Publications in peer reviewed journals

20 Publications found
  • Fiber consumption stimulates the activity of microbial bile salt hydrolases

    Gregor A, Auernigg-Haselmaier S, Malleier M, Bruckberger S, Séneca J, Pjevac P, Pignitter M, Duszka
    2023 - Journal of Functional Foods, 107: in press



    Previously we reported a microbiota-dependent caloric restriction (CR)-triggered increase in the levels of taurine and taurine-conjugated bile acids (BA) in the gut. Now, we show that restrictive diets, including intermittent fasting and fasting-mimicking diet, had a similar impact to CR. The type of cage bedding that CR mice were housed with affected the levels of BAs and taurine in the ileum. Removal of cage bedding neutralized CR phenotype in terms of taurine levels, BAs deconjugation, and fecal microbiota composition. Microbiota transplant from CR mice housed with bedding increased BAs deconjugation. Inhibition of bile salt hydrolase (BSH) prevented the increase in free taurine concentration while increasing taurine-conjugated BA levels. Ad libitum consumption of diets high in fiber increased the levels of taurine conjugates but did not elevate the levels of BAs. Dietary restriction is required to stimulate BAs secretion, while ingestion of fiber stimulates the capacity of microbiota to deconjugate BAs.

  • Defects in microvillus crosslinking sensitize to colitis and inflammatory bowel disease

    Mödl B, Awad M, Zwolanek D, Scharf I, Schwertner K, Milovanovic D, Moser D, Schmidt K, Pjevac P, Hausmann B, Krauß D, Mohr T, Svinka J, Kenner L, Casanova E, Timelthaler G, Sibilia M, Krieger S, Eferl R
    2023 - EMBO Reports, in press


    Intestinal epithelial cells are covered by the brush border, which consists of densely packed microvilli. The Intermicrovillar Adhesion Complex (IMAC) links the microvilli and is required for proper brush border organization. Whether microvillus crosslinking is involved in the intestinal barrier function or colitis is currently unknown. We investigate the role of microvillus crosslinking in colitis in mice with deletion of the IMAC component CDHR5. Electron microscopy shows pronounced brush border defects in CDHR5-deficient mice. The defects result in severe mucosal damage after exposure to the colitis-inducing agent DSS. DSS increases the permeability of the mucus layer and brings bacteria in direct contact with the disorganized brush border of CDHR5-deficient mice. This correlates with bacterial invasion into the epithelial cell layer which precedes epithelial apoptosis and inflammation. Single-cell RNA sequencing data of patients with ulcerative colitis reveals downregulation of CDHR5 in enterocytes of diseased areas. Our results provide experimental evidence that a combination of microvillus crosslinking defects with increased permeability of the mucus layer sensitizes to inflammatory bowel disease.

  • Identification of inulin-responsive bacteria in the gut microbiota via multi-modal activity-based sorting.

    Riva A, Rasoulimehrabani H, Cruz-Rubio JM, Schnorr SL, von Baeckmann C, Inan D, Nikolov G, Herbold CW, Hausmann B, Pjevac P, Schintlmeister A, Spittler A, Palatinszky M, Kadunic A, Hieger N, Del Favero G, von Bergen M, Jehmlich N, Watzka M, Lee KS, Wiesenbauer J, Khadem S, Viernstein H, Stocker R, Wagner M, Kaiser C, Richter A, Kleitz F, Berry D
    2023 - Nat Commun, 1: 8210


    Prebiotics are defined as non-digestible dietary components that promote the growth of beneficial gut microorganisms. In many cases, however, this capability is not systematically evaluated. Here, we develop a methodology for determining prebiotic-responsive bacteria using the popular dietary supplement inulin. We first identify microbes with a capacity to bind inulin using mesoporous silica nanoparticles functionalized with inulin. 16S rRNA gene amplicon sequencing of sorted cells revealed that the ability to bind inulin was widespread in the microbiota. We further evaluate which taxa are metabolically stimulated by inulin and find that diverse taxa from the phyla Firmicutes and Actinobacteria respond to inulin, and several isolates of these taxa can degrade inulin. Incubation with another prebiotic, xylooligosaccharides (XOS), in contrast, shows a more robust bifidogenic effect. Interestingly, the Coriobacteriia Eggerthella lenta and Gordonibacter urolithinfaciens are indirectly stimulated by the inulin degradation process, expanding our knowledge of inulin-responsive bacteria.

