September 22, 2019  |  

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.


September 22, 2019  |  

Contrasting distribution patterns between aquatic and terrestrial Phytophthora species along a climatic gradient are linked to functional traits.

Diversity of microbial organisms is linked to global climatic gradients. The genus Phytophthora includes both aquatic and terrestrial plant pathogenic species that display a large variation of functional traits. The extent to which the physical environment (water or soil) modulates the interaction of microorganisms with climate is unknown. Here, we explored the main environmental drivers of diversity and functional trait composition of Phytophthora communities. Communities were obtained by a novel metabarcoding setup based on PacBio sequencing of river filtrates in 96 river sites along a geographical gradient. Species were classified as terrestrial or aquatic based on their phylogenetic clade. Overall, terrestrial and aquatic species showed contrasting patterns of diversity. For terrestrial species, precipitation was a stronger driver than temperature, and diversity and functional diversity decreased with decreasing temperature and precipitation. In cold and dry areas, the dominant species formed resistant structures and had a low optimum temperature. By contrast, for aquatic species, temperature and water chemistry were the strongest drivers, and diversity increased with decreasing temperature and precipitation. Within the same area, environmental filtering affected terrestrial species more strongly than aquatic species (20% versus 3% of the studied communities, respectively). Our results highlight the importance of functional traits and the physical environment in which microorganisms develop their life cycle when predicting their distribution under changing climatic conditions. Temperature and rainfall may be buffered differently by water and soil, and thus pose contrasting constrains to microbial assemblies.


September 22, 2019  |  

Analysis of aquaporins from the euryhaline barnacle Balanus improvisus reveals differential expression in response to changes in salinity.

Barnacles are sessile macro-invertebrates, found along rocky shores in coastal areas worldwide. The euryhaline bay barnacle Balanus improvisus (Darwin, 1854) (= Amphibalanus improvisus) can tolerate a wide range of salinities, but the molecular mechanisms underlying the osmoregulatory capacity of this truly brackish species are not well understood. Aquaporins are pore-forming integral membrane proteins that facilitate transport of water, small solutes and ions through cellular membranes, and that have been shown to be important for osmoregulation in many organisms. The knowledge of the function of aquaporins in crustaceans is, however, limited and nothing is known about them in barnacles. We here present the repertoire of aquaporins from a thecostracan crustacean, the barnacle B. improvisus, based on genome and transcriptome sequencing. Our analyses reveal that B. improvisus contains eight genes for aquaporins. Phylogenetic analysis showed that they represented members of the classical water aquaporins (Aqp1, Aqp2), the aquaglyceroporins (Glp1, Glp2), the unorthodox aquaporin (Aqp12) and the arthropod-specific big brain aquaporin (Bib). Interestingly, we also found two big brain-like proteins (BibL1 and BibL2) constituting a new group of aquaporins not yet described in arthropods. In addition, we found that the two water-specific aquaporins were expressed as C-terminal splice variants. Heterologous expression of some of the aquaporins followed by functional characterization showed that Aqp1 transported water and Glp2 water and glycerol, agreeing with the predictions of substrate specificity based on 3D modeling and phylogeny. To investigate a possible role for the B. improvisus aquaporins in osmoregulation, mRNA expression changes in adult barnacles were analysed after long-term acclimation to different salinities. The most pronounced expression difference was seen for AQP1 with a substantial (>100-fold) decrease in the mantle tissue in low salinity (3 PSU) compared to high salinity (33 PSU). Our study provides a base for future mechanistic studies on the role of aquaporins in osmoregulation.


September 22, 2019  |  

Multiscale patterns and drivers of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungal communities in the roots and root-associated soil of a wild perennial herb.

Arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi form diverse communities and are known to influence above-ground community dynamics and biodiversity. However, the multiscale patterns and drivers of AM fungal composition and diversity are still poorly understood. We sequenced DNA markers from roots and root-associated soil from Plantago lanceolata plants collected across multiple spatial scales to allow comparison of AM fungal communities among neighbouring plants, plant subpopulations, nearby plant populations, and regions. We also measured soil nutrients, temperature, humidity, and community composition of neighbouring plants and nonAM root-associated fungi. AM fungal communities were already highly dissimilar among neighbouring plants (c. 30 cm apart), albeit with a high variation in the degree of similarity at this small spatial scale. AM fungal communities were increasingly, and more consistently, dissimilar at larger spatial scales. Spatial structure and environmental drivers explained a similar percentage of the variation, from 7% to 25%. A large fraction of the variation remained unexplained, which may be a result of unmeasured environmental variables, species interactions and stochastic processes. We conclude that AM fungal communities are highly variable among nearby plants. AM fungi may therefore play a major role in maintaining small-scale variation in community dynamics and biodiversity.© 2018 The Authors. New Phytologist © 2018 New Phytologist Trust.


September 22, 2019  |  

Soil microclimate changes affect soil fungal communities in a Mediterranean pine forest.

