April 21, 2020  |  

Evolution of a 72-kb cointegrant, conjugative multiresistance plasmid from early community-associated methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus isolates.

Horizontal transfer of plasmids encoding antimicrobial-resistance and virulence determinants has been instrumental in Staphylococcus aureus evolution, including the emergence of community-associated methicillin-resistant S. aureus (CA-MRSA). In the early 1990s the first CA-MRSA isolated in Western Australia (WA), WA-5, encoded cadmium, tetracycline and penicillin-resistance genes on plasmid pWBG753 (~30 kb). WA-5 and pWBG753 appeared only briefly in WA, however, fusidic-acid-resistance plasmids related to pWBG753 were also present in the first European CA-MRSA at the time. Here we characterized a 72-kb conjugative plasmid pWBG731 present in multiresistant WA-5-like clones from the same period. pWBG731 was a cointegrant formed from pWBG753 and a pWBG749-family conjugative plasmid. pWBG731 carried mupirocin, trimethoprim, cadmium and penicillin-resistance genes. The stepwise evolution of pWBG731 likely occurred through the combined actions of IS257, IS257-dependent miniature inverted-repeat transposable elements (MITEs) and the BinL resolution system of the ß-lactamase transposon Tn552 An evolutionary intermediate ~42-kb non-conjugative plasmid pWBG715, possessed the same resistance genes as pWBG731 but retained an integrated copy of the small tetracycline-resistance plasmid pT181. IS257 likely facilitated replacement of pT181 with conjugation genes on pWBG731, thus enabling autonomous transfer. Like conjugative plasmid pWBG749, pWBG731 also mobilized non-conjugative plasmids carrying oriT mimics. It seems likely that pWBG731 represents the product of multiple recombination events between the WA-5 pWBG753 plasmid and other mobile genetic elements present in indigenous CA-MSSA. The molecular evolution of pWBG731 saliently illustrates how diverse mobile genetic elements can together facilitate rapid accrual and horizontal dissemination of multiresistance in S. aureus CA-MRSA.Copyright © 2019 American Society for Microbiology.


April 21, 2020  |  

Lateral transfers of large DNA fragments spread functional genes among grasses.

A fundamental tenet of multicellular eukaryotic evolution is that vertical inheritance is paramount, with natural selection acting on genetic variants transferred from parents to offspring. This lineal process means that an organism’s adaptive potential can be restricted by its evolutionary history, the amount of standing genetic variation, and its mutation rate. Lateral gene transfer (LGT) theoretically provides a mechanism to bypass many of these limitations, but the evolutionary importance and frequency of this process in multicellular eukaryotes, such as plants, remains debated. We address this issue by assembling a chromosome-level genome for the grass Alloteropsis semialata, a species surmised to exhibit two LGTs, and screen it for other grass-to-grass LGTs using genomic data from 146 other grass species. Through stringent phylogenomic analyses, we discovered 57 additional LGTs in the A. semialata nuclear genome, involving at least nine different donor species. The LGTs are clustered in 23 laterally acquired genomic fragments that are up to 170 kb long and have accumulated during the diversification of Alloteropsis. The majority of the 59 LGTs in A. semialata are expressed, and we show that they have added functions to the recipient genome. Functional LGTs were further detected in the genomes of five other grass species, demonstrating that this process is likely widespread in this globally important group of plants. LGT therefore appears to represent a potent evolutionary force capable of spreading functional genes among distantly related grass species. Copyright © 2019 the Author(s). Published by PNAS.


April 21, 2020  |  

Genome-wide selection footprints and deleterious variations in young Asian allotetraploid rapeseed.

