Publications by authors named "Kenneth Wasmund"

18 Publications

  • Page 1 of 1

Genomic insights into diverse bacterial taxa that degrade extracellular DNA in marine sediments.

Nat Microbiol 2021 Jul 14;6(7):885-898. Epub 2021 Jun 14.

Division of Microbial Ecology, Centre for Microbiology and Environmental Systems Science, University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria.

Extracellular DNA is a major macromolecule in global element cycles, and is a particularly crucial phosphorus, nitrogen and carbon source for microorganisms in the seafloor. Nevertheless, the identities, ecophysiology and genetic features of DNA-foraging microorganisms in marine sediments are largely unknown. Here, we combined microcosm experiments, DNA stable isotope probing (SIP), single-cell SIP using nano-scale secondary isotope mass spectrometry (NanoSIMS) and genome-centric metagenomics to study microbial catabolism of DNA and its subcomponents in marine sediments. C-DNA added to sediment microcosms was largely degraded within 10 d and mineralized to CO. SIP probing of DNA revealed diverse 'Candidatus Izemoplasma', Lutibacter, Shewanella and Fusibacteraceae incorporated DNA-derived C-carbon. NanoSIMS confirmed incorporation of C into individual bacterial cells of Fusibacteraceae sorted from microcosms. Genomes of the C-labelled taxa all encoded enzymatic repertoires for catabolism of DNA or subcomponents of DNA. Comparative genomics indicated that diverse 'Candidatus Izemoplasmatales' (former Tenericutes) are exceptional because they encode multiple (up to five) predicted extracellular nucleases and are probably specialized DNA-degraders. Analyses of additional sediment metagenomes revealed extracellular nuclease genes are prevalent among Bacteroidota at diverse sites. Together, our results reveal the identities and functional properties of microorganisms that may contribute to the key ecosystem function of degrading and recycling DNA in the seabed.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41564-021-00917-9DOI Listing
July 2021

Novel taxa of Acidobacteriota implicated in seafloor sulfur cycling.

ISME J 2021 May 12. Epub 2021 May 12.

Division of Microbial Ecology, Centre for Microbiology and Environmental Systems Science, University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria.

Acidobacteriota are widespread and often abundant in marine sediments, yet their metabolic and ecological properties are poorly understood. Here, we examined metabolisms and distributions of Acidobacteriota in marine sediments of Svalbard by functional predictions from metagenome-assembled genomes (MAGs), amplicon sequencing of 16S rRNA and dissimilatory sulfite reductase (dsrB) genes and transcripts, and gene expression analyses of tetrathionate-amended microcosms. Acidobacteriota were the second most abundant dsrB-harboring (averaging 13%) phylum after Desulfobacterota in Svalbard sediments, and represented 4% of dsrB transcripts on average. Meta-analysis of dsrAB datasets also showed Acidobacteriota dsrAB sequences are prominent in marine sediments worldwide, averaging 15% of all sequences analysed, and represent most of the previously unclassified dsrAB in marine sediments. We propose two new Acidobacteriota genera, Candidatus Sulfomarinibacter (class Thermoanaerobaculia, "subdivision 23") and Ca. Polarisedimenticola ("subdivision 22"), with distinct genetic properties that may explain their distributions in biogeochemically distinct sediments. Ca. Sulfomarinibacter encode flexible respiratory routes, with potential for oxygen, nitrous oxide, metal-oxide, tetrathionate, sulfur and sulfite/sulfate respiration, and possibly sulfur disproportionation. Potential nutrients and energy include cellulose, proteins, cyanophycin, hydrogen, and acetate. A Ca. Polarisedimenticola MAG encodes various enzymes to degrade proteins, and to reduce oxygen, nitrate, sulfur/polysulfide and metal-oxides. 16S rRNA gene and transcript profiling of Svalbard sediments showed Ca. Sulfomarinibacter members were relatively abundant and transcriptionally active in sulfidic fjord sediments, while Ca. Polarisedimenticola members were more relatively abundant in metal-rich fjord sediments. Overall, we reveal various physiological features of uncultured marine Acidobacteriota that indicate fundamental roles in seafloor biogeochemical cycling.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41396-021-00992-0DOI Listing
May 2021

Anaerobic bacterial degradation of protein and lipid macromolecules in subarctic marine sediment.

