players in the nitrogen cycle and major producers of NO and NO globally. However, nothing is known about NO and NO production by the recently discovered and widely distributed complete ammonia oxidizers (comammox). Here, we show that the comammox bacterium Nitrospira inopinata is sensitive to inhibition by an NO scavenger, cannot denitrify to NO, and emits NO at levels that are comparable to AOA but much lower than AOB. Furthermore, we demonstrate that NO formed by N. inopinata formed under varying oxygen regimes originates from abiotic conversion of hydroxylamine. Our findings indicate that comammox microbes may produce less NO during nitrification than AOB.

  • Mucispirillum schaedleri antagonizes Salmonella virulence to protect mice against colitis

    Herp S, Brugiroux S, Garzetti D, Ring D, Jochum LM, Beutler M, Eberl C, Hussain S, Walter S, Gerlach RG, Ruscheweyh HJ, Huson D, Sellin ME, Slack E, Hanson B, Loy A, Baines JF, Rausch P, Basic M, Bleich A, Berry D, Stecher B
    2019 - Cell Host Microbe, In press

    Abstract: 

    The microbiota and the gastrointestinal mucus layer play a pivotal role in protection against non-typhoidal Salmonellaenterica serovar Typhimurium (S. Tm) colitis. Here, we analyzed the course of Salmonella colitis in mice lacking a functional mucus layer in the gut. Unexpectedly, in contrast to mucus-proficient littermates, genetically deficient mice were protected against Salmonella-induced gut inflammation in the streptomycin colitis model. This correlated with microbiota alterations and enrichment of the bacterial phylum Deferribacteres. Using gnotobiotic mice associated with defined bacterial consortia, we causally linked Mucispirillum schaedleri, currently the sole known representative of Deferribacteres present in the mammalian microbiota, to host protection against S. Tm colitis. Inhibition by M. schaedleri involves interference with S. Tm invasion gene expression, partly by competing for anaerobic electron acceptors. In conclusion, this study establishes M. schaedleri, a core member of the murine gut microbiota, as a key antagonist of S. Tm virulence in the gut.

  • Widespread soil bacterium that oxidizes atmospheric methane.

    Tveit AT, Hestnes AG, Robinson SL, Schintlmeister A, Dedysh SN, Jehmlich N, von Bergen M, Herbold C, Wagner M, Richter A, Svenning MM
    2019 - Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A., 17: 8515-8524
    air eating microbe

    Abstract: 

    The global atmospheric level of methane (CH), the second most important greenhouse gas, is currently increasing by ∼10 million tons per year. Microbial oxidation in unsaturated soils is the only known biological process that removes CH from the atmosphere, but so far, bacteria that can grow on atmospheric CH have eluded all cultivation efforts. In this study, we have isolated a pure culture of a bacterium, strain MG08 that grows on air at atmospheric concentrations of CH [1.86 parts per million volume (p.p.m.v.)]. This organism, named , is globally distributed in soils and closely related to uncultured members of the upland soil cluster α. CH oxidation experiments and C-single cell isotope analyses demonstrated that it oxidizes atmospheric CH aerobically and assimilates carbon from both CH and CO Its estimated specific affinity for CH (a) is the highest for any cultivated methanotroph. However, growth on ambient air was also confirmed for and , close relatives with a lower specific affinity for CH, suggesting that the ability to utilize atmospheric CH for growth is more widespread than previously believed. The closed genome of MG08 encodes a single particulate methane monooxygenase, the serine cycle for assimilation of carbon from CH and CO, and CO fixation via the recently postulated reductive glycine pathway. It also fixes dinitrogen and expresses the genes for a high-affinity hydrogenase and carbon monoxide dehydrogenase, suggesting that atmospheric CH oxidizers harvest additional energy from oxidation of the atmospheric trace gases carbon monoxide (0.2 p.p.m.v.) and hydrogen (0.5 p.p.m.v.).

  • Resolving the individual contribution of key microbial populations to enhanced biological phosphorus removal with Raman-FISH.

