April 21, 2020  |  

Complete Genome Sequence of strain WHRI 3811, race 1 of Xanthomonas campestris pv. campestris, the Causal Agent of Black Rot of Cruciferous Vegetables.

Xanthomonas campestris pv. campestris (Xcc) is an important bacterial pathogen that causes black rot and brings about enormous production loss for cruciferous vegetables worldwide. Currently, genome sequences for only a few Xcc isolates are available, most of which are draft ones. Based on the next-generation sequencing (NGS) and single-molecule sequencing in real time (SMRT) technologies, we present here the complete genome sequence of strain WHRI 3811, race 1 of Xcc, which is a type strain that has been extensively used. The genome data will contribute to our understanding of Xcc genomic features, and pave the way for research on Xcc-host interactions.


April 21, 2020  |  

Convergent horizontal gene transfer and cross-talk of mobile nucleic acids in parasitic plants.

Horizontal gene transfer (HGT), the movement and genomic integration of DNA across species boundaries, is commonly associated with bacteria and other microorganisms, but functional HGT (fHGT) is increasingly being recognized in heterotrophic parasitic plants that obtain their nutrients and water from their host plants through direct haustorial feeding. Here, in the holoparasitic stem parasite Cuscuta, we identify 108?transcribed and probably functional HGT events in Cuscuta campestris and related species, plus 42?additional regions with host-derived transposon, pseudogene and non-coding sequences. Surprisingly, 18?Cuscuta fHGTs were acquired from the same gene families by independent HGT events in Orobanchaceae parasites, and the majority are highly expressed in the haustorial feeding structures in both lineages. Convergent retention and expression of HGT sequences suggests an adaptive role for specific additional genes in parasite biology. Between 16 and 20 of the transcribed HGT events are inferred as ancestral in Cuscuta based on transcriptome sequences from species across the phylogenetic range of the genus, implicating fHGT in the successful radiation of Cuscuta parasites. Genome sequencing of C. campestris supports transfer of genomic DNA-rather than retroprocessed RNA-as the mechanism of fHGT. Many of the C. campestris genes horizontally acquired are also frequent sources of 24-nucleotide small RNAs that are typically associated with RNA-directed DNA methylation. One HGT encoding a leucine-rich repeat protein kinase overlaps with a microRNA that has been shown to regulate host gene expression, suggesting that HGT-derived parasite small RNAs may function in the parasite-host interaction. This study enriches our understanding of HGT by describing a parasite-host system with unprecedented gene exchange that points to convergent evolution of HGT events and the functional importance of horizontally transferred coding and non-coding sequences.


April 21, 2020  |  

Genomics-informed molecular detection of Xanthomonas vasicola pv. vasculorum strains causing severe bacterial leaf streak of corn.

Xanthomonas vasicola pv. vasculorum (syn. X. campestris pv. vasculorum) was initially identified as the causal agent of bacterial leaf streak of corn in South Africa. The pathovar vasculorum causes disease on sugarcane and corn, but a subset of these strains was noted for its increased disease severity in corn. This subset was re-classified as Xanthomonas campestris pv. zeae in the early 1990s and was found to have slightly different biochemical and genetic properties than isolates from sugarcane. There has been an emergence of X. campestris pv. zeae-like strains of X. vasicola pv. vasculorum in both the United States and Argentina since 2010. We performed whole genome sequencing on U.S. isolates to confirm their identity. Informed by comparative genomics, we then developed specific TaqMan qPCR and loop-mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP) assays for the detection of this specific subset of X. vasicola pv. vasculorum strains. The qPCR 4909 assay was tested against 27 xanthomonads (diverse representation), 32 DNA extractions from corn leaves confirmed as positive or negative for the bacterium, 41 X. vasicola pv. vasculorum isolates from corn in the United States and Argentina, and 31 additional bacteria associated with corn, sugarcane, or sorghum. In all cases the assay was shown to be specific for the X. vasicola pv. vasculorum isolates that cause more severe disease on corn. We then tested the LAMP 166 assay against the 27 xanthomonads and 32 corn leaf DNA samples, and we found this assay was also specific for this subset of X. vasicola pv. vasculorum isolates. We also developed a live/dead cells distinction protocol using propidium monoazide prior to DNA extraction for analyzing seed washes using these assays. These two detection assays can be useful for both diagnosticians and researchers to specifically identify the X. vasicola pv. vasculorum isolates that cause more severe symptoms on corn.