ISME J 2021 03 18;15(3):833-847. Epub 2020 Nov 18.

Division of Microbial Ecology, Centre for Microbiology and Environmental Systems Science, University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria.

Microorganisms in marine sediments play major roles in marine biogeochemical cycles by mineralizing substantial quantities of organic matter from decaying cells. Proteins and lipids are abundant components of necromass, yet the taxonomic identities of microorganisms that actively degrade them remain poorly resolved. Here, we revealed identities, trophic interactions, and genomic features of bacteria that degraded C-labeled proteins and lipids in cold anoxic microcosms containing sulfidic subarctic marine sediment. Supplemented proteins and lipids were rapidly fermented to various volatile fatty acids within 5 days. DNA-stable isotope probing (SIP) suggested Psychrilyobacter atlanticus was an important primary degrader of proteins, and Psychromonas members were important primary degraders of both proteins and lipids. Closely related Psychromonas populations, as represented by distinct 16S rRNA gene variants, differentially utilized either proteins or lipids. DNA-SIP also showed C-labeling of various Deltaproteobacteria within 10 days, indicating trophic transfer of carbon to putative sulfate-reducers. Metagenome-assembled genomes revealed the primary hydrolyzers encoded secreted peptidases or lipases, and enzymes for catabolism of protein or lipid degradation products. Psychromonas species are prevalent in diverse marine sediments, suggesting they are important players in organic carbon processing in situ. Together, this study provides new insights into the identities, functions, and genomes of bacteria that actively degrade abundant necromass macromolecules in the seafloor.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41396-020-00817-6DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8027456PMC
March 2021

Rational design of a microbial consortium of mucosal sugar utilizers reduces Clostridiodes difficile colonization.

Nat Commun 2020 10 9;11(1):5104. Epub 2020 Oct 9.

University of Vienna, Centre for Microbiology and Environmental Systems Science, Department of Microbiology and Ecosystem Science, Althanstrasse 14, 1090, Vienna, Austria.

Many intestinal pathogens, including Clostridioides difficile, use mucus-derived sugars as crucial nutrients in the gut. Commensals that compete with pathogens for such nutrients are therefore ecological gatekeepers in healthy guts, and are attractive candidates for therapeutic interventions. Nevertheless, there is a poor understanding of which commensals use mucin-derived sugars in situ as well as their potential to impede pathogen colonization. Here, we identify mouse gut commensals that utilize mucus-derived monosaccharides within complex communities using single-cell stable isotope probing, Raman-activated cell sorting and mini-metagenomics. Sequencing of cell-sorted fractions reveals members of the underexplored family Muribaculaceae as major mucin monosaccharide foragers, followed by members of Lachnospiraceae, Rikenellaceae, and Bacteroidaceae families. Using this information, we assembled a five-member consortium of sialic acid and N-acetylglucosamine utilizers that impedes C. difficile's access to these mucosal sugars and impairs pathogen colonization in antibiotic-treated mice. Our findings underscore the value of targeted approaches to identify organisms utilizing key nutrients and to rationally design effective probiotic mixtures.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41467-020-18928-1DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7547075PMC
October 2020

Genome Sequence, Proteome Profile, and Identification of a Multiprotein Reductive Dehalogenase Complex in Strain BRE15M.

J Proteome Res 2021 01 7;20(1):613-623. Epub 2020 Oct 7.

Department of Environmental Biotechnology, Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research-UFZ, Leipzig 04318, Germany.

