Keywords:Microbiome, pregnancy disorders, pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes mellitus
Research interest:The human body carries billions of microorganisms that influence health and well-being. Dysbioses (
Over the course of a normal, healthy pregnancy, the body undergoes substantial hormonal, immunological, and metabolic changes (1, 2). Since the human microbiome and the human body are interacting strongly with each other, changes usually go along with changes in the microbial community (composition and abundances of certain members). For instance, it has been reported, that the bacterial load is increased during the course of gestation (3), or that the microbial composition reflects a “metabolic-syndrome-like” status of the pregnant woman (4). Also the placenta harbors a unique microbiome, representing the first platform that presents bacterial components to the unborn (5).
Studies focusing on the development of the microbiome during pregnancy are comparatively rare; this is
particularly true for pregnancy disorders. In addition, many studies are based on standard techniques only,
Our goal is to use improved, state-of-the-art methods in order to analyze the function and activity of the
human microbiome in pregnancy disorders such as gestational diabetes mellitus and pre-eclampsia. We claim
that with our methods, we can create the first full picture of the microbiome, including bacteria, archaea
and fungi, by focusing on the living portion thereof only. We claim that pregnancy disorders are potentially
linked to an increased microbial load in urine, amniotic fluid
Collaborations within the DP-iDP:
Collaborating research groups where PhD students could perform their research stay abroad:
Industrial partners:Steigerwald, Darmstadt, Germany; Schwabe, Karlsruhe, Germany; Compliance Advice and Services in Microbiology GmbH, Köln; Germany; ACIB GmbH, Graz, Austria; Allergosan, Graz, Austria;
Know-how and infrastructure of the research group:The laboratory of Christine Moissl-Eichinger has a long-standing expertise in the field of microbiology and microbiome research. She is involved in numerous life-detection consortia, as well as PI and Co-PI of ongoing medical microbiome research studies.
The group comprises one post-doctoral fellow, one technician and three PhD students. Various techniques are being used for a detailed analysis of the full microbiome, including bacteria, archaea and fungi. The group is located at the Center for Medical Research, ZMF, at the Medical University, where numerous, state-of-the-art equipment is made available to the researchers. This includes: Mi-Seq Illumina sequencing facility, qPCR facility, flow cytometry, fluorescence microscopy, as well as an anaerobic work station for analyzing and cultivation of strictly anaerobic microorganisms. In addition, ZMF provides excellent support in bioinformatics and biostatistics and has established a Galaxy-based pipeline for the processing of complex NGS data.
Scientific concepts and techniques that students will learn in this laboratory:DP-iDP students will be trained in microbiology and will receive insights in the complexity and diversity of the human microbiome. They will particularly be involved in the sample processing, from DNA to bioinformatics tool application. They will learn practical microbiology methods (from standard to specific, such as the cultivation of strictly anaerobic microorganisms), microscopy methods, DNA extraction and PCR-based methods. In addition, they will particularly be trained in the processing of next generation sequencing data (through pipelines such as qiime or mother) and bioinformatics, in order to analyze, display and interpret the gained data properly for publication and thesis.