Theme Leader: Rodrigo Costa
It is conceivable that no known living entity in the major multicellular, eukaryotic lineages is completely devoid of microorganisms. Ranging from simple associations dominated by a single or few mutualist(s), such as the squid-Vibrio and gutless worm symbioses, to the complex “microbiomes” associated with e.g. the human gut, plant roots or marine corals and sponges, it seems indisputable that microorganisms in the three domains of life are capable of populating any micro-niche offered by their animal and plant hosts. Indeed, life, as we know, is strongly underpinned by inter-domain symbiotic relationships (Bacteria-Archaea-Eukarya).
In this context, the Marine Metagenomics and Microbial Ecology Team at BSRG seek to understand the causes and consequences of microbial diversity and function in nature, with emphasis on prokaryote-eukaryote symbiotic relationships in the marine realm. It applies molecular and bioinformatics tools in conjunction with creative experimental designs to unravel the composition and function of symbiotic consortia in natural settings and microcosms, with the ultimate aim to harness and exploit the metabolic versatility of complex microbiomes for the development of renewable sources of biotechnological appliances.
Our current projects within this subject include
- Evolutionary and ecological relationships between hosts and symbionts;
- In-faunal and ad-plantae biogeochemical cycling;
- Symbiotic microorganisms and host developmental biology;
- Antibiotic biosynthesis and resistance;
- Horizontal gene transfer;
- Cultivation of as-yet uncultured symbiotic bacteria;
- Microbe-microbe and host-microbe chemical signalling;
- Potential biotechnological appliances and services deriving from symbiont-host biological activities;
- Responses of microbial communities to climate change and pollution;
- Model study systems include the microbiomes of marine sponges, corals, algae, seagrasses and fish, as well as rhizosphere- and human-associated microbial communities;
Some of our latest Publications
Diez, C., Esteves, A.I.S., Costa, R., Nielsen, C., & Thomas, T. Detecting signatures of a sponge-associated lifestyle in bacterial genomes.
Environmental Microbiology Reports (2018). doi.org/10.1111/1758-2229.12655
Karimi, E., Beate, S., Soares, A., Jochen B., Henstchel-Humeida, U., Costa, R.* Metagenomic binning reveals versatile nutrient cycling and distinct
adaptive features in alphaproteobacterial symbionts of marine sponges. FEMS Microbiology Ecology (2018). doi.org/10.1093/femsec/fiy074
Karimi, E., Ramos, M., Gonçalves, J.M.S., Xavier, J.R., Reis, M.P., & Costa, R.* Comparative metagenomics reveals the distinctive features of the Spongia officinalis endosymbiotic
consortium. Frontiers in Microbiology 8:2499 (2017). doi.org/10.3389/fmicb.2017.02499
Keller-Costa, T., Eriksson, D., Gonçalves, J.M.S., Gomes, N.C.M., Lago-Lestón, A., & Costa,R. The gorgonian coral Eunicella labiata hosts a distinct prokaryotic consortium amenable to cultivation. FEMSMicrobiology Ecology (2017). doi.org/10.1093/femsec/fix143
Moitinho-Silva, L., Nielsen L., et al. (40 authors). The sponge microbiome project. GigaScience, 6(10): 1-7 (2017). doi.org/10.1093/gigascience/gix077
Dr. Newton Carlos C.M. Gomes, Aveiro University, Portugal
Dr. Cymon J. Cox, Centre of Marine Sciences, Algarve University, Portugal
Dr. Jorge Gonçalves, Centre of Marine Sciences, Algarve University, Portugal
Dr. Joana R. Xavier, University of Bergen, Norway
Prof. Jan Dirk van Elsas, University of Groningen, The Netherlands
Prof. Ute Hentschel-Humeida, University of Kiel, Germany
Prof. Thomas Wichard, Jena University, Germany
Prof. Georg Pohnert, Jena University, Germany
Prof. Soren Sorensen, University of Copenhagen, Denmark
Prof. Raquel Peixoto, Rio de Janeiro University, Brazil
“Harnessing the power of the microbial metamobilome: using marine sponges as models to uncover novel biotechnological appliances from symbiont communities”
Role: Coordinator / Principal Investigator.
Financial support: FCT. Project id: PTDC/MAR-BIO/1547/2014.
Period: January 2016 – December 2018.
Funding: 191.436,00 €.
“Deciphering the codes of communication between marine sponges and their symbionts: an integrative metabolomics-transcriptomics approach”
Role: Principal Investigator.
Financial support: VW Stiftung, Germany.
Context: bilateral collaboration Germany-Portugal. Ancillary research project in the framework of the Lichtenberg Professorship granted to Prof. Georg Pöhnert (Institute of Inorganic and Analytical Chemistry, Jena University, Germany). Project id: 81 040-2.
Period: December 2014 – November 2015.
Funding: 49.560,00 €.