  • Apelin and the gut microbiome: Potential interaction in human MASLD.

    Effenberger M, Grander C, Hausmann B, Enrich B, Pjevac P, Zoller H, Tilg H
    2023 - Dig Liver Dis, in press


    Metabolic dysfunction-associated steatotic liver disease (MASLD) is a leading cause of chronic liver disease with increasing numbers worldwide. Adipokines like apelin (APLN) can act as key players in the complex pathophysiology of MASLD.
    Investigating the role of APLN in MASLD.
    Fecal and blood samples were collected in a MASLD cohort and healthy controls (HC). MASLD patients with liver fibrosis and MASLD-associated hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) were included into the study. Systemic concentration of Apelin, Apelin receptor (APLNR) and circulating cytokines were measured in serum samples.
    Apelin concentration correlated with the Fib-4 score and was elevated in MASLD patients (mild fibrosis, mF (Fib-4 <3.25) and severe fibrosis, sF (Fib-4 >3.25)) as well as in MASLD-associated HCC patients compared to HC. In accordance APLNR and circulating cytokines were also elevated in mF and sF. In contrast apelin levels were negatively associated with liver survival at three and five years. Changes in taxa composition at phylum level showed an increase of Enterobactericae, Prevotellaceae and Lactobacillaceae in patients with sF compared to mF. We could also observe an association between apelin concentrations and bacterial lineages (phyla).
    Circulating apelin is associated with liver fibrosis and HCC. In addition, there might exist an interaction between systemic apelin and the gut microbiome.

  • Microclimate shapes the phylosymbiosis of rodent gut microbiota in Jordan's Great Rift Valley.

    Al-Khlifeh E, Khadem S, Hausmann B, Berry D
    2023 - Front Microbiol, 1258775


    Host phylogeny and the environment play vital roles in shaping animal microbiomes. However, the effects of these variables on the diversity and richness of the gut microbiome in different bioclimatic zones remain underexplored. In this study, we investigated the effects of host phylogeny and bioclimatic zone on the diversity and composition of the gut microbiota of two heterospecific rodent species, the spiny mouse and the house mouse , in three bioclimatic zones of the African Great Rift Valley (GRV). We confirmed host phylogeny using the sequencing method and analyzed the influence of host phylogeny and bioclimatic zone parameters on the rodent gut microbiome using high-throughput amplicon sequencing of 16S rRNA gene fragments. Phylogenetic analysis supported the morphological identification of the rodents and revealed a marked genetic difference between the two heterospecific species. We found that bioclimatic zone had a significant effect on the gut microbiota composition while host phylogeny did not. Microbial alpha diversity of heterospecific hosts was highest in the Mediterranean forest bioclimatic zone, followed by the Irano-Turanian shrubland, and was lowest in the Sudanian savanna tropical zone. The beta diversity of the two rodent species showed significant differences across the Mediterranean, Irano-Turanian, and Sudanian regions. The phyla and were highly abundant, and and were also prominent. Amplicon sequence variants (ASVs) were identified that were unique to the Sudanian bioclimatic zone. The core microbiota families recovered in this study were consistent among heterospecific hosts. However, diversity decreased in conspecific host populations found at lower altitudes in Sudanian bioclimatic zone. The composition of the gut microbiota is linked to the adaptation of the host to its environment, and this study underscores the importance of incorporating climatic factors such as elevation and ambient temperature, in empirical microbiome research and is the first to describe the rodent gut microbiome from the GRV.

  • 24-Norursodeoxycholic acid ameliorates experimental alcohol-related liver disease and activates hepatic PPARγ.

