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October 1, 2018

Impacts of experimentally accelerated forest succession on belowground plant and fungal communities

Understanding how soil processes, belowground plant and fungal species composition, and nutrient cycles are altered by disturbances is essential for understanding the role forests play in mitigating global climate change. Here we ask: How are root and fungal communities altered in a mid-successional forest during shifts in dominant tree species composition? This study utilizes the Forest Accelerated Succession ExperimenT (FASET) at the University of Michigan Biological Station (UMBS) as a platform for addressing this question. FASET consists of a 39-ha treatment in which all mature early successional aspen (Populus spp.) and paper birch (Betula papyrifera) were killed by stem-girdling in…

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August 1, 2018

Citrobacter freundii fitness during bloodstream infection.

Sepsis resulting from microbial colonization of the bloodstream is a serious health concern associated with high mortality rates. The objective of this study was to define the physiologic requirements of Citrobacter freundii in the bloodstream as a model for bacteremia caused by opportunistic Gram-negative pathogens. A genetic screen in a murine host identified 177 genes that contributed significantly to fitness, the majority of which were broadly classified as having metabolic or cellular maintenance functions. Among the pathways examined, the Tat protein secretion system conferred the single largest fitness contribution during competition infections and a putative Tat-secreted protein, SufI, was also…

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May 1, 2018

Anthropogenic N deposition alters the composition of expressed class II fungal peroxidases.

Here, we present evidence that ca. 20 years of experimental N deposition altered the composition of lignin-decaying class II peroxidases expressed by forest floor fungi, a response which has occurred concurrently with reductions in plant litter decomposition and a rapid accumulation of soil organic matter. This finding suggests that anthropogenic N deposition has induced changes in the biological mediation of lignin decay, the rate limiting step in plant litter decomposition. Thus, an altered composition of transcripts for a critical gene that is associated with terrestrial C cycling may explain the increased soil C storage under long-term increases in anthropogenic N…

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November 1, 2017

The genome of an intranuclear parasite, Paramicrosporidium saccamoebae, reveals alternative adaptations to obligate intracellular parasitism.

Intracellular parasitism often results in gene loss, genome reduction, and dependence upon the host for cellular functioning. Rozellomycota is a clade comprising many such parasites and is related to the diverse, highly reduced, animal parasites, Microsporidia. We sequenced the nuclear and mitochondrial genomes ofParamicrosporidium saccamoebae[Rozellomycota], an intranuclear parasite of amoebae. A canonical fungal mitochondrial genome was recovered fromP. saccamoebaethat encodes genes necessary for the complete oxidative phosphorylation pathway including Complex I, differentiating it from most endoparasites including its sequenced relatives in Rozellomycota and Microsporidia. Comparative analysis revealed thatP. saccamoebaeshares more gene content with distantly related Fungi than with its closest…

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June 22, 2017

Complete genome sequence of Staphylococcus lutrae ATCC 700373, a potential pathogen isolated from deceased otters.

Despite their relevance to human health, not all staphylococcal species have been characterized. As such, the potential zoonotic threats posed by uninvestigated species and their contribution to the staphylococcal pangenome are unclear. Here, we report the complete genome sequence of Staphylococcus lutrae ATCC 700373, a coagulase-positive species isolated from deceased otters. Copyright © 2017 Veseli et al.

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June 15, 2017

Complete genome sequences of two human oral microbiome commensals, Streptococcus salivarius ATCC 25975 and S. salivarius ATCC 27945.

Streptococcus salivarius strains are significant contributors to the human oral microbiome. Some possess unique fimbriae that give them the ability to coaggregate and colonize particular oral structures. We present here the complete genomes of Streptococcus salivarius Lancefield K(-)/K(+) strains ATCC 25975 and ATCC 27945, which can and cannot, respectively, produce fimbriae. Copyright © 2017 Butler et al.

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May 18, 2017

Complete genome sequence of undomesticated Bacillus subtilis strain NCIB 3610.

Bacillus subtilis is a Gram-positive bacterium that serves as an important experimental system. B. subtilis NCIB 3610 is an undomesticated strain that exhibits phenotypes lost from the more common domesticated laboratory strains. Here, we announce the complete genome sequence of DK1042, a genetically competent derivative of NCIB 3610. Copyright © 2017 Nye et al.

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February 1, 2017

Soil microbial communities and elk foraging intensity: implications for soil biogeochemical cycling in the sagebrush steppe.

