April 21, 2020  |  

Klebsiella quasipneumoniae Provides a Window into Carbapenemase Gene Transfer, Plasmid Rearrangements, and Patient Interactions with the Hospital Environment.

Several emerging pathogens have arisen as a result of selection pressures exerted by modern health care. Klebsiella quasipneumoniae was recently defined as a new species, yet its prevalence, niche, and propensity to acquire antimicrobial resistance genes are not fully described. We have been tracking inter- and intraspecies transmission of the Klebsiella pneumoniae carbapenemase (KPC) gene, blaKPC, between bacteria isolated from a single institution. We applied a combination of Illumina and PacBio whole-genome sequencing to identify and compare K. quasipneumoniae from patients and the hospital environment over 10- and 5-year periods, respectively. There were 32 blaKPC-positive K. quasipneumoniae isolates, all of which were identified as K. pneumoniae in the clinical microbiology laboratory, from 8 patients and 11 sink drains, with evidence for seven separate blaKPC plasmid acquisitions. Analysis of a single subclade of K. quasipneumoniae subsp. quasipneumoniae (n?=?23 isolates) from three patients and six rooms demonstrated seeding of a sink by a patient, subsequent persistence of the strain in the hospital environment, and then possible transmission to another patient. Longitudinal analysis of this strain demonstrated the acquisition of two unique blaKPC plasmids and then subsequent within-strain genetic rearrangement through transposition and homologous recombination. Our analysis highlights the apparent molecular propensity of K. quasipneumoniae to persist in the environment as well as acquire carbapenemase plasmids from other species and enabled an assessment of the genetic rearrangements which may facilitate horizontal transmission of carbapenemases. Copyright © 2019 Mathers et al.


April 21, 2020  |  

Harnessing long-read amplicon sequencing to uncover NRPS and Type I PKS gene sequence diversity in polar desert soils.

The severity of environmental conditions at Earth’s frigid zones present attractive opportunities for microbial biomining due to their heightened potential as reservoirs for novel secondary metabolites. Arid soil microbiomes within the Antarctic and Arctic circles are remarkably rich in Actinobacteria and Proteobacteria, bacterial phyla known to be prolific producers of natural products. Yet the diversity of secondary metabolite genes within these cold, extreme environments remain largely unknown. Here, we employed amplicon sequencing using PacBio RS II, a third generation long-read platform, to survey over 200 soils spanning twelve east Antarctic and high Arctic sites for natural product-encoding genes, specifically targeting non-ribosomal peptides (NRPS) and Type I polyketides (PKS). NRPS-encoding genes were more widespread across the Antarctic, whereas PKS genes were only recoverable from a handful of sites. Many recovered sequences were deemed novel due to their low amino acid sequence similarity to known protein sequences, particularly throughout the east Antarctic sites. Phylogenetic analysis revealed that a high proportion were most similar to antifungal and biosurfactant-type clusters. Multivariate analysis showed that soil fertility factors of carbon, nitrogen and moisture displayed significant negative relationships with natural product gene richness. Our combined results suggest that secondary metabolite production is likely to play an important physiological component of survival for microorganisms inhabiting arid, nutrient-starved soils. © FEMS 2019.


April 21, 2020  |  

Dynamics of Resistance Plasmids in Extended-Spectrum-ß-Lactamase-Producing Enterobacteriaceae during Postinfection Colonization.

Extended-spectrum ß-lactamase-producing Enterobacteriaceae (EPE) are a major cause of bloodstream infections, and the colonization rate of EPE in the gut microbiota of individuals lacking prior hospitalization or comorbidities is increasing. In this study, we performed an in-depth investigation of the temporal dynamics of EPE and their plasmids during one year by collecting fecal samples from three patients initially seeking medical care for urinary tract infections. In two of the patients, the same strain that caused the urinary tract infection (UTI) was found at all consecutive samplings from the gut microbiota, and no other EPEs were detected, while in the third patient the UTI strain was only found in the initial UTI sample. Instead, this patient presented a complex situation where a mixed microbiota of different EPE strain types, including three different E. coli ST131 variants, as well as different bacterial species, was identified over the course of the study. Different plasmid dynamics were displayed in each of the patients, including the spread of plasmids between different strain types over time and the transposition of blaCTX-M-15 from the chromosome to a plasmid, followed by subsequent loss through homologous recombination. Small cryptic plasmids were found in all isolates from all patients, and they appear to move frequently between different strains in the microbiota. In conclusion, we could demonstrate an extensive variation of EPE strain types, plasmid composition, rearrangements, and horizontal gene transfer of genetic material illustrating the high dynamics nature and interactive environment of the gut microbiota during post-UTI carriage.Copyright © 2019 American Society for Microbiology.


