April 21, 2020  |  

Toxin and genome evolution in a Drosophila defensive symbiosis.

Defenses conferred by microbial symbionts play a vital role in the health and fitness of their animal hosts. An important outstanding question in the study of defensive symbiosis is what determines long term stability and effectiveness against diverse natural enemies. In this study, we combine genome and transcriptome sequencing, symbiont transfection and parasite protection experiments, and toxin activity assays to examine the evolution of the defensive symbiosis between Drosophila flies and their vertically transmitted Spiroplasma bacterial symbionts, focusing in particular on ribosome-inactivating proteins (RIPs), symbiont-encoded toxins that have been implicated in protection against both parasitic wasps and nematodes. Although many strains of Spiroplasma, including the male-killing symbiont (sMel) of Drosophila melanogaster, protect against parasitic wasps, only the strain (sNeo) that infects the mycophagous fly Drosophila neotestacea appears to protect against parasitic nematodes. We find that RIP repertoire is a major differentiating factor between strains that do and do not offer nematode protection, and that sMel RIPs do not show activity against nematode ribosomes in vivo. We also discovered a strain of Spiroplasma infecting a mycophagous phorid fly, Megaselia nigra. Although both the host and its Spiroplasma are distantly related to D. neotestacea and its symbiont, genome sequencing revealed that the M. nigra symbiont encodes abundant and diverse RIPs, including plasmid-encoded toxins that are closely related to the RIPs in sNeo. Our results suggest that distantly related Spiroplasma RIP toxins may perform specialized functions with regard to parasite specificity and suggest an important role for horizontal gene transfer in the emergence of novel defensive phenotypes.


April 21, 2020  |  

Genetic basis for the establishment of endosymbiosis in Paramecium.

The single-celled ciliate Paramecium bursaria is an indispensable model for investigating endosymbiosis between protists and green-algal symbionts. To elucidate the mechanism of this type of endosymbiosis, we combined PacBio and Illumina sequencing to assemble a high-quality and near-complete macronuclear genome of P. bursaria. The genomic characteristics and phylogenetic analyses indicate that P. bursaria is the basal clade of the Paramecium genus. Through comparative genomic analyses with its close relatives, we found that P. bursaria encodes more genes related to nitrogen metabolism and mineral absorption, but encodes fewer genes involved in oxygen binding and N-glycan biosynthesis. A comparison of the transcriptomic profiles between P. bursaria with and without endosymbiotic Chlorella showed differential expression of a wide range of metabolic genes. We selected 32 most differentially expressed genes to perform RNA interference experiment in P. bursaria, and found that P. bursaria can regulate the abundance of their symbionts through glutamine supply. This study provides novel insights into Paramecium evolution and will extend our knowledge of the molecular mechanism for the induction of endosymbiosis between P. bursaria and green algae.


April 21, 2020  |  

Insight into the microbial world of Bemisia tabaci cryptic species complex and its relationships with its host.

The 37 currently recognized Bemisia tabaci cryptic species are economically important species and contain both primary and secondary endosymbionts, but their diversity has never been mapped systematically across the group. To achieve this, PacBio sequencing of full-length bacterial 16S rRNA gene amplicons was carried out on 21 globally collected species in the B. tabaci complex, and two samples from B. afer were used here as outgroups. The microbial diversity was first explored across the major lineages of the whole group and 15 new putative bacterial sequences were observed. Extensive comparison of our results with previous endosymbiont diversity surveys which used PCR or multiplex 454 pyrosequencing platforms showed that the bacterial diversity was underestimated. To validate these new putative bacteria, one of them (Halomonas) was first confirmed to be present in MED B. tabaci using Hiseq2500 and FISH technologies. These results confirmed PacBio is a reliable and informative venue to reveal the bacterial diversity of insects. In addition, many new secondary endosymbiotic strains of Rickettsia and Arsenophonus were found, increasing the known diversity in these groups. For the previously described primary endosymbionts, one Portiera Operational Taxonomic Units (OTU) was shared by all B. tabaci species. The congruence of the B. tabaci-host and Portiera phylogenetic trees provides strong support for the hypothesis that primary endosymbionts co-speciated with their hosts. Likewise, a comparison of bacterial alpha diversities, Principal Coordinate Analysis, indistinct endosymbiotic communities harbored by different species and the co-divergence analyses suggest a lack of association between overall microbial diversity with cryptic species, further indicate that the secondary endosymbiont-mediated speciation is unlikely to have occurred in the B. tabaci species group.


