April 21, 2020  |  

Mobilome of Brevibacterium aurantiacum Sheds Light on Its Genetic Diversity and Its Adaptation to Smear-Ripened Cheeses.

Brevibacterium aurantiacum is an actinobacterium that confers key organoleptic properties to washed-rind cheeses during the ripening process. Although this industrially relevant species has been gaining an increasing attention in the past years, its genome plasticity is still understudied due to the unavailability of complete genomic sequences. To add insights on the mobilome of this group, we sequenced the complete genomes of five dairy Brevibacterium strains and one non-dairy strain using PacBio RSII. We performed phylogenetic and pan-genome analyses, including comparisons with other publicly available Brevibacterium genomic sequences. Our phylogenetic analysis revealed that these five dairy strains, previously identified as Brevibacterium linens, belong instead to the B. aurantiacum species. A high number of transposases and integrases were observed in the Brevibacterium spp. strains. In addition, we identified 14 and 12 new insertion sequences (IS) in B. aurantiacum and B. linens genomes, respectively. Several stretches of homologous DNA sequences were also found between B. aurantiacum and other cheese rind actinobacteria, suggesting horizontal gene transfer (HGT). A HGT region from an iRon Uptake/Siderophore Transport Island (RUSTI) and an iron uptake composite transposon were found in five B. aurantiacum genomes. These findings suggest that low iron availability in milk is a driving force in the adaptation of this bacterial species to this niche. Moreover, the exchange of iron uptake systems suggests cooperative evolution between cheese rind actinobacteria. We also demonstrated that the integrative and conjugative element BreLI (Brevibacterium Lanthipeptide Island) can excise from B. aurantiacum SMQ-1417 chromosome. Our comparative genomic analysis suggests that mobile genetic elements played an important role into the adaptation of B. aurantiacum to cheese ecosystems.


April 21, 2020  |  

Denitrifying Bacteria Active in Woodchip Bioreactors at Low-Temperature Conditions.

Woodchip bioreactor technology removes nitrate from agricultural subsurface drainage by using denitrifying microorganisms. Although woodchip bioreactors have demonstrated success in many field locations, low water temperature can significantly limit bioreactor efficiency and performance. To improve bioreactor performance, it is important to identify the microbes responsible for nitrate removal at low temperature conditions. Therefore, in this study, we identified and characterized denitrifiers active at low-temperature conditions by using culture-independent and -dependent approaches. By comparative 16S rRNA (gene) analysis and culture isolation technique, Pseudomonas spp., Polaromonas spp., and Cellulomonas spp. were identified as being important bacteria responsible for denitrification in woodchip bioreactor microcosms at relatively low temperature conditions (15°C). Genome analysis of Cellulomonas sp. strain WB94 confirmed the presence of nitrite reductase gene nirK. Transcription levels of this nirK were significantly higher in the denitrifying microcosms than in the non-denitrifying microcosms. Strain WB94 was also capable of degrading cellulose and other complex polysaccharides. Taken together, our results suggest that Cellulomonas sp. denitrifiers could degrade woodchips to provide carbon source and electron donors to themselves and other denitrifiers in woodchip bioreactors at low-temperature conditions. By inoculating these denitrifiers (i.e., bioaugmentation), it might be possible to increase the nitrate removal rate of woodchip bioreactors at low-temperature conditions.


April 21, 2020  |  

Metaepigenomic analysis reveals the unexplored diversity of DNA methylation in an environmental prokaryotic community.

DNA methylation plays important roles in prokaryotes, and their genomic landscapes-prokaryotic epigenomes-have recently begun to be disclosed. However, our knowledge of prokaryotic methylation systems is focused on those of culturable microbes, which are rare in nature. Here, we used single-molecule real-time and circular consensus sequencing techniques to reveal the ‘metaepigenomes’ of a microbial community in the largest lake in Japan, Lake Biwa. We reconstructed 19 draft genomes from diverse bacterial and archaeal groups, most of which are yet to be cultured. The analysis of DNA chemical modifications in those genomes revealed 22 methylated motifs, nine of which were novel. We identified methyltransferase genes likely responsible for methylation of the novel motifs, and confirmed the catalytic specificities of four of them via transformation experiments using synthetic genes. Our study highlights metaepigenomics as a powerful approach for identification of the vast unexplored variety of prokaryotic DNA methylation systems in nature.


April 21, 2020  |  

Adaptive Strategies in a Poly-Extreme Environment: Differentiation of Vegetative Cells in Serratia ureilytica and Resistance to Extreme Conditions.

