June 1, 2021  |  

Profiling metagenomic communities using circular consensus and Single Molecule, Real-Time Sequencing

There are many sequencing-based approaches to understanding complex metagenomic communities, spanning targeted amplification to whole-sample shotgun sequencing. While targeted approaches provide valuable data at low sequencing depth, they are limited by primer design and PCR amplification. Whole-sample shotgun experiments require a high depth of coverage. As such, rare community members may not be represented in the resulting assembly. Circular-consensus, Single Molecule, Real-Time (SMRT) Sequencing reads in the 1-2 kb range, with >99% consensus accuracy, can be efficiently generated for low amounts of input DNA, e.g. as little as 10 ng of input DNA sequenced in 4 SMRT Cells can generate >100,000 such reads. While throughput is low compared to second-generation sequencing, the reads are a true random sampling of the underlying community. Long read lengths translate to a high number of the reads harboring full genes or even full operons for downstream analysis. Here we present the results of circular-consensus sequencing on a mock metagenomic community with an abundance range of multiple orders of magnitude, and compare the results with both 16S and shotgun assembly methods. We show that even with relatively low sequencing depth, the long-read, assembly-free, random sampling allows to elucidate meaningful information from the very low-abundance community members. For example, given the above low-input sequencing approach, a community member at 1/1,000 relative abundance would generate 100 1-2 kb sequence fragments having 99% consensus accuracy, with a high probability of containing a gene fragment useful for taxonomic classification or functional insight.

April 21, 2020  |  

Draft Genome Sequence of Mesosutterella multiformis JCM 32464T, a Member of the Family Sutterellaceae, Isolated from Human Feces.

Here, we report the draft genome sequence of Mesosutterella multiformis JCM 32464T, a new member of the family Sutterellaceae that was isolated from human feces. The genome assembly comprised 2,621,983?bp, with a G+C content of 56.9%. This genomic analysis will be useful for understanding the metabolic activities of this asaccharolytic bacterium.Copyright © 2019 Ikeyama et al.

April 21, 2020  |  

Conventional culture methods with commercially available media unveil the presence of novel culturable bacteria.

Recent metagenomic analysis has revealed that our gut microbiota plays an important role in not only the maintenance of our health but also various diseases such as obesity, diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, and allergy. However, most intestinal bacteria are considered ‘unculturable’ bacteria, and their functions remain unknown. Although culture-independent genomic approaches have enabled us to gain insight into their potential roles, culture-based approaches are still required to understand their characteristic features and phenotypes. To date, various culturing methods have been attempted to obtain these ‘unculturable’ bacteria, but most such methods require advanced techniques. Here, we have tried to isolate possible unculturable bacteria from a healthy Japanese individual by using commercially available media. A 16S rRNA (ribosomal RNA) gene metagenomic analysis revealed that each culture medium showed bacterial growth depending on its selective features and a possibility of the presence of novel bacterial species. Whole genome sequencing of these candidate strains suggested the isolation of 8 novel bacterial species classified in the Actinobacteria and Firmicutes phyla. Our approach indicates that a number of intestinal bacteria hitherto considered unculturable are potentially culturable and can be cultured on commercially available media. We have obtained novel gut bacteria from a healthy Japanese individual using a combination of comprehensive genomics and conventional culturing methods. We would expect that the discovery of such novel bacteria could illuminate pivotal roles for the gut microbiota in association with human health.

April 21, 2020  |  

Polysaccharide utilization loci of North Sea Flavobacteriia as basis for using SusC/D-protein expression for predicting major phytoplankton glycans.

Marine algae convert a substantial fraction of fixed carbon dioxide into various polysaccharides. Flavobacteriia that are specialized on algal polysaccharide degradation feature genomic clusters termed polysaccharide utilization loci (PULs). As knowledge on extant PUL diversity is sparse, we sequenced the genomes of 53 North Sea Flavobacteriia and obtained 400 PULs. Bioinformatic PUL annotations suggest usage of a large array of polysaccharides, including laminarin, a-glucans, and alginate as well as mannose-, fucose-, and xylose-rich substrates. Many of the PULs exhibit new genetic architectures and suggest substrates rarely described for marine environments. The isolates’ PUL repertoires often differed considerably within genera, corroborating ecological niche-associated glycan partitioning. Polysaccharide uptake in Flavobacteriia is mediated by SusCD-like transporter complexes. Respective protein trees revealed clustering according to polysaccharide specificities predicted by PUL annotations. Using the trees, we analyzed expression of SusC/D homologs in multiyear phytoplankton bloom-associated metaproteomes and found indications for profound changes in microbial utilization of laminarin, a-glucans, ß-mannan, and sulfated xylan. We hence suggest the suitability of SusC/D-like transporter protein expression within heterotrophic bacteria as a proxy for the temporal utilization of discrete polysaccharides.

