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  |  

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  |  

Somatic proteome of Haemonchus contortus.

Currently, there is a dearth of proteomic data to underpin fundamental investigations of parasites and parasitism at the molecular level. Here, using a high throughput LC-MS/MS-based approach, we undertook the first reported comprehensive, large-scale proteomic investigation of the barber’s pole worm (Haemonchus contortus) – one of the most important parasitic nematodes of livestock animals worldwide. In total, 2487 unique H. contortus proteins representing different developmental stages/sexes (i.e. eggs, L3s and L4s, female (Af) and male (Am) adults) were identified and quantified with high confidence. Bioinformatic analyses of this proteome revealed substantial alterations in protein profiles during the life cycle, particularly in the transition from the free-living to the parasitic phase, and key groups of proteins involved specifically in feeding, digestion, metabolism, development, parasite-host interactions (including immunomodulation), structural remodelling of the body wall and adaptive processes during parasitism. This proteomic data set will facilitate future molecular, biochemical and physiological investigations of H. contortus and related nematodes, and the discovery of novel intervention targets against haemonchosis. Copyright © 2019 Australian Society for Parasitology. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


April 21, 2020  |  

The complete mitochondrial genome of the New Zealand parasitic roundworm Haemonchus contortus (Trichostrongyloidea: Haemonchidae) field strain NZ_Hco_NP

The complete mitochondrial genome of the New Zealand parasitic nematode Haemonchus contortus field strain NZ_Hco_NP was sequenced and annotated. The 14,001bp-long mitogenome contains 12 protein-coding genes (atp8 gene missing), two ribosomal RNAs, 22 transfer RNAs, and a 583bp non- coding region. Phylogenetic analysis showed that H. contortus NZ_Hco_NP forms a monophyletic clus- ter with the remaining three Haemonchidae species, and further illustrates the high levels of diversity and gene flow among Trichostrongylidae.


April 21, 2020  |  

The Genome Sequence of the Anthelmintic-Susceptible New Zealand Haemonchus contortus.

Internal parasitic nematodes are a global animal health issue causing drastic losses in livestock. Here, we report a H. contortus representative draft genome to serve as a genetic resource to the scientific community and support future experimental research of molecular mechanisms in related parasites. A de novo hybrid assembly was generated from PCR-free whole genome sequence data, resulting in a chromosome-level assembly that is 465 Mb in size encoding 22,341 genes. The genome sequence presented here is consistent with the genome architecture of the existing Haemonchus species and is a valuable resource for future studies regarding population genetic structures of parasitic nematodes. Additionally, comparative pan-genomics with other species of economically important parasitic nematodes have revealed highly open genomes and strong collinearities within the phylum Nematoda. © The Author(s) 2019. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution.


April 21, 2020  |  

Horizontal transfer of a retrotransposon between parasitic nematodes and the common shrew.

As the genomes of more metazoan species are sequenced, reports of horizontal transposon transfers (HTT) have increased. Our understanding of the mechanisms of such events is at an early stage. The close physical relationship between a parasite and its host could facilitate horizontal transfer. To date, two studies have identified horizontal transfer of RTEs, a class of retrotransposable elements, involving parasites: ticks might act as vector for BovB between ruminants and squamates, and AviRTE was transferred between birds and parasitic nematodes.We searched for RTEs shared between nematode and mammalian genomes. Given their physical proximity, it was necessary to detect and remove sequence contamination from the genome datasets, which would otherwise distort the signal of horizontal transfer. We developed an approach that is based on reads instead of genomic sequences to reliably detect contamination. From comparison of 43 RTEs across 197 genomes, we identified a single putative case of horizontal transfer: we detected RTE1_Sar from Sorex araneus, the common shrew, in parasitic nematodes. From the taxonomic distribution and evolutionary analysis, we show that RTE1_Sar was horizontally transferred.We identified a new horizontal RTE transfer in host-parasite interactions, which suggests that it is not uncommon. Further, we present and provide the workflow a read-based method to distinguish between contamination and horizontal transfer.


April 21, 2020  |  

The golden death bacillus Chryseobacterium nematophagum is a novel matrix digesting pathogen of nematodes.

Nematodes represent important pathogens of humans and farmed animals and cause significant health and economic impacts. The control of nematodes is primarily carried out by applying a limited number of anthelmintic compounds, for which there is now widespread resistance being reported. There is a current unmet need to develop novel control measures including the identification and characterisation of natural pathogens of nematodes.Nematode killing bacilli were isolated from a rotten fruit in association with wild free-living nematodes. These bacteria belong to the Chryseobacterium genus (golden bacteria) and represent a new species named Chryseobacterium nematophagum. These bacilli are oxidase-positive, flexirubin-pigmented, gram-negative rods that exhibit gelatinase activity. Caenorhabditis elegans are attracted to and eat these bacteria. Within 3 h of ingestion, however, the bacilli have degraded the anterior pharyngeal chitinous lining and entered the body cavity, ultimately killing the host. Within 24?h, the internal contents of the worms are digested followed by the final digestion of the remaining cuticle over a 2-3-day period. These bacteria will also infect and kill bacterivorous free-living (L1-L3) stages of all tested parasitic nematodes including the important veterinary Trichostrongylids such as Haemonchus contortus and Ostertagia ostertagi. The bacteria exhibit potent collagen-digesting properties, and genome sequencing has identified novel metalloprotease, collagenase and chitinase enzymes representing potential virulence factors.Chryseobacterium nematophagum is a newly discovered pathogen of nematodes that rapidly kills environmental stages of a wide range of key nematode parasites. These bacilli exhibit a unique invasion process, entering the body via the anterior pharynx through the specific degradation of extracellular matrices. This bacterial pathogen represents a prospective biological control agent for important nematode parasites.


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