April 21, 2020  |  

RADAR-seq: A RAre DAmage and Repair sequencing method for detecting DNA damage on a genome-wide scale.

RAre DAmage and Repair sequencing (RADAR-seq) is a highly adaptable sequencing method that enables the identification and detection of rare DNA damage events for a wide variety of DNA lesions at single-molecule resolution on a genome-wide scale. In RADAR-seq, DNA lesions are replaced with a patch of modified bases that can be directly detected by Pacific Biosciences Single Molecule Real-Time (SMRT) sequencing. RADAR-seq enables dynamic detection over a wide range of DNA damage frequencies, including low physiological levels. Furthermore, without the need for DNA amplification and enrichment steps, RADAR-seq provides sequencing coverage of damaged and undamaged DNA across an entire genome. Here, we use RADAR-seq to measure the frequency and map the location of ribonucleotides in wild-type and RNaseH2-deficient E. coli and Thermococcus kodakarensis strains. Additionally, by tracking ribonucleotides incorporated during in vivo lagging strand DNA synthesis, we determined the replication initiation point in E. coli, and its relation to the origin of replication (oriC). RADAR-seq was also used to map cyclobutane pyrimidine dimers (CPDs) in Escherichia coli (E. coli) genomic DNA exposed to UV-radiation. On a broader scale, RADAR-seq can be applied to understand formation and repair of DNA damage, the correlation between DNA damage and disease initiation and progression, and complex biological pathways, including DNA replication.Copyright © 2019 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


April 21, 2020  |  

Confident phylogenetic identification of uncultured prokaryotes through long read amplicon sequencing of the 16S-ITS-23S rRNA operon.

Amplicon sequencing of the 16S rRNA gene is the predominant method to quantify microbial compositions and to discover novel lineages. However, traditional short amplicons often do not contain enough information to confidently resolve their phylogeny. Here we present a cost-effective protocol that amplifies a large part of the rRNA operon and sequences the amplicons with PacBio technology. We tested our method on a mock community and developed a read-curation pipeline that reduces the overall read error rate to 0.18%. Applying our method on four environmental samples, we captured near full-length rRNA operon amplicons from a large diversity of prokaryotes. The method operated at moderately high-throughput (22286-37,850 raw ccs reads) and generated a large amount of putative novel archaeal 23S rRNA gene sequences compared to the archaeal SILVA database. These long amplicons allowed for higher resolution during taxonomic classification by means of long (~1000 bp) 16S rRNA gene fragments and for substantially more confident phylogenies by means of combined near full-length 16S and 23S rRNA gene sequences, compared to shorter traditional amplicons (250 bp of the 16S rRNA gene). We recommend our method to those who wish to cost-effectively and confidently estimate the phylogenetic diversity of prokaryotes in environmental samples at high throughput. © 2019 The Authors. Environmental Microbiology published by Society for Applied Microbiology and John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


April 21, 2020  |  

Deciphering bacterial epigenomes using modern sequencing technologies.

Prokaryotic DNA contains three types of methylation: N6-methyladenine, N4-methylcytosine and 5-methylcytosine. The lack of tools to analyse the frequency and distribution of methylated residues in bacterial genomes has prevented a full understanding of their functions. Now, advances in DNA sequencing technology, including single-molecule, real-time sequencing and nanopore-based sequencing, have provided new opportunities for systematic detection of all three forms of methylated DNA at a genome-wide scale and offer unprecedented opportunities for achieving a more complete understanding of bacterial epigenomes. Indeed, as the number of mapped bacterial methylomes approaches 2,000, increasing evidence supports roles for methylation in regulation of gene expression, virulence and pathogen-host interactions.


April 21, 2020  |  

Global-level population genomics reveals differential effects of geography and phylogeny on horizontal gene transfer in soil bacteria.