April 21, 2020  |  

Diverse Commensal Escherichia coli Clones and Plasmids Disseminate Antimicrobial Resistance Genes in Domestic Animals and Children in a Semirural Community in Ecuador.

The increased prevalence of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) among Enterobacteriaceae has had major clinical and economic impacts on human medicine. Many of the multidrug-resistant (multiresistant) Enterobacteriaceae found in humans are community acquired, and some of them are possibly linked to food animals (i.e., livestock raised for meat and dairy products). In this study, we examined whether numerically dominant commensal Escherichia coli strains from humans (n?=?63 isolates) and domestic animals (n?=?174 isolates) in the same community and with matching phenotypic AMR patterns were clonally related or shared the same plasmids. We identified 25 multiresistant isolates (i.e., isolates resistant to more than one antimicrobial) that shared identical phenotypic resistance patterns. We then investigated the diversity of E. coli clones, AMR genes, and plasmids carrying the AMR genes using conjugation, replicon typing, and whole-genome sequencing. All of the multiresistant E. coli isolates (from children and domestic animals) analyzed had at least 90 or more whole-genome SNP differences between one another, suggesting that none of the strains was recently transferred. While the majority of isolates shared the same antimicrobial resistance genes and replicons, DNA sequencing indicated that these genes and replicons were found on different plasmid structures. We did not find evidence of the clonal spread of AMR in this community: instead, AMR genes were carried on diverse clones and plasmids. This presents a significant challenge for understanding the movement of AMR in a community.IMPORTANCE Even though Escherichia coli strains may share nearly identical phenotypic AMR profiles and AMR genes and overlap in space and time, the diversity of clones and plasmids challenges research that aims to identify sources of AMR. Horizontal gene transfer appears to play a more significant role than clonal expansion in the spread of AMR in this community.Copyright © 2019 Salinas et al.


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  |  

Complete genome sequence and comparative analysis of Synechococcus sp. CS-601 (SynAce01), a cold-adapted cyanobacterium from an olligotrophic Antarctic habitat.

Marine picocyanobacteria belonging to Synechococcus are major contributors to the global carbon cycle, however the genomic information of its cold-adapted members has been lacking to date. To fill this void the genome of a cold-adapted planktonic cyanobacterium Synechococcus sp. CS-601 (SynAce01) has been sequenced. The genome of the strain contains a single chromosome of approximately 2.75 MBp and GC content of 63.92%. Gene prediction yielded 2984 protein coding sequences and 44 tRNA genes. The genome contained evidence of horizontal gene transfer events during its evolution. CS-601 appears as a transport generalist with some specific adaptation to an oligotrophic marine environment. It has a broad repertoire of transporters of both inorganic and organic nutrients to survive in inhospitable environments. The cold adaptation of the strain exhibited characteristics of a psychrotroph rather than psychrophile. Its salt adaptation strategy is likely to rely on the uptake and synthesis of osmolytes, like glycerol or glycine betaine. Overall, the genome reveals two distinct patterns of adaptation to the inhospitable environment of Antarctica. Adaptation to an oligotrophic marine environment is likely due to an abundance of genes, probably acquired horizontally, that are associated with increased transport of nutrients, osmolytes, and light harvesting. On the other hand, adaptations to low temperatures are likely due to prolonged evolutionary changes.


April 21, 2020  |  

Distinct evolutionary dynamics of horizontal gene transfer in drug resistant and virulent clones of Klebsiella pneumoniae.

