Development of high-throughput sequencing techniques have greatly benefited our understanding about microbial ecology; yet the methods producing short reads suffer from species-level resolution and uncertainty of identification. Here we optimize PacBio-based metabarcoding protocols covering the Internal Transcribed Spacer (ITS region) and partial Small Subunit (SSU) of the rRNA gene for species-level identification of all eukaryotes, with a specific focus on Fungi (including Glomeromycota) and Stramenopila (particularly Oomycota). Based on tests on composite soil samples and mock communities, we propose best suitable degenerate primers, ITS9munngs + ITS4ngsUni for eukaryotes and selected groups therein and discuss pros and cons of long read-based identification of eukaryotes. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
Relative Performance of MinION (Oxford Nanopore Technologies) versus Sequel (Pacific Biosciences) Third-Generation Sequencing Instruments in Identification of Agricultural and Forest Fungal Pathogens.
Culture-based molecular identification methods have revolutionized detection of pathogens, yet these methods are slow and may yield inconclusive results from environmental materials. The second-generation sequencing tools have much-improved precision and sensitivity of detection, but these analyses are costly and may take several days to months. Of the third-generation sequencing techniques, the portable MinION device (Oxford Nanopore Technologies) has received much attention because of its small size and possibility of rapid analysis at reasonable cost. Here, we compare the relative performances of two third-generation sequencing instruments, MinION and Sequel (Pacific Biosciences), in identification and diagnostics of fungal and oomycete pathogens from conifer (Pinaceae) needles and potato (Solanum tuberosum) leaves and tubers. We demonstrate that the Sequel instrument is efficient for metabarcoding of complex samples, whereas MinION is not suited for this purpose due to a high error rate and multiple biases. However, we find that MinION can be utilized for rapid and accurate identification of dominant pathogenic organisms and other associated organisms from plant tissues following both amplicon-based and PCR-free metagenomics approaches. Using the metagenomics approach with shortened DNA extraction and incubation times, we performed the entire MinION workflow, from sample preparation through DNA extraction, sequencing, bioinformatics, and interpretation, in 2.5 h. We advocate the use of MinION for rapid diagnostics of pathogens and potentially other organisms, but care needs to be taken to control or account for multiple potential technical biases.IMPORTANCE Microbial pathogens cause enormous losses to agriculture and forestry, but current combined culturing- and molecular identification-based detection methods are too slow for rapid identification and application of countermeasures. Here, we develop new and rapid protocols for Oxford Nanopore MinION-based third-generation diagnostics of plant pathogens that greatly improve the speed of diagnostics. However, due to high error rate and technical biases in MinION, the Pacific BioSciences Sequel platform is more useful for in-depth amplicon-based biodiversity monitoring (metabarcoding) from complex environmental samples.Copyright © 2019 American Society for Microbiology.
Anthropogenic N deposition, fungal gene expression, and an increasing soil carbon sink in the Northern Hemisphere.
Terrestrial ecosystems in the Northern Hemisphere are a globally important sink for anthropogenic CO2 in the Earth’s atmosphere, slowing its accumulation as well as the pace of climate warming. With the use of a long-term field experiment (ca. 20 yr), we show that the expression of fungal class II peroxidase genes, which encode enzymes mediating the rate-limiting step of organic matter decay, are significantly downregulated (-60 to -80%) because of increases in anthropogenic N deposition; this response was consistent with a decline in extracellular peroxidase enzyme activity in soil, the slowing of organic-matter decay, and greater soil C storage. The reduction in peroxidase expression we document here occurred in the absence of a compositional shift in metabolically active fungi, indicating that an overall reduction in peroxidase expression underlies the slowing of decay and increases in soil C storage. This molecular mechanism has global implications for soil C storage and should be represented in coupled climate-biogeochemical models simulating the influence of enhanced terrestrial C storage on atmospheric CO2 and the future climate of an N-enriched Earth. © 2019 by the Ecological Society of America.
The UNITE database for molecular identification of fungi: handling dark taxa and parallel taxonomic classifications.