    Fernando EY, McIlroy SJ, Nierychlo M, Herbst FA, Petriglieri F, Schmid MC, Wagner M, Nielsen JL, Nielsen PH
    2019 - ISME J, in press

    Abstract: 

    Enhanced biological phosphorus removal (EBPR) is a globally important biotechnological process and relies on the massive accumulation of phosphate within special microorganisms. Candidatus Accumulibacter conform to the classical physiology model for polyphosphate accumulating organisms and are widely believed to be the most important player for the process in full-scale EBPR systems. However, it was impossible till now to quantify the contribution of specific microbial clades to EBPR. In this study, we have developed a new tool to directly link the identity of microbial cells to the absolute quantification of intracellular poly-P and other polymers under in situ conditions, and applied it to eight full-scale EBPR plants. Besides Ca. Accumulibacter, members of the genus Tetrasphaera were found to be important microbes for P accumulation, and in six plants they were the most important. As these Tetrasphaera cells did not exhibit the classical phenotype of poly-P accumulating microbes, our entire understanding of the microbiology of the EBPR process has to be revised. Furthermore, our new single-cell approach can now also be applied to quantify storage polymer dynamics in individual populations in situ in other ecosystems and might become a valuable tool for many environmental microbiologists.

  • An automated Raman-based platform for the sorting of live cells by functional properties.

    Lee KS, Palatinszky M, Pereira FC, Nguyen J, Fernandez VI, Mueller AJ, Menolascina F, Daims H, Berry D, Wagner M, Stocker R
    2019 - Nat Microbiol, 6: 1035-1048

    Abstract: 

    Stable-isotope probing is widely used to study the function of microbial taxa in their natural environment, but sorting of isotopically labelled microbial cells from complex samples for subsequent genomic analysis or cultivation is still in its early infancy. Here, we introduce an optofluidic platform for automated sorting of stable-isotope-probing-labelled microbial cells, combining microfluidics, optical tweezing and Raman microspectroscopy, which yields live cells suitable for subsequent single-cell genomics, mini-metagenomics or cultivation. We describe the design and optimization of this Raman-activated cell-sorting approach, illustrate its operation with four model bacteria (two intestinal, one soil and one marine) and demonstrate its high sorting accuracy (98.3 ± 1.7%), throughput (200-500 cells h; 3.3-8.3 cells min) and compatibility with cultivation. Application of this sorting approach for the metagenomic characterization of bacteria involved in mucin degradation in the mouse colon revealed a diverse consortium of bacteria, including several members of the underexplored family Muribaculaceae, highlighting both the complexity of this niche and the potential of Raman-activated cell sorting for identifying key players in targeted processes.

  • Historical Factors Associated With Past Environments Influence the Biogeography of Thermophilic Endospores in Arctic Marine Sediments.

    Hanson CA, Müller AL, Loy A, Dona C, Appel R, Jørgensen BB, Hubert CRJ
    2019 - Front Microbiol, 245

    Abstract: 

    Selection by the local, contemporary environment plays a prominent role in shaping the biogeography of microbes. However, the importance of historical factors in microbial biogeography is more debatable. Historical factors include past ecological and evolutionary circumstances that may have influenced present-day microbial diversity, such as dispersal and past environmental conditions. Diverse thermophilic sulfate-reducing are present as dormant endospores in marine sediments worldwide where temperatures are too low to support their growth. Therefore, they are dispersed to here from elsewhere, presumably a hot, anoxic habitat. While dispersal through ocean currents must influence their distribution in cold marine sediments, it is not clear whether even earlier historical factors, related to the source habitat where these organisms were once active, also have an effect. We investigated whether these historical factors may have influenced the diversity and distribution of thermophilic endospores by comparing their diversity in 10 Arctic fjord surface sediments. Although community composition varied spatially, clear biogeographic patterns were only evident at a high level of taxonomic resolution (>97% sequence similarity of the 16S rRNA gene) achieved with oligotyping. In particular, the diversity and distribution of oligotypes differed for the two most prominent OTUs (defined using a standard 97% similarity cutoff). One OTU was dominated by a single ubiquitous oligotype, while the other OTU consisted of ten more spatially localized oligotypes that decreased in compositional similarity with geographic distance. These patterns are consistent with differences in historical factors that occurred when and where the taxa were once active, prior to sporulation. Further, the influence of history on biogeographic patterns was only revealed by analyzing microdiversity within OTUs, suggesting that populations within standard OTU-level groupings do not necessarily share a common ecological and evolutionary history.

  • Rapid Transfer of Plant Photosynthates to Soil Bacteria via Ectomycorrhizal Hyphae and Its Interaction With Nitrogen Availability.

