April 21, 2020  |  

Investigating the role of exudates in recruiting Streptomyces bacteria to the Arabidopsis thaliana root microbiome

Arabidopsis thaliana has a diverse but consistent root microbiome, recruited in part by the release of fixed carbon in root exudates. Here we focussed on the recruitment of Streptomyces bacteria, which are well established plant-growth-promoting rhizobacteria and which have been proposed to be recruited to A. thaliana roots by the release of salicylic acid. We generated high quality genome sequences for eight Streptomyces endophyte strains and showed that although some strains do enhance plant growth, they are not attracted to, and do not feed on, salicyclic acid. We used 13CO2 DNA-stable isotope probing to determine which bacteria are fed by the plants in the rhizo- and endosphere and found that streptomycetes did not feed on root exudates in vivo, despite the fact that they can use exudate as sole carbon and nitrogen sources in vitro. We confirmed increased root colonisation by streptomycetes in plants that constitutively produce salicylic acid, but these plants exhibited a pleiotropic phenotype of early senescence and weak growth. We propose that streptomycetes are attracted to the rhizosphere by root exudates but can be outcompeted for this food source by more abundant proteobacteria and most likely feed off unlabelled complex organic matter.


April 21, 2020  |  

A critical comparison of technologies for a plant genome sequencing project.

A high-quality genome sequence of any model organism is an essential starting point for genetic and other studies. Older clone-based methods are slow and expensive, whereas faster, cheaper short-read-only assemblies can be incomplete and highly fragmented, which minimizes their usefulness. The last few years have seen the introduction of many new technologies for genome assembly. These new technologies and associated new algorithms are typically benchmarked on microbial genomes or, if they scale appropriately, on larger (e.g., human) genomes. However, plant genomes can be much more repetitive and larger than the human genome, and plant biochemistry often makes obtaining high-quality DNA that is free from contaminants difficult. Reflecting their challenging nature, we observe that plant genome assembly statistics are typically poorer than for vertebrates.Here, we compare Illumina short read, Pacific Biosciences long read, 10x Genomics linked reads, Dovetail Hi-C, and BioNano Genomics optical maps, singly and combined, in producing high-quality long-range genome assemblies of the potato species Solanum verrucosum. We benchmark the assemblies for completeness and accuracy, as well as DNA compute requirements and sequencing costs.The field of genome sequencing and assembly is reaching maturity, and the differences we observe between assemblies are surprisingly small. We expect that our results will be helpful to other genome projects, and that these datasets will be used in benchmarking by assembly algorithm developers. © The Author(s) 2019. Published by Oxford University Press.


April 21, 2020  |  

Biphasic cellular adaptations and ecological implications of Alteromonas macleodii degrading a mixture of algal polysaccharides.

Algal polysaccharides are an important bacterial nutrient source and central component of marine food webs. However, cellular and ecological aspects concerning the bacterial degradation of polysaccharide mixtures, as presumably abundant in natural habitats, are poorly understood. Here, we contextualize marine polysaccharide mixtures and their bacterial utilization in several ways using the model bacterium Alteromonas macleodii 83-1, which can degrade multiple algal polysaccharides and contributes to polysaccharide degradation in the oceans. Transcriptomic, proteomic and exometabolomic profiling revealed cellular adaptations of A. macleodii 83-1 when degrading a mix of laminarin, alginate and pectin. Strain 83-1 exhibited substrate prioritization driven by catabolite repression, with initial laminarin utilization followed by simultaneous alginate/pectin utilization. This biphasic phenotype coincided with pronounced shifts in gene expression, protein abundance and metabolite secretion, mainly involving CAZymes/polysaccharide utilization loci but also other functional traits. Distinct temporal changes in exometabolome composition, including the alginate/pectin-specific secretion of pyrroloquinoline quinone, suggest that substrate-dependent adaptations influence chemical interactions within the community. The ecological relevance of cellular adaptations was underlined by molecular evidence that common marine macroalgae, in particular Saccharina and Fucus, release mixtures of alginate and pectin-like rhamnogalacturonan. Moreover, CAZyme microdiversity and the genomic predisposition towards polysaccharide mixtures among Alteromonas spp. suggest polysaccharide-related traits as an ecophysiological factor, potentially relating to distinct ‘carbohydrate utilization types’ with different ecological strategies. Considering the substantial primary productivity of algae on global scales, these insights contribute to the understanding of bacteria-algae interactions and the remineralization of chemically diverse polysaccharide pools, a key step in marine carbon cycling.


