• Centre for Microbiology and Environmental Systems Science

  • CUBE - Computational Systems Biology

  • DOME - Microbial Ecology

  • EDGE - Environmental Geosciences

  • TER - Terrestrial Ecosystem Research


Latest publications

Colocalization and potential interactions of and chlamydiae in microbial aggregates of the coral Pocillopora acuta

Corals are associated with a variety of bacteria, which occur in the surface mucus layer, gastrovascular cavity, skeleton, and tissues. Some tissue-associated bacteria form clusters, termed cell-associated microbial aggregates (CAMAs), which are poorly studied. Here, we provide a comprehensive characterization of CAMAs in the coral . Combining imaging techniques, laser capture microdissection, and amplicon and metagenome sequencing, we show that (i) CAMAs are located in the tentacle tips and may be intracellular; (ii) CAMAs contain (Gammaproteobacteria) and (Chlamydiota) bacteria; (iii) may provide vitamins to its host and use secretion systems and/or pili for colonization and aggregation; (iv) and occur in distinct, but adjacent, CAMAs; and (v) may receive acetate and heme from neighboring . Our study provides detailed insight into coral endosymbionts, thereby improving our understanding of coral physiology and health and providing important knowledge for coral reef conservation in the climate change era.

Maire J, Tandon K, Collingro A, van de Meene A, Damjanovic K, Gotze CR, Stephenson S, Philip GK, Horn M, Cantin NE, Blackall LL, van Oppen MJH
2023 - Sci Adv, 20: eadg0773

Long-term warming-induced trophic downgrading in the soil microbial food web

Climatic warming has been hypothesized to accelerate organic matter decomposition by soil microorganisms and thereby enhance carbon (C) release to the atmosphere. However, the long-term consequences of soil warming on belowground biota interactions are poorly understood. Here we investigate how geothermal warming by 6 °C for more than 50 years affects soil microbiota. Using metatranscriptomics we obtained comprehensive profiles of the prokaryotic, eukaryotic and viral players of the soil microbial food web. When compared to ambient soil temperature conditions, we found pronounced differences in taxa abundances within and between trophic modules of the soil food web. Specifically, we observed a ‘trophic downgrading’ at elevated temperature, with soil fauna decreasing in abundance, while predatory bacteria and viruses became relatively more abundant. We propose that the drivers for this shift are previously observed decreases in microbial biomass and soil organic carbon, and the increase in soil bulk density (decrease in soil porosity) at elevated temperature. We conclude that a trophic downgrading may have important implications for soil carbon sequestration and nutrient dynamics in a warming world.

Borg Dahl M, Söllinger A, Sigurðsson P, Janssens I, Schiestl RH, Sigurdsson BD, Richter A, Tveit AT, Urich T
2023 - Soil Biology and Biochemistry, 181: Article 109044

Eco-Corona Dictates Mobility of Nanoplastics in Saturated Porous Media: The Critical Role of Preferential Binding of Macromolecules

Nanoplastics are an increasing environmental concern. In aquatic environments, nanoplastics will acquire an eco-corona by interacting with macromolecules (e.g., humic substances and extracellular polymeric substances (EPS)). Here, we show that the properties of the eco-corona and, consequently, its ability to enhance the transport of nanoplastics vary significantly with the surface functionality of nanoplastics and sources of macromolecules. The eco-corona derived from the EPS of Gram-negative Escherichia coli MG1655 enhances the transport of polystyrene (PS) nanospheres in saturated porous media to a much greater extent than the eco-corona derived from soil humic acid and fulvic acid. In comparison, the eco-corona from all three sources significantly enhance the transport of carboxylated PS (HOOC-PS). We show that the eco-corona inhibits the deposition of the two types of nanoplastics to the porous media mainly via steric repulsion. Accordingly, an eco-corona consisting of a higher mass of larger-sized macromolecules is generally more effective in enhancing transport. Notably, HOOC-PS tends to acquire macromolecules of lower hydrophobicity than PS. The more disordered and flexible structures of such macromolecules may result in greater elastic repulsion between the nanoplastics and sand grains and, consequently, greater transport enhancement. The findings of this study highlight the critical role of eco-corona formation in regulating the mobility of nanoplastics, as well as the complexity of this process.

Meiling Zhu, Zhanhua Zhang, Tong Zhang, Thilo Hofmann, Wei Chen
2023 - Environ. Sci. Technol., 57: 331-339

Lecture series

CMESS Lecture: "Marine symbioses fueled by wood"

Dan Distel
Director of the Ocean Genome Legacy Center (OGL), Professor at Northeastern University, Boston, USA
12:00 h
hybrid, UBB HS 2

CMESS Lecture: "Microbial trait-based scaling from single populations to communities with consequences for ecosystem processes"

Ashish Malik
Lecturer in Biogeochemistry, University of Aberdeen, UK
12:00 h
hybrid, UBB HS 2