July 7, 2019  |  

Evidence for extensive horizontal gene transfer from the draft genome of a tardigrade.

Horizontal gene transfer (HGT), or the transfer of genes between species, has been recognized recently as more pervasive than previously suspected. Here, we report evidence for an unprecedented degree of HGT into an animal genome, based on a draft genome of a tardigrade, Hypsibius dujardini. Tardigrades are microscopic eight-legged animals that are famous for their ability to survive extreme conditions. Genome sequencing, direct confirmation of physical linkage, and phylogenetic analysis revealed that a large fraction of the H. dujardini genome is derived from diverse bacteria as well as plants, fungi, and Archaea. We estimate that approximately one-sixth of tardigrade genes entered by HGT, nearly double the fraction found in the most extreme cases of HGT into animals known to date. Foreign genes have supplemented, expanded, and even replaced some metazoan gene families within the tardigrade genome. Our results demonstrate that an unexpectedly large fraction of an animal genome can be derived from foreign sources. We speculate that animals that can survive extremes may be particularly prone to acquiring foreign genes.


July 7, 2019  |  

Stenotrophomonas comparative genomics reveals genes and functions that differentiate beneficial and pathogenic bacteria.

In recent years, the number of human infections caused by opportunistic pathogens has increased dramatically. Plant rhizospheres are one of the most typical natural reservoirs for these pathogens but they also represent a great source for beneficial microbes with potential for biotechnological applications. However, understanding the natural variation and possible differences between pathogens and beneficials is the main challenge in furthering these possibilities. The genus Stenotrophomonas contains representatives found to be associated with human and plant host.We used comparative genomics as well as transcriptomic and physiological approaches to detect significant borders between the Stenotrophomonas strains: the multi-drug resistant pathogenic S. maltophilia and the plant-associated strains S. maltophilia R551-3 and S. rhizophila DSM14405T (both are biocontrol agents). We found an overall high degree of sequence similarity between the genomes of all three strains. Despite the notable similarity in potential factors responsible for host invasion and antibiotic resistance, other factors including several crucial virulence factors and heat shock proteins were absent in the plant-associated DSM14405T. Instead, S. rhizophila DSM14405T possessed unique genes for the synthesis and transport of the plant-protective spermidine, plant cell-wall degrading enzymes, and high salinity tolerance. Moreover, the presence or absence of bacterial growth at 37°C was identified as a very simple method in differentiating between pathogenic and non-pathogenic isolates. DSM14405T is not able to grow at this human-relevant temperature, most likely in great part due to the absence of heat shock genes and perhaps also because of the up-regulation at increased temperatures of several genes involved in a suicide mechanism.While this study is important for understanding the mechanisms behind the emerging pattern of infectious diseases, it is, to our knowledge, the first of its kind to assess the risk of beneficial strains for biotechnological applications. We identified certain traits typical of pathogens such as growth at the human body temperature together with the production of heat shock proteins as opposed to a temperature-regulated suicide system that is harnessed by beneficials.


July 7, 2019  |  

Comparative genome sequencing reveals genomic signature of extreme desiccation tolerance in the anhydrobiotic midge.

Anhydrobiosis represents an extreme example of tolerance adaptation to water loss, where an organism can survive in an ametabolic state until water returns. Here we report the first comparative analysis examining the genomic background of extreme desiccation tolerance, which is exclusively found in larvae of the only anhydrobiotic insect, Polypedilum vanderplanki. We compare the genomes of P. vanderplanki and a congeneric desiccation-sensitive midge P. nubifer. We determine that the genome of the anhydrobiotic species specifically contains clusters of multi-copy genes with products that act as molecular shields. In addition, the genome possesses several groups of genes with high similarity to known protective proteins. However, these genes are located in distinct paralogous clusters in the genome apart from the classical orthologues of the corresponding genes shared by both chironomids and other insects. The transcripts of these clustered paralogues contribute to a large majority of the mRNA pool in the desiccating larvae and most likely define successful anhydrobiosis. Comparison of expression patterns of orthologues between two chironomid species provides evidence for the existence of desiccation-specific gene expression systems in P. vanderplanki.