April 21, 2020  |  

A well supported multi gene phylogeny of 52 dictyostelia.

The Dictyostelid social amoebas are a popular model system for cell- and developmental biology and for evolution of sociality. Small subunit (SSU) ribosomal DNA-based phylogenies subdivide the known 150 species into four major and some minor groups, but lack resolution within groups, particularly group 4, and, as shown by genome-based phylogenies of 11 species, showed errors in the position of the root and nodes separating major clades. We are interested in the evolution of cell-type specialization, which particularly expanded in group 4. To construct a more robust phylogeny, we first included 7 recently sequenced genomes in the genome-based phylogeny of 47 functionally divergent proteins and next selected 6 proteins (Agl, AmdA, PurD, PurL, RpaA, SmdA) that independently or in sets of two fully reproduced the core-phylogeny. We amplified their coding regions from 34 Dictyostelium species and combined their concatenated sequences with those identified in the 18 genomes to generate a fully resolved phylogeny. The new AAPPRS based phylogeny (after the acronym of the 6 proteins) subdivides group 4 into 2 branches. These branches further resolve into 5 clades, rather than the progressively nested group 4 topology of the SSU rDNA tree, and also re-orders taxa in the other major groups. Ancestral state reconstruction of 25 phenotypic traits returned higher “goodness of fit” metrics for evolution of 19 of those traits over the AAPPRS tree, than over the SSU rDNA tree. The novel tree provides a solid framework for studying the evolution of cell-type specialization, signalling and other cellular processes in particularly group 4, which contains the model Dictyostelid D. discoideum. Copyright © 2019 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


September 22, 2019  |  

Leveraging multiple transcriptome assembly methods for improved gene structure annotation.

The performance of RNA sequencing (RNA-seq) aligners and assemblers varies greatly across different organisms and experiments, and often the optimal approach is not known beforehand.Here, we show that the accuracy of transcript reconstruction can be boosted by combining multiple methods, and we present a novel algorithm to integrate multiple RNA-seq assemblies into a coherent transcript annotation. Our algorithm can remove redundancies and select the best transcript models according to user-specified metrics, while solving common artifacts such as erroneous transcript chimerisms.We have implemented this method in an open-source Python3 and Cython program, Mikado, available on GitHub.


September 22, 2019  |  

An improved assembly and annotation of the allohexaploid wheat genome identifies complete families of agronomic genes and provides genomic evidence for chromosomal translocations.

Advances in genome sequencing and assembly technologies are generating many high-quality genome sequences, but assemblies of large, repeat-rich polyploid genomes, such as that of bread wheat, remain fragmented and incomplete. We have generated a new wheat whole-genome shotgun sequence assembly using a combination of optimized data types and an assembly algorithm designed to deal with large and complex genomes. The new assembly represents >78% of the genome with a scaffold N50 of 88.8 kb that has a high fidelity to the input data. Our new annotation combines strand-specific Illumina RNA-seq and Pacific Biosciences (PacBio) full-length cDNAs to identify 104,091 high-confidence protein-coding genes and 10,156 noncoding RNA genes. We confirmed three known and identified one novel genome rearrangements. Our approach enables the rapid and scalable assembly of wheat genomes, the identification of structural variants, and the definition of complete gene models, all powerful resources for trait analysis and breeding of this key global crop. © 2017 Clavijo et al.; Published by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press.


