Last week, we published a paper which has been cooking for a long time. It is the result of years of hard work from particularly the first author – Tove Wikström – but also Sanna who did the bulk of the bioinformatic analysis with some help from me (well, I mostly contributed as a sounding board for ideas, but hopefully that was useful). The paper describes the gene expression of both the human host and the microbial community in the vagina during pregnancy and how the expressed genes (and the composition of bacteria) are linked to early births (1) and was published in Clinical and Translational Medicine.
We found 17 human genes potentially influencing preterm births. Most prominently the kallikrein genes (KLK2 and KLK3) and four different forms of of metallothioneins (MT1s) were higher in the preterm group than among fullterm women. These genes may be involved in inflammatory pathways associated with preterm birth.
We also found 11 bacterial species associated with preterm birth, but most of them had low occurrence and abundance. In contrary to some earlier studies, we saw no differences in bacterial diversity or richness between women who delivered preterm and women who delivered at term. Nor did Lactobacillus crispatus – often proposed to be protective against preterm birth (2,3) – seem to be a protective factor against preterm birth. However, most other studies have used DNA-based approaches to determine the bacterial community composition, while we used a metatranscriptomic approach looking at only expressed genes. In this context it is interesting that other metatranscriptomic results (4) agree with ours in that it was mainly microbes of low occurrence that differed between the preterm and term group.
Overall, the lack of clear differences in the transcriptionally active vaginal microbiome between women with term and preterm pregnancies, suggests that the metatranscriptome has a limited ability to serve as a diagnostic tool for identification of those at high risk for preterm delivery.
Great job Tove and the rest of the team! It was a pleasure working with all of you! The entire paper can be read here.
- Wikström T, Abrahamsson S, Bengtsson-Palme J, Ek CJ, Kuusela P, Rekabdar E, Lindgren P, Wennerholm UB, Jacobsson B, Valentin L, Hagberg H: Microbial and human transcriptome in vaginal fluid at midgestation: association with spontaneous preterm delivery. Clinical and Translational Medicine, 12, 9, e1023 (2022). doi: 10.1002/ctm2.1023 [Paper link]
- Kindinger LM, Bennett PR, Lee YS, et al.: The interaction between vaginal microbiota, cervical length, and vaginal progesterone treatment for preterm birth risk. Microbiome, 5, 1, 1-14 (2017).
- Tabatabaei N, Eren AM, Barreiro LB, et al.: Vaginal microbiome in early pregnancy and subsequent risk of spontaneous preterm birth: a case-control study. BJOG, 126, 3, 349-358 (2019).
- Fettweis JM, Serrano MG, Brooks JP, et al.: The vaginal microbiome and preterm birth. Nature Medicine, 25, 6, 1012-1021 (2019).
Our open doctoral student and postdoc positions closed over the weekend, and in total we had 110 applications, although some persons applied to more than one of the positions, bringing the total number of applicants down a bit. Still, this will be a lot of work for me. I will prioritize the postdoc position, as this had the fewest applications. So if you applied to one of the two PhD student positions, please give it some time.
A quick skimming of the applications shows that we have had extraordinary high quality of applications overall, although some of the applicants will be a bit too wet-lab oriented for these specific positions.
Thanks a lot for your interest in the lab’s work! I appreciate all of your efforts!
As I wrote a few days ago, I have now started my new position at Chalmers SysBio. This position is funded by the SciLifeLab and Wallenberg National Program for Data-Driven Life Science (DDLS), which also funds PhD and postdoc positions. We are now announcing two doctoral student projects and one postdoc project within the DDLS program in my lab.
Common to all projects is that they will the use of large-scale data-driven approaches (including machine learning and (meta)genomic sequence analysis), high-throughput molecular methods and established theories developed for macro-organism ecology to understand biological phenomena. We are for all three positions looking for people with a background in bioinformatics, computational biology or programming. In all three cases, there will be at least some degree of analysis and interpretation of large-scale data from ongoing and future experiments and studies performed by the group and our collaborators. The positions are all part of the SciLifeLab national research school on data-driven life science, which the students and postdoc will be expected to actively participate in.
The postdoc and one of the doctoral students are expected to be involved in a project aiming to uncover interactions between the bacteria in microbiomes that are important for community stability and resilience to being colonized by pathogens. This project also seeks to unearth which environmental and genetic factors that are important determinants of bacterial invasiveness and community stability. The project tasks may include things like predicting genes involved in pathogenicity and other interactions from sequencing data, and performing large-scale screening for such genes in microbiomes.
The second doctoral student is expected to work in a project dealing with understanding and limiting the spread of antibiotic resistance through the environment, identifying genes involved in antibiotic resistance, defining the conditions that select for antibiotic resistance in different settings, and developing approaches for monitoring for antibiotic resistance in the environment. Specifically, the tasks involved in this project may be things like identifying risk environments for AMR, define potential novel antibiotic resistance genes, and building a platform for AMR monitoring data.