    Grander C, Meyer M, Steinacher D, Claudel T, Hausmann B, Pjevac P, Grabherr F, Oberhuber G, Grander M, Brigo N, Jukic A, Schwärzler J, Weiss G, Adolph TE, Trauner M, Tilg H
    2023 - JHEP Rep, 11: 100872


    Alcohol-related liver disease (ALD) is a global healthcare challenge with limited treatment options. 24-Norursodeoxycholic acid (NorUDCA) is a synthetic bile acid with anti-inflammatory properties in experimental and human cholestatic liver diseases. In the present study, we explored the efficacy of norUDCA in experimental ALD.
    NorUDCA was tested in a preventive and therapeutic setting in an experimental ALD model (Lieber-DeCarli diet enriched with ethanol). Liver disease was phenotypically evaluated using histology and biochemical methods, and anti-inflammatory properties and peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma activation by norUDCA were evaluated in cellular model systems.
    NorUDCA administration ameliorated ethanol-induced liver injury, reduced hepatocyte death, and reduced the expression of hepatic pro-inflammatory cytokines including (), , , and . NorUDCA shifted hepatic macrophages towards an anti-inflammatory M2 phenotype. Further, norUDCA administration altered the composition of the intestinal microbiota, specifically increasing the abundance of , , and spp. In a therapeutic model, norUDCA also ameliorated ethanol-induced liver injury. Moreover, norUDCA suppressed lipopolysaccharide-induced IL-6 expression in human peripheral blood mononuclear cells and evoked peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma activation.
    NorUDCA ameliorated experimental ALD, protected against hepatic inflammation, and affected gut microbial commensalism. NorUDCA could serve as a novel therapeutic agent in the future management of patients with ALD.
    Alcohol-related liver disease is a global healthcare concern with limited treatment options. 24-Norursodeoxycholic acid (NorUDCA) is a modified bile acid, which was proven to be effective in human cholestatic liver diseases. In the present study, we found a protective effect of norUDCA in experimental alcoholic liver disease. For patients with ALD, norUDCA could be a potential new treatment option.

  • The phageome in normal and inflamed human skin.

    Wielscher M, Pfisterer K, Samardzic D, Balsini P, Bangert C, Jäger K, Buchberger M, Selitsch B, Pjevac P, Willinger B, Weninger W
    2023 - Sci Adv, 39: eadg4015


    Dysbiosis of skin microbiota drives the progression of atopic dermatitis (AD). The contribution of bacteriophages to bacterial community compositions in normal and inflamed skin is unknown. Using shotgun metagenomics from skin swabs of healthy individuals and patients with AD, we found 13,586 potential viral contiguous DNA sequences, which could be combined into 164 putative viral genomes including 133 putative phages. The Shannon diversity index for the viral metagenome-assembled genomes (vMAGs) did not correlate with AD. In total, we identified 28 vMAGs that differed significantly between normal and AD skin. Quantitative polymerase chain reaction validation of three complete vMAGs revealed their independence from host bacterium abundance. Our data indicate that normal and inflamed skin harbor distinct phageomes and suggest a causative relationship between changing viral and bacterial communities as a driver of skin pathology.

  • Cultivation and genomic characterization of novel and ubiquitous marine nitrite-oxidizing bacteria from the Nitrospirales.

    Mueller AJ, Daebeler A, Herbold CW, Kirkegaard RH, Daims H
    2023 - ISME J, in press