    Gorka S, Dietrich M, Mayerhofer W, Gabriel R, Wiesenbauer J, Martin V, Zheng Q, Imai B, Prommer J, Weidinger M, Schweiger P, Eichorst SA, Wagner M, Richter A, Schintlmeister A, Woebken D, Kaiser C
    2019 - Front Microbiol, 168

    Abstract: 

    Plant roots release recent photosynthates into the rhizosphere, accelerating decomposition of organic matter by saprotrophic soil microbes ("rhizosphere priming effect") which consequently increases nutrient availability for plants. However, about 90% of all higher plant species are mycorrhizal, transferring a significant fraction of their photosynthates directly to their fungal partners. Whether mycorrhizal fungi pass on plant-derived carbon (C) to bacteria in root-distant soil areas, i.e., incite a "hyphosphere priming effect," is not known. Experimental evidence for C transfer from mycorrhizal hyphae to soil bacteria is limited, especially for ectomycorrhizal systems. As ectomycorrhizal fungi possess enzymatic capabilities to degrade organic matter themselves, it remains unclear whether they cooperate with soil bacteria by providing photosynthates, or compete for available nutrients. To investigate a possible C transfer from ectomycorrhizal hyphae to soil bacteria, and its response to changing nutrient availability, we planted young beech trees () into "split-root" boxes, dividing their root systems into two disconnected soil compartments. Each of these compartments was separated from a litter compartment by a mesh penetrable for fungal hyphae, but not for roots. Plants were exposed to a C-CO-labeled atmosphere, while N-labeled ammonium and amino acids were added to one side of the split-root system. We found a rapid transfer of recent photosynthates via ectomycorrhizal hyphae to bacteria in root-distant soil areas. Fungal and bacterial phospholipid fatty acid (PLFA) biomarkers were significantly enriched in hyphae-exclusive compartments 24 h after C-CO-labeling. Isotope imaging with nanometer-scale secondary ion mass spectrometry (NanoSIMS) allowed for the first time visualization of plant-derived C and N taken up by an extraradical fungal hypha, and in microbial cells thriving on hyphal surfaces. When N was added to the litter compartments, bacterial biomass, and the amount of incorporated C strongly declined. Interestingly, this effect was also observed in adjacent soil compartments where added N was only available for bacteria through hyphal transport, indicating that ectomycorrhizal fungi were acting on soil bacteria. Together, our results demonstrate that (i) ectomycorrhizal hyphae rapidly transfer plant-derived C to bacterial communities in root-distant areas, and (ii) this transfer promptly responds to changing soil nutrient conditions.

  • Long-term transcriptional activity at zero growth by a cosmopolitan rare biosphere member

    Hausmann B, Pelikan C, Rattei T, Loy A, Pester M
    2019 - mBio, 10: e02189-18

    Abstract: 

    Microbial diversity in the environment is mainly concealed within the rare biosphere (all species with <0.1% relative abundance). While dormancy explains a low-abundance state very well, the mechanisms leading to rare but active microorganisms remain elusive. We used environmental systems biology to genomically and transcriptionally characterise Candidatus Desulfosporosinus infrequens, a low-abundance sulfate-reducing microorganism cosmopolitan to freshwater wetlands, where it contributes to cryptic sulfur cycling. We obtained its near-complete genome by metagenomics of acidic peat soil. In addition, we analyzed anoxic peat soil incubated under in situ-like conditions for 50 days by Desulfosporosinus-targeted qPCR and metatranscriptomics. The Desulfosporosinus population stayed at a constant low abundance under all incubation conditions, averaging 1.2 × 10⁶ 16S rRNA gene copies per cm³ soil. In contrast, transcriptional activity of Ca.D. infrequens increased at day 36 by 56- to 188-fold when minor amendments of acetate, propionate, lactate, or butyrate were provided with sulfate, as compared to the no-substrate-control. Overall transcriptional activity was driven by expression of genes encoding ribosomal proteins, energy metabolism and stress response but not by expression of genes encoding cell growth-associated processes. Since our results did not support growth of these highly active microorganisms in terms of biomass increase or cell division, they had to invest their sole energy for maintenance, most likely counterbalancing acidic pH conditions. This finding explains how a rare biosphere member can contribute to a biogeochemically relevant process while remaining in a zero growth state over a period of 50 days.

