April 21, 2020  |  

Into the Thermus Mobilome: Presence, Diversity and Recent Activities of Insertion Sequences Across Thermus spp.

A high level of transposon-mediated genome rearrangement is a common trait among microorganisms isolated from thermal environments, probably contributing to the extraordinary genomic plasticity and horizontal gene transfer (HGT) observed in these habitats. In this work, active and inactive insertion sequences (ISs) spanning the sequenced members of the genus Thermus were characterized, with special emphasis on three T. thermophilus strains: HB27, HB8, and NAR1. A large number of full ISs and fragments derived from different IS families were found, concentrating within megaplasmids present in most isolates. Potentially active ISs were identified through analysis of transposase integrity, and domestication-related transposition events of ISTth7 were identified in laboratory-adapted HB27 derivatives. Many partial copies of ISs appeared throughout the genome, which may serve as specific targets for homologous recombination contributing to genome rearrangement. Moreover, recruitment of IS1000 32 bp segments as spacers for CRISPR sequence was identified, pointing to the adaptability of these elements in the biology of these thermophiles. Further knowledge about the activity and functional diversity of ISs in this genus may contribute to the generation of engineered transposons as new genetic tools, and enrich our understanding of the outstanding plasticity shown by these thermophiles.


April 21, 2020  |  

Newly designed 16S rRNA metabarcoding primers amplify diverse and novel archaeal taxa from the environment.

High-throughput studies of microbial communities suggest that Archaea are a widespread component of microbial diversity in various ecosystems. However, proper quantification of archaeal diversity and community ecology remains limited, as sequence coverage of Archaea is usually low owing to the inability of available prokaryotic primers to efficiently amplify archaeal compared to bacterial rRNA genes. To improve identification and quantification of Archaea, we designed and validated the utility of several primer pairs to efficiently amplify archaeal 16S rRNA genes based on up-to-date reference genes. We demonstrate that several of these primer pairs amplify phylogenetically diverse Archaea with high sequencing coverage, outperforming commonly used primers. Based on comparing the resulting long 16S rRNA gene fragments with public databases from all habitats, we found several novel family- to phylum-level archaeal taxa from topsoil and surface water. Our results suggest that archaeal diversity has been largely overlooked due to the limitations of available primers, and that improved primer pairs enable to estimate archaeal diversity more accurately. © 2018 The Authors. Environmental Microbiology Reports published by Society for Applied Microbiology and John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


April 21, 2020  |  

Phylogenetic barriers to horizontal transfer of antimicrobial peptide resistance genes in the human gut microbiota.

The human gut microbiota has adapted to the presence of antimicrobial peptides (AMPs), which are ancient components of immune defence. Despite its medical importance, it has remained unclear whether AMP resistance genes in the gut microbiome are available for genetic exchange between bacterial species. Here, we show that AMP resistance and antibiotic resistance genes differ in their mobilization patterns and functional compatibilities with new bacterial hosts. First, whereas AMP resistance genes are widespread in the gut microbiome, their rate of horizontal transfer is lower than that of antibiotic resistance genes. Second, gut microbiota culturing and functional metagenomics have revealed that AMP resistance genes originating from phylogenetically distant bacteria have only a limited potential to confer resistance in Escherichia coli, an intrinsically susceptible species. Taken together, functional compatibility with the new bacterial host emerges as a key factor limiting the genetic exchange of AMP resistance genes. Finally, our results suggest that AMPs induce highly specific changes in the composition of the human microbiota, with implications for disease risks.


April 21, 2020  |  

Long-read sequence capture of the haemoglobin gene clusters across codfish species.

Combining high-throughput sequencing with targeted sequence capture has become an attractive tool to study specific genomic regions of interest. Most studies have so far focused on the exome using short-read technology. These approaches are not designed to capture intergenic regions needed to reconstruct genomic organization, including regulatory regions and gene synteny. Here, we demonstrate the power of combining targeted sequence capture with long-read sequencing technology for comparative genomic analyses of the haemoglobin (Hb) gene clusters across eight species separated by up to 70 million years. Guided by the reference genome assembly of the Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua) together with genome information from draft assemblies of selected codfishes, we designed probes covering the two Hb gene clusters. Use of custom-made barcodes combined with PacBio RSII sequencing led to highly continuous assemblies of the LA (~100 kb) and MN (~200 kb) clusters, which include syntenic regions of coding and intergenic sequences. Our results revealed an overall conserved genomic organization of the Hb genes within this lineage, yet with several, lineage-specific gene duplications. Moreover, for some of the species examined, we identified amino acid substitutions at two sites in the Hbb1 gene as well as length polymorphisms in its regulatory region, which has previously been linked to temperature adaptation in Atlantic cod populations. This study highlights the use of targeted long-read capture as a versatile approach for comparative genomic studies by generation of a cross-species genomic resource elucidating the evolutionary history of the Hb gene family across the highly divergent group of codfishes. © 2018 The Authors. Molecular Ecology Resources Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


April 21, 2020  |  

Massive Changes of Genome Size Driven by Expansions of Non-autonomous Transposable Elements.

