April 21, 2020  |  

Complete Genome Sequence of a Colistin-Resistant Uropathogenic Escherichia coli Sequence Type 131 fimH22 Strain Harboring mcr-1 on an IncHI2 Plasmid, Isolated in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

We report the complete genome sequence of a colistin-resistant strain of uropathogenic Escherichia coli, isolated in January 2013 at King Abdulaziz Medical City (KAMC), Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The isolate (named SA186) was sequence type 131 (ST131) and belonged to serotype O25b-H4 and clade B (fimH22).Copyright © 2019 Alghoribi et al.


April 21, 2020  |  

Adding function to the genome of African Salmonella Typhimurium ST313 strain D23580.

Salmonella Typhimurium sequence type (ST) 313 causes invasive nontyphoidal Salmonella (iNTS) disease in sub-Saharan Africa, targeting susceptible HIV+, malarial, or malnourished individuals. An in-depth genomic comparison between the ST313 isolate D23580 and the well-characterized ST19 isolate 4/74 that causes gastroenteritis across the globe revealed extensive synteny. To understand how the 856 nucleotide variations generated phenotypic differences, we devised a large-scale experimental approach that involved the global gene expression analysis of strains D23580 and 4/74 grown in 16 infection-relevant growth conditions. Comparison of transcriptional patterns identified virulence and metabolic genes that were differentially expressed between D23580 versus 4/74, many of which were validated by proteomics. We also uncovered the S. Typhimurium D23580 and 4/74 genes that showed expression differences during infection of murine macrophages. Our comparative transcriptomic data are presented in a new enhanced version of the Salmonella expression compendium, SalComD23580: http://bioinf.gen.tcd.ie/cgi-bin/salcom_v2.pl. We discovered that the ablation of melibiose utilization was caused by three independent SNP mutations in D23580 that are shared across ST313 lineage 2, suggesting that the ability to catabolize this carbon source has been negatively selected during ST313 evolution. The data revealed a novel, to our knowledge, plasmid maintenance system involving a plasmid-encoded CysS cysteinyl-tRNA synthetase, highlighting the power of large-scale comparative multicondition analyses to pinpoint key phenotypic differences between bacterial pathovariants.


April 21, 2020  |  

Morphotypes of the common beadlet anemone Actinia equina (L.) are genetically distinct

Anemones of the genus Actinia are ecologically important and familiar organisms on many rocky shores. However, this genus is taxonomically problematical and prior evidence suggests that the North Atlantic beadlet anemone, Actinia equina, may actually consist of a number of cryptic species. Previous genetic work has been largely limited to allozyme electrophoresis and there remains a dearth of genetic resources with which to study this genus. Mitochondrial DNA sequencing may help to clarify the taxonomy of Actinia. Here, the complete mitochondrial genome of the beadlet anemone Actinia equina (Cnidaria: Anthozoa: Actinaria: Actiniidae) is shown to be 20,690?bp in length and to contain the standard complement of Cnidarian features including 13 protein coding genes, two rRNA genes, two tRNAs and two Group I introns, one with an in-frame truncated homing endonuclease gene open reading frame. However, amplification and sequencing of the standard mtDNA barcoding region of the cytochrome oxidase I gene revealed only two haplotypes, differing by a single base pair, in widely geographically separated A. equina and its congener A. prasina. COI barcoding shows that whilst A. equina and A. prasina share the common mtDNA haplotype, haplotype frequency differed significantly between A. equina with red/orange pedal discs and those with green pedal discs, consistent with the hypothesis that these morphotypes represent incipient species.


April 21, 2020  |  

Identification and characterisation of anti – Pseudomonas aeruginosa proteins in mucus of the brown garden snail, Cornu aspersum.

Background: Novel antimicrobial treatments are urgently needed. Previous work has shown that the mucus of the brown garden snail (Cornu aspersum) has antimicrobial properties, in particular against type culture collection strains of Pseudomonas aeruginosa. We hypothesised that it would also be effective against clinical isolates of the bacterium and that investigation of fractions of the mucus would identify one or more proteins with anti-pseudomonal properties, which could be further characterised. Materials and methods: Mucus was extracted from snails collected from the wild. Antimicrobial activity against laboratory and clinical isolates of Ps. aeruginosa was determined in disc diffusion assays. Mucus was purified using size exclusion chromatography and fractions containing anti-pseudomonal activity identified. Mass spectroscopy and high performance liquid chromatography analysis of these fractions yielded partial peptide sequences. These were used to interrogate an RNA transcriptome generated from whole snails. Results: Mucus from C. aspersum inhibited growth of type collection strains and clinical isolates of Ps. aeruginosa. Four novel C. aspersum proteins were identified; at least three are likely to have antimicrobial properties. The most interesting is a 37.4 kDa protein whilst smaller proteins, one 17.5 kDa and one 18.6 kDa also appear to have activity against Ps. aeruginosa.Conclusions: The study has identified novel proteins with antimicrobial properties which could be used to develop treatments for use in human medicine.