UNITE (https://unite.ut.ee/) is a web-based database and sequence management environment for the molecular identification of fungi. It targets the formal fungal barcode-the nuclear ribosomal internal transcribed spacer (ITS) region-and offers all ~1 000 000 public fungal ITS sequences for reference. These are clustered into ~459 000 species hypotheses and assigned digital object identifiers (DOIs) to promote unambiguous reference across studies. In-house and web-based third-party sequence curation and annotation have resulted in more than 275 000 improvements to the data over the past 15 years. UNITE serves as a data provider for a range of metabarcoding software pipelines and regularly exchanges data with all major fungal sequence databases and other community resources. Recent improvements include redesigned handling of unclassifiable species hypotheses, integration with the taxonomic backbone of the Global Biodiversity Information Facility, and support for an unlimited number of parallel taxonomic classification systems.
Fungi are major ecological players in both terrestrial and aquatic environments by cycling organic matter and channelling nutrients across trophic levels. High-throughput sequencing (HTS) studies of fungal communities are redrawing the map of the fungal kingdom by hinting at its enormous – and largely uncharted – taxonomic and functional diversity. However, HTS approaches come with a range of pitfalls and potential biases, cautioning against unwary application and interpretation of HTS technologies and results. In this Review, we provide an overview and practical recommendations for aspects of HTS studies ranging from sampling and laboratory practices to data processing and analysis. We also discuss upcoming trends and techniques in the field and summarize recent and noteworthy results from HTS studies targeting fungal communities and guilds. Our Review highlights the need for reproducibility and public data availability in the study of fungal communities. If the associated challenges and conceptual barriers are overcome, HTS offers immense possibilities in mycology and elsewhere.
The detection and identification of species of fungi in the environment using molecular methods heavily depends on reliable reference sequence databases. However, these databases are largely incomplete in terms of taxon coverage, and a significant effort is required from herbaria and living fungal collections for the mass-barcoding of well-identified and well-curated fungal specimens or strains. Here, a PacBio amplicon sequencing approach is applied to recent lichen herbarium specimens for the sequencing of the fungal ITS barcode, allowing a higher throughput sample processing than Sanger sequencing, which often required the use of cloning. Out of 96 multiplexed samples, a full-length ITS sequence of the target lichenised fungal species was recovered for 85 specimens. In addition, sequences obtained for co-amplified fungi gave an interesting insight into the diversity of endolichenic fungi. Challenges encountered at both the laboratory and bioinformatic stages are discussed, and cost and quality are compared with Sanger sequencing. With increasing data output and reducing sequencing cost, PacBio amplicon sequencing is seen as a promising approach for the generation of reference sequences for lichenised fungi as well as the characterisation of lichen-associated fungal communities.
The role of long-term mineral and organic fertilisation treatment in changing pathogen and symbiont community composition in soil
Application of organic fertilisers to soil prevents erosion, improves fertility and may suppress certain soil-borne plant pathogens, but it is still unclear how different trophic groups of fungi and oomycetes respond to long-term fertilisation treatment. The objective of the study was to examine the effect of different fertilisation regimes on fungal and oomycete pathogen- and mycorrhizal symbiont diversity and community structure in both soil and roots, using PacBio SMRT sequencing. The field experiment included three fertilisation treatments that have been applied since 1989: nitrogen fertilisation (WOM), nitrogen fertilisation with manure amendment (FYM) and alternative organic fertilisation (AOF), each applied at five different rates. Soil samples were collected three times during the growing season, while root samples were collected during the flowering stage. There was no influence of the studied variables on soil and root pathogen richness. Contrary to our hypothesis, pathogen relative abundance in both soil and roots was significantly higher in plots with the AOF treatment. Furthermore, richness and relative abundance of arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi decreased significantly in the AOF treatment. Permutational analysis of variance (PERMANOVA) demonstrated the effect of fertilisation treatment on pathogen community composition in both soil and roots. Our findings indicate that organic fertilisers may not always benefit soil microbial community composition. Therefore, further studies are needed to understand how fertilisation affects mycorrhizal mutualists and pathogens.
Agricultural intensification reduces microbial network complexity and the abundance of keystone taxa in roots.
