June 1, 2021  |  

High-resolution evaluation of gut microbiota associated with intestinal maturation in early preterm neonates

Leaky gut, or intestinal barrier immaturity with elevated intestinal permeability, is the proximate cause of susceptibility to necrotizing enterocolitis in preterm neonates. We recently revealed intestinal barrier maturation was associated with exclusive breastfeeding, less antibiotic exposure, most importantly, altered composition of the gut microbiota. However, sequencing short regions of 16S rRNA gene amplicon failed to identify the specific bacterial groups associated with improved or aberrant intestinal permeability. In this study, we performed high-throughput amplicon sequencing of the full length 16S rRNA gene with single-nucleotide resolution for a cohort of 66 preterm neonates born at 24-33 weeks of gestation who had stool collected daily for 21 postnatal days. We assessed their intestinal permeability by measuring urine non-metabolized sugar probes lactulose and rhamnose during the first 7-10 days of life. We observed that intestinal barrier maturation was positively correlated with changes in specific amplicon sequence variants of species of Clostridiales and Bifidobacterium, while leaky gut was associated with specific strains of Escherichia coli. These results are promising in that they support the use of stool microbial biomarkers for the rapid, non-invasive, and cost-effective assessment of intestinal maturation in neonates.


June 1, 2021  |  

Comparative metagenome-assembled genome analysis of “Candidatus Lachnocurva vaginae”, formerly known as Bacterial Vaginosis Associated bacterium – 1 (BVAB1)

Bacterial Vaginosis Associated bacterium 1 (BVAB1) is an as-yet uncultured bacterial species found in the human vagina that belongs to the family Lachnospiraceae within the order Clostridiales. As its name suggests, this bacterium is often associated with bacterial vaginosis (BV), a common vaginal disorder that has been shown to increase a woman’s risk for HIV, Chlamydia trachomatis, and Neisseria gonorrhoeae infections as well as preterm birth. Further, BVAB1 is associated with the persistence of BV following metronidazole treatment, increased vaginal inflammation, and adverse obstetrics outcomes. There is no available complete genome sequence of BVAB1, which has made it di?cult to mechanistically understand its role in disease. We present here a circularized metagenome-assembled genome (cMAG) of B VAB1 as well as a comparative analysis including an additional six metagenome-assembled genomes (MAGs) of this species. These sequences were derived from cervicovaginal samples of seven separate women. The cMAG is 1.649 Mb in size and encodes 1,578 genes. We propose to rename BVAB1 to “Candidatus Lachnocurva vaginae” based on phylogenetic analyses, and provide genomic evidence that this candidate species may metabolize D-lactate, produce trimethylamine (one of the chemicals responsible for BV-associated odor), and be motile. The cMAG and the six MAGs are valuable resources that will further contribute to our understanding of the heterogeneous etiology of bacterial vaginosis.


April 21, 2020  |  

Genomics-informed molecular detection of Xanthomonas vasicola pv. vasculorum strains causing severe bacterial leaf streak of corn.

Xanthomonas vasicola pv. vasculorum (syn. X. campestris pv. vasculorum) was initially identified as the causal agent of bacterial leaf streak of corn in South Africa. The pathovar vasculorum causes disease on sugarcane and corn, but a subset of these strains was noted for its increased disease severity in corn. This subset was re-classified as Xanthomonas campestris pv. zeae in the early 1990s and was found to have slightly different biochemical and genetic properties than isolates from sugarcane. There has been an emergence of X. campestris pv. zeae-like strains of X. vasicola pv. vasculorum in both the United States and Argentina since 2010. We performed whole genome sequencing on U.S. isolates to confirm their identity. Informed by comparative genomics, we then developed specific TaqMan qPCR and loop-mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP) assays for the detection of this specific subset of X. vasicola pv. vasculorum strains. The qPCR 4909 assay was tested against 27 xanthomonads (diverse representation), 32 DNA extractions from corn leaves confirmed as positive or negative for the bacterium, 41 X. vasicola pv. vasculorum isolates from corn in the United States and Argentina, and 31 additional bacteria associated with corn, sugarcane, or sorghum. In all cases the assay was shown to be specific for the X. vasicola pv. vasculorum isolates that cause more severe disease on corn. We then tested the LAMP 166 assay against the 27 xanthomonads and 32 corn leaf DNA samples, and we found this assay was also specific for this subset of X. vasicola pv. vasculorum isolates. We also developed a live/dead cells distinction protocol using propidium monoazide prior to DNA extraction for analyzing seed washes using these assays. These two detection assays can be useful for both diagnosticians and researchers to specifically identify the X. vasicola pv. vasculorum isolates that cause more severe symptoms on corn.


