June 1, 2021  |  

Accurately surveying uncultured microbial species with SMRT Sequencing

Background: Microbial ecology is reshaping our understanding of the natural world by revealing the large phylogenetic and functional diversity of microbial life. However the vast majority of these microorganisms remain poorly understood, as most cultivated representatives belong to just four phylogenetic groups and more than half of all identified phyla remain uncultivated. Characterization of this microbial ‘dark matter’ will thus greatly benefit from new metagenomic methods for in situ analysis. For example, sensitive high throughput methods for the characterization of community composition and structure from the sequencing of conserved marker genes. Methods: Here we utilize Single Molecule Real-Time (SMRT) sequencing of full-length 16S rRNA amplicons to phylogenetically profile microbial communities to below the genus-level. We test this method on a mock community of known composition, as well as a previously studied microbial community from a lake known to predominantly contain poorly characterized phyla. These results are compared to traditional 16S tag sequencing from short-read technologies and subsets of the full-length data corresponding to the same regions of the 16S gene. Results: We explore the benefits of using full-length amplicons for estimating community structure and diversity. In addition, we investigate the possible effects of context-specific and GC-content biases known to affect short-read sequencing technologies on the predicted community structure. We characterize the potential benefits of profiling metagenomic communities with full-length 16S rRNA genes from SMRT sequencing relative to standard methods.


June 1, 2021  |  

SMRT Sequencing of the alala genome

Single Molecule Real-Time (SMRT) Sequencing was used to generate long reads for whole genome shotgun sequencing of the genome of the`alala (Hawaiian crow). The ‘alala is endemic to Hawaii, and the only surviving lineage of the crow family, Corvidae, in the Hawaiian Islands. The population declined to less than 20 individuals in the 1990s, and today this charismatic species is extinct in the wild. Currently existing in only two captive breeding facilities, reintroduction of the ‘alala is scheduled to begin in the Fall of 2016. Reintroduction efforts will be assisted by information from the ‘alala genome generated and assembled by SMRT Technology, which will allow detailed analysis of genes associated with immunity, behavior, and learning. Using SMRT Sequencing, we present here best practices for achieving long reads for whole genome shotgun sequencing for complex plant and animal genomes such as the ‘alala genome. With recent advances in SMRTbell library preparation, P6-C4 chemistry and 6-hour movies, the number of useable bases now exceeds 1 Gb per SMRT Cell. Read lengths averaging 10 – 15 kb can be routinely achieved, with the longest reads approaching 70 kb. Furthermore, > 25% of useable bases are in reads greater than 30 kb, advantageous for generating contiguous draft assemblies of contig N50 up to 5 Mb. De novo assemblies of large genomes are now more tractable using SMRT Sequencing as the standalone technology. We also present guidelines for planning out projects for the de novo assembly of large genomes.


June 1, 2021  |  

De novo PacBio long-read assembled avian genomes correct and add to genes important in neuroscience and conservation research

To test the impact of high-quality genome assemblies on biological research, we applied PacBio long-read sequencing in conjunction with the new, diploid-aware FALCON-Unzip assembler to a number of bird species. These included: the zebra finch, for which a consortium-generated, Sanger-based reference exists, to determine how the FALCON-Unzip assembly would compare to the current best references available; Anna’s hummingbird genome, which had been assembled with short-read sequencing methods as part of the Avian Phylogenomics phase I initiative; and two critically endangered bird species (kakapo and ‘alala) of high importance for conservations efforts, whose genomes had not previously been sequenced and assembled.


September 22, 2019  |  

An environmental bacterial taxon with a large and distinct metabolic repertoire.

Cultivated bacteria such as actinomycetes are a highly useful source of biomedically important natural products. However, such ‘talented’ producers represent only a minute fraction of the entire, mostly uncultivated, prokaryotic diversity. The uncultured majority is generally perceived as a large, untapped resource of new drug candidates, but so far it is unknown whether taxa containing talented bacteria indeed exist. Here we report the single-cell- and metagenomics-based discovery of such producers. Two phylotypes of the candidate genus ‘Entotheonella’ with genomes of greater than 9 megabases and multiple, distinct biosynthetic gene clusters co-inhabit the chemically and microbially rich marine sponge Theonella swinhoei. Almost all bioactive polyketides and peptides known from this animal were attributed to a single phylotype. ‘Entotheonella’ spp. are widely distributed in sponges and belong to an environmental taxon proposed here as candidate phylum ‘Tectomicrobia’. The pronounced bioactivities and chemical uniqueness of ‘Entotheonella’ compounds provide significant opportunities for ecological studies and drug discovery.