Root-associated microbes play a key role in plant performance and productivity, making them important players in agroecosystems. So far, very few studies have assessed the impact of different farming systems on the root microbiota and it is still unclear whether agricultural intensification influences the structure and complexity of microbial communities. We investigated the impact of conventional, no-till, and organic farming on wheat root fungal communities using PacBio SMRT sequencing on samples collected from 60 farmlands in Switzerland. Organic farming harbored a much more complex fungal network with significantly higher connectivity than conventional and no-till farming systems. The abundance of keystone taxa was the highest under organic farming where agricultural intensification was the lowest. We also found a strong negative association (R2?=?0.366; P?0.0001) between agricultural intensification and root fungal network connectivity. The occurrence of keystone taxa was best explained by soil phosphorus levels, bulk density, pH, and mycorrhizal colonization. The majority of keystone taxa are known to form arbuscular mycorrhizal associations with plants and belong to the orders Glomerales, Paraglomerales, and Diversisporales. Supporting this, the abundance of mycorrhizal fungi in roots and soils was also significantly higher under organic farming. To our knowledge, this is the first study to report mycorrhizal keystone taxa for agroecosystems, and we demonstrate that agricultural intensification reduces network complexity and the abundance of keystone taxa in the root microbiome.
Characterization of the Castanopsis carlesii Deadwood Mycobiome by Pacbio Sequencing of the Full-Length Fungal Nuclear Ribosomal Internal Transcribed Spacer (ITS)
Short-read Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) platforms can easily and quickly generate thousands to hundreds of thousands of sequences per sample. However, the limited length of these sequences can cause problems during fungal taxonomic identification. Here we validate the use of Pacbio sequencing, a long-read NGS method, for characterizing the fungal community (mycobiome) of Castanopsis carlesii deadwood. We report the successful use of Pacbio sequencing to generate long-read sequences of the full-length (500 – 780 bp) fungal ITS regions of the Castanopsis carlesii mycobiome. Our results show that the studied deadwood mycobiome is taxonomically and functionally diverse, with an average of 85 fungal OTUs representing five functional groups (animal endosymbionts, endophytes, mycoparasites, plant pathogens, and saprotrophs). Based on relative abundance data, Basidiomycota were the most frequently detected phyla (50% of total sequences), followed by unidentified phyla and Ascomycota. However, based on presence/absence data, the most OTU-rich phyla were Ascomycota (58% of total OTUs, 72 OTUs) followed by Basidiomycota and unidentified phyla. The majority of fungal OTUs were identified as saprotrophs (70% of successfully function-assigned OTUs) followed by plant pathogens. Finally, we used phylogenetic analysis based on the full-length ITS sequences to confirm the species identification of 14/36 OTUs with high bootstrap support (99 – 100%). Based on the numbers of sequence reads obtained per sample, which ranged from 3,047 to 13,463, we conclude that Pacbio sequencing can be a powerful tool for characterizing moderate- and possibly high-complexity fungal communities.
Second-generation, high-throughput sequencing methods have greatly improved our understanding of the ecology of soil microorganisms, yet the short barcodes (< 500 bp) provide limited taxonomic and phylogenetic information for species discrimination and taxonomic assignment. Here, we utilized the third-generation Pacific Biosciences (PacBio) RSII and Sequel instruments to evaluate the suitability of full-length internal transcribed spacer (ITS) barcodes and longer rRNA gene amplicons for metabarcoding Fungi, Oomycetes and other eukaryotes in soil samples. Metabarcoding revealed multiple errors and biases: Taq polymerase substitution errors and mis-incorporating indels in sequencing homopolymers constitute major errors; sequence length biases occur during PCR, library preparation, loading to the sequencing instrument and quality filtering; primer-template mismatches bias the taxonomic profile when using regular and highly degenerate primers. The RSII and Sequel platforms enable the sequencing of amplicons up to 3000 bp, but the sequence quality remains slightly inferior to Illumina sequencing especially in longer amplicons. The full ITS barcode and flanking rRNA small subunit gene greatly improve taxonomic identification at the species and phylum levels, respectively. We conclude that PacBio sequencing provides a viable alternative for metabarcoding of organisms that are of relatively low diversity, require > 500-bp barcode for reliable identification or when phylogenetic approaches are intended.© 2017 The Authors. New Phytologist © 2017 New Phytologist Trust.
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.
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?.018). For the plant extract, an additional yield increase of 32.1% was found (p?.016) corresponding to a total increase of 51.7%. In a subset of 15 experiments, a positive, but non-significant correlation was observed between the additional effect of the plant extract and the effect of a binary pesticide, Calthio C. Significantly, however, the E. alba extract reduced the number of seedlings infected by seed-borne filamentous fungi (p?.05). A reduction of infection by more than five-fold was found for the E. alba extract compared to hydropriming and included potential pathogens of sorghum: Epicoccum sorghinum and Curvularia spp. Conclusion Using 6-hours of soaking, hydropriming was an inherent component of seed treatment with the E. alba extract and contributed significantly to the overall observed increase of yield and emergence. An additional yield increase was caused by factor(s) derived from the plant, E. alba, and may involve suppression of pathogenic fungi.
