Publications (195)730.16 Total impact
- [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The systems biology of microbial communities, organismal communities inhabiting all ecological niches on earth, has in recent years been strongly facilitated by the rapid development of experimental, sequencing and data analysis methods. Novel experimental approaches and binning methods in metagenomics render the semi-automatic reconstructions of near-complete genomes of uncultivable bacteria possible, while advances in high-resolution amplicon analysis allow for efficient and less biased taxonomic community characterization. This will also facilitate predictive modeling approaches, hitherto limited by the low resolution of metagenomic data. In this review, we pinpoint the most promising current developments in metagenomics. They facilitate microbial systems biology towards a systemic understanding of mechanisms in microbial communities with scopes of application in many areas of our daily life.
- [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The Spanish slug, Arion vulgaris, is considered one of the hundred most invasive species in Central Europe. The immense and very successful adaptation and spreading of A. vulgaris suggest that it developed highly effective mechanisms to deal with infections and natural predators. Current transcriptomic and proteomic studies on gastropods have been restricted mainly to marine and freshwater gastropods. No transcriptomic or proteomic study on A. vulgaris has been carried out so far, and in the current study, the first transcriptomic database from adult specimen of A. vulgaris is reported. To facilitate and enable proteomics in this non-model organism, a mRNA-derived protein database was constructed for protein identification. A gel-based proteomic approach was used to obtain the first generation of a comprehensive slug mantle proteome. A total of 2128 proteins were unambiguously identified; 48 proteins represent novel proteins with no significant homology in NCBI non-redundant database. Combined transcriptomic and proteomic analysis revealed an extensive repertoire of novel proteins with a role in innate immunity including many associated pattern recognition, effector proteins and cytokine-like proteins. The number and diversity in gene families encoding lectins point to a complex defense system, probably as a result of adaptation to a pathogen-rich environment. These results are providing a fundamental and important resource for subsequent studies on molluscs as well as for putative antimicrobial compounds for drug discovery and biomedical applications.
- [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The stomach bacterium Helicobacter pylori is one of the most prevalent human pathogens. It has dispersed globally with its human host, resulting in a distinct phylogeographic pattern that can be used to reconstruct both recent and ancient human migrations. The extant European population of H. pylori is known to be a hybrid between Asian and African bacteria, but there exist different hypotheses about when and where the hybridization took place, reflecting the complex demographic history of Europeans. Here, we present a 5300-year-old H. pylori genome from a European Copper Age glacier mummy. The “Iceman” H. pylori is a nearly pure representative of the bacterial population of Asian origin that existed in Europe before hybridization, suggesting that the African population arrived in Europe within the past few thousand years.
- [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Five thousand years ago in the European Alps, a man was shot by an arrow, then clubbed to death. His body was subsequently mummified by ice until glacier retreat exhumed him in 1991. Subsequently, this ancient corpse has provided a trove of intriguing information about copper-age Europeans. Now, Maixner et al. have identified the human pathogen Helicobacter pylori within the mummy's stomach contents. The strain the “Iceman” hosted appears to most closely resemble pathogenic Asian strains found today in Central and Southern Asia.Science, this issue p. 162The stomach bacterium Helicobacter pylori is one of the most prevalent human pathogens. It has dispersed globally with its human host, resulting in a distinct phylogeographic pattern that can be used to reconstruct both recent and ancient human migrations. The extant European population of H. pylori is known to be a hybrid between Asian and African bacteria, but there exist different hypotheses about when and where the hybridization took place, reflecting the complex demographic history of Europeans. Here, we present a 5300-year-old H. pylori genome from a European Copper Age glacier mummy. The “Iceman” H. pylori is a nearly pure representative of the bacterial population of Asian origin that existed in Europe before hybridization, suggesting that the African population arrived in Europe within the past few thousand years.