In eukaryotes, genome size correlates little with the number of coding genes or the level of organismal complexity (C-value paradox). The underlying causes of variations in genome size, whether adaptive or neutral, remain unclear, although several biological traits often covary with it [1-5]. Rapid increases in genome size occur mainly through whole-genome duplications or bursts in the activity of transposable elements (TEs) [6]. The very small and compact genome of Oikopleura dioica, a tunicate of the larvacean class, lacks elements of most ancient families of animal retrotransposons [7, 8]. Here, we sequenced the genomes of six other larvaceans, all of which are larger than that of Oikopleura (up to 12 times) and which increase in size with greater body length. Although no evidence was found for whole-genome duplications within the group of species, the global amount of TEs strongly correlated with genome size. Compared to other metazoans, however, the TE diversity was reduced in all species, as observed previously in O. dioica, suggesting a common ancestor with a compacted genome. Strikingly, non-autonomous elements, particularly short interspersed nuclear elements (SINEs), massively contributed to genome size variation through species-specific independent amplifications, ranging from 3% in the smallest genome up to 49% in the largest. Variations in SINE abundance explain as much as 83% of interspecific genome size variation. These data support an indirect influence of autonomous TEs on genome size via their ability to mobilize non-autonomous elements. Copyright © 2019 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


September 22, 2019  |  

PacBio metabarcoding of Fungi and other eukaryotes: errors, biases and perspectives.

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.


September 22, 2019  |  

Quantitative metaproteomics highlight the metabolic contributions of uncultured phylotypes in a thermophilic anaerobic digester.

In this study, we used multiple meta-omic approaches to characterize the microbial community and the active metabolic pathways of a stable industrial biogas reactor with food waste as the dominant feedstock, operating at thermophilic temperatures (60°C) and elevated levels of free ammonia (367 mg/liter NH3-N). The microbial community was strongly dominated (76% of all 16S rRNA amplicon sequences) by populations closely related to the proteolytic bacterium Coprothermobacter proteolyticus. Multiple Coprothermobacter-affiliated strains were detected, introducing an additional level of complexity seldom explored in biogas studies. Genome reconstructions provided metabolic insight into the microbes that performed biomass deconstruction and fermentation, including the deeply branching phyla Dictyoglomi and Planctomycetes and the candidate phylum “Atribacteria” These biomass degraders were complemented by a synergistic network of microorganisms that convert key fermentation intermediates (fatty acids) via syntrophic interactions with hydrogenotrophic methanogens to ultimately produce methane. Interpretation of the proteomics data also suggested activity of a Methanosaeta phylotype acclimatized to high ammonia levels. In particular, we report multiple novel phylotypes proposed as syntrophic acetate oxidizers, which also exert expression of enzymes needed for both the Wood-Ljungdahl pathway and ß-oxidation of fatty acids to acetyl coenzyme A. Such an arrangement differs from known syntrophic oxidizing bacteria and presents an interesting hypothesis for future studies. Collectively, these findings provide increased insight into active metabolic roles of uncultured phylotypes and presents new synergistic relationships, both of which may contribute to the stability of the biogas reactor.Biogas production through anaerobic digestion of organic waste provides an attractive source of renewable energy and a sustainable waste management strategy. A comprehensive understanding of the microbial community that drives anaerobic digesters is essential to ensure stable and efficient energy production. Here, we characterize the intricate microbial networks and metabolic pathways in a thermophilic biogas reactor. We discuss the impact of frequently encountered microbial populations as well as the metabolism of newly discovered novel phylotypes that seem to play distinct roles within key microbial stages of anaerobic digestion in this stable high-temperature system. In particular, we draft a metabolic scenario whereby multiple uncultured syntrophic acetate-oxidizing bacteria are capable of syntrophically oxidizing acetate as well as longer-chain fatty acids (via the ß-oxidation and Wood-Ljundahl pathways) to hydrogen and carbon dioxide, which methanogens subsequently convert to methane. Copyright © 2016 American Society for Microbiology.


September 22, 2019  |  

Enigmatic Diphyllatea eukaryotes: culturing and targeted PacBio RS amplicon sequencing reveals a higher order taxonomic diversity and global distribution.

