April 21, 2020  |  

Transcriptional initiation of a small RNA, not R-loop stability, dictates the frequency of pilin antigenic variation in Neisseria gonorrhoeae.

Neisseria gonorrhoeae, the sole causative agent of gonorrhea, constitutively undergoes diversification of the Type IV pilus. Gene conversion occurs between one of the several donor silent copies located in distinct loci and the recipient pilE gene, encoding the major pilin subunit of the pilus. A guanine quadruplex (G4) DNA structure and a cis-acting sRNA (G4-sRNA) are located upstream of the pilE gene and both are required for pilin antigenic variation (Av). We show that the reduced sRNA transcription lowers pilin Av frequencies. Extended transcriptional elongation is not required for Av, since limiting the transcript to 32 nt allows for normal Av frequencies. Using chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) assays, we show that cellular G4s are less abundant when sRNA transcription is lower. In addition, using ChIP, we demonstrate that the G4-sRNA forms a stable RNA:DNA hybrid (R-loop) with its template strand. However, modulating R-loop levels by controlling RNase HI expression does not alter G4 abundance quantified through ChIP. Since pilin Av frequencies were not altered when modulating R-loop levels by controlling RNase HI expression, we conclude that transcription of the sRNA is necessary, but stable R-loops are not required to promote pilin Av. © 2019 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


April 21, 2020  |  

Insect genomes: progress and challenges.

In the wake of constant improvements in sequencing technologies, numerous insect genomes have been sequenced. Currently, 1219 insect genome-sequencing projects have been registered with the National Center for Biotechnology Information, including 401 that have genome assemblies and 155 with an official gene set of annotated protein-coding genes. Comparative genomics analysis showed that the expansion or contraction of gene families was associated with well-studied physiological traits such as immune system, metabolic detoxification, parasitism and polyphagy in insects. Here, we summarize the progress of insect genome sequencing, with an emphasis on how this impacts research on pest control. We begin with a brief introduction to the basic concepts of genome assembly, annotation and metrics for evaluating the quality of draft assemblies. We then provide an overview of genome information for numerous insect species, highlighting examples from prominent model organisms, agricultural pests and disease vectors. We also introduce the major insect genome databases. The increasing availability of insect genomic resources is beneficial for developing alternative pest control methods. However, many opportunities remain for developing data-mining tools that make maximal use of the available insect genome resources. Although rapid progress has been achieved, many challenges remain in the field of insect genomics. © 2019 The Royal Entomological Society.


April 21, 2020  |  

Genome sequence analysis of 91 Salmonella Enteritidis isolates from mice caught on poultry farms in the mid 1990s.

A total of 91 draft genome sequences were used to analyze isolates of Salmonella enterica serovar Enteritidis obtained from feral mice caught on poultry farms in Pennsylvania. One objective was to find mutations disrupting open reading frames (ORFs) and another was to determine if ORF-disruptive mutations were present in isolates obtained from other sources. A total of 83 mice were obtained between 1995-1998. Isolates separated into two genomic clades and 12 subgroups due to 742 mutations. Nineteen ORF-disruptive mutations were found, and in addition, bigA had exceptional heterogeneity requiring additional evaluation. The TRAMS algorithm detected only 6 ORF disruptions. The sefD mutation was the most frequently encountered mutation and it was prevalent in human, poultry, environmental and mouse isolates. These results confirm previous assessments of the mouse as a rich source of Salmonella enterica serovar Enteritidis that varies in genotype and phenotype. Copyright © 2019. Published by Elsevier Inc.


April 21, 2020  |  

A high-quality genome assembly from a single, field-collected spotted lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula) using the PacBio Sequel II system