September 22, 2019  |  

Differential responses of total and active soil microbial communities to long-term experimental N deposition

Abstract The relationship between total and metabolically active soil microbial communities can provide insight into how these communities are impacted by environmental change, which may impact the flow of energy and cycling of nutrients in the future. For example, the anthropogenic release of biologically available N has dramatically increased over the last 150 years, which can alter the processes controlling C storage in terrestrial ecosystems. In a northern hardwood forest ecosystem located in Michigan, USA, nearly 20 years of experimentally increased atmospheric N deposition has reduced forest floor decay and increased soil C storage. A microbial mechanism underlies this response, as compositional changes in the soil microbial community have been concomitantly documented with these biogeochemical changes. Here, we co-extracted DNA and RNA from decaying leaf litter to determine if experimental atmospheric N deposition has lowered the diversity and altered the composition of the whole communities of bacteria and fungi (i.e., DNA-based) and well as its active members (i.e., RNA-based). In our experiment, experimental N deposition did not affect the composition, diversity, or richness of the total forest floor fungal community, but did lower the diversity (-8%), as well as altered the composition of the active fungal community. In contrast, neither the total nor active forest floor bacterial community was significantly affected by experimental N deposition. Our results suggest that future rates of atmospheric N deposition can fundamentally alter the organization of the saprotrophic soil fungal community, key mediators of C cycling in terrestrial environments.


September 22, 2019  |  

Microbial phylogenetic profiling with the Pacific Biosciences sequencing platform.

High-throughput sequencing of 16S rRNA gene amplicons has revolutionized the capacity and depth of microbial community profiling. Several sequencing platforms are available, but most phylogenetic studies are performed on the 454-pyrosequencing platform because its longer reads can give finer phylogenetic resolution. The Pacific Biosciences (PacBio) sequencing platform is significantly less expensive per run, does not rely on amplification for library generation, and generates reads that are, on average, four times longer than those from 454 (C2 chemistry), but the resulting high error rates appear to preclude its use in phylogenetic profiling. Recently, however, the PacBio platform was used to characterize four electrosynthetic microbiomes to the genus-level for less than USD 1,000 through the use of PacBio’s circular consensus sequence technology. Here, we describe in greater detail: 1) the output from successful 16S rRNA gene amplicon profiling with PacBio, 2) how the analysis was contingent upon several alterations to standard bioinformatic quality control workflows, and 3) the advantages and disadvantages of using the PacBio platform for community profiling.


September 22, 2019  |  

A microbial clock provides an accurate estimate of the postmortem interval in a mouse model system.

Establishing the time since death is critical in every death investigation, yet existing techniques are susceptible to a range of errors and biases. For example, forensic entomology is widely used to assess the postmortem interval (PMI), but errors can range from days to months. Microbes may provide a novel method for estimating PMI that avoids many of these limitations. Here we show that postmortem microbial community changes are dramatic, measurable, and repeatable in a mouse model system, allowing PMI to be estimated within approximately 3 days over 48 days. Our results provide a detailed understanding of bacterial and microbial eukaryotic ecology within a decomposing corpse system and suggest that microbial community data can be developed into a forensic tool for estimating PMI. DOI:http://dx.doi.org/10.7554/eLife.01104.001.


September 22, 2019  |  

Soil microbial communities are shaped by plant-driven changes in resource availability during secondary succession.

Although we understand the ecological processes eliciting changes in plant community composition during secondary succession, we do not understand whether co-occurring changes in plant detritus shape saprotrophic microbial communities in soil. In this study, we investigated soil microbial composition and function across an old-field chronosequence ranging from 16 to 86 years following agricultural abandonment, as well as three forests representing potential late-successional ecosystems. Fungal and bacterial community composition was quantified from ribosomal DNA, and insight into the functional potential of the microbial community to decay plant litter was gained from shotgun metagenomics and extracellular enzyme assays. Accumulation of soil organic matter across the chronosequence exerted a positive and significant effect on fungal phylogenetic ß-diversity and the activity of extracellular enzymes with lignocellulolytic activity. In addition, the increasing abundance of lignin-rich C4 grasses was positively related to the composition of fungal genes with lignocellulolytic function, thereby linking plant community composition, litter biochemistry, and microbial community function. However, edaphic properties were the primary agent shaping bacterial communities, as bacterial ß-diversity and variation in functional gene composition displayed a significant and positive relationship to soil pH across the chronosequence. The late-successional forests were compositionally distinct from the oldest old fields, indicating that substantial changes occur in soil microbial communities as old fields give way to forests. Taken together, our observations demonstrate that plants govern the turnover of soil fungal communities and functional characteristics during secondary succession, due to the continual input of detritus and differences in litter biochemistry among plant species.