    Nitrospirales, including the genus Nitrospira, are environmentally widespread chemolithoautotrophic nitrite-oxidizing bacteria. These mostly uncultured microorganisms gain energy through nitrite oxidation, fix CO, and thus play vital roles in nitrogen and carbon cycling. Over the last decade, our understanding of their physiology has advanced through several new discoveries, such as alternative energy metabolisms and complete ammonia oxidizers (comammox Nitrospira). These findings mainly resulted from studies of terrestrial species, whereas less attention has been given to marine Nitrospirales. In this study, we cultured three new marine Nitrospirales enrichments and one isolate. Three of these four NOB represent new Nitrospira species while the fourth represents a novel genus. This fourth organism, tentatively named "Ca. Nitronereus thalassa", represents the first cultured member of a Nitrospirales lineage that encompasses both free-living and sponge-associated nitrite oxidizers, is highly abundant in the environment, and shows distinct habitat distribution patterns compared to the marine Nitrospira species. Partially explaining this, "Ca. Nitronereus thalassa" harbors a unique combination of genes involved in carbon fixation and respiration, suggesting differential adaptations to fluctuating oxygen concentrations. Furthermore, "Ca. Nitronereus thalassa" appears to have a more narrow substrate range compared to many other marine nitrite oxidizers, as it lacks the genomic potential to utilize formate, cyanate, and urea. Lastly, we show that the presumed marine Nitrospirales lineages are not restricted to oceanic and saline environments, as previously assumed.

  • Microbial growth under drought is confined to distinct taxa and modified by potential future climate conditions.

    Metze D, Schnecker J, Canarini A, Fuchslueger L, Koch BJ, Stone BW, Hungate BA, Hausmann B, Schmidt H, Schaumberger A, Bahn M, Kaiser C, Richter A
    2023 - Nat Commun, 1: 5895


    Climate change increases the frequency and intensity of drought events, affecting soil functions including carbon sequestration and nutrient cycling, which are driven by growing microorganisms. Yet we know little about microbial responses to drought due to methodological limitations. Here, we estimate microbial growth rates in montane grassland soils exposed to ambient conditions, drought, and potential future climate conditions (i.e., soils exposed to 6 years of elevated temperatures and elevated CO levels). For this purpose, we combined O-water vapor equilibration with quantitative stable isotope probing (termed 'vapor-qSIP') to measure taxon-specific microbial growth in dry soils. In our experiments, drought caused >90% of bacterial and archaeal taxa to stop dividing and reduced the growth rates of persisting ones. Under drought, growing taxa accounted for only 4% of the total community as compared to 35% in the controls. Drought-tolerant communities were dominated by specialized members of the Actinobacteriota, particularly the genus Streptomyces. Six years of pre-exposure to future climate conditions (3 °C warming and + 300 ppm atmospheric CO) alleviated drought effects on microbial growth, through more drought-tolerant taxa across major phyla, accounting for 9% of the total community. Our results provide insights into the response of active microbes to drought today and in a future climate, and highlight the importance of studying drought in combination with future climate conditions to capture interactive effects and improve predictions of future soil-climate feedbacks.

  • Ecophysiology and interactions of a taurine-respiring bacterium in the mouse gut.

    Ye H, Borusak S, Eberl C, Krasenbrink J, Weiss AS, Chen SC, Hanson BT, Hausmann B, Herbold CW, Pristner M, Zwirzitz B, Warth B, Pjevac P, Schleheck D, Stecher B, Loy A
    2023 - Nat Commun, 1: 5533


    Taurine is not only a semi-essential nutrient of animals and humans, but also a substrate for specialized gut bacteria that respire it to hydrogen sulfide, a smelly gas that can have positive and negative impact on host health. An international team of researchers led by Huimin and Alex from DOME has discovered a novel taurine-respiring bacterium in the mouse gut, Taurinivorans muris, that is highly specialized on taurine and contributes to the protection of the microbiota against intestinal pathogens such as Klebsiella and Salmonella. The study provides new insights into gut microbiome members with a sulfur-based energy metabolism in the gut and their links with other commensal and pathogenic gut bacteria and the bile acid metabolism of the host.

  • Microbial Diversity and Activity of Biofilms from Geothermal Springs in Croatia.