September 22, 2019  |  

Defining cell identity with single cell omics.

Cells are a fundamental unit of life, and the ability to study the phenotypes and behaviors of individual cells is crucial to understanding the workings of complex biological systems. Cell phenotypes (epigenomic, transcriptomic, proteomic, and metabolomic) exhibit dramatic heterogeneity between and within the different cell types and states underlying cellular functional diversity. Cell genotypes can also display heterogeneity throughout an organism, in the form of somatic genetic variation-most notably in the emergence and evolution of tumors. Recent technical advances in single-cell isolation and the development of omics approaches sensitive enough to reveal these aspects of cell identity have enabled a revolution in the study of multicellular systems. In this review, we discuss the technologies available to resolve the genomes, epigenomes, transcriptomes, proteomes, and metabolomes of single cells from a wide variety of living systems.© 2018 The Authors. Proteomics Published by WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim.


September 22, 2019  |  

Functional characterization of the mucus barrier on the Xenopus tropicalis skin surface.

Mucosal surfaces represent critical routes for entry and exit of pathogens. As such, animals have evolved strategies to combat infection at these sites, in particular the production of mucus to prevent attachment and to promote subsequent movement of the mucus/microbe away from the underlying epithelial surface. Using biochemical, biophysical, and infection studies, we have investigated the host protective properties of the skin mucus barrier of the Xenopus tropicalis tadpole. Specifically, we have characterized the major structural component of the barrier and shown that it is a mucin glycoprotein (Otogelin-like or Otogl) with similar sequence, domain organization, and structural properties to human gel-forming mucins. This mucin forms the structural basis of a surface barrier (~6 µm thick), which is depleted through knockdown of Otogl. Crucially, Otogl knockdown leads to susceptibility to infection by the opportunistic pathogen Aeromonas hydrophila To more accurately reflect its structure, tissue localization, and function, we have renamed Otogl as Xenopus Skin Mucin, or MucXS. Our findings characterize an accessible and tractable model system to define mucus barrier function and host-microbe interactions. Copyright © 2018 the Author(s). Published by PNAS.


September 22, 2019  |  

An ancient integration in a plant NLR is maintained as a trans-species polymorphism

Plant immune receptors are under constant selective pressure to maintain resistance to plant pathogens. Nucleotide-binding leucine-rich repeat (NLR) proteins are one class of cytoplasmic immune receptors whose genes commonly show signatures of adaptive evolution. While it is known that balancing selection contributes to maintaining high intraspecific allelic diversity, the evolutionary mechanism that influences the transmission of alleles during speciation remains unclear. The barley Mla locus has over 30 described alleles conferring isolate-specific resistance to barley powdery mildew and contains three NLR families (RGH1, RGH2, and RGH3). We discovered (using sequence capture and RNAseq) the presence of a novel integrated Exo70 domain in RGH2 in the Mla3 haplotype. Allelic variation across barley accessions includes presence/absence of the integrated domain in RGH2. Expanding our search to several Poaceae species, we found shared interspecific conservation in the RGH2-Exo70 integration. We hypothesise that balancing selection has maintained allelic variation at Mla as a trans-species polymorphism over 24 My, thus contributing to and preserving interspecific allelic diversity during speciation.


September 22, 2019  |  

Identification of candidate genes at the Dp-fl locus conferring resistance against the rosy apple aphid Dysaphis plantaginea

The cultivated apple is susceptible to several pests including the rosy apple aphid (RAA; Dysaphis plantaginea Passerini), control of which is mainly based on chemical treatments. A few cases of resistance to aphids have been described in apple germplasm resources, laying the basis for the development of new resistant cultivars by breeding. The cultivar ‘Florina’ is resistant to RAA, and recently, the Dp-fl locus responsible for its resistance was mapped on linkage group 8 of the apple genome. In this paper, a chromosome walking approach was performed by using a ‘Florina’ bacterial artificial chromosome (BAC) library. The walking started from the available tightly linked molecular markers flanking the resistance region. Various walking steps were performed in order to identify the minimum tiling path of BAC clones covering the Dp-fl region from both the “resistant” and “susceptible” chromosomes of ‘Florina’. A genomic region of about 279 Kb encompassing the Dp-fl resistance locus was fully sequenced by the PacBio technology. Through the development of new polymorphic markers, the mapping interval around the resistance locus was narrowed down to a physical region of 95 Kb. The annotation of this sequence resulted in the identification of four candidate genes putatively involved in the RAA resistance response.


