• We seek to understand

    the role of microorganisms in Earth's nutrient cycles

    and as symbionts of other organisms

  • Cycling of carbon, nitrogen and sulfur

    affect the health of our planet

  • Ancient invaders -

    Bacterial symbionts of amoebae

    and the evolution of the intracellular lifestyle

  • The human microbiome -

    Our own social network of microbial friends

  • Single cell techniques offer new insights

    into the ecology of microbes

  • Apply for the DOME International PhD/PostDoc program

Dome News

  • International FISH course 2016


    Apply now for the International FISH course 2016, February 22-26.

  • DoME at the pine mountains


    The DoME team explored the pine mountains around Kaltenleutgeben including some hidden caves, the Kugelwiese, as well as an observation tower.

  • Retreat of the Research Network "Chemistry meets Microbiology"


    Members of the Research Network "Chemistry meets Microbiology" (cmm), a joint initiative of the Department of Microbiology and Ecosystem Science and the Faculty of Chemistry, met for a first retreat at ...

  • Dr. rer. nat. Albert Müller


    Albert successfully defended his PhD thesis entitled "Microbial biogeography, carbon degradation, and temperature adaptation: Insights from ecological studies of sulfate-reducing microorganisms in marine sediments". The board of examiners included Ian ...

Latest publications

A flexible and economical barcoding approach for highly multiplexed amplicon sequencing of diverse target genes

High throughput sequencing of phylogenetic and functional gene amplicons provides tremendous insight into the structure and functional potential of complex microbial communities. Here, we introduce a highly adaptable and economical PCR approach to barcoding and pooling libraries of numerous target genes. In this approach, we replace gene- and sequencing platform-specific fusion primers with general, interchangeable barcoding primers, enabling nearly limitless customized barcode-primer combinations. Compared to barcoding with long fusion primers, our multiple-target gene approach is more economical because it overall requires lower number of primers and is based on short primers with generally lower synthesis and purification costs. To highlight our approach, we pooled over 900 different small-subunit rRNA and functional gene amplicon libraries obtained from various environmental or host-associated microbial community samples into a single, paired-end Illumina MiSeq run. Although the amplicon regions ranged in size from approximately 290 to 720 bp, we found no significant systematic sequencing bias related to amplicon length or gene target. Our results indicate that this flexible multiplexing approach produces large, diverse and high quality sets of amplicon sequence data for modern studies in microbial ecology.

2015 - Front. Microbiol., In press

Plastid establishment did not require a chlamydial partner

Primary plastids descend from the cyanobacterial endosymbiont of an ancient eukaryotic host, but the initial selective drivers that stabilized the association between these two cells are still unclear. One hypothesis that has achieved recent prominence suggests that the first role of the cyanobiont was in energy provision for a host cell whose reserves were being depleted by an intracellular chlamydial pathogen. A pivotal claim is that it was chlamydial proteins themselves that converted otherwise unusable cyanobacterial metabolites into host energy stores. We test this hypothesis by investigating the origins of the key enzymes using sophisticated phylogenetics. Here we show a mosaic origin for the relevant pathway combining genes with host, cyanobacterial or bacterial ancestry, but we detect no strong case for Chlamydiae to host transfer under the best-fitting models. Our conclusion is that there is no compelling evidence from gene trees that Chlamydiae played any role in establishing the primary plastidendosymbiosis.

  • Domman D, Horn M, Embley TM, Williams TA
2015 - Nat. Commun., 6: 6421

Improved isolation strategies allowed the phenotypic differentiation of two Nitrospira strains from widespread phylogenetic lineages.

The second step of nitrification, the oxidation of nitrite to nitrate, is vital for the functioning of the nitrogen cycle, but our understanding of the ecological roles of the involved microorganisms is still limited. The known diversity of Nitrospira, the most widely distributed nitrite-oxidizing bacteria, has increased remarkably by analyses of 16S rRNA and functional gene sequences. However, only few representatives could be brought into laboratory cultures so far. In this study, two Nitrospira from activated sludge were isolated using novel approaches together with established methods. Highly enriched 'Candidatus Nitrospira defluvii' was separated from concomitant heterotrophs by taking advantage of its resistance against ampicillin and acriflavine. Beside this member of lineage I, a novel species of lineage II, named N. lenta, was initially enriched at 10°C and finally purified by using optical tweezers. The tolerance to elevated nitrite levels was much higher in N. defluvii than in the more fastidious N. lenta and was accompanied by pronounced biofilm formation. Phylogenetic classification of 12 additional enrichments indicated that Nitrospira lineage I is common in extreme and moderate ecosystems like lineage II. The new cultures will help to explore physiological and genomic differences affecting niche separation between members of this highly diverse genus.

  • Nowka B, Off S, Daims H, Spieck E
2015 - FEMS Microbiol Ecol., in press

Lecture series

Mass spectral imaging of metabolites and proteins in host-microbe interactions

Manuel Liebeke
MPI für Marine Mikrobiologie
12:00 h
Seminar room

Metaproteomics for sub-surface habitats and the intestinal gut microbiota

Dr. Nico Jehmlich
Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research - UFZ, Leipzig Germany
12:00 h
Seminar room DOME

First deployment of the European mobile laboratory in the course of the West-African Ebola outbreak

Kilian Stoecker
Bundeswehr Institute of Microbiology
12:00 h
Seminar room