April 21, 2020  |  

Draft genome sequence resource of switchgrass rust pathogen, Puccinia novopanici isolate Ard-01.

Puccinia novopanici is an important biotrophic fungal pathogen that causes rust disease in switchgrass. Lack of genomic resources for P. novopanici has hampered the progress towards developing effective disease resistance against this pathogen. Therefore, we have sequenced the whole genome of P. novopanici and generated a framework to understand pathogenicity mechanisms, identify effectors, repeat element invasion, genome evolution, and comparative genomics among Puccinia species in the future. Long and short read sequences were generated from P. novopanici genomic DNA by PacBio and Illumina technologies, respectively, and assembled a 99.9 megabase (Mb) genome. Transcripts of P. novopanici were predicted from assembled genome using MAKER and were further validated by RNAseq data. The genome sequence information of P. novopanici will be a valuable resource for researchers working on monocot rusts and plant disease resistance in general.


April 21, 2020  |  

Genome data of Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. cubense race 1 and tropical race 4 isolates using long-read sequencing.

Fusarium wilt of banana is caused by the soil-borne fungal pathogen Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. cubense (Foc). We generated two chromosome-level assemblies of Foc race 1 and tropical race 4 strains using single-molecule real-time sequencing. The Foc1 and FocTR4 assemblies had 35 and 29 contigs with contig N50 lengths of 2.08 Mb and 4.28 Mb, respectively. These two new references genomes represent a greater than 100-fold improvement over the contig N50 statistics of the previous short read-based Foc assemblies. The two high-quality assemblies reported here will be a valuable resource for the comparative analysis of Foc races at the pathogenic levels.


April 21, 2020  |  

Defining transgene insertion sites and off-target effects of homology-based gene silencing informs the use of functional genomics tools in Phytophthora infestans.

DNA transformation and homology-based transcriptional silencing are frequently used to assess gene function in Phytophthora. Since unplanned side-effects of these tools are not well-characterized, we used P. infestans to study plasmid integration sites and whether knockdowns caused by homology-dependent silencing spreads to other genes. Insertions occurred both in gene-dense and gene-sparse regions but disproportionately near the 5′ ends of genes, which disrupted native coding sequences. Microhomology at the recombination site between plasmid and chromosome was common. Studies of transformants silenced for twelve different gene targets indicated that neighbors within 500-nt were often co-silenced, regardless of whether hairpin or sense constructs were employed and the direction of transcription of the target. However, cis-spreading of silencing did not occur in all transformants obtained with the same plasmid. Genome-wide studies indicated that unlinked genes with partial complementarity with the silencing-inducing transgene were not usually down-regulated. We learned that hairpin or sense transgenes were not co-silenced with the target in all transformants, which informs how screens for silencing should be performed. We conclude that transformation and gene silencing can be reliable tools for functional genomics in Phytophthora but must be used carefully, especially by testing for the spread of silencing to genes flanking the target.


April 21, 2020  |  

Effector gene reshuffling involves dispensable mini-chromosomes in the wheat blast fungus.

Newly emerged wheat blast disease is a serious threat to global wheat production. Wheat blast is caused by a distinct, exceptionally diverse lineage of the fungus causing rice blast disease. Through sequencing a recent field isolate, we report a reference genome that includes seven core chromosomes and mini-chromosome sequences that harbor effector genes normally found on ends of core chromosomes in other strains. No mini-chromosomes were observed in an early field strain, and at least two from another isolate each contain different effector genes and core chromosome end sequences. The mini-chromosome is enriched in transposons occurring most frequently at core chromosome ends. Additionally, transposons in mini-chromosomes lack the characteristic signature for inactivation by repeat-induced point (RIP) mutation genome defenses. Our results, collectively, indicate that dispensable mini-chromosomes and core chromosomes undergo divergent evolutionary trajectories, and mini-chromosomes and core chromosome ends are coupled as a mobile, fast-evolving effector compartment in the wheat pathogen genome.