Although microorganisms are known to dominate Earth’s biospheres and drive biogeochemical cycling, little is known about the geographic distributions of microbial populations or the environmental factors that pattern those distributions. We used a global-level hierarchical sampling scheme to comprehensively characterize the evolutionary relationships and distributional limitations of the nitrogen-fixing bacterial symbionts of the crop chickpea, generating 1,027 draft whole-genome sequences at the level of bacterial populations, including 14 high-quality PacBio genomes from a phylogenetically representative subset. We find that diverse Mesorhizobium taxa perform symbiosis with chickpea and have largely overlapping global distributions. However, sampled locations cluster based on the phylogenetic diversity of Mesorhizobium populations, and diversity clusters correspond to edaphic and environmental factors, primarily soil type and latitude. Despite long-standing evolutionary divergence and geographic isolation, the diverse taxa observed to nodulate chickpea share a set of integrative conjugative elements (ICEs) that encode the major functions of the symbiosis. This symbiosis ICE takes 2 forms in the bacterial chromosome-tripartite and monopartite-with tripartite ICEs confined to a broadly distributed superspecies clade. The pairwise evolutionary relatedness of these elements is controlled as much by geographic distance as by the evolutionary relatedness of the background genome. In contrast, diversity in the broader gene content of Mesorhizobium genomes follows a tight linear relationship with core genome phylogenetic distance, with little detectable effect of geography. These results illustrate how geography and demography can operate differentially on the evolution of bacterial genomes and offer useful insights for the development of improved technologies for sustainable agriculture.


April 21, 2020  |  

Development of CRISPR-Cas systems for genome editing and beyond

The development of clustered regularly interspaced short-palindromic repeat (CRISPR)-Cas systems for genome editing has transformed the way life science research is conducted and holds enormous potential for the treatment of disease as well as for many aspects of biotech- nology. Here, I provide a personal perspective on the development of CRISPR-Cas9 for genome editing within the broader context of the field and discuss our work to discover novel Cas effectors and develop them into additional molecular tools. The initial demonstra- tion of Cas9-mediated genome editing launched the development of many other technologies, enabled new lines of biological inquiry, and motivated a deeper examination of natural CRISPR-Cas systems, including the discovery of new types of CRISPR-Cas systems. These new discoveries in turn spurred further technological developments. I review these exciting discoveries and technologies as well as provide an overview of the broad array of applications of these technologies in basic research and in the improvement of human health. It is clear that we are only just beginning to unravel the potential within microbial diversity, and it is quite likely that we will continue to discover other exciting phenomena, some of which it may be possible to repurpose as molecular technologies. The transformation of mysterious natural phenomena to powerful tools, however, takes a collective effort to discover, characterize, and engineer them, and it has been a privilege to join the numerous researchers who have contributed to this transformation of CRISPR-Cas systems.


April 21, 2020  |  

Genome-wide systematic identification of methyltransferase recognition and modification patterns.

Genome-wide analysis of DNA methylation patterns using single molecule real-time DNA sequencing has boosted the number of publicly available methylomes. However, there is a lack of tools coupling methylation patterns and the corresponding methyltransferase genes. Here we demonstrate a high-throughput method for coupling methyltransferases with their respective motifs, using automated cloning and analysing the methyltransferases in vectors carrying a strain-specific cassette containing all potential target sites. To validate the method, we analyse the genomes of the thermophile Moorella thermoacetica and the mesophile Acetobacterium woodii, two acetogenic bacteria having substantially modified genomes with 12 methylation motifs and a total of 23 methyltransferase genes. Using our method, we characterize the 23 methyltransferases, assign motifs to the respective enzymes and verify activity for 11 of the 12 motifs.


April 21, 2020  |  

Strain-level metagenomic assignment and compositional estimation for long reads with MetaMaps.

Metagenomic sequence classification should be fast, accurate and information-rich. Emerging long-read sequencing technologies promise to improve the balance between these factors but most existing methods were designed for short reads. MetaMaps is a new method, specifically developed for long reads, capable of mapping a long-read metagenome to a comprehensive RefSeq database with >12,000 genomes in <16?GB or RAM on a laptop computer. Integrating approximate mapping with probabilistic scoring and EM-based estimation of sample composition, MetaMaps achieves >94% accuracy for species-level read assignment and r2?>?0.97 for the estimation of sample composition on both simulated and real data when the sample genomes or close relatives are present in the classification database. To address novel species and genera, which are comparatively harder to predict, MetaMaps outputs mapping locations and qualities for all classified reads, enabling functional studies (e.g. gene presence/absence) and detection of incongruities between sample and reference genomes.


April 21, 2020  |  

Genome analysis of the rice coral Montipora capitata.

