April 21, 2020  |  

Tandem repeats lead to sequence assembly errors and impose multi-level challenges for genome and protein databases.

The widespread occurrence of repetitive stretches of DNA in genomes of organisms across the tree of life imposes fundamental challenges for sequencing, genome assembly, and automated annotation of genes and proteins. This multi-level problem can lead to errors in genome and protein databases that are often not recognized or acknowledged. As a consequence, end users working with sequences with repetitive regions are faced with ‘ready-to-use’ deposited data whose trustworthiness is difficult to determine, let alone to quantify. Here, we provide a review of the problems associated with tandem repeat sequences that originate from different stages during the sequencing-assembly-annotation-deposition workflow, and that may proliferate in public database repositories affecting all downstream analyses. As a case study, we provide examples of the Atlantic cod genome, whose sequencing and assembly were hindered by a particularly high prevalence of tandem repeats. We complement this case study with examples from other species, where mis-annotations and sequencing errors have propagated into protein databases. With this review, we aim to raise the awareness level within the community of database users, and alert scientists working in the underlying workflow of database creation that the data they omit or improperly assemble may well contain important biological information valuable to others. © The Author(s) 2019. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Nucleic Acids Research.


April 21, 2020  |  

Chlorella vulgaris genome assembly and annotation reveals the molecular basis for metabolic acclimation to high light conditions.

Chlorella vulgaris is a fast-growing fresh-water microalga cultivated at the industrial scale for applications ranging from food to biofuel production. To advance our understanding of its biology and to establish genetics tools for biotechnological manipulation, we sequenced the nuclear and organelle genomes of Chlorella vulgaris 211/11P by combining next generation sequencing and optical mapping of isolated DNA molecules. This hybrid approach allowed to assemble the nuclear genome in 14 pseudo-molecules with an N50 of 2.8 Mb and 98.9% of scaffolded genome. The integration of RNA-seq data obtained at two different irradiances of growth (high light-HL versus low light -LL) enabled to identify 10,724 nuclear genes, coding for 11,082 transcripts. Moreover 121 and 48 genes were respectively found in the chloroplast and mitochondrial genome. Functional annotation and expression analysis of nuclear, chloroplast and mitochondrial genome sequences revealed peculiar features of Chlorella vulgaris. Evidence of horizontal gene transfers from chloroplast to mitochondrial genome was observed. Furthermore, comparative transcriptomic analyses of LL vs HL provide insights into the molecular basis for metabolic rearrangement in HL vs. LL conditions leading to enhanced de novo fatty acid biosynthesis and triacylglycerol accumulation. The occurrence of a cytosolic fatty acid biosynthetic pathway can be predicted and its upregulation upon HL exposure is observed, consistent with increased lipid amount under HL. These data provide a rich genetic resource for future genome editing studies, and potential targets for biotechnological manipulation of Chlorella vulgaris or other microalgae species to improve biomass and lipid productivity.This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.


April 21, 2020  |  

Insights into the bacterial species and communities of a full-scale anaerobic/anoxic/oxic wastewater treatment plant by using third-generation sequencing.

For the first time, full-length 16S rRNA sequencing method was applied to disclose the bacterial species and communities of a full-scale wastewater treatment plant using an anaerobic/anoxic/oxic (A/A/O) process in Wuhan, China. The compositions of the bacteria at phylum and class levels in the activated sludge were similar to which revealed by Illumina Miseq sequencing. At genus and species levels, third-generation sequencing showed great merits and accuracy. Typical functional taxa classified to ammonia-oxidizing bacteria (AOB), nitrite-oxidizing bacteria (NOB), denitrifying bacteria (DB), anaerobic ammonium oxidation bacteria (ANAMMOXB) and polyphosphate-accumulating organisms (PAOs) were presented, which were Nitrosomonas (1.11%), Nitrospira (3.56%), Pseudomonas (3.88%), Planctomycetes (13.80%), Comamonadaceae (1.83%), respectively. Pseudomonas (3.88%) and Nitrospira (3.56%) were the most predominating two genera, mainly containing Pseudomonas extremaustralis (1.69%), Nitrospira defluvii (3.13%), respectively. Bacteria regarding to nitrogen and phosphorus removal at species level were put forward. The predicted functions proved that the A/A/O process was efficient regarding nitrogen and organics removal. Copyright © 2019 The Society for Biotechnology, Japan. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


April 21, 2020  |  

Towards PacBio-based pan-eukaryote metabarcoding using full-length ITS sequences.

