No phylogenetic evidence for ménage ŕ trois at origin of plants
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. According to the ménage ŕ trois hypothesis, chlamydiae have facilitated the establishment of the primary plastid by mediating metabolic interactions between cyanobacteria and the eukaryotic host. In a joint Nature Communications paper Daryl Domman and Matthias Horn with Tom Williams and Martin Embley (University of Newcastle) now show that that there is no compelling evidence from gene trees for a contribution of chlamydiae to the establishment of the primary plastid.
 News release [German]
New FWF project for David Berry
David Berry received funding for a new project from the Austrian Science Fund. David will investigate "Eco-evolutionary processes in gut Bacteroides".
 FWF project database
Research Network "Chemistry meets Microbiology"
Members of the Faculty of Chemistry and the Department of Microbiology and Ecosystem Science teamed up for a novel transdisciplinary research unit. The Research Network "Chemistry meets Microbiology" (cmm) serves as nucleus to foster the research initiatives Microbiome Ecology and Food Chemistry for Human Health, Environmental Chemistry and Microbiology, Microbial Computational System Sciences, and Metal-Based Anticancer Research.
 cmm homepage
Two new Marie Curie Fellowships
DoME congratulates Cecilia Wentrup and Fatima Pereira on their Marie Curie Fellowships. Fatima will work with David Berry on her project "Competition between the enteric pathogen Clostridium difficile and the commensal members of the gut microbiota for mucosal sugars (MUCDIFF)". Cecilia will work with Matthias Horn on her project "Symbiont-mediated defense of amoebae against Legionella pneumophila - molecular mechanisms and pathogen ecology (SymPathInfect)". Together with Hannes Schmidt, there are currently three Marie Curie Fellows at DoME.
13. Deutscher Chlamydien Workshop in Vienna
This year the Department of Microbiology and Ecosystem Science hosts the 13. German Chlamydia Workshop, an annual meeting on all aspects of chlamydia research, from basic science to clinical research, diagnostics and therapy. The workshop will take place from February 11-13.
      Meeting Homepage [German]
WWTF Vienna Research Group for Young Investigators: Jillian Petersen joins DoME
Jillian Petersen (currently at the MPI for Marine Microbiology, Bremen) has received a prestiguous WWTF Vienna Research Group for Young Investigators grant. The WWTF (Vienna Science and Technology Fund) funds excellent young researchers to establish independent research groups at Austrian institutions. Jill will be joining DoME to work on chemosynthetic symbionts in clams. Congratulations, Jill, and welcome to DoME!
 News release [German]
PNAS: Hunting and sorting active microbes with heavy water
Deuterium from heavy water is incorporated into the biomass of active microbial cells. An international team led by Michael Wagner and David Berry now shows that this feature can be exploited for identification of individual active microbial cells in complex communities with NanoSIMS or Raman microspectroscopy after a short sample incubation in the presence of deuterated water. By using Raman microspectroscopy in combination with optical tweezing active microbial cells were also sorted and their genomes were amplified. Thus, this new technique enables microbiologists to perform single cell genomics experiments targeted at microbes with a specific function within their ecosystem.
 News release [German]
Dr. rer. nat. Thomas Penz
Thomas successfully defended his PhD thesis entitled "Genomic insights into molecular interactions of two Bacteroidetes symbionts with their eukaryotic hosts". The board of examiners included Claudio Bandi (University of Milan), Wolfgang Miller (Medical University Vienna), and Matthias Horn. Congratulations!
ERC Starting Grant for Dagmar Woebken
Dagmar Woebken has received an ERC Starting Grant for her project "Revealing the function of dormant soil microorganisms and the cues for their awakening". This is the third ERC grant for a current member of DoME. Congratulations!
 News release [German] [German]
Dr. rer. nat. Ilias Lagkouvardos
Ilias successfully defended his PhD thesis entitled "Evolutionary history and phylogenetic diversity of Chlamydiae". The board of examiners included Julia Walochnik (Medical University Vienna), Christa Schleper, and Alexander Loy. Congratulations!
Nature Communications:
Biology of a widespread uncultivated archaeon

In an international collaboration led by a team at the University of Regensburg, Markus Schmid, Arno Schintlmeister, and Michael Wagner contributed Raman microspectroscopy and NanoSIMS analyses to comprehensively characterize a representative member of the SM1 Euryarchaeon lineage, an uncultivated, yet abundant group of subsurface archaea. The study revealed surprising metabolic and structural features empowering this widely distributed archaeon to predominate anaerobic groundwater, where it may represent an important carbon dioxide sink.
 News release [German]
 Der [German]
Dr. rer. nat. Karin Aistleitner
Karin successfully defended her PhD thesis entitled "Variations and conserved featuresof the cell envelope of environmental chlamydiae". The board of examiners included Isabella Moll, Johannes Hegemann (University of Düsseldorf), and Matthias Horn. Congratulations!
A day out at Lake Neusiedl
New paper in Science
Nitrospira are the key nitrite-oxidizing bacteria in most natural habitats and wastewater treatment plants. So far, they were considered as metabolically specialized and their presence was commonly associated with nitrification. Hanna Koch, Holger Daims, and a team of researchers from Vienna, Denmark, Germany, and France showed now that Nitrospira can also grow chemolithoautotrophically on hydrogen as alternative substrate. Being the first nitrifiers shown to have a lifestyle completely outside the N-cycle, Nitrospira are metabolically more flexible than previously assumed and their ecological roles must be reconsidered.
 Highlighted in Nature Geoscience
 News release [English]
 News release [German] [German]
 APA Natur&Technik [German]
Massive expansion of gene families within
the Chlamydiae