April 21, 2020  |  

A microbial factory for defensive kahalalides in a tripartite marine symbiosis.

Chemical defense against predators is widespread in natural ecosystems. Occasionally, taxonomically distant organisms share the same defense chemical. Here, we describe an unusual tripartite marine symbiosis, in which an intracellular bacterial symbiont (“Candidatus Endobryopsis kahalalidefaciens”) uses a diverse array of biosynthetic enzymes to convert simple substrates into a library of complex molecules (the kahalalides) for chemical defense of the host, the alga Bryopsis sp., against predation. The kahalalides are subsequently hijacked by a third partner, the herbivorous mollusk Elysia rufescens, and employed similarly for defense. “Ca E. kahalalidefaciens” has lost many essential traits for free living and acts as a factory for kahalalide production. This interaction between a bacterium, an alga, and an animal highlights the importance of chemical defense in the evolution of complex symbioses.Copyright © 2019 The Authors, some rights reserved; exclusive licensee American Association for the Advancement of Science. No claim to original U.S. Government Works.


April 21, 2020  |  

Genome and Functional Characterization of Colonization Factor Antigen I- and CS6-Encoding Heat-Stable Enterotoxin-Only Enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli Reveals Lineage and Geographic Variation

Enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli (ETEC) is a significant cause of childhood diarrhea and is a leading cause of travelertextquoterights diarrhea. ETEC strains encoding the heat-stable enterotoxin (ST) are more often associated with childhood diarrhea than ETEC strains that encode only the heat-labile enterotoxin (LT). Colonization factors (CFs) also have a demonstrated role in ETEC virulence, and two of the most prevalent CFs among ETEC that have caused diarrhea are colonization factor antigen I (CFA/I) and CS6. In the current report, we describe the genomes of 269 CS6- or CFA/I-encoding ST-only ETEC isolates that were associated with human diarrhea. While the CS6 and CFA/I ETEC were identified in at least 13 different ETEC genomic lineages, a majority (85%; 229/269) were identified in only six lineages. Complete genome sequencing of selected isolates demonstrated that a conserved plasmid contributed to the dissemination of CFA/I whereas at least five distinct plasmids were involved in the dissemination of ST and/or CS6. Additionally, there were differences in gene content between CFA/I and CS6 ETEC at the phylogroup and lineage levels and in association with their geographic location of isolation as well as lineage-related differences in ST production. Thus, we demonstrate that genomically diverse E. coli strains have acquired ST, as well as CFA/I or CS6, via one or more plasmids and that, in some cases, isolates of a particular lineage or geographic location have undergone additional modifications to their genome content. These findings will aid investigations of virulence and the development of improved diagnostics and vaccines against this important human diarrheal pathogen.IMPORTANCE Comparative genomics and functional characterization were used to analyze a global collection of CFA/I and CS6 ST-only ETEC isolates associated with human diarrhea, demonstrating differences in the genomic content of CFA/I and CS6 isolates related to CF type, lineage, and geographic location of isolation and also lineage-related differences in ST production. Complete genome sequencing of selected CFA/I and CS6 isolates enabled descriptions of a highly conserved ST-positive (ST+) CFA/I plasmid and of at least five diverse ST and/or CS6 plasmids among the CS6 ETEC isolates. There is currently no approved vaccine for ST-only ETEC, or for any ETEC for that matter, and as such, the current report provides functional verification of ST and CF production and antimicrobial susceptibility testing and an in-depth genomic characterization of a collection of isolates that could serve as representatives of CFA/I- or CS6-encoding ST-only ETEC strains for future studies of ETEC pathogenesis, vaccine studies, and/or clinical trials.


