Le labo Yergeau
Welcome to Asmaâ Agoussar!

Asmaâ is our new fall intern. Picture and project will be soon available in the people section.

An award for Étienne!

Étienne is to receive the 2017 Canadian Society for Microbiology Fisher Scientific Award. This award is given to promising young Canadian investigators in the field of microbiology. 

Welcome (again) to Charlotte Giard-Laliberté!

We are very happy that Charlotte has decided to continue with us for her M.Sc. See picture and project descriptions in the people section.

New project funded!

Étienne is the lead researcher on a NSERC Strategic grant that was recently funded ($707K). This project will look at the wheat holobiont, trying to find ways to rapidly adapt it to drought stresses. We will be hiring two new PhD students to work on the project. Click here to see the advertisement.

Welcome to Charlotte Giard-Laliberté!

Charlotte is our new winter intern. See picture and project descriptions in the people section.

Welcome to Sara Correa Garcia and Pranav Pande!

Sara and Pranav has just joined the lab for their Ph.D. See pictures and project descriptions in the people section.

The field experiments have started!

The whole team worked very hard to put in place two experiments in our campus experimental field. One experiment will look at the effect of drought on the wheat microbiome and the other at the effects of cultivar diversity on soil diversity. 

Welcome to Itumeleng Moroenyane!

Itu has just joined the lab for his Ph.D. after a M.Sc. at the Seoul National University. See his picture and project description in the people section.

Welcome to the summer interns!

Éloïse Adam-Granger, Deanna Chinnerman and Karelle Rheault have join the lab for  summer internships. 

Welcome back Liliana!

Liliana just came back from maternity leave, ready to do awesome science again! 

Marking our experimental field!

The institute has granted us some land to put in place an experimental field. Etienne and the gang went to measure and delineate the field. Site preparation and experimental set-up to start soon!

Welcome to Hamed Azarbad!

Hamed just joined the lab as a postdoctoral fellow. Photo, bio and project description to come soon in the people section!

It starts to look like a lab!

The NRC-Montreal has generously lend us equipment and colleagues at IAF are also very generous!

Welcome to Usman Irshad and Simon Desmeules!

Usman just joined the lab as a postdoctoral fellow and Simon is a M.Sc. student. Photos and project description to come soon!

Le Labo Yergeau is officially opened!

Étienne has officially started at the IAF. New students and post-doc to join this week. More students to join later.

The lab is moving!

Étienne was recruited by the Institut Armand-Frappier and the lab will be moving there in January. We will have several fully-funded grad. students positions available. 

Recent publications

MG and MT of oil degradation in seawater

Application of chemical dispersants to oil spills in the marine environment is a common practice to disperse oil into the water column and stimulate oil biodegradation by increasing its bioavailability to indigenous bacteria capable of naturally metabolizing hydrocarbons. In the context of a spill event, the biodegradation of crude oil and gas condensate off eastern Canada is an essential component of a response strategy. In laboratory experiments, we simulated conditions similar to an oil spill with and without the addition of chemical dispersant under both winter and summer conditions and evaluated the natural attenuation potential for hydrocarbons in near-surface sea water from the vicinity of crude oil and natural gas production facilities off eastern Canada. Chemical analyses were performed to determine hydrocarbon degradation rates, and metagenome binning combined with metatranscriptomics was used to reconstruct abundant bacterial genomes and estimate their oil degradation gene abundance and activity. Our results show important and rapid structural shifts in microbial populations in all three different oil production sites examined following exposure to oil, oil with dispersant and dispersant alone. We found that the addition of dispersant to crude oil enhanced oil degradation rates and favored the abundance and expression of oil-degrading genes from a Thalassolituus sp. (that is, metagenome bin) that harbors multiple alkane hydroxylase (alkB) gene copies. We propose that this member of the Oceanospirillales group would be an important oil degrader when oil spills are treated with dispersant

Diversity matters for HC degradation

Soil microbiome modification may alter system function, which may enhance processes like bioremediation. In this study, we filled microcosms with gamma-irradiated soil that was reinoculated with the initial soil or cultivated bacterial subsets obtained on regular media (REG-M) or media containing crude oil (CO-M). We allowed 8 weeks for microbiome stabilization, added crude oil and monoammonium phosphate, incubated the microcosms for another 6 weeks, and then measured the biodegradation of crude oil components, bacterial taxonomy, and functional gene composition. We hypothesized that the biodegradation of targeted crude oil components would be enhanced by limiting the microbial taxa competing for resources and by specifically selecting bacteria involved in crude oil biodegradation (i.e., CO-M). Postincubation, large differences in taxonomy and functional gene composition between the three microbiome types remained, indicating that purposeful soil microbiome structuring is feasible. Although phylum-level bacterial taxonomy was constrained, operational taxonomic unit composition varied between microbiome types. Contrary to our hypothesis, the biodegradation of C10 to C50 hydrocarbons was highest when the original microbiome was reinoculated, despite a higher relative abundance of alkane hydroxylase genes in the CO-M microbiomes and of carbon-processing genes in the REG-M microbiomes. Despite increases in the relative abundances of genes potentially linked to hydrocarbon processing in cultivated subsets of the microbiome, reinoculation of the initial microbiome led to maximum biodegradation.

