June 1, 2021  |  

Low-input long-read sequencing for complete microbial genomes and metagenomic community analysis.

Microbial genome sequencing can be done quickly, easily, and efficiently with the PacBio sequencing instruments, resulting in complete de novo assemblies. Alternative protocols have been developed to reduce the amount of purified DNA required for SMRT Sequencing, to broaden applicability to lower-abundance samples. If 50-100 ng of microbial DNA is available, a 10-20 kb SMRTbell library can be made. A 2 kb SMRTbell library only requires a few ng of gDNA when carrier DNA is added to the library. The resulting libraries can be loaded onto multiple SMRT Cells, yielding more than enough data for complete assembly of microbial genomes using the SMRT Portal assembly program HGAP, plus base-modification analysis. The entire process can be done in less than 3 days by standard laboratory personnel. This approach is particularly important for the analysis of metagenomic communities, in which genomic DNA is often limited. From these samples, full-length 16S amplicons can be generated, prepped with the standard SMRTbell library prep protocol, and sequenced. Alternatively, a 2 kb sheared library, made from a few ng of input DNA, can also be used to elucidate the microbial composition of a community, and may provide information about biochemical pathways present in the sample. In both these cases, 1-2 kb reads with >99% accuracy can be obtained from Circular Consensus Sequencing.


June 1, 2021  |  

Metagenomes of native and electrode-enriched microbial communities from the Soudan Iron Mine.

Despite apparent carbon limitation, anoxic deep subsurface brines at the Soudan Underground Iron Mine harbor active microbial communities. To characterize these assemblages, we performed shotgun metagenomics of native and enriched samples. Following enrichment on poised electrodes and long read sequencing, we recovered from the metagenome the closed, circular genome of a novel Desulfuromonas sp. with remarkable genomic features that were not fully resolved by short read assembly alone. This organism was essentially absent in unenriched Soudan communities, indicating that electrodes are highly selective for putative metal reducers. Native community metagenomes suggest that carbon cycling is driven by methyl-C1 metabolism, in particular methylotrophic methanogenesis. Our results highlight the promising potential for long reads in metagenomic surveys of low-diversity environments.


June 1, 2021  |  

Comparison of sequencing approaches applied to complex soil metagenomes to resolve proteins of interest

Background: Long-read sequencing presents several potential advantages for providing more complete gene profiling of metagenomic samples. Long reads can capture multiple genes in a single read, and longer reads typically result in assemblies with better contiguity, especially for higher abundance organisms. However, a major challenge with using long reads has been the higher cost per base, which may lead to insufficient coverage of low-abundance species. Additionally, lower single-pass accuracy can make gene discovery for low-abundance organisms difficult. Methods: To evaluate the pros and cons of long reads for metagenomics, we directly compared PacBio and Illumina sequencing on a soil-derived sample, which included spike-in controls of known concentrations of pure referenced samples. For PacBio sequencing, a 10 kb library was sequenced on the Sequel System with 3.0 chemistry. Highly accurate long reads (HiFi reads) with Q20 and higher were generated for downstream analyses using PacBio Circular Consensus Sequencing (CCS) mode. Results were assessed according to the following criteria: DNA extraction capacity, bioinformatics pipeline status, % of proteins with ambiguous AA’s, total unique error-free genes/$1000, total proteins observed in spike-ins/$1000, proteins of interest/$1000, median length of contigs with proteins, and assembly requirements. Results: Both methods had areas of superior performance. DNA extraction capacity was higher for Illumina, the bioinformatics pipeline is well-tested, and there was a lower proportion of proteins with ambiguous AA’s. On the other hand, with PacBio, twice as many unique error-free genes, twice as many total proteins from spike-ins, and ~6 times more proteins of interest were found per $1000 cost. PacBio data produced on average 5 times longer contigs capturing proteins of interest. Additionally, assembly was not required for gene or protein finding, as was the case with Illumina data. Conclusions: In this comparison of PacBio Sequel System with Illumina NextSeq on a complex microbiome, we conclude that the sequencing system of choice may vary, depending on the goals and resources for the project. PacBio sequencing requires a longer DNA extraction method, and the bioinformatics pipeline may require development. On the other hand, the Sequel System generates hundreds of thousands of long HiFi reads per SMRT Cell, producing more genes, more proteins, and longer contigs, thereby offering more information about the metagenomic samples for a lower cost.