July 7, 2019  |  

Plant growth-promoting effect and genomic analysis of the beneficial endophyte Streptomyces sp. KLBMP 5084 isolated from halophyte Limonium sinense

Background and aims: Soil salinity is a worldwide environmental problem that can hinder plant development and therefore negatively impact crop production. Inoculation of halophytic plants with plant growth-promoting (PGP) actinobacteria has been suggested as one strategy to improve salt tolerance. Here we performed a glasshouse experiment to test the effect of a PGP halotolerant endophytic actinomycete strain, KLBMP 5084 on the performance of the halophyte Limonium sinense under conditions of salt stress. Methods: Strain KLBMP 5084 was identified and screened for multiple PGP traits. The complete genome of strain KLBMP 5084 was sequenced and analyzed. L. sinense control seedlings (no inoculation) and seedlings inoculated with KLBMP 5084 were given different NaCl (0, 100 and 250 mM) salt-stress treatments. Growth parameters and physiological responses of L. sinense were determined after harvest. Results: Compared with the control, plants inoculated with strain KLBMP 5084 had greater in fresh weight, root length, leaf length and total chlorophyll and proline contents under both normal and high salinity conditions. Compared with control, inoculated plants had significantly lower leaf malondialdehyde (MDA) content and significantly more antioxidant enzymes. Moreover, inoculated plants had significantly lower accumulation of Na+ in both leaves and roots under high salt-stress conditions. Genomic analysis of strain KLBMP 5084 revealed many PGP related genes, including some genes putatively involved in salt tolerance and harsh environment adaptation. Conclusion: Strain KLBMP 5084 seems to confer salt tolerance to host plant L. sinense through more than one mechanism, suggesting KLBMP 5084 could be a strong PGP agent to improve plant yields and tolerance to salinity stress.


July 7, 2019  |  

Identification of a Pseudomonas aeruginosa PAO1 DNA methyltransferase, its targets, and physiological roles.

DNA methylation is widespread among prokaryotes, and most DNA methylation reactions are catalyzed by adenine DNA methyltransferases, which are part of restriction-modification (R-M) systems. R-M systems are known for their role in the defense against foreign DNA; however, DNA methyltransferases also play functional roles in gene regulation. In this study, we used single-molecule real-time (SMRT) sequencing to uncover the genome-wide DNA methylation pattern in the opportunistic pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa PAO1. We identified a conserved sequence motif targeted by an adenine methyltransferase of a type I R-M system and quantified the presence of N(6)-methyladenine using liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS). Changes in the PAO1 methylation status were dependent on growth conditions and affected P. aeruginosa pathogenicity in a Galleria mellonella infection model. Furthermore, we found that methylated motifs in promoter regions led to shifts in sense and antisense gene expression, emphasizing the role of enzymatic DNA methylation as an epigenetic control of phenotypic traits in P. aeruginosa Since the DNA methylation enzymes are not encoded in the core genome, our findings illustrate how the acquisition of accessory genes can shape the global P. aeruginosa transcriptome and thus may facilitate adaptation to new and challenging habitats.IMPORTANCE With the introduction of advanced technologies, epigenetic regulation by DNA methyltransferases in bacteria has become a subject of intense studies. Here we identified an adenosine DNA methyltransferase in the opportunistic pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa PAO1, which is responsible for DNA methylation of a conserved sequence motif. The methylation level of all target sequences throughout the PAO1 genome was approximated to be in the range of 65 to 85% and was dependent on growth conditions. Inactivation of the methyltransferase revealed an attenuated-virulence phenotype in the Galleria mellonella infection model. Furthermore, differential expression of more than 90 genes was detected, including the small regulatory RNA prrF1, which contributes to a global iron-sparing response via the repression of a set of gene targets. Our finding of a methylation-dependent repression of the antisense transcript of the prrF1 small regulatory RNA significantly expands our understanding of the regulatory mechanisms underlying active DNA methylation in bacteria. Copyright © 2017 Doberenz et al.


July 7, 2019  |  

Genetic control of plasticity of oil yield for combined abiotic stresses using a joint approach of crop modelling and genome-wide association.

Understanding the genetic basis of phenotypic plasticity is crucial for predicting and managing climate change effects on wild plants and crops. Here, we combined crop modelling and quantitative genetics to study the genetic control of oil yield plasticity for multiple abiotic stresses in sunflower. First, we developed stress indicators to characterize 14 environments for three abiotic stresses (cold, drought and nitrogen) using the SUNFLO crop model and phenotypic variations of three commercial varieties. The computed plant stress indicators better explain yield variation than descriptors at the climatic or crop levels. In those environments, we observed oil yield of 317 sunflower hybrids and regressed it with three selected stress indicators. The slopes of cold stress norm reaction were used as plasticity phenotypes in the following genome-wide association study. Among the 65 534 tested Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNPs), we identified nine quantitative trait loci controlling oil yield plasticity to cold stress. Associated single nucleotide polymorphisms are localized in genes previously shown to be involved in cold stress responses: oligopeptide transporters, lipid transfer protein, cystatin, alternative oxidase or root development. This novel approach opens new perspectives to identify genomic regions involved in genotype-by-environment interaction of a complex traits to multiple stresses in realistic natural or agronomical conditions.© 2017 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


