April 21, 2020  |  

The Chinese chestnut genome: a reference for species restoration

Forest tree species are increasingly subject to severe mortalities from exotic pests, diseases, and invasive organisms, accelerated by climate change. Forest health issues are threatening multiple species and ecosystem sustainability globally. While sources of resistance may be available in related species, or among surviving trees, introgression of resistance genes into threatened tree species in reasonable time frames requires genome-wide breeding tools. Asian species of chestnut (Castanea spp.) are being employed as donors of disease resistance genes to restore native chestnut species in North America and Europe. To aid in the restoration of threatened chestnut species, we present the assembly of a reference genome with chromosome-scale sequences for Chinese chestnut (C. mollissima), the disease-resistance donor for American chestnut restoration. We also demonstrate the value of the genome as a platform for research and species restoration, including new insights into the evolution of blight resistance in Asian chestnut species, the locations in the genome of ecologically important signatures of selection differentiating American chestnut from Chinese chestnut, the identification of candidate genes for disease resistance, and preliminary comparisons of genome organization with related species.

April 21, 2020  |  

Genomic variation and strain-specific functional adaptation in the human gut microbiome during early life.

The human gut microbiome matures towards the adult composition during the first years of life and is implicated in early immune development. Here, we investigate the effects of microbial genomic diversity on gut microbiome development using integrated early childhood data sets collected in the DIABIMMUNE study in Finland, Estonia and Russian Karelia. We show that gut microbial diversity is associated with household location and linear growth of children. Single nucleotide polymorphism- and metagenomic assembly-based strain tracking revealed large and highly dynamic microbial pangenomes, especially in the genus Bacteroides, in which we identified evidence of variability deriving from Bacteroides-targeting bacteriophages. Our analyses revealed functional consequences of strain diversity; only 10% of Finnish infants harboured Bifidobacterium longum subsp. infantis, a subspecies specialized in human milk metabolism, whereas Russian infants commonly maintained a probiotic Bifidobacterium bifidum strain in infancy. Groups of bacteria contributing to diverse, characterized metabolic pathways converged to highly subject-specific configurations over the first two years of life. This longitudinal study extends the current view of early gut microbial community assembly based on strain-level genomic variation.

April 21, 2020  |  

Penicillium purpurogenum Produces a Set of Endoxylanases: Identification, Heterologous Expression, and Characterization of a Fourth Xylanase, XynD, a Novel Enzyme Belonging to Glycoside Hydrolase Family 10.

The fungus Penicillium purpurogenum grows on a variety of natural carbon sources and secretes a large number of enzymes which degrade the polysaccharides present in lignocellulose. In this work, the gene coding for a novel endoxylanase has been identified in the genome of the fungus. This gene (xynd) possesses four introns. The cDNA has been expressed in Pichia pastoris and characterized. The enzyme, XynD, belongs to family 10 of the glycoside hydrolases. Mature XynD has a calculated molecular weight of 40,997. It consists of 387 amino acid residues with an N-terminal catalytic module, a linker rich in ser and thr residues, and a C-terminal family 1 carbohydrate-binding module. XynD shows the highest identity (97%) to a putative endoxylanase from Penicillium subrubescens but its highest identity to a biochemically characterized xylanase (XYND from Penicillium funiculosum) is only 68%. The enzyme has a temperature optimum of 60 °C, and it is highly stable in its pH optimum range of 6.5-8.5. XynD is the fourth biochemically characterized endoxylanase from P. purpurogenum, confirming the rich potential of this fungus for lignocellulose biodegradation. XynD, due to its wide pH optimum and stability, may be a useful enzyme in biotechnological procedures related to this biodegradation process.

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.

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