Limited effects of variable-retention harvesting on fungal communities decomposing fine roots in coastal temperate rainforests.
Fine root litter is the principal source of carbon stored in forest soils and a dominant source of carbon for fungal decomposers. Differences in decomposer capacity between fungal species may be important determinants of fine-root decomposition rates. Variable-retention harvesting (VRH) provides refuge for ectomycorrhizal fungi, but its influence on fine-root decomposers is unknown, as are the effects of functional shifts in these fungal communities on carbon cycling. We compared fungal communities decomposing fine roots (in litter bags) under VRH, clear-cut, and uncut stands at two sites (6 and 13 years postharvest) and two decay stages (43 days and 1 year after burial) in Douglas fir forests in coastal British Columbia, Canada. Fungal species and guilds were identified from decomposed fine roots using high-throughput sequencing. Variable retention had short-term effects on ß-diversity; harvest treatment modified the fungal community composition at the 6-year-postharvest site, but not at the 13-year-postharvest site. Ericoid and ectomycorrhizal guilds were not more abundant under VRH, but stand age significantly structured species composition. Guild composition varied by decay stage, with ruderal species later replaced by saprotrophs and ectomycorrhizae. Ectomycorrhizal abundance on decomposing fine roots may partially explain why fine roots typically decompose more slowly than surface litter. Our results indicate that stand age structures fine-root decomposers but that decay stage is more important in structuring the fungal community than shifts caused by harvesting. The rapid postharvest recovery of fungal communities decomposing fine roots suggests resiliency within this community, at least in these young regenerating stands in coastal British Columbia.IMPORTANCE Globally, fine roots are a dominant source of carbon in forest soils, yet the fungi that decompose this material and that drive the sequestration or respiration of this carbon remain largely uncharacterized. Fungi vary in their capacity to decompose plant litter, suggesting that fungal community composition is an important determinant of decomposition rates. Variable-retention harvesting is a forestry practice that modifies fungal communities by providing refuge for ectomycorrhizal fungi. We evaluated the effects of variable retention and clear-cut harvesting on fungal communities decomposing fine roots at two sites (6 and 13 years postharvest), at two decay stages (43 days and 1 year), and in uncut stands in temperate rainforests. Harvesting impacts on fungal community composition were detected only after 6 years after harvest. We suggest that fungal community composition may be an important factor that reduces fine-root decomposition rates relative to those of above-ground plant litter, which has important consequences for forest carbon cycling. Copyright © 2018 American Society for Microbiology.
Lack of thinning effects over inter-annual changes in soil fungal community and diversity in a Mediterranean pine forest
Predicted changes in global climate might negatively affect the soil microbiome and associated ecosystem processes in Mediterranean forests. Forest treatments, such as forest thinning, have been suggested to mitigate climate change impacts on vegetation by reducing competition between trees, thus increasing water availability. Studies addressing the combined effects of climate and forest thinning on belowground fungal communities are still scarce, being fundamental to elaborate adaptive strategies to global warming. The aim of this study was to evaluate the tree density reduction effects on soil fungal communities and their response to inter-annual changes in weather conditions. The temporal dynamics of soil fungal communities in relation to these two drivers (i.e., forest management and weather conditions) were studied from 2009 until 2014 in a set of 12 pairs of thinned and un-thinned plots dominated by Pinus pinaster Ait. Thinning (from 30% up to 70% reduction in stand basal area) was conducted in 2009 and soil fungal community composition was studied during 4?years. Here, we used autumn precipitation and temperature to describe the impact of inter-annual weather changes. We used Pacific Biosciences sequencing of fungal ITS2 amplicons to study fungal communities in soil samples. Forest thinning did not significantly affect fungal community composition nor fungal species richness and diversity, indicating that the soil fungal community is resistant to forest thinning regardless of its intensity. However, fungal species composition changed progressively across years, both at the species level and with regards to functional guilds. These changes in community composition were partly driven by inter-annual variation in precipitation and temperature, with free-living fungi increasing in abundance under wetter conditions, and symbiotic fungi being more prominent under drier and colder conditions. The results indicate that mycorrhizal communities in Mediterranean forest ecosystems can resist forest thinning, if enough trees and functional roots from thinned trees are retained.
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.