Soil microclimate is a potentially important regulator of the composition of plant-associated fungal communities in climates with significant drought periods. Here, we investigated the spatio-temporal dynamics of soil fungal communities in a Mediterranean Pinus pinaster forest in relation to soil moisture and temperature. Fungal communities in 336 soil samples collected monthly over 1 year from 28 long-term experimental plots were assessed by PacBio sequencing of ITS2 amplicons. Total fungal biomass was estimated by analysing ergosterol. Community changes were analysed in the context of functional traits. Soil fungal biomass was lowest during summer and late winter and highest during autumn, concurrent with a greater relative abundance of mycorrhizal species. Intra-annual spatio-temporal changes in community composition correlated significantly with soil moisture and temperature. Mycorrhizal fungi were less affected by summer drought than free-living fungi. In particular, mycorrhizal species of the short-distance exploration type increased in relative abundance under dry conditions, whereas species of the long-distance exploration type were more abundant under wetter conditions. Our observations demonstrate a potential for compositional and functional shifts in fungal communities in response to changing climatic conditions. Free-living fungi and mycorrhizal species with extensive mycelia may be negatively affected by increasing drought periods in Mediterranean forest ecosystems.© 2018 The Authors. New Phytologist © 2018 New Phytologist Trust.


September 22, 2019  |  

Retention of seed trees fails to lifeboat ectomycorrhizal fungal diversity in harvested Scots pine forests.

Fennoscandian forestry has in the past decades changed from natural regeneration of forests towards replantation of clear-cuts, which negatively impacts ectomycorrhizal fungal (EMF) diversity. Retention of trees during harvesting enables EMF survival, and we therefore expected EMF communities to be more similar to those in old natural stands after forest regeneration using seed trees compared to full clear-cutting and replanting. We sequenced fungal internal transcribed spacer 2 (ITS2) amplicons to assess EMF communities in 10- to 60-year-old Scots pine stands regenerated either using seed trees or through replanting of clear-cuts with old natural stands as reference. We also investigated local EMF communities around retained old trees. We found that retention of seed trees failed to mitigate the impact of harvesting on EMF community composition and diversity. With increasing stand age, EMF communities became increasingly similar to those in old natural stands and permanently retained trees maintained EMF locally. From our observations, we conclude that EMF communities, at least common species, post-harvest are more influenced by environmental filtering, resulting from environmental changes induced by harvest, than by the continuity of trees. These results suggest that retention of intact forest patches is a more efficient way to conserve EMF diversity than retaining dispersed single trees.© FEMS 2017. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail: journals.permissions@oup.com.


September 22, 2019  |  

Repeated evolution of self-compatibility for reproductive assurance.

Sexual reproduction in eukaryotes requires the fusion of two compatible gametes of opposite sexes or mating types. To meet the challenge of finding a mating partner with compatible gametes, evolutionary mechanisms such as hermaphroditism and self-fertilization have repeatedly evolved. Here, by combining the insights from comparative genomics, computer simulations and experimental evolution in fission yeast, we shed light on the conditions promoting separate mating types or self-compatibility by mating-type switching. Analogous to multiple independent transitions between switchers and non-switchers in natural populations mediated by structural genomic changes, novel switching genotypes readily evolved under selection in the experimental populations. Detailed fitness measurements accompanied by computer simulations show the benefits and costs of switching during sexual and asexual reproduction, governing the occurrence of both strategies in nature. Our findings illuminate the trade-off between the benefits of reproductive assurance and its fitness costs under benign conditions facilitating the evolution of self-compatibility.


July 7, 2019  |  

A blaOXA-181-harbouring multi-resistant ST147 Klebsiella pneumoniae isolate from Pakistan that represent an intermediate stage towards pan-drug resistance.

Carbapenem resistant Klebsiella pneumoniae (CR-KP) infections are an ever-increasing global issue, especially in the Indian subcontinent. Here we report genetic insight into a blaOXA-181 harbouring Klebsiella pneumoniae, belonging to the pandemic lineage ST147, that represents an intermediate stage towards pan-drug resistance. The CR-KP isolate DA48896 was isolated from a patient from Pakistan and was susceptible only to tigecycline and colistin. It harboured blaOXA-181 and was assigned to sequence type ST147. Analysis from whole genome sequencing revealed a very high sequence similarity to the previously sequenced pan-resistant K. pneumoniae isolate MS6671 from the United Arab Emirates. The two isolates are very closely related with only 46 chromosomal nucleotide differences, 14 indels and differences in plasmid content. Both carry a substantial number of plasmid-borne and chromosomally encoded resistance determinants. Interestingly, the two differences in susceptibility between the isolates could be attributed to DA48896 lacking an insertion of blaOXA-181 into the mgrB gene that results in colistin resistance in MS6671 and SNPs affecting AcrAB efflux pump expression likely to result in tigecycline resistance. These differences between the otherwise very similar isolates indicate that strong selection has occurred for resistance towards these last-resort drugs and illustrates the trajectory of resistance evolution of OXA-181-producing versions of the ST147 international risk clone.


July 7, 2019  |  

De novo design and synthesis of a 30-cistron translation-factor module.

Two of the many goals of synthetic biology are synthesizing large biochemical systems and simplifying their assembly. While several genes have been assembled together by modular idempotent cloning, it is unclear if such simplified strategies scale to very large constructs for expression and purification of whole pathways. Here we synthesize from oligodeoxyribonucleotides a completely de-novo-designed, 58-kb multigene DNA. This BioBrick plasmid insert encodes 30 of the 31 translation factors of the PURE translation system, each His-tagged and in separate transcription cistrons. Dividing the insert between three high-copy expression plasmids enables the bulk purification of the aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases and translation factors necessary for affordable, scalable reconstitution of an in vitro transcription and translation system, PURE 3.0.© The Author(s) 2017. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Nucleic Acids Research.


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