April 21, 2020  |  

Finding the needle in a haystack: Mapping antifungal drug resistance in fungal pathogen by genomic approaches.

Fungi are ubiquitous on earth and are essential for the maintenance of the global ecological equilibrium. Despite providing benefits to living organisms, they can also target specific hosts and inflict damage. These fungal pathogens are known to affect, for example, plants and mam- mals and thus reduce crop production necessary to sustain food supply and cause mortality in humans and animals. Designing defenses against these fungi is essential for the control of food resources and human health. As far as fungal pathogens are concerned, the principal option has been the use of antifungal agents, also called fungicides when they are used in the environment.


April 21, 2020  |  

A chromosome-level sequence assembly reveals the structure of the Arabidopsis thaliana Nd-1 genome and its gene set.

In addition to the BAC-based reference sequence of the accession Columbia-0 from the year 2000, several short read assemblies of THE plant model organism Arabidopsis thaliana were published during the last years. Also, a SMRT-based assembly of Landsberg erecta has been generated that identified translocation and inversion polymorphisms between two genotypes of the species. Here we provide a chromosome-arm level assembly of the A. thaliana accession Niederzenz-1 (AthNd-1_v2c) based on SMRT sequencing data. The best assembly comprises 69 nucleome sequences and displays a contig length of up to 16 Mbp. Compared to an earlier Illumina short read-based NGS assembly (AthNd-1_v1), a 75 fold increase in contiguity was observed for AthNd-1_v2c. To assign contig locations independent from the Col-0 gold standard reference sequence, we used genetic anchoring to generate a de novo assembly. In addition, we assembled the chondrome and plastome sequences. Detailed analyses of AthNd-1_v2c allowed reliable identification of large genomic rearrangements between A. thaliana accessions contributing to differences in the gene sets that distinguish the genotypes. One of the differences detected identified a gene that is lacking from the Col-0 gold standard sequence. This de novo assembly extends the known proportion of the A. thaliana pan-genome.


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  |  

Secretion of an Argonaute protein by a parasitic nematode and the evolution of its siRNA guides.

Extracellular RNA has been proposed to mediate communication between cells and organisms however relatively little is understood regarding how specific sequences are selected for export. Here, we describe a specific Argonaute protein (exWAGO) that is secreted in extracellular vesicles (EVs) released by the gastrointestinal nematode Heligmosomoides bakeri, at multiple copies per EV. Phylogenetic and gene expression analyses demonstrate exWAGO orthologues are highly conserved and abundantly expressed in related parasites but highly diverged in free-living genus Caenorhabditis. We show that the most abundant small RNAs released from the nematode parasite are not microRNAs as previously thought, but rather secondary small interfering RNAs (siRNAs) that are produced by RNA-dependent RNA Polymerases. The siRNAs that are released in EVs have distinct evolutionary properties compared to those resident in free-living or parasitic nematodes. Immunoprecipitation of exWAGO demonstrates that it specifically associates with siRNAs from transposons and newly evolved repetitive elements that are packaged in EVs and released into the host environment. Together this work demonstrates molecular and evolutionary selectivity in the small RNA sequences that are released in EVs into the host environment and identifies a novel Argonaute protein as the mediator of this. © The Author(s) 2019. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Nucleic Acids Research.


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  |  

Population Genome Sequencing of the Scab Fungal Species Venturia inaequalis, Venturia pirina, Venturia aucupariae and Venturia asperata.