  • Dark aerobic sulfide oxidation by anoxygenic phototrophs in anoxic waters.

    Berg JS, Pjevac P, Sommer T, Buckner CRT, Philippi M, Hach PF, Liebeke M, Holtappels M, Danza F, Tonolla M, Sengupta A, Schubert CJ, Milucka J, Kuypers MMM
    2019 - Environ. Microbiol., in press

    Abstract: 

    Anoxygenic phototrophic sulfide oxidation by green and purple sulfur bacteria (PSB) plays a key role in sulfide removal from anoxic shallow sediments and stratified waters. Although some PSB can also oxidize sulfide with nitrate and oxygen, little is known about the prevalence of this chemolithotrophic lifestyle in the environment. In this study, we investigated the role of these phototrophs in light-independent sulfide removal in the chemocline of Lake Cadagno. Our temporally resolved, high-resolution chemical profiles indicated that dark sulfide oxidation was coupled to high oxygen consumption rates of ~9 μM O ·h . Single-cell analyses of lake water incubated with CO in the dark revealed that Chromatium okenii was to a large extent responsible for aerobic sulfide oxidation and it accounted for up to 40 % of total dark carbon fixation. The genome of Chr. okenii reconstructed from the Lake Cadagno metagenome confirms its capacity for microaerophilic growth and provides further insights into its metabolic capabilities. Moreover, our genomic and single-cell data indicated that other PSB grow microaerobically in these apparently anoxic waters. Altogether, our observations suggest that aerobic respiration may not only play an underappreciated role in anoxic environments, but also that organisms typically considered strict anaerobes may be involved. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

  • Surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy of microorganisms: limitations and applicability on the single-cell level.

    Weiss R, Palatinszky M, Wagner M, Niessner R, Elsner M, Seidel M, Ivleva NP
    2019 - Analyst, 3: 943-953
    Raman single cell isotope imaging

    Abstract: 

    Detection and characterization of microorganisms is essential for both clinical diagnostics and environmental studies. An emerging technique to analyse microbes at single-cell resolution is surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (surface-enhanced Raman scattering: SERS). Optimised SERS procedures enable fast analytical read-outs with specific molecular information, providing insight into the chemical composition of microbiological samples. Knowledge about the origin of microbial SERS signals and parameter(s) affecting their occurrence, intensity and/or reproducibility is crucial for reliable SERS-based analyses. In this work, we explore the feasibility and limitations of the SERS approach for characterizing microbial cells and investigate the applicability of SERS for single-cell sorting as well as for three-dimensional visualization of microbial communities. Analyses of six different microbial species (an archaeon, two Gram-positive bacteria, three Gram-negative bacteria) showed that for several of these organisms distinct features in their SERS spectra were lacking. As additional confounding factor, the physiological conditions of the cells (as influenced by e.g., storage conditions or deuterium-labelling) were systematically addressed, for which we conclude that the respective SERS signal at the single-cell level is strongly influenced by the metabolic activity of the analysed cells. While this finding complicates the interpretation of SERS data, it may on the other hand enable probing of the metabolic state of individual cells within microbial populations of interest.

  • Cyanate and urea are substrates for nitrification by Thaumarchaeota in the marine environment.

    Kitzinger K, Padilla CC, Marchant HK, Hach PF, Herbold CW, Kidane AT, Könneke M, Littmann S, Mooshammer M, Niggemann J, Petrov S, Richter A, Stewart FJ, Wagner M, Kuypers MMM, Bristow LA
    2019 - Nat Microbiol, 2: 234-243
    Cyanate use by thaumarchaeota

    Abstract: 