    Kostešić E, Mitrović M, Kajan K, Marković T, Hausmann B, Orlić S, Pjevac P
    2023 - Microb Ecol, in press


    Hot spring biofilms are stable, highly complex microbial structures. They form at dynamic redox and light gradients and are composed of microorganisms adapted to the extreme temperatures and fluctuating geochemical conditions of geothermal environments. In Croatia, a large number of poorly investigated geothermal springs host biofilm communities. Here, we investigated the microbial community composition of biofilms collected over several seasons at 12 geothermal springs and wells. We found biofilm microbial communities to be temporally stable and highly dominated by Cyanobacteria in all but one high-temperature sampling site (Bizovac well). Of the physiochemical parameters recorded, temperature had the strongest influence on biofilm microbial community composition. Besides Cyanobacteria, the biofilms were mainly inhabited by Chloroflexota, Gammaproteobacteria, and Bacteroidota. In a series of incubations with Cyanobacteria-dominated biofilms from Tuhelj spring and Chloroflexota- and Pseudomonadota-dominated biofilms from Bizovac well, we stimulated either chemoorganotrophic or chemolithotrophic community members, to determine the fraction of microorganisms dependent on organic carbon (in situ predominantly produced via photosynthesis) versus energy derived from geochemical redox gradients (here simulated by addition of thiosulfate). We found surprisingly similar levels of activity in response to all substrates in these two distinct biofilm communities, and observed microbial community composition and hot spring geochemistry to be poor predictors of microbial activity in the study systems.

  • Pitfalls in sampling and analyzing low-biomass human nasal microbiome samples.

    Pjevac P, Bartosik T, Schneider S, Eckl-Dorna J
    2023 - J Allergy Clin Immunol, 1: 304
  • The nasal microbiome in patients suffering from non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs-exacerbated respiratory disease in absence of corticosteroids.

    Bartosik TJ, Campion NJ, Freisl K, Liu DT, Gangl K, Stanek V, Tu A, Pjevac P, Hausmann B, Eckl-Dorna J, Schneider S
    2023 - Front Immunol, 1112345


    Chronic rhinosinusitis (CRS) is a chronic inflammatory disease phenotypically classified by the absence (CRSsNP) or presence of nasal polyps (CRSwNP). The latter may also be associated with asthma and hypersensitivity towards non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) as a triad termed NSAID-exacerbated respiratory disease (N-ERD). The role of the microbiome in these different disease entities with regard to the underlying inflammatory process and disease burden is yet not fully understood. To address this question, we measured clinical parameters and collected nasal samples (nasal mucosal fluids, microbiome swabs from middle meatus and anterior naris) of patients suffering from CRSsNP (n=20), CRSwNP (n=20) or N-ERD (n=20) as well as from patients without CRS (=disease controls, n=20). Importantly, all subjects refrained from taking local or systemic corticosteroids or immunosuppressants for at least two weeks prior to sampling. The nasal microbiome was analyzed using 16S rRNA gene amplicon sequencing, and levels of 33 inflammatory cytokines were determined in nasal mucosal fluids using the MSD platform. Patients suffering from N-ERD and CRSwNP showed significantly worse smell perception and significantly higher levels of type 2 associated cytokines IL-5, IL-9, Eotaxin and CCL17. Across all 4 patient groups, and showed the highest relative abundances. Although no significant difference in alpha and beta diversity was observed between the control and the CRS groups, pairwise testing revealed a higher relative abundance of in the middle meatus in N-ERD patients as compared to CRSwNP (p<0.001), CRSsNP (p<0.01) and disease controls (p<0.05) and of in patients suffering from CRSwNP in middle meatus and anterior naris in comparison to CRSsNP (p<0.0001 for both locations) and disease controls (p<0.01 and p<0.0001). Furthermore, we observed a positive correlation of with IL-5 (Pearson r=0.548) and a negative correlation for and Eotaxin-3 (r=-0.540). Thus, in patients refraining from oral and nasal corticosteroid therapy for at least two weeks known to alter microbiome composition, we did not observe differences in microbiome alpha or beta diversity between various CRS entities and disease controls. However, our data suggest a close association between increased bacterial colonization with and decreased colonization by as well as increased type 2 inflammation.

  • Hydrochemical and Seasonally Conditioned Changes of Microbial Communities in the Tufa-Forming Freshwater Network Ecosystem.