September 22, 2019  |  

Comparative genomics of bdelloid rotifers: Insights from desiccating and nondesiccating species.

Bdelloid rotifers are a class of microscopic invertebrates that have existed for millions of years apparently without sex or meiosis. They inhabit a variety of temporary and permanent freshwater habitats globally, and many species are remarkably tolerant of desiccation. Bdelloids offer an opportunity to better understand the evolution of sex and recombination, but previous work has emphasised desiccation as the cause of several unusual genomic features in this group. Here, we present high-quality whole-genome sequences of 3 bdelloid species: Rotaria macrura and R. magnacalcarata, which are both desiccation intolerant, and Adineta ricciae, which is desiccation tolerant. In combination with the published assembly of A. vaga, which is also desiccation tolerant, we apply a comparative genomics approach to evaluate the potential effects of desiccation tolerance and asexuality on genome evolution in bdelloids. We find that ancestral tetraploidy is conserved among all 4 bdelloid species, but homologous divergence in obligately aquatic Rotaria genomes is unexpectedly low. This finding is contrary to current models regarding the role of desiccation in shaping bdelloid genomes. In addition, we find that homologous regions in A. ricciae are largely collinear and do not form palindromic repeats as observed in the published A. vaga assembly. Consequently, several features interpreted as genomic evidence for long-term ameiotic evolution are not general to all bdelloid species, even within the same genus. Finally, we substantiate previous findings of high levels of horizontally transferred nonmetazoan genes in both desiccating and nondesiccating bdelloid species and show that this unusual feature is not shared by other animal phyla, even those with desiccation-tolerant representatives. These comparisons call into question the proposed role of desiccation in mediating horizontal genetic transfer.


September 22, 2019  |  

Biosynthesis of the 15-membered ring depsipeptide neoantimycin.

Antimycins are a family of natural products possessing outstanding biological activities and unique structures, which have intrigued chemists for over a half century. Of particular interest are the ring-expanded antimycins that show promising anticancer potential and whose biosynthesis remains uncharacterized. Specifically, neoantimycin and its analogs have been shown to be effective regulators of the oncogenic proteins GRP78/BiP and K-Ras. The neoantimycin structural skeleton is built on a 15-membered tetralactone ring containing one methyl, one hydroxy, one benzyl, and three alkyl moieties, as well as an amide linkage to a conserved 3-formamidosalicylic acid moiety. Although the biosynthetic gene cluster for neoantimycins was recently identified, the enzymatic logic that governs the synthesis of neoantimycins has not yet been revealed. In this work, the neoantimycin gene cluster is identified, and an updated sequence and annotation is provided delineating a nonribosomal peptide synthetase/polyketide synthase (NRPS/PKS) hybrid scaffold. Using cosmid expression and CRISPR/Cas-based genome editing, several heterologous expression strains for neoantimycin production are constructed in two separate Streptomyces species. A combination of in vivo and in vitro analysis is further used to completely characterize the biosynthesis of neoantimycins including the megasynthases and trans-acting domains. This work establishes a set of highly tractable hosts for producing and engineering neoantimycins and their C11 oxidized analogs, paving the way for neoantimycin-based drug discovery and development.


September 22, 2019  |  

Signatures of host specialization and a recent transposable element burst in the dynamic one-speed genome of the fungal barley powdery mildew pathogen.

