Department of Ecogenetics and Systems Biology - Division of Archaea Biology and Ecogenomics

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Dr. habil. Silvia Bulgheresi

Room: 1.118
1090 Wien, Althanstraße 14 (UZA I)
T: +43-1-4277-76514
F: +43-1-4277-876514

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STUDY SYSTEM: Marine nematode-bacterium symbioses


  • How are host and bacterial immune systems regulated?

- Comparative transcriptomics (mRNA and non-coding RNA) and metabolomics of host symbiotic versus non-symbiotic tissues.

  • How do host and symbiont coordinate their reproduction

- Molecular mechanisms of growth and division of symbiont cells (via immunostaining/high-resolution microscopy, and ectopic and vitro expression of symbiont cell division and cytoskeletal proteins)
- Developmental adaptations of the host to inter- and intra-generational symbiont transmission (via host cultivation and microscopic analysis, and comparative transcriptomics of host developmental stages)


23/07/1996 Graduated laudein Sciences (Molecular Biology)at the University of Pisa, Italy.
15/12/2000 PhD in and Molecular Cell Biology at the University of Vienna, Austria.
16/12/2014 Venia Docendi (“Lehrbefugnis”) in the fields of Molecular & Cellular Biology at the Faculty of Life Sciences,University of Vienna, Austria.


(23 publications, 510 citations, h-index: 12;
* indicates equally contributing authors; # indicates corresponding authors)

Petersen JM, Kemper A, Gruber-Vodicka RH, Cardini U, van der Geest M,
Bulgheresi S, Mußmann M, Seah KBB, Chakkiath PA, Herbold C, Belitz A, Miriam W. Chemosynthetic sulphur-oxidizing symbionts of marine invertebrate animals are capable of nitrogen fixation. 2016. Nature Microbiology. 2:16195.

Leisch N, Pende N, Weber MP, Gruber-Vodicka RH, Verheul J, Vischer NOE, Abby S, den Blaauwen T and
Bulgheresi S #. Asynchronous division by non-ring FtsZ in the gammaproteobacterial symbiont of Robbea hypermnestra. 2016. Nature Microbiology. 2:16182.

Bulgheresi S #
. Bacterial cell biology outside the streetlight. 2016. Environmental Microbiology 18(8):2305-18.

Bulgheresi S #
. All the microbiology nematodes can teach us. 2016. FEMS Microbiology Ecology 92(2).

Yang K, Park CG, Cheong C,
Bulgheresi S, Zhang S, Zhang P, He Y, Jiang L, Huang H, Ding H, Wu Y, Wang S, Zhang L, Li A, Xia L, Bartra SS, Plano GV, Skurnik M, Klena JD, Chen T (2015) Host Langerin (CD207) is a receptor for Yersinia pestis phagocytosis and promotes dissemination. Immunology & Cell Biology 93(9): 815-24. doi:10.1038/icb.2015.46.

Pende N*, Leisch N*, Gruber-Vodicka H, Heindl N, Ott J, den Blaauwen T,
Bulgheresi S* (2014) Size-independent symmetric division in extraordinarily long cells. Nature Communications 5: 4803. doi:10.1038/ncomms5803.

Murfin K, Dillman A, Foster J,
Bulgheresi S, Slatko B, Sternberg P, Goodrich-Blair H (2012) Nematode-Bacterium Symbioses-Cooperation and Conflict Revealed in the "Omics" Age. The Biological Bulletin 223(1): 85-102. IF 1.6

Leisch N, Verheul J, Heindl NR, Gruber-Vodicka HR, Pende N, den Blaauwen T,
Bulgheresi S # (2012) Growth in width and FtsZ ring longitudinal positioning in a gammaproteobacterial symbiont. Current Biology 22(19): R831-832. IF: 8.9

Dirks U, Gruber-Vodicka HR, Leisch N,
Bulgheresi S, Egger B, Ladurner P, Ott JA (2012) Bacterial Symbiosis Maintenance in the Asexually Reproducing and Regenerating Flatworm Paracatenula galateia. PLoS One 7(4): e34709.

Bulgheresi S # (2011) Calling the roll on Laxus oneistus immune defense molecules. Symbiosis 55(3): 127-135.

Gruber-Vodicka HR, Dirks U, Leisch N, Baranyi C, Stoecker K,
Bulgheresi S, Heindl NR, Horn M, Lott C, Loy A, Wagner M, Ott J (2011) Paracatenula, an ancient symbiosis between thiotrophic Alphaproteobacteria and catenulid flatworms. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 108(29): 12078-83.

Heindl NR, Gruber-Vodicka HR, Bayer C, Luecker S, Ott JA,
Bulgheresi S (2011) First detection of thiotrophic symbiont phylotypes in the pelagic marine environment. FEMS Microbiology Ecology 77: 223-227.

Bulgheresi S, Gruber-Vodicka HR, Heindl NR, Dirks U, Kostadinova M, Breiteneder H, Ott JA (2011) Sequence variability of the pattern recognition receptor Mermaid mediates specificity of marine nematode symbioses. The ISME Journal 5: 986–998.