April 21, 2020  |  

Large-scale ruminant genome sequencing provides insights into their evolution and distinct traits.

The ruminants are one of the most successful mammalian lineages, exhibiting morphological and habitat diversity and containing several key livestock species. To better understand their evolution, we generated and analyzed de novo assembled genomes of 44 ruminant species, representing all six Ruminantia families. We used these genomes to create a time-calibrated phylogeny to resolve topological controversies, overcoming the challenges of incomplete lineage sorting. Population dynamic analyses show that population declines commenced between 100,000 and 50,000 years ago, which is concomitant with expansion in human populations. We also reveal genes and regulatory elements that possibly contribute to the evolution of the digestive system, cranial appendages, immune system, metabolism, body size, cursorial locomotion, and dentition of the ruminants. 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  |  

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  |  

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 Plasticity Mediated by Transposable Elements in the Plant Pathogenic Fungus Colletotrichum higginsianum.

Phytopathogen genomes are under constant pressure to change, as pathogens are locked in an evolutionary arms race with their hosts, where pathogens evolve effector genes to manipulate their hosts, whereas the hosts evolve immune components to recognize the products of these genes. Colletotrichum higginsianum (Ch), a fungal pathogen with no known sexual morph, infects Brassicaceae plants including Arabidopsis thaliana. Previous studies revealed that Ch differs in its virulence toward various Arabidopsis thaliana ecotypes, indicating the existence of coevolutionary selective pressures. However, between-strain genomic variations in Ch have not been studied. Here, we sequenced and assembled the genome of a Ch strain, resulting in a highly contiguous genome assembly, which was compared with the chromosome-level genome assembly of another strain to identify genomic variations between strains. We found that the two closely related strains vary in terms of large-scale rearrangements, the existence of strain-specific regions, and effector candidate gene sets and that these variations are frequently associated with transposable elements (TEs). Ch has a compartmentalized genome consisting of gene-sparse, TE-dense regions with more effector candidate genes and gene-dense, TE-sparse regions harboring conserved genes. Additionally, analysis of the conservation patterns and syntenic regions of effector candidate genes indicated that the two strains vary in their effector candidate gene sets because of de novo evolution, horizontal gene transfer, or gene loss after divergence. Our results reveal mechanisms for generating genomic diversity in this asexual pathogen, which are important for understanding its adaption to hosts. © The Author(s) 2019. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution.


April 21, 2020  |  

Differences in resource use lead to coexistence of seed-transmitted microbial populations.

Seeds are involved in the vertical transmission of microorganisms in plants and act as reservoirs for the plant microbiome. They could serve as carriers of pathogens, making the study of microbial interactions on seeds important in the emergence of plant diseases. We studied the influence of biological disturbances caused by seed transmission of two phytopathogenic agents, Alternaria brassicicola Abra43 (Abra43) and Xanthomonas campestris pv. campestris 8004 (Xcc8004), on the structure and function of radish seed microbial assemblages, as well as the nutritional overlap between Xcc8004 and the seed microbiome, to find seed microbial residents capable of outcompeting this pathogen. According to taxonomic and functional inference performed on metagenomics reads, no shift in structure and function of the seed microbiome was observed following Abra43 and Xcc8004 transmission. This lack of impact derives from a limited overlap in nutritional resources between Xcc8004 and the major bacterial populations of radish seeds. However, two native seed-associated bacterial strains belonging to Stenotrophomonas rhizophila displayed a high overlap with Xcc8004 regarding the use of resources; they might therefore limit its transmission. The strategy we used may serve as a foundation for the selection of seed indigenous bacterial strains that could limit seed transmission of pathogens.