Klebsiella pneumoniae has emerged as an important cause of two distinct public health threats: multi-drug resistant (MDR) healthcare-associated infections and drug susceptible community-acquired invasive infections. These pathotypes are generally associated with two distinct subsets of K. pneumoniae lineages or ‘clones’ that are distinguished by the presence of acquired resistance genes and several key virulence loci. Genomic evolutionary analyses of the most notorious MDR and invasive community-associated (‘hypervirulent’) clones indicate differences in terms of chromosomal recombination dynamics and capsule polysaccharide diversity, but it remains unclear if these differences represent generalised trends. Here we leverage a collection of >2200 K. pneumoniae genomes to identify 28 common clones (n = 10 genomes each), and perform the first genomic evolutionary comparison. Eight MDR and 6 hypervirulent clones were identified on the basis of acquired resistance and virulence gene prevalence. Chromosomal recombination, surface polysaccharide locus diversity, pan-genome, plasmid and phage dynamics were characterised and compared. The data showed that MDR clones were highly diverse, with frequent chromosomal recombination generating extensive surface polysaccharide locus diversity. Additional pan-genome diversity was driven by frequent acquisition/loss of both plasmids and phage. In contrast, chromosomal recombination was rare in the hypervirulent clones, which also showed a significant reduction in pan-genome diversity, largely driven by a reduction in plasmid diversity. Hence the data indicate that hypervirulent clones may be subject to some sort of constraint for horizontal gene transfer that does not apply to the MDR clones. Our findings are relevant for understanding the risk of emergence of individual K. pneumoniae strains carrying both virulence and acquired resistance genes, which have been increasingly reported and cause highly virulent infections that are extremely difficult to treat. Specifically, our data indicate that MDR clones pose the greatest risk, because they are more likely to acquire virulence genes than hypervirulent clones are to acquire resistance genes.


April 21, 2020  |  

Potentially mobile denitrification genes identified in Azospirillum sp. strain TSH58.

Denitrification ability is sporadically distributed among diverse bacteria, archaea, and fungi. In addition, disagreement has been found between denitrification gene phylogenies and the 16S rRNA gene phylogeny. These facts have suggested potential occurrences of horizontal gene transfer (HGT) for the denitrification genes. However, evidence of HGT has not been clearly presented thus far. In this study, we identified the sequences and the localization of the nitrite reductase genes in the genomes of 41 denitrifying Azospirillum sp. strains and searched for mobile genetic elements that contain denitrification genes. All Azospirillum sp. strains examined in this study possessed multiple replicons (4 to 11 replicons), with their sizes ranging from 7 to 1,031 kbp. Among those, the nitrite reductase gene nirK was located on large replicons (549 to 941 kbp). Genome sequencing showed that Azospirillum strains that had similar nirK sequences also shared similar nir-nor gene arrangements, especially between the TSH58, Sp7T, and Sp245 strains. In addition to the high similarity between nir-nor gene clusters among the three Azospirillum strains, a composite transposon structure was identified in the genome of strain TSH58, which contains the nir-nor gene cluster and the novel IS6 family insertion sequences (ISAz581 and ISAz582). The nirK gene within the composite transposon system was actively transcribed under denitrification-inducing conditions. Although not experimentally verified in this study, the composite transposon system containing the nir-nor gene cluster could be transferred to other cells if it is moved to a prophage region and the phage becomes activated and released outside the cells. Taken together, strain TSH58 most likely acquired its denitrification ability by HGT from closely related Azospirillum sp. denitrifiers.IMPORTANCE The evolutionary history of denitrification is complex. While the occurrence of horizontal gene transfer has been suggested for denitrification genes, most studies report circumstantial evidences, such as disagreement between denitrification gene phylogenies and the 16S rRNA gene phylogeny. Based on the comparative genome analyses of Azospirillum sp. denitrifiers, we identified denitrification genes, including nirK and norCBQD, located on a mobile genetic element in the genome of Azospirillum sp. strain TSH58. The nirK was actively transcribed under denitrification-inducing conditions. Since this gene was the sole nitrite reductase gene in strain TSH58, this strain most likely benefitted by acquiring denitrification genes via horizontal gene transfer. This finding will significantly advance our scientific knowledge regarding the ecology and evolution of denitrification. Copyright © 2019 American Society for Microbiology.


April 21, 2020  |  

Genomic characterization of Kerstersia gyiorum SWMUKG01, an isolate from a patient with respiratory infection in China.

The Gram-negative bacterium Kerstersia gyiorum, a potential etiological agent of clinical infections, was isolated from several human patients presenting clinical symptoms. Its significance as a possible pathogen has been previously overlooked as no disease has thus far been definitively associated with this bacterium. To better understand how the organism contributes to the infectious disease, we determined the complete genomic sequence of K. gyiorum SWMUKG01, the first clinical isolate from southwest China.The genomic data obtained displayed a single circular chromosome of 3, 945, 801 base pairs in length, which contains 3, 441 protein-coding genes, 55 tRNA genes and 9 rRNA genes. Analysis on the full spectrum of protein coding genes for cellular structures, two-component regulatory systems and iron uptake pathways that may be important for the success of the bacterial survival, colonization and establishment in the host conferred new insights into the virulence characteristics of K. gyiorum. Phylogenomic comparisons with Alcaligenaceae species indicated that K. gyiorum SWMUKG01 had a close evolutionary relationships with Alcaligenes aquatilis and Alcaligenes faecalis.The comprehensive analysis presented in this work determinates for the first time a complete genome sequence of K. gyiorum, which is expected to provide useful information for subsequent studies on pathogenesis of this species.


