• Microbial Community Structure Along a Horizontal Oxygen Gradient in a Costa Rican Volcanic Influenced Acid Rock Drainage System.

      Arce-Rodríguez, Alejandro; Puente-Sánchez, Fernando; Avendaño, Roberto; Libby, Eduardo; Mora-Amador, Raúl; Rojas-Jimenez, Keilor; Martínez, María; Pieper, Dietmar H; Chavarría, Max; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (Springer Nature, 2020-06-22)
      We describe the geochemistry and microbial diversity of a pristine environment that resembles an acid rock drainage (ARD) but it is actually the result of hydrothermal and volcanic influences. We designate this environment, and other comparable sites, as volcanic influenced acid rock drainage (VARD) systems. The metal content and sulfuric acid in this ecosystem stem from the volcanic milieu and not from the product of pyrite oxidation. Based on the analysis of 16S rRNA gene amplicons, we report the microbial community structure in the pristine San Cayetano Costa Rican VARD environment (pH = 2.94-3.06, sulfate ~ 0.87-1.19 g L-1, iron ~ 35-61 mg L-1 (waters), and ~ 8-293 g kg-1 (sediments)). San Cayetano was found to be dominated by microorganisms involved in the geochemical cycling of iron, sulfur, and nitrogen; however, the identity and abundance of the species changed with the oxygen content (0.40-6.06 mg L-1) along the river course. The hypoxic source of San Cayetano is dominated by a putative anaerobic sulfate-reducing Deltaproteobacterium. Sulfur-oxidizing bacteria such as Acidithiobacillus or Sulfobacillus are found in smaller proportions with respect to typical ARD. In the oxic downstream, we identified aerobic iron-oxidizers (Leptospirillum, Acidithrix, Ferrovum) and heterotrophic bacteria (Burkholderiaceae bacterium, Trichococcus, Acidocella). Thermoplasmatales archaea closely related to environmental phylotypes found in other ARD niches were also observed throughout the entire ecosystem. Overall, our study shows the differences and similarities in the diversity and distribution of the microbial communities between an ARD and a VARD system at the source and along the oxygen gradient that establishes on the course of the river.
    • Potential TMA-Producing Bacteria Are Ubiquitously Found in Mammalia.

      Rath, Silke; Rud, Tatjana; Pieper, Dietmar H; Vital, Marius; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (Frontiers, 2019-01-01)
      Human gut bacteria metabolize dietary components such as choline and carnitine to trimethylamine (TMA) that is subsequently oxidized to trimethylamine-N-oxide (TMAO) by hepatic enzymes. Increased plasma levels of TMAO are associated with the development of cardiovascular and renal disease. In this study, we applied gene-targeted assays in order to quantify (qPCR) and characterize (MiSeq) bacterial genes encoding enzymes responsible for TMA production, namely choline-TMA lyase (CutC), carnitine oxygenase (CntA) and betaine reductase (GrdH) in 89 fecal samples derived from various mammals spanning three dietary groups (carnivores, omnivores and herbivores) and four host orders (Carnivora, Primates, Artiodactyla and Perissodactyla). All samples contained potential TMA-producing bacteria, however, at low abundances (<1.2% of total community). The cutC gene was more abundant in omnivores and carnivores compared with herbivores. CntA was almost absent from herbivores and grdH showed lowest average abundance of all three genes. Bacteria harboring cutC and grdH displayed high diversities where sequence types affiliated with various taxa within Firmicutes dominated, whereas cntA comprised sequences primarily linked to Escherichia. Composition of TMA-forming communities was strongly influenced by diet and host taxonomy and despite their high correlation, both factors contributed uniquely to community structure. Furthermore, Random Forest (RF) models could differentiate between groups at high accuracies. This study gives a comprehensive overview of potential TMA-producing bacteria in the mammalian gut demonstrating that both diet and host taxonomy govern their abundance and composition. It highlights the role of functional redundancy sustaining potential TMA formation in distinct gut environments.
    • Identification of benzene-degrading Proteobacteria in a constructed wetland by employing in situ microcosms and RNA-stable isotope probing.

