April 21, 2020  |  

Long metabarcoding of the eukaryotic rDNA operon to phylogenetically and taxonomically resolve environmental diversity

High-throughput environmental DNA metabarcoding has revolutionized the analysis of microbial diversity, but this approach is generally restricted to amplicon sizes below 500 base pairs. These short regions contain limited phylogenetic signal, which makes it impractical to use environmental DNA in full phylogenetic inferences. However, new long-read sequencing technologies such as the Pacific Biosciences platform may provide sufficiently large sequence lengths to overcome the poor phylogenetic resolution of short amplicons. To test this idea, we amplified soil DNA and used PacBio Circular Consensus Sequencing (CCS) to obtain a ~4500 bp region of the eukaryotic rDNA operon spanning most of the small (18S) and large subunit (28S) ribosomal RNA genes. The CCS reads were first treated with a novel curation workflow that generated 650 high-quality OTUs containing the physically linked 18S and 28S regions of the long amplicons. In order to assign taxonomy to these OTUs, we developed a phylogeny-aware approach based on the 18S region that showed greater accuracy and sensitivity than similarity-based and phylogenetic placement-based methods using shorter reads. The taxonomically-annotated OTUs were then combined with available 18S and 28S reference sequences to infer a well-resolved phylogeny spanning all major groups of eukaryotes, allowing to accurately derive the evolutionary origin of environmental diversity. A total of 1019 sequences were included, of which a majority (58%) corresponded to the new long environmental CCS reads. Comparisons to the 18S-only region of our amplicons revealed that the combined 18S-28S genes globally increased the phylogenetic resolution, recovering specific groupings otherwise missing. The long-reads also allowed to directly investigate the relationships among environmental sequences themselves, which represents a key advantage over the placement of short reads on a reference phylogeny. Altogether, our results show that long amplicons can be treated in a full phylogenetic framework to provide greater taxonomic resolution and a robust evolutionary perspective to environmental DNA.


September 22, 2019  |  

Subaerial biofilms on granitic historic buildings: microbial diversity and development of phototrophic multi-species cultures.

Microbial communities of natural subaerial biofilms developed on granitic historic buildings of a World Heritage Site (Santiago de Compostela, NW Spain) were characterized and cultured in liquid BG11 medium. Environmental barcoding through next-generation sequencing (Pacific Biosciences) revealed that the biofilms were mainly composed of species of Chlorophyta (green algae) and Ascomycota (fungi) commonly associated with rock substrata. Richness and diversity were higher for the fungal than for the algal assemblages and fungi showed higher heterogeneity among samples. Cultures derived from natural biofilms showed the establishment of stable microbial communities mainly composed of Chlorophyta and Cyanobacteria. Although most taxa found in these cultures were not common in the original biofilms, they are likely common pioneer colonizers of building stone surfaces, including granite. Stable phototrophic multi-species cultures of known microbial diversity were thus obtained and their reliability to emulate natural colonization on granite should be confirmed in further experiments.


September 22, 2019  |  

Increasing sorghum yields by seed treatment with an aqueous extract of the plant Eclipta alba may involve a dual mechanism of hydropriming and suppression of fungal pathogens

Background Soaking of sorghum seeds for six hours in an aqueous extract of Eclipta alba has been shown to increase the yield of sorghum in field experiments. The effect on yield is known to depend on field location and a mechanism involving pathogen suppression has been proposed. However, it has not been clear to which extent the same effect can be obtained by soaking of seeds in pure water (hydropriming). To address this question, fifty eight field tests were conducted comparing no treatment of seeds, hydropriming and treatment with plant extract. Experiments were distributed over three years in Burkina Faso on three locations previously showing a positive yield response to the plant extract. Results Despite strong variation across locations and years, a mean yield increase of 19.6% was found for hydropriming compared to no treatment (p?


September 22, 2019  |  

Molecular characterization of eukaryotic algal communities in the tropical phyllosphere based on real-time sequencing of the 18S rDNA gene.

Foliicolous algae are a common occurrence in tropical forests. They are referable to a few simple morphotypes (unicellular, sarcinoid-like or filamentous), which makes their morphology of limited usefulness for taxonomic studies and species diversity assessments. The relationship between algal community and their host phyllosphere was not clear. In order to obtain a more accurate assessment, we used single molecule real-time sequencing of the 18S rDNA gene to characterize the eukaryotic algal community in an area of South-western China.We annotated 2922 OTUs belonging to five classes, Ulvophyceae, Trebouxiophyceae, Chlorophyceae, Dinophyceae and Eustigmatophyceae. Novel clades formed by large numbers sequences of green algae were detected in the order Trentepohliales (Ulvophyceae) and the Watanabea clade (Trebouxiophyceae), suggesting that these foliicolous communities may be substantially more diverse than so far appreciated and require further research. Species in Trentepohliales, Watanabea clade and Apatococcus clade were detected as the core members in the phyllosphere community studied. Communities from different host trees and sampling sites were not significantly different in terms of OTUs composition. However, the communities of Musa and Ravenala differed from other host plants significantly at the genus level, since they were dominated by Trebouxiophycean epiphytes.The cryptic diversity of eukaryotic algae especially Chlorophytes in tropical phyllosphere is very high. The community structure at species-level has no significant relationship either with host phyllosphere or locations. The core algal community in tropical phyllopshere is consisted of members from Trentepohliales, Watanabea clade and Apatococcus clade. Our study provided a large amount of novel 18S rDNA sequences that will be useful to unravel the cryptic diversity of phyllosphere eukaryotic algae and for comparisons with similar future studies on this type of communities.


