July 7, 2019  |  

A novel cold active esterase from a deep sea sponge Stelletta normani metagenomic library

Esterases catalyze the hydrolysis of ester bonds in fatty acid esters with short-chain acyl groups. Due to the widespread applications of lipolytic enzymes in various industrial applications, there continues to be an interest in novel esterases with unique properties. Marine ecosystems have long been acknowledged as a significant reservoir of microbial biodiversity and in particular of bacterial enzymes with desirable characteristics for industrial use, such as for example cold adaptation and activity in the alkaline pH range. We employed a functional metagenomic approach to exploit the enzymatic potential of one particular marine ecosystem, namely the microbiome of the deep sea sponge Stelletta normani. Screening of a metagenomics library from this sponge resulted in the identification of a number of lipolytic active clones. One of these encoded a highly, cold-active esterase 7N9, and the recombinant esterase was subsequently heterologously expressed in Escherichia coli. The esterase was classified as a type IV lipolytic enzyme, belonging to the GDSAG subfamily of hormone sensitive lipases. Furthermore, the recombinant 7N9 esterase was biochemically characterized and was found to be most active at alkaline pH (8.0) and displays salt tolerance over a wide range of concentrations. In silico docking studies confirmed the enzyme’s activity toward short-chain fatty acids while also highlighting the specificity toward certain inhibitors. Furthermore, structural differences to a closely related mesophilic E40 esterase isolated from a marine sediment metagenomics library are discussed.


July 7, 2019  |  

Extensive mobilome-driven genome diversification in mouse gut-associated Bacteroides vulgatus mpk.

Like many other Bacteroides species, Bacteroides vulgatus strain mpk, a mouse fecal isolate which was shown to promote intestinal homeostasis, utilizes a variety of mobile elements for genome evolution. Based on sequences collected by Pacific Biosciences SMRT sequencing technology, we discuss the challenges of assembling and studying a bacterial genome of high plasticity. Additionally, we conducted comparative genomics comparing this commensal strain with the B. vulgatus type strain ATCC 8482 as well as multiple other Bacteroides and Parabacteroides strains to reveal the most important differences and identify the unique features of B. vulgatus mpk. The genome of B. vulgatus mpk harbors a large and diverse set of mobile element proteins compared with other sequenced Bacteroides strains. We found evidence of a number of different horizontal gene transfer events and a genome landscape that has been extensively altered by different mobilization events. A CRISPR/Cas system could be identified that provides a possible mechanism for preventing the integration of invading external DNA. We propose that the high genome plasticity and the introduced genome instabilities of B. vulgatus mpk arising from the various mobilization events might play an important role not only in its adaptation to the challenging intestinal environment in general, but also in its ability to interact with the gut microbiota.


July 7, 2019  |  

Reply to Bemm et al. and Arakawa: Identifying foreign genes in independent Hypsibius dujardini genome assemblies.

Our report (1) describing the discovery of extensive horizontal gene transfer in a tardigrade genome has raised questions from other groups who were sequencing the Hypsibius dujardini genome in parallel or who have done new experiments and analyses since our report (2??–5). Bemm et al. (2) now report filtering our data for likely contaminants, resulting in a new, prefiltered genome assembly. Arakawa (3) has sequenced genomes of starved, washed, individual animals that had been treated with antibiotics for 48 h, and used this genomic sequence and RNA-Seq data to identify likely bona fide tardigrade contigs. Two other reports have contributed data and analysis: Delmont and Eren (4) used a newly published analysis and visualization platform, Anvi’o (6), to identify likely contaminants in our genome assembly, and Koutsovoulos et al. (5) applied useful taxon-annotated GC coverage plots (Blobplots) (7) to our data and reported an independent genome assembly.


July 7, 2019  |  

Silicon content of individual cells of Synechococcus from the North Atlantic Ocean

The widely distributed marine cyanobacterium Synechococcus is thought to exert an influence on the marine silicon (Si) cycle through its high cellular Si relative to organic content. There are few measurements of Si in natural populations of Synechococcus, however, and the degree to which Synechococcus from various oligotrophic field sites and depths accumulate the element is unknown. We used synchrotron x-ray fluorescence to measure Si quotas in individual Synechococcus cells collected during three cruises in the western North Atlantic Ocean in the summer and fall, focusing on cells from the surface mixed layer (SML; <10 m) and the deep chlorophyll maximum (DCM). Individual cell quotas varied widely, from 1 to 4700 amol Si cell- 1, though the middle 50% of quotas ranged between 17 and 119 amol Si cell- 1. Mean station-specific quotas exhibited an even narrower range of 31–72 amol Si cell- 1. No significant differences in Si quotas were observed across cruises or among stations, and no effect of ambient silicic acid concentration on quotas was observed within the narrow range of silicic acid concentrations encountered (0.6–1.3 µM). Despite this small range in ambient silicic acid, cells collected from the SML had an average of two-fold more Si than cells collected from the DCM. Differences in Si content with depth may be related to observed differences in the dominant Synechococcus clades between the SML and DCM habitats, determined by petB gene sequencing.


July 7, 2019  |  

Genomes of Candidatus Wolbachia bourtzisii wDacA and Candidatus Wolbachia pipientis wDacB from the cochineal insect Dactylopius coccus (Hemiptera: Dactylopiidae).