Bacteria of the genus respire with vicinally halogenated alkanes via dihaloelimination. We aimed to describe involved proteins and their supermolecular organization. Metagenomic sequencing of a -containing culture resulted in a 1.65 Mbp draft genome of strain BRE15M. It contained 31 full-length reductive dehalogenase homologous genes (), but only eight had cognate gene coding for membrane-anchoring proteins. Shotgun proteomics of cells grown with 1,2-dichloropropane as an electron acceptor identified 1152 proteins representing more than 60% of the total proteome. Ten RdhA proteins were detected, including a DcpA ortholog, which was the strongest expressed RdhA. Blue native gel electrophoresis (BNE) demonstrating maximum activity was localized in a protein complex of 146-242 kDa. Protein mass spectrometry revealed the presence of DcpA, its membrane-anchoring protein DcpB, two hydrogen uptake hydrogenase subunits (HupL and HupS), an iron-sulfur protein (HupX), and subunits of a redox protein with a molybdopterin-binding motif (OmeA and OmeB) in the complex. BNE after protein solubilization with different detergent concentrations revealed no evidence for an interaction between the putative respiratory electron input module (HupLS) and the OmeA/OmeB/HupX module. All detected RdhAs comigrated with the organohalide respiration complex. Based on genomic and proteomic analysis, we propose quinone-independent respiration in .
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/acs.jproteome.0c00569DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7786376PMC
January 2021

Woeseiales transcriptional response to shallow burial in Arctic fjord surface sediment.

PLoS One 2020 27;15(8):e0234839. Epub 2020 Aug 27.

Department of Microbiology, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Tennessee, United States of America.

Distinct lineages of Gammaproteobacteria clade Woeseiales are globally distributed in marine sediments, based on metagenomic and 16S rRNA gene analysis. Yet little is known about why they are dominant or their ecological role in Arctic fjord sediments, where glacial retreat is rapidly imposing change. This study combined 16S rRNA gene analysis, metagenome-assembled genomes (MAGs), and genome-resolved metatranscriptomics uncovered the in situ abundance and transcriptional activity of Woeseiales with burial in four shallow sediment sites of Kongsfjorden and Van Keulenfjorden of Svalbard (79°N). We present five novel Woeseiales MAGs and show transcriptional evidence for metabolic plasticity during burial, including sulfur oxidation with reverse dissimilatory sulfite reductase (dsrAB) down to 4 cm depth and nitrite reduction down to 6 cm depth. A single stress protein, spore protein SP21 (hspA), had a tenfold higher mRNA abundance than any other transcript, and was a hundredfold higher on average than other transcripts. At three out of the four sites, SP21 transcript abundance increased with depth, while total mRNA abundance and richness decreased, indicating a shift in investment from metabolism and other cellular processes to build-up of spore protein SP21. The SP21 gene in MAGs was often flanked by genes involved in membrane-associated stress response. The ability of Woeseiales to shift from sulfur oxidation to nitrite reduction with burial into marine sediments with decreasing access to overlying oxic bottom waters, as well as enter into a dormant state dominated by SP21, may account for its ubiquity and high abundance in marine sediments worldwide, including those of the rapidly shifting Arctic.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0234839PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7451513PMC
October 2020

Glacial Runoff Promotes Deep Burial of Sulfur Cycling-Associated Microorganisms in Marine Sediments.

Front Microbiol 2019 7;10:2558. Epub 2019 Nov 7.

Division of Microbial Ecology, Centre for Microbiology and Environmental Systems Science, University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria.

