I just want to point potential doctoral students’ attention to this fantastic opportunity to work with my EMBARK colleague Luis Pedro Coelho as he sets up his new lab in Brisbane in Australia at the relatively new Centre for Microbiome Research. Luis is looking for two PhD students, one who will focus on identifying and characterising the small proteins of the global microbiome and one more related to developing novel bioinformatic methods for studying microbial communities.
I can highly recommend this opportunity given that you are willing to move to Australia, as Luis is one of the most brilliant scientists I have worked with, is incredibly easy-going and fosters a lab culture I strong support. More information and application here.
Together with our collaborators in Tromsø in Norway, we published a paper over the weekend in eBioMedicine describing the early colonization patterns of preterm infants, both in terms of the microbes that arrive early to the infants, but also in terms of the antibiotic resistance genes they carry.
In the paper (1), which is a continuation of an earlier study by part of the team (2), we analysed metagenomic data from six Norwegian neonatal intensive care units to better understand the bacterial microbiota of infants born preterm or on term and receiving different treatments. These groups included probiotic-supplemented and antibiotic-exposed extremely preterm infants (n = 29), antibiotic-exposed very preterm infants (n = 25), antibiotic-unexposed very preterm infants (n = 8), and antibiotic-unexposed full-term infants (n = 10). Stool samples were collected from the infants after 7, 28, 120, and 365 days of life and were analysed using shotgun metagenomics. We were particularly interested in the maturation of the preterm infant microbiome into a ‘normal’ healthy gut microbiome, and the colonization with bacteria carrying antibiotic resistance genes.
We found that microbiota maturation was largely determined by the length of hospitalisation for the infants and how much preterm they were. The use of probiotics rendered the gut microbiota and resistome of extremely preterm infants more alike to term infants on day 7 and partially restored the loss of species interconnectivity and stability associated with preterm delivery. Finally, colonisation with Escherichia coli was associated with the highest number of antibiotic-resistance genes in the infant microbiomes, followed by Klebsiella pneumoniae and Klebsiella aerogenes.
Being born very preterm, along with prolonged hospitalisation and frequent antibiotic use alters early life resistome and mobilome, leading to an increased gut carriage of antibiotic resistance genes and mobile genetic elements. On the other hand, the effect of probiotics was not unidirectional. Probiotics decreased resistome burden, but at the same time the bacterial strains in the probiotics appear to promote the activity of mobile genetic elements. Here, further study of the gut microbiota is necessary to be able to design strategies aiming to lower disease risk in vulnerable preterm infants.
As mentioned, this study was a collaboration with Veronika Pettersen‘s group in Tromsø, particularly Ahmed Bargheet, who have done a fabulous job on the bioinformatics and analysis of this study. I hope that we will continue this collaboration in the future (first step will be me visting Tromsø again in June!) This also continues a nice little “sidetrack” of the group’s research into the early life microbiome – previously represented by the work of Katariina Pärnänen (3) and Tove Wikström‘s vaginal microbiome study (4), which is a very interesting and relevant subject in terms of both medicine and microbial ecology. We are also setting up new collaborations in this area, so I hope that more will come out of this track in the next couple of years.
Finally, thank you Veronika for inviting me to participate in this great project!
- Bargheet A, Klingenberg C, Esaiassen E, Hjerde E, Cavanagh JP, Bengtsson-Palme J, Pettersen VK: Development of early life gut resistome and mobilome across gestational ages and microbiota-modifying treatments. eBio Medicine, 92, 104613 (2023). doi: 10.1016/j.ebiom.2023.104613
- Esaiassen E, Hjerde E, Cavanagh JP, Pedersen T, Andresen JH, Rettedal SI, Støen R, Nakstad B, Willassen NP, Klingenberg C: Effects of Probiotic Supplementation on the Gut Microbiota and Antibiotic Resistome Development in Preterm Infants. Frontiers in Pediatrics, 16, 6, 347 (2018). doi: 10.3389/fped.2018.00347
- Pärnänen K, Karkman A, Hultman J, Lyra C, Bengtsson-Palme J, Larsson DGJ, Rautava S, Isolauri E, Salminen S, Kumar H, Satokari R, Virta M: Maternal gut and breast milk microbiota affect infant gut antibiotic resistome and mobile genetic elements. Nature Communications, 9, 3891 (2018). doi: 10.1038/s41467-018-06393-w
- 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
In the sixth episode of the Microbiology Lab Pod, recorded on December 17, the crew (Johan Bengtsson-Palme, Emil Burman, Haveela Kunche, Anna Abramova, Marcus Wenne, Sebastian Wettersten and Mahbuba Lubna Akter) talks about Haveela’s master thesis, virtual conferences and bring three Christmas themed papers.