September 22, 2019  |  

The industrial melanism mutation in British peppered moths is a transposable element.

Discovering the mutational events that fuel adaptation to environmental change remains an important challenge for evolutionary biology. The classroom example of a visible evolutionary response is industrial melanism in the peppered moth (Biston betularia): the replacement, during the Industrial Revolution, of the common pale typica form by a previously unknown black (carbonaria) form, driven by the interaction between bird predation and coal pollution. The carbonaria locus has been coarsely localized to a 200-kilobase region, but the specific identity and nature of the sequence difference controlling the carbonaria-typica polymorphism, and the gene it influences, are unknown. Here we show that the mutation event giving rise to industrial melanism in Britain was the insertion of a large, tandemly repeated, transposable element into the first intron of the gene cortex. Statistical inference based on the distribution of recombined carbonaria haplotypes indicates that this transposition event occurred around 1819, consistent with the historical record. We have begun to dissect the mode of action of the carbonaria transposable element by showing that it increases the abundance of a cortex transcript, the protein product of which plays an important role in cell-cycle regulation, during early wing disc development. Our findings fill a substantial knowledge gap in the iconic example of microevolutionary change, adding a further layer of insight into the mechanism of adaptation in response to natural selection. The discovery that the mutation itself is a transposable element will stimulate further debate about the importance of ‘jumping genes’ as a source of major phenotypic novelty.


September 22, 2019  |  

Microbiome and infectivity studies reveal complex polyspecies tree disease in Acute Oak Decline.

Decline-diseases are complex and becoming increasingly problematic to tree health globally. Acute Oak Decline (AOD) is characterized by necrotic stem lesions and galleries of the bark-boring beetle, Agrilus biguttatus, and represents a serious threat to oak. Although multiple novel bacterial species and Agrilus galleries are associated with AOD lesions, the causative agent(s) are unknown. The AOD pathosystem therefore provides an ideal model for a systems-based research approach to address our hypothesis that AOD lesions are caused by a polymicrobial complex. Here we show that three bacterial species, Brenneria goodwinii, Gibbsiella quercinecans and Rahnella victoriana, are consistently abundant in the lesion microbiome and possess virulence genes used by canonical phytopathogens that are expressed in AOD lesions. Individual and polyspecies inoculations on oak logs and trees demonstrated that B. goodwinii and G. quercinecans cause tissue necrosis and, in combination with A. biguttatus, produce the diagnostic symptoms of AOD. We have proved a polybacterial cause of AOD lesions, providing new insights into polymicrobial interactions and tree disease. This work presents a novel conceptual and methodological template for adapting Koch’s postulates to address the role of microbial communities in disease.


September 22, 2019  |  

Extensive exchange of transposable elements in the Drosophila pseudoobscura group.

As species diverge, so does their transposable element (TE) content. Within a genome, TE families may eventually become dormant due to host-silencing mechanisms, natural selection and the accumulation of inactive copies. The transmission of active copies from a TE families, both vertically and horizontally between species, can allow TEs to escape inactivation if it occurs often enough, as it may allow TEs to temporarily escape silencing in a new host. Thus, the contribution of horizontal exchange to TE persistence has been of increasing interest.Here, we annotated TEs in five species with sequenced genomes from the D. pseudoobscura species group, and curated a set of TE families found in these species. We found that, compared to host genes, many TE families showed lower neutral divergence between species, consistent with recent transmission of TEs between species. Despite these transfers, there are differences in the TE content between species in the group.The TE content is highly dynamic in the D. pseudoobscura species group, frequently transferring between species, keeping TEs active. This result highlights how frequently transposable elements are transmitted between sympatric species and, despite these transfers, how rapidly species TE content can diverge.


September 22, 2019  |  

Comparative genomics of Campylobacter concisus: Analysis of clinical strains reveals genome diversity and pathogenic potential.

