April 21, 2020  |  

Variation in genome content and predatory phenotypes between Bdellovibrio sp. NC01 isolated from soil and B. bacteriovorus type strain HD100

The range of naturally occurring variation in the ability of Bdellovibrio strains to attack and kill Gram-negative bacteria is not well understood. Defining phenotypic and associated genotypic variation among Bdellovibrio may further our understanding of how this genus impacts microbial communities. In addition, comparisons of the predatory phenotypes of divergent strains may inform the development of Bdellovibrio as biocontrol agents to combat bacterial infections. We isolated Bdellovibrio sp. NC01 from soil and compared its genome and predatory phenotypes to B. bacteriovorus type strain HD100. Based on analysis of 16S rRNA gene sequences and average amino acid identity, NC01 belongs to a different species than HD100. Genome-wide comparisons and individual gene analyses indicated that eight NC01 genome regions were likely acquired by horizontal gene transfer (HGT), further supporting an important role for HGT in Bdellovibrio genome evolution. Within these regions, multiple protein-coding sequences were assigned predicted functions related to transcriptional regulation and transport; however, most were annotated as hypothetical proteins. Compared to HD100, NC01 has a limited prey range and kills E. coli ML35 less efficiently. Whereas HD100 drastically reduces the ML35 population and then maintains low prey population density, NC01 causes a smaller reduction in ML35, after which the prey population recovers, accompanied by a decrease in NC01. In addition, NC01 forms turbid plaques on lawns of E. coli ML35, in contrast to clear plaques formed by HD100. Characterizing variation in interactions between Bdellovibrio and Gram-negative bacteria, such as observed with NC01 and HD100, is valuable for understanding the ecological significance of predatory bacteria and evaluating their effectiveness in clinical applications.


April 21, 2020  |  

Complete genome sequence of Bacillus velezensis JT3-1, a microbial germicide isolated from yak feces

Bacillus velezensis JT3-1 is a probiotic strain isolated from feces of the domestic yak (Bos grunniens) in the Gansu province of China. It has strong antagonistic activity against Listeria monocytogenes, Staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli, Salmonella Typhimurium, Mannheimia haemolytica, Staphylococcus hominis, Clostridium perfringens, and Mycoplasma bovis. These properties have made the JT3-1 strain the focus of commercial interest. In this study, we describe the complete genome sequence of JT3-1, with a genome size of 3,929,799 bp, 3761 encoded genes and an average GC content of 46.50%. Whole genome sequencing of Bacillus velezensis JT3-1 will lay a good foundation for elucidation of the mechanisms of its antimicrobial activity, and for its future application.


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  |  

Plantibacter flavus, Curtobacterium herbarum, Paenibacillus taichungensis, and Rhizobium selenitireducens Endophytes Provide Host-Specific Growth Promotion of Arabidopsis thaliana, Basil, Lettuce, and Bok Choy Plants.

A collection of bacterial endophytes isolated from stem tissues of plants growing in soils highly contaminated with petroleum hydrocarbons were screened for plant growth-promoting capabilities. Twenty-seven endophytic isolates significantly improved the growth of Arabidopsis thaliana plants in comparison to that of uninoculated control plants. The five most beneficial isolates, one strain each of Curtobacterium herbarum, Paenibacillus taichungensis, and Rhizobium selenitireducens and two strains of Plantibacter flavus were further examined for growth promotion in Arabidopsis, lettuce, basil, and bok choy plants. Host-specific plant growth promotion was observed when plants were inoculated with the five bacterial strains. P. flavus strain M251 increased the total biomass and total root length of Arabidopsis plants by 4.7 and 5.8 times, respectively, over that of control plants and improved lettuce and basil root growth, while P. flavus strain M259 promoted Arabidopsis shoot and root growth, lettuce and basil root growth, and bok choy shoot growth. A genome comparison between P. flavus strains M251 and M259 showed that both genomes contain up to 70 actinobacterial putative plant-associated genes and genes involved in known plant-beneficial pathways, such as those for auxin and cytokinin biosynthesis and 1-aminocyclopropane-1-carboxylate deaminase production. This study provides evidence of direct plant growth promotion by Plantibacter flavusIMPORTANCE The discovery of new plant growth-promoting bacteria is necessary for the continued development of biofertilizers, which are environmentally friendly and cost-efficient alternatives to conventional chemical fertilizers. Biofertilizer effects on plant growth can be inconsistent due to the complexity of plant-microbe interactions, as the same bacteria can be beneficial to the growth of some plant species and neutral or detrimental to others. We examined a set of bacterial endophytes isolated from plants growing in a unique petroleum-contaminated environment to discover plant growth-promoting bacteria. We show that strains of Plantibacter flavus exhibit strain-specific plant growth-promoting effects on four different plant species.Copyright © 2019 American Society for Microbiology.