    Ammonia-oxidizing archaea of the phylum Thaumarchaeota are among the most abundant marine microorganisms. These organisms thrive in the oceans despite ammonium being present at low nanomolar concentrations. Some Thaumarchaeota isolates have been shown to utilize urea and cyanate as energy and N sources through intracellular conversion to ammonium. Yet, it is unclear whether patterns observed in culture extend to marine Thaumarchaeota, and whether Thaumarchaeota in the ocean directly utilize urea and cyanate or rely on co-occurring microorganisms to break these substrates down to ammonium. Urea utilization has been reported for marine ammonia-oxidizing communities, but no evidence of cyanate utilization exists for marine ammonia oxidizers. Here, we demonstrate that in the Gulf of Mexico, Thaumarchaeota use urea and cyanate both directly and indirectly as energy and N sources. We observed substantial and linear rates of nitrite production from urea and cyanate additions, which often persisted even when ammonium was added to micromolar concentrations. Furthermore, single-cell analysis revealed that the Thaumarchaeota incorporated ammonium-, urea- and cyanate-derived N at significantly higher rates than most other microorganisms. Yet, no cyanases were detected in thaumarchaeal genomic data from the Gulf of Mexico. Therefore, we tested cyanate utilization in Nitrosopumilus maritimus, which also lacks a canonical cyanase, and showed that cyanate was oxidized to nitrite. Our findings demonstrate that marine Thaumarchaeota can use urea and cyanate as both an energy and N source. On the basis of these results, we hypothesize that urea and cyanate are substrates for ammonia-oxidizing Thaumarchaeota throughout the ocean.

  • Sulfate is transported at significant rates through the symbiosome membrane and is crucial for nitrogenase biosynthesis.

    Schneider S, Schintlmeister A, Becana M, Wagner M, Woebken D, Wienkoop S
    2019 - Plant Cell Environ., 4: 1180-1189

    Abstract: 

    Legume-rhizobia symbioses play a major role in food production for an ever growing human population. In this symbiosis, dinitrogen is reduced ("fixed") to ammonia by the rhizobial nitrogenase enzyme complex and is secreted to the plant host cells, whereas dicarboxylic acids derived from photosynthetically produced sucrose are transported into the symbiosomes and serve as respiratory substrates for the bacteroids. The symbiosome membrane contains high levels of SST1 protein, a sulfate transporter. Sulfate is an essential nutrient for all living organisms, but its importance for symbiotic nitrogen fixation and nodule metabolism has long been underestimated. Using chemical imaging, we demonstrate that the bacteroids take up 20-fold more sulfate than the nodule host cells. Furthermore, we show that nitrogenase biosynthesis relies on high levels of imported sulfate, making sulfur as essential as carbon for the regulation and functioning of symbiotic nitrogen fixation. Our findings thus establish the importance of sulfate and its active transport for the plant-microbe interaction that is most relevant for agriculture and soil fertility.

  • Transcriptomic and proteomic insight into the mechanism of cyclooctasulfur- versus thiosulfate-oxidation by the chemolithoautotroph Sulfurimonas denitrificans.

    Götz F, Pjevac P, Markert S, McNichol J, Becher D, Schweder T, Mussmann M, Sievert SM
    2019 - Environ. Microbiol., 1: 244-258

    Abstract: 

    Chemoautotrophic bacteria belonging to the genus Sulfurimonas (class Campylobacteria) were previously identified as key players in the turnover of zero-valence sulfur, a central intermediate in the marine sulfur cycle. S. denitrificans was further shown to be able to oxidize cyclooctasulfur (S ). However, at present the mechanism of activation and metabolism of cyclooctasulfur is not known. Here, we assessed the transcriptome and proteome of S. denitrificans grown with either thiosulfate or S as the electron donor. While the overall expression profiles under the two growth conditions were rather similar, distinct differences were observed that could be attributed to the utilization of S . This included a higher abundance of expressed genes related to surface attachment in the presence of S , and the differential regulation of the sulfur-oxidation multienzyme complex (SOX), which in S. denitrificans is encoded in two gene clusters: soxABXY Z and soxCDY Z . While the proteins of both clusters were present with thiosulfate, only proteins of the soxCDY Z were detected at significant levels with S . Based on these findings a model for the oxidation of S is proposed. Our results have implications for interpreting metatranscriptomic and -proteomic data and for the observed high level of diversification of soxY Z among sulfur-oxidizing Campylobacteria.

Book chapters and other publications

2 Publications found
  • Mikrobiome – Wissensstand und Perspektiven

    2019 - 17-29. in Die unbekannte 
Welt der Mikrobiome; Rundgespräche Forum Ökologie Bd. 47. (Bauer J & von Mutius E). Bayerische Akademie der Wissenschaften; Verlag Dr. Friedrich Pfeil
  • Up-close-and-personal with the human microbiome

    2019 - Environ Microbiol Rep, 1: 17-19