July 7, 2019  |  

Genome sequence and analysis of a stress-tolerant, wild-derived strain of Saccharomyces cerevisiae used in biofuels research

The genome sequences of more than 100 strains of the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae have been published. Unfortunately, most of these genome assemblies contain dozens to hundreds of gaps at repetitive sequences, including transposable elements, tRNAs, and subtelomeric regions, which is where novel genes generally reside. Relatively few strains have been chosen for genome sequencing based on their biofuel production potential, leaving an additional knowledge gap. Here, we describe the nearly complete genome sequence of GLBRCY22-3 (Y22-3), a strain of S. cerevisiae derived from the stress-tolerant wild strain NRRL YB-210 and subsequently engineered for xylose metabolism. After benchmarking several genome assembly approaches, we developed a pipeline to integrate Pacific Biosciences (PacBio) and Illumina sequencing data and achieved one of the highest quality genome assemblies for any S. cerevisiae strain. Specifically, the contig N50 is 693 kbp, and the sequences of most chromosomes, the mitochondrial genome, and the 2-micron plasmid are complete. Our annotation predicts 92 genes that are not present in the reference genome of the laboratory strain S288c, over 70% of which were expressed. We predicted functions for 43 of these genes, 28 of which were previously uncharacterized and unnamed. Remarkably, many of these genes are predicted to be involved in stress tolerance and carbon metabolism and are shared with a Brazilian bioethanol production strain, even though the strains differ dramatically at most genetic loci. The Y22-3 genome sequence provides an exceptionally high-quality resource for basic and applied research in bioenergy and genetics. Copyright © 2016 McIlwain et al.


July 7, 2019  |  

Draft genome sequence of an inbred line of Chenopodium quinoa, an allotetraploid crop with great environmental adaptability and outstanding nutritional properties.

Chenopodium quinoa Willd. (quinoa) originated from the Andean region of South America, and is a pseudocereal crop of the Amaranthaceae family. Quinoa is emerging as an important crop with the potential to contribute to food security worldwide and is considered to be an optimal food source for astronauts, due to its outstanding nutritional profile and ability to tolerate stressful environments. Furthermore, plant pathologists use quinoa as a representative diagnostic host to identify virus species. However, molecular analysis of quinoa is limited by its genetic heterogeneity due to outcrossing and its genome complexity derived from allotetraploidy. To overcome these obstacles, we established the inbred and standard quinoa accession Kd that enables rigorous molecular analysis, and presented the draft genome sequence of Kd, using an optimized combination of high-throughput next generation sequencing on the Illumina Hiseq 2500 and PacBio RS II sequencers. The de novo genome assembly contained 25 k scaffolds consisting of 1 Gbp with N50 length of 86 kbp. Based on these data, we constructed the free-access Quinoa Genome DataBase (QGDB). Thus, these findings provide insights into the mechanisms underlying agronomically important traits of quinoa and the effect of allotetraploidy on genome evolution. © The Author 2016. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Kazusa DNA Research Institute.


July 7, 2019  |  

MALDI-TOF mass spectrometry enables a comprehensive and fast analysis of dynamics and qualities of stress responses of Lactobacillus paracasei subsp. paracasei F19.

Lactic acid bacteria (LAB) are widely used as starter cultures in the manufacture of foods. Upon preparation, these cultures undergo various stresses resulting in losses of survival and fitness. In order to find conditions for the subsequent identification of proteomic biomarkers and their exploitation for preconditioning of strains, we subjected Lactobacillus (Lb.) paracasei subsp. paracasei TMW 1.1434 (F19) to different stress qualities (osmotic stress, oxidative stress, temperature stress, pH stress and starvation stress). We analysed the dynamics of its stress responses based on the expression of stress proteins using MALDI-TOF mass spectrometry (MS), which has so far been used for species identification. Exploiting the methodology of accumulating protein expression profiles by MALDI-TOF MS followed by the statistical evaluation with cluster analysis and discriminant analysis of principle components (DAPC), it was possible to monitor the expression of low molecular weight stress proteins, identify a specific time point when the expression of stress proteins reached its maximum, and statistically differentiate types of adaptive responses into groups. Above the specific result for F19 and its stress response, these results demonstrate the discriminatory power of MALDI-TOF MS to characterize even dynamics of stress responses of bacteria and enable a knowledge-based focus on the laborious identification of biomarkers and stress proteins. To our knowledge, the implementation of MALDI-TOF MS protein profiling for the fast and comprehensive analysis of various stress responses is new to the field of bacterial stress responses. Consequently, we generally propose MALDI-TOF MS as an easy and quick method to characterize responses of microbes to different environmental conditions, to focus efforts of more elaborate approaches on time points and dynamics of stress responses.


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