Marine fjords with active glacier outlets are hot spots for organic matter burial in the sediments and subsequent microbial mineralization. Here, we investigated controls on microbial community assembly in sub-arctic glacier-influenced (GI) and non-glacier-influenced (NGI) marine sediments in the Godthåbsfjord region, south-western Greenland. We used a correlative approach integrating 16S rRNA gene and dissimilatory sulfite reductase () amplicon sequence data over six meters of depth with biogeochemistry, sulfur-cycling activities, and sediment ages. GI sediments were characterized by comparably high sedimentation rates and had "young" sediment ages of <500 years even at 6 m sediment depth. In contrast, NGI stations reached ages of approximately 10,000 years at these depths. Sediment age-depth relationships, sulfate reduction rates (SRR), and C/N ratios were strongly correlated with differences in microbial community composition between GI and NGI sediments, indicating that age and diagenetic state were key drivers of microbial community assembly in subsurface sediments. Similar bacterial and archaeal communities were present in the surface sediments of all stations, whereas only in GI sediments were many surface taxa also abundant through the whole sediment core. The relative abundance of these taxa, including diverse members, correlated positively with SRRs, indicating their active contributions to sulfur-cycling processes. In contrast, other surface community members, such as , , and , survived the slow sediment burial at NGI stations and dominated in the deepest sediment layers. These taxa are typical for the energy-limited marine deep biosphere and their relative abundances correlated positively with sediment age. In conclusion, our data suggests that high rates of sediment accumulation caused by glacier runoff and associated changes in biogeochemistry, promote persistence of sulfur-cycling activity and burial of a larger fraction of the surface microbial community into the deep subsurface.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fmicb.2019.02558DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6853847PMC
November 2019

Bacterial interactions during sequential degradation of cyanobacterial necromass in a sulfidic arctic marine sediment.

Environ Microbiol 2018 08 3;20(8):2927-2940. Epub 2018 Sep 3.

Division of Microbial Ecology, Department of Microbiology and Ecosystem Science, Research Network Chemistry meets Microbiology, University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria.

Seafloor microorganisms impact global carbon cycling by mineralizing vast quantities of organic matter (OM) from pelagic primary production, which is predicted to increase in the Arctic because of diminishing sea ice cover. We studied microbial interspecies-carbon-flow during anaerobic OM degradation in arctic marine sediment using stable isotope probing. We supplemented sediment incubations with C-labeled cyanobacterial necromass (spirulina), mimicking fresh OM input, or acetate, an important OM degradation intermediate and monitored sulfate reduction rates and concentrations of volatile fatty acids (VFAs) during substrate degradation. Sequential 16S rRNA gene and transcript amplicon sequencing and fluorescence in situ hybridization combined with Raman microspectroscopy revealed that only few bacterial species were the main degraders of C-spirulina necromass. Psychrilyobacter, Psychromonas, Marinifilum, Colwellia, Marinilabiaceae and Clostridiales species were likely involved in the primary hydrolysis and fermentation of spirulina. VFAs, mainly acetate, produced from spirulina degradation were mineralized by sulfate-reducing bacteria and an Arcobacter species. Cellular activity of Desulfobacteraceae and Desulfobulbaceae species during acetoclastic sulfate reduction was largely decoupled from relative 16S rRNA gene abundance shifts. Our findings provide new insights into the identities and physiological constraints that determine the population dynamics of key microorganisms during complex OM degradation in arctic marine sediments.© 2018 Society for Applied Microbiology and John Wiley & Sons Ltd.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1462-2920.14297DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6175234PMC
August 2018

The life sulfuric: microbial ecology of sulfur cycling in marine sediments.

Environ Microbiol Rep 2017 08 5;9(4):323-344. Epub 2017 May 5.

Department of Microbiology and Ecosystem Science, Division of Microbial Ecology, Research Network "Chemistry meets Microbiology", University of Vienna, Althanstrasse 14, Vienna, A-1090, Austria.