April 21, 2020  |  

Next generation sequencing characterizes HLA diversity in a registry population from the Netherlands.

Next generation DNA sequencing is used to determine the HLA-A, -B, -C, -DRB1, -DRB3/4/5, and -DQB1 assignments of 1009 unrelated volunteers for the unrelated donor registry in The Netherlands. The analysis characterizes all HLA exons and introns for class I alleles; at least exons 2 to 3 for HLA-DRB1; and exons 2 to 6 for HLA-DQB1. Of the distinct alleles present, there are 229 class I and 71 class II; 36 of these alleles are novel. The majority (approximately 98%) of the cumulative allele frequency at each locus is contributed by alleles that appear three or more times. Alleles encoding protein variation outside of the antigen recognition domains are 0.6% of the class I assignments and 5.3% of the class II assignments. © 2019 John Wiley & Sons A/S. Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


April 21, 2020  |  

Persistence of Moraxella catarrhalis in Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease and Regulation of the Hag/MID Adhesin.

Persistence of bacterial pathogens in the airways has profound consequences on the course and pathogenesis of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Patients with COPD continuously acquire and clear strains of Moraxella catarrhalis, a major pathogen in COPD. Some strains are cleared quickly and some persist for months to years. The mechanism of the variability in duration of persistence is unknown. Guided by genome sequences of selected strains, we studied the expression of Hag/MID, hag/mid gene sequences, adherence to human cells, and autoaggregation in longitudinally collected strains of M. catarrhalis from adults with COPD. Twenty-eight of 30 cleared strains of M. catarrhalis expressed Hag/MID whereas 17 of 30 persistent strains expressed Hag/MID upon acquisition by patients. All persistent strains ceased expression of Hag/MID during persistence. Expression of Hag/MID in human airways was regulated by slipped-strand mispairing. Virulence-associated phenotypes (adherence to human respiratory epithelial cells and autoaggregation) paralleled Hag/MID expression in airway isolates.Most strains of M. catarrhalis express Hag/MID upon acquisition by adults with COPD and all persistent strains shut off expression during persistence. These observations suggest that Hag/MID is important for initial colonization by M. catarrhalis and that cessation of expression facilitates persistence in COPD airways. © The Author(s) 2018. Published by Oxford University Press for the Infectious Diseases Society of America. All rights reserved. For permissions, e-mail: journals.permissions@oup.com.


September 22, 2019  |  

Differential increases of specific FMR1 mRNA isoforms in premutation carriers.

Over 40% of male and ~16% of female carriers of a premutation FMR1 allele (55-200 CGG repeats) will develop fragile X-associated tremor/ataxia syndrome, an adult onset neurodegenerative disorder, while about 20% of female carriers will develop fragile X-associated primary ovarian insufficiency. Marked elevation in FMR1 mRNA transcript levels has been observed with premutation alleles, and RNA toxicity due to increased mRNA levels is the leading molecular mechanism proposed for these disorders. However, although the FMR1 gene undergoes alternative splicing, it is unknown whether all or only some of the isoforms are overexpressed in premutation carriers and which isoforms may contribute to the premutation pathology.To address this question, we have applied a long-read sequencing approach using single-molecule real-time (SMRT) sequencing and qRT-PCR. Our SMRT sequencing analysis performed on peripheral blood mononuclear cells, fibroblasts and brain tissue samples derived from premutation carriers and controls revealed the existence of 16 isoforms of 24 predicted variants. Although the relative abundance of all mRNA isoforms was significantly increased in the premutation group, as expected based on the bulk increase in mRNA levels, there was a disproportionate (fourfold to sixfold) increase, relative to the overall increase in mRNA, in the abundance of isoforms spliced at both exons 12 and 14, specifically Iso10 and Iso10b, containing the complete exon 15 and differing only in splicing in exon 17.These findings suggest that RNA toxicity may arise from a relative increase of all FMR1 mRNA isoforms. Interestingly, the Iso10 and Iso10b mRNA isoforms, lacking the C-terminal functional sites for fragile X mental retardation protein function, are the most increased in premutation carriers relative to normal, suggesting a functional relevance in the pathology of FMR1-associated disorders. Published by the BMJ Publishing Group Limited. For permission to use (where not already granted under a licence) please go to http://group.bmj.com/group/rights-licensing/permissions.