The class Diphyllatea belongs to a group of enigmatic unicellular eukaryotes that play a key role in reconstructing the morphological innovation and diversification of early eukaryotic evolution. Despite its evolutionary significance, very little is known about the phylogeny and species diversity of Diphyllatea. Only three species have described morphology, being taxonomically divided by flagella number, two or four, and cell size. Currently, one 18S rRNA Diphyllatea sequence is available, with environmental sequencing surveys reporting only a single partial sequence from a Diphyllatea-like organism. Accordingly, geographical distribution of Diphyllatea based on molecular data is limited, despite morphological data suggesting the class has a global distribution. We here present a first attempt to understand species distribution, diversity and higher order structure of Diphyllatea.We cultured 11 new strains, characterised these morphologically and amplified their rRNA for a combined 18S-28S rRNA phylogeny. We sampled environmental DNA from multiple sites and designed new Diphyllatea-specific PCR primers for long-read PacBio RSII technology. Near full-length 18S rRNA sequences from environmental DNA, in addition to supplementary Diphyllatea sequence data mined from public databases, resolved the phylogeny into three deeply branching and distinct clades (Diphy I – III). Of these, the Diphy III clade is entirely novel, and in congruence with Diphy II, composed of species morphologically consistent with the earlier described Collodictyon triciliatum. The phylogenetic split between the Diphy I and Diphy II?+?III clades corresponds with a morphological division of Diphyllatea into bi- and quadriflagellate cell forms.This altered flagella composition must have occurred early in the diversification of Diphyllatea and may represent one of the earliest known morphological transitions among eukaryotes. Further, the substantial increase in molecular data presented here confirms Diphyllatea has a global distribution, seemingly restricted to freshwater habitats. Altogether, the results reveal the advantage of combining a group-specific PCR approach and long-read high-throughput amplicon sequencing in surveying enigmatic eukaryote lineages. Lastly, our study shows the capacity of PacBio RS when targeting a protist class for increasing phylogenetic resolution.


September 22, 2019  |  

Improved metagenome assemblies and taxonomic binning using long-read circular consensus sequence data.

DNA assembly is a core methodological step in metagenomic pipelines used to study the structure and function within microbial communities. Here we investigate the utility of Pacific Biosciences long and high accuracy circular consensus sequencing (CCS) reads for metagenomic projects. We compared the application and performance of both PacBio CCS and Illumina HiSeq data with assembly and taxonomic binning algorithms using metagenomic samples representing a complex microbial community. Eight SMRT cells produced approximately 94 Mb of CCS reads from a biogas reactor microbiome sample that averaged 1319 nt in length and 99.7% accuracy. CCS data assembly generated a comparative number of large contigs greater than 1?kb, to those assembled from a ~190x larger HiSeq dataset (~18 Gb) produced from the same sample (i.e approximately 62% of total contigs). Hybrid assemblies using PacBio CCS and HiSeq contigs produced improvements in assembly statistics, including an increase in the average contig length and number of large contigs. The incorporation of CCS data produced significant enhancements in taxonomic binning and genome reconstruction of two dominant phylotypes, which assembled and binned poorly using HiSeq data alone. Collectively these results illustrate the value of PacBio CCS reads in certain metagenomics applications.


September 22, 2019  |  

The repeat structure of two paralogous genes, Yersinia ruckeri invasin (yrInv) and a “Y. ruckeri invasin-like molecule”, (yrIlm) sheds light on the evolution of adhesive capacities of a fish pathogen.

Inverse autotransporters comprise the recently identified type Ve secretion system and are exemplified by intimin from enterohaemorrhagic Escherichia coli and invasin from enteropathogenic Yersiniae. These proteins share a common domain architecture and promote bacterial adhesion to host cells. Here, we identified and characterized two putative inverse autotransporter genes in the fish pathogen Yersinia ruckeri NVH_3758, namely yrInv (for Y. ruckeri invasin) and yrIlm (for Y. ruckeri invasin-like molecule). When trying to clone the highly repetitive genes for structural and functional studies, we experienced problems in obtaining PCR products. PCR failures and the highly repetitive nature of inverse autotransporters prompted us to sequence the genome of Y. ruckeri NVH_3758 using PacBio sequencing, which produces some of the longest average read lengths available in the industry at this moment. According to our sequencing data, YrIlm is composed of 2603 amino acids (7812bp) and has a molecular mass of 256.4kDa. Based on the new genome information, we performed PCR analysis on four non-sequenced Y. ruckeri strains as well as the sequenced. Y. ruckeri type strain. We found that the genes are variably present in the strains, and that the length of yrIlm, when present, also varies. In addition, the length of the gene product for all strains, including the type strain, was much longer than expected based on deposited sequences. The internal repeats of the yrInv gene product are highly diverged, but represent the same bacterial immunoglobulin-like domains as in yrIlm. Using qRT-PCR, we found that yrIlm and yrInv are differentially expressed under conditions relevant for pathogenesis. In addition, we compared the genomic context of both genes in the newly sequenced Y. ruckeri strain to all available PacBio-sequenced Y. ruckeri genomes, and found indications of recent events of horizontal gene transfer. Taken together, this study demonstrates and highlights the power of Single Molecule Real-Time technology for sequencing highly repetitive proteins, and sheds light on the genetic events that gave rise to these highly repetitive genes in a commercially important fish pathogen. Copyright © 2017 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