April 21, 2020  |  

Intercellular communication is required for trap formation in the nematode-trapping fungus Duddingtonia flagrans.

Nematode-trapping fungi (NTF) are a large and diverse group of fungi, which may switch from a saprotrophic to a predatory lifestyle if nematodes are present. Different fungi have developed different trapping devices, ranging from adhesive cells to constricting rings. After trapping, fungal hyphae penetrate the worm, secrete lytic enzymes and form a hyphal network inside the body. We sequenced the genome of Duddingtonia flagrans, a biotechnologically important NTF used to control nematode populations in fields. The 36.64 Mb genome encodes 9,927 putative proteins, among which are more than 638 predicted secreted proteins. Most secreted proteins are lytic enzymes, but more than 200 were classified as small secreted proteins (< 300 amino acids). 117 putative effector proteins were predicted, suggesting interkingdom communication during the colonization. As a first step to analyze the function of such proteins or other phenomena at the molecular level, we developed a transformation system, established the fluorescent proteins GFP and mCherry, adapted an assay to monitor protein secretion, and established gene-deletion protocols using homologous recombination or CRISPR/Cas9. One putative virulence effector protein, PefB, was transcriptionally induced during the interaction. We show that the mature protein is able to be imported into nuclei in Caenorhabditis elegans cells. In addition, we studied trap formation and show that cell-to-cell communication is required for ring closure. The availability of the genome sequence and the establishment of many molecular tools will open new avenues to studying this biotechnologically relevant nematode-trapping fungus.


April 21, 2020  |  

Multi-omics characterization of the necrotrophic mycoparasite Saccharomycopsis schoenii.

Pathogenic yeasts and fungi are an increasing global healthcare burden, but discovery of novel antifungal agents is slow. The mycoparasitic yeast Saccharomycopsis schoenii was recently demonstrated to be able to kill the emerging multi-drug resistant yeast pathogen Candida auris. However, the molecular mechanisms involved in the predatory activity of S. schoenii have not been explored. To this end, we de novo sequenced, assembled and annotated a draft genome of S. schoenii. Using proteomics, we confirmed that Saccharomycopsis yeasts have reassigned the CTG codon and translate CTG into serine instead of leucine. Further, we confirmed an absence of all genes from the sulfate assimilation pathway in the genome of S. schoenii, and detected the expansion of several gene families, including aspartic proteases. Using Saccharomyces cerevisiae as a model prey cell, we honed in on the timing and nutritional conditions under which S. schoenii kills prey cells. We found that a general nutrition limitation, not a specific methionine deficiency, triggered predatory activity. Nevertheless, by means of genome-wide transcriptome analysis we observed dramatic responses to methionine deprivation, which were alleviated when S. cerevisiae was available as prey, and therefore postulate that S. schoenii acquired methionine from its prey cells. During predation, both proteomic and transcriptomic analyses revealed that S. schoenii highly upregulated and translated aspartic protease genes, probably used to break down prey cell walls. With these fundamental insights into the predatory behavior of S. schoenii, we open up for further exploitation of this yeast as a biocontrol yeast and/or source for novel antifungal agents.


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  |  

Genomic and Functional Characterization of the Endophytic Bacillus subtilis 7PJ-16 Strain, a Potential Biocontrol Agent of Mulberry Fruit Sclerotiniose.