September 22, 2019  |  

Molecular genetic diversity and characterization of conjugation genes in the fish parasite Ichthyophthirius multifiliis.

Ichthyophthirius multifiliis is the etiologic agent of “white spot”, a commercially important disease of freshwater fish. As a parasitic ciliate, I. multifiliis infects numerous host species across a broad geographic range. Although Ichthyophthirius outbreaks are difficult to control, recent sequencing of the I. multifiliis genome has revealed a number of potential metabolic pathways for therapeutic intervention, along with likely vaccine targets for disease prevention. Nonetheless, major gaps exist in our understanding of both the life cycle and population structure of I. multifiliis in the wild. For example, conjugation has never been described in this species, and it is unclear whether I. multifiliis undergoes sexual reproduction, despite the presence of a germline micronucleus. In addition, no good methods exist to distinguish strains, leaving phylogenetic relationships between geographic isolates completely unresolved. Here, we compared nucleotide sequences of SSUrDNA, mitochondrial NADH dehydrogenase subunit I and cox-1 genes, and 14 somatic SNP sites from nine I. multifiliis isolates obtained from four different states in the US since 1995. The mitochondrial sequences effectively distinguished the isolates from one another and divided them into at least two genetically distinct groups. Furthermore, none of the nine isolates shared the same composition of the 14 somatic SNP sites, suggesting that I. multifiliis undergoes sexual reproduction at some point in its life cycle. Finally, compared to the well-studied free-living ciliates Tetrahymena thermophila and Paramecium tetraurelia, I. multifiliis has lost 38% and 29%, respectively, of 16 experimentally confirmed conjugation-related genes, indicating that mechanistic differences in sexual reproduction are likely to exist between I. multifiliis and other ciliate species. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


September 22, 2019  |  

A comprehensive fungi-specific 18S rRNA gene sequence primer toolkit suited for diverse research issues and sequencing platforms.

Several fungi-specific primers target the 18S rRNA gene sequence, one of the prominent markers for fungal classification. The design of most primers goes back to the last decades. Since then, the number of sequences in public databases increased leading to the discovery of new fungal groups and changes in fungal taxonomy. However, no reevaluation of primers was carried out and relevant information on most primers is missing. With this study, we aimed to develop an 18S rRNA gene sequence primer toolkit allowing an easy selection of the best primer pair appropriate for different sequencing platforms, research aims (biodiversity assessment versus isolate classification) and target groups.We performed an intensive literature research, reshuffled existing primers into new pairs, designed new Illumina-primers, and annealing blocking oligonucleotides. A final number of 439 primer pairs were subjected to in silico PCRs. Best primer pairs were selected and experimentally tested. The most promising primer pair with a small amplicon size, nu-SSU-1333-5’/nu-SSU-1647-3′ (FF390/FR-1), was successful in describing fungal communities by Illumina sequencing. Results were confirmed by a simultaneous metagenomics and eukaryote-specific primer approach. Co-amplification occurred in all sample types but was effectively reduced by blocking oligonucleotides.The compiled data revealed the presence of an enormous diversity of fungal 18S rRNA gene primer pairs in terms of fungal coverage, phylum spectrum and co-amplification. Therefore, the primer pair has to be carefully selected to fulfill the requirements of the individual research projects. The presented primer toolkit offers comprehensive lists of 164 primers, 439 primer combinations, 4 blocking oligonucleotides, and top primer pairs holding all relevant information including primer’s characteristics and performance to facilitate primer pair selection.


September 22, 2019  |  

Fungal ITS1 deep-sequencing strategies to reconstruct the composition of a 26-species community and evaluation of the gut mycobiota of healthy Japanese individuals.

The study of mycobiota remains relatively unexplored due to the lack of sufficient available reference strains and databases compared to those of bacterial microbiome studies. Deep sequencing of Internal Transcribed Spacer (ITS) regions is the de facto standard for fungal diversity analysis. However, results are often biased because of the wide variety of sequence lengths in the ITS regions and the complexity of high-throughput sequencing (HTS) technologies. In this study, a curated ITS database, ntF-ITS1, was constructed. This database can be utilized for the taxonomic assignment of fungal community members. We evaluated the efficacy of strategies for mycobiome analysis by using this database and characterizing a mock fungal community consisting of 26 species representing 15 genera using ITS1 sequencing with three HTS platforms: Illumina MiSeq (MiSeq), Ion Torrent Personal Genome Machine (IonPGM), and Pacific Biosciences (PacBio). Our evaluation demonstrated that PacBio’s circular consensus sequencing with greater than 8 full-passes most accurately reconstructed the composition of the mock community. Using this strategy for deep-sequencing analysis of the gut mycobiota in healthy Japanese individuals revealed two major mycobiota types: a single-species type composed of Candida albicans or Saccharomyces cerevisiae and a multi-species type. In this study, we proposed the best possible processing strategies for the three sequencing platforms, of which, the PacBio platform allowed for the most accurate estimation of the fungal community. The database and methodology described here provide critical tools for the emerging field of mycobiome studies.