April 21, 2020  |  

Large Enriched Fragment Targeted Sequencing (LEFT-SEQ) Applied to Capture of Wolbachia Genomes.

Symbiosis is a major force of evolutionary change, influencing virtually all aspects of biology, from population ecology and evolution to genomics and molecular/biochemical mechanisms of development and reproduction. A remarkable example is Wolbachia endobacteria, present in some parasitic nematodes and many arthropod species. Acquisition of genomic data from diverse Wolbachia clades will aid in the elucidation of the different symbiotic mechanisms(s). However, challenges of de novo assembly of Wolbachia genomes include the presence in the sample of host DNA: nematode/vertebrate or insect. We designed biotinylated probes to capture large fragments of Wolbachia DNA for sequencing using PacBio technology (LEFT-SEQ: Large Enriched Fragment Targeted Sequencing). LEFT-SEQ was used to capture and sequence four Wolbachia genomes: the filarial nematode Brugia malayi, wBm, (21-fold enrichment), Drosophila mauritiana flies (2 isolates), wMau (11-fold enrichment), and Aedes albopictus mosquitoes, wAlbB (200-fold enrichment). LEFT-SEQ resulted in complete genomes for wBm and for wMau. For wBm, 18 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), relative to the wBm reference, were identified and confirmed by PCR. A limit of LEFT-SEQ is illustrated by the wAlbB genome, characterized by a very high level of insertion sequences elements (ISs) and DNA repeats, for which only a 20-contig draft assembly was achieved.


April 21, 2020  |  

Genome expansion of an obligate parthenogenesis-associated Wolbachia poses an exception to the symbiont reduction model.

Theory predicts that dependency within host-endosymbiont interactions results in endosymbiont genome size reduction. Unexpectedly, the largest Wolbachia genome was found in the obligate, parthenogenesis-associated wFol. In this study, we investigate possible processes underlying this genome expansion by comparing a re-annotated wFol genome to other Wolbachia genomes. In addition, we also search for candidate genes related to parthenogenesis induction (PI).Within wFol, we found five phage WO regions representing 25.4% of the complete genome, few pseudogenized genes, and an expansion of DNA-repair genes in comparison to other Wolbachia. These signs of genome conservation were mirrored in the wFol host, the springtail F. candida, which also had an expanded DNA-repair gene family and many horizontally transferred genes. Across all Wolbachia genomes, there was a strong correlation between gene numbers of Wolbachia strains and their hosts. In order to identify genes with a potential link to PI, we assembled the genome of an additional PI strain, wLcla. Comparisons between four PI Wolbachia, including wFol and wLcla, and fourteen non-PI Wolbachia yielded a small set of potential candidate genes for further investigation.The strong similarities in genome content of wFol and its host, as well as the correlation between host and Wolbachia gene numbers suggest that there may be some form of convergent evolution between endosymbiont and host genomes. If such convergent evolution would be strong enough to overcome the evolutionary forces causing genome reduction, it would enable expanded genomes within long-term obligate endosymbionts.


October 23, 2019  |  

High resolution profiling of coral-associated bacterial communities using full-length 16S rRNA sequence data from PacBio SMRT sequencing system.

Coral reefs are a complex ecosystem consisting of coral animals and a vast array of associated symbionts including the dinoflagellate Symbiodinium, fungi, viruses and bacteria. Several studies have highlighted the importance of coral-associated bacteria and their fundamental roles in fitness and survival of the host animal. The scleractinian coral Porites lutea is one of the dominant reef-builders in the Indo-West Pacific. Currently, very little is known about the composition and structure of bacterial communities across P. lutea reefs. The purpose of this study is twofold: to demonstrate the advantages of using PacBio circular consensus sequencing technology in microbial community studies and to investigate the diversity and structure of P. lutea-associated microbiome in the Indo-Pacific. This is the first metagenomic study of marine environmental samples that utilises the PacBio sequencing system to capture full-length 16S rRNA sequences. We observed geographically distinct coral-associated microbial profiles between samples from the Gulf of Thailand and Andaman Sea. Despite the geographical and environmental impacts on the coral-host interactions, we identified a conserved community of bacteria that were present consistently across diverse reef habitats. Finally, we demonstrated the superior performance of full-length 16S rRNA sequences in resolving taxonomic uncertainty of coral associates at the species level.


September 22, 2019  |  

An environmental bacterial taxon with a large and distinct metabolic repertoire.

