July 19, 2019  |  

Heterogeneous composition of key metabolic gene clusters in a vent mussel symbiont population.

Chemosynthetic symbiosis is one of the successful systems for adapting to a wide range of habitats including extreme environments, and the metabolic capabilities of symbionts enable host organisms to expand their habitat ranges. However, our understanding of the adaptive strategies that enable symbiotic organisms to expand their habitats is still fragmentary. Here, we report that a single-ribotype endosymbiont population in an individual of the host vent mussel, Bathymodiolus septemdierum has heterogeneous genomes with regard to the composition of key metabolic gene clusters for hydrogen oxidation and nitrate reduction. The host individual harbours heterogeneous symbiont subpopulations that either possess or lack the gene clusters encoding hydrogenase or nitrate reductase. The proportions of the different symbiont subpopulations in a host appeared to vary with the environment or with the host’s development. Furthermore, the symbiont subpopulations were distributed in patches to form a mosaic pattern in the gill. Genomic heterogeneity in an endosymbiont population may enable differential utilization of diverse substrates and confer metabolic flexibility. Our findings open a new chapter in our understanding of how symbiotic organisms alter their metabolic capabilities and expand their range of habitats.


July 19, 2019  |  

Variable genetic architectures produce virtually identical molecules in bacterial symbionts of fungus-growing ants.

Small molecules produced by Actinobacteria have played a prominent role in both drug discovery and organic chemistry. As part of a larger study of the actinobacterial symbionts of fungus-growing ants, we discovered a small family of three previously unreported piperazic acid-containing cyclic depsipeptides, gerumycins A-C. The gerumycins are slightly smaller versions of dentigerumycin, a cyclic depsipeptide that selectively inhibits a common fungal pathogen, Escovopsis. We had previously identified this molecule from a Pseudonocardia associated with Apterostigma dentigerum, and now we report the molecule from an associate of the more highly derived ant Trachymyrmex cornetzi. The three previously unidentified compounds, gerumycins A-C, have essentially identical structures and were produced by two different symbiotic Pseudonocardia spp. from ants in the genus Apterostigma found in both Panama and Costa Rica. To understand the similarities and differences in the biosynthetic pathways that produced these closely related molecules, the genomes of the three producing Pseudonocardia were sequenced and the biosynthetic gene clusters identified. This analysis revealed that dramatically different biosynthetic architectures, including genomic islands, a plasmid, and the use of spatially separated genetic loci, can lead to molecules with virtually identical core structures. A plausible evolutionary model that unifies these disparate architectures is presented.


July 19, 2019  |  

Integrating DNA methylation and gene expression data in the development of the soybean-Bradyrhizobium N2-fixing symbiosis.

Very little is known about the role of epigenetics in the differentiation of a bacterium from the free-living to the symbiotic state. Here genome-wide analysis of DNA methylation changes between these states is described using the model of symbiosis between soybean and its root nodule-forming, nitrogen-fixing symbiont, Bradyrhizobium diazoefficiens. PacBio resequencing of the B. diazoefficiens genome from both states revealed 43,061 sites recognized by five motifs with the potential to be methylated genome-wide. Of those sites, 3276 changed methylation states in 2921 genes or 35.5% of all genes in the genome. Over 10% of the methylation changes occurred within the symbiosis island that comprises 7.4% of the genome. The CCTTGAG motif was methylated only during symbiosis with 1361 adenosines methylated among the 1700 possible sites. Another 89 genes within the symbiotic island and 768 genes throughout the genome were found to have methylation and significant expression changes during symbiotic development. Of those, nine known symbiosis genes involved in all phases of symbiotic development including early infection events, nodule development, and nitrogenase production. These associations between methylation and expression changes in many B. diazoefficiens genes suggest an important role of the epigenome in bacterial differentiation to the symbiotic state.


July 19, 2019  |  

Winding paths to simplicity: genome evolution in facultative insect symbionts.

