Welcome Mahbuba, Sebastian and Marcus

The fall is here and with it comes the arrival of three new group members. This fall, we are joined by Mahbuba Lubna, Sebastian Wettersten and Marcus Wenne. All three are master students from the University of Gothenburg and they will work on very different things.

Mahbuba will work together with Emil Burman on genes responsible for invasion in microbial communities (primarily THOR), expanding on Emil’s work and testing new and existing candidate genes in a wider diversity of conditions.

Sebastian will work on improving Metaxa2, making its classifications better and also enabling even better automation of database creation. Hopefully this will increase the pace of the Metaxa2 development, which has been stagnating a bit over the last two years.

Marcus, finally, will work together with Anna Abramova on analysing antibiotic resistance in a huge metagenomic dataset previously generated in the lab.

This means that we are now seven people in the lab (so if it weren’t for the covid-associated work from home recommendations, it would start to get crowded…) We welcome our three new members and look forward to an exciting fall!

June 2020 Pod: Coronavirus galore!

In the third episode of Microbiology Lab Pod, recorded in June, a crew consisting of Johan Bengtsson-Palme, Emil Burman, Haveela Kunche and Anna Abramova goes into depth with what we knew about the novel coronavirus at the time. We also talk about Emil‘s master thesis, potential alternative antibiotic treatment regimes and the lung microbiome in cystic fibrosis.

Unfortunately, the sound quality of this episode is quite bad at times. We have tried to rescue the audio as best as we can, but it is still a bit annoying. We promise to do better next time!

The specific papers discussed in the pod (with approximate timings) are as follows:

  • 18:15 – Lozano, G.L., Bravo, J.I., Garavito Diago, M.F., Park, H.B., Hurley, A., Peterson, S.B., Stabb, E.V., Crawford, J.M., Broderick, N.A., Handelsman, J., 2019. Introducing THOR, a Model Microbiome for Genetic Dissection of Community Behavior. mBio 10. https://doi.org/10.1128/mBio.02846-18
  • 25:15 – Ghazizadeh, Z. et al. 2020 Androgen Regulates SARS-CoV-2 Receptor Levels and Is Associated with Severe COVID-19 Symptoms in Men. bioArxiv, https://doi.org/10.1101/2020.05.12.091082
  • 34:45 – St. John, A.L., Rathore, A.P.S 2020. Early Insights into Immune Responses during COVID-19. The Journal of Immunology 205, 555-564. https://doi.org/10.4049/jimmunol.2000526
  • 49:30 – Worobey, M., Pekar, J., Larsen, B.B., Nelson, M.I., Hill, V., Joy, J.B., Rambaut, A., Suchard, M.A., Wertheim, J.O., Lemey, P., 2020. The emergence of SARS-CoV-2 in Europe and the US. bioRxiv. https://doi.org/10.1101/2020.05.21.109322
  • 52:00 – La Rosa, G., Mancini, P., Bonanno Ferraro, G., Veneri, C., Iaconelli, M., Bonadonna, L., Lucentini, L., Suffredini, E., 2020. SARS-CoV-2 has been circulating in northern Italy since December 2019: evidence from environmental monitoring. medRxiv. https://doi.org/10.1101/2020.06.25.20140061
  • 52:30 – https://lakartidningen.se/aktuellt/nyheter/2020/06/viruset-kan-ha-funnits-i-dalarna-redan-i-december/
  • 53:15 – Deslandes, A., Berti, V., Tandjaoui-Lambotte, Y., Alloui, C., Carbonnelle, E., Zahar, J.R., Brichler, S., Cohen, Y., 2020. SARS-CoV-2 was already spreading in France in late December 2019. International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents 55, 106006. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijantimicag.2020.106006
  • 54:45 – Li, X., Giorgi, E.E., Marichannegowda, M.H., Foley, B., Xiao, C., Kong, X.-P., Chen, Y., Gnanakaran, S., Korber, B., Gao, F., 2020. Emergence of SARS-CoV-2 through recombination and strong purifying selection. Science Advances eabb9153. https://doi.org/10.1126/sciadv.abb9153
  • 56:00 – Lehmann, D., Halbwax, M.L., Makaga, L., Whytock, R., Ndindiwe Malata, L., Bombenda Mouele, W., Momboua, B.R., Koumba Pambo, A.F., White, L.J.T., 2020. Pangolins and bats living together in underground burrows in Lopé National Park, Gabon. African Journal of Ecology 58, 540–542. https://doi.org/10.1111/aje.12759
  • 61:15 – Cuthbertson, L., Walker, A.W., Oliver, A.E., Rogers, G.B., Rivett, D.W., Hampton, T.H., Ashare, A., Elborn, J.S., De Soyza, A., Carroll, M.P., Hoffman, L.R., Lanyon, C., Moskowitz, S.M., O’Toole, G.A., Parkhill, J., Planet, P.J., Teneback, C.C., Tunney, M.M., Zuckerman, J.B., Bruce, K.D., van der Gast, C.J., 2020. Lung function and microbiota diversity in cystic fibrosis. Microbiome 8. https://doi.org/10.1186/s40168-020-00810-3
  • 70:15 – Hansen, E., Karslake, J., Woods, R.J., Read, A.F., Wood, K.B., 2020. Antibiotics can be used to contain drug-resistant bacteria by maintaining sufficiently large sensitive populations. PLOS Biology 18, e3000713. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pbio.3000713

