• CUBE - Computational Systems Biology

  • DOME - Microbial Ecology

  • TER - Terrestrial Ecosystem Research


Latest publications

The desert plant Phoenix dactylifera closes stomata via nitrate-regulated SLAC1 anion channel.

Date palm Phoenix dactylifera is a desert crop well adapted to survive and produce fruits under extreme drought and heat. How are palms under such harsh environmental conditions able to limit transpirational water loss? Here, we analysed the cuticular waxes, stomata structure and function, and molecular biology of guard cells from P. dactylifera. To understand the stomatal response to the water stress phytohormone of the desert plant, we cloned the major elements necessary for guard cell fast abscisic acid (ABA) signalling and reconstituted this ABA signalosome in Xenopus oocytes. The PhoenixSLAC1-type anion channel is regulated by ABA kinase PdOST1. Energy-dispersive X-ray analysis (EDXA) demonstrated that date palm guard cells release chloride during stomatal closure. However, in Cl(-) medium, PdOST1 did not activate the desert plant anion channel PdSLAC1 per se. Only when nitrate was present at the extracellular face of the anion channel did the OST1-gated PdSLAC1 open, thus enabling chloride release. In the presence of nitrate, ABA enhanced and accelerated stomatal closure. Our findings indicate that, in date palm, the guard cell osmotic motor driving stomatal closure uses nitrate as the signal to open the major anion channel SLAC1. This initiates guard cell depolarization and the release of anions together with potassium.

Müller HM, Schäfer N, Bauer H, Geiger D, Lautner S, Fromm J, Riederer M, Bueno A, Nussbaumer T, Mayer K, Alquraishi SA, Alfarhan AH, Neher E, Al-Rasheid KAS, Ache P, Hedrich R
2017 - New Phytol., in press

Unexpected genomic features in widespread intracellular bacteria: evidence for motility of marine chlamydiae.

Chlamydiae are obligate intracellular bacteria comprising important human pathogens and symbionts of protists. Molecular evidence indicates a tremendous diversity of chlamydiae particularly in marine environments, yet our current knowledge is based mainly on terrestrial representatives. Here we provide first insights into the biology of marine chlamydiae representing three divergent clades. Our analysis of single-cell amplified genomes revealed hallmarks of the chlamydial lifestyle, supporting the ancient origin of their characteristic developmental cycle and major virulence mechanisms. Surprisingly, these chlamydial genomes encode a complete flagellar apparatus, a previously unreported feature. We show that flagella are an ancient trait that was subject to differential gene loss among extant chlamydiae. Together with a chemotaxis system, these marine chlamydiae are likely motile, with flagella potentially playing a role during host cell infection. This study broadens our view on chlamydial biology and indicates a largely underestimated potential to adapt to different hosts and environments.

Collingro A, Köstlbacher S, Greuter L, Stepanauskas R, Hallam SJ, Horn M
2017 - ISME J, in press

'Candidatus Cochliophilus cryoturris' (Coxiellaceae), a symbiont of the testate amoeba Cochliopodium minus.

Free-living amoebae are well known for their role in controlling microbial community composition through grazing, but some groups, namely Acanthamoeba species, also frequently serve as hosts for bacterial symbionts. Here we report the first identification of a bacterial symbiont in the testate amoeba Cochliopodium. The amoeba was isolated from a cooling tower water sample and identified as C. minus. Fluorescence in situ hybridization and transmission electron microscopy revealed intracellular symbionts located in vacuoles. 16S rRNA-based phylogenetic analysis identified the endosymbiont as member of a monophyletic group within the family Coxiellaceae (Gammaprotebacteria; Legionellales), only moderately related to known amoeba symbionts. We propose to tentatively classify these bacteria as 'Candidatus Cochliophilus cryoturris'. Our findings add both, a novel group of amoeba and a novel group of symbionts, to the growing list of bacteria-amoeba relationships.

Tsao HF, Scheikl U, Volland JM, Köhsler M, Bright M, Walochnik J, Horn M
2017 - Sci Rep, 1: 3394

Lecture series

Advanced strategies for genome resolved metagenomics

Christian Sieber
University of Berkeley / DOE Joint Genome Institute
11:00 h
Seminar room DOME 2.309; Althanstr. 14 UZA1, Level 2, Section 4)