In recent years, an increasing number of Campylobacter species have been associated with human gastrointestinal (GI) diseases including gastroenteritis, inflammatory bowel disease, and colorectal cancer. Campylobacter concisus, an oral commensal historically linked to gingivitis and periodontitis, has been increasingly detected in the lower GI tract. In the present study, we generated robust genome sequence data from C. concisus strains and undertook a comprehensive pangenome assessment to identify C. concisus virulence properties and to explain potential adaptations acquired while residing in specific ecological niche(s) of the GI tract. Genomes of 53 new C. concisus strains were sequenced, assembled, and annotated including 36 strains from gastroenteritis patients, 13 strains from Crohn’s disease patients and four strains from colitis patients (three collagenous colitis and one lymphocytic colitis). When compared with previous published sequences, strains clustered into two main groups/genomospecies (GS) with phylogenetic clustering explained neither by disease phenotype nor sample location. Paired oral/faecal isolates, from the same patient, indicated that there are few genetic differences between oral and gut isolates which suggests that gut isolates most likely reflect oral strain relocation. Type IV and VI secretion systems genes, genes known to be important for pathogenicity in the Campylobacter genus, were present in the genomes assemblies, with 82% containing Type VI secretion system genes. Our findings indicate that C. concisus strains are genetically diverse, and the variability in bacterial secretion system content may play an important role in their virulence potential.


September 22, 2019  |  

Evolutionary trade-offs associated with loss of PmrB function in host-adapted Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

Pseudomonas aeruginosa colonises the upper airway of cystic fibrosis (CF) patients, providing a reservoir of host-adapted genotypes that subsequently establish chronic lung infection. We previously experimentally-evolved P. aeruginosa in a murine model of respiratory tract infection and observed early-acquired mutations in pmrB, encoding the sensor kinase of a two-component system that promoted establishment and persistence of infection. Here, using proteomics, we show downregulation of proteins involved in LPS biosynthesis, antimicrobial resistance and phenazine production in pmrB mutants, and upregulation of proteins involved in adherence, lysozyme resistance and inhibition of the chloride ion channel CFTR, relative to wild-type strain LESB65. Accordingly, pmrB mutants are susceptible to antibiotic treatment but show enhanced adherence to airway epithelial cells, resistance to lysozyme treatment, and downregulate host CFTR expression. We propose that P. aeruginosa pmrB mutations in CF patients are subject to an evolutionary trade-off, leading to enhanced colonisation potential, CFTR inhibition, and resistance to host defences, but also to increased susceptibility to antibiotics.


September 22, 2019  |  

The structure of a conserved telomeric region associated with variant antigen loci in the blood parasite Trypanosoma congolense

African trypanosomiasis is a vector-borne disease of humans and livestock caused by African trypanosomes (Trypanosoma spp.). Survival in the vertebrate bloodstream depends on antigenic variation of Variant Surface Glycoproteins (VSGs) coating the parasite surface. In T. brucei, a model for antigenic variation, monoallelic VSG expression originates from dedicated VSG expression sites (VES). Trypanosoma brucei VES have a conserved structure consisting of a telomeric VSG locus downstream of unique, repeat sequences, and an independent promoter. Additional protein-coding sequences, known as “Expression Site Associated Genes (ESAGs)”, are also often present and are implicated in diverse, bloodstream-stage functions. Trypanosoma congolense is a related veterinary pathogen, also displaying VSG-mediated antigenic variation. A T. congolense VES has not been described, making it unclear if regulation of VSG expression is conserved between species. Here, we describe a conserved telomeric region associated with VSG loci from long-read DNA sequencing of two T. congolense strains, which consists of a distal repeat, conserved noncoding elements and other genes besides the VSG; although these are not orthologous to T. brucei ESAGs. Most conserved telomeric regions are associated with accessory minichromosomes, but the same structure may also be associated with megabase chromosomes. We propose that this region represents the T. congolense VES, and through comparison with T. brucei, we discuss the parallel evolution of antigenic switching mechanisms, and unique adaptation of the T. brucei VES for developmental regulation of bloodstream-stage genes. Hence, we provide a basis for understanding antigenic switching in T. congolense and the origins of the African trypanosome VES.


September 22, 2019  |  

The sequence of a male-specific genome region containing the sex determination switch in Aedes aegypti.

Aedes aegypti is the principal vector of several important arboviruses. Among the methods of vector control to limit transmission of disease are genetic strategies that involve the release of sterile or genetically modified non-biting males, which has generated interest in manipulating mosquito sex ratios. Sex determination in Ae. aegypti is controlled by a non-recombining Y chromosome-like region called the M locus, yet characterisation of this locus has been thwarted by the repetitive nature of the genome. In 2015, an M locus gene named Nix was identified that displays the qualities of a sex determination switch.With the use of a whole-genome bacterial artificial chromosome (BAC) library, we amplified and sequenced a ~200 kb region containing the male-determining gene Nix. In this study, we show that Nix is comprised of two exons separated by a 99 kb intron primarily composed of repetitive DNA, especially transposable elements.Nix, an unusually large and highly repetitive gene, exhibits features in common with Y chromosome genes in other organisms. We speculate that the lack of recombination at the M locus has allowed the expansion of repeats in a manner characteristic of a sex-limited chromosome, in accordance with proposed models of sex chromosome evolution in insects.