Foraging intensity of large herbivores may exert an indirect top-down ecological force on soil microbial communities via changes in plant litter inputs. We investigated the responses of the soil microbial community to elk (Cervus elaphus) winter range occupancy across a long-term foraging exclusion experiment in the sagebrush steppe of the North American Rocky Mountains, combining phylogenetic analysis of fungi and bacteria with shotgun metagenomics and extracellular enzyme assays. Winter foraging intensity was associated with reduced bacterial richness and increasingly distinct bacterial communities. Although fungal communities did not respond linearly to foraging intensity, a greater ß-diversity response to winter foraging exclusion…

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January 26, 2017

The pathogenic potential of Proteus mirabilis is enhanced by other uropathogens during polymicrobial uirinary tract infection.

Urinary catheter use is prevalent in health care settings, and polymicrobial colonization by urease-positive organisms, such as Proteus mirabilis and Providencia stuartii, commonly occurs with long-term catheterization. We previously demonstrated that coinfection with P. mirabilis and P. stuartii increased overall urease activity in vitro and disease severity in a model of urinary tract infection (UTI). In this study, we expanded these findings to a murine model of catheter-associated UTI (CAUTI), delineated the contribution of enhanced urease activity to coinfection pathogenesis, and screened for enhanced urease activity with other common CAUTI pathogens. In the UTI model, mice coinfected with the two…

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January 1, 2017

Implementation and data analysis of Tn-seq, whole genome resequencing, and single-molecule real time sequencing for bacterial genetics.

Few discoveries have been more transformative to the biological sciences than the development of DNA sequencing technologies. The rapid advancement of sequencing and bioinformatics tools has revolutionized bacterial genetics, deepening our understanding of model and clinically relevant organisms. Although application of newer sequencing technologies to studies in bacterial genetics is increasing, the implementation of DNA sequencing technologies and development of the bioinformatics tools required for analyzing the large data sets generated remains a challenge for many. In this minireview, we have chosen to summarize three sequencing approaches that are particularly useful for bacterial genetics. We provide resources for scientists new…

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November 1, 2016

Conservation genetics of an endangered grassland butterfly (Oarisma poweshiek) reveals historically high gene flow despite recent and rapid range loss

1. In poorly dispersing species gene flow can be facilitated when suitable habitat is widespread, allowing for increased dispersal between neighbouring locations. The Poweshiek skipperling [Oarisma poweshiek (Parker)], a federally endangered butterfly, has undergone a rapid, recent demographic decline following the loss of tallgrass prairie and fen habitats range wide. The loss of habitat, now restricted geographic range, and poor dispersal ability have left O. poweshiek at increased risk of extinction. 2. We studied the population genetics of six remaining populations of O. poweshiek in order to test the hypothesis that gene flow was historically high despite limited long-distance dispersal…

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October 1, 2016

Active microorganisms in forest soils differ from the total community yet are shaped by the same environmental factors: the influence of pH and soil moisture.

Predicting the impact of environmental change on soil microbial functions requires an understanding of how environmental factors shape microbial composition. Here, we investigated the influence of environmental factors on bacterial and fungal communities across an expanse of northern hardwood forest in Michigan, USA, which spans a 500-km regional climate gradient. We quantified soil microbial community composition using high-throughput DNA sequencing on coextracted rDNA (i.e. total community) and rRNA (i.e. active community). Within both bacteria and fungi, total and active communities were compositionally distinct from one another across the regional gradient (bacteria P = 0.01; fungi P < 0.01). Taxonomically, the…

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September 26, 2016

The deep origin and recent loss of venom toxin genes in rattlesnakes.

The genetic origin of novel traits is a central but challenging puzzle in evolutionary biology. Among snakes, phospholipase A2 (PLA2)-related toxins have evolved in different lineages to function as potent neurotoxins, myotoxins, or hemotoxins. Here, we traced the genomic origin and evolution of PLA2 toxins by examining PLA2 gene number, organization, and expression in both neurotoxic and non-neurotoxic rattlesnakes. We found that even though most North American rattlesnakes do not produce neurotoxins, the genes of a specialized heterodimeric neurotoxin predate the origin of rattlesnakes and were present in their last common ancestor (~22 mya). The neurotoxin genes were then deleted independently…

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June 28, 2016

A commensal bacterium promotes virulence of an opportunistic pathogen via cross-respiration.

Bacteria rarely inhabit infection sites alone, instead residing in diverse, multispecies communities. Despite this fact, bacterial pathogenesis studies primarily focus on monoculture infections, overlooking how community interactions influence the course of disease. In this study, we used global mutant fitness profiling (transposon sequencing [Tn-seq]) to determine the genetic requirements for the pathogenic bacterium Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans to cause disease when coinfecting with the commensal bacterium Streptococcus gordonii Our results show that S. gordonii extensively alters A. actinomycetemcomitans requirements for virulence factors and biosynthetic pathways during infection. In addition, we discovered that the presence of S. gordonii enhances the bioavailability of oxygen during infection, allowing…

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