April 21, 2020  |  

Comparative genomic analysis of eight novel haloalkaliphilic bacteriophages from Lake Elmenteita, Kenya.

We report complete genome sequences of eight bacteriophages isolated from Haloalkaline Lake Elmenteita found on the floor of Kenyan Rift Valley. The bacteriophages were sequenced, annotated and a comparative genomic analysis using various Bioinformatics tools carried out to determine relatedness of the bacteriophages to each other, and to those in public databases. Basic genome properties like genome size, percentage coding density, number of open reading frames, percentage GC content and gene organizations revealed the bacteriophages had no relationship to each other. Comparison to other nucleotide sequences in GenBank database showed no significant similarities hence novel. At the amino acid level, phages of our study revealed mosaicism to genes with conserved domains to already described phages. Phylogenetic analyses of large terminase gene responsible for DNA packaging and DNA polymerase gene for replication further showed diversity among the bacteriophages. Our results give insight into diversity of bacteriophages in Lake Elmenteita and provide information on their evolution. By providing primary sequence information, this study not only provides novel sequences for biotechnological exploitation, but also sets stage for future studies aimed at better understanding of virus diversity and genomes from haloalkaline lakes in the Rift Valley.


April 21, 2020  |  

Information about variations in multiple copies of bacterial 16S rRNA genes may aid in species identification.

Variable region analysis of 16S rRNA gene sequences is the most common tool in bacterial taxonomic studies. Although used for distinguishing bacterial species, its use remains limited due to the presence of variable copy numbers with sequence variation in the genomes. In this study, 16S rRNA gene sequences, obtained from completely assembled whole genome and Sanger electrophoresis sequencing of cloned PCR products from Serratia fonticola GS2, were compared. Sanger sequencing produced a combination of sequences from multiple copies of 16S rRNA genes. To determine whether the variant copies of 16S rRNA genes affected Sanger sequencing, two ratios (5:5 and 8:2) with different concentrations of cloned 16S rRNA genes were used; it was observed that the greater the number of copies with similar sequences the higher its chance of amplification. Effect of multiple copies for taxonomic classification of 16S rRNA gene sequences was investigated using the strain GS2 as a model. 16S rRNA copies with the maximum variation had 99.42% minimum pairwise similarity and this did not have an effect on species identification. Thus, PCR products from genomes containing variable 16S rRNA gene copies can provide sufficient information for species identification except from species which have high similarity of sequences in their 16S rRNA gene copies like the case of Bacillus thuringiensis and Bacillus cereus. In silico analysis of 1,616 bacterial genomes from long-read sequencing was also done. The average minimum pairwise similarity for each phylum was reported with their average genome size and average “unique copies” of 16S rRNA genes and we found that the phyla Proteobacteria and Firmicutes showed the highest amount of variation in their copies of their 16S rRNA genes. Overall, our results shed light on how the variations in the multiple copies of the 16S rRNA genes of bacteria can aid in appropriate species identification.


April 21, 2020  |  

Human contamination in bacterial genomes has created thousands of spurious proteins.

Contaminant sequences that appear in published genomes can cause numerous problems for downstream analyses, particularly for evolutionary studies and metagenomics projects. Our large-scale scan of complete and draft bacterial and archaeal genomes in the NCBI RefSeq database reveals that 2250 genomes are contaminated by human sequence. The contaminant sequences derive primarily from high-copy human repeat regions, which themselves are not adequately represented in the current human reference genome, GRCh38. The absence of the sequences from the human assembly offers a likely explanation for their presence in bacterial assemblies. In some cases, the contaminating contigs have been erroneously annotated as containing protein-coding sequences, which over time have propagated to create spurious protein “families” across multiple prokaryotic and eukaryotic genomes. As a result, 3437 spurious protein entries are currently present in the widely used nr and TrEMBL protein databases. We report here an extensive list of contaminant sequences in bacterial genome assemblies and the proteins associated with them. We found that nearly all contaminants occurred in small contigs in draft genomes, which suggests that filtering out small contigs from draft genome assemblies may mitigate the issue of contamination while still keeping nearly all of the genuine genomic sequences. © 2019 Breitwieser et al.; Published by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press.