Almost the entire seafloor is covered with sediments that can be more than 10 000 m thick and represent a vast microbial ecosystem that is a major component of Earth's element and energy cycles. Notably, a significant proportion of microbial life in marine sediments can exploit energy conserved during transformations of sulfur compounds among different redox states. Sulfur cycling, which is primarily driven by sulfate reduction, is tightly interwoven with other important element cycles (carbon, nitrogen, iron, manganese) and therefore has profound implications for both cellular- and ecosystem-level processes. Sulfur-transforming microorganisms have evolved diverse genetic, metabolic, and in some cases, peculiar phenotypic features to fill an array of ecological niches in marine sediments. Here, we review recent and selected findings on the microbial guilds that are involved in the transformation of different sulfur compounds in marine sediments and emphasise how these are interlinked and have a major influence on ecology and biogeochemistry in the seafloor. Extraordinary discoveries have increased our knowledge on microbial sulfur cycling, mainly in sulfate-rich surface sediments, yet many questions remain regarding how sulfur redox processes may sustain the deep-subsurface biosphere and the impact of organic sulfur compounds on the marine sulfur cycle.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1758-2229.12538DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5573963PMC
August 2017

Single-Cell Genome and Group-Specific dsrAB Sequencing Implicate Marine Members of the Class Dehalococcoidia (Phylum Chloroflexi) in Sulfur Cycling.

mBio 2016 05 3;7(3). Epub 2016 May 3.

Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research-UFZ, Leipzig, Germany.

Unlabelled: The marine subsurface sediment biosphere is widely inhabited by bacteria affiliated with the class Dehalococcoidia (DEH), phylum Chloroflexi, and yet little is known regarding their metabolisms. In this report, genomic content from a single DEH cell (DEH-C11) with a 16S rRNA gene that was affiliated with a diverse cluster of 16S rRNA gene sequences prevalent in marine sediments was obtained from sediments of Aarhus Bay, Denmark. The distinctive gene content of this cell suggests metabolic characteristics that differ from those of known DEH and Chloroflexi The presence of genes encoding dissimilatory sulfite reductase (Dsr) suggests that DEH could respire oxidized sulfur compounds, although Chloroflexi have never been implicated in this mode of sulfur cycling. Using long-range PCR assays targeting DEH dsr loci, dsrAB genes were amplified and sequenced from various marine sediments. Many of the amplified dsrAB sequences were affiliated with the DEH Dsr clade, which we propose equates to a family-level clade. This provides supporting evidence for the potential for sulfite reduction by diverse DEH species. DEH-C11 also harbored genes encoding reductases for arsenate, dimethyl sulfoxide, and halogenated organics. The reductive dehalogenase homolog (RdhA) forms a monophyletic clade along with RdhA sequences from various DEH-derived contigs retrieved from available metagenomes. Multiple facts indicate that this RdhA may not be a terminal reductase. The presence of other genes indicated that nutrients and energy may be derived from the oxidation of substituted homocyclic and heterocyclic aromatic compounds. Together, these results suggest that marine DEH play a previously unrecognized role in sulfur cycling and reveal the potential for expanded catabolic and respiratory functions among subsurface DEH.

Importance: Sediments underlying our oceans are inhabited by microorganisms in cell numbers similar to those estimated to inhabit the oceans. Microorganisms in sediments consist of various diverse and uncharacterized groups that contribute substantially to global biogeochemical cycles. Since most subsurface microorganisms continue to evade cultivation, possibly due to very slow growth, we obtained and analyzed genomic information from a representative of one of the most widespread and abundant, yet uncharacterized bacterial groups of the marine subsurface. We describe several key features that may contribute to their widespread distribution, such as respiratory flexibility and the potential to use oxidized sulfur compounds, which are abundant in marine environments, as electron acceptors. Together, these data provide important information that can be used to assist in designing enrichment strategies or other postgenomic studies, while also improving our understanding of the diversity and distribution of dsrAB genes, which are widely used functional marker genes for sulfur-cycling microbes.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1128/mBio.00266-16DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4959651PMC
May 2016

Manganese and iron as structuring parameters of microbial communities in Arctic marine sediments from the Baffin Bay.

FEMS Microbiol Ecol 2015 Jun 19;91(6). Epub 2015 May 19.