September 22, 2019  |  

Loss of stomach, loss of appetite? Sequencing of the ballan wrasse (Labrus bergylta) genome and intestinal transcriptomic profiling illuminate the evolution of loss of stomach function in fish.

The ballan wrasse (Labrus bergylta) belongs to a large teleost family containing more than 600 species showing several unique evolutionary traits such as lack of stomach and hermaphroditism. Agastric fish are found throughout the teleost phylogeny, in quite diverse and unrelated lineages, indicating stomach loss has occurred independently multiple times in the course of evolution. By assembling the ballan wrasse genome and transcriptome we aimed to determine the genetic basis for its digestive system function and appetite regulation. Among other, this knowledge will aid the formulation of aquaculture diets that meet the nutritional needs of agastric species.Long and short read sequencing technologies were combined to generate a ballan wrasse genome of 805 Mbp. Analysis of the genome and transcriptome assemblies confirmed the absence of genes that code for proteins involved in gastric function. The gene coding for the appetite stimulating protein ghrelin was also absent in wrasse. Gene synteny mapping identified several appetite-controlling genes and their paralogs previously undescribed in fish. Transcriptome profiling along the length of the intestine found a declining expression gradient from the anterior to the posterior, and a distinct expression profile in the hind gut.We showed gene loss has occurred for all known genes related to stomach function in the ballan wrasse, while the remaining functions of the digestive tract appear intact. The results also show appetite control in ballan wrasse has undergone substantial changes. The loss of ghrelin suggests that other genes, such as motilin, may play a ghrelin like role. The wrasse genome offers novel insight in to the evolutionary traits of this large family. As the stomach plays a major role in protein digestion, the lack of genes related to stomach digestion in wrasse suggests it requires formulated diets with higher levels of readily digestible protein than those for gastric species.


September 22, 2019  |  

Complete genome sequences of seven Vibrio anguillarum strains as derived from PacBio sequencing.

We report here the complete genome sequences of seven Vibrio anguillarum strains isolated from multiple geographic locations, thus increasing the total number of genomes of finished quality to 11. The genomes were de novo assembled from long-sequence PacBio reads. Including draft genomes, a total of 44?V. anguillarum genomes are currently available in the genome databases. They represent an important resource in the study of, for example, genetic variations and for identifying virulence determinants. In this article, we present the genomes and basic genome comparisons of the 11 complete genomes, including a BRIG analysis, and pan genome calculation. We also describe some structural features of superintegrons on chromosome 2?s, and associated insertion sequence (IS) elements, including 18 new ISs (ISVa3?-?ISVa20), both of importance in the complement of V. anguillarum genomes.


September 22, 2019  |  

Genomic architecture of haddock (Melanogrammus aeglefinus) shows expansions of innate immune genes and short tandem repeats.

Increased availability of genome assemblies for non-model organisms has resulted in invaluable biological and genomic insight into numerous vertebrates, including teleosts. Sequencing of the Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua) genome and the genomes of many of its relatives (Gadiformes) demonstrated a shared loss of the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) II genes 100 million years ago. An improved version of the Atlantic cod genome assembly shows an extreme density of tandem repeats compared to other vertebrate genome assemblies. Highly contiguous assemblies are therefore needed to further investigate the unusual immune system of the Gadiformes, and whether the high density of tandem repeats found in Atlantic cod is a shared trait in this group.Here, we have sequenced and assembled the genome of haddock (Melanogrammus aeglefinus) – a relative of Atlantic cod – using a combination of PacBio and Illumina reads. Comparative analyses reveal that the haddock genome contains an even higher density of tandem repeats outside and within protein coding sequences than Atlantic cod. Further, both species show an elevated number of tandem repeats in genes mainly involved in signal transduction compared to other teleosts. A characterization of the immune gene repertoire demonstrates a substantial expansion of MCHI in Atlantic cod compared to haddock. In contrast, the Toll-like receptors show a similar pattern of gene losses and expansions. For the NOD-like receptors (NLRs), another gene family associated with the innate immune system, we find a large expansion common to all teleosts, with possible lineage-specific expansions in zebrafish, stickleback and the codfishes.The generation of a highly contiguous genome assembly of haddock revealed that the high density of short tandem repeats as well as expanded immune gene families is not unique to Atlantic cod – but possibly a feature common to all, or most, codfishes. A shared expansion of NLR genes in teleosts suggests that the NLRs have a more substantial role in the innate immunity of teleosts than other vertebrates. Moreover, we find that high copy number genes combined with variable genome assembly qualities may impede complete characterization of these genes, i.e. the number of NLRs in different teleost species might be underestimates.