September 22, 2019  |  

Comparative genomics of Staphylococcus reveals determinants of speciation and diversification of antimicrobial defense.

The bacterial genus Staphylococcus comprises diverse species with most being described as colonizers of human and animal skin. A relational analysis of features that discriminate its species and contribute to niche adaptation and survival remains to be fully described. In this study, an interspecies, whole-genome comparative analysis of 21 Staphylococcus species was performed based on their orthologues. Three well-defined multi-species groups were identified: group A (including aureus/epidermidis); group B (including saprophyticus/xylosus) and group C (including pseudintermedius/delphini). The machine learning algorithm Random Forest was applied to prioritize orthologs that drive formation of the Staphylococcus species groups A-C. Orthologues driving staphylococcal intrageneric diversity comprised regulatory, metabolic and antimicrobial resistance proteins. Notably, the BraSR (NsaRS) two-component system (TCS) and its associated BraDE transporters that regulate antimicrobial resistance showed limited distribution in the genus and their presence was most closely associated with a subset of Staphylococcus species dominated by those that colonize human skin. Divergence of BraSR and GraSR antimicrobial peptide survival TCS and their associated transporters was observed across the staphylococci, likely reflecting niche specific evolution of these TCS/transporters and their specificities for AMPs. Experimental evolution, with selection for resistance to the lantibiotic nisin, revealed multiple routes to resistance and differences in the selection outcomes of the BraSR-positive species S. hominis and S. aureus. Selection supported a role for GraSR in nisin survival responses of the BraSR-negative species S. saprophyticus. Our study reveals diversification of antimicrobial-sensing TCS across the staphylococci and hints at differential relationships between GraSR and BraSR in those species positive for both TCS.


July 19, 2019  |  

Variation and evolution in the glutamine-rich repeat region of Drosophila argonaute-2.

RNA interference pathways mediate biological processes through Argonaute-family proteins, which bind small RNAs as guides to silence complementary target nucleic acids . In insects and crustaceans Argonaute-2 silences viral nucleic acids, and therefore acts as a primary effector of innate antiviral immunity. Although the function of the major Argonaute-2 domains, which are conserved across most Argonaute-family proteins, are known, many invertebrate Argonaute-2 homologs contain a glutamine-rich repeat (GRR) region of unknown function at the N-terminus . Here we combine long-read amplicon sequencing of Drosophila Genetic Reference Panel (DGRP) lines with publicly available sequence data from many insect species to show that this region evolves extremely rapidly and is hyper-variable within species. We identify distinct GRR haplotype groups in Drosophila melanogaster, and suggest that one of these haplotype groups has recently risen to high frequency in a North American population. Finally, we use published data from genome-wide association studies of viral resistance in D. melanogaster to test whether GRR haplotypes are associated with survival after virus challenge. We find a marginally significant association with survival after challenge with Drosophila C Virus in the DGRP, but we were unable to replicate this finding using lines from the Drosophila Synthetic Population Resource panel. Copyright © 2016 Palmer and Obbard.


July 19, 2019  |  

SMRT Gate: A method for validation of synthetic constructs on Pacific Biosciences sequencing platforms.

Current DNA assembly methods are prone to sequence errors, requiring rigorous quality control (QC) to identify incorrect assemblies or synthesized constructs. Such errors can lead to misinterpretation of phenotypes. Because of this intrinsic problem, routine QC analysis is generally performed on three or more clones using a combination of restriction endonuclease assays, colony PCR, and Sanger sequencing. However, as new automation methods emerge that enable high-throughput assembly, QC using these techniques has become a major bottleneck. Here, we describe a quick and affordable methodology for the QC of synthetic constructs. Our method involves a one-pot digestion-ligation DNA assembly reaction, based on the Golden Gate assembly methodology, that is coupled with Pacific Biosciences’ Single Molecule, Real-Time (PacBio SMRT) sequencing technology.


July 7, 2019  |  

Whole-genome sequence of Staphylococcus hominis strain J31 isolated from healthy human skin.

We report here the first whole-genome sequence of a skin-associated strain of Staphylococcus hominis determined using the PacBio long-read sequencing platform. S. hominis is a major commensal of the skin microflora. This genome sequence adds to our understanding of this species and will aid studies of gene traffic between staphylococci. Copyright © 2017 Coates-Brown and Horsburgh.


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