Department of Isotope Biogeochemistry, Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research - UFZ, Permoserstraße 15, 04318 Leipzig, Germany

The Arctic Baffin Bay between Canada and Greenland is sea ice-covered during the majority of the year, restricting primary production to the summer months. Sediments receive low amounts of mostly terrestrial- and less marine-derived organic matter. To study microbial communities constrained by physicochemical conditions changing with distance from land and ocean depth, we applied high-throughput 16S rRNA gene sequencing and compared sequence diversity with biogeochemical parameters in 40 different sediment samples. Samples originated from seven cores down to 470 cm below seafloor along a shelf-to-basin transect. Bacterial diversity decreased faster with depth in basin than in shelf sediments, suggesting higher organic matter content sustained diversity into greater depths. All samples were dominated by Betaproteobacteria (mostly order Burkholderiales), which were especially abundant in basin sediments with low organic carbon and high Mn and Fe pore water concentrations. Strong statistical correlations between concentrations of reduced Mn and/or Fe and the relative abundances of Betaproteobacteria suggest that this group is involved in metal reduction in Baffin Bay sediments. Dehalococcoidia (phylum Chloroflexi) were abundant in all samples, especially in shelf sediments with high organic content. This study indicates that Mn and/or Fe play important roles structuring microbial communities in Arctic sediments poor in organic matter.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/femsec/fiv056DOI Listing
June 2015

Development and application of primers for the class Dehalococcoidia (phylum Chloroflexi) enables deep insights into diversity and stratification of subgroups in the marine subsurface.

Environ Microbiol 2015 Oct 26;17(10):3540-56. Epub 2014 Jun 26.

Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research - UFZ, Permoserstraße 15, Leipzig, D-04318, Germany.

Bacteria of the class Dehalococcoidia (DEH) (phylum Chloroflexi) are widely distributed in the marine subsurface and are especially prevalent in deep marine sediments. Nevertheless, little is known about the specific distributions of DEH subgroups at different sites and depths. This study therefore specifically examined the distributions of DEH through depths of various marine sediment cores by quantitative PCR and pyrosequencing using newly designed DEH 16S rRNA gene targeting primers. Quantification of DEH showed populations may establish in shallow sediments (i.e. upper centimetres), although as low relative proportions of total Bacteria, yet often became more prevalent in deeper sediments. Pyrosequencing revealed pronounced diversity co-exists within single biogeochemical zones, and that clear and sometimes abrupt shifts in relative proportions of DEH subgroups occur with depth. These shifts indicate varying metabolic properties exist among DEH subgroups. The distributional changes in DEH subgroups with depth may be related to a combination of biogeochemical factors including the availability of electron acceptors such as sulfate, the composition of organic matter and depositional regimes. Collectively, the results suggest DEH exhibit wider metabolic and genomic diversity than previously recognized, and this contributes to their widespread occurrence in the marine subsurface.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1462-2920.12510DOI Listing
October 2015

Genome sequencing of a single cell of the widely distributed marine subsurface Dehalococcoidia, phylum Chloroflexi.

ISME J 2014 Feb 22;8(2):383-97. Epub 2013 Aug 22.

Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research-UFZ, Leipzig, Germany.