June 1, 2021  |  

Microbiome profiling at the strain level using rRNA amplicons

Strain level microbiome profiling is needed for a full understanding of how microbial communities influence human health. Microbiome profiling of rRNA gene amplicons is a well-understood method that is rapid and inexpensive, but standard 16S rRNA gene methods generally cannot differentiate closely related strains. Whole genome/shotgun microbiome profiling is considered a higher-resolution alternative, but with decreased throughput and significantly increased sequencing costs and analysis burden. With both methods there are also challenges with microbial lysis, DNA preparation, and taxonomic analysis. Specialized microbiome-focused protocols were developed to achieve strain-level taxonomic differentiation using a rapid, high throughput rRNA gene assay. The protocol integrates lysis and DNA preparation improvements with a unique high information content amplicon and associated novel database to enable taxonomic differentiation of closely related microbial strains.


June 1, 2021  |  

Comparative metagenome-assembled genome analysis of “Candidatus Lachnocurva vaginae”, formerly known as Bacterial Vaginosis Associated bacterium – 1 (BVAB1)

Bacterial Vaginosis Associated bacterium 1 (BVAB1) is an as-yet uncultured bacterial species found in the human vagina that belongs to the family Lachnospiraceae within the order Clostridiales. As its name suggests, this bacterium is often associated with bacterial vaginosis (BV), a common vaginal disorder that has been shown to increase a woman’s risk for HIV, Chlamydia trachomatis, and Neisseria gonorrhoeae infections as well as preterm birth. Further, BVAB1 is associated with the persistence of BV following metronidazole treatment, increased vaginal inflammation, and adverse obstetrics outcomes. There is no available complete genome sequence of BVAB1, which has made it di?cult to mechanistically understand its role in disease. We present here a circularized metagenome-assembled genome (cMAG) of B VAB1 as well as a comparative analysis including an additional six metagenome-assembled genomes (MAGs) of this species. These sequences were derived from cervicovaginal samples of seven separate women. The cMAG is 1.649 Mb in size and encodes 1,578 genes. We propose to rename BVAB1 to “Candidatus Lachnocurva vaginae” based on phylogenetic analyses, and provide genomic evidence that this candidate species may metabolize D-lactate, produce trimethylamine (one of the chemicals responsible for BV-associated odor), and be motile. The cMAG and the six MAGs are valuable resources that will further contribute to our understanding of the heterogeneous etiology of bacterial vaginosis.


June 1, 2021  |  

Improving long-read assembly of microbial genomes and plasmids

Complete, high-quality microbial genomes are very valuable across a broad array of fields, from environmental studies, to human microbiome health, food pathogen surveillance, etc. Long-read sequencing enables accurate resolution of complex microbial genomes and is becoming the new standard. Here we report our novel Microbial Assembly pipeline to facilitate rapid, large-scale analysis of microbial genomes. We sequenced a 48-plex library with one SMRT Cell 8M on the Sequel II System, demultiplexed, then analyzed the data with Microbial Assembly.


April 21, 2020  |  

Early emergence of mcr-1-positive Enterobacteriaceae in gulls from Spain and Portugal.

We tested extended-spectrum ß-lactamase producing bacteria from wild gulls (Larus spp.) sampled in 2009 for the presence of mcr-1. We report the detection of mcr-1 and describe genome characteristics of four Escherichia coli and one Klebsiella pneumoniae isolate from Spain and Portugal that also exhibited colistin resistance. Results represent the earliest evidence for colistin-resistant bacteria in European wildlife.Published 2019. This article is a U.S. Government work and is in the public domain in the USA.


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  |  

Genomic Diversity and Recombination among Xylella fastidiosa Subspecies.