September 22, 2019  |  

A quantitative SMRT cell sequencing method for ribosomal amplicons.

Advances in sequencing technologies continue to provide unprecedented opportunities to characterize microbial communities. For example, the Pacific Biosciences Single Molecule Real-Time (SMRT) platform has emerged as a unique approach harnessing DNA polymerase activity to sequence template molecules, enabling long reads at low costs. With the aim to simultaneously classify and enumerate in situ microbial populations, we developed a quantitative SMRT (qSMRT) approach that involves the addition of exogenous standards to quantify ribosomal amplicons derived from environmental samples. The V7-9 regions of 18S SSU rDNA were targeted and quantified from protistan community samples collected in the Ross Sea during the Austral summer of 2011. We used three standards of different length and optimized conditions to obtain accurate quantitative retrieval across the range of expected amplicon sizes, a necessary criterion for analyzing taxonomically diverse 18S rDNA molecules from natural environments. The ability to concurrently identify and quantify microorganisms in their natural environment makes qSMRT a powerful, rapid and cost-effective approach for defining ecosystem diversity and function. Copyright © 2017 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


September 22, 2019  |  

Enigmatic Diphyllatea eukaryotes: culturing and targeted PacBio RS amplicon sequencing reveals a higher order taxonomic diversity and global distribution.

The class Diphyllatea belongs to a group of enigmatic unicellular eukaryotes that play a key role in reconstructing the morphological innovation and diversification of early eukaryotic evolution. Despite its evolutionary significance, very little is known about the phylogeny and species diversity of Diphyllatea. Only three species have described morphology, being taxonomically divided by flagella number, two or four, and cell size. Currently, one 18S rRNA Diphyllatea sequence is available, with environmental sequencing surveys reporting only a single partial sequence from a Diphyllatea-like organism. Accordingly, geographical distribution of Diphyllatea based on molecular data is limited, despite morphological data suggesting the class has a global distribution. We here present a first attempt to understand species distribution, diversity and higher order structure of Diphyllatea.We cultured 11 new strains, characterised these morphologically and amplified their rRNA for a combined 18S-28S rRNA phylogeny. We sampled environmental DNA from multiple sites and designed new Diphyllatea-specific PCR primers for long-read PacBio RSII technology. Near full-length 18S rRNA sequences from environmental DNA, in addition to supplementary Diphyllatea sequence data mined from public databases, resolved the phylogeny into three deeply branching and distinct clades (Diphy I – III). Of these, the Diphy III clade is entirely novel, and in congruence with Diphy II, composed of species morphologically consistent with the earlier described Collodictyon triciliatum. The phylogenetic split between the Diphy I and Diphy II?+?III clades corresponds with a morphological division of Diphyllatea into bi- and quadriflagellate cell forms.This altered flagella composition must have occurred early in the diversification of Diphyllatea and may represent one of the earliest known morphological transitions among eukaryotes. Further, the substantial increase in molecular data presented here confirms Diphyllatea has a global distribution, seemingly restricted to freshwater habitats. Altogether, the results reveal the advantage of combining a group-specific PCR approach and long-read high-throughput amplicon sequencing in surveying enigmatic eukaryote lineages. Lastly, our study shows the capacity of PacBio RS when targeting a protist class for increasing phylogenetic resolution.


September 22, 2019  |  

Mesoscale variability of the summer bloom over the northern Ross Sea shelf: A tale of two banks

Multi-year satellite records indicate an asymmetric spatial pattern in the summer bloom in the Northern Ross Sea, with the largest blooms over the shallows of Pennell Bank compared to Mawson Bank. In 2010–2011, high-resolution spatiotemporal in situ sampling focused on these two banks to better understand factors contributing to this pattern. Dissolved and particulate Fe profiles suggested similar surface water depletion of dissolved Fe on both banks. The surface sediments and velocity observations indicate a more energetic water column over Mawson Bank. Consequently, the surface mixed layer over Pennell Bank was more homogeneous and shallower. Over Mawson Bank we observed a thicker more homogeneous bottom boundary layer resulting from stronger tidal and sub-tidal currents. These stronger currents scour the seafloor resulting in sediments less likely to release additional sedimentary iron. Estimates of the quantum yield of photosynthesis and the initial slope of the photosynthesis-irradiance response were lower over Mawson Bank, indicating higher iron stress over Mawson Bank. Overall, the apparent additional sedimentary source of iron to, and longer surface residence time over Pennell Bank, as well as the reduced fluxes from the more isolated bottom mixed layer over Mawson Bank, sustain the observed asymmetric pattern across both banks.


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