• Centre for Microbiology and Environmental Systems Science

  • CUBE - Computational Systems Biology

  • DOME - Microbial Ecology

  • EDGE - Environmental Geosciences

  • TER - Terrestrial Ecosystem Research


Latest publications

Methanol-based extraction protocol for insoluble and moderately water-soluble nanoparticles in plants to enable characterization by single particle ICP-MS

The detection and characterization of soluble metal nanoparticles in plant tissues are an analytical challenge, though a scientific necessity for regulating nano-enabled agrichemicals. The efficacy of two extraction methods to prepare plant samples for analysis by single particle ICP-MS, an analytical method enabling both size determination and quantification of nanoparticles (NP), was assessed. A standard enzyme-based extraction was compared to a newly developed methanol-based approach. Au, CuO, and ZnO NPs were extracted from three different plant leaf materials (lettuce, corn, and kale) selected for their agricultural relevance and differing characteristics. The enzyme-based approach was found to be unsuitable because of changes in the recovered NP size distribution of CuO NP. The MeOH-based extraction allowed reproducible extraction of the particle size distribution (PSD) without major alteration caused by the extraction. The type of leaf tissue did not significantly affect the recovered PSD. Total metal losses during the extraction process were largely due to the filtration step prior to analysis by spICP-MS, though this did not significantly affect PSD recovery. The methanol extraction worked with the three different NPs and plants tested and is suitable for studying the fate of labile metal-based nano-enabled agrichemicals.

Stephanie Laughton, Adam Laycock, Garret Bland, Frank von der Kammer, Thilo Hofmann, Elizabeth A. Casman, Gregory V. Lowry
2021 - Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry, 413: 299–314

Transkingdom interactions between Lactobacilli and hepatic mitochondria attenuate western diet-induced diabetes.

Western diet (WD) is one of the major culprits of metabolic disease including type 2 diabetes (T2D) with gut microbiota playing an important role in modulating effects of the diet. Herein, we use a data-driven approach (Transkingdom Network analysis) to model host-microbiome interactions under WD to infer which members of microbiota contribute to the altered host metabolism. Interrogation of this network pointed to taxa with potential beneficial or harmful effects on host's metabolism. We then validate the functional role of the predicted bacteria in regulating metabolism and show that they act via different host pathways. Our gene expression and electron microscopy studies show that two species from Lactobacillus genus act upon mitochondria in the liver leading to the improvement of lipid metabolism. Metabolomics analyses revealed that reduced glutathione may mediate these effects. Our study identifies potential probiotic strains for T2D and provides important insights into mechanisms of their action.

Rodrigues RR, Gurung M, Li Z, García-Jaramillo M, Greer R, Gaulke C, Bauchinger F, You H, Pederson JW, Vasquez-Perez S, White KD, Frink B, Philmus B, Jump DB, Trinchieri G, Berry D, Sharpton TJ, Dzutsev A, Morgun A, Shulzhenko N
2021 - Nat Commun, 1: 101

Distribution of mixotrophy and desiccation survival mechanisms across microbial genomes in an arid biological soil crust community

Desert surface soils devoid of plant cover are populated by a variety of microorganisms, many with yet unresolved physiologies and lifestyles. Nevertheless, a common feature vital for these microorganisms inhabiting arid soils is their ability to survive long drought periods and reactivate rapidly in rare incidents of rain. Chemolithotrophic processes such as oxidation of atmospheric hydrogen and carbon monoxide are suggested to be a widespread energy source to support dormancy and resuscitation in desert soil microorganisms. Here, we assessed the distribution of chemolithotrophic, phototrophic, and desiccation-related metabolic potential among microbial populations in arid biological soil crusts (BSCs) from the Negev Desert, Israel, via population-resolved metagenomic analysis. While the potential to utilize light and atmospheric hydrogen as additional energy sources was widespread, carbon monoxide oxidation was less common than expected. The ability to utilize continuously available energy sources might decrease the dependency of mixotrophic populations on organic storage compounds and carbon provided by the BSC-founding cyanobacteria. Several populations from five different phyla besides the cyanobacteria encoded CO2 fixation potential, indicating further potential independence from photoautotrophs. However, we also found population genomes with a strictly heterotrophic genetic repertoire. The highly abundant Rubrobacteraceae (Actinobacteriota) genomes showed particular specialization for this extreme habitat, different from their closest cultured relatives. Besides the ability to use light and hydrogen as energy sources, they encoded extensive O2 stress protection and unique DNA repair potential. The uncovered differences in metabolic potential between individual, co-occurring microbial populations enable predictions of their ecological niches and generation of hypotheses on the dynamics and interactions among them.

Meier DV, Imminger S, Gillor O, Woebken D
2021 - mSystems, in press

Lecture series

Imaging anatomic structure and metabolic function in animal-microbe symbioses

Benedikt Geier
Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology, Germany
10:00 h