The podcast was recorded on June 23, 2020. If you want to reach out to us with comments, suggestions or other feedback, please send an e-mail to podcast at microbiology dot se or contact @bengtssonpalme via Twitter. The music that can be heard on the pod is composed by Johan Bengtsson-Palme and is taken from the album Cafe Phonocratique.

Minor update of Metaxa2

Today, we released a minor update to Metaxa2, bringing it to version 2.2.2. The new version includes some bug fixes related to the Metaxa2 Database Repository, as well as a new “–temp” option allowing the user to specify the location for the temporary files. No other changes have been made in this version.

The update can be found at the Metaxa2 software page.

Metaxa2 update compatible with HMMER 3.3

Exactly two years after we released the Metaxa2 database builder, here’s the first update to the software. Unfortunately, it is just a boring bug fix, but the good part is that brings back compatibility with the new version of HMMER (3.3) released in November 2019 (as noted here). It seems like it is mainly the Database builder which has been impacted with by this incompatibility, but we recommend everyone to update.

We have tried to bug check this version as good as we can to make sure we did not break any features while introducing this new compatibility. We think that this version is bug free, but as we wanted to push this out quickly, please be more observant than usual to odd behaviour, and make sure to report any bugs!

The update can be downloaded here: https://microbiology.se/sw/Metaxa2_2.2.1.tar.gz

Major problem with Metaxa2 and HMMER 3.3

Update: There is now an updated version of Metaxa2 that addresses this problem. Find it here.

We have recently discovered that the new version of HMMER (3.3) released in November 2019 have introduced new restrictions that make it partially incompatible with Metaxa2. The most apparent problem is in the Database Builder software, which will not build profiles properly in most cases. Instead, HMMER will return an error and only some profiles will be created.

We do currently not know if this also affects the functionality of Metaxa2 itself. We are currently investigating this.

For now, the solution to this problem is to use the previous version of HMMER (version 3.2.1) while we investigate further. That version can be downloaded here: http://hmmer.org/download.html

I am sorry about not discovering this earlier, this only came to our attention this week!

Emil Burman defends today

Emil Burman, master student in the lab, defends his master’s thesis today, titled “Biofilms, how cool are they? Effects of temperature and invasion on model microbial communities“. We wish him the best of luck today presenting this excellent work!

More podcasting: The AMR Studio

Not only did we release the most recent episode of the lab’s podcast this weekend. Today, the episode of The AMR Studio where I’m interviewed by Eva Garmendia of the Uppsala Antibiotic Center was put online. We talk mostly about antibiotic resistance in the environment and the role that the EMBARK program can play in mitigating environmental resistance. I think it’s a nice listen (recorded in the beautiful world pre-covid-19). Find it where you find podcasts (e.g. Apple or Spotify).

May 2020 Pod: Discovering novel resistance genes and how bacteria become virulent

In the second episode of Microbiology Lab Pod, a crew consisting of Johan Bengtsson-Palme, Emil Burman, Haveela Kunche and Anna Abramova discusses how to identify novel resistance genes with our special guest Marlies Böhm. We also talk about bacterial virulence: how do bacteria become virulent, how do virulence relate to competition, how do bacteria evade the immune system and can we attenuate virulence using fatty acids?