Symbiosis between organisms is an important driving force in evolution. Among the diverse relationships described, extensive progress has been made in insect-bacteria symbiosis, which improved our understanding of the genome evolution in host-associated bacteria. Particularly, investigations on several obligate mutualists have pushed the limits of what we know about the minimal genomes for sustaining cellular life. To bridge the gap between those obligate symbionts with extremely reduced genomes and their non-host-restricted ancestors, this review focuses on the recent progress in genome characterization of facultative insect symbionts. Notable cases representing various types and stages of host associations, including those from multiple genera in the family Enterobacteriaceae (class Gammaproteobacteria), Wolbachia (Alphaproteobacteria) and Spiroplasma (Mollicutes), are discussed. Although several general patterns of genome reduction associated with the adoption of symbiotic relationships could be identified, extensive variation was found among these facultative symbionts. These findings are incorporated into the established conceptual frameworks to develop a more detailed evolutionary model for the discussion of possible trajectories. In summary, transitions from facultative to obligate symbiosis do not appear to be a universal one-way street; switches between hosts and lifestyles (e.g. commensalism, parasitism or mutualism) occur frequently and could be facilitated by horizontal gene transfer. © FEMS 2016.


July 19, 2019  |  

The composite 259-kb plasmid of Martelella mediterranea DSM 17316(T)-a natural replicon with functional RepABC modules from Rhodobacteraceae and Rhizobiaceae.

A multipartite genome organization with a chromosome and many extrachromosomal replicons (ECRs) is characteristic for Alphaproteobacteria. The best investigated ECRs of terrestrial rhizobia are the symbiotic plasmids for legume root nodulation and the tumor-inducing (Ti) plasmid of Agrobacterium tumefaciens. RepABC plasmids represent the most abundant alphaproteobacterial replicon type. The currently known homologous replication modules of rhizobia and Rhodobacteraceae are phylogenetically distinct. In this study, we surveyed type-strain genomes from the One Thousand Microbial Genomes (KMG-I) project and identified a roseobacter-specific RepABC-type operon in the draft genome of the marine rhizobium Martelella mediterranea DSM 17316(T). PacBio genome sequencing demonstrated the presence of three circular ECRs with sizes of 593, 259, and 170-kb. The rhodobacteral RepABC module is located together with a rhizobial equivalent on the intermediate sized plasmid pMM259, which likely originated in the fusion of a pre-existing rhizobial ECR with a conjugated roseobacter plasmid. Further evidence for horizontal gene transfer (HGT) is given by the presence of a roseobacter-specific type IV secretion system on the 259-kb plasmid and the rhodobacteracean origin of 62% of the genes on this plasmid. Functionality tests documented that the genuine rhizobial RepABC module from the Martelella 259-kb plasmid is only maintained in A. tumefaciens C58 (Rhizobiaceae) but not in Phaeobacter inhibens DSM 17395 (Rhodobacteraceae). Unexpectedly, the roseobacter-like replication system is functional and stably maintained in both host strains, thus providing evidence for a broader host range than previously proposed. In conclusion, pMM259 is the first example of a natural plasmid that likely mediates genetic exchange between roseobacters and rhizobia.


July 19, 2019  |  

Herbivorous turtle ants obtain essential nutrients from a conserved nitrogen-recycling gut microbiome.

Nitrogen acquisition is a major challenge for herbivorous animals, and the repeated origins of herbivory across the ants have raised expectations that nutritional symbionts have shaped their diversification. Direct evidence for N provisioning by internally housed symbionts is rare in animals; among the ants, it has been documented for just one lineage. In this study we dissect functional contributions by bacteria from a conserved, multi-partite gut symbiosis in herbivorous Cephalotes ants through in vivo experiments, metagenomics, and in vitro assays. Gut bacteria recycle urea, and likely uric acid, using recycled N to synthesize essential amino acids that are acquired by hosts in substantial quantities. Specialized core symbionts of 17 studied Cephalotes species encode the pathways directing these activities, and several recycle N in vitro. These findings point to a highly efficient N economy, and a nutritional mutualism preserved for millions of years through the derived behaviors and gut anatomy of Cephalotes ants.


July 19, 2019  |  

Male-killing toxin in a bacterial symbiont of Drosophila.