Bacteria of the class Dehalococcoidia (DEH), phylum Chloroflexi, are widely distributed in the marine subsurface, yet metabolic properties of the many uncultivated lineages are completely unknown. This study therefore analysed genomic content from a single DEH cell designated 'DEH-J10' obtained from the sediments of Aarhus Bay, Denmark. Real-time PCR showed the DEH-J10 phylotype was abundant in upper sediments but was absent below 160 cm below sea floor. A 1.44 Mbp assembly was obtained and was estimated to represent up to 60.8% of the full genome. The predicted genome is much larger than genomes of cultivated DEH and appears to confer metabolic versatility. Numerous genes encoding enzymes of core and auxiliary beta-oxidation pathways were identified, suggesting that this organism is capable of oxidising various fatty acids and/or structurally related substrates. Additional substrate versatility was indicated by genes, which may enable the bacterium to oxidise aromatic compounds. Genes encoding enzymes of the reductive acetyl-CoA pathway were identified, which may also enable the fixation of CO2 or oxidation of organics completely to CO2. Genes encoding a putative dimethylsulphoxide reductase were the only evidence for a respiratory terminal reductase. No evidence for reductive dehalogenase genes was found. Genetic evidence also suggests that the organism could synthesise ATP by converting acetyl-CoA to acetate by substrate-level phosphorylation. Other encoded enzymes putatively conferring marine adaptations such as salt tolerance and organo-sulphate sulfohydrolysis were identified. Together, these analyses provide the first insights into the potential metabolic traits that may enable members of the DEH to occupy an ecological niche in marine sediments.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/ismej.2013.143DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3906807PMC
February 2014

Benzene and sulfide removal from groundwater treated in a microbial fuel cell.

Biotechnol Bioeng 2013 Dec 3;110(12):3104-13. Epub 2013 Jul 3.

Department of Isotope Biogeochemistry, UFZ-Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research, Permoserstraße 15, 04318, Leipzig, Germany.

Sulfidic benzene-contaminated groundwater was used to fuel a two-chambered microbial fuel cell (MFC) over a period of 770 days. We aimed to understand benzene and sulfide removal processes in the anoxic anode chamber and describe the microbial community enriched over the operational time. Operated in batch feeding-like circular mode, supply of fresh groundwater resulted in a rapid increase in current production, accompanied by decreasing benzene and sulfide concentrations. The total electron recoveries for benzene and sulfide were between 18% and 49%, implying that benzene and sulfide were not completely oxidized at the anode. Pyrosequencing of 16S rRNA genes from the anode-associated bacterial community revealed the dominance of δ-Proteobacteria (31%), followed by β-Proteobacteria, Bacteroidetes, ϵ-Proteobacteria, Chloroflexi, and Firmicutes, most of which are known for anaerobic metabolism. Two-dimensional compound-specific isotope analysis demonstrated that benzene degradation was initiated by monohydroxylation, probably triggered by small amounts of oxygen which had leaked through the cation exchange membrane into the anode chamber. Experiments with [(13)C(6) ]-benzene revealed incorporation of (13)C into fatty acids of mainly Gram-negative bacteria, which are therefore candidates for benzene degradation. Our study demonstrated simultaneous benzene and sulfide removal by groundwater microorganisms which use an anode as artificial electron acceptor, thereby releasing an electrical current.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/bit.24979DOI Listing
December 2013

Differential responses of the coral host and their algal symbiont to thermal stress.

PLoS One 2011 24;6(10):e26687. Epub 2011 Oct 24.

School of Pharmacy and Molecular Sciences, James Cook University, Townsville, Australia.

The success of any symbiosis under stress conditions is dependent upon the responses of both partners to that stress. The coral symbiosis is particularly susceptible to small increases of temperature above the long term summer maxima, which leads to the phenomenon known as coral bleaching, where the intracellular dinoflagellate symbionts are expelled. Here we for the first time used quantitative PCR to simultaneously examine the gene expression response of orthologs of the coral Acropora aspera and their dinoflagellate symbiont Symbiodinium. During an experimental bleaching event significant up-regulation of genes involved in stress response (HSP90 and HSP70) and carbon metabolism (glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase, α-ketoglutarate dehydrogenase, glycogen synthase and glycogen phosphorylase) from the coral host were observed. In contrast in the symbiont, HSP90 expression decreased, while HSP70 levels were increased on only one day, and only the α-ketoglutarate dehydrogenase expression levels were found to increase. In addition the changes seen in expression patterns of the coral host were much larger, up to 10.5 fold, compared to the symbiont response, which in all cases was less than 2-fold. This targeted study of the expression of key metabolic and stress genes demonstrates that the response of the coral and their symbiont vary significantly, also a response in the host transcriptome was observed prior to what has previously been thought to be the temperatures at which thermal stress events occur.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0026687PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3200360PMC
February 2012

Novel alkane hydroxylase gene (alkB) diversity in sediments associated with hydrocarbon seeps in the Timor Sea, Australia.