The specific papers discussed in the pod (with approximate timings) are as follows:
- 13:00 – Fulcher, M.R., Bolton, M.L., Millican, M.D., et al., 2020. Broadening Participation in Scientific Conferences during the Era of Social Distancing. Trends in Microbiology. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tim.2020.08.004
- 25:15 – de Clercq, N.C., Frissen, M.N., Levin, E., et al., 2019. The effect of having Christmas dinner with in-laws on gut microbiota composition. Human Microbiome Journal 13, 100058. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.humic.2019.100058
- 44:00 – Garcia-Lemos, A.M., Gobbi, A., et al., 2020. Under the Christmas Tree: Belowground Bacterial Associations With Abies nordmanniana Across Production Systems and Plant Development. Frontiers in Microbiology 11. https://doi.org/10.3389/fmicb.2020.00198
- 56:15 – Halverson, L.J., Clayton, M.K., Handelsman, J., 1993. Population biology of Bacillus cereus UW85 in the rhizosphere of field-grown soybeans. Soil Biology and Biochemistry 25, 485–493. https://doi.org/10.1016/0038-0717(93)90074-L
- 65:00 – Glendinning, L., Genç, B., Wallace, R.J., Watson, M., 2020. Metagenomic analysis of the cow, sheep, reindeer and red deer rumen. bioRxiv. https://doi.org/10.1101/2020.02.12.945139
The podcast was recorded on December 17, 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.
I am very happy to share the news that our starting grant application to the Swedish Research Council has been granted 3.3 million SEK of funding for four years! This is fantastic news, as it allows us to further explore the interactions between bacteria in the human microbiome that are important for community stability and resilience to being colonized by pathogens. In the granted project, we will investigate environmental and genetic factors that are important for bacterial invasiveness and community stability in the human gastrointestinal tract.
Within the scope of the project, we will establish model bacterial communities and experimental systems for the human stomach and intestine. We will then investigate how disturbances, such as antibiotic exposure, change the interactions in these microbial communities and their long-term stability. Finally, we aim to identify genes that contribute to successful bacterial colonization or resilience to invasion of established communities in the human microbiome.
Aside from myself, Prof. Sara Lindén and Dr. Kaisa Thorell from the University of Gothenburg as well as Prof. Ed Moore at the university’s Culture Collection will be involved in this project in different ways. We will also collaborate with my former postdoc supervisor Prof. Jo Handelsman as well as Dr. Ophelia Venturelli at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Finally, we will also collaborate with Dr. Åsa Sjöling at the Karolinska Institute. I look forward to work with you all over the coming four years! A big thanks to the Swedish Research Council for believing in this research and investing in making it happen!
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.
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.
I guess it hasn’t passed anyone by that we are under a global lockdown (although to very different degrees – Sweden, where we’re based, has a pretty relaxed attitude to quarantining people (1), so it could be worse for us, I guess). In any case, the novel coronavirus has forced the lab to largely work from home and has upended essentially all my plans for this spring, expect for writing grant applications (which I have done a lot).
First of all, I want to thank my fellow lab members for holding out strongly in these trying times. They have consistently shown that they are the best co-workers I could ask for, and have kept calm even when anxiety hits. Thanks a lot for that. I also would like to thank the university for providing rather clear guidance on how to handle different issues that come up in these time of crisis.
With that said, I am also sad to say that there will not be a Microbiome & Probiotics Collaboration Forum in Rotterdam on May 18-20. Instead that meeting has been postponed to early December. Similarly, I will not be in Helsinki next week to talk about EMBARK. That workshop will instead, hopefully, take place on August 28. And the same story goes for the NordicMappingAMR organised by the Swedish Medical Products Agency, which will take place at a later date (I am not sure exactly when this is planned yet).