- [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Background Recent studies posit a reciprocal dependency between the microbiomes associated with humans and indoor environments. However, none of these metagenome surveys has considered the viability of constituent microorganisms when inferring impact on human health. Results Reported here are the results of a viability-linked metagenomics assay, which (1) unveil a remarkably complex community profile for bacteria, fungi, and viruses and (2) bolster the detection of underrepresented taxa by eliminating biases resulting from extraneous DNA. This approach enabled, for the first time ever, the elucidation of viral genomes from a cleanroom environment. Upon comparing the viable biomes and distribution of phylotypes within a cleanroom and adjoining (uncontrolled) gowning enclosure, the rigorous cleaning and stringent control countermeasures of the former were observed to select for a greater presence of anaerobes and spore-forming microflora. Sequence abundance and correlation analyses suggest that the viable indoor microbiome is influenced by both the human microbiome and the surrounding ecosystem(s). Conclusions The findings of this investigation constitute the literature’s first ever account of the indoor metagenome derived from DNA originating solely from the potential viable microbial population. Results presented in this study should prove valuable to the conceptualization and experimental design of future studies on indoor microbiomes aimed at inferring impact on human health. Electronic supplementary material The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s40168-015-0129-y) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
- [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Nitrification, the oxidation of ammonia via nitrite to nitrate, has always been considered to be a two-step process catalysed by chemolithoautotrophic microorganisms oxidizing either ammonia or nitrite. No known nitrifier carries out both steps, although complete nitrification should be energetically advantageous. This functional separation has puzzled microbiologists for a century. Here we report on the discovery and cultivation of a completely nitrifying bacterium from the genus Nitrospira, a globally distributed group of nitrite oxidizers. The genome of this chemolithoautotrophic organism encodes the pathways both for ammonia and nitrite oxidation, which are concomitantly activated during growth by ammonia oxidation to nitrate. Genes affiliated with the phylogenetically distinct ammonia monooxygenase and hydroxylamine dehydrogenase genes of Nitrospira are present in many environments and were retrieved on Nitrospira-contigs in new metagenomes from engineered systems. These findings fundamentally change our picture of nitrification and point to completely nitrifying Nitrospira as key components of nitrogen-cycling microbial communities.
- [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Protein secretion systems play a key role in the interaction of bacteria and hosts. EffectiveDB (http://effectivedb.org) contains pre-calculated predictions of bacterial secreted proteins and of intact secretion systems. Here we describe a major update of the database, which was previously featured in the NAR Database Issue. EffectiveDB bundles various tools to recognize Type III secretion signals, conserved binding sites of Type III chaperones, Type IV secretion peptides, eukaryotic-like domains and subcellular targeting signals in the host. Beyond the analysis of arbitrary protein sequence collections, the new release of EffectiveDB also provides a ‘genome-mode’, in which protein sequences from nearly complete genomes or metagenomic bins can be screened for the presence of three important secretion systems (Type III, IV, VI). EffectiveDB contains pre-calculated predictions for currently 1677 bacterial genomes from the EggNOG 4.0 database and for additional bacterial genomes from NCBI RefSeq. The new, user-friendly and informative web portal offers a submission tool for running the EffectiveDB prediction tools on user-provided data.
- [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: probeBase http://www.probebase.net is a manually maintained and curated database of rRNA-targeted oligonucleotide probes and primers. Contextual information and multiple options for evaluating in silico hybridization performance against the most recent rRNA sequence databases are provided for each oligonucleotide entry, which makes probeBase an important and frequently used resource for microbiology research and diagnostics. Here we present a major update of probeBase, which was last featured in the NAR Database Issue 2007. This update describes a complete remodeling of the database architecture and environment to accommodate computationally efficient access. Improved search functions, sequence match tools and data output now extend the opportunities for finding suitable hierarchical probe sets that target an organism or taxon at different taxonomic levels. To facilitate the identification of complementary probe sets for organisms represented by short rRNA sequence reads generated by amplicon sequencing or metagenomic analysis with next generation sequencing technologies such as Illumina and IonTorrent, we introduce a novel tool that recovers surrogate near full-length rRNA sequences for short query sequences and finds matching oligonucleotides in probeBase.
- [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: eggNOG is a public resource that provides Orthologous Groups (OGs) of proteins at different taxonomic levels, each with integrated and summarized functional annotations. Developments since the latest public release include changes to the algorithm for creating OGs across taxonomic levels, making nested groups hierarchically consistent. This allows for a better propagation of functional terms across nested OGs and led to the novel annotation of 95 890 previously uncharacterized OGs, increasing overall annotation coverage from 67% to 72%. The functional annotations of OGs have been expanded to also provide Gene Ontology terms, KEGG pathways and SMART/Pfam domains for each group. Moreover, eggNOG now provides pairwise orthology relationships within OGs based on analysis of phylogenetic trees. We have also incorporated a framework for quickly mapping novel sequences to OGs based on precomputed HMM profiles. Finally, eggNOG version 4.5 incorporates a novel data set spanning 2605 viral OGs, covering 5228 proteins from 352 viral proteomes. All data are accessible for bulk downloading, as a web-service, and through a completely redesigned web interface. The new access points provide faster searches and a number of new browsing and visualization capabilities, facilitating the needs of both experts and less experienced users. eggNOG v4.5 is available at http://eggnog.embl.de.
