• Hunting for microbes since 2003

  • We seek to understand

    the role of microorganisms in Earth's nutrient cycles

    and as symbionts of other organisms

  • Cycling of carbon, nitrogen and sulfur

    affect the health of our planet

  • The human microbiome -

    Our own social network of microbial friends

  • Ancient invaders -

    Bacterial symbionts of amoebae

    and the evolution of the intracellular lifestyle

  • Marine symbioses:

    Listening in on conversations

    between animals and the microbes they can't live without

  • Single cell techniques offer new insights

    into the ecology of microbes

  • Microbial Symbioses

    University of Vienna PhD program

  • Apply for the DOME International PhD/PostDoc program

Dome News

Latest publications

Abiotic factors influence patterns of bacterial diversity and community composition in the Dry Valleys of Antarctica

The Dry Valleys of Antarctica are a unique ecosystem of simple trophic structure, where the abiotic factors that influence soil bacterial communities can be resolved in the absence of extensive biotic interactions. This study evaluated the degree to which aspects of topographic, physicochemical and spatial variation explain patterns of bacterial richness and community composition in 471 soil samples collected across a 220 square kilometer landscape in Southern Victoria Land. Richness was most strongly influenced by physicochemical soil properties, particularly soil conductivity, though significant trends with several topographic and spatial variables were also observed. Structural equation modeling (SEM) supported a final model in which variation in community composition was best explained by physicochemical variables, particularly soil water content, and where the effects of topographic variation were largely mediated through their influence on physicochemical variables. Community dissimilarity increased with distance between samples, and though most of this variation was explained by topographic and physicochemical variation, a small but significant relationship remained after controlling for this environmental variation. As the largest survey of terrestrial bacterial communities of Antarctica completed to date, this work provides fundamental knowledge of the Dry Valleys ecosystem, and has implications globally for understanding environmental factors that influence bacterial distributions.

Bottos EM, Laughlin DC, Herbold CW, Lee CK, McDonald IR, Cary SC
2020 - FEMS Microbiology Ecology, 96: in press

Redox-informed models of global biogeochemical cycles.

Microbial activity mediates the fluxes of greenhouse gases. However, in the global models of the marine and terrestrial biospheres used for climate change projections, typically only photosynthetic microbial activity is resolved mechanistically. To move forward, we argue that global biogeochemical models need a theoretically grounded framework with which to constrain parameterizations of diverse microbial metabolisms. Here, we explain how the key redox chemistry underlying metabolisms provides a path towards this goal. Using this first-principles approach, the presence or absence of metabolic functional types emerges dynamically from ecological interactions, expanding model applicability to unobserved environments."Nothing is less real than realism. It is only by selection, by elimination, by emphasis, that we get at the real meaning of things." -Georgia O'Keefe.

Zakem EJ, Polz MF, Follows MJ
2020 - Nat Commun, 1: 5680

A genomic catalog of Earth's microbiomes

The reconstruction of bacterial and archaeal genomes from shotgun metagenomes has enabled insights into the ecology and evolution of environmental and host-associated microbiomes. Here we applied this approach to >10,000 metagenomes collected from diverse habitats covering all of Earth's continents and oceans, including metagenomes from human and animal hosts, engineered environments, and natural and agricultural soils, to capture extant microbial, metabolic and functional potential. This comprehensive catalog includes 52,515 metagenome-assembled genomes representing 12,556 novel candidate species-level operational taxonomic units spanning 135 phyla. The catalog expands the known phylogenetic diversity of bacteria and archaea by 44% and is broadly available for streamlined comparative analyses, interactive exploration, metabolic modeling and bulk download. We demonstrate the utility of this collection for understanding secondary-metabolite biosynthetic potential and for resolving thousands of new host linkages to uncultivated viruses. This resource underscores the value of genome-centric approaches for revealing genomic properties of uncultivated microorganisms that affect ecosystem processes.

Nayfach S, Roux S, Seshadri R, Udwary D, Varghese N, Schulz F, Wu D, Paez-Espino D, Chen IM, Huntemann M, Palaniappan K, Ladau J, Mukherjee S, Reddy TBK, Nielsen T, Kirton E, Faria JP, Edirisinghe JN, Henry CS, Jungbluth SP, Chivian D, Dehal P, Wood-Charlson EM, Arkin AP, Tringe SG, Visel A, IMG/M Data Consortium, Woyke T, Mouncey NJ, Ivanova NN, Kyrpides NC, Eloe-Fadrosh EA
2020 - Nat Biotechnol, In press

Lecture series

Defining and controlling gut microbial gene products for therapeutic gain

Matthew Redinbo
University of North Carolina, USA
10.12.2020
12:00 h
Webinar