Abstract: During the past decades, tremendous advances have been made in the possibilities to study the diversity of microbial communities in the environment. The development of methods to study these communities on the basis of 16S rRNA gene sequences analysis was a first step into the molecular analysis of environmental communities and the study of biodiversity in natural habitats. A new dimension in this field was reached with the introduction of functional genes of ecological importance and the establishment of genetic tools to study the diversity of functional microbial groups and their responses to environmental factors. Functional gene approaches are excellent tools to study the diversity of a particular function and to demonstrate changes in the composition of prokaryote communities contributing to this function. The phylogeny of many functional genes largely correlates with that of the 16S rRNA gene, and microbial species may be identified on the basis of functional gene sequences. Functional genes are perfectly suited to link culture-based microbiological work with environmental molecular genetic studies. In this review, the development of functional gene studies in environmental microbiology is highlighted with examples of genes relevant for important ecophysiological functions. Examples are presented for bacterial photosynthesis and two types of anoxygenic phototrophic bacteria, with genes of the Fenna-Matthews-Olson-protein (fmoA) as target for the green sulfur bacteria and of two reaction center proteins (pufLM) for the phototrophic purple bacteria, with genes of adenosine-5′phosphosulfate (APS) reductase (aprA), sulfate thioesterase (soxB) and dissimilatory sulfite reductase (dsrAB) for sulfur oxidizing and sulfate reducing bacteria, with genes of ammonia monooxygenase (amoA) for nitrifying/ammonia-oxidizing bacteria, with genes of particulate nitrate reductase and nitrite reductases (narH/G, nirS, nirK) for denitrifying bacteria and with genes of methane monooxygenase (pmoA) for methane oxidizing bacteria.
Abstract: The Bacterial Ghost (BG) platform technology evolved from a microbiological expression system incorporating the ϕX174 lysis gene E. E-lysis generates empty but structurally intact cell envelopes (BGs) from Gram-negative bacteria which have been suggested as candidate vaccines, immunotherapeutic agents or drug delivery vehicles. E-lysis is a highly dynamic and complex biological process that puts exceptional demands towards process understanding and control. The development of a both economic and robust fed-batch production process for BGs required a toolset capable of dealing with rapidly changing concentrations of viable biomass during the E-lysis phase. This challenge was addressed using a transfer function combining dielectric spectroscopy and soft-sensor based biomass estimation for monitoring the rapid decline of viable biomass during the E-lysis phase. The transfer function was implemented to a feed-controller, which followed the permittivity signal closely and was capable of maintaining a constant specific substrate uptake rate during lysis phase. With the described toolset, we were able to increase the yield of BG production processes by a factor of 8–10 when compared to currently used batch procedures reaching lysis efficiencies >98%. This provides elevated potentials for commercial application of the Bacterial Ghost platform technology.
Abstract: The composition, structure and function of granules formed during process recovery with calcium oxide in a laboratory-scale fermenter fed with sewage sludge and rapeseed oil were studied. In the course of over-acidification and successful process recovery, only minor changes were observed in the bacterial community of the digestate, while granules appeared during recovery. Fluorescence microscopic analysis of the granules showed a close spatial relationship between calcium and oil and/or long chain fatty acids. This finding further substantiated the hypothesis that calcium precipitated with carbon of organic origin and reduced the negative effects of overloading with oil. Furthermore, the enrichment of phosphate minerals in the granules was shown, and molecular biological analyses detected polyphosphate-accumulating organisms as well as methanogenic archaea in the core. Organisms related to Methanoculleus receptaculi were detected in the inner zones of a granule, whereas they were present in the digestate only after process recovery. This finding indicated more favorable microhabitats inside the granules that supported process recovery. Thus, the granule formation triggered by calcium oxide addition served as a tool to influence the composition of the microbial community and to stabilize the process after overloading with oil.
Abstract: Extensive resection of small bowel often leads to short bowel syndrome (SBS). SBS patients develop clinical mal-absorption and dehydration relative to the reduction of absorptive area, acceleration of gastrointestinal transit time and modifications of the gastrointestinal intra-luminal environment. As a consequence of severe mal-absorption, patients require parenteral nutrition (PN). In adults, the overall adaptation following intestinal resection includes spontaneous and complex compensatory processes such as hyperphagia, mucosal remodeling of the remaining part of the intestine and major modifications of the microbiota. SBS patients, with colon in continuity, harbor a specific fecal microbiota that we called “lactobiota” because it is enriched in the Lactobacillus/Leuconostoc group and depleted in anaerobic micro-organisms (especially Clostridium and Bacteroides). In some patients, the lactobiota-driven fermentative activities lead to an accumulation of fecal d/l-lactates and an increased risk of d-encephalopathy. Better knowledge of clinical parameters and lactobiota characteristics has made it possible to stratify patients and define group at risk for d-encephalopathy crises.
Abstract: Singapore is an international travel and medical hub and faces a genuine threat for import and dissemination of bacteria with broad-spectrum resistance. In this review, we described the current landscape and management of carbapenem resistance in Gram-negative bacteria (GNB) in Singapore. Notably, the number of carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae has exponentially increased in the past two years. Resistance is largely mediated by a variety of mechanisms. Polymyxin resistance has also emerged. Interestingly, two Escherichia coli isolates with plasmid-mediated mcr-1 genes have been detected. Evidently, surveillance and infection control becomes critical in the local setting where resistance is commonly related to plasmid-mediated mechanisms, such as carbapenemases. Combination antibiotic therapy has been proposed as a last-resort strategy in the treatment of extensively drug-resistant (XDR) GNB infections, and is widely adopted in Singapore. The diversity of carbapenemases encountered, however, presents complexities in both carbapenemase detection and the selection of optimal antibiotic combinations. One unique strategy introduced in Singapore is a prospective in vitro combination testing service, which aids physicians in the selection of individualized combinations. The outcome of this treatment strategy has been promising. Unlike countries with a predominant carbapenemase type, Singapore has to adopt management strategies which accounts for diversity in resistance mechanisms.
Abstract: Bacterial multidrug efflux pumps are antibiotic resistance determinants present in all microorganisms. With few exceptions, they are chromosomally encoded and present a conserved organization both at the genetic and at the protein levels. In addition, most, if not all, strains of a given bacterial species present the same chromosomally-encoded efflux pumps. Altogether this indicates that multidrug efflux pumps are ancient elements encoded in bacterial genomes long before the recent use of antibiotics for human and animal therapy. In this regard, it is worth mentioning that efflux pumps can extrude a wide range of substrates that include, besides antibiotics, heavy metals, organic pollutants, plant-produced compounds, quorum sensing signals or bacterial metabolites, among others. In the current review, we present information on the different functions that multidrug efflux pumps may have for the bacterial behaviour in different habitats as well as on their regulation by specific signals. Since, in addition to their function in non-clinical ecosystems, multidrug efflux pumps contribute to intrinsic, acquired, and phenotypic resistance of bacterial pathogens, the review also presents information on the search for inhibitors of multidrug efflux pumps, which are currently under development, in the aim of increasing the susceptibility of bacterial pathogens to antibiotics.