Chlamydiae are obligate intracellular bacteria comprising important pathogens of humans as well as ubiquitous symbionts of protists. In a recent study published in MBE, Daryl Domman, Matthias Horn and colleagues analyzed the gene family landscape of members of this phylum. They discovered massive and lineage-specific expansions of eukaryotic-like ubiquitination-related genes, unmatched among bacteria. Gene birth-and-death evolution in concert with genomic drift might be responsible for the evolution of these gene families, which represents a previously undescribed mechanism by which isolated bacterial populations diversify.
 International news release
 uni:view magazine [German]
 Die Presse [German]
 Der [German]
New paper in The ISME Journal
N2 fixation is an important process in photosynthetic microbial mats, but the contribution of different diazotrophs is still poorly understood. In an international collaboration, Dagmar Woebken, Faris Behnam, Arno Schintlmeister, and Michael Wagner showed that the cyanobacterium Lyngbya spp. is the most active diazotroph in microbial mats at Guerrero Negro, Mexico. Furthermore, the effect of CARD-FISH on the isotopic composition of microbial cells in SIP-NanoSIMS investigations was elucidated.
A preprint will be available shortly.
Michael Wagner Highly Cited Researcher in Microbiology
Thomson Reuters has generated in 2014 a new list of Highly Cited Researchers in the sciences and social sciences. In total 114 microbiologists earned this distinction. Among them less than 30 are working in Europe and Michael is one of two highly cited microbiologists working in Austria. In the 22 research fields analyzed over 3000 scientists were identified as Highly Cited Researchers, 20 of them have their primary affiliation in Austria.
 Thomson Reuters Highly Cited Researchers
 APA-Science Report (German)
 uni:view Magazin (German)
 Austrian Academy of Sciences: News (German)
Dr. rer. nat. Jan Dolinsek
Jan successfully defended his PhD thesis entitled "Novel molecular tools for microbial ecology: development and application to decipher trophic structures of nitrifying communities". The board of examiners included Edouard Jurkevitch, Martin Wagner, and Holger Daims. Congratulations!
Video feature:
Dagmar Woebken on the trail of microbes

Dagmar talks about her research in this University of Vienna video feature (in German).
 Watch video
International FISH Course 2015: Vienna, February 16-20. Registration is now open!
more ...
Austrian microbiology prize for David Berry
David was awarded the prize from the Austrian Society for Hygiene, Microbiology and Preventative Medicine (ÖGHMP) in recognition of a study he performed together with Alexander Loy and colleagues from the Medical University of Vienna. In the study, which was recently published in American Journal of Gastroenterology, fecal microbiota transplantation was evaluated as novel therapy for individuals with ulcerative colitis.
Focus of Excellence Award for Dagmar Woebken
The Focus of Excellence Award of the Faculty of Life Sciences at the University of Vienna is granted annualy to promote young research scientists. DoME's group leader Dagmar Woebken received this year's award for her work on diazotrophy and cellulose degradation in terrestrial ecosystems.
 Focus of Excellence awardees
Welcome, Craig!
DoME welcomes Dr. Craig Herbold. Craig was a postdoc at the University of Waikato (NZ), a research affiliate at the
Joint Genome Institute and is now senior scientist for bioinformatics
at DoME.
Honorary doctorate for Michael Wagner
Michael received an honorary doctorate from Aalborg University (Denmark) in the framework of its 40 year jubilee for his distinguished efforts in the field of Natural Sciences. The certificate was presented to him in the presence of crown prince Frederik. Michael is also visiting professor at Aalborg University and has intensively collaborated with the group of Prof. Per Nielsen for 15 years.
 uni:view Magazin (German)
 Aalborg University News (Danish)
 Aalborg University Event Website (Danish)
"We all start out as scientists"
"Science is passion, vision, and life and none of that is necessarily synonymous with sacrifice", says Celine Lesaulnier who received a Back-to-Research Grant from the University of Vienna, supporting researchers who reduced or interrupted their academic research in order to care for their children.
 univ:view Magazin
Invading the nucleus of amoebae
In a new paper published in the ISME journal, Frederik Schulz, Matthias Horn and co-authors describe the discovery of a bacterial symbiont with an unusual intracellular niche. Within few hours after infection the bacteria have invaded the amoeba nucleus, where they mutliply with surprisingly little effect on host fitness. This microbial association is an ideal model system to further investigate evolution and molecular mechanisms of the rare phenomenon of intranuclear symbiosis.
 univ:view Magazin [German]
 Frankfurter Allgemeine [German] [German]
New Paper in The ISME Journal
If the biogeography of microorganisms in the environment is also determined by limitations in passive dispersal is still under debate. By using endospores of thermophilic bacteria in cold marine sediments as indicators, Albert Müller and Alexander Loy now show that marine microbial biogeography is indeed impacted by geographic dispersal barriers such as limited connectivity of local water masses to world ocean circulation.
 Press release [German]
 APA [German] [German]
 Kronen Zeitung [German]
New Paper in Nature Communications
The majority of bacteria possess a peptidoglycan sacculus consisting of a disaccharide backbone crosslinked by peptide chains, which is crucial for cell division, maintaining cell shape and resisting osmotic stress. Whether chlamydiae contain this structure has long been debated, but in an international collaboration Karin Aistleitner and Matthias Horn now show that the amoeba symbiont Protochlamydia amoebophila does synthesize peptidoglycan.
 Research Highlight in Nature Reviews Microbiology
 uni:view Magazn [German] [German]
Master curriculum Microbial Ecology
We have revised and updated the master curriculum Microbial Ecology. Studying microbial ecology is now part of the master studies Molecular Microbiology, Microbial Ecology, and Immunobiology. The new master is held completely in English; students are trained in microbial ecology, symbiosis research, molecular biology & evolution, genetics, environmental chemistry, and bioinformatics.
 Program overview and courses
 Announcement [German]
News archive