September 22, 2019  |  

Spread of plasmid-encoded NDM-1 and GES-5 carbapenemases among extensively drug-resistant and pandrug-resistant clinical Enterobacteriaceae in Durban, South Africa.

Whole-genome sequence analyses revealed the presence of blaNDM-1 (n = 31), blaGES-5 (n = 8), blaOXA-232 (n = 1), or blaNDM-5 (n = 1) in extensively drug-resistant and pandrug-resistant Enterobacteriaceae organisms isolated from in-patients in 10 private hospitals (2012 to 2013) in Durban, South Africa. Two novel NDM-1-encoding plasmids from Klebsiella pneumoniae were circularized by PacBio sequencing. In p19-10_01 [IncFIB(K); 223.434 bp], blaNDM-1 was part of a Tn1548-like structure (16.276 bp) delineated by IS26 The multireplicon plasmid p18-43_01 [IncR_1/IncFIB(pB171)/IncFII(Yp); 212.326 bp] shared an 80-kb region with p19-10_01, not including the blaNDM-1-containing region. The two plasmids were used as references for tracing NDM-1-encoding plasmids in the other genome assemblies. The p19-10_01 sequence was detected in K. pneumoniae (n = 7) only, whereas p18-43_01 was tracked to K. pneumoniae (n = 4), Klebsiella michiganensis (n = 1), Serratia marcescens (n = 11), Enterobacter spp. (n = 7), and Citrobacter freundii (n = 1), revealing horizontal spread of this blaNDM-1-bearing plasmid structure. Global phylogeny showed clustering of the K. pneumoniae (18/20) isolates together with closely related carbapenemase-negative ST101 isolates from other geographical origins. The South African isolates were divided into three phylogenetic subbranches, where each group had distinct resistance and replicon profiles, carrying either p19-10_01, p18-10_01, or pCHE-A1 (8,201 bp). The latter plasmid carried blaGES-5 and aacA4 within an integron mobilization unit. Our findings imply independent plasmid acquisition followed by local dissemination. Additionally, we detected blaOXA-232 carried by pPKPN4 in K. pneumoniae (ST14) and blaNDM-5 contained by a pNDM-MGR194-like genetic structure in Escherichia coli (ST167), adding even more complexity to the multilayer molecular mechanisms behind nosocomial spread of carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae in Durban, South Africa. Copyright © 2018 American Society for Microbiology.


September 22, 2019  |  

Directed evolution of multiple genomic loci allows the prediction of antibiotic resistance.

Antibiotic development is frequently plagued by the rapid emergence of drug resistance. However, assessing the risk of resistance development in the preclinical stage is difficult. Standard laboratory evolution approaches explore only a small fraction of the sequence space and fail to identify exceedingly rare resistance mutations and combinations thereof. Therefore, new rapid and exhaustive methods are needed to accurately assess the potential of resistance evolution and uncover the underlying mutational mechanisms. Here, we introduce directed evolution with random genomic mutations (DIvERGE), a method that allows an up to million-fold increase in mutation rate along the full lengths of multiple predefined loci in a range of bacterial species. In a single day, DIvERGE generated specific mutation combinations, yielding clinically significant resistance against trimethoprim and ciprofloxacin. Many of these mutations have remained previously undetected or provide resistance in a species-specific manner. These results indicate pathogen-specific resistance mechanisms and the necessity of future narrow-spectrum antibacterial treatments. In contrast to prior claims, we detected the rapid emergence of resistance against gepotidacin, a novel antibiotic currently in clinical trials. Based on these properties, DIvERGE could be applicable to identify less resistance-prone antibiotics at an early stage of drug development. Finally, we discuss potential future applications of DIvERGE in synthetic and evolutionary biology. Copyright © 2018 the Author(s). Published by PNAS.


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