April 21, 2020  |  

Genomic and transcriptomic insights into the survival of the subaerial cyanobacterium Nostoc flagelliforme in arid and exposed habitats.

The cyanobacterium Nostoc flagelliforme is an extremophile that thrives under extraordinary desiccation and ultraviolet (UV) radiation conditions. To investigate its survival strategies, we performed whole-genome sequencing of N. flagelliforme CCNUN1 and transcriptional profiling of its field populations upon rehydration in BG11 medium. The genome of N. flagelliforme is 10.23 Mb in size and contains 10 825 predicted protein-encoding genes, making it one of the largest complete genomes of cyanobacteria reported to date. Comparative genomics analysis among 20 cyanobacterial strains revealed that genes related to DNA replication, recombination and repair had disproportionately high contributions to the genome expansion. The ability of N. flagelliforme to thrive under extreme abiotic stresses is supported by the acquisition of genes involved in the protection of photosynthetic apparatus, the formation of monounsaturated fatty acids, responses to UV radiation, and a peculiar role of ornithine metabolism. Transcriptome analysis revealed a distinct acclimation strategy to rehydration, including the strong constitutive expression of genes encoding photosystem I assembly factors and the involvement of post-transcriptional control mechanisms of photosynthetic resuscitation. Our results provide insights into the adaptive mechanisms of subaerial cyanobacteria in their harsh habitats and have important implications to understand the evolutionary transition of cyanobacteria from aquatic environments to terrestrial ecosystems. © 2019 Society for Applied Microbiology and John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


April 21, 2020  |  

Genetic variation in the conjugative plasmidome of a hospital effluent multidrug resistant Escherichia coli strain.

Bacteria harboring conjugative plasmids have the potential for spreading antibiotic resistance through horizontal gene transfer. It is described that the selection and dissemination of antibiotic resistance is enhanced by stressors, like metals or antibiotics, which can occur as environmental contaminants. This study aimed at unveiling the composition of the conjugative plasmidome of a hospital effluent multidrug resistant Escherichia coli strain (H1FC54) under different mating conditions. To meet this objective, plasmid pulsed field gel electrophoresis, optical mapping analyses and DNA sequencing were used in combination with phenotype analysis. Strain H1FC54 was observed to harbor five plasmids, three of which were conjugative and two of these, pH1FC54_330 and pH1FC54_140, contained metal and antibiotic resistance genes. Transconjugants obtained in the absence or presence of tellurite (0.5?µM or 5?µM), arsenite (0.5?µM, 5?µM or 15?µM) or ceftazidime (10?mg/L) and selected in the presence of sodium azide (100?mg/L) and tetracycline (16?mg/L) presented distinct phenotypes, associated with the acquisition of different plasmid combinations, including two co-integrate plasmids, of 310 kbp and 517 kbp. The variable composition of the conjugative plasmidome, the formation of co-integrates during conjugation, as well as the transfer of non-transferable plasmids via co-integration, and the possible association between antibiotic, arsenite and tellurite tolerance was demonstrated. These evidences bring interesting insights into the comprehension of the molecular and physiological mechanisms that underlie antibiotic resistance propagation in the environment. Copyright © 2019 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


April 21, 2020  |  

The Genome of Armadillidium vulgare (Crustacea, Isopoda) Provides Insights into Sex Chromosome Evolution in the Context of Cytoplasmic Sex Determination.

The terrestrial isopod Armadillidium vulgare is an original model to study the evolution of sex determination and symbiosis in animals. Its sex can be determined by ZW sex chromosomes, or by feminizing Wolbachia bacterial endosymbionts. Here, we report the sequence and analysis of the ZW female genome of A. vulgare. A distinguishing feature of the 1.72 gigabase assembly is the abundance of repeats (68% of the genome). We show that the Z and W sex chromosomes are essentially undifferentiated at the molecular level and the W-specific region is extremely small (at most several hundreds of kilobases). Our results suggest that recombination suppression has not spread very far from the sex-determining locus, if at all. This is consistent with A. vulgare possessing evolutionarily young sex chromosomes. We characterized multiple Wolbachia nuclear inserts in the A. vulgare genome, none of which is associated with the W-specific region. We also identified several candidate genes that may be involved in the sex determination or sexual differentiation pathways. The A. vulgare genome serves as a resource for studying the biology and evolution of crustaceans, one of the most speciose and emblematic metazoan groups. © The Author(s) 2019. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution.


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