Background A high-quality reference genome is an essential tool for applied and basic research on arthropods. Long-read sequencing technologies may be used to generate more complete and contiguous genome assemblies than alternate technologies; however, long-read methods have historically had greater input DNA requirements and higher costs than next-generation sequencing, which are barriers to their use on many samples. Here, we present a 2.3 Gb de novo genome assembly of a field-collected adult female spotted lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula) using a single Pacific Biosciences SMRT Cell. The spotted lanternfly is an invasive species recently discovered in the northeastern United States that threatens to damage economically important crop plants in the region. Results The DNA from 1 individual was used to make 1 standard, size-selected library with an average DNA fragment size of ~20 kb. The library was run on 1 Sequel II SMRT Cell 8M, generating a total of 132 Gb of long-read sequences, of which 82 Gb were from unique library molecules, representing ~36× coverage of the genome. The assembly had high contiguity (contig N50 length = 1.5 Mb), completeness, and sequence level accuracy as estimated by conserved gene set analysis (96.8% of conserved genes both complete and without frame shift errors). Furthermore, it was possible to segregate more than half of the diploid genome into the 2 separate haplotypes. The assembly also recovered 2 microbial symbiont genomes known to be associated with L. delicatula, each microbial genome being assembled into a single contig. Conclusions We demonstrate that field-collected arthropods can be used for the rapid generation of high-quality genome assemblies, an attractive approach for projects on emerging invasive species, disease vectors, or conservation efforts of endangered species.


April 21, 2020  |  

Advantage of the F2:A1:B- IncF Pandemic Plasmid over IncC Plasmids in In Vitro Acquisition and Evolution of blaCTX-M Gene-Bearing Plasmids in Escherichia coli.

Despite a fitness cost imposed on bacterial hosts, large conjugative plasmids play a key role in the diffusion of resistance determinants, such as CTX-M extended-spectrum ß-lactamases. Among the large conjugative plasmids, IncF plasmids are the most predominant group, and an F2:A1:B- IncF-type plasmid encoding a CTX-M-15 variant was recently described as being strongly associated with the emerging worldwide Escherichia coli sequence type 131 (ST131)-O25b:H4 H30Rx/C2 sublineage. In this context, we investigated the fitness cost of narrow-range F-type plasmids, including the F2:A1:B- IncF-type CTX-M-15 plasmid, and of broad-range C-type plasmids in the K-12-like J53-2 E. coli strain. Although all plasmids imposed a significant fitness cost to the bacterial host immediately after conjugation, we show, using an experimental-evolution approach, that a negative impact on the fitness of the host strain was maintained throughout 1,120 generations with the IncC-IncR plasmid, regardless of the presence or absence of cefotaxime, in contrast to the F2:A1:B- IncF plasmid, whose cost was alleviated. Many chromosomal and plasmid rearrangements were detected after conjugation in transconjugants carrying the IncC plasmids but not in transconjugants carrying the F2:A1:B- IncF plasmid, except for insertion sequence (IS) mobilization from the fliM gene leading to the restoration of motility of the recipient strains. Only a few mutations occurred on the chromosome of each transconjugant throughout the experimental-evolution assay. Our findings indicate that the F2:A1:B- IncF CTX-M-15 plasmid is well adapted to the E. coli strain studied, contrary to the IncC-IncR CTX-M-15 plasmid, and that such plasmid-host adaptation could participate in the evolutionary success of the CTX-M-15-producing pandemic E. coli ST131-O25b:H4 lineage.Copyright © 2019 Mahérault et al.


April 21, 2020  |  

Infection mechanisms and putative effector repertoire of the mosquito pathogenic oomycete Pythium guiyangense uncovered by genomic analysis.

Pythium guiyangense, an oomycete from a genus of mostly plant pathogens, is an effective biological control agent that has wide potential to manage diverse mosquitoes. However, its mosquito-killing mechanisms are almost unknown. In this study, we observed that P. guiyangense could utilize cuticle penetration and ingestion of mycelia into the digestive system to infect mosquito larvae. To explore pathogenic mechanisms, a high-quality genome sequence with 239 contigs and an N50 contig length of 1,009 kb was generated. The genome assembly is approximately 110 Mb, which is almost twice the size of other sequenced Pythium genomes. Further genome analysis suggests that P. guiyangense may arise from a hybridization of two related but distinct parental species. Phylogenetic analysis demonstrated that P. guiyangense likely evolved from common ancestors shared with plant pathogens. Comparative genome analysis coupled with transcriptome sequencing data suggested that P. guiyangense may employ multiple virulence mechanisms to infect mosquitoes, including secreted proteases and kazal-type protease inhibitors. It also shares intracellular Crinkler (CRN) effectors used by plant pathogenic oomycetes to facilitate the colonization of plant hosts. Our experimental evidence demonstrates that CRN effectors of P. guiyangense can be toxic to insect cells. The infection mechanisms and putative virulence effectors of P. guiyangense uncovered by this study provide the basis to develop improved mosquito control strategies. These data also provide useful knowledge on host adaptation and evolution of the entomopathogenic lifestyle within the oomycete lineage. A deeper understanding of the biology of P. guiyangense effectors might also be useful for management of other important agricultural pests.