Corals comprise a biomineralizing cnidarian, dinoflagellate algal symbionts, and associated microbiome of prokaryotes and viruses. Ongoing efforts to conserve coral reefs by identifying the major stress response pathways and thereby laying the foundation to select resistant genotypes rely on a robust genomic foundation. Here we generated and analyzed a high quality long-read based ~886 Mbp nuclear genome assembly and transcriptome data from the dominant rice coral, Montipora capitata from Hawai’i. Our work provides insights into the architecture of coral genomes and shows how they differ in size and gene inventory, putatively due to population size variation. We describe a recent example of foreign gene acquisition via a bacterial gene transfer agent and illustrate the major pathways of stress response that can be used to predict regulatory components of the transcriptional networks in M. capitata. These genomic resources provide insights into the adaptive potential of these sessile, long-lived species in both natural and human influenced environments and facilitate functional and population genomic studies aimed at Hawaiian reef restoration and conservation.


April 21, 2020  |  

Complete Assembly of the Genome of an Acidovorax citrulli Strain Reveals a Naturally Occurring Plasmid in This Species.

Acidovorax citrulli is the causal agent of bacterial fruit blotch (BFB), a serious threat to cucurbit crop production worldwide. Based on genetic and phenotypic properties, A. citrulli strains are divided into two major groups: group I strains have been generally isolated from melon and other non-watermelon cucurbits, while group II strains are closely associated with watermelon. In a previous study, we reported the genome of the group I model strain, M6. At that time, the M6 genome was sequenced by MiSeq Illumina technology, with reads assembled into 139 contigs. Here, we report the assembly of the M6 genome following sequencing with PacBio technology. This approach not only allowed full assembly of the M6 genome, but it also revealed the occurrence of a ~53 kb plasmid. The M6 plasmid, named pACM6, was further confirmed by plasmid extraction, Southern-blot analysis of restricted fragments and obtention of M6-derivative cured strains. pACM6 occurs at low copy numbers (average of ~4.1 ± 1.3 chromosome equivalents) in A. citrulli M6 and contains 63 open reading frames (ORFs), most of which (55.6%) encoding hypothetical proteins. The plasmid contains several genes encoding type IV secretion components, and typical plasmid-borne genes involved in plasmid maintenance, replication and transfer. The plasmid also carries an operon encoding homologs of a Fic-VbhA toxin-antitoxin (TA) module. Transcriptome data from A. citrulli M6 revealed that, under the tested conditions, the genes encoding the components of this TA system are among the highest expressed genes in pACM6. Whether this TA module plays a role in pACM6 maintenance is still to be determined. Leaf infiltration and seed transmission assays revealed that, under tested conditions, the loss of pACM6 did not affect the virulence of A. citrulli M6. We also show that pACM6 or similar plasmids are present in several group I strains, but absent in all tested group II strains of A. citrulli.


April 21, 2020  |  

The Not-so-Sterile Womb: Evidence That the Human Fetus Is Exposed to Bacteria Prior to Birth.

The human microbiome includes trillions of bacteria, many of which play a vital role in host physiology. Numerous studies have now detected bacterial DNA in first-pass meconium and amniotic fluid samples, suggesting that the human microbiome may commence in utero. However, these data have remained contentious due to underlying contamination issues. Here, we have used a previously described method for reducing contamination in microbiome workflows to determine if there is a fetal bacterial microbiome beyond the level of background contamination. We recruited 50 women undergoing non-emergency cesarean section deliveries with no evidence of intra-uterine infection and collected first-pass meconium and amniotic fluid samples. Full-length 16S rRNA gene sequencing was performed using PacBio SMRT cell technology, to allow high resolution profiling of the fetal gut and amniotic fluid bacterial microbiomes. Levels of inflammatory cytokines were measured in amniotic fluid, and levels of immunomodulatory short chain fatty acids (SCFAs) were quantified in meconium. All meconium samples and most amniotic fluid samples (36/43) contained bacterial DNA. The meconium microbiome was dominated by reads that mapped to Pelomonas puraquae. Aside from this species, the meconium microbiome was remarkably heterogeneous between patients. The amniotic fluid microbiome was more diverse and contained mainly reads that mapped to typical skin commensals, including Propionibacterium acnes and Staphylococcus spp. All meconium samples contained acetate and propionate, at ratios similar to those previously reported in infants. P. puraquae reads were inversely correlated with meconium propionate levels. Amniotic fluid cytokine levels were associated with the amniotic fluid microbiome. Our results demonstrate that bacterial DNA and SCFAs are present in utero, and have the potential to influence the developing fetal immune system.


