Publications

Publications in peer reviewed journals

7 Publications found
  • 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

    Abstract: 

    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.

  • 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

    Abstract: 

    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.

  • Oxford Nanopore R10.4 long-read sequencing enables the generation of near-finished bacterial genomes from pure cultures and metagenomes without short-read or reference polishing.

    Sereika M, Kirkegaard RH, Karst SM, Michaelsen TY, Sørensen EA, Wollenberg RD, Albertsen M
    2022 - Nat Methods, 7: 823-826

    Abstract: 

    Long-read Oxford Nanopore sequencing has democratized microbial genome sequencing and enables the recovery of highly contiguous microbial genomes from isolates or metagenomes. However, to obtain near-finished genomes it has been necessary to include short-read polishing to correct insertions and deletions derived from homopolymer regions. Here, we show that Oxford Nanopore R10.4 can be used to generate near-finished microbial genomes from isolates or metagenomes without short-read or reference polishing.

  • Connecting structure to function with the recovery of over 1000 high-quality activated sludge metagenome-assembled genomes encoding full-length rRNA genes using long-read sequencing

    Singleton CM, Petriglieri F, Kristensen JM, Kirkegaard RH, Michaelsen TY, Andersen MH, Kondrotaite Z, Karst SM, Dueholm MS, Nielsen PH, Albertsen M.
    2021 - bioRxiv, 2020.05.12.088096

    Abstract: 

    Microorganisms are critical to water recycling, pollution removal and resource recovery processes in the wastewater industry. While the structure of this complex community is increasingly understood based on 16S rRNA gene studies, this structure cannot currently be linked to functional potential due to the absence of high-quality metagenome-assembled genomes (MAGs) with full-length rRNA genes for nearly all species. Here, we sequence 23 Danish full-scale wastewater treatment plant metagenomes, producing >1 Tbp of long-read and >0.9 Tbp of short-read data. We recovered 1083 high-quality MAGs, including 57 closed circular genomes. The MAGs accounted for ~30% of the community, and meet the stringent MIMAG high-quality draft requirements including full-length rRNA genes. We show how novel high-quality MAGs in combination with >13 years of amplicon data, Raman microspectroscopy and fluorescence in situ hybridisation can be used to uncover abundant undescribed lineages belonging to important functional groups.

  • High-accuracy long-read amplicon sequences using unique molecular identifiers with Nanopore or PacBio sequencing.

    Karst SM, Ziels RM, Kirkegaard RH, Sørensen EA, McDonald D, Zhu Q, Knight R, Albertsen M
    2021 - Nat Methods, 2: 165-169

    Abstract: 

    High-throughput amplicon sequencing of large genomic regions remains challenging for short-read technologies. Here, we report a high-throughput amplicon sequencing approach combining unique molecular identifiers (UMIs) with Oxford Nanopore Technologies (ONT) or Pacific Biosciences circular consensus sequencing, yielding high-accuracy single-molecule consensus sequences of large genomic regions. We applied our approach to sequence ribosomal RNA operon amplicons (~4,500 bp) and genomic sequences (>10,000 bp) of reference microbial communities in which we observed a chimera rate <0.02%. To reach a mean UMI consensus error rate <0.01%, a UMI read coverage of 15× (ONT R10.3), 25× (ONT R9.4.1) and 3× (Pacific Biosciences circular consensus sequencing) is needed, which provides a mean error rate of 0.0042%, 0.0041% and 0.0007%, respectively.

  • Unlinked rRNA genes are widespread among bacteria and archaea.

    Brewer TE, Albertsen M, Edwards A, Kirkegaard RH, Rocha EPC, Fierer N
    2020 - ISME J, 2: 597-608

    Abstract: 

    Ribosomes are essential to cellular life and the genes for their RNA components are the most conserved and transcribed genes in bacteria and archaea. Ribosomal RNA genes are typically organized into a single operon, an arrangement thought to facilitate gene regulation. In reality, some bacteria and archaea do not share this canonical rRNA arrangement-their 16S and 23S rRNA genes are separated across the genome and referred to as "unlinked". This rearrangement has previously been treated as an anomaly or a byproduct of genome degradation in intracellular bacteria. Here, we leverage complete genome and long-read metagenomic data to show that unlinked 16S and 23S rRNA genes are more common than previously thought. Unlinked rRNA genes occur in many phyla, most significantly within Deinococcus-Thermus, Chloroflexi, and Planctomycetes, and occur in differential frequencies across natural environments. We found that up to 41% of rRNA genes in soil were unlinked, in contrast to the human gut, where all sequenced rRNA genes were linked. The frequency of unlinked rRNA genes may reflect meaningful life history traits, as they tend to be associated with a mix of slow-growing free-living species and intracellular species. We speculate that unlinked rRNA genes may confer selective advantages in some environments, though the specific nature of these advantages remains undetermined and worthy of further investigation. More generally, the prevalence of unlinked rRNA genes in poorly-studied taxa serves as a reminder that paradigms derived from model organisms do not necessarily extend to the broader diversity of bacteria and archaea.

  • Complete nitrification by Nitrospira bacteria.

    Daims H, Lebedeva EV, Pjevac P, Han P, Herbold C, Albertsen M, Jehmlich N, Palatinszky M, Vierheilig J, Bulaev A, Kirkegaard RH, von Bergen M, Rattei T, Bendinger B, Nielsen PH, Wagner M
    2015 - Nature, 7583: 504-9

    Abstract: 

    Nitrification, the oxidation of ammonia via nitrite to nitrate, has always been considered to be a two-step process catalysed by chemolithoautotrophic microorganisms oxidizing either ammonia or nitrite. No known nitrifier carries out both steps, although complete nitrification should be energetically advantageous. This functional separation has puzzled microbiologists for a century. Here we report on the discovery and cultivation of a completely nitrifying bacterium from the genus Nitrospira, a globally distributed group of nitrite oxidizers. The genome of this chemolithoautotrophic organism encodes the pathways both for ammonia and nitrite oxidation, which are concomitantly activated during growth by ammonia oxidation to nitrate. Genes affiliated with the phylogenetically distinct ammonia monooxygenase and hydroxylamine dehydrogenase genes of Nitrospira are present in many environments and were retrieved on Nitrospira-contigs in new metagenomes from engineered systems. These findings fundamentally change our picture of nitrification and point to completely nitrifying Nitrospira as key components of nitrogen-cycling microbial communities.

Book chapters and other publications

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