Powdery mildews are biotrophic pathogenic fungi infecting a number of economically important plants. The grass powdery mildew, Blumeria graminis, has become a model organism to study host specialization of obligate biotrophic fungal pathogens. We resolved the large-scale genomic architecture of B. graminis forma specialis hordei (Bgh) to explore the potential influence of its genome organization on the co-evolutionary process with its host plant, barley (Hordeum vulgare).The near-chromosome level assemblies of the Bgh reference isolate DH14 and one of the most diversified isolates, RACE1, enabled a comparative analysis of these haploid genomes, which are highly enriched with transposable elements (TEs). We found largely retained genome synteny and gene repertoires, yet detected copy number variation (CNV) of secretion signal peptide-containing protein-coding genes (SPs) and locally disrupted synteny blocks. Genes coding for sequence-related SPs are often locally clustered, but neither the SPs nor the TEs reside preferentially in genomic regions with unique features. Extended comparative analysis with different host-specific B. graminis formae speciales revealed the existence of a core suite of SPs, but also isolate-specific SP sets as well as congruence of SP CNV and phylogenetic relationship. We further detected evidence for a recent, lineage-specific expansion of TEs in the Bgh genome.The characteristics of the Bgh genome (largely retained synteny, CNV of SP genes, recently proliferated TEs and a lack of significant compartmentalization) are consistent with a “one-speed” genome that differs in its architecture and (co-)evolutionary pattern from the “two-speed” genomes reported for several other filamentous phytopathogens.


September 22, 2019  |  

Comparative genomics of Pseudomonas syringae reveals convergent gene gain and loss associated with specialization onto cherry (Prunus avium).

Genome-wide analyses of the effector- and toxin-encoding genes were used to examine the phylogenetics and evolution of pathogenicity amongst diverse strains of Pseudomonas syringae causing bacterial canker of cherry (Prunus avium), including pathovars P. syringae pv morsprunorum (Psm) races 1 and 2, P. syringae pv syringae (Pss) and P. syringae pv avii. Phylogenetic analyses revealed Psm races and P. syringae pv avii clades were distinct and were each monophyletic, whereas cherry-pathogenic strains of Pss were interspersed amongst strains from other host species. A maximum likelihood approach was used to predict effectors associated with pathogenicity on cherry. Pss possesses a smaller repertoire of type III effectors but has more toxin biosynthesis clusters than Psm and P. syringae pv avii. Evolution of cherry pathogenicity was correlated with gain of genes such as hopAR1 and hopBB1 through putative phage transfer and horizontal transfer respectively. By contrast, loss of the avrPto/hopAB redundant effector group was observed in cherry-pathogenic clades. Ectopic expression of hopAB and hopC1 triggered the hypersensitive reaction in cherry leaves, confirming computational predictions. Cherry canker provides a fascinating example of convergent evolution of pathogenicity that is explained by the mix of effector and toxin repertoires acting on a common host.© 2018 The Authors. New Phytologist © 2018 New Phytologist Trust.


September 22, 2019  |  

Characterisation of pathogen-specific regions and novel effector candidates in Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. cepae.

A reference-quality assembly of Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. cepae (Foc), the causative agent of onion basal rot has been generated along with genomes of additional pathogenic and non-pathogenic isolates of onion. Phylogenetic analysis confirmed a single origin of the Foc pathogenic lineage. Genome alignments with other F. oxysporum ff. spp. and non pathogens revealed high levels of syntenic conservation of core chromosomes but little synteny between lineage specific (LS) chromosomes. Four LS contigs in Foc totaling 3.9?Mb were designated as pathogen-specific (PS). A two-fold increase in segmental duplication events was observed between LS regions of the genome compared to within core regions or from LS regions to the core. RNA-seq expression studies identified candidate effectors expressed in planta, consisting of both known effector homologs and novel candidates. FTF1 and a subset of other transcription factors implicated in regulation of effector expression were found to be expressed in planta.


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