September 22, 2019  |  

Hybrid error correction and de novo assembly of single-molecule sequencing reads.

Single-molecule sequencing instruments can generate multikilobase sequences with the potential to greatly improve genome and transcriptome assembly. However, the error rates of single-molecule reads are high, which has limited their use thus far to resequencing bacteria. To address this limitation, we introduce a correction algorithm and assembly strategy that uses short, high-fidelity sequences to correct the error in single-molecule sequences. We demonstrate the utility of this approach on reads generated by a PacBio RS instrument from phage, prokaryotic and eukaryotic whole genomes, including the previously unsequenced genome of the parrot Melopsittacus undulatus, as well as for RNA-Seq reads of the corn (Zea mays) transcriptome. Our long-read correction achieves >99.9% base-call accuracy, leading to substantially better assemblies than current sequencing strategies: in the best example, the median contig size was quintupled relative to high-coverage, second-generation assemblies. Greater gains are predicted if read lengths continue to increase, including the prospect of single-contig bacterial chromosome assembly.


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  |  

Capturing single cell genomes of active polysaccharide degraders: an unexpected contribution of Verrucomicrobia.

Microbial hydrolysis of polysaccharides is critical to ecosystem functioning and is of great interest in diverse biotechnological applications, such as biofuel production and bioremediation. Here we demonstrate the use of a new, efficient approach to recover genomes of active polysaccharide degraders from natural, complex microbial assemblages, using a combination of fluorescently labeled substrates, fluorescence-activated cell sorting, and single cell genomics. We employed this approach to analyze freshwater and coastal bacterioplankton for degraders of laminarin and xylan, two of the most abundant storage and structural polysaccharides in nature. Our results suggest that a few phylotypes of Verrucomicrobia make a considerable contribution to polysaccharide degradation, although they constituted only a minor fraction of the total microbial community. Genomic sequencing of five cells, representing the most predominant, polysaccharide-active Verrucomicrobia phylotype, revealed significant enrichment in genes encoding a wide spectrum of glycoside hydrolases, sulfatases, peptidases, carbohydrate lyases and esterases, confirming that these organisms were well equipped for the hydrolysis of diverse polysaccharides. Remarkably, this enrichment was on average higher than in the sequenced representatives of Bacteroidetes, which are frequently regarded as highly efficient biopolymer degraders. These findings shed light on the ecological roles of uncultured Verrucomicrobia and suggest specific taxa as promising bioprospecting targets. The employed method offers a powerful tool to rapidly identify and recover discrete genomes of active players in polysaccharide degradation, without the need for cultivation.


September 22, 2019  |  

The microbiota of freshwater fish and freshwater niches contain omega-3 producing Shewanella species.

Approximately 30 years ago, it was discovered that free-living bacteria isolated from cold ocean depths could produce polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) such as eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) (20:5n-3) or docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) (22:6n-3), two PUFA essential for human health. Numerous laboratories have also discovered that EPA- and/or DHA-producing bacteria, many of them members of the Shewanella genus, could be isolated from the intestinal tracts of omega-3 fatty acid-rich marine fish. If bacteria contribute omega-3 fatty acids to the host fish in general or if they assist some bacterial species in adaptation to cold, then cold freshwater fish or habitats should also harbor these producers. Thus, we undertook a study to see if these niches also contained omega-3 fatty acid producers. We were successful in isolating and characterizing unique EPA-producing strains of Shewanella from three strictly freshwater native fish species, i.e., lake whitefish (Coregonus clupeaformis), lean lake trout (Salvelinus namaycush), and walleye (Sander vitreus), and from two other freshwater nonnative fish, i.e., coho salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch) and seeforellen brown trout (Salmo trutta). We were also able to isolate four unique free-living strains of EPA-producing Shewanella from freshwater habitats. Phylogenetic and phenotypic analyses suggest that one producer is clearly a member of the Shewanella morhuae species and another is sister to members of the marine PUFA-producing Shewanella baltica species. However, the remaining isolates have more ambiguous relationships, sharing a common ancestor with non-PUFA-producing Shewanella putrefaciens isolates rather than marine S. baltica isolates despite having a phenotype more consistent with S. baltica strains. Copyright © 2015, American Society for Microbiology. All Rights Reserved.