Development of high-throughput sequencing techniques have greatly benefited our understanding about microbial ecology; yet the methods producing short reads suffer from species-level resolution and uncertainty of identification. Here we optimize PacBio-based metabarcoding protocols covering the Internal Transcribed Spacer (ITS region) and partial Small Subunit (SSU) of the rRNA gene for species-level identification of all eukaryotes, with a specific focus on Fungi (including Glomeromycota) and Stramenopila (particularly Oomycota). Based on tests on composite soil samples and mock communities, we propose best suitable degenerate primers, ITS9munngs + ITS4ngsUni for eukaryotes and selected groups therein and discuss pros and cons of long read-based identification of eukaryotes. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.


April 21, 2020  |  

Genome Sequences and Methylation Patterns of Natrinema versiforme BOL5-4 and Natrinema pallidum BOL6-1, Two Extremely Halophilic Archaea from a Bolivian Salt Mine.

Two extremely halophilic archaea, namely, Natrinema versiforme BOL5-4 and Natrinema pallidum BOL6-1, were isolated from a Bolivian salt mine and their genomes sequenced using single-molecule real-time sequencing. The GC-rich genomes of BOL5-4 and BOL6-1 were 4.6 and 3.8 Mbp, respectively, with large chromosomes and multiple megaplasmids. Genome annotation was incorporated into HaloWeb and methylation patterns incorporated into REBASE.Copyright © 2019 DasSarma et al.


April 21, 2020  |  

Methylomes of Two Extremely Halophilic Archaea Species, Haloarcula marismortui and Haloferax mediterranei.

The genomes of two extremely halophilic Archaea species, Haloarcula marismortui and Haloferax mediterranei, were sequenced using single-molecule real-time sequencing. The ~4-Mbp genomes are GC rich with multiple large plasmids and two 4-methyl-cytosine patterns. Methyl transferases were incorporated into the Restriction Enzymes Database (REBASE), and gene annotation was incorporated into the Haloarchaeal Genomes Database (HaloWeb).Copyright © 2019 DasSarma et al.


April 21, 2020  |  

A Novel Bacteriophage Exclusion (BREX) System Encoded by the pglX Gene in Lactobacillus casei Zhang.

The bacteriophage exclusion (BREX) system is a novel prokaryotic defense system against bacteriophages. To our knowledge, no study has systematically characterized the function of the BREX system in lactic acid bacteria. Lactobacillus casei Zhang is a probiotic bacterium originating from koumiss. By using single-molecule real-time sequencing, we previously identified N6-methyladenine (m6A) signatures in the genome of L. casei Zhang and a putative methyltransferase (MTase), namely, pglX This work further analyzed the genomic locus near the pglX gene and identified it as a component of the BREX system. To decipher the biological role of pglX, an L. casei Zhang pglX mutant (?pglX) was constructed. Interestingly, m6A methylation of the 5′-ACRCAG-3′ motif was eliminated in the ?pglX mutant. The wild-type and mutant strains exhibited no significant difference in morphology or growth performance in de Man-Rogosa-Sharpe (MRS) medium. A significantly higher plasmid acquisition capacity was observed for the ?pglX mutant than for the wild type if the transformed plasmids contained pglX recognition sites (i.e., 5′-ACRCAG-3′). In contrast, no significant difference was observed in plasmid transformation efficiency between the two strains when plasmids lacking pglX recognition sites were tested. Moreover, the ?pglX mutant had a lower capacity to retain the plasmids than the wild type, suggesting a decrease in genetic stability. Since the Rebase database predicted that the L. casei PglX protein was bifunctional, as both an MTase and a restriction endonuclease, the PglX protein was heterologously expressed and purified but failed to show restriction endonuclease activity. Taken together, the results show that the L. casei Zhang pglX gene is a functional adenine MTase that belongs to the BREX system.IMPORTANCELactobacillus casei Zhang is a probiotic that confers beneficial effects on the host, and it is thus increasingly used in the dairy industry. The possession of an effective bacterial immune system that can defend against invasion of phages and exogenous DNA is a desirable feature for industrial bacterial strains. The bacteriophage exclusion (BREX) system is a recently described phage resistance system in prokaryotes. This work confirmed the function of the BREX system in L. casei and that the methyltransferase (pglX) is an indispensable part of the system. Overall, our study characterizes a BREX system component gene in lactic acid bacteria. Copyright © 2019 American Society for Microbiology.