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  |  

Phylogenetic barriers to horizontal transfer of antimicrobial peptide resistance genes in the human gut microbiota.

The human gut microbiota has adapted to the presence of antimicrobial peptides (AMPs), which are ancient components of immune defence. Despite its medical importance, it has remained unclear whether AMP resistance genes in the gut microbiome are available for genetic exchange between bacterial species. Here, we show that AMP resistance and antibiotic resistance genes differ in their mobilization patterns and functional compatibilities with new bacterial hosts. First, whereas AMP resistance genes are widespread in the gut microbiome, their rate of horizontal transfer is lower than that of antibiotic resistance genes. Second, gut microbiota culturing and functional metagenomics have revealed that AMP resistance genes originating from phylogenetically distant bacteria have only a limited potential to confer resistance in Escherichia coli, an intrinsically susceptible species. Taken together, functional compatibility with the new bacterial host emerges as a key factor limiting the genetic exchange of AMP resistance genes. Finally, our results suggest that AMPs induce highly specific changes in the composition of the human microbiota, with implications for disease risks.

April 21, 2020  |  

Metagenomic assembly through the lens of validation: recent advances in assessing and improving the quality of genomes assembled from metagenomes.

Metagenomic samples are snapshots of complex ecosystems at work. They comprise hundreds of known and unknown species, contain multiple strain variants and vary greatly within and across environments. Many microbes found in microbial communities are not easily grown in culture making their DNA sequence our only clue into their evolutionary history and biological function. Metagenomic assembly is a computational process aimed at reconstructing genes and genomes from metagenomic mixtures. Current methods have made significant strides in reconstructing DNA segments comprising operons, tandem gene arrays and syntenic blocks. Shorter, higher-throughput sequencing technologies have become the de facto standard in the field. Sequencers are now able to generate billions of short reads in only a few days. Multiple metagenomic assembly strategies, pipelines and assemblers have appeared in recent years. Owing to the inherent complexity of metagenome assembly, regardless of the assembly algorithm and sequencing method, metagenome assemblies contain errors. Recent developments in assembly validation tools have played a pivotal role in improving metagenomics assemblers. Here, we survey recent progress in the field of metagenomic assembly, provide an overview of key approaches for genomic and metagenomic assembly validation and demonstrate the insights that can be derived from assemblies through the use of assembly validation strategies. We also discuss the potential for impact of long-read technologies in metagenomics. We conclude with a discussion of future challenges and opportunities in the field of metagenomic assembly and validation. © The Author 2017. Published by Oxford University Press.

April 21, 2020  |  

The Not-so-Sterile Womb: Evidence That the Human Fetus Is Exposed to Bacteria Prior to Birth.

The human microbiome includes trillions of bacteria, many of which play a vital role in host physiology. Numerous studies have now detected bacterial DNA in first-pass meconium and amniotic fluid samples, suggesting that the human microbiome may commence in utero. However, these data have remained contentious due to underlying contamination issues. Here, we have used a previously described method for reducing contamination in microbiome workflows to determine if there is a fetal bacterial microbiome beyond the level of background contamination. We recruited 50 women undergoing non-emergency cesarean section deliveries with no evidence of intra-uterine infection and collected first-pass meconium and amniotic fluid samples. Full-length 16S rRNA gene sequencing was performed using PacBio SMRT cell technology, to allow high resolution profiling of the fetal gut and amniotic fluid bacterial microbiomes. Levels of inflammatory cytokines were measured in amniotic fluid, and levels of immunomodulatory short chain fatty acids (SCFAs) were quantified in meconium. All meconium samples and most amniotic fluid samples (36/43) contained bacterial DNA. The meconium microbiome was dominated by reads that mapped to Pelomonas puraquae. Aside from this species, the meconium microbiome was remarkably heterogeneous between patients. The amniotic fluid microbiome was more diverse and contained mainly reads that mapped to typical skin commensals, including Propionibacterium acnes and Staphylococcus spp. All meconium samples contained acetate and propionate, at ratios similar to those previously reported in infants. P. puraquae reads were inversely correlated with meconium propionate levels. Amniotic fluid cytokine levels were associated with the amniotic fluid microbiome. Our results demonstrate that bacterial DNA and SCFAs are present in utero, and have the potential to influence the developing fetal immune system.

April 21, 2020  |  

Assignment of virus and antimicrobial resistance genes to microbial hosts in a complex microbial community by combined long-read assembly and proximity ligation.

We describe a method that adds long-read sequencing to a mix of technologies used to assemble a highly complex cattle rumen microbial community, and provide a comparison to short read-based methods. Long-read alignments and Hi-C linkage between contigs support the identification of 188 novel virus-host associations and the determination of phage life cycle states in the rumen microbial community. The long-read assembly also identifies 94 antimicrobial resistance genes, compared to only seven alleles in the short-read assembly. We demonstrate novel techniques that work synergistically to improve characterization of biological features in a highly complex rumen microbial community.

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