Several lineages of symbiotic bacteria in insects selfishly manipulate host reproduction to spread in a population 1 , often by distorting host sex ratios. Spiroplasma poulsonii2,3 is a helical and motile, Gram-positive symbiotic bacterium that resides in a wide range of Drosophila species 4 . A notable feature of S. poulsonii is male killing, whereby the sons of infected female hosts are selectively killed during development1,2. Although male killing caused by S. poulsonii has been studied since the 1950s, its underlying mechanism is unknown. Here we identify an S. poulsonii protein, designated Spaid, whose expression induces male killing. Overexpression of Spaid in D. melanogaster kills males but not females, and induces massive apoptosis and neural defects, recapitulating the pathology observed in S. poulsonii-infected male embryos5-11. Our data suggest that Spaid targets the dosage compensation machinery on the male X chromosome to mediate its effects. Spaid contains ankyrin repeats and a deubiquitinase domain, which are required for its subcellular localization and activity. Moreover, we found a laboratory mutant strain of S. poulsonii with reduced male-killing ability and a large deletion in the spaid locus. Our study has uncovered a bacterial protein that affects host cellular machinery in a sex-specific way, which is likely to be the long-searched-for factor responsible for S. poulsonii-induced male killing.


July 7, 2019  |  

Genome sequence of Serratia nematodiphila DSM 21420T, a symbiotic bacterium from entomopathogenic nematode.

Serratia nematodiphila DSM 21420(T) (=CGMCC 1.6853(T), DZ0503SBS1(T)), isolated from the intestine of Heterorhabditidoides chongmingensis, has been known to have symbiotic-pathogenic life cycle, on the multilateral relationships with entomopathogenic nematode and insect pest. In order to better understanding of this rare feature in Serratia species, we present here the genome sequence of S. nematodiphila DSM 21420(T) with the significance of first genome sequence in this species. Copyright © 2014 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


July 7, 2019  |  

Gut symbionts from distinct hosts exhibit genotoxic activity via divergent colibactin biosynthetic pathways.

Secondary metabolites produced by nonribosomal peptide synthetase (NRPS) or polyketide synthase (PKS) pathways are chemical mediators of microbial interactions in diverse environments. However, little is known about their distribution, evolution, and functional roles in bacterial symbionts associated with animals. A prominent example is “colibactin”, a largely unknown family of secondary metabolites produced by Escherichia coli via a hybrid NRPS-PKS biosynthetic pathway, inflicting DNA damage upon eukaryotic cells and contributing to colorectal cancer and tumor formation in the mammalian gut. Thus far, homologs of this pathway have only been found in closely related Enterobacteriaceae, while a divergent variant of this gene cluster was recently discovered in a marine alphaproteobacterial Pseudovibrio strain. Herein, we sequenced the genome of Frischella perrara PEB0191, a bacterial gut symbiont of honey bees, and identified a homologous colibactin biosynthetic pathway related to those found in Enterobacteriaceae. We show that the colibactin genomic island (GI) has conserved gene synteny and biosynthetic module architecture across F. perrara, Enterobacteriaceae and the Pseudovibrio strain. Comparative metabolomics analyses of F. perrara and E. coli further reveal that these two bacteria produce related colibactin pathway-dependent metabolites. Finally, we demonstrate that F. perrara, like E. coli, causes DNA damage in eukaryotic cells in vitro in a colibactin pathway-dependent manner. Together, these results support that divergent variants of the colibactin biosynthetic pathway are widely distributed among bacterial symbionts, producing related secondary metabolites and likely endowing its producer with functional capabilities important for diverse symbiotic associations. Copyright © 2014, American Society for Microbiology. All Rights Reserved.


July 7, 2019  |  

Convergent losses of decay mechanisms and rapid turnover of symbiosis genes in mycorrhizal mutualists.

To elucidate the genetic bases of mycorrhizal lifestyle evolution, we sequenced new fungal genomes, including 13 ectomycorrhizal (ECM), orchid (ORM) and ericoid (ERM) species, and five saprotrophs, which we analyzed along with other fungal genomes. Ectomycorrhizal fungi have a reduced complement of genes encoding plant cell wall-degrading enzymes (PCWDEs), as compared to their ancestral wood decayers. Nevertheless, they have retained a unique array of PCWDEs, thus suggesting that they possess diverse abilities to decompose lignocellulose. Similar functional categories of nonorthologous genes are induced in symbiosis. Of induced genes, 7-38% are orphan genes, including genes that encode secreted effector-like proteins. Convergent evolution of the mycorrhizal habit in fungi occurred via the repeated evolution of a ‘symbiosis toolkit’, with reduced numbers of PCWDEs and lineage-specific suites of mycorrhiza-induced genes.