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 High-Quality Grapevine Downy Mildew Genome Assembly Reveals Rapidly Evolving and Lineage-Specific Putative Host Adaptation Genes.

Downy mildews are obligate biotrophic oomycete pathogens that cause devastating plant diseases on economically important crops. Plasmopara viticola is the causal agent of grapevine downy mildew, a major disease in vineyards worldwide. We sequenced the genome of Pl. viticola with PacBio long reads and obtained a new 92.94?Mb assembly with high contiguity (359 scaffolds for a N50 of 706.5?kb) due to a better resolution of repeat regions. This assembly presented a high level of gene completeness, recovering 1,592 genes encoding secreted proteins involved in plant-pathogen interactions. Plasmopara viticola had a two-speed genome architecture, with secreted protein-encoding genes preferentially located in gene-sparse, repeat-rich regions and evolving rapidly, as indicated by pairwise dN/dS values. We also used short reads to assemble the genome of Plasmopara muralis, a closely related species infecting grape ivy (Parthenocissus tricuspidata). The lineage-specific proteins identified by comparative genomics analysis included a large proportion of RxLR cytoplasmic effectors and, more generally, genes with high dN/dS values. We identified 270 candidate genes under positive selection, including several genes encoding transporters and components of the RNA machinery potentially involved in host specialization. Finally, the Pl. viticola genome assembly generated here will allow the development of robust population genomics approaches for investigating the mechanisms involved in adaptation to biotic and abiotic selective pressures in this species. © The Author(s) 2019. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution.


April 21, 2020  |  

A chromosome-scale genome assembly reveals a highly dynamic effector repertoire of wheat powdery mildew.

Blumeria graminis f. sp. tritici (B.g. tritici) is the causal agent of the wheat powdery mildew disease. The highly fragmented B.g. tritici genome available so far has prevented a systematic analysis of effector genes that are known to be involved in host adaptation. To study the diversity and evolution of effector genes we produced a chromosome-scale assembly of the B.g. tritici genome. The genome assembly and annotation was achieved by combining long-read sequencing with high-density genetic mapping, bacterial artificial chromosome fingerprinting and transcriptomics. We found that the 166.6 Mb B.g. tritici genome encodes 844 candidate effector genes, over 40% more than previously reported. Candidate effector genes have characteristic local genomic organization such as gene clustering and enrichment for recombination-active regions and certain transposable element families. A large group of 412 candidate effector genes shows high plasticity in terms of copy number variation in a global set of 36 isolates and of transcription levels. Our data suggest that copy number variation and transcriptional flexibility are the main drivers for adaptation in B.g. tritici. The high repeat content may play a role in providing a genomic environment that allows rapid evolution of effector genes with selection as the driving force. © 2018 The Authors. New Phytologist © 2018 New Phytologist Trust.


April 21, 2020  |  

Structural and functional characterization of an intradiol ring-cleavage dioxygenase from the polyphagous spider mite herbivore Tetranychus urticae Koch.