      Nitz, Henrike; Duarte, Márcia; Jauregui, Ruy; Pieper, Dietmar H; Müller, Jochen A; Kästner, Matthias; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (Springer, 2019-12-23)
      Constructed wetlands (CWs) are effective ecological remediation technologies for various contaminated water bodies. Here, we queried for benzene-degrading microbes in a horizontal subsurface flow CW with reducing conditions in the pore water and fed with benzene-contaminated groundwater. For identification of relevant microbes, we employed in situ microcosms (BACTRAPs, which are made from granulated activated carbon) coupled with 13C-stable isotope probing and Illumina sequencing of 16S rRNA amplicons. A significant incorporation of 13C was detected in RNA isolated from BACTRAPs loaded with 13C-benzene and exposed in the CW for 28 days. A shorter incubation time did not result in detectable 13C incorporation. After 28 days, members from four genera, namely Dechloromonas, Hydrogenophaga, and Zoogloea from the Betaproteobacteria and Arcobacter from the Epsilonproteobacteria were significantly labeled with 13C and were abundant in the bacterial community on the BACTRAPs. Sequences affiliated to Geobacter were also numerous on the BACTRAPs but apparently those microbes did not metabolize benzene as no 13C label incorporation was detected. Instead, they may have metabolized plant-derived organic compounds while using the BACTRAPs as electron sink. In representative wetland samples, sequences affiliated with Dechloromonas, Zoogloea, and Hydrogenophaga were present at relative proportions of up to a few percent. Sequences affiliated with Arcobacter were present at < 0.01% in wetland samples. In conclusion, we identified microbes of likely significance for benzene degradation in a CW used for remediation of contaminated water.
    • Risk factors and Predictors of Mortality in Streptococcal Necrotizing Soft-Tissue Infections: A Multicenter Prospective Study.

      Bruun, Trond; Rath, Eivind; Bruun Madsen, Martin; Oppegaard, Oddvar; Nekludov, Michael; Arnell, Per; Karlsson, Ylva; Babbar, Anshu; Bergey, Francois; Itzek, Andreas; et al. (Oxford University Press (OUP), 2020-01-10)
      Background Necrotizing soft-tissue infections (NSTI) are life-threatening conditions often caused by β-hemolytic streptococci, group A streptococcus (GAS) in particular. Optimal treatment is contentious. The INFECT cohort includes the largest set of prospectively enrolled streptococcal NSTI cases to date. Methods From the INFECT cohort of 409 adults admitted with NSTI to five clinical centers in Scandinavia, patients culture-positive for GAS or Streptococcus dysgalactiae (SD) were selected. Risk factors were identified by comparison with a cohort of non-necrotizing streptococcal cellulitis. The impact of baseline factors and treatment on 90-day mortality was explored using Lasso regression. Whole-genome sequencing of bacterial isolates was used for emm typing and virulence gene profiling. Results The 126 GAS NSTI cases and 27 cases caused by SD constituted 31% and 7% of the whole NSTI cohort, respectively. When comparing to non-necrotizing streptococcal cellulitis, streptococcal NSTI was associated to blunt trauma, absence of pre-existing skin lesions, and a lower BMI. Septic shock was significantly more frequent in GAS (65%) compared to SD (41%) and polymicrobial, non-streptococcal NSTI (46%). Age, male sex, septic shock, and no administration of intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG) were among factors associated with 90-day mortality. Predominant emm types were emm1, emm3 and emm28 in GAS and stG62647 in SD.
    • Correlation between immunoglobulin dose administered and plasma neutralization of streptococcal superantigens in patients with necrotizing soft tissue infections.

      Bergsten, Helena; Madsen, Martin Bruun; Bergey, Francois; Hyldegaard, Ole; Skrede, Steinar; Arnell, Per; Oppegaard, Oddvar; Itzek, Andreas; Perner, Anders; Svensson, Mattias; et al. (Oxford University Press, 2020-01-09)
      Analyses of plasma collected pre- and post-administration of intravenous immunoglobulin G (IVIG) from patients with Group A Streptococcus necrotizing soft tissue infections demonstrated a negative correlation between IVIG dose and toxin-triggered T-cell proliferation (r=-0.67, p<0.0001). One 25g-dose IVIG was sufficient to yield patient plasma neutralizing activity against streptococcal superantigens.
    • Importance of superoxide dismutase A and M for protection of Staphylococcus aureus in the oxidative stressful environment of cystic fibrosis airways.