Brassica napus (AACC, 2n = 38) is an important oilseed crop grown worldwide. However, little is known about the population evolution of this species, the genomic difference between its major genetic groups, such as European and Asian rapeseed, and the impacts of historical large-scale introgression events on this young tetraploid. In this study, we reported the de novo assembly of the genome sequences of an Asian rapeseed (B. napus), Ningyou 7, and its four progenitors and compared these genomes with other available genomic data from diverse European and Asian cultivars. Our results showed that Asian rapeseed originally derived from European rapeseed but subsequently significantly diverged, with rapid genome differentiation after hybridization and intensive local selective breeding. The first historical introgression of B. rapa dramatically broadened the allelic pool but decreased the deleterious variations of Asian rapeseed. The second historical introgression of the double-low traits of European rapeseed (canola) has reshaped Asian rapeseed into two groups (double-low and double-high), accompanied by an increase in genetic load in the double-low group. This study demonstrates distinctive genomic footprints and deleterious SNP (single nucleotide polymorphism) variants for local adaptation by recent intra- and interspecies introgression events and provides novel insights for understanding the rapid genome evolution of a young allopolyploid crop. © 2019 The Authors. Plant Biotechnology Journal published by Society for Experimental Biology and The Association of Applied Biologists and John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


April 21, 2020  |  

Evolution and global transmission of a multidrug-resistant, community-associated MRSA lineage from the Indian subcontinent

The evolution and global transmission of antimicrobial resistance has been well documented in Gram-negative bacteria and healthcare-associated epidemic pathogens, often emerging from regions with heavy antimicrobial use. However, the degree to which similar processes occur with Gram-positive bacteria in the community setting is less well understood. Here, we trace the recent origins and global spread of a multidrug resistant, community-associated Staphylococcus aureus lineage from the Indian subcontinent, the Bengal Bay clone (ST772). We generated whole genome sequence data of 340 isolates from 14 countries, including the first isolates from Bangladesh and India, to reconstruct the evolutionary history and genomic epidemiology of the lineage. Our data shows that the clone emerged on the Indian subcontinent in the early 1970s and disseminated rapidly in the 1990s. Short-term outbreaks in community and healthcare settings occurred following intercontinental transmission, typically associated with travel and family contacts on the subcontinent, but ongoing endemic transmission was uncommon. Acquisition of a multidrug resistance integrated plasmid was instrumental in the divergence of a single dominant and globally disseminated clade in the early 1990s. Phenotypic data on biofilm, growth and toxicity point to antimicrobial resistance as the driving force in the evolution of ST772. The Bengal Bay clone therefore combines the multidrug resistance of traditional healthcare-associated clones with the epidemiological transmission of community-associated MRSA. Our study demonstrates the importance of whole genome sequencing for tracking the evolution of emerging and resistant pathogens. It provides a critical framework for ongoing surveillance of the clone on the Indian subcontinent and elsewhere.Importance The Bengal Bay clone (ST772) is a community-acquired and multidrug-resistant Staphylococcus aureus lineage first isolated from Bangladesh and India in 2004. In this study, we show that the Bengal Bay clone emerged from a virulent progenitor circulating on the Indian subcontinent. Its subsequent global transmission was associated with travel or family contact in the region. ST772 progressively acquired specific resistance elements at limited cost to its fitness and continues to be exported globally resulting in small-scale community and healthcare outbreaks. The Bengal Bay clone therefore combines the virulence potential and epidemiology of community-associated clones with the multidrug-resistance of healthcare-associated S. aureus lineages. This study demonstrates the importance of whole genome sequencing for the surveillance of highly antibiotic resistant pathogens, which may emerge in the community setting of regions with poor antibiotic stewardship and rapidly spread into hospitals and communities across the world.


April 21, 2020  |  

Relative Performance of MinION (Oxford Nanopore Technologies) versus Sequel (Pacific Biosciences) Third-Generation Sequencing Instruments in Identification of Agricultural and Forest Fungal Pathogens.