    Čačković A, Kajan K, Selak L, Marković T, Brozičević A, Pjevac P, Orlić S
    2023 - mSphere, e0060222


    Freshwater network ecosystems consist of interconnected lotic and lentic environments within the same catchment area. Using Plitvice Lakes as an example, we studied the changes in environmental conditions and microbial communities (bacteria and fungi) that occur with downstream flow. Water samples from tributaries, interlake streams, connections of the cascading lakes, and the Korana River, the main outflow of the system, were characterized using amplicon sequencing of bacterial 16S rRNA and fungal ITS2 genes. Our results show that different environmental conditions and bacterial and fungal communities prevail among the three stream types within the freshwater network ecosystem during multiple sampling seasons. Microbial community differences were also confirmed along the longitudinal gradient between the most distant sampling sites. The higher impact of "mass effect" was evident during spring and winter, while "species sorting" and "environmental selection" was more pronounced during summer. Prokaryotic community assembly was majorly influenced by deterministic processes, while fungal community assembly was highly dominated by stochastic processes, more precisely by the undominated fraction, which is not dominated by any process. Despite the differences between stream types, the microbial community of Plitvice Lakes is shown to be very stable by the core microbiome that makes up the majority of stream communities. Our results suggest microbial community succession along the river-lake continuum of microbial communities in small freshwater network ecosystems with developed tufa barriers. Plitvice Lakes represent a rare freshwater ecosystem consisting of a complex network of lakes and waterfalls connecting them, as well as rivers and streams supplying water to the lake basin. The unique geomorphological, hydrological, biogeochemical, and biological phenomenon of Plitvice Lakes lies in the biodynamic process of forming tufa barriers. In addition to microbial communities, abiotic water factors also have a major influence on the formation of tufa. Therefore, it is important to understand how changes in environmental conditions and microbial community assembly affect the functioning of the ecosystem of a freshwater network with developed tufa barriers.

  • From the Mountain to the Valley: Drivers of Groundwater Prokaryotic Communities along an Alpine River Corridor.

    Retter A, Haas JC, Birk S, Stumpp C, Hausmann B, Griebler C, Karwautz C
    2023 - Microorganisms, 3: in press


    Rivers are the "tip of the iceberg", with the underlying groundwater being the unseen freshwater majority. Microbial community composition and the dynamics of shallow groundwater ecosystems are thus crucial, due to their potential impact on ecosystem processes and functioning. In early summer and late autumn, samples of river water from 14 stations and groundwater from 45 wells were analyzed along a 300 km transect of the Mur River valley, from the Austrian alps to the flats at the Slovenian border. The active and total prokaryotic communities were characterized using high-throughput gene amplicon sequencing. Key physico-chemical parameters and stress indicators were recorded. The dataset was used to challenge ecological concepts and assembly processes in shallow aquifers. The groundwater microbiome is analyzed regarding its composition, change with land use, and difference to the river. Community composition and species turnover differed significantly. At high altitudes, dispersal limitation was the main driver of groundwater community assembly, whereas in the lowland, homogeneous selection explained the larger share. Land use was a key determinant of the groundwater microbiome composition. The alpine region was more diverse and richer in prokaryotic taxa, with some early diverging archaeal lineages being highly abundant. This dataset shows a longitudinal change in prokaryotic communities that is dependent on regional differences affected by geomorphology and land use.

  • Gut microbiome signatures of Yorkshire Terrier enteropathy during disease and remission.

    Doulidis PG, Galler AI, Hausmann B, Berry D, Rodríguez-Rojas A, Burgener IA
    2023 - Sci Rep, 1: 4337


    The role of the gut microbiome in developing Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) in humans and dogs has received attention in recent years. Evidence suggests that IBD is associated with alterations in gut microbial composition, but further research is needed in veterinary medicine. The impact of IBD treatment on the gut microbiome needs to be better understood, especially in a breed-specific form of IBD in Yorkshire Terriers known as Yorkshire Terrier Enteropathy (YTE). This study aimed to investigate the difference in gut microbiome composition between YTE dogs during disease and remission and healthy Yorkshire Terriers. Our results showed a significant increase in specific taxa such as Clostridium sensu stricto 1, Escherichia-Shigella, and Streptococcus, and a decrease in Bacteroides, Prevotella, Alloprevotella, and Phascolarctobacterium in YTE dogs compared to healthy controls. No significant difference was found between the microbiome of dogs in remission and those with active disease, suggesting that the gut microbiome is affected beyond clinical recovery.