The specific papers discussed in the pod (with approximate timings) are as follows:

  • 7:15 – Böhm, M.-E., Razavi, M., Flach, C.-F., Larsson, D.G.J., 2020a. A Novel, Integron-Regulated, Class C β-Lactamase. Antibiotics 9, 123. https://doi.org/10.3390/antibiotics9030123
  • 7:15 – Böhm, M.-E., Razavi, M., Marathe, N.P., Flach, C.-F., Larsson, D.G.J., 2020b. Discovery of a novel integron-borne aminoglycoside resistance gene present in clinical pathogens by screening environmental bacterial communities. Microbiome 8. https://doi.org/10.1186/s40168-020-00814-z
  • 9:15 – Makowska, N., et al., 2020. Occurrence of integrons and antibiotic resistance genes in cryoconite and ice of Svalbard, Greenland, and the Caucasus glaciers. Science of The Total Environment 716, 137022. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.137022
  • 20:45 – Marathe, N.P., et al., 2019. Scandinavium goeteborgense gen. nov., sp. nov., a New Member of the Family Enterobacteriaceae Isolated From a Wound Infection, Carries a Novel Quinolone Resistance Gene Variant. Frontiers in Microbiology 10. https://doi.org/10.3389/fmicb.2019.02511
  • 33:45 – Kaito, C., Yoshikai, H., Wakamatsu, A., Miyashita, A., Matsumoto, Y., Fujiyuki, T., Kato, M., Ogura, Y., Hayashi, T., Isogai, T., Sekimizu, K., 2020. Non-pathogenic Escherichia coli acquires virulence by mutating a growth-essential LPS transporter. PLOS Pathogens 16, e1008469. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.ppat.1008469
  • 43:45 – Lories, B., Roberfroid, S., Dieltjens, L., De Coster, D., Foster, K.R., Steenackers, H.P., 2020. Biofilm Bacteria Use Stress Responses to Detect and Respond to Competitors. Current Biology 30, 1231-1244.e4. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2020.01.065
  • 45:45 – Lozano, G.L., Bravo, J.I., Garavito Diago, M.F., Park, H.B., Hurley, A., Peterson, S.B., Stabb, E.V., Crawford, J.M., Broderick, N.A., Handelsman, J., 2019. Introducing THOR, a Model Microbiome for Genetic Dissection of Community Behavior. mBio 10. https://doi.org/10.1128/mBio.02846-18
  • 55:45 – Kumar, P., Lee, J.-H., Beyenal, H., Lee, J., 2020. Fatty Acids as Antibiofilm and Antivirulence Agents. Trends in Microbiology. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tim.2020.03.014
  • 60:15 – Gullberg, E., Cao, S., Berg, O.G., Ilbäck, C., Sandegren, L., Hughes, D., Andersson, D.I., 2011. Selection of resistant bacteria at very low antibiotic concentrations. PLoS Pathogens 7, e1002158. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.ppat.1002158
  • 61:15 – Larsson, D.G.J., 2018. Risks of using the natural defence of commensal bacteria as antibiotics call for research and regulation. International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents 51, 277–278. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijantimicag.2017.12.018
  • 65:15 – Lone, A.G., Bankhead, T., 2020. The Borrelia burgdorferi VlsE Lipoprotein Prevents Antibody Binding to an Arthritis-Related Surface Antigen. Cell Reports 30, 3663-3670.e5. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.celrep.2020.02.081

The podcast was recorded on May 7, 2020. If you want to reach out to us with comments, suggestions or other feedback, please send an e-mail to podcast at microbiology dot se or contact @bengtssonpalme via Twitter. The music that can be heard on the pod is composed by Johan Bengtsson-Palme and is taken from the album Cafe Phonocratique.

The Microbiology Lab Pod

As the regularly returning reader might already have seen, the lab has started podcasting! Two weeks ago, we started recording our journal clubs (on Zoom) along with some other science-related chatter. This is mostly an experiment this far, so we will see where it goes, but it was a fun an interesting experience, and I look forward to recording the next episode in May!

The experiment is called the “Microbiology Lab Pod” and can be heard on this website, on Apple podcasts, Google podcasts, Stitcher etc.