Cultivated bacteria such as actinomycetes are a highly useful source of biomedically important natural products. However, such ‘talented’ producers represent only a minute fraction of the entire, mostly uncultivated, prokaryotic diversity. The uncultured majority is generally perceived as a large, untapped resource of new drug candidates, but so far it is unknown whether taxa containing talented bacteria indeed exist. Here we report the single-cell- and metagenomics-based discovery of such producers. Two phylotypes of the candidate genus ‘Entotheonella’ with genomes of greater than 9 megabases and multiple, distinct biosynthetic gene clusters co-inhabit the chemically and microbially rich marine sponge Theonella swinhoei. Almost all bioactive polyketides and peptides known from this animal were attributed to a single phylotype. ‘Entotheonella’ spp. are widely distributed in sponges and belong to an environmental taxon proposed here as candidate phylum ‘Tectomicrobia’. The pronounced bioactivities and chemical uniqueness of ‘Entotheonella’ compounds provide significant opportunities for ecological studies and drug discovery.


September 22, 2019  |  

Capturing natural product biosynthetic pathways from uncultivated symbiotic bacteria of marine sponges through metagenome mining: a mini-review

Symbiotic bacteria associated with marine sponges have frequently been proposed as the true producer of many bioactive natural products with potent anticancer activities. However, the majority of these complex symbiotic bacteria cannot be cultivated under laboratory conditions, hampering efforts to access and develop their potent compounds for therapeutic applications. Metagenome mining is a powerful cultivation-independent tool that can be used to search for new natural product biosynthetic pathways from highly complex bacterial consortia. Some notable examples of natural products, in which their biosynthetic pathways have been cloned by metagenome mining are onnamide A, psymberin, polytheonamides, calyculin, and misakinolide A. Subsequent expression of the pathways in easily culturable bacteria, such as Escherichia coli, could lead to the sustainable production of rare promising natural products. This review discusses principles of metagenome mining developed to gain access to natural product biosynthetic pathways from uncultured symbiotic bacteria of marine sponges. This includes detecting biosynthetic genes in sponge metagenome, creating large metagenomic library, rapid screening of metagenomic library, and clone sequencing. For many natural products made by modular polyketide synthases (PKSs) and hybrids with non-ribosomal peptide synthetases (NRPSs), their biosynthetic pathways as well as structures of final products can be predicted with high accuracy through bioinformatic analysis and sometimes combined with functional proof. Further metagenome sequencing integrated with single-cell analysis and chemical studies could provide insights into the remarkable biosynthetic capacity of uncultivated bacterial symbionts, thereby facilitating the discovery and sustainable production of a wide diversity of sponge-derived complex compounds.


September 22, 2019  |  

Candidatus Dactylopiibacterium carminicum, a nitrogen-fixing symbiont of Dactylopius cochineal insects (Hemiptera: Coccoidea: Dactylopiidae)

The domesticated carmine cochineal Dactylopius coccus (scale insect) has commercial value and has been used for more than 500?years for natural red pigment production. Besides the domesticated cochineal, other wild Dactylopius species such as Dactylopius opuntiae are found in the Americas, all feeding on nutrient poor sap from native cacti. To compensate nutritional deficiencies, many insects harbor symbiotic bacteria which provide essential amino acids or vitamins to their hosts. Here, we characterized a symbiont from the carmine cochineal insects, Candidatus Dactylopiibacterium carminicum (betaproteobacterium, Rhodocyclaceae family) and found it in D. coccus and in D. opuntiae ovaries by fluorescent in situ hybridization, suggesting maternal inheritance. Bacterial genomes recovered from metagenomic data derived from whole insects or tissues both from D. coccus and from D. opuntiae were around 3.6?Mb in size. Phylogenomics showed that dactylopiibacteria constituted a closely related clade neighbor to nitrogen fixing bacteria from soil or from various plants including rice and other grass endophytes. Metabolic capabilities were inferred from genomic analyses, showing a complete operon for nitrogen fixation, biosynthesis of amino acids and vitamins and putative traits of anaerobic or microoxic metabolism as well as genes for plant interaction. Dactylopiibacterium nif gene expression and acetylene reduction activity detecting nitrogen fixation were evidenced in D. coccus hemolymph and ovaries, in congruence with the endosymbiont fluorescent in situ hybridization location. Dactylopiibacterium symbionts may compensate for the nitrogen deficiency in the cochineal diet. In addition, this symbiont may provide essential amino acids, recycle uric acid, and increase the cochineal life span.


