September 22, 2019  |  

Evaluation of tools for long read RNA-seq splice-aware alignment.

High-throughput sequencing has transformed the study of gene expression levels through RNA-seq, a technique that is now routinely used by various fields, such as genetic research or diagnostics. The advent of third generation sequencing technologies providing significantly longer reads opens up new possibilities. However, the high error rates common to these technologies set new bioinformatics challenges for the gapped alignment of reads to their genomic origin. In this study, we have explored how currently available RNA-seq splice-aware alignment tools cope with increased read lengths and error rates. All tested tools were initially developed for short NGS reads, but some have claimed support for long Pacific Biosciences (PacBio) or even Oxford Nanopore Technologies (ONT) MinION reads.The tools were tested on synthetic and real datasets from two technologies (PacBio and ONT MinION). Alignment quality and resource usage were compared across different aligners. The effect of error correction of long reads was explored, both using self-correction and correction with an external short reads dataset. A tool was developed for evaluating RNA-seq alignment results. This tool can be used to compare the alignment of simulated reads to their genomic origin, or to compare the alignment of real reads to a set of annotated transcripts. Our tests show that while some RNA-seq aligners were unable to cope with long error-prone reads, others produced overall good results. We further show that alignment accuracy can be improved using error-corrected reads., data are available at Bioinformatics online.© The Author (2017). Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved. For Permissions, please email:

September 22, 2019  |  

Bypassing the Restriction System To Improve Transformation of Staphylococcus epidermidis.

Staphylococcus epidermidis is the leading cause of infections on indwelling medical devices worldwide. Intrinsic antibiotic resistance and vigorous biofilm production have rendered these infections difficult to treat and, in some cases, require the removal of the offending medical prosthesis. With the exception of two widely passaged isolates, RP62A and 1457, the pathogenesis of infections caused by clinical S. epidermidis strains is poorly understood due to the strong genetic barrier that precludes the efficient transformation of foreign DNA into clinical isolates. The difficulty in transforming clinical S. epidermidis isolates is primarily due to the type I and IV restriction-modification systems, which act as genetic barriers. Here, we show that efficient plasmid transformation of clinical S. epidermidis isolates from clonal complexes 2, 10, and 89 can be realized by employing a plasmid artificial modification (PAM) in Escherichia coli DC10B containing a ?dcm mutation. This transformative technique should facilitate our ability to genetically modify clinical isolates of S. epidermidis and hence improve our understanding of their pathogenesis in human infections.IMPORTANCEStaphylococcus epidermidis is a source of considerable morbidity worldwide. The underlying mechanisms contributing to the commensal and pathogenic lifestyles of S. epidermidis are poorly understood. Genetic manipulations of clinically relevant strains of S. epidermidis are largely prohibited due to the presence of a strong restriction barrier. With the introductions of the tools presented here, genetic manipulation of clinically relevant S. epidermidis isolates has now become possible, thus improving our understanding of S. epidermidis as a pathogen. Copyright © 2017 American Society for Microbiology.

September 22, 2019  |  

In vitro culture of the insect endosymbiont Spiroplasma poulsonii highlights bacterial genes involved in host-symbiont interaction.