July 7, 2019  |  

The genome of Dendrobium officinale illuminates the biology of the important traditional Chinese orchid herb.

Dendrobium officinale Kimura et Migo is a traditional Chinese orchid herb that has both ornamental value and a broad range of therapeutic effects. Here, we report the first de novo assembled 1.35 Gb genome sequences for D. officinale by combining the second-generation Illumina Hiseq 2000 and third-generation PacBio sequencing technologies. We found that orchids have a complete inflorescence gene set and have some specific inflorescence genes. We observed gene expansion in gene families related to fungus symbiosis and drought resistance. We analyzed biosynthesis pathways of medicinal components of D. officinale and found extensive duplication of SPS and SuSy genes, which are related to polysaccharide generation, and that the pathway of D. officinale alkaloid synthesis could be extended to generate 16-epivellosimine. The D. officinale genome assembly demonstrates a new approach to deciphering large complex genomes and, as an important orchid species and a traditional Chinese medicine, the D. officinale genome will facilitate future research on the evolution of orchid plants, as well as the study of medicinal components and potential genetic breeding of the dendrobe. Copyright © 2015 The Author. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


July 7, 2019  |  

Active site and laminarin binding in glycoside hydrolase family 55.

The Carbohydrate Active Enzyme (CAZy) database indicates that glycoside hydrolase family 55 (GH55) contains both endo- and exo-ß-1,3-glucanases. The founding structure in the GH55 is PcLam55A from the white rot fungus Phanerochaete chrysosporium (Ishida, T., Fushinobu, S., Kawai, R., Kitaoka, M., Igarashi, K., and Samejima, M. (2009) Crystal structure of glycoside hydrolase family 55 ß-1,3-glucanase from the basidiomycete Phanerochaete chrysosporium. J. Biol. Chem. 284, 10100-10109). Here, we present high resolution crystal structures of bacterial SacteLam55A from the highly cellulolytic Streptomyces sp. SirexAA-E with bound substrates and product. These structures, along with mutagenesis and kinetic studies, implicate Glu-502 as the catalytic acid (as proposed earlier for Glu-663 in PcLam55A) and a proton relay network of four residues in activating water as the nucleophile. Further, a set of conserved aromatic residues that define the active site apparently enforce an exo-glucanase reactivity as demonstrated by exhaustive hydrolysis reactions with purified laminarioligosaccharides. Two additional aromatic residues that line the substrate-binding channel show substrate-dependent conformational flexibility that may promote processive reactivity of the bound oligosaccharide in the bacterial enzymes. Gene synthesis carried out on ~30% of the GH55 family gave 34 active enzymes (19% functional coverage of the nonredundant members of GH55). These active enzymes reacted with only laminarin from a panel of 10 different soluble and insoluble polysaccharides and displayed a broad range of specific activities and optima for pH and temperature. Application of this experimental method provides a new, systematic way to annotate glycoside hydrolase phylogenetic space for functional properties.© 2015 by The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Inc.


July 7, 2019  |  

Genome expansion via lineage splitting and genome reduction in the cicada endosymbiont Hodgkinia.

Comparative genomics from mitochondria, plastids, and mutualistic endosymbiotic bacteria has shown that the stable establishment of a bacterium in a host cell results in genome reduction. Although many highly reduced genomes from endosymbiotic bacteria are stable in gene content and genome structure, organelle genomes are sometimes characterized by dramatic structural diversity. Previous results from Candidatus Hodgkinia cicadicola, an endosymbiont of cicadas, revealed that some lineages of this bacterium had split into two new cytologically distinct yet genetically interdependent species. It was hypothesized that the long life cycle of cicadas in part enabled this unusual lineage-splitting event. Here we test this hypothesis by investigating the structure of the Ca. Hodgkinia genome in one of the longest-lived cicadas, Magicicada tredecim. We show that the Ca. Hodgkinia genome from M. tredecim has fragmented into multiple new chromosomes or genomes, with at least some remaining partitioned into discrete cells. We also show that this lineage-splitting process has resulted in a complex of Ca. Hodgkinia genomes that are 1.1-Mb pairs in length when considered together, an almost 10-fold increase in size from the hypothetical single-genome ancestor. These results parallel some examples of genome fragmentation and expansion in organelles, although the mechanisms that give rise to these extreme genome instabilities are likely different.


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