      Treffon, Janina; Chaves-Moreno, Diego; Niemann, Silke; Pieper, Dietmar Helmut; Vogl, Thomas; Roth, Johannes; Kahl, Barbara C; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (Wiley, 2020-01-02)
      Staphylococcus aureus is one of the earliest pathogens that persists the airways of cystic fibrosis (CF) patients and contributes to increased inflammation and decreased lung function. In contrast to other staphylococci, S. aureus possesses two superoxide dismutases (SODs), SodA and SodM, with SodM being unique to S. aureus. Both SODs arm S. aureus for its fight against oxidative stress, a byproduct of inflammatory reactions. Despite complex investigations it is still unclear, if both enzymes are crucial for the special pathogenicity of S. aureus. To investigate the role of both SODs during staphylococcal persistence in CF airways, we analyzed survival and gene expression of S. aureus CF isolates and laboratory strains in different CF-related in vitro and ex vivo settings. Bacteria located in inflammatory and oxidized CF sputum transcribed high levels of sodA and sodM. Especially expression values of sodM were remarkably higher in CF sputum than in bacterial in vitro cultures. Interestingly, also S. aureus located in airway epithelial cells expressed elevated transcript numbers of both SODs, indicating that S. aureus is exposed to oxidative stress at various sites within CF airways. Both enzymes promoted survival of S. aureus during PMN killing and seem to act compensatory, thereby giving evidence that the interwoven interaction of SodA and SodM contributes to S. aureus virulence and facilitates S. aureus persistence within CF airways.
    • High Nuclease Activity of Long Persisting Isolates Within the Airways of Cystic Fibrosis Patients Protects Against NET-Mediated Killing.

      Herzog, Susann; Dach, Felix; de Buhr, Nicole; Niemann, Silke; Schlagowski, Jannik; Chaves-Moreno, Diego; Neumann, Claudia; Goretzko, Jonas; Schwierzeck, Vera; Mellmann, Alexander; et al. (Frontiers, 2019-01-01)
      Staphylococcus aureus is one of the first and most prevalent pathogens cultured from the airways of cystic fibrosis (CF) patients, which can persist there for extended periods. Airway infections in CF patients are characterized by a strong inflammatory response of highly recruited neutrophils. One killing mechanism of neutrophils is the formation of neutrophil extracellular traps (NETs), which capture and eradicate bacteria by extracellular fibers of neutrophil chromatin decorated with antimicrobial granule proteins. S. aureus secretes nuclease, which can degrade NETs. We hypothesized, that S. aureus adapts to the airways of CF patients during persistent infection by escaping from NET-mediated killing via an increase of nuclease activity. Sputum samples of CF patients with chronic S. aureus infection were visualized by confocal microscopy after immuno-fluorescence staining for NET-specific markers, S. aureus bacteria and overall DNA structures. Nuclease activity was analyzed in sequential isogenic long persisting S. aureus isolates, as confirmed by whole genome sequencing, from an individual CF patient using a FRET-based nuclease activity assay. Additionally, some of these isolates were selected and analyzed by qRT-PCR to determine the expression of nuc1 and regulators of interest. NET-killing assays were performed with clinical S. aureus isolates to evaluate killing and bacterial survival depending on nuclease activity. To confirm the role of nuclease during NET-mediated killing, a clinical isolate with low nuclease activity was transformed with a nuclease expression vector (pCM28nuc). Furthermore, two sputa from an individual CF patient were subjected to RNA-sequence analysis to evaluate the activity of nuclease in vivo. In sputa, S. aureus was associated to extracellular DNA structures. Nuclease activity in clinical S. aureus isolates increased in a time-and phenotype-dependent manner. In the clinical isolates, the expression of nuc1 was inversely correlated to the activity of agr and was independent of saeS. NET-mediated killing was significantly higher in S. aureus isolates with low compared to isolates with high nuclease activity. Importantly, transformation of the clinical isolate with low nuclease activity with pCM28nuc conferred protection against NET-mediated killing confirming the beneficial role of nuclease for protection against NETs. Also, nuclease expression in in vivo sputa was high, which underlines the important role of nuclease within the highly inflamed CF airways. In conclusion, our data show that S. aureus adapts to the neutrophil-rich environment of CF airways with increasing nuclease expression most likely to avoid NET-killing during long-term persistence.
    • MAIT Cells Are Major Contributors to the Cytokine Response in Group A Streptococcal Toxic Shock Syndrome.