Dactylopius species, known as cochineal insects, are the source of the carminic acid dye used worldwide. The presence of two Wolbachia strains in Dactylopius coccus from Mexico was revealed by PCR amplification of wsp and sequencing of 16S rRNA genes. A metagenome analysis recovered the genome sequences of Candidatus Wolbachia bourtzisii wDacA (supergroup A) and Candidatus Wolbachia pipientis wDacB (supergroup B). Genome read coverage, as well as 16S rRNA clone sequencing, revealed that wDacB was more abundant than wDacA. The strains shared similar predicted metabolic capabilities that are common to Wolbachia, including riboflavin, ubiquinone, and heme biosynthesis, but lacked other vitamin and cofactor biosynthesis as well as glycolysis, the oxidative pentose phosphate pathway, and sugar uptake systems. A complete tricarboxylic acid cycle and gluconeogenesis were predicted as well as limited amino acid biosynthesis. Uptake and catabolism of proline were evidenced in Dactylopius Wolbachia strains. Both strains possessed WO-like phage regions and type I and type IV secretion systems. Several efflux systems found suggested the existence of metal toxicity within their host. Besides already described putative virulence factors like ankyrin domain proteins, VlrC homologs, and patatin-like proteins, putative novel virulence factors related to those found in intracellular pathogens like Legionella and Mycobacterium are highlighted for the first time in Wolbachia Candidate genes identified in other Wolbachia that are likely involved in cytoplasmic incompatibility were found in wDacB but not in wDacA. Copyright © 2016 Ramírez-Puebla et al.


July 7, 2019  |  

Improve homology search sensitivity of PacBio data by correcting frameshifts.

Single-molecule, real-time sequencing (SMRT) developed by Pacific BioSciences produces longer reads than secondary generation sequencing technologies such as Illumina. The long read length enables PacBio sequencing to close gaps in genome assembly, reveal structural variations, and identify gene isoforms with higher accuracy in transcriptomic sequencing. However, PacBio data has high sequencing error rate and most of the errors are insertion or deletion errors. During alignment-based homology search, insertion or deletion errors in genes will cause frameshifts and may only lead to marginal alignment scores and short alignments. As a result, it is hard to distinguish true alignments from random alignments and the ambiguity will incur errors in structural and functional annotation. Existing frameshift correction tools are designed for data with much lower error rate and are not optimized for PacBio data. As an increasing number of groups are using SMRT, there is an urgent need for dedicated homology search tools for PacBio data.In this work, we introduce Frame-Pro, a profile homology search tool for PacBio reads. Our tool corrects sequencing errors and also outputs the profile alignments of the corrected sequences against characterized protein families. We applied our tool to both simulated and real PacBio data. The results showed that our method enables more sensitive homology search, especially for PacBio data sets of low sequencing coverage. In addition, we can correct more errors when comparing with a popular error correction tool that does not rely on hybrid sequencing.The source code is freely available at https://sourceforge.net/projects/frame-pro/yannisun@msu.edu. © The Author 2016. Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved. For Permissions, please e-mail: journals.permissions@oup.com.


July 7, 2019  |  

Epigenetic mechanisms in microbial members of the human microbiota: current knowledge and perspectives.

The human microbiota and epigenetic processes have both been shown to play a crucial role in health and disease. However, there is extremely scarce information on epigenetic modulation of microbiota members except for a few pathogens. Mainly DNA adenine methylation has been described extensively in modulating the virulence of pathogenic bacteria in particular. It would thus appear likely that such mechanisms are widespread for most bacterial members of the microbiota. This review will present briefly the current knowledge on epigenetic processes in bacteria, give examples of known methylation processes in microbial members of the human microbiota and summarize the knowledge on regulation of host epigenetic processes by the human microbiota.


July 7, 2019  |  

Microbial metagenomics mock scenario-based sample simulation (M3S3).

Shotgun sequencing in increasingly applied in clinical microbiology for unbiased culture-independent diagnosis. While software solutions for metagenomics proliferate, integration of metagenomics in clinical care, requires method standardisation and validation. Virtual metagenomics samples could underpin validation by substituting real samples and thus we sought to develop a novel solution for simulation of metagenomics samples based on user-defined clinical scenarios.We designed the Microbial Metagenomics Mock Scenario-based Sample Simulation (M3S3) workflow, which allows users to generate virtual samples from raw reads or assemblies. The M3S3 output is a mock sample in FASTQ or FASTA format. M3S3 was tested by generating virtual samples for ten challenging infectious disease scenarios, involving a background matrix ‘spiked’ in silico with pathogens including mixtures. Replicate samples (seven per scenario) were used to represent different compositional ratios. Virtual samples were analysed using Taxonomer and Kraken db.The ten challenge scenarios were successfully applied, generating 80 samples. For all tested scenarios, the virtual samples showed sequence compositions as predicted from the user input. Spiked pathogen sequences were identified with the majority of the replicates and most exhibited acceptable abundance (deviation between expected and observed abundance of spiked pathogens), with slight differences observed between software tools.Despite demonstrated proof-of-concept, integration of clinical metagenomics in routine microbiology remains a substantial challenge. M3S3 is capable of producing virtual samples on-demand, simulating a spectrum of clinical diagnostic scenarios of varying complexity. The M3S3 tool can therefore support the development and validation of standardised metagenomics applications. Copyright © 2017. Published by Elsevier Ltd.


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