Poly-extreme terrestrial habitats are often used as analogs to extra-terrestrial environments. Understanding the adaptive strategies allowing bacteria to thrive and survive under these conditions could help in our quest for extra-terrestrial planets suitable for life and understanding how life evolved in the harsh early earth conditions. A prime example of such a survival strategy is the modification of vegetative cells into resistant resting structures. These differentiated cells are often observed in response to harsh environmental conditions. The environmental strain (strain Lr5/4) belonging to Serratia ureilytica was isolated from a geothermal spring in Lirima, Atacama Desert, Chile. The Atacama Desert is the driest habitat on Earth and furthermore, due to its high altitude, it is exposed to an increased amount of UV radiation. The geothermal spring from which the strain was isolated is oligotrophic and the temperature of 54°C exceeds mesophilic conditions (15 to 45°C). Although the vegetative cells were tolerant to various environmental insults (desiccation, extreme pH, glycerol), a modified cell type was formed in response to nutrient deprivation, UV radiation and thermal shock. Scanning (SEM) and Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM) analyses of vegetative cells and the modified cell structures were performed. In SEM, a change toward a circular shape with reduced size was observed. These circular cells possessed what appears as extra coating layers under TEM. The resistance of the modified cells was also investigated, they were resistant to wet heat, UV radiation and desiccation, while vegetative cells did not withstand any of those conditions. A phylogenomic analysis was undertaken to investigate the presence of known genes involved in dormancy in other bacterial clades. Genes related to spore-formation in Myxococcus and Firmicutes were found in S. ureilytica Lr5/4 genome; however, these genes were not enough for a full sporulation pathway that resembles either group. Although, the molecular pathway of cell differentiation in S. ureilytica Lr5/4 is not fully defined, the identified genes may contribute to the modified phenotype in the Serratia genus. Here, we show that a modified cell structure can occur as a response to extremity in a species that was previously not known to deploy this strategy. This strategy may be widely spread in bacteria, but only expressed under poly-extreme environmental conditions.


April 21, 2020  |  

Resource Concentration Modulates the Fate of Dissimilated Nitrogen in a Dual-Pathway Actinobacterium.

Respiratory ammonification and denitrification are two evolutionarily unrelated dissimilatory nitrogen (N) processes central to the global N cycle, the activity of which is thought to be controlled by carbon (C) to nitrate (NO3-) ratio. Here we find that Intrasporangium calvum C5, a novel dual-pathway denitrifier/respiratory ammonifier, disproportionately utilizes ammonification rather than denitrification when grown under low C concentrations, even at low C:NO3- ratios. This finding is in conflict with the paradigm that high C:NO3- ratios promote ammonification and low C:NO3- ratios promote denitrification. We find that the protein atomic composition for denitrification modules (NirK) are significantly cost minimized for C and N compared to ammonification modules (NrfA), indicating that limitation for C and N is a major evolutionary selective pressure imprinted in the architecture of these proteins. The evolutionary precedent for these findings suggests ecological importance for microbial activity as evidenced by higher growth rates when I. calvum grows predominantly using its ammonification pathway and by assimilating its end-product (ammonium) for growth under ammonium-free conditions. Genomic analysis of I. calvum further reveals a versatile ecophysiology to cope with nutrient stress and redox conditions. Metabolite and transcriptional profiles during growth indicate that enzyme modules, NrfAH and NirK, are not constitutively expressed but rather induced by nitrite production via NarG. Mechanistically, our results suggest that pathway selection is driven by intracellular redox potential (redox poise), which may be lowered when resource concentrations are low, thereby decreasing catalytic activity of upstream electron transport steps (i.e., the bc1 complex) needed for denitrification enzymes. Our work advances our understanding of the biogeochemical flexibility of N-cycling organisms, pathway evolution, and ecological food-webs.


July 19, 2019  |  

BREX is a novel phage resistance system widespread in microbial genomes.