      Emgård, Johanna; Bergsten, Helena; McCormick, John K; Barrantes, Israel; Skrede, Steinar; Sandberg, Johan K; Norrby-Teglund, Anna; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (National Academy of Sciences, 2019-11-26)
      Streptococcal toxic shock syndrome (STSS) is a rapidly progressing, life-threatening, systemic reaction to invasive infection caused by group A streptococci (GAS). GAS superantigens are key mediators of STSS through their potent activation of T cells leading to a cytokine storm and consequently vascular leakage, shock, and multiorgan failure. Mucosal-associated invariant T (MAIT) cells recognize MR1-presented antigens derived from microbial riboflavin biosynthesis and mount protective innate-like immune responses against the microbes producing such metabolites. GAS lack de novo riboflavin synthesis, and the role of MAIT cells in STSS has therefore so far been overlooked. Here we have conducted a comprehensive analysis of human MAIT cell responses to GAS, aiming to understand the contribution of MAIT cells to the pathogenesis of STSS. We show that MAIT cells are strongly activated and represent the major T cell source of IFNγ and TNF in the early stages of response to GAS. MAIT cell activation is biphasic with a rapid TCR Vβ2-specific, TNF-dominated response to superantigens and a later IL-12- and IL-18-dependent, IFNγ-dominated response to both bacterial cells and secreted factors. Depletion of MAIT cells from PBMC resulted in decreased total production of IFNγ, IL-1β, IL-2, and TNFβ. Peripheral blood MAIT cells in patients with STSS expressed elevated levels of the activation markers CD69, CD25, CD38, and HLA-DR during the acute compared with the convalescent phase. Our data demonstrate that MAIT cells are major contributors to the early cytokine response to GAS, and are therefore likely to contribute to the pathological cytokine storm underlying STSS.
    • Diversity and community composition of particle-associated and free-living bacteria in mesopelagic and bathypelagic Southern Ocean water masses: Evidence of dispersal limitation in the Bransfield Strait

      Milici, Mathias; Vital, Marius; Tomasch, Jürgen; Badewien, Thomas H.; Giebel, Helge A.; Plumeier, Iris; Wang, Hui; Pieper, Dietmar H.; Wagner-Döbler, Irene; Simon, Meinhard; et al. (Wiley-Blackwell, 2017-05-01)
      The Southern Ocean constitutes about 10% of the global oceans' volume and is characterized by high primary production. Particulate organic matter (POM) is exported from the photic zone to the deep ocean and sustains life of particle associated (PA) and free-living (FL) bacterial communities in the dark realm. Little is known about the composition and diversity of PA and FL bacterial communities below the photic zone and how they differ among various regions of the Southern Ocean. Therefore, we investigated the composition of small (3–8 μm) and large (> 8 μm) PA and FL (0.2–3 μm) bacterial communities between 500 m and 3600 m in the Bransfield Strait, Drake Passage, and the south Atlantic Ocean featuring also Southern Ocean water masses. PA bacterial communities had a higher OTU richness and evenness than FL ones. Taxonomic analysis revealed a different community composition between FL and PA bacteria. A large number of OTUs belonging to diverse phyla (Bacteroidetes, Planctomycetes, Betaproteobacteria, Deltaproteobacteria, and Verrucomicrobia) were significantly enriched on particles; in contrast very few bacterial lineages were FL specialists. Life-style (FL vs. PA) and region (Bransfield basin vs. other regions) strongly influenced bacterial communities. Depth explained only marginal fraction of the total variation (∼ 12%), suggesting that selective processes driven by depth have a smaller effect in the Southern Ocean when compared to life-style (25%) and region (31%). Overall these data indicate a strong influence of isolated water masses such as the basin of the Bransfield Strait on the composition of bacterial communities in the dark ocean. © 2017 The Authors Limnology and Oceanography published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. on behalf of Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography
    • Diversity of Bacteria Exhibiting Bile Acid-inducible 7α-dehydroxylation Genes in the Human Gut.

