• 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

  • Marine symbioses:

    Listening in on conversations

    between animals and the microbes they can't live without

  • Single cell techniques offer new insights

    into the ecology of microbes

  • Apply for the DOME International PhD/PostDoc program

Dome News

Latest publications

In situ architecture, function, and evolution of a contractile injection system.

Contractile injection systems mediate bacterial cell-cell interactions by a bacteriophage tail-like structure. In contrast to extracellular systems, the type 6 secretion system (T6SS) is defined by intracellular localization and attachment to the cytoplasmic membrane. Here we used cryo-focused ion beam milling, electron cryotomography, and functional assays to study a T6SS in Amoebophilus asiaticus The in situ architecture revealed three modules, including a contractile sheath-tube, a baseplate, and an anchor. All modules showed conformational changes upon firing. Lateral baseplate interactions coordinated T6SSs in hexagonal arrays. The system mediated interactions with host membranes and may participate in phagosome escape. Evolutionary sequence analyses predicted that T6SSs are more widespread than previously thought. Our insights form the basis for understanding T6SS key concepts and exploring T6SS diversity.

Böck D, Medeiros JM, Tsao HF, Penz T, Weiss GL, Aistleitner K, Horn M, Pilhofer M
2017 - Science, 6352: 713-717

Evidence for H2 consumption by uncultured Desulfobacterales in coastal sediments.

Molecular hydrogen (H2 ) is the key intermediate in the anaerobic degradation of organic matter. Its removal by H2 -oxidizing microorganisms is essential to keep anaerobic degradation energetically favorable. Sulfate-reducing microorganisms (SRM) are known as the main H2 scavengers in anoxic marine sediments. Although the community of marine SRM has been extensively studied, those consuming H2 in situ are completely unknown. We combined metagenomics, PCR-based clone libraries, single-amplified genomes (SAGs) and metatranscriptomics to identify potentially H2 -consuming SRM in anoxic coastal sediments. The vast majority of SRM-related H2 ase sequences were assigned to group 1b and 1c [NiFe]-H2 ases of the deltaproteobacterial order Desulfobacterales. Surprisingly, the same sequence types were similarly highly expressed in spring and summer, suggesting that these are stable and integral members of the H2 -consuming community. Notably, one sequence cluster from the SRM group 1 consistently accounted for around half of all [NiFe]-H2 ase transcripts. Using SAGs, we could link this cluster with the 16S rRNA genes of the uncultured Sva0081-group of the family Desulfobacteraceae. Sequencing of 16S rRNA gene amplicons and H2 ase gene libraries suggested consistently high in situ abundance of the Sva0081 group also in other marine sediments. Together with other Desulfobacterales these likely are important H2 -scavengers in marine sediments. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

Dyksma S, Pjevac P, Ovanesov K, Mussmann M
2017 - Environ. Microbiol., In press

AmoA-targeted polymerase chain reaction primers for the specific detection and quantification of comammox Nitrospira in the environment

Nitrification, the oxidation of ammonia via nitrite to nitrate, has always been considered to be catalyzed by the concerted activity of ammonia- and nitrite-oxidizing microorganisms. Only recently, complete ammonia oxidizers (‘comammox’), which oxidize ammonia to nitrate on their own, were identified in the bacterial genus Nitrospira, previously assumed to contain only canonical nitrite oxidizers. Nitrospira are widespread in nature, but for assessments of the distribution and functional importance of comammox Nitrospira in ecosystems, cultivation-independent tools to distinguish comammox from strictly nitrite oxidizing Nitrospira are required. Here we developed new PCR primer sets that specifically target the amoA genes coding for subunit A of the distinct ammonia monooxygenase of comammox Nitrospira. While existing primers capture only a fraction of the known comammox amoA diversity, the new primer sets cover as much as 95% of the comammox amoA clade A and 92% of the clade B sequences in a reference database containing 326 comammox amoA genes with sequence information at the primer binding sites. Application of the primers to 13 samples from engineered systems (a groundwater well, drinking water treatment and wastewater treatment plants) and other habitats (rice paddy and forest soils, rice rhizosphere, brackish lake sediment and freshwater biofilm) detected comammox Nitrospira in all samples and revealed a considerable diversity of comammox in most habitats. Excellent primer specificity for comammox amoA was achieved by avoiding the use of highly degenerate primer preparations and by using equimolar mixtures of oligonucleotides that match existing comammox amoA genes. Quantitative PCR with these equimolar primer mixtures was highly sensitive and specific, and enabled the efficient quantification of clade A and clade B comammox amoA gene copy numbers in environmental samples. The measured relative abundances of comammox Nitrospira, compared to canonical ammonia oxidizers, were highly variable across environments. The new comammox amoA-targeted primers enable more encompassing future studies of nitrifying microorganisms in diverse habitats. For example, they may be used to monitor the population dynamics of uncultured comammox organisms under changing environmental conditions and in response to altered treatments in engineered and agricultural ecosystems.

Pjevac P, Schauberger C, Poghosyan L, Herbold CW, van Kessel MAHJ, Daebeler A, Steinberger M, Jetten MSM, Luecker S, Wagner M, Daims H
2017 - Front Microbiol, 8:1508

Lecture series

The rapidly expanding universe of giant viruses

Chantal Abergel
Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique & Aix-Marseille University
29.06.2017
16:30 h
Hörsaal 2, UZA 1, Althanstr. 14, 1090 Wien

The importance of growing slowly: roles for redox-active "antibiotics" in microbial survival and development

Dianne Newman
California Institute of Technology
24.05.2017
14:00 h
Hörsaal 2, UZA1, Althanstr. 14, 1090 Wien

Harnessing Bacteria for Drug Discovery: from Bioprospecting to Synthetic Biology

Sergey Zotchev
Department of Pharmacognosy, University of Vienna
26.01.2017
12:00 h
Hörsaal 2. (UZA I), Althanstrasse 14, A-1090 Vienna