Culture-based molecular identification methods have revolutionized detection of pathogens, yet these methods are slow and may yield inconclusive results from environmental materials. The second-generation sequencing tools have much-improved precision and sensitivity of detection, but these analyses are costly and may take several days to months. Of the third-generation sequencing techniques, the portable MinION device (Oxford Nanopore Technologies) has received much attention because of its small size and possibility of rapid analysis at reasonable cost. Here, we compare the relative performances of two third-generation sequencing instruments, MinION and Sequel (Pacific Biosciences), in identification and diagnostics of fungal and oomycete pathogens from conifer (Pinaceae) needles and potato (Solanum tuberosum) leaves and tubers. We demonstrate that the Sequel instrument is efficient for metabarcoding of complex samples, whereas MinION is not suited for this purpose due to a high error rate and multiple biases. However, we find that MinION can be utilized for rapid and accurate identification of dominant pathogenic organisms and other associated organisms from plant tissues following both amplicon-based and PCR-free metagenomics approaches. Using the metagenomics approach with shortened DNA extraction and incubation times, we performed the entire MinION workflow, from sample preparation through DNA extraction, sequencing, bioinformatics, and interpretation, in 2.5 h. We advocate the use of MinION for rapid diagnostics of pathogens and potentially other organisms, but care needs to be taken to control or account for multiple potential technical biases.IMPORTANCE Microbial pathogens cause enormous losses to agriculture and forestry, but current combined culturing- and molecular identification-based detection methods are too slow for rapid identification and application of countermeasures. Here, we develop new and rapid protocols for Oxford Nanopore MinION-based third-generation diagnostics of plant pathogens that greatly improve the speed of diagnostics. However, due to high error rate and technical biases in MinION, the Pacific BioSciences Sequel platform is more useful for in-depth amplicon-based biodiversity monitoring (metabarcoding) from complex environmental samples.Copyright © 2019 American Society for Microbiology.


April 21, 2020  |  

Salmonella Genomic Island 3 Is an Integrative and Conjugative Element and Contributes to Copper and Arsenic Tolerance of Salmonella enterica.

Salmonella genomic island 3 (SGI3) was first described as a chromosomal island in Salmonella 4,[5],12:i:-, a monophasic variant of Salmonella enterica subsp. enterica serovar Typhimurium. The SGI3 DNA sequence detected from Salmonella 4,[5],12:i:- isolated in Japan was identical to that of a previously reported one across entire length of 81?kb. SGI3 consists of 86 open reading frames, including a copper homeostasis and silver resistance island (CHASRI) and an arsenic tolerance operon, in addition to genes related to conjugative transfer and DNA replication or partitioning, suggesting that the island is a mobile genetic element. We successfully selected transconjugants that acquired SGI3 after filter-mating experiments using the S. enterica serovars Typhimurium, Heidelberg, Hadar, Newport, Cerro, and Thompson as recipients. Southern blot analysis using I-CeuI-digested genomic DNA demonstrated that SGI3 was integrated into a chromosomal fragment of the transconjugants. PCR and sequencing analysis demonstrated that SGI3 was inserted into the 3′ end of the tRNA genes pheV or pheR The length of the target site was 52 or 55?bp, and a 55-bp attI sequence indicating generation of the circular form of SGI3 was also detected. The transconjugants had a higher MIC against CuSO4 compared to the recipient strains under anaerobic conditions. Tolerance was defined by the cus gene cluster in the CHASRI. The transconjugants also had distinctly higher MICs against Na2HAsO4 compared to recipient strains under aerobic conditions. These findings clearly demonstrate that SGI3 is an integrative and conjugative element and contributes to the copper and arsenic tolerance of S. enterica.Copyright © 2019 American Society for Microbiology.


April 21, 2020  |  

Genomic and Functional Analysis of Emerging Virulent and Multidrug-Resistant Escherichia coli Lineage Sequence Type 648.

The pathogenic extended-spectrum-beta-lactamase (ESBL)-producing Escherichia coli lineage ST648 is increasingly reported from multiple origins. Our study of a large and global ST648 collection from various hosts (87 whole-genome sequences) combining core and accessory genomics with functional analyses and in vivo experiments suggests that ST648 is a nascent and generalist lineage, lacking clear phylogeographic and host association signals. By including large numbers of ST131 (n?=?107) and ST10 (n?=?96) strains for comparative genomics and phenotypic analysis, we demonstrate that the combination of multidrug resistance and high-level virulence are the hallmarks of ST648, similar to international high-risk clonal lineage ST131. Specifically, our in silico, in vitro, and in vivo results demonstrate that ST648 is well equipped with biofilm-associated features, while ST131 shows sophisticated signatures indicative of adaption to urinary tract infection, potentially conveying individual ecological niche adaptation. In addition, we used a recently developed NFDS (negative frequency-dependent selection) population model suggesting that ST648 will increase significantly in frequency as a cause of bacteremia within the next few years. Also, ESBL plasmids impacting biofilm formation aided in shaping and maintaining ST648 strains to successfully emerge worldwide across different ecologies. Our study contributes to understanding what factors drive the evolution and spread of emerging international high-risk clonal lineages.Copyright © 2019 American Society for Microbiology.