      Vital, Marius; Rud, Tatjana; Rath, Silke; Pieper, Dietmar H; Schlüter, Dirk; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (Elsevier, 2019-01-01)
      The secondary bile acids deoxycholic acid (DCA) and lithocholic acid (LCA), formed by gut microbiota from primary bile acids via a multi-step 7α-dehydroxylation reaction, have wide-ranging effects on host metabolism and play an important role in health and disease. A few 7α-dehydroxylating strains have been isolated, where bile acid-inducible (bai) genes were organized in a gene cluster and encoded major enzymes involved. However, only little is known on diversity and abundance of intestinal bacteria catalysing DCA/LCA formation in the human gut in situ. In this study, we took the opportunity to screen metagenome-assembled genomes (MAGs) from sequence data of stool samples provided by two recent studies along with newly available gut-derived isolates for the presence of the bai gene cluster. We revealed in total 765 and 620 MAGs encoding the potential to form DCA/LCA that grouped into 21 and 26 metagenomic species, respectively. The majority of MAGs (92.4 and 90.3%) were associated with a Ruminococcaceae clade that still lacks an isolate, whereas less MAGs belonged to Lachnospiraceae along with eight new isolates (n total = 11) that contained the bai genes. Only a few MAGs were linked to Peptostreptococcaceae. Signatures for horizontal transfer of bai genes were observed. This study gives a comprehensive overview of the diversity of bai-exhibiting bacteria in the human gut highlighting the application of metagenomics to unravel potential functions hidden from current isolates. Eventually, isolates of the identified main MAG clade are required in order to prove their capability of 7α-dehydroxylating primary bile acids.
    • Molecular profiling of tissue biopsies reveals unique signatures associated with streptococcal necrotizing soft tissue infections

      Thänert, Robert; Itzek, Andreas; Hoßmann, Jörn; Hamisch, Domenica; Madsen, Martin Bruun; Hyldegaard, Ole; Skrede, Steinar; Bruun, Trond; Norrby-Teglund, Anna; Medina, Eva; et al. (Nature, 2019-08-26)
      Necrotizing soft tissue infections (NSTIs) are devastating infections caused by either a single pathogen, predominantly Streptococcus pyogenes, or by multiple bacterial species. A better understanding of the pathogenic mechanisms underlying these different NSTI types could facilitate faster diagnostic and more effective therapeutic strategies. Here, we integrate microbial community profiling with host and pathogen(s) transcriptional analysis in patient biopsies to dissect the pathophysiology of streptococcal and polymicrobial NSTIs. We observe that the pathogenicity of polymicrobial communities is mediated by synergistic interactions between community members, fueling a cycle of bacterial colonization and inflammatory tissue destruction. In S. pyogenes NSTIs, expression of specialized virulence factors underlies infection pathophysiology. Furthermore, we identify a strong interferon-related response specific to S. pyogenes NSTIs that could be exploited as a potential diagnostic biomarker. Our study provides insights into the pathophysiology of mono- and polymicrobial NSTIs and highlights the potential of host-derived signatures for microbial diagnosis of NSTIs.
    • Long-term Multidonor Fecal Microbiota Transfer (FMT) by Oral Capsules for Active Ulcerative Colitis.

      Steube, Arndt; Vital, Marius; Grunert, Philip; Pieper, Dietmar H; Stallmach, Andreas; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (Oxford Academic, 2019-04-15)
    • Deep sequencing of biofilm microbiomes on dental composite materials.

      Conrads, Georg; Wendt, Laura Katharina; Hetrodt, Franziska; Deng, Zhi-Luo; Pieper, Dietmar; Abdelbary, Mohamed M H; Barg, Andree; Wagner-Döbler, Irene; Apel, Christian (2019-01-01)
      Background: The microbiome on dental composites has not been studied in detail before. It has not been conclusively clarified whether restorative materials influence the oral microbiome. Methods: We used Illumina Miseq next-generation sequencing of the 16S V1-V2 region to compare the colonisation patterns of bovine enamel (BE) and the composite materials Grandio Flow (GF) and Grandio Blocs (GB) after 48 h in vivo in 14 volunteers. Applying a new method to maintain the oral microbiome ex vivo for 48 h also, we compared the microbiome on GF alone and with the new antimicrobial substance carolacton (GF+C). Results: All in vitro biofilm communities showed a higher diversity and richness than those grown in vivo but the very different atmospheric conditions must be considered. Contrary to expectations, there were only a few significant differences between BE and the composite materials GB and GF either in vivo or in vitro: Oribacterium, Peptostreptococcaceae [XI][G-1] and Streptococcus mutans were more prevalent and Megasphaera, Prevotella oulorum, Veillonella atypica, V. parvula, Gemella morbillorum, and Fusobacterium periodonticum were less prevalent on BE than on composites. In vivo, such preferences were only significant for Granulicatella adiacens (more prevalent on BE) and Fusobacterium nucleatum subsp. animalis (more prevalent on composites). On DNA sequence level, there were no significant differences between the biofilm communities on GF and GF+C. Conclusion: We found that the oral microbiome showed an increased richness when grown on various composites compared to BE in vitro, but otherwise changed only slightly independent of the in vivo or in vitro condition. Our new ex vivo biofilm model might be useful for pre-clinical testing of preventive strategies.
    • Microbial and Functional Profile of the Ceca from Laying Hens Affected by Feeding Prebiotics, Probiotics, and Synbiotics.