April 21, 2020  |  

Into the Thermus Mobilome: Presence, Diversity and Recent Activities of Insertion Sequences Across Thermus spp.

A high level of transposon-mediated genome rearrangement is a common trait among microorganisms isolated from thermal environments, probably contributing to the extraordinary genomic plasticity and horizontal gene transfer (HGT) observed in these habitats. In this work, active and inactive insertion sequences (ISs) spanning the sequenced members of the genus Thermus were characterized, with special emphasis on three T. thermophilus strains: HB27, HB8, and NAR1. A large number of full ISs and fragments derived from different IS families were found, concentrating within megaplasmids present in most isolates. Potentially active ISs were identified through analysis of transposase integrity, and domestication-related transposition events of ISTth7 were identified in laboratory-adapted HB27 derivatives. Many partial copies of ISs appeared throughout the genome, which may serve as specific targets for homologous recombination contributing to genome rearrangement. Moreover, recruitment of IS1000 32 bp segments as spacers for CRISPR sequence was identified, pointing to the adaptability of these elements in the biology of these thermophiles. Further knowledge about the activity and functional diversity of ISs in this genus may contribute to the generation of engineered transposons as new genetic tools, and enrich our understanding of the outstanding plasticity shown by these thermophiles.


April 21, 2020  |  

High-throughput amplicon sequencing of the full-length 16S rRNA gene with single-nucleotide resolution.

Targeted PCR amplification and high-throughput sequencing (amplicon sequencing) of 16S rRNA gene fragments is widely used to profile microbial communities. New long-read sequencing technologies can sequence the entire 16S rRNA gene, but higher error rates have limited their attractiveness when accuracy is important. Here we present a high-throughput amplicon sequencing methodology based on PacBio circular consensus sequencing and the DADA2 sample inference method that measures the full-length 16S rRNA gene with single-nucleotide resolution and a near-zero error rate. In two artificial communities of known composition, our method recovered the full complement of full-length 16S sequence variants from expected community members without residual errors. The measured abundances of intra-genomic sequence variants were in the integral ratios expected from the genuine allelic variants within a genome. The full-length 16S gene sequences recovered by our approach allowed Escherichia coli strains to be correctly classified to the O157:H7 and K12 sub-species clades. In human fecal samples, our method showed strong technical replication and was able to recover the full complement of 16S rRNA alleles in several E. coli strains. There are likely many applications beyond microbial profiling for which high-throughput amplicon sequencing of complete genes with single-nucleotide resolution will be of use. © The Author(s) 2019. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Nucleic Acids Research.


April 21, 2020  |  

Potentially mobile denitrification genes identified in Azospirillum sp. strain TSH58.

Denitrification ability is sporadically distributed among diverse bacteria, archaea, and fungi. In addition, disagreement has been found between denitrification gene phylogenies and the 16S rRNA gene phylogeny. These facts have suggested potential occurrences of horizontal gene transfer (HGT) for the denitrification genes. However, evidence of HGT has not been clearly presented thus far. In this study, we identified the sequences and the localization of the nitrite reductase genes in the genomes of 41 denitrifying Azospirillum sp. strains and searched for mobile genetic elements that contain denitrification genes. All Azospirillum sp. strains examined in this study possessed multiple replicons (4 to 11 replicons), with their sizes ranging from 7 to 1,031 kbp. Among those, the nitrite reductase gene nirK was located on large replicons (549 to 941 kbp). Genome sequencing showed that Azospirillum strains that had similar nirK sequences also shared similar nir-nor gene arrangements, especially between the TSH58, Sp7T, and Sp245 strains. In addition to the high similarity between nir-nor gene clusters among the three Azospirillum strains, a composite transposon structure was identified in the genome of strain TSH58, which contains the nir-nor gene cluster and the novel IS6 family insertion sequences (ISAz581 and ISAz582). The nirK gene within the composite transposon system was actively transcribed under denitrification-inducing conditions. Although not experimentally verified in this study, the composite transposon system containing the nir-nor gene cluster could be transferred to other cells if it is moved to a prophage region and the phage becomes activated and released outside the cells. Taken together, strain TSH58 most likely acquired its denitrification ability by HGT from closely related Azospirillum sp. denitrifiers.IMPORTANCE The evolutionary history of denitrification is complex. While the occurrence of horizontal gene transfer has been suggested for denitrification genes, most studies report circumstantial evidences, such as disagreement between denitrification gene phylogenies and the 16S rRNA gene phylogeny. Based on the comparative genome analyses of Azospirillum sp. denitrifiers, we identified denitrification genes, including nirK and norCBQD, located on a mobile genetic element in the genome of Azospirillum sp. strain TSH58. The nirK was actively transcribed under denitrification-inducing conditions. Since this gene was the sole nitrite reductase gene in strain TSH58, this strain most likely benefitted by acquiring denitrification genes via horizontal gene transfer. This finding will significantly advance our scientific knowledge regarding the ecology and evolution of denitrification. Copyright © 2019 American Society for Microbiology.


