April 21, 2020  |  

Dual Role of gnaA in Antibiotic Resistance and Virulence in Acinetobacter baumannii.

Acinetobacter baumannii is an important Gram-negative pathogen in hospital-related infections. However, treatment options for A. baumannii infections have become limited due to multidrug resistance. Bacterial virulence is often associated with capsule genes found in the K locus, many of which are essential for biosynthesis of the bacterial envelope. However, the roles of other genes in the K locus remain largely unknown. From an in vitro evolution experiment, we obtained an isolate of the virulent and multidrug-resistant A. baumannii strain MDR-ZJ06, called MDR-ZJ06M, which has an insertion by the ISAba16 transposon in gnaA (encoding UDP-N-acetylglucosamine C-6 dehydrogenase), a gene found in the K locus. The isolate showed an increased resistance toward tigecycline, whereas the MIC decreased in the case of carbapenems, cephalosporins, colistin, and minocycline. By using knockout and complementation experiments, we demonstrated that gnaA is important for the synthesis of lipooligosaccharide and capsular polysaccharide and that disruption of the gene affects the morphology, drug susceptibility, and virulence of the pathogen.Copyright © 2019 American Society for Microbiology.


April 21, 2020  |  

Genome mining identifies cepacin as a plant-protective metabolite of the biopesticidal bacterium Burkholderia ambifaria.

Beneficial microorganisms are widely used in agriculture for control of plant pathogens, but a lack of efficacy and safety information has limited the exploitation of multiple promising biopesticides. We applied phylogeny-led genome mining, metabolite analyses and biological control assays to define the efficacy of Burkholderia ambifaria, a naturally beneficial bacterium with proven biocontrol properties but potential pathogenic risk. A panel of 64 B.?ambifaria strains demonstrated significant antimicrobial activity against priority plant pathogens. Genome sequencing, specialized metabolite biosynthetic gene cluster mining and metabolite analysis revealed an armoury of known and unknown pathways within B.?ambifaria. The biosynthetic gene cluster responsible for the production of the metabolite cepacin was identified and directly shown to mediate protection of germinating crops against Pythium damping-off disease. B.?ambifaria maintained biopesticidal protection and overall fitness in the soil after deletion of its third replicon, a non-essential plasmid associated with virulence in Burkholderia?cepacia complex bacteria. Removal of the third replicon reduced B.?ambifaria persistence in a murine respiratory infection model. Here, we show that by using interdisciplinary phylogenomic, metabolomic and functional approaches, the mode of action of natural biological control agents related to pathogens can be systematically established to facilitate their future exploitation.


April 21, 2020  |  

Symbiotic organs shaped by distinct modes of genome evolution in cephalopods.

Microbes have been critical drivers of evolutionary innovation in animals. To understand the processes that influence the origin of specialized symbiotic organs, we report the sequencing and analysis of the genome of Euprymna scolopes, a model cephalopod with richly characterized host-microbe interactions. We identified large-scale genomic reorganization shared between E. scolopes and Octopus bimaculoides and posit that this reorganization has contributed to the evolution of cephalopod complexity. To reveal genomic signatures of host-symbiont interactions, we focused on two specialized organs of E. scolopes: the light organ, which harbors a monoculture of Vibrio fischeri, and the accessory nidamental gland (ANG), a reproductive organ containing a bacterial consortium. Our findings suggest that the two symbiotic organs within E. scolopes originated by different evolutionary mechanisms. Transcripts expressed in these microbe-associated tissues displayed their own unique signatures in both coding sequences and the surrounding regulatory regions. Compared with other tissues, the light organ showed an abundance of genes associated with immunity and mediating light, whereas the ANG was enriched in orphan genes known only from E. scolopes Together, these analyses provide evidence for different patterns of genomic evolution of symbiotic organs within a single host. Copyright © 2019 the Author(s). Published by PNAS.


April 21, 2020  |  

Comparative Genomics of Marine Sponge-Derived Streptomyces spp. Isolates SM17 and SM18 With Their Closest Terrestrial Relatives Provides Novel Insights Into Environmental Niche Adaptations and Secondary Metabolite Biosynthesis Potential.

The emergence of antibiotic resistant microorganisms has led to an increased need for the discovery and development of novel antimicrobial compounds. Frequent rediscovery of the same natural products (NPs) continues to decrease the likelihood of the discovery of new compounds from soil bacteria. Thus, efforts have shifted toward investigating microorganisms and their secondary metabolite biosynthesis potential, from diverse niche environments, such as those isolated from marine sponges. Here we investigated at the genomic level two Streptomyces spp. strains, namely SM17 and SM18, isolated from the marine sponge Haliclona simulans, with previously reported antimicrobial activity against clinically relevant pathogens; using single molecule real-time (SMRT) sequencing. We performed a series of comparative genomic analyses on SM17 and SM18 with their closest terrestrial relatives, namely S. albus J1074 and S. pratensis ATCC 33331 respectively; in an effort to provide further insights into potential environmental niche adaptations (ENAs) of marine sponge-associated Streptomyces, and on how these adaptations might be linked to their secondary metabolite biosynthesis potential. Prediction of secondary metabolite biosynthetic gene clusters (smBGCs) indicated that, even though the marine isolates are closely related to their terrestrial counterparts at a genomic level; they potentially produce different compounds. SM17 and SM18 displayed a better ability to grow in high salinity medium when compared to their terrestrial counterparts, and further analysis of their genomes indicated that they possess a pool of 29 potential ENA genes that are absent in S. albus J1074 and S. pratensis ATCC 33331. This ENA gene pool included functional categories of genes that are likely to be related to niche adaptations and which could be grouped based on potential biological functions such as osmotic stress, defense; transcriptional regulation; symbiotic interactions; antimicrobial compound production and resistance; ABC transporters; together with horizontal gene transfer and defense-related features.


April 21, 2020  |  

Genomics-driven discovery of a biosynthetic gene cluster required for the synthesis of BII-Rafflesfungin from the fungus Phoma sp. F3723.

Phomafungin is a recently reported broad spectrum antifungal compound but its biosynthetic pathway is unknown. We combed publicly available Phoma genomes but failed to find any putative biosynthetic gene cluster that could account for its biosynthesis.Therefore, we sequenced the genome of one of our Phoma strains (F3723) previously identified as having antifungal activity in a high-throughput screen. We found a biosynthetic gene cluster that was predicted to synthesize a cyclic lipodepsipeptide that differs in the amino acid composition compared to Phomafungin. Antifungal activity guided isolation yielded a new compound, BII-Rafflesfungin, the structure of which was determined.We describe the NRPS-t1PKS cluster ‘BIIRfg’ compatible with the synthesis of the cyclic lipodepsipeptide BII-Rafflesfungin [HMHDA-L-Ala-L-Glu-L-Asn-L-Ser-L-Ser-D-Ser-D-allo-Thr-Gly]. We report new Stachelhaus codes for Ala, Glu, Asn, Ser, Thr, and Gly. We propose a mechanism for BII-Rafflesfungin biosynthesis, which involves the formation of the lipid part by BIIRfg_PKS followed by activation and transfer of the lipid chain by a predicted AMP-ligase on to the first PCP domain of the BIIRfg_NRPS gene.


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