      Pineda-Quiroga, Carolina; Borda-Molina, Daniel; Chaves-Moreno, Diego; Ruiz, Roberto; Atxaerandio, Raquel; Camarinha-Silva, Amélia; García-Rodríguez, Aser; HZI, Helmholtz Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (MPDI, 2019-05-06)
      Diet has an essential influence in the establishment of the cecum microbial communities in poultry, so its supplementation with safe additives, such as probiotics, prebiotics, and synbiotics might improve animal health and performance. This study showed the ceca microbiome modulations of laying hens, after feeding with dry whey powder as prebiotics, Pediococcus acidilactici as probiotics, and the combination of both as synbiotics. A clear grouping of the samples induced per diet was observed (p < 0.05). Operational taxonomic units (OTUs) identified as Olsenella spp., and Lactobacilluscrispatus increased their abundance in prebiotic and synbiotic treatments. A core of the main functions was shared between all metagenomes (45.5%), although the genes encoding for the metabolism of butanoate, propanoate, inositol phosphate, and galactose were more abundant in the prebiotic diet. The results indicated that dietary induced-changes in microbial composition did not imply a disturbance in the principal biological roles, while the specific functions were affected.
    • Delftia sp. LCW, a strain isolated from a constructed wetland shows novel properties for dimethylphenol isomers degradation.

      Vásquez-Piñeros, Mónica A; Martínez-Lavanchy, Paula M; Jehmlich, Nico; Pieper, Dietmar H; Rincón, Carlos A; Harms, Hauke; Junca, Howard; Heipieper, Hermann J; HZI, Helmholtz Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig Germany. (BioMedCentral, 2018-09-06)
      BACKGROUND: Dimethylphenols (DMP) are toxic compounds with high environmental mobility in water and one of the main constituents of effluents from petro- and carbochemical industry. Over the last few decades, the use of constructed wetlands (CW) has been extended from domestic to industrial wastewater treatments, including petro-carbochemical effluents. In these systems, the main role during the transformation and mineralization of organic pollutants is played by microorganisms. Therefore, understanding the bacterial degradation processes of isolated strains from CWs is an important approach to further improvements of biodegradation processes in these treatment systems. RESULTS: In this study, bacterial isolation from a pilot scale constructed wetland fed with phenols led to the identification of Delftia sp. LCW as a DMP degrading strain. The strain was able to use the o-xylenols 3,4-DMP and 2,3-DMP as sole carbon and energy sources. In addition, 3,4-DMP provided as a co-substrate had an effect on the transformation of other four DMP isomers. Based on the detection of the genes, proteins, and the inferred phylogenetic relationships of the detected genes with other reported functional proteins, we found that the phenol hydroxylase of Delftia sp. LCW is induced by 3,4-DMP and it is responsible for the first oxidation of the aromatic ring of 3,4-, 2,3-, 2,4-, 2,5- and 3,5-DMP. The enzyme may also catalyze both monooxygenation reactions during the degradation of benzene. Proteome data led to the identification of catechol meta cleavage pathway enzymes during the growth on ortho DMP, and validated that cleavage of the aromatic rings of 2,5- and 3,5-DMPs does not result in mineralization. In addition, the tolerance of the strain to high concentrations of DMP, especially to 3,4-DMP was higher than that of other reported microorganisms from activated sludge treating phenols. CONCLUSIONS: LCW strain was able to degraded complex aromatics compounds. DMPs and benzene are reported for the first time to be degraded by a member of Delftia genus. In addition, LCW degraded DMPs with a first oxidation of the aromatic rings by a phenol hydroxylase, followed by a further meta cleavage pathway. The higher resistance to DMP toxicity, the ability to degrade and transform DMP isomers and the origin as a rhizosphere bacterium from wastewater systems, make LCW a suitable candidate to be used in bioremediation of complex DMP mixtures in CWs systems.
    • Design and characterization of dietary assessment in the German National Cohort.