- [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Protein secretion systems play a key role in the interaction of bacteria and hosts. ● The Effective database (http://effectors.org) contains pre-calculated predictions of bacterial secreted proteins and of functional secretion systems. ● Effective bundles various tools to recognize Type III secretion signals, conserved binding sites of Type III chaperones, eukaryotic-like domains and subcellular targeting signals in the host. ● Effective also provides a “genome-mode”, in which protein sequences from nearly complete genomes or metagenomic bins can be screened for the presence of three important secretion systems (type III, IV, VI).
- [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The accessibility of almost complete genome sequences of uncultivable microbial species from metagenomes necessitates computational methods predicting microbial phenotypes solely based on genomic data. Here we investigate how comparative genomics can be utilized for the prediction of microbial phenotypes. The PICA framework facilitates application and comparison of different machine learning techniques for phenotypic trait prediction. We have improved and extended PICA's support vector machine plug-in and suggest its applicability to large-scale genome databases and incomplete genome sequences. We have demonstrated the stability of the predictive power for phenotypic traits, not perturbed by the rapid growth of genome databases. A new software tool facilitates the in-depth analysis of phenotype models, which associate expected and unexpected protein functions with particular traits. Most of the traits can be reliably predicted in only 60-70% complete genomes. We have established a new phenotypic model that predicts intracellular microorganisms. Thereby we could demonstrate that also independently evolved phenotypic traits, characterized by genome reduction, can be reliably predicted based on comparative genomics. Our results suggest that the extended PICA framework can be used to automatically annotate phenotypes in near-complete microbial genome sequences, as generated in large numbers in current metagenomics studies.
- [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Unlabelled: Invasion of nonphagocytic cells through rearrangement of the actin cytoskeleton is a common immune evasion mechanism used by most intracellular bacteria. However, some pathogens modulate host microtubules as well by a still poorly understood mechanism. In this study, we aim at deciphering the mechanisms by which the opportunistic bacterial pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa invades nonphagocytic cells, although it is considered mainly an extracellular bacterium. Using confocal microscopy and immunofluorescence, we show that the evolved VgrG2b effector of P. aeruginosa strain PAO1 is delivered into epithelial cells by a type VI secretion system, called H2-T6SS, involving the VgrG2a component. An in vivo interactome of VgrG2b in host cells allows the identification of microtubule components, including the γ-tubulin ring complex (γTuRC), a multiprotein complex catalyzing microtubule nucleation, as the major host target of VgrG2b. This interaction promotes a microtubule-dependent internalization of the bacterium since colchicine and nocodazole, two microtubule-destabilizing drugs, prevent VgrG2b-mediated P. aeruginosa entry even if the invasion still requires actin. We further validate our findings by demonstrating that the type VI injection step can be bypassed by ectopic production of VgrG2b inside target cells prior to infection. Moreover, such uncoupling between VgrG2b injection and bacterial internalization also reveals that they constitute two independent steps. With VgrG2b, we provide the first example of a bacterial protein interacting with the γTuRC. Our study offers key insight into the mechanism of self-promoting invasion of P. aeruginosa into human cells via a directed and specific effector-host protein interaction. Importance: Innate immunity and specifically professional phagocytic cells are key determinants in the ability of the host to control P. aeruginosa infection. However, among various virulence strategies, including attack, this opportunistic bacterial pathogen is able to avoid host clearance by triggering its own internalization in nonphagocytic cells. We previously showed that a protein secretion/injection machinery, called the H2 type VI secretion system (H2-T6SS), promotes P. aeruginosa uptake by epithelial cells. Here we investigate which H2-T6SS effector enables P. aeruginosa to enter nonphagocytic cells. We show that VgrG2b is delivered by the H2-T6SS machinery into epithelial cells, where it interacts with microtubules and, more particularly, with the γ-tubulin ring complex (γTuRC) known as the microtubule-nucleating center. This interaction precedes a microtubule- and actin-dependent internalization of P. aeruginosa. We thus discovered an unprecedented target for a bacterial virulence factor since VgrG2b constitutes, to our knowledge, the first example of a bacterial protein interacting with the γTuRC.
