[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The cohort of the ammonia-oxidizing archaea (AOA) of the phylum Thaumarchaeota is a diverse, widespread and functionally important group of microorganisms in many ecosystems. However, our understanding of their biology is still very rudimentary in part because all available genome sequences of this phylum are from members of the Nitrosopumilus cluster. Here we report on the complete genome sequence of Candidatus Nitrososphaera gargensis obtained from an enrichment culture, representing a different evolutionary lineage of AOA frequently found in high numbers in many terrestrial environments. With its 2.83 Mb the genome is much larger than that of other AOA. The presence of a high number of (active) IS elements/transposases, genomic islands, gene duplications and a complete CRISPR/Cas defence system testifies to its dynamic evolution consistent with low degree of synteny with other thaumarchaeal genomes. As expected, the repertoire of conserved enzymes proposed to be required for archaeal ammonia oxidation is encoded by N. gargensis, but it can also use urea and possibly cyanate as alternative ammonia sources. Furthermore, its carbon metabolism is more flexible at the central pyruvate switch point, encompasses the ability to take up small organic compounds and might even include an oxidative pentose phosphate pathway. Furthermore, we show that thaumarchaeota produce cofactor F420 as well as polyhydroxyalkanoates. Lateral gene transfer from bacteria and euryarchaeota has contributed to the metabolic versatility of N. gargensis. This organisms is well adapted to its niche in a heavy metal-containing thermal spring by encoding a multitude of heavy metal resistance genes, chaperones and mannosylglycerate as compatible solute and has the genetic ability to respond to environmental changes by signal transduction via a large number of two-component systems, by chemotaxis and flagella-mediated motility and possibly even by gas vacuole formation. These findings extend our understanding of thaumarchaeal evolution and physiology and offer many testable hypotheses for future experimental research on these nitrifiers.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) has become an indispensable tool for rapid and direct single-cell identification of microbes by detecting signature regions in their rRNA molecules. Recent advances in this field include new web-based tools for assisting probe design and optimization of experimental conditions, easy-to-implement signal amplification strategies, innovative multiplexing approaches, and the combination of FISH with transmission electron microscopy or extracellular staining techniques. Further emerging developments focus on sorting FISH-identified cells for subsequent single-cell genomics and on the direct detection of specific genes within single microbial cells by advanced FISH techniques employing various strategies for massive signal amplification.
Current opinion in biotechnology 11/2011; 23(1):96-102. · 7.82 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The hybridization of nucleic acid targets with surface-immobilized probes is a widely used assay for the parallel detection of multiple targets in medical and biological research. Despite its widespread application, DNA microarray technology still suffers from several biases and lack of reproducibility, stemming in part from an incomplete understanding of the processes governing surface hybridization. In particular, non-random spatial variations within individual microarray hybridizations are often observed, but the mechanisms underpinning this positional bias remain incompletely explained.
This study identifies and rationalizes a systematic spatial bias in the intensity of surface hybridization, characterized by markedly increased signal intensity of spots located at the boundaries of the spotted areas of the microarray slide. Combining observations from a simplified single-probe block array format with predictions from a mathematical model, the mechanism responsible for this bias is found to be a position-dependent variation in lateral diffusion of target molecules. Numerical simulations reveal a strong influence of microarray well geometry on the spatial bias.
Reciprocal adjustment of the size of the microarray hybridization chamber to the area of surface-bound probes is a simple and effective measure to minimize or eliminate the diffusion-based bias, resulting in increased uniformity and accuracy of quantitative DNA microarray hybridization.
PLoS ONE 01/2011; 6(8):e23727. · 3.73 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The phylum Chlamydiae consists exclusively of obligate intracellular bacteria. Some of them are formidable pathogens of humans, while others occur as symbionts of amoebae. These genetically intractable bacteria possess a developmental cycle consisting of replicative reticulate bodies and infectious elementary bodies, which are believed to be physiologically inactive. Confocal Raman microspectroscopy was applied to differentiate between reticulate bodies and elementary bodies of Protochlamydia amoebophila and to demonstrate in situ the labelling of this amoeba symbiont after addition of isotope-labelled phenylalanine. Unexpectedly, uptake of this amino acid was also observed for both developmental stages for up to 3 weeks, if incubated extracellularly with labelled phenylalanine, and P. amoebophila remained infective during this period. Furthermore, P. amoebophila energizes its membrane and performs protein synthesis outside of its host. Importantly, amino acid uptake and protein synthesis after extended extracellular incubation could also be demonstrated for the human pathogen Chlamydia trachomatis, which synthesizes stress-related proteins under these conditions as shown by 2-D gel electrophoresis and MALDI-TOF/TOF mass spectrometry. These findings change our perception of chlamydial biology and reveal that host-free analyses possess a previously not recognized potential for direct experimental access to these elusive microorganisms.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Free-living amoebae are frequent hosts for bacterial endosymbionts. In this study, the symbionts of eight novel environmental Acanthamoeba strains isolated from different locations worldwide were characterized. Phylogenetic analysis revealed that they were related to one of four evolutionary lineages of amoeba symbionts recognized previously. This study provides evidence for the existence of only a small number of phylogenetically well-separated groups of obligate intracellular endosymbionts of acanthamoebae with global distribution.
Applied and environmental microbiology 09/2008; 74(18):5822-31. · 3.69 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Chlamydia-like bacteria, obligate intracellular relatives of Chlamydia trachomatis and Chlamydophila pneumoniae, are widely distributed in nature. Using a two-step nested and semi-nested PCR approach targeting the 16S rRNA gene, we found DNA of Chlamydia-like bacteria in respiratory samples from patients with community-acquired pneumonia. Of 387 cases tested, four (1.03%) tested positive if only sequences showing less than 99.9% 16S rRNA gene sequence similarity to known Chlamydiae were considered. These included for the first time Protochlamydia amoebophila, Waddlia chondrophila, and 'Candidatus Rhabdochlamydia porcellionis'-related sequences. This study extends previous findings suggesting an association of Chlamydia-like bacteria with respiratory disease, but a causal link between these microorganisms and respiratory tract infections has yet to be established.