Appl Environ Microbiol 2009 Dec 9;75(23):7391-8. Epub 2009 Oct 9.

Australian Institute of Marine Science, Townsville 4810, Queensland, Australia.

Hydrocarbon seeps provide inputs of petroleum hydrocarbons to widespread areas of the Timor Sea. Alkanes constitute the largest proportion of chemical components found in crude oils, and therefore genes involved in the biodegradation of these compounds may act as bioindicators for this ecosystem's response to seepage. To assess alkane biodegradation potential, the diversity and distribution of alkane hydroxylase (alkB) genes in sediments of the Timor Sea were studied. Deduced AlkB protein sequences derived from clone libraries identified sequences only distantly related to previously identified AlkB sequences, suggesting that the Timor Sea maybe a rich reservoir for novel alkane hydroxylase enzymes. Most sequences clustered with AlkB sequences previously identified from marine Gammaproteobacteria though protein sequence identities averaged only 73% (with a range of 60% to 94% sequence identities). AlkB sequence diversity was lower in deep water (>400 m) samples off the continental slope than in shallow water (<100 m) samples on the continental shelf but not significantly different in response to levels of alkanes. Real-time PCR assays targeting Timor Sea alkB genes were designed and used to quantify alkB gene targets. No correlation was found between gene copy numbers and levels of hydrocarbons measured in sediments using sensitive gas chromatography-mass spectrometry techniques, probably due to the very low levels of hydrocarbons found in most sediment samples. Interestingly, however, copy numbers of alkB genes increased substantially in sediments exposed directly to active seepage even though only low or undetectable concentrations of hydrocarbons were measured in these sediments in complementary geochemical analyses due to efficient biodegradation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1128/AEM.01370-09DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2786413PMC
December 2009

Microbial diversity in sediments associated with a shallow methane seep in the tropical Timor Sea of Australia reveals a novel aerobic methanotroph diversity.

FEMS Microbiol Ecol 2009 May;68(2):142-51

Australian Institute of Marine Science, Townsville, QLD, Australia.

This study examined the diversity of Bacteria, Archaea and in particular aerobic methanotrophs associated with a shallow (84 m) methane seep in the tropical Timor Sea, Australia. Seepage of thermogenic methane was associated with a large carbonate hardground covered in coarse carbonate-rich sediments and various benthic organisms such as solitary corals. The diversity of Bacteria and Archaea was studied by analysis of cloned 16S rRNA genes, while aerobic methanotrophic bacteria were quantified using real-time PCR targeting the alpha-subunit of particulate methane monooxygenase (pmoA) genes and diversity was studied by analysis of cloned pmoA genes. Phylogenetic analysis of bacterial and archaeal 16S rRNA genes revealed diverse and mostly novel phylotypes related to sequences previously recovered from marine sediments. A small number of bacterial 16S rRNA gene sequences were related to aerobic methanotrophs distantly related to the genera Methylococcus and Methylocaldum. Real-time PCR targeting pmoA genes showed that the highest numbers of methanotrophs were present in surface sediments associated with the seep area. Phylogenetic analysis of pmoA sequences revealed that all phylotypes were novel and fell into two large clusters comprised of only marine sequences distantly related to the genera Methylococcus and Methylocaldum that were clearly divergent from terrestrial phylotypes. This study provides evidence for the existence of a novel microbial diversity and diverse aerobic methanotrophs that appear to constitute marine specialized lineages.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1574-6941.2009.00667.xDOI Listing
May 2009
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