• Composition and dynamics of bacterial communities of a drinking water supply system as assessed by RNA- and DNA-based 16S rRNA gene fingerprinting.

      Eichler, Stefan; Christen, Richard; Höltje, Claudia; Westphal, Petra; Bötel, Julia; Brettar, Ingrid; Mehling, Arndt; Höfle, Manfred G; Department of Environmental Microbiology, GBF-German Research Center for Biotechnology, Mascheroder Weg 1, D-38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2006-03)
      Bacterial community dynamics of a whole drinking water supply system (DWSS) were studied from source to tap. Raw water for this DWSS is provided by two reservoirs with different water characteristics in the Harz mountains of Northern Germany. Samples were taken after different steps of treatment of raw water (i.e., flocculation, sand filtration, and chlorination) and at different points along the supply system to the tap. RNA and DNA were extracted from the sampled water. The 16S rRNA or its genes were partially amplified by reverse transcription-PCR or PCR and analyzed by single-strand conformation polymorphism community fingerprints. The bacterial community structures of the raw water samples from the two reservoirs were very different, but no major changes of these structures occurred after flocculation and sand filtration. Chlorination of the processed raw water strongly affected bacterial community structure, as reflected by the RNA-based fingerprints. This effect was less pronounced for the DNA-based fingerprints. After chlorination, the bacterial community remained rather constant from the storage containers to the tap. Furthermore, the community structure of the tap water did not change substantially for several months. Community composition was assessed by sequencing of abundant bands and phylogenetic analysis of the sequences obtained. The taxonomic compositions of the bacterial communities from both reservoirs were very different at the species level due to their different limnologies. On the other hand, major taxonomic groups, well known to occur in freshwater, such as Alphaproteobacteria, Betaproteobacteria, and Bacteroidetes, were found in both reservoirs. Significant differences in the detection of the major groups were observed between DNA-based and RNA-based fingerprints irrespective of the reservoir. Chlorination of the drinking water seemed to promote growth of nitrifying bacteria. Detailed analysis of the community dynamics of the whole DWSS revealed a significant influence of both source waters on the overall composition of the drinking water microflora and demonstrated the relevance of the raw water microflora for the drinking water microflora provided to the end user.
    • Development and application of a real-time PCR approach for quantification of uncultured bacteria in the central Baltic Sea.

      Labrenz, Matthias; Brettar, Ingrid; Christen, Richard; Flavier, Sebastien; Bötel, Julia; Höfle, Manfred G; Department of Environmental Microbiology, GBF-German Research Centre for Biotechnology, Mascheroder Weg 1, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2004-08)
      We have developed a highly sensitive approach to assess the abundance of uncultured bacteria in water samples from the central Baltic Sea by using a noncultured member of the "Epsilonproteobacteria" related to Thiomicrospira denitrificans as an example. Environmental seawater samples and samples enriched for the target taxon provided a unique opportunity to test the approach over a broad range of abundances. The approach is based on a combination of taxon- and domain-specific real-time PCR measurements determining the relative T. denitrificans-like 16S rRNA gene and 16S rRNA abundances, as well as the determination of total cell counts and environmental RNA content. It allowed quantification of T. denitrificans-like 16S rRNA molecules or 16S rRNA genes as well as calculation of the number of ribosomes per T. denitrificans-like cell. Every real-time measurement and its specific primer system were calibrated using environmental nucleic acids obtained from the original habitat for external standardization. These standards, as well as the respective samples to be measured, were prepared from the same DNA or RNA extract. Enrichment samples could be analyzed directly, whereas environmental templates had to be preamplified with general bacterial primers before quantification. Preamplification increased the sensitivity of the assay by more than 4 orders of magnitude. Quantification of enrichments with or without a preamplification step yielded comparable results. T. denitrificans-like 16S rRNA molecules ranged from 7.1 x 10(3) to 4.4 x 10(9) copies ml(-1) or 0.002 to 49.7% relative abundance. T. denitrificans-like 16S rRNA genes ranged from 9.0 x 10(1) to 2.2 x10(6) copies ml(-1) or 0.01 to 49.7% relative abundance. Detection limits of this real-time-PCR approach were 20 16S rRNA molecules or 0.2 16S rRNA gene ml(-1). The number of ribosomes per T. denitrificans-like cell was estimated to range from 20 to 200 in seawater and reached up to 2,000 in the enrichments. The results indicate that our real-time PCR approach can be used to determine cellular and relative abundances of uncultured marine bacterial taxa and to provide information about their levels of activity in their natural environment.
    • Isolation of alkali-tolerant benzene-degrading bacteria from a contaminated aquifer.