  • Secondary Metabolite Production Potential in a Microbiome of the Freshwater Sponge Spongilla lacustris.

    Graffius S, Garzón JFG, Zehl M, Pjevac P, Kirkegaard R, Flieder M, Loy A, Rattei T, Ostrovsky A, Zotchev SB
    2023 - Microbiol Spectr, 2: e0435322


    Marine and freshwater sponges harbor diverse communities of bacteria with vast potential to produce secondary metabolites that may play an important role in protecting the host from predators and infections. In this work, we initially used cultivation and metagenomics to investigate the microbial community of the freshwater sponge Spongilla lacustris collected in an Austrian lake. Representatives of 41 bacterial genera were isolated from the sponge sample and classified according to their 16S rRNA gene sequences. The genomes of 33 representative isolates and the 20 recovered metagenome-assembled genomes (MAGs) contained in total 306 secondary metabolite biosynthesis gene clusters (BGCs). Comparative 16S rRNA gene and genome analyses showed very little taxon overlap between the recovered isolates and the sponge community as revealed by cultivation-independent methods. Both culture-independent and -dependent analyses suggested high biosynthetic potential of the S. lacustris microbiome, which was confirmed experimentally even at the subspecies level for two isolates. To our knowledge, this is the most thorough description of the secondary metabolite production potential of a freshwater sponge microbiome to date. A large body of research is dedicated to marine sponges, filter-feeding animals harboring rich bacterial microbiomes believed to play an important role in protecting the host from predators and infections. Freshwater sponges have received so far much less attention with respect to their microbiomes, members of which may produce bioactive secondary metabolites with potential to be developed into drugs to treat a variety of diseases. In this work, we investigated the potential of bacteria associated with the freshwater sponge to biosynthesize diverse secondary metabolites. Using culture-dependent and -independent methods, we discovered over 300 biosynthetic gene clusters in sponge-associated bacteria and proved production of several compounds by selected isolates using genome mining. Our results illustrate the importance of a complex approach when dealing with microbiomes of multicellular organisms that may contain producers of medically important secondary metabolites.

  • Gene loss and symbiont switching during adaptation to the deep sea in a globally distributed symbiosis.

    Osvatic JT, Yuen B, Kunert M, Wilkins L, Hausmann B, Girguis P, Lundin K, Taylor J, Jospin G, Petersen JM
    2023 - ISME J, 3: 453-466


    Chemosynthetic symbioses between bacteria and invertebrates occur worldwide from coastal sediments to the deep sea. Most host groups are restricted to either shallow or deep waters. In contrast, Lucinidae, the most species-rich family of chemosymbiotic invertebrates, has both shallow- and deep-sea representatives. Multiple lucinid species have independently colonized the deep sea, which provides a unique framework for understanding the role microbial symbionts play in evolutionary transitions between shallow and deep waters. Lucinids acquire their symbionts from their surroundings during early development, which may allow them to flexibly acquire symbionts that are adapted to local environments. Via metagenomic analyses of museum and other samples collected over decades, we investigated the biodiversity and metabolic capabilities of the symbionts of 22 mostly deep-water lucinid species. We aimed to test the theory that the symbiont played a role in adaptation to life in deep-sea habitats. We identified 16 symbiont species, mostly within the previously described genus Ca. Thiodiazotropha. Most genomic functions were shared by both shallow-water and deep-sea Ca. Thiodiazotropha, though nitrogen fixation was exclusive to shallow-water species. We discovered multiple cases of symbiont switching near deep-sea hydrothermal vents and cold seeps, where distantly related hosts convergently acquired novel symbionts from a different bacterial order. Finally, analyses of selection revealed consistently stronger purifying selection on symbiont genomes in two extreme habitats - hydrothermal vents and an oxygen-minimum zone. Our findings reveal that shifts in symbiont metabolic capability and, in some cases, acquisition of a novel symbiont accompanied adaptation of lucinids to challenging deep-sea habitats.