September 22, 2019  |  

Single cell genomic study of Dehalococcoidetes species from deep-sea sediments of the Peruvian Margin.

The phylum Chloroflexi is one of the most frequently detected phyla in the subseafloor of the Pacific Ocean margins. Dehalogenating Chloroflexi (Dehalococcoidetes) was originally discovered as the key microorganisms mediating reductive dehalogenation via their key enzymes reductive dehalogenases (Rdh) as sole mode of energy conservation in terrestrial environments. The frequent detection of Dehalococcoidetes-related 16S rRNA and rdh genes in the marine subsurface implies a role for dissimilatory dehalorespiration in this environment; however, the two genes have never been linked to each other. To provide fundamental insights into the metabolism, genomic population structure and evolution of marine subsurface Dehalococcoidetes sp., we analyzed a non-contaminated deep-sea sediment core sample from the Peruvian Margin Ocean Drilling Program (ODP) site 1230, collected 7.3?m below the seafloor by a single cell genomic approach. We present for the first time single cell genomic data on three deep-sea Chloroflexi (Dsc) single cells from a marine subsurface environment. Two of the single cells were considered to be part of a local Dehalococcoidetes population and assembled together into a 1.38-Mb genome, which appears to be at least 85% complete. Despite a high degree of sequence-level similarity between the shared proteins in the Dsc and terrestrial Dehalococcoidetes, no evidence for catabolic reductive dehalogenation was found in Dsc. The genome content is however consistent with a strictly anaerobic organotrophic or lithotrophic lifestyle.


September 22, 2019  |  

Next generation multilocus sequence typing (NGMLST) and the analytical software program MLSTEZ enable efficient, cost-effective, high-throughput, multilocus sequencing typing.

Multilocus sequence typing (MLST) has become the preferred method for genotyping many biological species, and it is especially useful for analyzing haploid eukaryotes. MLST is rigorous, reproducible, and informative, and MLST genotyping has been shown to identify major phylogenetic clades, molecular groups, or subpopulations of a species, as well as individual strains or clones. MLST molecular types often correlate with important phenotypes. Conventional MLST involves the extraction of genomic DNA and the amplification by PCR of several conserved, unlinked gene sequences from a sample of isolates of the taxon under investigation. In some cases, as few as three loci are sufficient to yield definitive results. The amplicons are sequenced, aligned, and compared by phylogenetic methods to distinguish statistically significant differences among individuals and clades. Although MLST is simpler, faster, and less expensive than whole genome sequencing, it is more costly and time-consuming than less reliable genotyping methods (e.g. amplified fragment length polymorphisms). Here, we describe a new MLST method that uses next-generation sequencing, a multiplexing protocol, and appropriate analytical software to provide accurate, rapid, and economical MLST genotyping of 96 or more isolates in single assay. We demonstrate this methodology by genotyping isolates of the well-characterized, human pathogenic yeast Cryptococcus neoformans. Copyright © 2015 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


September 22, 2019  |  

Complex effects of mammalian grazing on extramatrical mycelial biomass in the Scandes forest-tundra ecotone.

Mycorrhizal associations are widespread in high-latitude ecosystems and are potentially of great importance for global carbon dynamics. Although large herbivores play a key part in shaping subarctic plant communities, their impact on mycorrhizal dynamics is largely unknown. We measured extramatrical mycelial (EMM) biomass during one growing season in 16-year-old herbivore exclosures and unenclosed control plots (ambient), at three mountain birch forests and two shrub heath sites, in the Scandes forest-tundra ecotone. We also used high-throughput amplicon sequencing for taxonomic identification to investigate differences in fungal species composition. At the birch forest sites, EMM biomass was significantly higher in exclosures (1.36 ± 0.43 g C/m2) than in ambient conditions (0.66 ± 0.17 g C/m2) and was positively influenced by soil thawing degree-days. At the shrub heath sites, there was no significant effect on EMM biomass (exclosures: 0.72 ± 0.09 g C/m2; ambient plots: 1.43 ± 0.94). However, EMM biomass was negatively related toBetula nanaabundance, which was greater in exclosures, suggesting that grazing affected EMM biomass positively. We found no significant treatment effects on fungal diversity but the most abundant ectomycorrhizal lineage/cortinarius, showed a near-significant positive effect of herbivore exclusion (p = .08), indicating that herbivory also affects fungal community composition. These results suggest that herbivory can influence fungal biomass in highly context-dependent ways in subarctic ecosystems. Considering the importance of root-associated fungi for ecosystem carbon balance, these findings could have far-reaching implications.


September 22, 2019  |  

Laboratory colonization stabilizes the naturally dynamic microbiome composition of field collected Dermacentor andersoni ticks.