      Fahy, A; Ball, A S; Lethbridge, G; Timmis, K N; McGenity, T J; Department of Biological Sciences, University of Essex, Wivenhoe Park, Colchester, UK. afahy@essex.ac.uk (2008-07)
      AIMS: To isolate benzene-degrading strains from neutral and alkaline groundwaters contaminated by benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, xylenes (BTEX) from the SIReN aquifer, UK, and to test their effective pH range and ability to degrade TEX. METHODS AND RESULTS: The 14 isolates studied had an optimum pH for growth of 8, and could degrade benzene to below detection level (1 microg l(-1)). Five Rhodococcus erythropolis strains were able to metabolize benzene up to pH 9, two distinct R. erythropolis strains to pH 10, and one Arthrobacter strain to pH 8.5. These Actinobacteria also degraded benzene at least down to pH 5.5. Six other isolates, a Hydrogenophaga and five Pseudomonas strains, had a narrower pH tolerance for benzene degradation (pH 6 to 8.5), and could metabolize toluene; in addition, the Hydrogenophaga and two Pseudomonas strains utilized o-, m- or p-xylenes. None of these strains degraded ethylbenzene. CONCLUSIONS: Phylogenetically distinct isolates, able to degrade BTX compounds, were obtained, and some degraded benzene at high pH. SIGNIFICANCE AND IMPACT OF THE STUDY: High pH has previously been found to inhibit in situ degradation of benzene, a widespread, carcinogenic groundwater contaminant. These benzene-degrading organisms therefore have potential applications in the remediation or natural attenuation of alkaline waters.
    • The 'LipoYeasts' project: using the oleaginous yeast Yarrowia lipolytica in combination with specific bacterial genes for the bioconversion of lipids, fats and oils into high-value products.

      Sabirova, Julia S; Haddouche, R; Van Bogaert, I N; Mulaa, F; Verstraete, W; Timmis, K N; Schmidt-Dannert, C; Nicaud, J M; Soetaert, W; Gesellschaft für biotechnologische Forschung (GBF), Mascheroder Weg 1, D-38124 Braunschweig, >Germany. (2011-01)
      The oleochemical industry is currently still dominated by conventional chemistry, with biotechnology only starting to play a more prominent role, primarily with respect to the biosurfactants or lipases, e.g. as detergents, or for biofuel production. A major bottleneck for all further biotechnological applications is the problem of the initial mobilization of cheap and vastly available lipid and oil substrates, which are then to be transformed into high-value biotechnological, nutritional or pharmacological products. Under the EU-sponsored LipoYeasts project we are developing the oleaginous yeast Yarrowia lipolytica into a versatile and high-throughput microbial factory that, by use of specific enzymatic pathways from hydrocarbonoclastic bacteria, efficiently mobilizes lipids by directing its versatile lipid metabolism towards the production of industrially valuable lipid-derived compounds like wax esters (WE), isoprenoid-derived compounds (carotenoids, polyenic carotenoid ester), polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs) and free hydroxylated fatty acids (HFAs). Different lipid stocks (petroleum, alkane, vegetable oil, fatty acid) and combinations thereof are being assessed as substrates in combination with different mutant and recombinant strains of Y. lipolytica, in order to modulate the composition and yields of the produced added-value products.
    • Obligate oil-degrading marine bacteria.

