• Our new home

    since summer 2021.

  • Our aim is to advance our understanding of biological systems,

    ranging from single species to multi-species systems and ecosystems,

    based on data from large-scale bioanalytical methods.

  • We develop, improve and apply

    computational methods

    for the interpretation of molecular information in biology.

  • We establish and analyse

    quantitative mathematical models.

CUBE News

Latest publications

Genome-Wide Mutation Scoring for Machine-Learning-Based Antimicrobial Resistance Prediction.

The prediction of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) based on genomic information can improve patient outcomes. Genetic mechanisms have been shown to explain AMR with accuracies in line with standard microbiology laboratory testing. To translate genetic mechanisms into phenotypic AMR, machine learning has been successfully applied. AMR machine learning models typically use nucleotide k-mer counts to represent genomic sequences. While k-mer representation efficiently captures sequence variation, it also results in high-dimensional and sparse data. With limited training data available, achieving acceptable model performance or model interpretability is challenging. In this study, we explore the utility of feature engineering with several biologically relevant signals. We propose to predict the functional impact of observed mutations with PROVEAN to use the predicted impact as a new feature for each protein in an organism's proteome. The addition of the new features was tested on a total of 19,521 isolates across nine clinically relevant pathogens and 30 different antibiotics. The new features significantly improved the predictive performance of trained AMR models for , , and . The balanced accuracy of the respective models of those three pathogens improved by 6.0% on average.

Májek P, Lüftinger L, Beisken S, Rattei T, Materna A
2021 - Int J Mol Sci, 23: in press

Hallstatt miners consumed blue cheese and beer during the Iron Age and retained a non-Westernized gut microbiome until the Baroque period.

We subjected human paleofeces dating from the Bronze Age to the Baroque period (18 century AD) to in-depth microscopic, metagenomic, and proteomic analyses. The paleofeces were preserved in the underground salt mines of the UNESCO World Heritage site of Hallstatt in Austria. This allowed us to reconstruct the diet of the former population and gain insights into their ancient gut microbiome composition. Our dietary survey identified bran and glumes of different cereals as some of the most prevalent plant fragments. This highly fibrous, carbohydrate-rich diet was supplemented with proteins from broad beans and occasionally with fruits, nuts, or animal food products. Due to these traditional dietary habits, all ancient miners up to the Baroque period have gut microbiome structures akin to modern non-Westernized individuals whose diets are also mainly composed of unprocessed foods and fresh fruits and vegetables. This may indicate a shift in the gut community composition of modern Westernized populations due to quite recent dietary and lifestyle changes. When we extended our microbial survey to fungi present in the paleofeces, in one of the Iron Age samples, we observed a high abundance of Penicillium roqueforti and Saccharomyces cerevisiae DNA. Genome-wide analysis indicates that both fungi were involved in food fermentation and provides the first molecular evidence for blue cheese and beer consumption in Iron Age Europe.

Maixner F, Sarhan MS, Huang KD, Tett A, Schoenafinger A, Zingale S, Blanco-Míguez A, Manghi P, Cemper-Kiesslich J, Rosendahl W, Kusebauch U, Morrone SR, Hoopmann MR, Rota-Stabelli O, Rattei T, Moritz RL, Oeggl K, Segata N, Zink A, Reschreiter H, Kowarik K
2021 - Curr Biol, 23: 5149-5162.e6

Predictive Antibiotic Susceptibility Testing by Next-Generation Sequencing for Periprosthetic Joint Infections: Potential and Limitations.

Joint replacement surgeries are one of the most frequent medical interventions globally. Infections of prosthetic joints are a major health challenge and typically require prolonged or even indefinite antibiotic treatment. As multidrug-resistant pathogens continue to rise globally, novel diagnostics are critical to ensure appropriate treatment and help with prosthetic joint infections (PJI) management. To this end, recent studies have shown the potential of molecular methods such as next-generation sequencing to complement established phenotypic, culture-based methods. Together with advanced bioinformatics approaches, next-generation sequencing can provide comprehensive information on pathogen identity as well as antimicrobial susceptibility, potentially enabling rapid diagnosis and targeted therapy of PJIs. In this review, we summarize current developments in next generation sequencing based predictive antibiotic susceptibility testing and discuss potential and limitations for common PJI pathogens.

Lüftinger L, Ferreira I, Frank BJH, Beisken S, Weinberger J, von Haeseler A, Rattei T, Hofstaetter JG, Posch AE, Materna A
2021 - Biomedicines, 8: in press