April 21, 2020  |  

Harnessing long-read amplicon sequencing to uncover NRPS and Type I PKS gene sequence diversity in polar desert soils.

The severity of environmental conditions at Earth’s frigid zones present attractive opportunities for microbial biomining due to their heightened potential as reservoirs for novel secondary metabolites. Arid soil microbiomes within the Antarctic and Arctic circles are remarkably rich in Actinobacteria and Proteobacteria, bacterial phyla known to be prolific producers of natural products. Yet the diversity of secondary metabolite genes within these cold, extreme environments remain largely unknown. Here, we employed amplicon sequencing using PacBio RS II, a third generation long-read platform, to survey over 200 soils spanning twelve east Antarctic and high Arctic sites for natural product-encoding genes, specifically targeting non-ribosomal peptides (NRPS) and Type I polyketides (PKS). NRPS-encoding genes were more widespread across the Antarctic, whereas PKS genes were only recoverable from a handful of sites. Many recovered sequences were deemed novel due to their low amino acid sequence similarity to known protein sequences, particularly throughout the east Antarctic sites. Phylogenetic analysis revealed that a high proportion were most similar to antifungal and biosurfactant-type clusters. Multivariate analysis showed that soil fertility factors of carbon, nitrogen and moisture displayed significant negative relationships with natural product gene richness. Our combined results suggest that secondary metabolite production is likely to play an important physiological component of survival for microorganisms inhabiting arid, nutrient-starved soils. © FEMS 2019.


April 21, 2020  |  

Divergent evolution in the genomes of closely related lacertids, Lacerta viridis and L. bilineata, and implications for speciation.

Lacerta viridis and Lacerta bilineata are sister species of European green lizards (eastern and western clades, respectively) that, until recently, were grouped together as the L. viridis complex. Genetic incompatibilities were observed between lacertid populations through crossing experiments, which led to the delineation of two separate species within the L. viridis complex. The population history of these sister species and processes driving divergence are unknown. We constructed the first high-quality de novo genome assemblies for both L. viridis and L. bilineata through Illumina and PacBio sequencing, with annotation support provided from transcriptome sequencing of several tissues. To estimate gene flow between the two species and identify factors involved in reproductive isolation, we studied their evolutionary history, identified genomic rearrangements, detected signatures of selection on non-coding RNA, and on protein-coding genes.Here we show that gene flow was primarily unidirectional from L. bilineata to L. viridis after their split at least 1.15 million years ago. We detected positive selection of the non-coding repertoire; mutations in transcription factors; accumulation of divergence through inversions; selection on genes involved in neural development, reproduction, and behavior, as well as in ultraviolet-response, possibly driven by sexual selection, whose contribution to reproductive isolation between these lacertid species needs to be further evaluated.The combination of short and long sequence reads resulted in one of the most complete lizard genome assemblies. The characterization of a diverse array of genomic features provided valuable insights into the demographic history of divergence among European green lizards, as well as key species differences, some of which are candidates that could have played a role in speciation. In addition, our study generated valuable genomic resources that can be used to address conservation-related issues in lacertids. © The Author(s) 2018. Published by Oxford University Press.


April 21, 2020  |  

Whole-genome sequence of the oriental lung fluke Paragonimus westermani.