The Venturia genus comprises fungal species that are pathogens on Rosaceae host plants, including V. inaequalis and V. asperata on apple, V. aucupariae on sorbus and V. pirina on pear. Although the genetic structure of V. inaequalis populations has been investigated in detail, genomic features underlying these subdivisions remain poorly understood. Here, we report whole genome sequencing of 87 Venturia strains that represent each species and each population within V. inaequalis We present a PacBio genome assembly for the V. inaequalis EU-B04 reference isolate. The size of selected genomes was determined by flow cytometry, and varied from 45 to 93 Mb. Genome assemblies of V. inaequalis and V. aucupariae contain a high content of transposable elements (TEs), most of which belong to the Gypsy or Copia LTR superfamilies and have been inactivated by Repeat-Induced Point mutations. The reference assembly of V. inaequalis presents a mosaic structure of GC-equilibrated regions that mainly contain predicted genes and AT-rich regions, mainly composed of TEs. Six pairs of strains were identified as clones. Single-Nucleotide Polymorphism (SNP) analysis between these clones revealed a high number of SNPs that are mostly located in AT-rich regions due to misalignments and allowed determining a false discovery rate. The availability of these genome sequences is expected to stimulate genetics and population genomics research of Venturia pathogens. Especially, it will help understanding the evolutionary history of Venturia species that are pathogenic on different hosts, a history that has probably been substantially influenced by TEs.Copyright © 2019 Le Cam et al.


April 21, 2020  |  

The complete genome of the antifungal bacterium Pseudomonas sp. strain MS82

The genomic sequence of Pseudomonas sp. strain MS82 isolated from the rhizosphere of a soybean plant is reported and analyzed in relation to its extensive antifungal activity. Broth media used for production of the antifungal extract from strain MS82 against the mushroom pathogen Trichoderma viride were optimized using the routine plate bioassays. Culture extract of strain 82 in the peptone-K2HPO4-MgSO4 medium (PKM; peptone 20 g/L, K2HPO4 1.5 g/L, MgSO4 1.5 g/L and sterilized water) showed the best antifungal activity with an inhibition rate of 88.69thinspacetextpmthinspace3.87% to the fungal pathogen. Control efficacy of the T. viride contamination was investigated in mushroom production compost. The disease severity index of P. ostreatus hyphae infected by T. viride of treatment mixed with MS82 supernatant (38.33thinspacetextpmthinspace5.20%) was lower than that of the compost mixed with non-inoculated broth (97.50thinspacetextpmthinspace2.50%). The multilocus sequence analysis, containing four partial sequences from the gyrB, rpoB, recA and rpoD, suggests that strain MS82 is a Pseudomonas strain. The strain MS82 genome consists of a circular chromosome of 6,207,556 bp that was predicted to encode 5401 proteins and 131 RNA genes. Genome analysis revealed the presence of the gene clusters for biosynthesis of antifungal compounds, such as phenazine, pyocyanin, pyoverdine, volatile HCN and cyclic lipopeptides (arthrofactin). Genome analysis presented in the report will provide insights into development of biological control for fungal contamination in mushroom cultivation.


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  |  

Blast Fungal Genomes Show Frequent Chromosomal Changes, Gene Gains and Losses, and Effector Gene Turnover.

Pyricularia is a fungal genus comprising several pathogenic species causing the blast disease in monocots. Pyricularia oryzae, the best-known species, infects rice, wheat, finger millet, and other crops. As past comparative and population genomics studies mainly focused on isolates of P. oryzae, the genomes of the other Pyricularia species have not been well explored. In this study, we obtained a chromosomal-level genome assembly of the finger millet isolate P. oryzae MZ5-1-6 and also highly contiguous assemblies of Pyricularia sp. LS, P. grisea, and P. pennisetigena. The differences in the genomic content of repetitive DNA sequences could largely explain the variation in genome size among these new genomes. Moreover, we found extensive gene gains and losses and structural changes among Pyricularia genomes, including a large interchromosomal translocation. We searched for homologs of known blast effectors across fungal taxa and found that most avirulence effectors are specific to Pyricularia, whereas many other effectors share homologs with distant fungal taxa. In particular, we discovered a novel effector family with metalloprotease activity, distinct from the well-known AVR-Pita family. We predicted 751 gene families containing putative effectors in 7 Pyricularia genomes and found that 60 of them showed differential expression in the P. oryzae MZ5-1-6 transcriptomes obtained under experimental conditions mimicking the pathogen infection process. In summary, this study increased our understanding of the structural, functional, and evolutionary genomics of the blast pathogen and identified new potential effector genes, providing useful data for developing crops with durable resistance. © The Author(s) 2019. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail: journals.permissions@oup.com.