April 21, 2020  |  

Complete Genome Sequence of Sequevar 14M Ralstonia solanacearum Strain HA4-1 Reveals Novel Type III Effectors Acquired Through Horizontal Gene Transfer.

Ralstonia solanacearum, which causes bacterial wilt in a broad range of plants, is considered a “species complex” due to its significant genetic diversity. Recently, we have isolated a new R. solanacearum strain HA4-1 from Hong’an county in Hubei province of China and identified it being phylotype I, sequevar 14M (phylotype I-14M). Interestingly, we found that it can cause various disease symptoms among different potato genotypes and display different pathogenic behavior compared to a phylogenetically related strain, GMI1000. To dissect the pathogenic mechanisms of HA4-1, we sequenced its whole genome by combined sequencing technologies including Illumina HiSeq2000, PacBio RS II, and BAC-end sequencing. Genome assembly results revealed the presence of a conventional chromosome, a megaplasmid as well as a 143 kb plasmid in HA4-1. Comparative genome analysis between HA4-1 and GMI1000 shows high conservation of the general virulence factors such as secretion systems, motility, exopolysaccharides (EPS), and key regulatory factors, but significant variation in the repertoire and structure of type III effectors, which could be the determinants of their differential pathogenesis in certain potato species or genotypes. We have identified two novel type III effectors that were probably acquired through horizontal gene transfer (HGT). These novel R. solanacearum effectors display homology to several YopJ and XopAC family members. We named them as RipBR and RipBS. Notably, the copy of RipBR on the plasmid is a pseudogene, while the other on the megaplasmid is normal. For RipBS, there are three copies located in the megaplasmid and plasmid, respectively. Our results have not only enriched the genome information on R. solanacearum species complex by sequencing the first sequevar 14M strain and the largest plasmid reported in R. solanacearum to date but also revealed the variation in the repertoire of type III effectors. This will greatly contribute to the future studies on the pathogenic evolution, host adaptation, and interaction between R. solanacearum and potato.


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  |  

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  |  

Comparative genomics and pathogenicity potential of members of the Pseudomonas syringae species complex on Prunus spp.

Diseases on Prunus spp. have been associated with a large number of phylogenetically different pathovars and species within the P. syringae species complex. Despite their economic significance, there is a severe lack of genomic information of these pathogens. The high phylogenetic diversity observed within strains causing disease on Prunus spp. in nature, raised the question whether other strains or species within the P. syringae species complex were potentially pathogenic on Prunus spp.To gain insight into the genomic potential of adaptation and virulence in Prunus spp., a total of twelve de novo whole genome sequences of P. syringae pathovars and species found in association with diseases on cherry (sweet, sour and ornamental-cherry) and peach were sequenced. Strains sequenced in this study covered three phylogroups and four clades. These strains were screened in vitro for pathogenicity on Prunus spp. together with additional genome sequenced strains thus covering nine out of thirteen of the currently defined P. syringae phylogroups. Pathogenicity tests revealed that most of the strains caused symptoms in vitro and no obvious link was found between presence of known virulence factors and the observed pathogenicity pattern based on comparative genomics. Non-pathogenic strains were displaying a two to three times higher generation time when grown in rich medium.In this study, the first set of complete genomes of cherry associated P. syringae strains as well as the draft genome of the quarantine peach pathogen P. syringae pv. persicae were generated. The obtained genomic data were matched with phenotypic data in order to determine factors related to pathogenicity to Prunus spp. Results of this study suggest that the inability to cause disease on Prunus spp. in vitro is not the result of host specialization but rather linked to metabolic impairments of individual strains.


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