Foodborne infections caused by lung flukes of the genus Paragonimus are a significant and widespread public health problem in tropical areas. Approximately 50 Paragonimus species have been reported to infect animals and humans, but Paragonimus westermani is responsible for the bulk of human disease. Despite their medical and economic importance, no genome sequence for any Paragonimus species is available.We sequenced and assembled the genome of P. westermani, which is among the largest of the known pathogen genomes with an estimated size of 1.1 Gb. A 922.8 Mb genome assembly was generated from Illumina and Pacific Biosciences (PacBio) sequence data, covering 84% of the estimated genome size. The genome has a high proportion (45%) of repeat-derived DNA, particularly of the long interspersed element and long terminal repeat subtypes, and the expansion of these elements may explain some of the large size. We predicted 12,852 protein coding genes, showing a high level of conservation with related trematode species. The majority of proteins (80%) had homologs in the human liver fluke Opisthorchis viverrini, with an average sequence identity of 64.1%. Assembly of the P. westermani mitochondrial genome from long PacBio reads resulted in a single high-quality circularized 20.6 kb contig. The contig harbored a 6.9 kb region of non-coding repetitive DNA comprised of three distinct repeat units. Our results suggest that the region is highly polymorphic in P. westermani, possibly even within single worm isolates.The generated assembly represents the first Paragonimus genome sequence and will facilitate future molecular studies of this important, but neglected, parasite group.


April 21, 2020  |  

Genetic characterisation of variants of the virulence plasmid, pSLT, in Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium provides evidence of a variety of evolutionary directions consistent with vertical rather than horizontal transmission.

The virulence plasmid pSLT as exemplified by the 94 Kb plasmid in Salmonella Typhimurium strain LT2 is only found in isolates of serovar Typhimurium. While it occurs commonly among such isolates recent genotyping methods have shown that it is mostly confined to certain genotypes. Although pSLT plasmids are capable of self-transmissibility under experimental conditions their confinement to certain host genotypes suggests that in practice they are maintained by vertical rather than by horizontal transmission. This would imply that evolution of the pSLT plasmid proceeds in parallel with evolution of its host. The development of a phylogenetic evolutionary framework for genotypes of S. Typhimurium based on single-nucleotide-polymorphism (SNPs) typing provided an opportunity to test whether the pSLT plasmid coevolves with its host genotype. Accordingly SNPs analysis was applied to the pSLT plasmids from 71 strains S. Typhimurium of Australian and international origins representing most of the genotypes which commonly have a pSLT. The phylogenetic tree showed that pSLT sequences clustered into almost the same groups as the host chromosomes so that each pSLT genotype was associated with a single host genotype. A search for tandem repeats in pSLT plasmids showed that a 9 bp VNTR in the traD gene occurred in the pSLT from all isolates belonging to Clade II but not from isolates belonging to Clade I. Another 9 bp repeat occurred only in three Clade I genotypes with a recent common ancestor. The evidence relating to both of these VNTRs supports the proposition that the pSLT plasmid is only transmitted vertically. Some isolates belonging to one S. Typhimurium genotype were found to have pSLTs which have lost a large block of genes when a resistance gene cassette has been acquired. Examples were found of pSLT plasmids which have recombined with other plasmids to form fusion plasmids sometimes with loss of some pSLT genes. In all cases the underlying genotype of the modified pSLT was the same as the genotype of regular pSLTs with the same host genotype implying that these changes have occurred within the host cell of the pSLT plasmid.


April 21, 2020  |  

A whole genome scan of SNP data suggests a lack of abundant hard selective sweeps in the genome of the broad host range plant pathogenic fungus Sclerotinia sclerotiorum.