The perpetual arms race between bacteria and phage has resulted in the evolution of efficient resistance systems that protect bacteria from phage infection. Such systems, which include the CRISPR-Cas and restriction-modification systems, have proven to be invaluable in the biotechnology and dairy industries. Here, we report on a six-gene cassette in Bacillus cereus which, when integrated into the Bacillus subtilis genome, confers resistance to a broad range of phages, including both virulent and temperate ones. This cassette includes a putative Lon-like protease, an alkaline phosphatase domain protein, a putative RNA-binding protein, a DNA methylase, an ATPase-domain protein, and a protein of unknown function. We denote this novel defense system BREX (Bacteriophage Exclusion) and show that it allows phage adsorption but blocks phage DNA replication. Furthermore, our results suggest that methylation on non-palindromic TAGGAG motifs in the bacterial genome guides self/non-self discrimination and is essential for the defensive function of the BREX system. However, unlike restriction-modification systems, phage DNA does not appear to be cleaved or degraded by BREX, suggesting a novel mechanism of defense. Pan genomic analysis revealed that BREX and BREX-like systems, including the distantly related Pgl system described in Streptomyces coelicolor, are widely distributed in ~10% of all sequenced microbial genomes and can be divided into six coherent subtypes in which the gene composition and order is conserved. Finally, we detected a phage family that evades the BREX defense, implying that anti-BREX mechanisms may have evolved in some phages as part of their arms race with bacteria.© 2014 The Authors.


July 19, 2019  |  

Biosynthesis of the novel macrolide antibiotic anthracimycin.

We report the identification of the biosynthetic gene cluster for the unusual antibiotic anthracimycin (atc) from the marine derived producer strain Streptomyces sp. T676 isolated off St. John’s Island, Singapore. The 53?253 bps atc locus includes a trans-acyltransferase (trans-AT) polyketide synthase (PKS), and heterologous expression in Streptomyces coelicolor resulted in anthracimycin production. Analysis of the atc cluster revealed that anthracimycin is likely generated by four PKS gene products AtcC-AtcF without involvement of post-PKS tailoring enzymes, and a biosynthetic pathway is proposed. The availability of the atc cluster provides a basis for investigating the biosynthesis of anthracimycin and its subsequent bioengineering to provide novel analogues with improved pharmacological properties.


July 19, 2019  |  

Genome-directed lead discovery: biosynthesis, structure elucidation, and biological evaluation of two families of polyene macrolactams against Trypanosoma brucei.

Marine natural products are an important source of lead compounds against many pathogenic targets. Herein, we report the discovery of lobosamides A-C from a marine actinobacterium, Micromonospora sp., representing three new members of a small but growing family of bacterially produced polyene macrolactams. The lobosamides display growth inhibitory activity against the protozoan parasite Trypanosoma brucei (lobosamide A IC50 = 0.8 µM), the causative agent of human African trypanosomiasis (HAT). The biosynthetic gene cluster of the lobosamides was sequenced and suggests a conserved cluster organization among the 26-membered macrolactams. While determination of the relative and absolute configurations of many members of this family is lacking, the absolute configurations of the lobosamides were deduced using a combination of chemical modification, detailed spectroscopic analysis, and bioinformatics. We implemented a “molecules-to-genes-to-molecules” approach to determine the prevalence of similar clusters in other bacteria, which led to the discovery of two additional macrolactams, mirilactams A and B from Actinosynnema mirum. These additional analogs have allowed us to identify specific structure-activity relationships that contribute to the antitrypanosomal activity of this class. This approach illustrates the power of combining chemical analysis and genomics in the discovery and characterization of natural products as new lead compounds for neglected disease targets.


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  |  

Pangenome analysis of Bifidobacterium longum and site-directed mutagenesis through by-pass of restriction-modification systems.

Bifidobacterial genome analysis has provided insights as to how these gut commensals adapt to and persist in the human GIT, while also revealing genetic diversity among members of a given bifidobacterial (sub)species. Bifidobacteria are notoriously recalcitrant to genetic modification, which prevents exploration of their genomic functions, including those that convey (human) health benefits.PacBio SMRT sequencing was used to determine the whole genome seqeunces of two B. longum subsp. longum strains. The B. longum pan-genome was computed using PGAP v1.2 and the core B. longum phylogenetic tree was constructed using a maximum-likelihood based approach in PhyML v3.0. M.blmNCII was cloned in E. coli and an internal fragment if arfBarfB was cloned into pORI19 for insertion mutagenesis.In this study we present the complete genome sequences of two Bifidobacterium longum subsp. longum strains. Comparative analysis with thirty one publicly available B. longum genomes allowed the definition of the B. longum core and dispensable genomes. This analysis also highlighted differences in particular metabolic abilities between members of the B. longum subspecies infantis, longum and suis. Furthermore, phylogenetic analysis of the B. longum core genome indicated the existence of a novel subspecies. Methylome data, coupled to the analysis of restriction-modification systems, allowed us to substantially increase the genetic accessibility of B. longum subsp. longum NCIMB 8809 to a level that was shown to permit site-directed mutagenesis.Comparative genomic analysis of thirty three B. longum representatives revealed a closed pan-genome for this bifidobacterial species. Phylogenetic analysis of the B. longum core genome also provides evidence for a novel fifth B. longum subspecies. Finally, we improved genetic accessibility for the strain B. longum subsp. longum NCIMB 8809, which allowed the generation of a mutant of this strain.