April 2020 Pod: The origin of the coronavirus, and more

In the very first episode of the Bengtsson-Palme lab podcast, a crew consisting of Johan Bengtsson-Palme, Emil Burman, Haveela Kunche and Anna Abramova discusses the origin of the novel coronavirus, interactions between influenza and the respiratory tract microbiome, resistant bacteria in glaciers, pathway analysis methods, a new genus of bacteria discovered in Gothenburg, as well as life in research during a global pandemic.

The specific papers discussed in the pod (with approximate timings) are as follows:

  • 10:15 – Andersen, K.G., Rambaut, A., Lipkin, W.I., Holmes, E.C., Garry, R.F., 2020. The proximal origin of SARS-CoV-2. Nature Medicine 26, 450–452. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41591-020-0820-9
  • 17:30 – Zhou, P., et al., 2020. A pneumonia outbreak associated with a new coronavirus of probable bat origin. Nature 579, 270–273. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41586-020-2012-7
  • 19:30 – https://www.fli.de/en/press/press-releases/press-singleview/novel-coronavirus-sars-cov-2-fruit-bats-and-ferrets-are-susceptible-pigs-and-chickens-are-not/
  • 20:45 – Kadioglu, O., Saeed, M., Greten, H.J., Efferth, T, 2020. Identification of novel compound against three targets of SARS CoV-2 coronavirus by combined virtual screening and supervised machine learning. Bulletin of the World Health Organization. https://doi.org/10.2471/BLT.20.255943
  • 21:45 – Cheng, V.C.C., Lau, S.K.P., Woo, P.C.Y., Yuen, K.Y., 2007. Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus as an Agent of Emerging and Reemerging Infection. Clinical Microbiology Reviews 20, 660–694. https://doi.org/10.1128/CMR.00023-07
  • 22:15 – Fan, Y., Zhao, K., Shi, Z.-L., Zhou, P., 2019. Bat Coronaviruses in China. Viruses 11, 210. https://doi.org/10.3390/v11030210
  • 29:15 – Zhang, L., et al., 2020. Characterization of antibiotic resistance and host-microbiome interactions in the human upper respiratory tract during influenza infection. Microbiome 8. https://doi.org/10.1186/s40168-020-00803-2
  • 39:15 – Makowska, N., et al., 2020. Occurrence of integrons and antibiotic resistance genes in cryoconite and ice of Svalbard, Greenland, and the Caucasus glaciers. Science of The Total Environment 716, 137022. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.137022
  • 49:45 – Bengtsson-Palme, J., Boulund, F., Fick, J., Kristiansson, E., Larsson, D.G.J., 2014. Shotgun metagenomics reveals a wide array of antibiotic resistance genes and mobile elements in a polluted lake in India. Frontiers in microbiology 5, 648. https://doi.org/10.3389/fmicb.2014.00648
  • 58:45 – Gillings, M.R., 2014. Integrons: past, present, and future. Microbiology and molecular biology reviews : MMBR 78, 257–277. https://doi.org/10.1128/MMBR.00056-13
  • 60:45 – Moradi, E., Marttinen, M., Häkkinen, T., Hiltunen, M., Nykter, M., 2019. Supervised pathway analysis of blood gene expression profiles in Alzheimer’s disease. Neurobiology of Aging 84, 98–108. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2019.07.004
  • 62:15 – Johnson, W.E., Li, C., Rabinovic, A., 2007. Adjusting batch effects in microarray expression data using empirical Bayes methods. Biostatistics 8, 118–127. https://doi.org/10.1093/biostatistics/kxj037
  • 72:15 – Marathe, N.P., et al., 2019. Scandinavium goeteborgense gen. nov., sp. nov., a New Member of the Family Enterobacteriaceae Isolated From a Wound Infection, Carries a Novel Quinolone Resistance Gene Variant. Frontiers in Microbiology 10. https://doi.org/10.3389/fmicb.2019.02511
  • 76:00 – Boulund, F., et al., 2017. Computational discovery and functional validation of novel fluoroquinolone resistance genes in public metagenomic data sets. BMC Genomics 18, 438. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12864-017-4064-0

The podcast was recorded on April 9, 2020. If you want to reach out to us with comments, suggestions or other feedback, please send an e-mail to podcast at microbiology dot se or contact @bengtssonpalme via Twitter. The music that can be heard on the pod is composed by Johan Bengtsson-Palme and is taken from the album Cafe Phonocratique.