Bacillus sp. 7PJ-16, an endophytic bacterium isolated from a healthy mulberry stem and previously identified as Bacillus tequilensis 7PJ-16, exhibits strong antifungal activity and has the capacity to promote plant growth. This strain was studied for its effectiveness as a biocontrol agent to reduce mulberry fruit sclerotiniose in the field and as a growth-promoting agent for mulberry in the greenhouse. In field studies, the cell suspension and supernatant of strain 7PJ-16 exhibited biocontrol efficacy and the lowest disease incidence was reduced down to only 0.80%. In greenhouse experiments, the cell suspension (1.0?×?106 and 1.0?×?105 CFU/mL) and the cell-free supernatant (100-fold and 1000-fold dilution) stimulated mulberry seed germination and promoted mulberry seedling growth. In addition, to accurately identify the 7PJ-16 strain and further explore the mechanisms of its antifungal and growth-promoting properties, the complete genome of this strain was sequenced and annotated. The 7PJ-16 genome is comprised of two circular plasmids and a 4,209,045-bp circular chromosome, containing 4492 protein-coding genes and 116 RNA genes. This strain was ultimately designed as Bacillus subtilis based on core genome sequence analyses using a phylogenomic approach. In this genome, we identified a series of gene clusters that function in the synthesis of non-ribosomal peptides (surfactin, fengycin, bacillibactin, and bacilysin) as well as the ribosome-dependent synthesis of tasA and bacteriocins (subtilin, subtilosin A), which are responsible for the biosynthesis of numerous antimicrobial metabolites. Additionally, several genes with function that promote plant growth, such as indole-3-acetic acid biosynthesis, the production of volatile substances, and siderophores synthesis, were also identified. The information described in this study has established a good foundation for understanding the beneficial interactions between endophytes and host plants, and facilitates the further application of B. subtilis 7PJ-16 as an agricultural biofertilizer and biocontrol agent.


April 21, 2020  |  

Diversity of phytobeneficial traits revealed by whole-genome analysis of worldwide-isolated phenazine-producing Pseudomonas spp.

Plant-beneficial Pseudomonas spp. competitively colonize the rhizosphere and display plant-growth promotion and/or disease-suppression activities. Some strains within the P. fluorescens species complex produce phenazine derivatives, such as phenazine-1-carboxylic acid. These antimicrobial compounds are broadly inhibitory to numerous soil-dwelling plant pathogens and play a role in the ecological competence of phenazine-producing Pseudomonas spp. We assembled a collection encompassing 63 strains representative of the worldwide diversity of plant-beneficial phenazine-producing Pseudomonas spp. In this study, we report the sequencing of 58 complete genomes using PacBio RS II sequencing technology. Distributed among four subgroups within the P. fluorescens species complex, the diversity of our collection is reflected by the large pangenome which accounts for 25 413 protein-coding genes. We identified genes and clusters encoding for numerous phytobeneficial traits, including antibiotics, siderophores and cyclic lipopeptides biosynthesis, some of which were previously unknown in these microorganisms. Finally, we gained insight into the evolutionary history of the phenazine biosynthetic operon. Given its diverse genomic context, it is likely that this operon was relocated several times during Pseudomonas evolution. Our findings acknowledge the tremendous diversity of plant-beneficial phenazine-producing Pseudomonas spp., paving the way for comparative analyses to identify new genetic determinants involved in biocontrol, plant-growth promotion and rhizosphere competence. © 2018 Society for Applied Microbiology and John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


April 21, 2020  |  

Antimicrobial, plant growth-promoting and genomic properties of the peanut endophyte Bacillus velezensis LDO2.

