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Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Decreased biofilm formation ability of Acinetobacter baumannii after spaceflight on China’s Shenzhou 11 spacecraft.

China has prepared for construction of a space station by the early 2020s. The mission will require astronauts to stay on the space station for at least 180 days. Microbes isolated from the International Space Station (ISS) have shown profound resistance to clinical antibiotics and environmental stresses. Previous studies have demonstrated that the space environment could affect microbial survival, growth, virulence, biofilms, metabolism, as well as their antibiotic-resistant phenotypes. Furthermore, several studies have reported that astronauts experience a decline in their immunity during long-duration spaceflights. Monitoring microbiomes in the ISS or the spacecraft will be beneficial for the prevention of infection…

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Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Pangenomic Approach To Understanding Microbial Adaptations within a Model Built Environment, the International Space Station, Relative to Human Hosts and Soil.

Understanding underlying mechanisms involved in microbial persistence in the built environment (BE) is essential for strategically mitigating potential health risks. To test the hypothesis that BEs impose selective pressures resulting in characteristic adaptive responses, we performed a pangenomics meta-analysis leveraging 189 genomes (accessed from GenBank) of two epidemiologically important taxa, Bacillus cereus and Staphylococcus aureus, isolated from various origins: the International Space Station (ISS; a model BE), Earth-based BEs, soil, and humans. Our objectives were to (i) identify differences in the pangenomic composition of generalist and host-associated organisms, (ii) characterize genes and functions involved in BE-associated selection, and (iii) identify…

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Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Single-Molecule Sequencing: Towards Clinical Applications.

In the past several years, single-molecule sequencing platforms, such as those by Pacific Biosciences and Oxford Nanopore Technologies, have become available to researchers and are currently being tested for clinical applications. They offer exceptionally long reads that permit direct sequencing through regions of the genome inaccessible or difficult to analyze by short-read platforms. This includes disease-causing long repetitive elements, extreme GC content regions, and complex gene loci. Similarly, these platforms enable structural variation characterization at previously unparalleled resolution and direct detection of epigenetic marks in native DNA. Here, we review how these technologies are opening up new clinical avenues that…

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Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Featherweight long read alignment using partitioned reference indexes.

The advent of Nanopore sequencing has realised portable genomic research and applications. However, state of the art long read aligners and large reference genomes are not compatible with most mobile computing devices due to their high memory requirements. We show how memory requirements can be reduced through parameter optimisation and reference genome partitioning, but highlight the associated limitations and caveats of these approaches. We then demonstrate how these issues can be overcome through an appropriate merging technique. We incorporated multi-index merging into the Minimap2 aligner and demonstrate that long read alignment to the human genome can be performed on a…

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Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Single-molecule sequencing detection of N6-methyladenine in microbial reference materials.

The DNA base modification N6-methyladenine (m6A) is involved in many pathways related to the survival of bacteria and their interactions with hosts. Nanopore sequencing offers a new, portable method to detect base modifications. Here, we show that a neural network can improve m6A detection at trained sequence contexts compared to previously published methods using deviations between measured and expected current values as each adenine travels through a pore. The model, implemented as the mCaller software package, can be extended to detect known or confirm suspected methyltransferase target motifs based on predictions of methylation at untrained contexts. We use PacBio, Oxford…

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Tuesday, 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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