      Knüppel, Sven; Clemens, Matthias; Conrad, Johanna; Gastell, Sylvia; Michels, Karin B; Leitzmann, Michael; Krist, Lilian; Pischon, Tobias; Krause, Gerard; Ahrens, Wolfgang; et al. (Springer Nature, 2019-01-15)
      BACKGROUND/OBJECTIVES: The aim of the study was to describe a novel dietary assessment strategy based on two instruments complemented by information from an external population applied to estimate usual food intake in the large-scale multicenter German National Cohort (GNC). As proof of concept, we applied the assessment strategy to data from a pretest study (2012-2013) to assess the feasibility of the novel assessment strategy. SUBJECTS/METHODS: First, the consumption probability for each individual was modeled using three 24 h food lists (24h-FLs) and frequencies from one food frequency questionnaire (FFQ). Second, daily consumed food amounts were estimated from the representative German National Nutrition Survey II (NVS II) taking the characteristics of the participants into account. Usual food intake was estimated using the product of consumption probability and amounts. RESULTS: We estimated usual intake of 41 food groups in 318 men and 377 women. The participation proportion was 100, 84.4, and 68.5% for the first, second, and third 24h-FL, respectively. We observed no associations between the probability of participating and lifestyle factors. The estimated distributions of usual food intakes were plausible and total energy was estimated to be 2707 kcal/day for men and 2103 kcal/day for women. The estimated consumption frequencies did not differ substantially between men and women with only few exceptions. The differences in energy intake between men and women were mostly due to differences in estimated daily amounts. CONCLUSIONS: The combination of repeated 24h-FLs, a FFQ, and consumption-day amounts from a reference population represents a user-friendly dietary assessment approach having generated plausible, but not yet validated, food intake values in the pretest study
    • Herpes zoster incidence in Germany - an indirect validation study for self-reported disease data from pretest studies of the population-based German National Cohort.

      Caputo, Mahrrouz; Horn, Johannes; Karch, André; Akmatov, Manas K; Becher, Heiko; Braun, Bettina; Brenner, Hermann; Castell, Stefanie; Fischer, Beate; Giani, Guido; et al. (2019-01-30)
      Until now, herpes zoster (HZ)-related disease burden in Germany has been estimated based on health insurance data and clinical findings. However, the validity of self-reported HZ is unclear. This study investigated the validity of self-reported herpes zoster (HZ) and its complication postherpetic neuralgia (PHN) using data from the pretest studies of the German National Cohort (GNC) in comparison with estimates based on health insurance data. Data of 4751 participants aged between 20 and 69 years from two pretest studies of the GNC carried out in 2011 and 2012 were used. Based on self-reports of physician-diagnosed HZ and PHN, age- and sex-specific HZ incidence rates and PHN proportions were estimated. For comparison, estimates based on statutory health insurance data from the German population were considered. Eleven percent (95%-CI, 10.4 to 12.3, n = 539) of the participants reported at least one HZ episode in their lifetime. Our estimated age-specific HZ incidence rates were lower than previous estimates based on statutory health insurance data. The PHN proportion in participants older than 50 years was 5.9% (1.9 to 13.9%), which was in line with estimates based on health insurance data. As age- and sex-specific patterns were comparable with that in health insurance data, self-reported diagnosis of HZ seems to be a valid instrument for overall disease trends. Possible reasons for observed differences in incidence rates are recall bias in self-reported data or overestimation in health insurance data.
    • Thermoplasmatales and sulfur-oxidizing bacteria dominate the microbial community at the surface water of a CO-rich hydrothermal spring located in Tenorio Volcano National Park, Costa Rica.