September 22, 2019  |  

Genomic and metabolic diversity of Marine Group I Thaumarchaeota in the mesopelagic of two subtropical gyres.

Marine Group I (MGI) Thaumarchaeota are one of the most abundant and cosmopolitan chemoautotrophs within the global dark ocean. To date, no representatives of this archaeal group retrieved from the dark ocean have been successfully cultured. We used single cell genomics to investigate the genomic and metabolic diversity of thaumarchaea within the mesopelagic of the subtropical North Pacific and South Atlantic Ocean. Phylogenetic and metagenomic recruitment analysis revealed that MGI single amplified genomes (SAGs) are genetically and biogeographically distinct from existing thaumarchaea cultures obtained from surface waters. Confirming prior studies, we found genes encoding proteins for aerobic ammonia oxidation and the hydrolysis of urea, which may be used for energy production, as well as genes involved in 3-hydroxypropionate/4-hydroxybutyrate and oxidative tricarboxylic acid pathways. A large proportion of protein sequences identified in MGI SAGs were absent in the marine cultures Cenarchaeum symbiosum and Nitrosopumilus maritimus, thus expanding the predicted protein space for this archaeal group. Identifiable genes located on genomic islands with low metagenome recruitment capacity were enriched in cellular defense functions, likely in response to viral infections or grazing. We show that MGI Thaumarchaeota in the dark ocean may have more flexibility in potential energy sources and adaptations to biotic interactions than the existing, surface-ocean cultures.


September 22, 2019  |  

Laboratory colonization stabilizes the naturally dynamic microbiome composition of field collected Dermacentor andersoni ticks.

Nearly a quarter of emerging infectious diseases identified in the last century are arthropod-borne. Although ticks and insects can carry pathogenic microorganisms, non-pathogenic microbes make up the majority of their microbial communities. The majority of tick microbiome research has had a focus on discovery and description; very few studies have analyzed the ecological context and functional responses of the bacterial microbiome of ticks. The goal of this analysis was to characterize the stability of the bacterial microbiome of Dermacentor andersoni ticks between generations and two populations within a species.The bacterial microbiome of D. andersoni midguts and salivary glands was analyzed from populations collected at two different ecologically distinct sites by comparing field (F1) and lab-reared populations (F1-F3) over three generations. The microbiome composition of pooled and individual samples was analyzed by sequencing nearly full-length 16S rRNA gene amplicons using a Pacific Biosciences CCS platform that allows identification of bacteria to the species level.In this study, we found that the D. andersoni microbiome was distinct in different geographic populations and was tissue specific, differing between the midgut and the salivary gland, over multiple generations. Additionally, our study showed that the microbiomes of laboratory-reared populations were not necessarily representative of their respective field populations. Furthermore, we demonstrated that the microbiome of a few individual ticks does not represent the microbiome composition at the population level.We demonstrated that the bacterial microbiome of D. andersoni was complex over three generations and specific to tick tissue (midgut vs. salivary glands) as well as geographic location (Burns, Oregon vs. Lake Como, Montana vs. laboratory setting). These results provide evidence that habitat of the tick population is a vital component of the complexity of the bacterial microbiome of ticks, and that the microbiome of lab colonies may not allow for comparative analyses with field populations. A broader understanding of microbiome variation will be required if we are to employ manipulation of the microbiome as a method for interfering with acquisition and transmission of tick-borne pathogens.


September 22, 2019  |  

Metabolism of toxic sugars by strains of the bee gut symbiont Gilliamella apicola.