The willow microbiome

The interaction between plants and microorganisms, which is the driving force behind the decontamination of petroleum hydrocarbon (PHC) contamination in phytoremediation technology, is poorly understood. Here, we aimed at characterizing the variations between plant compartments in the microbiome of two willow cultivars growing in contaminated soils. A field experiment was set-up at a former petrochemical plant in Canada and after two growing seasons, bulk soil, rhizosphere soil, roots, and stems samples of two willow cultivars (Salix purpurea cv. FishCreek, and Salix miyabeana cv. SX67) growing at three PHC contamination concentrations were taken. DNA was extracted and bacterial 16S rRNA gene and fungal internal transcribed spacer (ITS) regions were amplified and sequenced using an Ion Torrent Personal Genome Machine (PGM). Following multivariate statistical analyses, the level of PHC-contamination appeared as the primary factor influencing the willow microbiome with compartment-specific effects, with significant differences between the responses of bacterial, and fungal communities. Increasing PHC contamination levels resulted in shifts in the microbiome composition, favoring putative hydrocarbon degraders, and microorganisms previously reported as associated with plant health. These shifts were less drastic in the rhizosphere, root, and stem tissues as compared to bulk soil, probably because the willows provided a more controlled environment, and thus, protected microbial communities against increasing contamination levels. Insights from this study will help to devise optimal plant microbiomes for increasing the efficiency of phytoremediation technology.

Metagenomics for pathogen detection in biosolids
Detection of virulence genes

The use of treated municipal wastewater residues (biosolids) as fertilizers is an attractive, inexpensive option for growers and farmers. Various regulatory bodies typically employ indicator organisms (fecal coliforms, Ecoli and Salmonella) to assess the adequacy and efficiency of the wastewater treatment process in reducing pathogen loads in the final product. Molecular detection approaches can offer some advantages over culture-based methods as they can simultaneously detect a wider microbial species range, including non-cultivable microorganisms. However, they cannot directly assess the viability of the pathogens. Here, we used bacterial enumeration methods together with molecular methods including qPCR, 16S rRNA and cpn60 gene amplicon sequencing and shotgun metagenomic sequencing to compare pre- and post-treatment biosolids from two Canadian wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs). Our results show that an anaerobic digestion WWTP was unsuccessful at reducing the live indicator organism load (coliforms, generic Ecoli and Salmonella) below acceptable regulatory criteria, while biosolids from a dewatering/pelletization WWTP met these criteria. DNA from other pathogens was detected by the molecular methods, but these species were considered less abundant. Clostridium DNA increased significantly following anaerobic digestion treatments. In addition to pathogen DNA, genes related to virulence and antibiotic resistance were identified in treated biosolids. Shotgun metagenomics revealed the widest range of pathogen DNA and, among the approaches used here, was the only approach that could access functional gene information in treated biosolids. Overall, our results highlight the potential usefulness of amplicon sequencing and shotgun metagenomics as complementary screening methods that could be used in parallel with culture-based methods, although more detailed comparisons across a wider range of sites would be needed.

Plant microbiome transplantation
Microbiome transplantation modified the growth of willows

Plants interact closely with microbes, which are partly responsible for plant growth, health, and adaptation to stressful environments. Engineering the plant-associated microbiome could improve plant survival and performance in stressful environments such as contaminated soils. Here, willow cuttings were planted into highly petroleum-contaminated soils that had been gamma-irradiated and subjected to one of four treatments: inoculation with rhizosphere soil from a willow that grew well (LA) or sub-optimally (SM) in highly contaminated soils or with bulk soil in which the planted willow had died (DE) or no inoculation (CO). Samples were taken from the starting inoculum, at the beginning of the experiment (T0) and after 100 days of growth (TF). Short hypervariable regions of archaeal/bacterial 16S rRNA genes and the fungal ITS region were amplified from soil DNA extracts and sequenced on the Illumina MiSeq. Willow growth was monitored throughout the experiment, and plant biomass was measured at TF. CO willows were significantly smaller throughout the experiment, while DE willows were the largest at TF. Microbiomes of different treatments were divergent at T0, but for most samples, had converged on highly similar communities by TF. Willow biomass was more strongly linked to overall microbial community structure at T0 than to microbial community structure at TF, and the relative abundance of many genera at T0 was significantly correlated to final willow root and shoot biomass. Although microbial communities had mostly converged at TF, lasting differences in willow growth were observed, probably linked to differences in T0 microbial communities.

Etienne Yergeau,
Jan 25, 2016, 11:35 AM