Peanut suffer from a number of fungal and bacterial pathogens, while plant endophytes were considered excellent candidates as biocontrol agents. In this study, the peanut endophytic bacterium LDO2 was evaluated for the potential of peanut pathogens inhibition and growth-promotion, and the genetic mechanisms were explored by genome mining. Strain LDO2 significantly inhibited the growth of peanut pathogenic fungi and pathogenic bacteria, and specifically, it showed pronounced inhibition on mycelia growth of Aspergillus flavus mycelia and caused mycelial deformity. Gene clusters responsible for antifungal metabolites (fengycin, surfactin, bacilysin) and antibacterial metabolites (butirosin, bacillaene, difficidin, macrolactin, surfactin, bacilysin) were identified. Strain LDO2 also exhibited several growth-promoting related features including phosphate solubilization, siderophore production and growth promotion of peanut root. Genes associated with plant growth promotion were also identified and analyzed, as well as genes related to secreted proteins. These findings suggested that this peanut endophyte could be a potential biocontrol agent in peanut production and a source of antimicrobial compounds for further exploitation. Copyright © 2018 Elsevier GmbH. All rights reserved.


April 21, 2020  |  

Snf2 controls pulcherriminic acid biosynthesis and antifungal activity of the biocontrol yeast Metschnikowia pulcherrima.

Metschnikowia pulcherrima synthesises the pigment pulcherrimin, from cyclodileucine (cyclo(Leu-Leu)) as a precursor, and exhibits strong antifungal activity against notorious plant pathogenic fungi. This yeast therefore has great potential for biocontrol applications against fungal diseases; particularly in the phyllosphere where this species is frequently found. To elucidate the molecular basis of the antifungal activity of M. pulcherrima, we compared a wild-type strain with a spontaneously occurring, pigmentless, weakly antagonistic mutant derivative. Whole genome sequencing of the wild-type and mutant strains identified a point mutation that creates a premature stop codon in the transcriptional regulator gene SNF2 in the mutant. Complementation of the mutant strain with the wild-type SNF2 gene restored pigmentation and recovered the strong antifungal activity. Mass spectrometry (UPLC HR HESI-MS) proved the presence of the pulcherrimin precursors cyclo(Leu-Leu) and pulcherriminic acid and identified new precursor and degradation products of pulcherriminic acid and/or pulcherrimin. All of these compounds were identified in the wild-type and complemented strain, but were undetectable in the pigmentless snf2 mutant strain. These results thus identify Snf2 as a regulator of antifungal activity and pulcherriminic acid biosynthesis in M. pulcherrima and provide a starting point for deciphering the molecular functions underlying the antagonistic activity of this yeast. © 2019 The Authors. Molecular Microbiology Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


April 21, 2020  |  

Function and Distribution of a Lantipeptide in Strawberry Fusarium Wilt Disease-Suppressive Soils.

Streptomyces griseus S4-7 is representative of strains responsible for the specific soil suppressiveness of Fusarium wilt of strawberry caused by Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. fragariae. Members of the genus Streptomyces secrete diverse secondary metabolites including lantipeptides, heat-stable lanthionine-containing compounds that can exhibit antibiotic activity. In this study, a class II lantipeptide provisionally named grisin, of previously unknown biological function, was shown to inhibit F. oxysporum. The inhibitory activity of grisin distinguishes it from other class II lantipeptides from Streptomyces spp. Results of quantitative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction with lanM-specific primers showed that the density of grisin-producing Streptomyces spp. in the rhizosphere of strawberry was positively correlated with the number of years of monoculture and a minimum of seven years was required for development of specific soil suppressiveness to Fusarium wilt disease. We suggest that lanM can be used as a diagnostic marker of whether a soil is conducive or suppressive to the disease.


April 21, 2020  |  

Genome Sequence of Bacillus Velezensis W1, A Strain with Strong Acaricidal Activity against Two-Spotted Spider Mite (Tetranychus Urticae)

Bacillus velezensis W1, isolated from two-spotted spider mites that had died naturally, is a patented strain with strong capability to cause mortality of the phytophagous mite Tetranychus urticae. The whole genome of W1 was completely sequenced with a combination of an Illumina Miseq platform (400-bp paired-end) with 2 × 250 bases and a Pacific Biosciences (PaBio) RS II Single Molecule Real Time (SMRT) sequencing platform using a 20 kb SMRTbellTM template library. Here, we report the complete genome sequence of B. velezensis W1, including one circular chromosome of 4,237,431 bp encoding 4,352 genes with GC content of 45.84%, providing insights into the genomic basis of its acaricidal activity and facilitating its application in red spider mite biocontrol.


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