April 21, 2020  |  

Petunia-and Arabidopsis-Specific Root Microbiota Responses to Phosphate Supplementation

Phosphorus (P) is a limiting element for plant growth. Several root microbes, including arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF), have the capacity to improve plant nutrition and their abundance is known to depend on P fertility. However, how complex root-associated bacterial and fungal communities respond to various levels of P supplementation remains ill-defined. Here we investigated the responses of the root-associated bacteria and fungi to varying levels of P supply using 16S rRNA gene and internal transcribed spacer amplicon sequencing. We grew Petunia, which forms symbiosis with AMF, and the nonmycorrhizal model species Arabidopsis as a control in a soil that is limiting in plant-available P and we then supplemented the plants with complete fertilizer solutions that varied only in their phosphate concentrations. We searched for microbes, whose abundances varied by P fertilization, tested whether a core microbiota responding to the P treatments could be identified and asked whether bacterial and fungal co-occurrence patterns change in response to the varying P levels. Root microbiota composition varied substantially in response to the varying P application. A core microbiota was not identified as different bacterial and fungal groups responded to low-P conditions in Arabidopsis and Petunia. Microbes with P-dependent abundance patterns included Mortierellomycotina in Arabidopsis, while in Petunia, they included AMF and their symbiotic endobacteria. Of note, the P-dependent root colonization by AMF was reliably quantified by sequencing. The fact that the root microbiotas of the two plant species responded differently to low-P conditions suggests that plant species specificity would need to be considered for the eventual development of microbial products that improve plant P nutrition.


April 21, 2020  |  

Whole Genome Analysis of Lactobacillus plantarum Strains Isolated From Kimchi and Determination of Probiotic Properties to Treat Mucosal Infections by Candida albicans and Gardnerella vaginalis.

Three Lactobacillus plantarum strains ATG-K2, ATG-K6, and ATG-K8 were isolated from Kimchi, a Korean traditional fermented food, and their probiotic potentials were examined. All three strains were free of antibiotic resistance, hemolysis, and biogenic amine production and therefore assumed to be safe, as supported by whole genome analyses. These strains demonstrated several basic probiotic functions including a wide range of antibacterial activity, bile salt hydrolase activity, hydrogen peroxide production, and heat resistance at 70°C for 60 s. Further studies of antimicrobial activities against Candida albicans and Gardnerella vaginalis revealed growth inhibitory effects from culture supernatants, coaggregation effects, and killing effects of the three probiotic strains, with better efficacy toward C. albicans. In vitro treatment of bacterial lysates of the probiotic strains to the RAW264.7 murine macrophage cell line resulted in innate immunity enhancement via IL-6 and TNF-a production without lipopolysaccharide (LPS) treatment and anti-inflammatory effects via significantly increased production of IL-10 when co-treated with LPS. However, the degree of probiotic effect was different for each strain as the highest TNF-a and the lowest IL-10 production by the RAW264.7 cell were observed in the K8 lysate treated group compared to the K2 and K6 lysate treated groups, which may be related to genomic differences such as chromosome size (K2: 3,034,884 bp, K6: 3,205,672 bp, K8: 3,221,272 bp), plasmid numbers (K2: 3, K6 and K8: 1), or total gene numbers (K2: 3,114, K6: 3,178, K8: 3,186). Although more correlative inspections to connect genomic information and biological functions are needed, genomic analyses of the three strains revealed distinct genomic compositions of each strain. Also, this finding suggests genome level analysis may be required to accurately identify microorganisms. Nevertheless, L. plantarum ATG-K2, ATG-K6, and ATG-K8 demonstrated their potential as probiotics for mucosal health improvement in both microbial and immunological contexts.


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