Xylella fastidiosa is an economically important bacterial plant pathogen. With insights gained from 72 genomes, this study investigated differences among the three main subspecies, which have allopatric origins: X. fastidiosa subsp. fastidiosa, multiplex, and pauca The origin of recombinogenic X. fastidiosa subsp. morus and sandyi was also assessed. The evolutionary rate of the 622 genes of the species core genome was estimated at the scale of an X. fastidiosa subsp. pauca subclade (7.62?×?10-7 substitutions per site per year), which was subsequently used to estimate divergence time for the subspecies and introduction events. The study characterized genes present in the accessory genome of each of the three subspecies and investigated the core genome to detect genes potentially under positive selection. Recombination is recognized to be the major driver of diversity in X. fastidiosa, potentially facilitating shifts to novel plant hosts. The relative effect of recombination in comparison to point mutation was calculated (r/m?=?2.259). Evidence of recombination was uncovered in the core genome alignment; X. fastidiosa subsp. fastidiosa in the United States was less prone to recombination, with an average of 3.22 of the 622 core genes identified as recombining regions, whereas a specific clade of X. fastidiosa subsp. multiplex was found to have on average 9.60 recombining genes, 93.2% of which originated from X. fastidiosa subsp. fastidiosa Interestingly, for X. fastidiosa subsp. morus, which was initially thought to be the outcome of genome-wide recombination between X. fastidiosa subsp. fastidiosa and X. fastidiosa subsp. multiplex, intersubspecies homologous recombination levels reached 15.30% in the core genome. Finally, there is evidence of X. fastidiosa subsp. pauca strains from citrus containing genetic elements acquired from strains infecting coffee plants as well as genetic elements from both X. fastidiosa subsp. fastidiosa and X. fastidiosa subsp. multiplex In summary, our data provide new insights into the evolution and epidemiology of this plant pathogen.IMPORTANCEXylella fastidiosa is an important vector-borne plant pathogen. We used a set of 72 genomes that constitutes the largest assembled data set for this bacterial species so far to investigate genetic relationships and the impact of recombination on phylogenetic clades and to compare genome content at the subspecies level, and we used a molecular dating approach to infer the evolutionary rate of X. fastidiosa The results demonstrate that recombination is important in shaping the genomes of X. fastidiosa and that each of the main subspecies is under different selective pressures. We hope insights from this study will improve our understanding of X. fastidiosa evolution and biology.Copyright © 2019 American Society for Microbiology.


April 21, 2020  |  

Agricultural Origins of a Highly Persistent Lineage of Vancomycin-Resistant Enterococcus faecalis in New Zealand.

Enterococcus faecalis and Enterococcus faecium are human and animal gut commensals. Vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE) are important opportunistic pathogens with limited treatment options. Historically, the glycopeptide antibiotics vancomycin and avoparcin selected for the emergence of vancomycin resistance in human and animal isolates, respectively, resulting in global cessation of avoparcin use between 1997 and 2000. To better understand human- and animal-associated VRE strains in the postavoparcin era, we sequenced the genomes of 231 VRE isolates from New Zealand (NZ; 75 human clinical, 156 poultry) cultured between 1998 and 2009. E. faecium lineages and their antibiotic resistance carriage patterns strictly delineated between agricultural and human reservoirs, with bacitracin resistance ubiquitous in poultry but absent in clinical E. faecium strains. In contrast, one E. faecalis lineage (ST108) predominated in both poultry and human isolates in the 3 years following avoparcin discontinuation. Both phylogenetic and antimicrobial susceptibility (i.e., ubiquitous bacitracin resistance in both poultry and clinical ST108 isolates) analyses suggest an agricultural origin for the ST108 lineage. VRE isolate resistomes were carried on multiple, heterogeneous plasmids. In some isolate genomes, bacitracin, erythromycin, and vancomycin resistance elements were colocalized, indicating multiple potentially linked selection mechanisms.IMPORTANCE Historical antimicrobial use in NZ agriculture has driven the evolution of ST108, a VRE lineage carrying a range of clinically relevant antimicrobial resistances. The persistence of this lineage in NZ for over a decade indicates that coselection may be an important stabilizing mechanism for its persistence.Copyright © 2019 Rushton-Green et al.


April 21, 2020  |  

Molecular Mechanism of N,N-Dimethylformamide Degradation in Methylobacterium sp. Strain DM1.

N,N-Dimethylformamide (DMF) is one of the most common xenobiotic chemicals, and it can be easily emitted into the environment, where it causes harm to human beings. Herein, an efficient DMF-degrading strain, DM1, was isolated and identified as Methylobacterium sp. This strain can use DMF as the sole source of carbon and nitrogen. Whole-genome sequencing of strain DM1 revealed that it has a 5.66-Mbp chromosome and a 200-kbp megaplasmid. The plasmid pLVM1 specifically harbors the genes essential for the initial steps of DMF degradation, and the chromosome carries the genes facilitating subsequent methylotrophic metabolism. Through analysis of the transcriptome sequencing data, the complete mineralization pathway and redundant gene clusters of DMF degradation were elucidated. The dimethylformamidase (DMFase) gene was heterologously expressed, and DMFase was purified and characterized. Plasmid pLVM1 is catabolically crucial for DMF utilization, as evidenced by the phenotype identification of the plasmid-free strain. This study systematically elucidates the molecular mechanisms of DMF degradation by MethylobacteriumIMPORTANCE DMF is a hazardous pollutant that has been used in the chemical industry, pharmaceutical manufacturing, and agriculture. Biodegradation as a method for removing DMF has received increasing attention. Here, we identified an efficient DMF degrader, Methylobacterium sp. strain DM1, and characterized the complete DMF mineralization pathway and enzymatic properties of DMFase in this strain. This study provides insights into the molecular mechanisms and evolutionary advantage of DMF degradation facilitated by plasmid pLVM1 and redundant genes in strain DM1, suggesting the emergence of new ecotypes of Methylobacterium.Copyright © 2019 American Society for Microbiology.


