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Publications in peer reviewed journals

2 Publications found
  • Long-Term Transcriptional Activity at Zero Growth of a Cosmopolitan Rare Biosphere Member.

    Hausmann B, Pelikan C, Rattei T, Loy A, Pester M
    2019 - mBio, 1: in press


    Microbial diversity in the environment is mainly concealed within the rare biosphere (all species with <0.1% relative abundance). While dormancy explains a low-abundance state very well, the mechanisms leading to rare but active microorganisms remain elusive. We used environmental systems biology to genomically and transcriptionally characterize " Desulfosporosinus infrequens," a low-abundance sulfate-reducing microorganism cosmopolitan to freshwater wetlands, where it contributes to cryptic sulfur cycling. We obtained its near-complete genome by metagenomics of acidic peat soil. In addition, we analyzed anoxic peat soil incubated under -like conditions for 50 days by -targeted qPCR and metatranscriptomics. The population stayed at a constant low abundance under all incubation conditions, averaging 1.2 × 10 16S rRNA gene copies per cm³ soil. In contrast, transcriptional activity of " Desulfosporosinus infrequens" increased at day 36 by 56- to 188-fold when minor amendments of acetate, propionate, lactate, or butyrate were provided with sulfate, compared to the no-substrate-control. Overall transcriptional activity was driven by expression of genes encoding ribosomal proteins, energy metabolism, and stress response but not by expression of genes encoding cell growth-associated processes. Since our results did not support growth of these highly active microorganisms in terms of biomass increase or cell division, they had to invest their sole energy for maintenance, most likely counterbalancing acidic pH conditions. This finding explains how a rare biosphere member can contribute to a biogeochemically relevant process while remaining in a zero-growth state over a period of 50 days. The microbial rare biosphere represents the largest pool of biodiversity on Earth and constitutes, in sum of all its members, a considerable part of a habitat's biomass. Dormancy or starvation is typically used to explain the persistence of low-abundance microorganisms in the environment. We show that a low-abundance microorganism can be highly transcriptionally active while remaining in a zero-growth state for at least 7 weeks. Our results provide evidence that this zero growth at a high cellular activity state is driven by maintenance requirements. We show that this is true for a microbial keystone species, in particular a cosmopolitan but permanently low-abundance sulfate-reducing microorganism in wetlands that is involved in counterbalancing greenhouse gas emissions. In summary, our results provide an important step forward in understanding time-resolved activities of rare biosphere members relevant for ecosystem functions.

  • Plasmid DNA contaminant in molecular reagents.

    Wally N, Schneider M, Thannesberger J, Kastner MT, Bakonyi T, Indik S, Rattei T, Bedarf J, Hildebrand F, Law J, Jovel J, Steininger C
    2019 - Sci Rep, 1: 1652


    Background noise in metagenomic studies is often of high importance and its removal requires extensive post-analytic, bioinformatics filtering. This is relevant as significant signals may be lost due to a low signal-to-noise ratio. The presence of plasmid residues, that are frequently present in reagents as contaminants, has not been investigated so far, but may pose a substantial bias. Here we show that plasmid sequences from different sources are omnipresent in molecular biology reagents. Using a metagenomic approach, we identified the presence of the (pol) of equine infectious anemia virus in human samples and traced it back to the expression plasmid used for generation of a commercial reverse transcriptase. We found fragments of multiple other expression plasmids in human samples as well as commercial polymerase preparations. Plasmid contamination sources included production chain of molecular biology reagents as well as contamination of reagents from environment or human handling of samples and reagents. Retrospective analyses of published metagenomic studies revealed an inaccurate signal-to-noise differentiation. Hence, the plasmid sequences that seem to be omnipresent in molecular biology reagents may misguide conclusions derived from genomic/metagenomics datasets and thus also clinical interpretations. Critical appraisal of metagenomic data sets for the possibility of plasmid background noise is required to identify reliable and significant signals.

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