Social bees collect carbohydrate-rich food to support their colonies, and yet, certain carbohydrates present in their diet or produced through the breakdown of pollen are toxic to bees. The gut microbiota of social bees is dominated by a few core bacterial species, including the Gram-negative species Gilliamella apicola We isolated 42 strains of G. apicola from guts of honey bees and bumble bees and sequenced their genomes. All of the G. apicola strains share high 16S rRNA gene similarity, but they vary extensively in gene repertoires related to carbohydrate metabolism. Predicted abilities to utilize different sugars were verified experimentally. Some strains can utilize mannose, arabinose, xylose, or rhamnose (monosaccharides that can cause toxicity in bees) as their sole carbon and energy source. All of the G. apicola strains possess a manO-associated mannose family phosphotransferase system; phylogenetic analyses suggest that this was acquired from Firmicutes through horizontal gene transfer. The metabolism of mannose is specifically dependent on the presence of mannose-6-phosphate isomerase (MPI). Neither growth rates nor the utilization of glucose and fructose are affected in the presence of mannose when the gene encoding MPI is absent from the genome, suggesting that mannose is not taken up by G. apicola strains which harbor the phosphotransferase system but do not encode the MPI. Given their ability to simultaneously utilize glucose, fructose, and mannose, as well as the ability of many strains to break down other potentially toxic carbohydrates, G. apicola bacteria may have key roles in improving dietary tolerances and maintaining the health of their bee hosts.Bees are important pollinators of agricultural plants. Our study documents the ability of Gilliamella apicola, a dominant gut bacterium in honey bees and bumble bees, to utilize several sugars that are harmful to bee hosts. Using genome sequencing and growth assays, we found that the ability to metabolize certain toxic carbohydrates is directly correlated with the presence of their respective degradation pathways, indicating that metabolic potential can be accurately predicted from genomic data in these gut symbionts. Strains vary considerably in their range of utilizable carbohydrates, which likely reflects historical horizontal gene transfer and gene deletion events. Unlike their bee hosts, G. apicola bacteria are not detrimentally affected by growth on mannose-containing medium, even in strains that cannot metabolize this sugar. These results suggest that G. apicola may be an important player in modulating nutrition in the bee gut, with ultimate effects on host health. Copyright © 2016 Zheng et al.


September 22, 2019  |  

Complete genome sequence of Enterococcus durans Oregon-R-modENCODE strain BDGP3, a lactic acid bacterium found in the Drosophila melanogaster gut

Enterococcus durans Oregon-R-modENCODE strain BDGP3 was isolated from the Drosophila melanogaster gut for functional host-microbe interaction studies. The complete genome is composed of a single circular genome of 2,983,334 bp, with a G+C content of 38%, and a single plasmid of 5,594 bp. Copyright © 2017 Wan et al.


September 22, 2019  |  

Genomics and host specialization of honey bee and bumble bee gut symbionts.

Gilliamella apicola and Snodgrassella alvi are dominant members of the honey bee (Apis spp.) and bumble bee (Bombus spp.) gut microbiota. We generated complete genomes of the type strains G. apicola wkB1(T) and S. alvi wkB2(T) (isolated from Apis), as well as draft genomes for four other strains from Bombus. G. apicola and S. alvi were found to occupy very different metabolic niches: The former is a saccharolytic fermenter, whereas the latter is an oxidizer of carboxylic acids. Together, they may form a syntrophic network for partitioning of metabolic resources. Both species possessed numerous genes [type 6 secretion systems, repeats in toxin (RTX) toxins, RHS proteins, adhesins, and type IV pili] that likely mediate cell-cell interactions and gut colonization. Variation in these genes could account for the host fidelity of strains observed in previous phylogenetic studies. Here, we also show the first experimental evidence, to our knowledge, for this specificity in vivo: Strains of S. alvi were able to colonize their native bee host but not bees of another genus. Consistent with specific, long-term host association, comparative genomic analysis revealed a deep divergence and little or no gene flow between Apis and Bombus gut symbionts. However, within a host type (Apis or Bombus), we detected signs of horizontal gene transfer between G. apicola and S. alvi, demonstrating the importance of the broader gut community in shaping the evolution of any one member. Our results show that host specificity is likely driven by multiple factors, including direct host-microbe interactions, microbe-microbe interactions, and social transmission.


September 22, 2019  |  

High-resolution community profiling of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi.

Community analyses of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) using ribosomal small subunit (SSU) or internal transcribed spacer (ITS) DNA sequences often suffer from low resolution or coverage. We developed a novel sequencing based approach for a highly resolving and specific profiling of AMF communities. We took advantage of previously established AMF-specific PCR primers that amplify a c. 1.5-kb long fragment covering parts of SSU, ITS and parts of the large ribosomal subunit (LSU), and we sequenced the resulting amplicons with single molecule real-time (SMRT) sequencing. The method was applicable to soil and root samples, detected all major AMF families and successfully discriminated closely related AMF species, which would not be discernible using SSU sequences. In inoculation tests we could trace the introduced AMF inoculum at the molecular level. One of the introduced strains almost replaced the local strain(s), revealing that AMF inoculation can have a profound impact on the native community. The methodology presented offers researchers a powerful new tool for AMF community analysis because it unifies improved specificity and enhanced resolution, whereas the drawback of medium sequencing throughput appears of lesser importance for low-diversity groups such as AMF.© 2016 The Authors. New Phytologist © 2016 New Phytologist Trust.


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