April 21, 2020  |  

Clostridium scindens ATCC 35704: Integration of Nutritional Requirements, the Complete Genome Sequence, and Global Transcriptional Responses to Bile Acids.

In the human gut, Clostridium scindens ATCC 35704 is a predominant bacterium and one of the major bile acid 7a-dehydroxylating anaerobes. While this organism is well-studied relative to bile acid metabolism, little is known about the basic nutrition and physiology of C. scindens ATCC 35704. To determine the amino acid and vitamin requirements of C. scindens, the leave-one-out (one amino acid group or vitamin) technique was used to eliminate the nonessential amino acids and vitamins. With this approach, the amino acid tryptophan and three vitamins (riboflavin, pantothenate, and pyridoxal) were found to be required for the growth of C. scindens In the newly developed defined medium, C. scindens fermented glucose mainly to ethanol, acetate, formate, and H2. The genome of C. scindens ATCC 35704 was completed through PacBio sequencing. Pathway analysis of the genome sequence coupled with transcriptome sequencing (RNA-Seq) under defined culture conditions revealed consistency with the growth requirements and end products of glucose metabolism. Induction with bile acids revealed complex and differential responses to cholic acid and deoxycholic acid, including the expression of potentially novel bile acid-inducible genes involved in cholic acid metabolism. Responses to toxic deoxycholic acid included expression of genes predicted to be involved in DNA repair, oxidative stress, cell wall maintenance/metabolism, chaperone synthesis, and downregulation of one-third of the genome. These analyses provide valuable insight into the overall biology of C. scindens which may be important in treatment of disease associated with increased colonic secondary bile acids.IMPORTANCEC. scindens is one of a few identified gut bacterial species capable of converting host cholic acid into disease-associated secondary bile acids such as deoxycholic acid. The current work represents an important advance in understanding the nutritional requirements and response to bile acids of the medically important human gut bacterium, C. scindens ATCC 35704. A defined medium has been developed which will further the understanding of bile acid metabolism in the context of growth substrates, cofactors, and other metabolites in the vertebrate gut. Analysis of the complete genome supports the nutritional requirements reported here. Genome-wide transcriptomic analysis of gene expression in the presence of cholic acid and deoxycholic acid provides a unique insight into the complex response of C. scindens ATCC 35704 to primary and secondary bile acids. Also revealed are genes with the potential to function in bile acid transport and metabolism.Copyright © 2019 American Society for Microbiology.


April 21, 2020  |  

Sensitivity to the two peptide bacteriocin plantaricin EF is dependent on CorC, a membrane-bound, magnesium/cobalt efflux protein.

Lactic acid bacteria produce a variety of antimicrobial peptides known as bacteriocins. Most bacteriocins are understood to kill sensitive bacteria through receptor-mediated disruptions. Here, we report on the identification of the Lactobacillus plantarum plantaricin EF (PlnEF) receptor. Spontaneous PlnEF-resistant mutants of the PlnEF-indicator strain L. plantarum NCIMB 700965 (LP965) were isolated and confirmed to maintain cellular ATP levels in the presence of PlnEF. Genome comparisons resulted in the identification of a single mutated gene annotated as the membrane-bound, magnesium/cobalt efflux protein CorC. All isolates contained a valine (V) at position 334 instead of a glycine (G) in a cysteine-ß-synthase domain at the C-terminal region of CorC. In silico template-based modeling of this domain indicated that the mutation resides in a loop between two ß-strands. The relationship between PlnEF, CorC, and metal homeostasis was supported by the finding that PlnEF-resistance was lost when PlnEF was applied together with high concentrations of Mg2+ , Co2+ , Zn2+ , or Cu2+ . Lastly, PlnEF sensitivity was increased upon heterologous expression of LP965 corC but not the G334V CorC mutant in the PlnEF-resistant strain Lactobacillus casei BL23. These results show that PlnEF kills sensitive bacteria by targeting CorC. © 2019 The Authors. MicrobiologyOpen published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


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