      Yakimov, Michail M; Timmis, Kenneth N; Golyshin, Peter N; Istituto per l'Ambiente Marino Costiero, CNR, Messina 98122, Italy. (2007-06)
      Over the past few years, a new and ecophysiologically unusual group of marine hydrocarbon-degrading bacteria - the obligate hydrocarbonoclastic bacteria (OHCB) - has been recognized and shown to play a significant role in the biological removal of petroleum hydrocarbons from polluted marine waters. The introduction of oil or oil constituents into seawater leads to successive blooms of a relatively limited number of indigenous marine bacterial genera--Alcanivorax, Marinobacter, Thallassolituus, Cycloclasticus, Oleispira and a few others (the OHCB)--which are present at low or undetectable levels before the polluting event. The types of OHCB that bloom depend on the latitude/temperature, salinity, redox and other prevailing physical-chemical factors. These blooms result in the rapid degradation of many oil constituents, a process that can be accelerated further by supplementation with limiting nutrients. Genome sequencing and functional genomic analysis of Alcanivorax borkumensis, the paradigm of OHCB, has provided significant insights into the genomic basis of the efficiency and versatility of its hydrocarbon utilization, the metabolic routes underlying its special hydrocarbon diet, and its ecological success. These and other studies have revealed the potential of OHCB for multiple biotechnological applications that include not only oil pollution mitigation, but also biopolymer production and biocatalysis.
    • [Reaction of microorganisms to the digestive fluid of the earthworms]

      Khomiakov, N V; Kharin, S A; Nechitaĭlo, T Iu; Golyshin, P N; Kurakov, A V; Byzov, B A; Zviagintsev, D G; Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research (formerly GBF) (2008-03-05)
      The reaction of soil bacteria and fungi to the digestive fluid of the earthworm Aporrectodea caliginosa was studied. The fluid was obtained by centrifugation of the native enzymes of the digestive tract. The inhibition of growth of certain bacteria, spores, and fungal hyphae under the effect of extracts from the anterior and middle sections of the digestive tract of A. caliginosa was discovered for the first time. In bacteria, microcolony formation was inhibited as early as 20-30 s after the application of the gut extracts, which may indicate the nonenzymatic nature of the effect. The digestive fluid exhibited the same microbicidal activity whether the earthworms were feeding on soil or sterile sand. This indicates that the microbicidal agents are formed within the earthworm's body, rather than by soil microorganisms. The effect of the digestive fluid from the anterior and middle divisions is selective in relation to different microorganisms. Of 42 strains of soil bacteria, seven were susceptible to the microbicidal action of the fluid (Alcaligenes.faecalis 345-1, Microbacterium sp. 423-1, Arthrobacter sp. 430-1, Bacillus megaterium 401-1, B. megaterium 413-1, Kluyvera ascorbata 301-1, Pseudomonas reactans 387-2). The remaining bacteria did not die in the digestive fluid. Of 13 micromycetes, the digestive fluid inhibited spore germination in Aspergillus terreus and Paecilomyces lilacinus and the growth of hyphae in Trichoderma harzianum and Penicillium decumbens. The digestive fluid stimulated spore germination in Alternaria alternata and the growth of hyphae in Penicillium chrysogenum. The reaction of the remaining micromycetes was neutral. The gut fluid from the posterior division of the abdominal tract did not possess microbicidal activity. No relation was found between the reaction of microorganisms to the effects of the digestive fluid and the taxonomic position of the microorganisms. The effects revealed are similar to those shown earlier for millipedes and wood lice in the following parameters: quick action of the digestive fluid on microorganisms, and the selectivity of the action on microorganisms revealed at the strain level. The selective effect of the digestive gut fluid of the earthworms on soil microorganisms is important for animal feeding, maintaining the homeostasis of the gut microbial community, and the formation of microbial communities in soils.