Genome analyses of the polyphagous spider mite herbivore Tetranychus urticae (two-spotted spider mite) revealed the presence of a set of 17 genes that code for secreted proteins belonging to the “intradiol dioxygenase-like” subgroup. Phylogenetic analyses indicate that this novel enzyme family has been acquired by horizontal gene transfer. In order to better understand the role of these proteins in T. urticae, we have structurally and functionally characterized one paralog (tetur07g02040). It was demonstrated that this protein is indeed an intradiol ring-cleavage dioxygenase, as the enzyme is able to cleave catechol between two hydroxyl-groups using atmospheric dioxygen. The enzyme was characterized functionally and structurally. The active site of the T. urticae enzyme contains an Fe3+ cofactor that is coordinated by two histidine and two tyrosine residues, an arrangement that is similar to those observed in bacterial homologs. However, the active site is significantly more solvent exposed than in bacterial proteins. Moreover, the mite enzyme is monomeric, while almost all structurally characterized bacterial homologs form oligomeric assemblies. Tetur07g02040 is not only the first spider mite dioxygenase that has been characterized at the molecular level, but is also the first structurally characterized intradiol ring-cleavage dioxygenase originating from a eukaryote.Copyright © 2018 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


April 21, 2020  |  

An African Salmonella Typhimurium ST313 sublineage with extensive drug-resistance and signatures of host adaptation.

Bloodstream infections by Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium constitute a major health burden in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). These invasive non-typhoidal (iNTS) infections are dominated by isolates of the antibiotic resistance-associated sequence type (ST) 313. Here, we report emergence of ST313 sublineage II.1 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Sublineage II.1 exhibits extensive drug resistance, involving a combination of multidrug resistance, extended spectrum ß-lactamase production and azithromycin resistance. ST313 lineage II.1 isolates harbour an IncHI2 plasmid we name pSTm-ST313-II.1, with one isolate also exhibiting decreased ciprofloxacin susceptibility. Whole genome sequencing reveals that ST313 II.1 isolates have accumulated genetic signatures potentially associated with altered pathogenicity and host adaptation, related to changes observed in biofilm formation and metabolic capacity. Sublineage II.1 emerged at the beginning of the 21st century and is involved in on-going outbreaks. Our data provide evidence of further evolution within the ST313 clade associated with iNTS in SSA.


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.


April 21, 2020  |  

A Pathovar of Xanthomonas oryzae Infecting Wild Grasses Provides Insight Into the Evolution of Pathogenicity in Rice Agroecosystems

Xanthomonas oryzae (Xo) are critical rice pathogens. Virulent lineages from Africa and Asia and less virulent strains from the US have been well characterized. X. campestris pv. leersiae (Xcl), first described in 1957, causes bacterial streak on the perennial grass, Leersia hexandra, and is a close relative of Xo. L. hexandra, a member of the Poaceae, is highly similar to rice phylogenetically, is globally ubiquitous around rice paddies, and is a reservoir of pathogenic Xo. We used long read, single molecule, real time (SMRT) genome sequences of five strains of Xcl from Burkina Faso, China, Mali and Uganda to determine the genetic relatedness of this organism with Xo. Novel Transcription Activator-Like Effectors (TALEs) were discovered in all five strains of Xcl. Predicted TALE target sequences were identified in the L. perrieri genome and compared to rice susceptibility gene homologs. Pathogenicity screening on L. hexandra and diverse rice cultivars confirmed that Xcl are able to colonize rice and produce weak but not progressive symptoms. Overall, based on average nucleotide identity, type III effector repertoires and disease phenotype, we propose to rename Xcl to X. oryzae pv. leersiae (Xol) and use this parallel system to improve understanding of the evolution of bacterial pathogenicity in rice agroecosystems.


April 21, 2020  |  

Divergent evolutionary trajectories following speciation in two ectoparasitic honey bee mites.

Multispecies host-parasite evolution is common, but how parasites evolve after speciating remains poorly understood. Shared evolutionary history and physiology may propel species along similar evolutionary trajectories whereas pursuing different strategies can reduce competition. We test these scenarios in the economically important association between honey bees and ectoparasitic mites by sequencing the genomes of the sister mite species Varroa destructor and Varroa jacobsoni. These genomes were closely related, with 99.7% sequence identity. Among the 9,628 orthologous genes, 4.8% showed signs of positive selection in at least one species. Divergent selective trajectories were discovered in conserved chemosensory gene families (IGR, SNMP), and Halloween genes (CYP) involved in moulting and reproduction. However, there was little overlap in these gene sets and associated GO terms, indicating different selective regimes operating on each of the parasites. Based on our findings, we suggest that species-specific strategies may be needed to combat evolving parasite communities. © The Author(s) 2019.


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