April 21, 2020  |  

Human contamination in bacterial genomes has created thousands of spurious proteins.

Contaminant sequences that appear in published genomes can cause numerous problems for downstream analyses, particularly for evolutionary studies and metagenomics projects. Our large-scale scan of complete and draft bacterial and archaeal genomes in the NCBI RefSeq database reveals that 2250 genomes are contaminated by human sequence. The contaminant sequences derive primarily from high-copy human repeat regions, which themselves are not adequately represented in the current human reference genome, GRCh38. The absence of the sequences from the human assembly offers a likely explanation for their presence in bacterial assemblies. In some cases, the contaminating contigs have been erroneously annotated as containing protein-coding sequences, which over time have propagated to create spurious protein “families” across multiple prokaryotic and eukaryotic genomes. As a result, 3437 spurious protein entries are currently present in the widely used nr and TrEMBL protein databases. We report here an extensive list of contaminant sequences in bacterial genome assemblies and the proteins associated with them. We found that nearly all contaminants occurred in small contigs in draft genomes, which suggests that filtering out small contigs from draft genome assemblies may mitigate the issue of contamination while still keeping nearly all of the genuine genomic sequences. © 2019 Breitwieser et al.; Published by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press.


April 21, 2020  |  

Conventional culture methods with commercially available media unveil the presence of novel culturable bacteria.

Recent metagenomic analysis has revealed that our gut microbiota plays an important role in not only the maintenance of our health but also various diseases such as obesity, diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, and allergy. However, most intestinal bacteria are considered ‘unculturable’ bacteria, and their functions remain unknown. Although culture-independent genomic approaches have enabled us to gain insight into their potential roles, culture-based approaches are still required to understand their characteristic features and phenotypes. To date, various culturing methods have been attempted to obtain these ‘unculturable’ bacteria, but most such methods require advanced techniques. Here, we have tried to isolate possible unculturable bacteria from a healthy Japanese individual by using commercially available media. A 16S rRNA (ribosomal RNA) gene metagenomic analysis revealed that each culture medium showed bacterial growth depending on its selective features and a possibility of the presence of novel bacterial species. Whole genome sequencing of these candidate strains suggested the isolation of 8 novel bacterial species classified in the Actinobacteria and Firmicutes phyla. Our approach indicates that a number of intestinal bacteria hitherto considered unculturable are potentially culturable and can be cultured on commercially available media. We have obtained novel gut bacteria from a healthy Japanese individual using a combination of comprehensive genomics and conventional culturing methods. We would expect that the discovery of such novel bacteria could illuminate pivotal roles for the gut microbiota in association with human health.


April 21, 2020  |  

The Genome of Armadillidium vulgare (Crustacea, Isopoda) Provides Insights into Sex Chromosome Evolution in the Context of Cytoplasmic Sex Determination.

The terrestrial isopod Armadillidium vulgare is an original model to study the evolution of sex determination and symbiosis in animals. Its sex can be determined by ZW sex chromosomes, or by feminizing Wolbachia bacterial endosymbionts. Here, we report the sequence and analysis of the ZW female genome of A. vulgare. A distinguishing feature of the 1.72 gigabase assembly is the abundance of repeats (68% of the genome). We show that the Z and W sex chromosomes are essentially undifferentiated at the molecular level and the W-specific region is extremely small (at most several hundreds of kilobases). Our results suggest that recombination suppression has not spread very far from the sex-determining locus, if at all. This is consistent with A. vulgare possessing evolutionarily young sex chromosomes. We characterized multiple Wolbachia nuclear inserts in the A. vulgare genome, none of which is associated with the W-specific region. We also identified several candidate genes that may be involved in the sex determination or sexual differentiation pathways. The A. vulgare genome serves as a resource for studying the biology and evolution of crustaceans, one of the most speciose and emblematic metazoan groups. © The Author(s) 2019. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution.


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