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Publications in peer reviewed journals

3 Publications found
  • Biogeographic variation in the microbiome of the ecologically important sponge, Carteriospongia foliascens.

    Luter HM, Widder S, Botté ES, Abdul Wahab M, Whalan S, Moitinho-Silva L, Thomas T, Webster NS
    2015 - PeerJ, e1435


    Sponges are well known for hosting dense and diverse microbial communities, but how these associations vary with biogeography and environment is less clear. Here we compared the microbiome of an ecologically important sponge species, Carteriospongia foliascens, over a large geographic area and identified environmental factors likely responsible for driving microbial community differences between inshore and offshore locations using co-occurrence networks (NWs). The microbiome of C. foliascens exhibited exceptionally high microbial richness, with more than 9,000 OTUs identified at 97% sequence similarity. A large biogeographic signal was evident at the OTU level despite similar phyla level diversity being observed across all geographic locations. The C. foliascens bacterial community was primarily comprised of Gammaproteobacteria (34.2% ± 3.4%) and Cyanobacteria (32.2% ± 3.5%), with lower abundances of Alphaproteobacteria, Bacteroidetes, unidentified Proteobacteria, Actinobacteria, Acidobacteria and Deltaproteobacteria. Co-occurrence NWs revealed a consistent increase in the proportion of Cyanobacteria over Bacteroidetes between turbid inshore and oligotrophic offshore locations, suggesting that the specialist microbiome of C. foliascens is driven by environmental factors.

  • Transcriptome Profiling of the Endophyte Burkholderia phytofirmans PsJN Indicates Sensing of the Plant Environment and Drought Stress.

    Sheibani-Tezerji R, Rattei T, Sessitsch A, Trognitz F, Mitter B
    2015 - mBio, 5: e00621-15


    It is widely accepted that bacterial endophytes actively colonize plants, interact with their host, and frequently show beneficial effects on plant growth and health. However, the mechanisms of plant-endophyte communication and bacterial adaption to the plant environment are still poorly understood. Here, whole-transcriptome sequencing of B. phytofirmans PsJN colonizing potato (Solanum tuberosum L.) plants was used to analyze in planta gene activity and the response of strain PsJN to plant stress. The transcriptome of PsJN colonizing in vitro potato plants showed a broad array of functionalities encoded in the genome of strain PsJN. Transcripts upregulated in response to plant drought stress were mainly involved in transcriptional regulation, cellular homeostasis, and the detoxification of reactive oxygen species, indicating an oxidative stress response in PsJN. Genes with modulated expression included genes for extracytoplasmatic function (ECF) group IV sigma factors. These cell surface signaling elements allow bacteria to sense changing environmental conditions and to adjust their metabolism accordingly. TaqMan quantitative PCR (TaqMan-qPCR) was performed to identify ECF sigma factors in PsJN that were activated in response to plant stress. Six ECF sigma factor genes were expressed in PsJN colonizing potato plants. The expression of one ECF sigma factor was upregulated whereas that of another one was downregulated in a plant genotype-specific manner when the plants were stressed. Collectively, our study results indicate that endophytic B. phytofirmans PsJN cells are active inside plants. Moreover, the activity of strain PsJN is affected by plant drought stress; it senses plant stress signals and adjusts its gene expression accordingly.
    In recent years, plant growth-promoting endophytes have received steadily growing interest as an inexpensive alternative to resource-consuming agrochemicals in sustainable agriculture. Even though promising effects are recurrently observed under controlled conditions, these are rarely reproducible in the field or show undesirably strong variations. Obviously, a better understanding of endophyte activities in plants and the influence of plant physiology on these activities is needed to develop more-successful application strategies. So far, research has focused mainly on analyzing the plant response to bacterial inoculants. This prompted us to study the gene expression of the endophyte Burkholderia phytofirmans PsJN in potato plants. We found that endophytic PsJN cells express a wide array of genes and pathways, pointing to high metabolic activity inside plants. Moreover, the strain senses changes in the plant physiology due to plant stress and adjusts its gene expression pattern to cope with and adapt to the altered conditions.

  • Internalization of Pseudomonas aeruginosa Strain PAO1 into Epithelial Cells Is Promoted by Interaction of a T6SS Effector with the Microtubule Network.

    Sana TG, Baumann C, Merdes A, Soscia C, Rattei T, Hachani A, Jones C, Bennett KL, Filloux A, Superti-Furga G, Voulhoux R, Bleves S
    2015 - mBio, 3: e00712


    Invasion of nonphagocytic cells through rearrangement of the actin cytoskeleton is a common immune evasion mechanism used by most intracellular bacteria. However, some pathogens modulate host microtubules as well by a still poorly understood mechanism. In this study, we aim at deciphering the mechanisms by which the opportunistic bacterial pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa invades nonphagocytic cells, although it is considered mainly an extracellular bacterium. Using confocal microscopy and immunofluorescence, we show that the evolved VgrG2b effector of P. aeruginosa strain PAO1 is delivered into epithelial cells by a type VI secretion system, called H2-T6SS, involving the VgrG2a component. An in vivo interactome of VgrG2b in host cells allows the identification of microtubule components, including the γ-tubulin ring complex (γTuRC), a multiprotein complex catalyzing microtubule nucleation, as the major host target of VgrG2b. This interaction promotes a microtubule-dependent internalization of the bacterium since colchicine and nocodazole, two microtubule-destabilizing drugs, prevent VgrG2b-mediated P. aeruginosa entry even if the invasion still requires actin. We further validate our findings by demonstrating that the type VI injection step can be bypassed by ectopic production of VgrG2b inside target cells prior to infection. Moreover, such uncoupling between VgrG2b injection and bacterial internalization also reveals that they constitute two independent steps. With VgrG2b, we provide the first example of a bacterial protein interacting with the γTuRC. Our study offers key insight into the mechanism of self-promoting invasion of P. aeruginosa into human cells via a directed and specific effector-host protein interaction.
    Innate immunity and specifically professional phagocytic cells are key determinants in the ability of the host to control P. aeruginosa infection. However, among various virulence strategies, including attack, this opportunistic bacterial pathogen is able to avoid host clearance by triggering its own internalization in nonphagocytic cells. We previously showed that a protein secretion/injection machinery, called the H2 type VI secretion system (H2-T6SS), promotes P. aeruginosa uptake by epithelial cells. Here we investigate which H2-T6SS effector enables P. aeruginosa to enter nonphagocytic cells. We show that VgrG2b is delivered by the H2-T6SS machinery into epithelial cells, where it interacts with microtubules and, more particularly, with the γ-tubulin ring complex (γTuRC) known as the microtubule-nucleating center. This interaction precedes a microtubule- and actin-dependent internalization of P. aeruginosa. We thus discovered an unprecedented target for a bacterial virulence factor since VgrG2b constitutes, to our knowledge, the first example of a bacterial protein interacting with the γTuRC.

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