July 19, 2019  |  

Precision methylome characterization of Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex (MTBC) using PacBio single-molecule real-time (SMRT) technology.

Tuberculosis (TB) remains one of the most common infectious diseases caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex (MTBC). To panoramically analyze MTBC’s genomic methylation, we completed the genomes of 12 MTBC strains (Mycobacterium bovis; M. bovis BCG; M. microti; M. africanum; M. tuberculosis H37Rv; H37Ra; and 6 M. tuberculosis clinical isolates) belonging to different lineages and characterized their methylomes using single-molecule real-time (SMRT) technology. We identified three (m6)A sequence motifs and their corresponding methyltransferase (MTase) genes, including the reported mamA, hsdM and a newly discovered mamB. We also experimentally verified the methylated motifs and functions of HsdM and MamB. Our analysis indicated the MTase activities varied between 12 strains due to mutations/deletions. Furthermore, through measuring ‘the methylated-motif-site ratio’ and ‘the methylated-read ratio’, we explored the methylation status of each modified site and sequence-read to obtain the ‘precision methylome’ of the MTBC strains, which enabled intricate analysis of MTase activity at whole-genome scale. Most unmodified sites overlapped with transcription-factor binding-regions, which might protect these sites from methylation. Overall, our findings show enormous potential for the SMRT platform to investigate the precise character of methylome, and significantly enhance our understanding of the function of DNA MTase.© The Author(s) 2015. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Nucleic Acids Research.


July 19, 2019  |  

The epigenomic landscape of prokaryotes.

DNA methylation acts in concert with restriction enzymes to protect the integrity of prokaryotic genomes. Studies in a limited number of organisms suggest that methylation also contributes to prokaryotic genome regulation, but the prevalence and properties of such non-restriction-associated methylation systems remain poorly understood. Here, we used single molecule, real-time sequencing to map DNA modifications including m6A, m4C, and m5C across the genomes of 230 diverse bacterial and archaeal species. We observed DNA methylation in nearly all (93%) organisms examined, and identified a total of 834 distinct reproducibly methylated motifs. This data enabled annotation of the DNA binding specificities of 620 DNA Methyltransferases (MTases), doubling known specificities for previously hard to study Type I, IIG and III MTases, and revealing their extraordinary diversity. Strikingly, 48% of organisms harbor active Type II MTases with no apparent cognate restriction enzyme. These active ‘orphan’ MTases are present in diverse bacterial and archaeal phyla and show motif specificities and methylation patterns consistent with functions in gene regulation and DNA replication. Our results reveal the pervasive presence of DNA methylation throughout the prokaryotic kingdoms, as well as the diversity of sequence specificities and potential functions of DNA methylation systems.


July 19, 2019  |  

Next generation sequencing of Actinobacteria for the discovery of novel natural products.

Like many fields of the biosciences, actinomycete natural products research has been revolutionised by next-generation DNA sequencing (NGS). Hundreds of new genome sequences from actinobacteria are made public every year, many of them as a result of projects aimed at identifying new natural products and their biosynthetic pathways through genome mining. Advances in these technologies in the last five years have meant not only a reduction in the cost of whole genome sequencing, but also a substantial increase in the quality of the data, having moved from obtaining a draft genome sequence comprised of several hundred short contigs, sometimes of doubtful reliability, to the possibility of obtaining an almost complete and accurate chromosome sequence in a single contig, allowing a detailed study of gene clusters and the design of strategies for refactoring and full gene cluster synthesis. The impact that these technologies are having in the discovery and study of natural products from actinobacteria, including those from the marine environment, is only starting to be realised. In this review we provide a historical perspective of the field, analyse the strengths and limitations of the most relevant technologies, and share the insights acquired during our genome mining projects.


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  |  

Complete genome sequence of Tessaracoccus sp. strain T2.5-30 isolated from 139.5 meters deep on the subsurface of the Iberian Pyritic Belt.

Here, we report the complete genome sequence of Tessaracoccus sp. strain T2.5-30, which consists of a chromosome with 3.2 Mbp, 70.4% G+C content, and 3,005 coding DNA sequences. The strain was isolated from a rock core retrieved at a depth of 139.5 m in the subsurface of the Iberian Pyritic Belt (Spain). Copyright © 2017 Leandro et al.


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