Nearly a quarter of emerging infectious diseases identified in the last century are arthropod-borne. Although ticks and insects can carry pathogenic microorganisms, non-pathogenic microbes make up the majority of their microbial communities. The majority of tick microbiome research has had a focus on discovery and description; very few studies have analyzed the ecological context and functional responses of the bacterial microbiome of ticks. The goal of this analysis was to characterize the stability of the bacterial microbiome of Dermacentor andersoni ticks between generations and two populations within a species.The bacterial microbiome of D. andersoni midguts and salivary glands was analyzed from populations collected at two different ecologically distinct sites by comparing field (F1) and lab-reared populations (F1-F3) over three generations. The microbiome composition of pooled and individual samples was analyzed by sequencing nearly full-length 16S rRNA gene amplicons using a Pacific Biosciences CCS platform that allows identification of bacteria to the species level.In this study, we found that the D. andersoni microbiome was distinct in different geographic populations and was tissue specific, differing between the midgut and the salivary gland, over multiple generations. Additionally, our study showed that the microbiomes of laboratory-reared populations were not necessarily representative of their respective field populations. Furthermore, we demonstrated that the microbiome of a few individual ticks does not represent the microbiome composition at the population level.We demonstrated that the bacterial microbiome of D. andersoni was complex over three generations and specific to tick tissue (midgut vs. salivary glands) as well as geographic location (Burns, Oregon vs. Lake Como, Montana vs. laboratory setting). These results provide evidence that habitat of the tick population is a vital component of the complexity of the bacterial microbiome of ticks, and that the microbiome of lab colonies may not allow for comparative analyses with field populations. A broader understanding of microbiome variation will be required if we are to employ manipulation of the microbiome as a method for interfering with acquisition and transmission of tick-borne pathogens.


September 22, 2019  |  

Atmospheric N deposition increases bacterial laccase-like multicopper oxidases: implications for organic matter decay.

Anthropogenic release of biologically available nitrogen (N) has increased dramatically over the last 150 years, which can alter the processes controlling carbon (C) storage in terrestrial ecosystems. In a northern hardwood forest ecosystem located in Michigan in the United States, nearly 20 years of experimentally increased atmospheric N deposition has reduced forest floor decay and increased soil C storage. This change occurred concomitantly with compositional changes in Basidiomycete fungi and in Actinobacteria, as well as the downregulation of fungal lignocelluloytic genes. Recently, laccase-like multicopper oxidases (LMCOs) have been discovered among bacteria which can oxidize ß-O-4 linkages in phenolic compounds (e.g., lignin and humic compounds), resulting in the production of dissolved organic carbon (DOC). Here, we examined how nearly 2 decades of experimental N deposition has affected the abundance and composition of saprotrophic bacteria possessing LMCO genes. In our experiment, LMCO genes were more abundant in the forest floor under experimental N deposition whereas the abundances of bacteria and fungi were unchanged. Experimental N deposition also led to less-diverse, significantly altered bacterial and LMCO gene assemblages, with taxa implicated in organic matter decay (i.e., Actinobacteria, Proteobacteria) accounting for the majority of compositional changes. These results suggest that experimental N deposition favors bacteria in the forest floor that harbor the LMCO gene and represents a plausible mechanism by which anthropogenic N deposition has reduced decomposition, increased soil C storage, and accelerated phenolic DOC production in our field experiment. Our observations suggest that future rates of atmospheric N deposition could fundamentally alter the physiological potential of soil microbial communities. Copyright © 2014, American Society for Microbiology. All Rights Reserved.


September 22, 2019  |  

Assessing the gene content of the megagenome: sugar pine (Pinus lambertiana).

Sugar pine (Pinus lambertiana Douglas) is within the subgenus Strobus with an estimated genome size of 31 Gbp. Transcriptomic resources are of particular interest in conifers due to the challenges presented in their megagenomes for gene identification. In this study, we present the first comprehensive survey of the P. lambertiana transcriptome through deep sequencing of a variety of tissue types to generate more than 2.5 billion short reads. Third generation, long reads generated through PacBio Iso-Seq has been included for the first time in conifers to combat the challenges associated with de novo transcriptome assembly. A technology comparison is provided here contribute to the otherwise scarce comparisons of 2nd and 3rd generation transcriptome sequencing approaches in plant species. In addition, the transcriptome reference was essential for gene model identification and quality assessment in the parallel project responsible for sequencing and assembly of the entire genome. In this study, the transcriptomic data was also used to address some of the questions surrounding lineage-specific Dicer-like proteins in conifers. These proteins play a role in the control of transposable element proliferation and the related genome expansion in conifers. Copyright © 2016 Author et al.


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