  • The microbiome of kidney stones and urine of patients with nephrolithiasis.

    Lemberger U, Pjevac P, Hausmann B, Berry D, Moser D, Jahrreis V, Özsoy M, Shariat SF, Veser J
    2023 - Urolithiasis, 1: 27


    The incidence of nephrolithiasis is rising worldwide. Although it is a multifactorial disease, lifestyle plays a major role in its etiology. Another considerable factor could be an aberrant microbiome. In our observational single-center study, we aimed to investigate the composition of bacteria in kidney stones and urine focusing on patients with features of metabolic syndrome. Catheterized urine and kidney stones were collected prospectively from 100 consecutive patients undergoing endoscopic nephrolithotomy between 2020 and 2021 at our clinic. Microbiome composition was analyzed via 16S rRNA gene amplicon sequencing. Detection of bacteria was successful in 24% of the analyzed kidney stones. These patients had a prolonged length of stay compared to patients without verifiable bacteria in their stones (2.9 vs 1.5 days). Patients with features of metabolic syndrome were characterized by kidney stones colonized with classical gastrointestinal bacteria and displayed a significant enrichment of Enterococcaceae and Enterobacteriaceae. Stones of patients without features of metabolic syndrome characterized by Ureaplasma and Staphylococcaceae. Patients with bacteria in their kidney stones exhibit a longer length of stay, possibly due to more complex care. Patients presenting with features of metabolic syndrome displayed a distinct stone microbiome compared to metabolically fit patients. Understanding the role of bacteria in stone formation could enable targeted therapy, prevention of post-operative complications and new therapeutic strategies.

  • Microbial communities and processes in biofilters for post-treatment of ozonated wastewater treatment plant effluent.

    Sauter D, Steuer A, Wasmund K, Hausmann B, Szewzyk U, Sperlich A, Gnirss R, Cooper M, Wintgens T
    2023 - Sci Total Environ, 2: 159265


    Ozonation is an established solution for organic micropollutant (OMP) abatement in tertiary wastewater treatment. Biofiltration is the most common process for the biological post-treatment step, which is generally required to remove undesired oxidation products from the reaction of ozone with water matrix compounds. This study comparatively investigates the effect of filter media on the removal of organic contaminants and on biofilm properties for biologically activated carbon (BAC) and anthracite biofilters. Biofilms were analysed in two pilot-scale filters that have been operated for >50,000 bed volumes as post-treatment for ozonated wastewater treatment plant effluent. In parallel, the removal performance of bulk organics and OMP, including differentiation of adsorption and biotransformation through sodium azide inhibition, were carried out in bench-scale filter columns filled with material from the pilot filters. The use of BAC instead of anthracite resulted in an improved removal of organic bulk parameters, dissolved oxygen, and OMP. The OMP removal observed in the BAC filter but not in the anthracite filter was based on adsorption for most of the investigated compounds. For valsartan, however, biotransformation was found to be the dominant pathway, indicating that conditions for biotransformation of certain OMP are better on BAC than on anthracite. Adenosine triphosphate analyses in the media-attached biofilms of the pilot filters showed that biomass concentrations in the BAC filter were significantly higher than in the anthracite filter. The microbial communities (16S rRNA gene sequencing) appeared to be similar with respect to the types of organisms occurring on both filter materials. Alpha diversity also exhibited little variation between filter media. Beta diversity analysis, however, revealed that filter media and bed depth substantially influenced the biofilm composition. In practice, the impact of filter media on biofilm properties and biotransformation processes should be considered for the design of biofilters.

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