Bright M,
Bulgheresi S (2010) Microbial symbiont transmission. Nature Reviews Microbiology 8(3): 218-30.

Bayer C*, Heindl RN*, Rinke C, Lücker S, Ott JA,
Bulgheresi S # (2009) Molecular characterization of the symbionts associated with marine nematodes of the genus Robbea. Environmental Microbiology Reports 1(2): 136-144.

Mittal R,
Bulgheresi S, Emami C, Prasadarao NV (2009) Enterobacter sakazakii targets DC-SIGN to induce immunosuppressive responses in dendritic cells by modulating MAP kinases. Journal of Immunology 183(10): 6588-99.

Zhang P, Skurnik M, Zhang S, Schwartz O, Kalyanasundaram R,
Bulgheresi S, He JJ, Klena JD, Hinnebusch B, Chen T (2008) Human DC-SIGN (CD209) is a receptor for Yersinia pestis that promotes phagocytosis by dendritic cells. Infection and Immunity 76(5): 2070-9. IF: 3.9

Nabatov AA, de Jong MAWP, de Witte L,
Bulgheresi S*, Geijtenbeek THB* (2008) C-type lectin Mermaid inhibits dendritic cell mediated Hiv-1 transmission to CD4+ T cell. Virology 378(2): 323-8.

Bulgheresi S #
, Schabussova I, Chen T, Mullin NP, Maizels RM, Ott JA (2006) A new C-type lectin similar to the human immunoreceptor DC-SIGN mediates symbiont acquisition by a marine nematode. Applied and Environmental Microbiology 72: 2950-2956.

Zhang P, Snyder S, Feng P, Azadi P, Zhang S,
Bulgheresi S, Sanderson K, He JJ, Klena JD, Chen T (2006) Role of N-Acetylglucosamine within Core Lipopolysaccharide of Several Species of Gram-negative Bacteria in Targeting the DC-SIGN (CD209). Journal of Immunology 177(6): 4002-4011.

Ott JA, Bright M,
Bulgheresi S (2004) Marine Microbial Thiotrophic Ectosymbioses. Oceanography and Marine Biology - An Annual Review 42: 95-118.

Ott JA, Bright M,
Bulgheresi S (2004) Symbioses between marine nematodes and sulfur-oxidizing chemoautotrophic bacteria. Symbiosis 36: 103-126.

Bulgheresi S, Kleiner E, Knoblich JA (2001) Inscuteable dependent apical localization of the microtubule-binding protein Cornetto suggests a role in asymmetric cell division. Journal of Cell Science 114: 3655-62.

* These authors contributed equally.

Bulgheresi S (2011) Microbial symbiont transmission: basic principles and dark sides. In: Beneficial Microorganisms in Multicellular Life Forms, E. Rosenberg/U. Gophna (eds), Springer-Verlag, p.299-311.


Bulgheresi S. I, microbe. 2016. Nature Microbiology 1(8):16117.

- Emerging Field
"Cell biology of microorganisms in their natural environment" Award from the University of Vienna (15 kEUR)

Universität Wien: Bulgheresi S., Ott J. Pharmaceutical preparation for the prevention of infections. WO2007109821 (2007) 34 pages.


University of Vienna Discovery Grant, "Antiviral activity of His-Mermaid", PIs J. Ott & S. Bulgheresi, 100 kEUR
"Marine Nematode Ectosymbiosis", PI S. Bulgheresi, 395 kEUR
University of Vienna Uni:docs PhD Grant " RE-ATTACH: Reproduction Mechanisms of Host Attacheded Bacteria", PI S. Bulgheresi, 127 kEUR
2015 -2018
" Growth and septation of animal-attached bacteria", PI S. Bulgheresi, 319 kEUR
2016 - 2019
"Animal host control of symbiotic bacteria", PI S. Bulgheresi, 293 kEUR
2016 - 2019
FWF Doctoral School
" Microbial nitrogen cycling - from single cells to ecosystems" Speaker C. Schleper, PI S. Bulgheresi, 207 kEUR.


2010 6th International Symbiosis Society (ISS) meeting, Madison WI (US).
2010 Bat-Sheva de Rothschild Seminar on Role of microorganisms in the adaptation and evolution of animals and plants, Ein Gedi (IL).
2012 7th International Symbiosis Society (ISS) meeting, Krakow (PL).
2012 Gordon Research Conference on Bacterial Cell Surfaces, Mount Snow Resort, West Dover, VT (US).
2014 The Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences Colloquium: 50 years Fts: the A-Z of bacterial cell division, Amsterdam (NL).
2015 Inaugural Gordon Research Conference on Animal-Microbe Symbiosis, Waterville Valley Resort NH (US).
2015 8th International Symbiosis Society (ISS) meeting, Lisbon (Portugal).
2016 American Society of Microbiology (ASM) general meeting (plenary session), Boston MA (US).
2016 Gordon Research Conference on and Plant and Microbial Cytoskeleton, Proctor Academy, Andover NH (US).
2017 American Society of Microbiology (ASM) general meeting, New Orleans LA (US).

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