For all these three positions, there is some room for adapting the specific tasks of the projects to the background and requests of the recruited persons!
We are very excited to see your applications and to jointly build the next generation of data driven life scientist! Read more about the positions here.
Today was a big day, as it was my first ‘real’ working day at SysBio at Chalmers University of Technology. (Quotation marks as I have had access to an office at SysBio for a few weeks, and also because I spend the afternoon on meetings at Sahlgrenska.) Regardless, this marks the start of a transition period where the lab will be moving more and more of our routines to Chalmers, which will culminate when the lab-dependent persons will move into our new labs after the summer.
We also welcomed our Erasmus intern Manuela Seehauser to the lab today, as well as Marius Surleac who is visiting us for a few weeks from Romania.
Finally, we have announced new positions related to my new Chalmers-funding. More on those soon. Speaking of jobs, if you’re interested in doing a bioinformatics postdoc with me and Joakim Larsson you have two more days to apply for that position!
Together with Joakim Larsson‘s lab, we now have an open two-year postdoc position in bioinformatics on antibiotic resistance and biocide resistance. The development of antibiotic resistance has been driven by use of antibiotics, but antibacterial biocides also have the potential to select for antibiotic resistance. However, knowledge of which genes that contribute to biocide resistance and could be associated with antibiotic resistance is sparse. To some extent, such genes are documented in the BacMet database which we have developed, but this collection of resistance genes is only scratching the surface of all biocide resistance that exists among bacteria in the environment.
We are now looking for a postdoctoral fellow to continue the important work on bioinformatic analysis of biocide and antibiotic resistance to answer the question whether increasing biocide resistance would be a threat to human health. The postdoc will be working with the development of the BacMet database to make it more targeted towards biocidal substances and products in addition to resistance genes. The tasks include bioinformatic sequence analysis, literature studies and database and web programming. The work will also include investigations of the prevalence of the identified resistance genes in genomes and metagenomes.
The recruited person will work closely with both my group and the group of Prof. Joakim Larsson, and will participate in the JPIAMR-funded BIOCIDE project. You can apply to the postdoc position at the University of Gothenburg application portal: https://web103.reachmee.com/ext/I005/1035/job?site=7&lang=UK&validator=9b89bead79bb7258ad55c8d75228e5b7&job_id=25122
The deadline is May 4, 2022. Come work with us on this exciting topic in the intersect between two great research environments (if I may say it myself!) We look forward to your application!
I have very big and exciting news to share with you. After more than 10 years at the Sahlgrenska Academy, me and my lab will be moving from the University of Gothenburg to Chalmers University of Technology (which is physically a move of less than a kilometer, so still within Gothenburg). I have been offered a position at the Division of Systems Biology, funded by the SciLifeLab and Wallenberg National Program for Data-Driven Life Science (DDLS). The total funding to my lab will be 17 million SEK, with some co-funding from Chalmers added in on top of that.
I am of course very excited about this opportunity, which will bring some infrastructure that we need in-house that we don’t have easy access to today. At the same time, I am sad to leave my academic ‘home’, and the fantastic people we have been working with there for the years. I am also endlessly thankful for the support and trust that the Sahlgrenska Academy, the Institute of Biomedicine and the Department of Infectious Diseases have put into me and my research over the past years.
The transition to Chalmers will start already in May, but will be gradual and continue for a long time. We have close ties to the Sahlgrenska Academy and we will keep closely collaborating with researchers there. I will also retain an affiliation to the University of Gothenburg, at least for the near future.
All in all, this year will bring very interesting development, and this additional funding from the DDLS program will allow us to venture into new areas of bioinformatics and try out ideas that have previously been out of reach. I look forward to work with our new colleagues at Chalmers and within the DDLS program in the coming years!
If you are skilled in bioinformatics and want to work with one of my favorite persons, you should check out this postdoc ad closing January 9. This two-year position in Erik Kristiansson‘s lab at Chalmers University of Technology is a great opportunity to work with fantastic people on highly interesting questions. It has applications in infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance, and will be focused on genomic analysis of antibiotic resistance and virulence and their evolutionary history. The work includes both the development of new data-driven methodologies and the application of existing methodology to new datasets. The position will involve collaborations with researchers from clinical microbiology and the environmental sciences within the Centre for Antibiotic Resistance Research.
We are hiring a PhD student to work with interactions between the bacteria in human and environmental microbiomes that are important for community stability and resilience to being colonized by unwanted bacteria (including pathogens). The project seeks to unearth which environmental and genetic factors that are important determinants of bacterial invasiveness and community stability. You can read more at our Open Positions page.