These are trying times for all of us. I hope that you stay healthy and take care of your loved ones – particularly the elderly, but not unnecessarily visiting them. My grandparents (aged 93 and 95) have started FaceTiming us, so I guess some good things come out of this mess as well. We will come out of this crisis stronger, eventually.
- There are many things I could say about the Swedish strategy regarding covid-19, but this is not really the forum. In very brief, though, I have quite some faith in that the Swedish Public Health Agency is doing a decent job. Mistakes have been made (particularly early in the pandemic) and I am slightly anxious whether the Swedish strategy will play out as well as in other countries in Northern Europe, but right now data suggest that we are doing reasonable fine. I might return to this issue in another post if time permits.
As I have been indicating before, I will be presenting at the Microbiome & Probiotics Collaboration Forum in Rotterdam on May 18-20. In relation to this, I was asked to write a shorter blog post on (or, if you will, some type of extended abstract) what I will talk about, which is how simple model systems for microbial communities can be used to understand complex systems with loads of interactions, similar to how E. coli and yeast have enabled a much more wide-reaching understanding of molecular biology than just about those two single-celled organisms themselves. The entire post can be read here, and I hope that I will see you in Rotterdam in May!
Here’s some updates on my Spring schedule.
On March 19, I will be presenting the EMBARK program and what we aim to achieve at a conference organised by the Swedish Medical Products Agency called NordicMappingAMR. The event will feature an overview of existing monitoring of antibiotics and antibiotic resistant bacteria in the environment. The conference aims to present the results from this survey, to listen to experts in the field and to discuss possible progress. It takes place in Uppsala. For any further questions, contact Kia Salin at NordicMappingAMR@lakemedelsverket.se
Then on May 18 to 20 I will participate in the 7th Microbiome & Probiotics R&D and Business Collaboration Forum in Rotterdam. This industry/academia cross-over event focuses on cutting-edge microbiome and probiotics research, and challenges and opportunities in moving research towards commercialisation. I will talk on the work we do on deciphering genetic mechanisms behind microbial interactions in microbiomes on May 20.
And finally, I also want to bring the attention to that my collaborator Erik Kristiansson has an open PhD position in his lab. The position is funded by the Environmental Dimensions of Antibiotic Resistance (EDAR) research project, aiming to describe the environmental role in the development and promotion of antibiotic resistance. The focus of the PhD position will be on analysis of large-scale data, with special emphasis on the identification of new forms of resistance genes. The project also includes phylogenetic analysis and development of methods for assessment of gene evolution. More info can be found here.
This week, a paper by my former roommate Katariina Pärnänen was published by Nature Communications. In the paper (1), we use shotgun metagenomics to show that infants carry more resistant bacteria in their gut than adults do, irrespective of whether they themselves have been treated with antibiotics or not. We also found that the antibiotic resistance gene and mobile genetic element profiles of infant feces are more similar to those of their own mothers than to those of unrelated mothers. This is suggestive of a pathway of transmission of resistance genes from the mothers, and importantly we find that the mobile genetic elements in breastmilk are shared with those of the infant feces, despite vast differences in their microbiota composition. Finally, we find that termination of breastfeeding and intrapartum antibiotic prophylaxis of mothers are associated with higher abundances of specific ARGs in the infant gut. Our results suggest that infants inherit the legacy of past antibiotic consumption of their mothers via transmission of genes, but that the taxonomic composition of the microbiota still strongly dictates the overall load of resistance genes.
I am not going to dwell in to details of the study here, but I instead encourage you to read the paper (hey, it’s open access!) or the excellent popular summary that Katariina has already written. Finally, I want to emphasize the great work Katariina has put into this (I would know, since I shared room with her) and congratulate her on her own little infant!
- Pärnänen K, Karkman A, Hultman J, Lyra C, Bengtsson-Palme J, Larsson DGJ, Rautava S, Isolauri E, Salminen S, Kumar H, Satokari R, Virta M: Maternal gut and breast milk microbiota affect infant gut antibiotic resistome and mobile genetic elements. Nature Communications, 9, 3891 (2018). doi: 10.1038/s41467-018-06393-w [Paper link]