Endosymbiotic bacteria associated with eukaryotic hosts are omnipresent in nature, particularly in insects. Studying the bacterial side of host-symbiont interactions is, however, often limited by the unculturability and genetic intractability of the symbionts. Spiroplasma poulsonii is a maternally transmitted bacterial endosymbiont that is naturally associated with several Drosophila species. S. poulsonii strongly affects its host’s physiology, for example by causing male killing or by protecting it against various parasites. Despite intense work on this model since the 1950s, attempts to cultivate endosymbiotic Spiroplasma in vitro have failed so far. Here, we developed a method to sustain the in vitro culture of S. poulsonii by optimizing a commercially accessible medium. We also provide a complete genome assembly, including the first sequence of a natural plasmid of an endosymbiotic Spiroplasma species. Last, by comparing the transcriptome of the in vitro culture to the transcriptome of bacteria extracted from the host, we identified genes putatively involved in host-symbiont interactions. This work provides new opportunities to study the physiology of endosymbiotic Spiroplasma and paves the way to dissect insect-endosymbiont interactions with two genetically tractable partners.IMPORTANCE The discovery of insect bacterial endosymbionts (maternally transmitted bacteria) has revolutionized the study of insects, suggesting novel strategies for their control. Most endosymbionts are strongly dependent on their host to survive, making them uncultivable in artificial systems and genetically intractable. Spiroplasma poulsonii is an endosymbiont of Drosophila that affects host metabolism, reproduction, and defense against parasites. By providing the first reliable culture medium that allows a long-lasting in vitro culture of Spiroplasma and by elucidating its complete genome, this work lays the foundation for the development of genetic engineering tools to dissect endosymbiosis with two partners amenable to molecular study. Furthermore, the optimization method that we describe can be used on other yet uncultivable symbionts, opening new technical opportunities in the field of host-microbes interactions. Copyright © 2018 Masson et al.

July 19, 2019  |  

A supergene determines highly divergent male reproductive morphs in the ruff.

Three strikingly different alternative male mating morphs (aggressive ‘independents’, semicooperative ‘satellites’ and female-mimic ‘faeders’) coexist as a balanced polymorphism in the ruff, Philomachus pugnax, a lek-breeding wading bird. Major differences in body size, ornamentation, and aggressive and mating behaviors are inherited as an autosomal polymorphism. We show that development into satellites and faeders is determined by a supergene consisting of divergent alternative, dominant and non-recombining haplotypes of an inversion on chromosome 11, which contains 125 predicted genes. Independents are homozygous for the ancestral sequence. One breakpoint of the inversion disrupts the essential CENP-N gene (encoding centromere protein N), and pedigree analysis confirms the lethality of homozygosity for the inversion. We describe new differences in behavior, testis size and steroid metabolism among morphs and identify polymorphic genes within the inversion that are likely to contribute to the differences among morphs in reproductive traits.

July 7, 2019  |  

Comparative genome analysis of Pseudomonas knackmussii B13, the first bacterium known to degrade chloroaromatic compounds.

Pseudomonas knackmussii B13 was the first strain to be isolated in 1974 that could degrade chlorinated aromatic hydrocarbons. This discovery was the prologue for subsequent characterization of numerous bacterial metabolic pathways, for genetic and biochemical studies, and which spurred ideas for pollutant bioremediation. In this study, we determined the complete genome sequence of B13 using next generation sequencing technologies and optical mapping. Genome annotation indicated that B13 has a variety of metabolic pathways for degrading monoaromatic hydrocarbons including chlorobenzoate, aminophenol, anthranilate and hydroxyquinol, but not polyaromatic compounds. Comparative genome analysis revealed that B13 is closest to Pseudomonas denitrificans and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. The B13 genome contains at least eight genomic islands [prophages and integrative conjugative elements (ICEs)], which were absent in closely related pseudomonads. We confirm that two ICEs are identical copies of the 103?kb self-transmissible element ICEclc that carries the genes for chlorocatechol metabolism. Comparison of ICEclc showed that it is composed of a variable and a ‘core’ region, which is very conserved among proteobacterial genomes, suggesting a widely distributed family of so far uncharacterized ICE. Resequencing of two spontaneous B13 mutants revealed a number of single nucleotide substitutions, as well as excision of a large 220?kb region and a prophage that drastically change the host metabolic capacity and survivability. © 2014 Society for Applied Microbiology and John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

July 7, 2019  |  

High quality draft genomes of the Mycoplasma mycoides subsp. mycoides challenge strains Afadé and B237.