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  |  

A Pathovar of Xanthomonas oryzae Infecting Wild Grasses Provides Insight Into the Evolution of Pathogenicity in Rice Agroecosystems

Xanthomonas oryzae (Xo) are critical rice pathogens. Virulent lineages from Africa and Asia and less virulent strains from the US have been well characterized. X. campestris pv. leersiae (Xcl), first described in 1957, causes bacterial streak on the perennial grass, Leersia hexandra, and is a close relative of Xo. L. hexandra, a member of the Poaceae, is highly similar to rice phylogenetically, is globally ubiquitous around rice paddies, and is a reservoir of pathogenic Xo. We used long read, single molecule, real time (SMRT) genome sequences of five strains of Xcl from Burkina Faso, China, Mali and Uganda to determine the genetic relatedness of this organism with Xo. Novel Transcription Activator-Like Effectors (TALEs) were discovered in all five strains of Xcl. Predicted TALE target sequences were identified in the L. perrieri genome and compared to rice susceptibility gene homologs. Pathogenicity screening on L. hexandra and diverse rice cultivars confirmed that Xcl are able to colonize rice and produce weak but not progressive symptoms. Overall, based on average nucleotide identity, type III effector repertoires and disease phenotype, we propose to rename Xcl to X. oryzae pv. leersiae (Xol) and use this parallel system to improve understanding of the evolution of bacterial pathogenicity in rice agroecosystems.


April 21, 2020  |  

Complete genome sequence of the Sulfodiicoccus acidiphilus strain HS-1T, the first crenarchaeon that lacks polB3, isolated from an acidic hot spring in Ohwaku-dani, Hakone, Japan.

Sulfodiicoccus acidiphilus HS-1T is the type species of the genus Sulfodiicoccus, a thermoacidophilic archaeon belonging to the order Sulfolobales (class Thermoprotei; phylum Crenarchaeota). While S. acidiphilus HS-1T shares many common physiological and phenotypic features with other Sulfolobales species, the similarities in their 16S rRNA gene sequences are less than 89%. In order to know the genomic features of S. acidiphilus HS-1T in the order Sulfolobales, we determined and characterized the genome of this strain.The circular genome of S. acidiphilus HS-1T is comprised of 2353,189 bp with a G+C content of 51.15 mol%. A total of 2459 genes were predicted, including 2411 protein coding and 48 RNA genes. The notable genomic features of S. acidiphilus HS-1T in Sulfolobales species are the absence of genes for polB3 and the autotrophic carbon fixation pathway, and the distribution pattern of essential genes and sequences related to genomic replication initiation. These insights contribute to an understanding of archaeal genomic diversity and evolution.


April 21, 2020  |  

A hybrid de novo genome assembly of the honeybee, Apis mellifera, with chromosome-length scaffolds.

The ability to generate long sequencing reads and access long-range linkage information is revolutionizing the quality and completeness of genome assemblies. Here we use a hybrid approach that combines data from four genome sequencing and mapping technologies to generate a new genome assembly of the honeybee Apis mellifera. We first generated contigs based on PacBio sequencing libraries, which were then merged with linked-read 10x Chromium data followed by scaffolding using a BioNano optical genome map and a Hi-C chromatin interaction map, complemented by a genetic linkage map.Each of the assembly steps reduced the number of gaps and incorporated a substantial amount of additional sequence into scaffolds. The new assembly (Amel_HAv3) is significantly more contiguous and complete than the previous one (Amel_4.5), based mainly on Sanger sequencing reads. N50 of contigs is 120-fold higher (5.381 Mbp compared to 0.053 Mbp) and we anchor >?98% of the sequence to chromosomes. All of the 16 chromosomes are represented as single scaffolds with an average of three sequence gaps per chromosome. The improvements are largely due to the inclusion of repetitive sequence that was unplaced in previous assemblies. In particular, our assembly is highly contiguous across centromeres and telomeres and includes hundreds of AvaI and AluI repeats associated with these features.The improved assembly will be of utility for refining gene models, studying genome function, mapping functional genetic variation, identification of structural variants, and comparative genomics.


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.


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