April 21, 2020  |  

A microbial factory for defensive kahalalides in a tripartite marine symbiosis.

Chemical defense against predators is widespread in natural ecosystems. Occasionally, taxonomically distant organisms share the same defense chemical. Here, we describe an unusual tripartite marine symbiosis, in which an intracellular bacterial symbiont (“Candidatus Endobryopsis kahalalidefaciens”) uses a diverse array of biosynthetic enzymes to convert simple substrates into a library of complex molecules (the kahalalides) for chemical defense of the host, the alga Bryopsis sp., against predation. The kahalalides are subsequently hijacked by a third partner, the herbivorous mollusk Elysia rufescens, and employed similarly for defense. “Ca E. kahalalidefaciens” has lost many essential traits for free living and acts as a factory for kahalalide production. This interaction between a bacterium, an alga, and an animal highlights the importance of chemical defense in the evolution of complex symbioses.Copyright © 2019 The Authors, some rights reserved; exclusive licensee American Association for the Advancement of Science. No claim to original U.S. Government Works.


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  |  

Characterization of NDM-5- and CTX-M-55-coproducing Escherichia coli GSH8M-2 isolated from the effluent of a wastewater treatment plant in Tokyo Bay.

New Delhi metallo-ß-lactamase (NDM)-5-producing Enterobacteriaceae have been detected in rivers, sewage, and effluents from wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs). Environmental contamination due to discharged effluents is of particular concern as NDM variants may be released into waterways, thereby posing a risk to humans. In this study, we collected effluent samples from a WWTP discharged into a canal in Tokyo Bay, Japan.Testing included the complete genome sequencing of Escherichia coli GSH8M-2 isolated from the effluent as well as a gene network analysis.The complete genome sequencing of GSH8M-2 revealed that it was an NDM-5-producing E. coli strain sequence type ST542, which carries multiple antimicrobial resistance genes for ß-lactams, quinolone, tetracycline, trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole, florfenicol/chloramphenicol, kanamycin, and fosfomycin. The blaNDM-5 gene was found in the IncX3 replicon plasmid pGSH8M-2-4. Gene network analysis using 142 IncX3 plasmid sequences suggested that pGSH8M-2-4 is related to both clinical isolates of  E. coli and Klebsiella species in Eastern Asia. GSH8M-2 also carries the blaCTX-M-55 gene in IncX1 plasmid pGSH8M-2-3.This is the first report of environmental NDM-5-producing E. coli isolated from a WWTP in Japan. NDM-5 detection is markedly increasing in veterinary and clinical settings, suggesting that dual ß-lactamases, such as NDM-5 and CTX-M-55, might be acquired through multiple steps in environment settings. Environmental contamination through WWTP effluents that contain producers of NDM variants could be an emerging potential health hazard. Thus, regular monitoring of WWTP effluents is important for the detection of antimicrobial-resistant bacteria that may be released into the waterways and nearby communities.


April 21, 2020  |  

Sequential evolution of virulence and resistance during clonal spread of community-acquired methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus.

The past two decades have witnessed an alarming expansion of staphylococcal disease caused by community-acquired methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (CA-MRSA). The factors underlying the epidemic expansion of CA-MRSA lineages such as USA300, the predominant CA-MRSA clone in the United States, are largely unknown. Previously described virulence and antimicrobial resistance genes that promote the dissemination of CA-MRSA are carried by mobile genetic elements, including phages and plasmids. Here, we used high-resolution genomics and experimental infections to characterize the evolution of a USA300 variant plaguing a patient population at increased risk of infection to understand the mechanisms underlying the emergence of genetic elements that facilitate clonal spread of the pathogen. Genetic analyses provided conclusive evidence that fitness (manifest as emergence of a dominant clone) changed coincidently with the stepwise emergence of (i) a unique prophage and mutation of the regulator of the pyrimidine nucleotide biosynthetic operon that promoted abscess formation and colonization, respectively, thereby priming the clone for success; and (ii) a unique plasmid that conferred resistance to two topical microbiocides, mupirocin and chlorhexidine, frequently used for decolonization and infection prevention. The resistance plasmid evolved through successive incorporation of DNA elements from non-S. aureus spp. into an indigenous cryptic plasmid, suggesting a mechanism for interspecies genetic exchange that promotes antimicrobial resistance. Collectively, the data suggest that clonal spread in a vulnerable population resulted from extensive clinical intervention and intense selection pressure toward a pathogen lifestyle that involved the evolution of consequential mutations and mobile genetic elements.


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