We are looking for a candidate with experience with both bioinformatics and experimental microbiology. Previous experience with microbial communities is a plus, but not a must, as is work with human cell lines.
The project is fully funded by a grant from the Swedish Research Council and the position is planned for 4.5 years, with 4 years of research and course work and half a year of teaching.
If you feel that you are the right person for this position, you can apply here. We look forward to your application! The deadline for applications is October 21.
This is the fifth episode of the Microbiology Lab Pod and has been lying around on my computer almost finished for way too long. It was recorded on September 23, and the bigger-than-ever-before crew (Johan Bengtsson-Palme, Emil Burman, Haveela Kunche, Anna Abramova, Marcus Wenne, Sebastian Wettersten and Mahbuba Lubna Akter) is joined by Fanny Berglund to discuss computational discovery of novel resistance genes. We also discuss antibiotic resistance mechanisms, particularly in Pseudomonas aeruginosa.
The specific papers discussed in the pod (with approximate timings) are as follows:
- 5:30 – Berglund, F., Johnning, A., Larsson, D.G.J., Kristiansson, E., 2020. An updated phylogeny of the metallo-b-lactamases. Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy 7. https://doi.org/10.1093/jac/dkaa392
- 5:45 – Berglund, F., Österlund, T., Boulund, F., Marathe, N.P., Larsson, D.G.J., Kristiansson, E., 2019. Identification and reconstruction of novel antibiotic resistance genes from metagenomes. Microbiome 7, 52. https://doi.org/10.1186/s40168-019-0670-1
- 6:00 – Berglund, F., Marathe, N.P., Österlund, T., Bengtsson-Palme, J., Kotsakis, S., Flach, C.-F., Larsson, D.G.J., Kristiansson, E., 2017. Identification of 76 novel B1 metallo-β-lactamases through large-scale screening of genomic and metagenomic data. Microbiome 5, i29. https://doi.org/10.1186/s40168-017-0353-8
- 6:15 – Boulund, F., Berglund, F., Flach, C.-F., Bengtsson-Palme, J., Marathe, N.P., Larsson, D.G.J., Kristiansson, E., 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
- 37:15 – Crippen, C.S., Jr., M.J.R., Sanchez, S., Szymanski, C.M., 2020. Multidrug Resistant Acinetobacter Isolates Release Resistance Determinants Through Contact-Dependent Killing and Bacteriophage Lysis. Frontiers in Microbiology 11. https://doi.org/10.3389/fmicb.2020.01918
- 52:15 – Leonard, A.F.C., Zhang, L., Balfour, A.J., Garside, R., Hawkey, P.M., Murray, A.K., Ukoumunne, O.C., Gaze, W.H., 2018. Exposure to and colonisation by antibiotic-resistant E. coli in UK coastal water users: Environmental surveillance, exposure assessment, and epidemiological study (Beach Bum Survey). Environment International 114, 326–333. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envint.2017.11.003
- 53:30 – Bengtsson-Palme, J., Kristiansson, E., Larsson, D.G.J., 2018. Environmental factors influencing the development and spread of antibiotic resistance. FEMS Microbiology Reviews 42, 25. https://doi.org/10.1093/femsre/fux053
- 54:30 – Leonard, A.F.C., Zhang, L., Balfour, A.J., Garside, R., Gaze, W.H., 2015. Human recreational exposure to antibiotic resistant bacteria in coastal bathing waters. Environment International 82, 92–100. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envint.2015.02.013
- 55:30 – Ahmed, M.N., Abdelsamad, A., Wassermann, T., et al., 2020. The evolutionary trajectories of P. aeruginosa in biofilm and planktonic growth modes exposed to ciprofloxacin: beyond selection of antibiotic resistance. npj Biofilms and Microbiomes 6. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41522-020-00138-8
- 69:30 – Rezzoagli, C., Archetti, M., Mignot, I., Baumgartner, M., Kümmerli, R., 2020. Combining antibiotics with antivirulence compounds can have synergistic effects and reverse selection for antibiotic resistance in Pseudomonas aeruginosa. PLOS Biology 18, e3000805. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pbio.3000805
- 79:45 – Allen, R.C., Popat, R., Diggle, S.P., Brown, S.P., 2014. Targeting virulence: can we make evolution-proof drugs? Nature reviews Microbiology 12, 300–308. https://doi.org/10.1038/nrmicro3232
- 80:45 – Köhler, T., Perron, G.G., Buckling, A., van Delden, C., 2010. Quorum Sensing Inhibition Selects for Virulence and Cooperation in Pseudomonas aeruginosa. PLoS Pathogens 6, e1000883. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.ppat.1000883
The podcast was recorded on September 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.
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.