- [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Enterococcus faecalis is a Gram-positive lactic acid intestinal opportunistic bacterium with virulence potential. For a better understanding of the adapation of this bacterium to the host conditions, we performed a transcriptome analysis of bacteria isolated from an infection site (mouse peritonitis) by RNA-sequencing. We identified a total of 211 genes with significantly higher transcript levels and 157 repressed genes. Our in vivo gene expression database reflects well the infection process since genes encoding important virulence factors like cytolysin, gelatinase or aggregation substance as well as stress response proteins, are significantly induced. Genes encoding metabolic activities are the second most abundant in vivo induced genes demonstrating that the bacteria are metabolically active and adapt to the special nutrient conditions of the host. α- and β- glucosides seem to be important substrates for E. faecalis inside the host. Compared to laboratory conditions, the flux through the upper part of glycolysis seems to be reduced and more carbon may enter the pentose phosphate pathway. This may reflect the need of the bacteria under infection conditions to produce more reducing power for biosynthesis. Another important substrate is certainly glycerol since both pathways of glycerol catabolism are strongly induced. Strongly in vivo induced genes should be important for the infection process. This assumption has been verified in a virulence test using well characterized mutants affected in glycerol metabolism. This showed indeed that mutants unable to metabolize this sugar alcohol are affected in organ colonisation in a mouse model.
- [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Chlamydia pneumoniae (Cpn) are obligate intracellular bacteria that cause acute infections of the upper and lower respiratory tract and have been implicated in chronic inflammatory diseases. Although of significant clinical relevance, complete genome sequences of only four clinical Cpn strains have been obtained. All of them were isolated from the respiratory tract and shared more than 99% sequence identity. Here we investigate genetic differences on the whole-genome level that are related to Cpn tissue tropism and pathogenicity. We have sequenced the genomes of 18 clinical isolates from different anatomical sites (e.g. lung, blood, coronary arteries) of diseased patients, and one animal isolate. In total 1,363 SNP loci and 184 InDels have been identified in the genomes of all clinical Cpn isolates. These are distributed throughout the whole chlamydial genome and enriched in highly variable regions. The genomes show clear evidence of recombination in at least one potential region but no phage insertions. The tyrP gene was always encoded as single copy in all vascular isolates. Phylogenetic reconstruction revealed distinct evolutionary lineages containing primarily non-respiratory Cpn isolates. In one of these, clinical isolates from coronary arteries and blood monocytes were closely grouped together. They could be distinguished from all other isolates by characteristic nsSNPs in genes involved in RB to EB transition, inclusion membrane formation, bacterial stress response and metabolism. This study substantially expands the genomic data of Cpn and elucidates its evolutionary history. The translation of the observed Cpn genetic differences into biological functions and the prediction of novel pathogen-oriented diagnostic strategies have to be further explored.
- [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In this study, we investigated the impact of soil pH on the diversity and abundance of archaeal ammonia oxidizers in 27 different forest soils across Germany. DNA was extracted from topsoil samples, the amoA gene, encoding ammonia monooxygenase, was amplified; and the amplicons were sequenced using a 454-based pyrosequencing approach. As expected, the ratio of archaeal (AOA) to bacterial (AOB) ammonia oxidizers’ amoA genes increased sharply with decreasing soil pH. The diversity of AOA differed significantly between sites with ultra-acidic soil pH (4.5, regardless of geographic position and vegetation. These OTUs could be related to the Nitrosotalea group 1.1 and the Nitrososphaera subcluster 7.2, respectively, and showed significant similarities to OTUs described from other acidic environments. Conversely, none of the major OTUs typical of sites with a soil pH >4.6 could be found in the ultra- and extreme acidic soils. Based on a comparison with the amoA gene sequence data from a previous study performed on agricultural soils, we could clearly show that the development of AOA communities in soils with ultra-acidic pH (
- [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Subsurface microbial life contributes significantly to biogeochemical cycling, yet it remains largely uncharacterized, especially its archaeal members. This 'microbial dark matter' has been explored by recent studies that were, however, mostly based on DNA sequence information only. Here, we use diverse techniques including ultrastuctural analyses to link genomics to biology for the SM1 Euryarchaeon lineage, an uncultivated group of subsurface archaea. Phylogenomic analyses reveal this lineage to belong to a widespread group of archaea that we propose to classify as a new euryarchaeal order ('Candidatus Altiarchaeales'). The representative, double-membraned species 'Candidatus Altiarchaeum hamiconexum' has an autotrophic metabolism that uses a not-yet-reported Factor420-free reductive acetyl-CoA pathway, confirmed by stable carbon isotopic measurements of archaeal lipids. Our results indicate that this lineage has evolved specific metabolic and structural features like nano-grappling hooks empowering this widely distributed archaeon to predominate anaerobic groundwater, where it may represent an important carbon dioxide sink.
Dataset: Mueller et al Supplementary File S1
Technische Universität MünchenMünchen, Bavaria, Germany
University of ViennaWien, Vienna, Austria