Members of the Mycoplasma mycoides cluster’ represent important livestock pathogens worldwide. Mycoplasma mycoides subsp. mycoides is the etiologic agent of contagious bovine pleuropneumonia (CBPP), which is still endemic in many parts of Africa. We report the genome sequences and annotation of two frequently used challenge strains of Mycoplasma mycoides subsp. mycoides, Afadé and B237. The information provided will enable downstream ‘omics’ applications such as proteomics, transcriptomics and reverse vaccinology approaches. Despite the absence of Mycoplasma pneumoniae like cyto-adhesion encoding genes, the two strains showed the presence of protrusions. This phenotype is likely encoded by another set of genes.

July 7, 2019  |  

The functions of DNA methylation by CcrM in Caulobacter crescentus: a global approach.

DNA methylation is involved in a diversity of processes in bacteria, including maintenance of genome integrity and regulation of gene expression. Here, using Caulobacter crescentus as a model, we exploit genome-wide experimental methods to uncover the functions of CcrM, a DNA methyltransferase conserved in most Alphaproteobacteria. Using single molecule sequencing, we provide evidence that most CcrM target motifs (GANTC) switch from a fully methylated to a hemi-methylated state when they are replicated, and back to a fully methylated state at the onset of cell division. We show that DNA methylation by CcrM is not required for the control of the initiation of chromosome replication or for DNA mismatch repair. By contrast, our transcriptome analysis shows that >10% of the genes are misexpressed in cells lacking or constitutively over-expressing CcrM. Strikingly, GANTC methylation is needed for the efficient transcription of dozens of genes that are essential for cell cycle progression, in particular for DNA metabolism and cell division. Many of them are controlled by promoters methylated by CcrM and co-regulated by other global cell cycle regulators, demonstrating an extensive cross talk between DNA methylation and the complex regulatory network that controls the cell cycle of C. crescentus and, presumably, of many other Alphaproteobacteria.

July 7, 2019  |  

Draft genome sequence of Microbacterium foliorum strain 122 isolated from a plant growing in a chronically hydrocarbon-contaminated site.

Microbacterium foliorum strain 122 is a bacterial endophyte isolated from a Dactylis glomerata plant growing in a natural oil seep soil located in Oil Springs, Ontario, Canada. We present here a draft genome sequence of an endophytic strain that has promising potential in hydrocarbon degradation and plant growth promotion. Copyright © 2017 Lumactud et al.

July 7, 2019  |  

Draft genome sequence of Plantibacter flavus strain 251 isolated from a plant growing in a chronically hydrocarbon-contaminated site.

Plantibacter flavus isolate 251 is a bacterial endophyte isolated from an Achillea millefolium plant growing in a natural oil seep soil located in Oil Springs, Ontario, Canada. We present here a draft genome sequence of an infrequently reported genus Plantibacter, highlighting an endophytic lifestyle and biotechnological potential. Copyright © 2017 Lumactud et al.

July 7, 2019  |  

Genomic and transcriptomic analysis of the streptomycin-dependent Mycobacterium tuberculosis strain 18b.

The ability of Mycobacterium tuberculosis to establish a latent infection (LTBI) in humans confounds the treatment of tuberculosis. Consequently, there is a need to discover new therapeutic agents that can kill M. tuberculosis both during active disease and LTBI. The streptomycin-dependent strain of M. tuberculosis, 18b, provides a useful tool for this purpose since upon removal of streptomycin (STR) it enters a non-replicating state that mimics latency both in vitro and in animal models.The 4.41 Mb genome sequence of M. tuberculosis 18b was determined and this revealed the strain to belong to clade 3 of the ancient ancestral lineage of the Beijing family. STR-dependence was attributable to insertion of a single cytosine in the 530 loop of the 16S rRNA and to a single amino acid insertion in the N-terminal domain of initiation factor 3. RNA-seq was used to understand the genetic programme activated upon STR-withdrawal and hence to gain insight into LTBI. This revealed reconfiguration of gene expression and metabolic pathways showing strong similarities between non-replicating 18b and M. tuberculosis residing within macrophages, and with the core stationary phase and microaerophilic responses.The findings of this investigation confirm the validity of 18b as a model for LTBI, and provide insight into both the evolution of tubercle bacilli and the functioning of the ribosome.

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