      Arce-Rodríguez, Alejandro; Puente-Sánchez, Fernando; Avendaño, Roberto; Martínez-Cruz, María; de Moor, J Maarten; Pieper, Dietmar H; Chavarría, Max; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2019-01-01)
      Here we report the chemical and microbial characterization of the surface water of a CO2-rich hydrothermal vent known in Costa Rica as Borbollones, located at Tenorio Volcano National Park. The Borbollones showed a temperature surrounding 60 °C, a pH of 2.4 and the gas released has a composition of ~ 97% CO2, ~ 0.07% H2S, ~ 2.3% N2 and ~ 0.12% CH4. Other chemical species such as sulfate and iron were found at high levels with respect to typical fresh water bodies. Analysis by 16S rRNA gene metabarcoding revealed that in Borbollones predominates an archaeon from the order Thermoplasmatales and one bacterium from the genus Sulfurimonas. Other sulfur- (genera Thiomonas, Acidithiobacillus, Sulfuriferula, and Sulfuricurvum) and iron-oxidizing bacteria (genera Sideroxydans, Gallionella, and Ferrovum) were identified. Our results show that CO2-influenced surface water of Borbollones contains microorganisms that are usually found in acid rock drainage environments or sulfur-rich hydrothermal vents. To our knowledge, this is the first microbiological characterization of a CO2-dominated hydrothermal spring from Central America and expands our understanding of those extreme ecosystems.
    • Bacterial community structure and effects of picornavirus infection on the anterior nares microbiome in early childhood.

      Caputo, Mahrrouz; Zoch-Lesniak, Beate; Karch, André; Vital, Marius; Meyer, Frederic; Klawonn, Frank; Baillot, Armin; Pieper, Dietmar H; Mikolajczyk, Rafael T; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (BMC, 2019-01-07)
      Little is known regarding the nasal microbiome in early childhood and the impact of respiratory infection on the infants' nasal microbial composition. Here we investigated the temporal dynamics and diversity of the bacterial composition in the anterior nares in children attending daycare centers. For our investigation, we considered 76 parental-taken nasal swabs of 26 children (aged 13 to 36 months) collected over a study period of 3 months. Overall, there was no significant age-specific effect or seasonal shift in the nasal bacterial community structure. In a sub-sample of 14 healthy children the relative abundance of individual taxa as well as the overall diversity did not reveal relevant changes, indicating a stable community structure over the entire study period. Moreover, the nasal bacterial profiles clustered subject-specific with Bray-Curtis similarities being elevated in intra-subject calculations compared to between-subject calculations. The remaining subset of 12 children provided samples taken during picornavirus infection (PVI) and either before or after a PVI. We detected an association between the relative abundance of members of the genus Streptococcus and PV when comparing both (i) samples taken during PVI with samples out of 14 healthy children and (ii) samples taken during PVI with samples taken after PVI within the same individual. In addition, the diversity was higher during PVI than after infection. Our findings suggest that a personalized structure of the nasal bacterial community is established already in early childhood and could be detected over a timeframe of 3 months. Studies following infants over a longer time with frequent swab sampling would allow investigating whether certain parameter of the bacterial community, such as the temporal variability, could be related to viral infection.
    • Microbial community changes induced by uranyl nitrate in bentonite clay microcosms

      Lopez-Fernandez, Margarita; Vilchez-Vargas, Ramiro; Jroundi, Fadwa; Boon, Nico; Pieper, Dietmar; Merroun, Mohamed L.; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (Elsevier, 2017-12-23)
      Deep geological repository (DGR) is one of the internationally accepted options to dispose radioactive wastes. Bentonite formations from Almeria, Spain, were selected as reference material for arti fi cial barriers for the future Spanish repository. However, the safety of this long-term disposal could be compromised not only by physi- cochemical factors but also by microbial processes. The highly radioactive waste must be safely stored at least for 100,000 years for the radioactivity to decrease to similar levels to those of natural uranium. To simulate a scenario where the mobilization of radionuclides from the repository to the host formations may occur, long- term microcosms were studied. After being exposed to uranyl nitrate for 5 months, the response of the bentonite microbial community to the addition of this radionuclide was evaluated. High throughput 16S rRNA gene se- quencing revealed that the structure of the microbial community after the uranyl nitrate treatment di ff ers to that of the control microcosms. The microbial diversity was dominated by Firmicutes and Proteobacteria. Moreover, after the uranyl nitrate treatment OTUs annotated as Paracoccus and Bacillus were highly enriched. The mi- neralogy of bentonites was not a ff ected by the uranyl nitrate treatment as was demonstrated by X-ray di ff raction analysis. In addition, the study of uranium-bacteria interaction revealed the ability of isolates to biomineralize uranium as uranium phosphate mineral phases. Thus, the changes induced by the release of uranium in the microbial population may also affect the mobility of this radionuclide, making it less mobile and therefore less harmful for this environment.