The pathogenic fungus Sclerotinia sclerotiorum infects over 600 species of plant. It is present in numerous environments throughout the world and causes significant damage to many agricultural crops. Fragmentation and lack of gene flow between populations may lead to population sub-structure. Within discrete recombining populations, positive selection may lead to a ‘selective sweep’. This is characterised by an increase in frequency of a favourable allele leading to reduction in genotypic diversity in a localised genomic region due to the phenomenon of genetic hitchhiking. We aimed to assess whether isolates of S. sclerotiorum from around the world formed genotypic clusters associated with geographical origin and to determine whether signatures of population-specific positive selection could be detected. To do this, we sequenced the genomes of 25 isolates of S. sclerotiorum collected from four different continents-Australia, Africa (north and south), Europe and North America (Canada and the northen United States) and conducted SNP based analyses of population structure and selective sweeps. Among the 25 isolates, there was evidence for two major population clusters. One of these consisted of 11 isolates from Canada, the USA and France (population 1), and the other consisted of nine isolates from Australia and one from Morocco (population 2). The rest of the isolates were genotypic outliers. We found that there was evidence of outcrossing in these two populations based on linkage disequilibrium decay. However, only a single candidate selective sweep was observed, and it was present in population 2. This sweep was close to a Major Facilitator Superfamily transporter gene, and we speculate that this gene may have a role in nutrient uptake from the host. The low abundance of selective sweeps in the S. sclerotiorum genome contrasts the numerous examples in the genomes of other fungal pathogens. This may be a result of its slow rate of evolution and low effective recombination rate due to self-fertilisation and vegetative reproduction.


April 21, 2020  |  

A Controlled Human Infection Model of Group A Streptococcus Pharyngitis: Which Strain and Why?

Group A Streptococcus (GAS) is a major cause of global infection-related morbidity and mortality. A modern controlled human infection model (CHIM) of GAS pharyngitis can accelerate vaccine development and pathogenesis research. A robust rationale for strain selection is central to meeting ethical, scientific, and regulatory requirements. Multifaceted characterization studies were done to compare a preferred candidate emm75 (M75) GAS strain to three other strains: an alternative candidate emm12 (M12) strain, an M1 strain used in 1970s pharyngitis CHIM studies (SS-496), and a representative (5448) of the globally disseminated M1T1 clone. A range of approaches were used to explore strain growth, adherence, invasion, delivery characteristics, short- and long-term viability, phylogeny, virulence factors, vaccine antigens, resistance to killing by human neutrophils, and lethality in a murine invasive model. The strains grew reliably in a medium without animal-derived components, were consistently transferred using a swab method simulating the CHIM protocol, remained viable at -80°C, and carried genes for most candidate vaccine antigens. Considering GAS molecular epidemiology, virulence factors, in vitro assays, and results from the murine model, the contemporary strains show a spectrum of virulence, with M75 appearing the least virulent and 5448 the most. The virulence profile of SS-496, used safely in 1970s CHIM studies, was similar to that of 5448 in the animal model and virulence gene carriage. The results of this multifaceted characterization confirm the M75 strain as an appropriate choice for initial deployment in the CHIM, with the aim of safely and successfully causing pharyngitis in healthy adult volunteers. IMPORTANCE GAS (Streptococcus pyogenes) is a leading global cause of infection-related morbidity and mortality. A modern CHIM of GAS pharyngitis could help to accelerate vaccine development and drive pathogenesis research. Challenge strain selection is critical to the safety and success of any CHIM and especially so for an organism such as GAS, with its wide strain diversity and potential to cause severe life-threatening acute infections (e.g., toxic shock syndrome and necrotizing fasciitis) and postinfectious complications (e.g., acute rheumatic fever, rheumatic heart disease, and acute poststreptococcal glomerulonephritis). In this paper, we outline the rationale for selecting an emm75 strain for initial use in a GAS pharyngitis CHIM in healthy adult volunteers, drawing on the findings of a broad characterization effort spanning molecular epidemiology, in vitro assays, whole-genome sequencing, and animal model studies. Copyright © 2019 Osowicki et al.


April 21, 2020  |  

Expedited assessment of terrestrial arthropod diversity by coupling Malaise traps with DNA barcoding 1.

Monitoring changes in terrestrial arthropod communities over space and time requires a dramatic increase in the speed and accuracy of processing samples that cannot be achieved with morphological approaches. The combination of DNA barcoding and Malaise traps allows expedited, comprehensive inventories of species abundance whose cost will rapidly decline as high-throughput sequencing technologies advance. Aside from detailing protocols from specimen sorting to data release, this paper describes their use in a survey of arthropod diversity in a national park that examined 21?194 specimens representing 2255 species. These protocols can support arthropod monitoring programs at regional, national, and continental scales.


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