September 22, 2019  |  

Prey range and genome evolution of Halobacteriovorax marinus predatory bacteria from an estuary

Halobacteriovorax strains are saltwater-adapted predatory bacteria that attack Gram-negative bacteria and may play an important role in shaping microbial communities. To understand how Halobacteriovorax strains impact ecosystems and develop them as biocontrol agents, it is important to characterize variation in predation phenotypes and investigate Halobacteriovorax genome evolution. We isolated Halobacteriovorax marinus BE01 from an estuary in Rhode Island using Vibrio from the same site as prey. Small, fast-moving, attack-phase BE01 cells attach to and invade prey cells, consistent with the intraperiplasmic predation strategy of the H. marinus type strain, SJ. BE01 is a prey generalist, forming plaques on Vibrio strains from the estuary, Pseudomonas from soil, and Escherichia coli. Genome analysis revealed extremely high conservation of gene order and amino acid sequences between BE01 and SJ, suggesting strong selective pressure to maintain the genome in this H. marinus lineage. Despite this, we identified two regions of gene content difference that likely resulted from horizontal gene transfer. Analysis of modal codon usage frequencies supports the hypothesis that these regions were acquired from bacteria with different codon usage biases than H. marinus. In one of these regions, BE01 and SJ carry different genes associated with mobile genetic elements. Acquired functions in BE01 include the dnd operon, which encodes a pathway for DNA modification, and a suite of genes involved in membrane synthesis and regulation of gene expression that was likely acquired from another Halobacteriovorax lineage. This analysis provides further evidence that horizontal gene transfer plays an important role in genome evolution in predatory bacteria. IMPORTANCE Predatory bacteria attack and digest other bacteria and therefore may play a role in shaping microbial communities. To investigate phenotypic and genotypic variation in saltwater-adapted predatory bacteria, we isolated Halobacteriovorax marinus BE01 from an estuary in Rhode Island, assayed whether it could attack different prey bacteria, and sequenced and analyzed its genome. We found that BE01 is a prey generalist, attacking bacteria from different phylogenetic groups and environments. Gene order and amino acid sequences are highly conserved between BE01 and the H. marinus type strain, SJ. By comparative genomics, we detected two regions of gene content difference that likely occurred via horizontal gene transfer events. Acquired genes encode functions such as modification of DNA, membrane synthesis and regulation of gene expression. Understanding genome evolution and variation in predation phenotypes among predatory bacteria will inform their development as biocontrol agents and clarify how they impact microbial communities.


September 22, 2019  |  

Functional genomics of lipid metabolism in the oleaginous yeast Rhodosporidium toruloides.

The basidiomycete yeast Rhodosporidium toruloides (also known as Rhodotorula toruloides) accumulates high concentrations of lipids and carotenoids from diverse carbon sources. It has great potential as a model for the cellular biology of lipid droplets and for sustainable chemical production. We developed a method for high-throughput genetics (RB-TDNAseq), using sequence-barcoded Agrobacterium tumefaciens T-DNA insertions. We identified 1,337 putative essential genes with low T-DNA insertion rates. We functionally profiled genes required for fatty acid catabolism and lipid accumulation, validating results with 35 targeted deletion strains. We identified a high-confidence set of 150 genes affecting lipid accumulation, including genes with predicted function in signaling cascades, gene expression, protein modification and vesicular trafficking, autophagy, amino acid synthesis and tRNA modification, and genes of unknown function. These results greatly advance our understanding of lipid metabolism in this oleaginous species and demonstrate a general approach for barcoded mutagenesis that should enable functional genomics in diverse fungi.


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