June 1, 2021  |  

Comparative genomics of Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli O145:H28 strains associated with the 2007 Belgium and 2010 US outbreaks.

Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) is an emerging pathogen. Recently there has been a global in the number of outbreaks caused by non-O157 STECs, typically involving six serogroups O26, O45, 0103, 0111, and 0145. STEC O145:H28 has been associated with severe human disease including hemolytic-uremic syndrome (HUS), and is demonstrated by the 2007 Belgian ice-cream-associated outbreak and 2010 US lettuce-associated outbreak, with over 10% of patients developing HUS in each. The goal of this work was to do comparative genomics of strains, clinical and environmental, to investigate genome diversity and virulence evolution of this important foodborne pathogen.


April 21, 2020  |  

Plantibacter flavus, Curtobacterium herbarum, Paenibacillus taichungensis, and Rhizobium selenitireducens Endophytes Provide Host-Specific Growth Promotion of Arabidopsis thaliana, Basil, Lettuce, and Bok Choy Plants.

A collection of bacterial endophytes isolated from stem tissues of plants growing in soils highly contaminated with petroleum hydrocarbons were screened for plant growth-promoting capabilities. Twenty-seven endophytic isolates significantly improved the growth of Arabidopsis thaliana plants in comparison to that of uninoculated control plants. The five most beneficial isolates, one strain each of Curtobacterium herbarum, Paenibacillus taichungensis, and Rhizobium selenitireducens and two strains of Plantibacter flavus were further examined for growth promotion in Arabidopsis, lettuce, basil, and bok choy plants. Host-specific plant growth promotion was observed when plants were inoculated with the five bacterial strains. P. flavus strain M251 increased the total biomass and total root length of Arabidopsis plants by 4.7 and 5.8 times, respectively, over that of control plants and improved lettuce and basil root growth, while P. flavus strain M259 promoted Arabidopsis shoot and root growth, lettuce and basil root growth, and bok choy shoot growth. A genome comparison between P. flavus strains M251 and M259 showed that both genomes contain up to 70 actinobacterial putative plant-associated genes and genes involved in known plant-beneficial pathways, such as those for auxin and cytokinin biosynthesis and 1-aminocyclopropane-1-carboxylate deaminase production. This study provides evidence of direct plant growth promotion by Plantibacter flavusIMPORTANCE The discovery of new plant growth-promoting bacteria is necessary for the continued development of biofertilizers, which are environmentally friendly and cost-efficient alternatives to conventional chemical fertilizers. Biofertilizer effects on plant growth can be inconsistent due to the complexity of plant-microbe interactions, as the same bacteria can be beneficial to the growth of some plant species and neutral or detrimental to others. We examined a set of bacterial endophytes isolated from plants growing in a unique petroleum-contaminated environment to discover plant growth-promoting bacteria. We show that strains of Plantibacter flavus exhibit strain-specific plant growth-promoting effects on four different plant species.Copyright © 2019 American Society for Microbiology.


April 21, 2020  |  

A whole genome scan of SNP data suggests a lack of abundant hard selective sweeps in the genome of the broad host range plant pathogenic fungus Sclerotinia sclerotiorum.

The pathogenic fungus Sclerotinia sclerotiorum infects over 600 species of plant. It is present in numerous environments throughout the world and causes significant damage to many agricultural crops. Fragmentation and lack of gene flow between populations may lead to population sub-structure. Within discrete recombining populations, positive selection may lead to a ‘selective sweep’. This is characterised by an increase in frequency of a favourable allele leading to reduction in genotypic diversity in a localised genomic region due to the phenomenon of genetic hitchhiking. We aimed to assess whether isolates of S. sclerotiorum from around the world formed genotypic clusters associated with geographical origin and to determine whether signatures of population-specific positive selection could be detected. To do this, we sequenced the genomes of 25 isolates of S. sclerotiorum collected from four different continents-Australia, Africa (north and south), Europe and North America (Canada and the northen United States) and conducted SNP based analyses of population structure and selective sweeps. Among the 25 isolates, there was evidence for two major population clusters. One of these consisted of 11 isolates from Canada, the USA and France (population 1), and the other consisted of nine isolates from Australia and one from Morocco (population 2). The rest of the isolates were genotypic outliers. We found that there was evidence of outcrossing in these two populations based on linkage disequilibrium decay. However, only a single candidate selective sweep was observed, and it was present in population 2. This sweep was close to a Major Facilitator Superfamily transporter gene, and we speculate that this gene may have a role in nutrient uptake from the host. The low abundance of selective sweeps in the S. sclerotiorum genome contrasts the numerous examples in the genomes of other fungal pathogens. This may be a result of its slow rate of evolution and low effective recombination rate due to self-fertilisation and vegetative reproduction.


April 21, 2020  |  

Assembly of allele-aware, chromosomal-scale autopolyploid genomes based on Hi-C data.

Construction of chromosome-level assembly is a vital step in achieving the goal of a ‘Platinum’ genome, but it remains a major challenge to assemble and anchor sequences to chromosomes in autopolyploid or highly heterozygous genomes. High-throughput chromosome conformation capture (Hi-C) technology serves as a robust tool to dramatically advance chromosome scaffolding; however, existing approaches are mostly designed for diploid genomes and often with the aim of reconstructing a haploid representation, thereby having limited power to reconstruct chromosomes for autopolyploid genomes. We developed a novel algorithm (ALLHiC) that is capable of building allele-aware, chromosomal-scale assembly for autopolyploid genomes using Hi-C paired-end reads with innovative ‘prune’ and ‘optimize’ steps. Application on simulated data showed that ALLHiC can phase allelic contigs and substantially improve ordering and orientation when compared to other mainstream Hi-C assemblers. We applied ALLHiC on an autotetraploid and an autooctoploid sugar-cane genome and successfully constructed the phased chromosomal-level assemblies, revealing allelic variations present in these two genomes. The ALLHiC pipeline enables de novo chromosome-level assembly of autopolyploid genomes, separating each allele. Haplotype chromosome-level assembly of allopolyploid and heterozygous diploid genomes can be achieved using ALLHiC, overcoming obstacles in assembling complex genomes.


April 21, 2020  |  

Tools and Strategies for Long-Read Sequencing and De Novo Assembly of Plant Genomes.

The commercial release of third-generation sequencing technologies (TGSTs), giving long and ultra-long sequencing reads, has stimulated the development of new tools for assembling highly contiguous genome sequences with unprecedented accuracy across complex repeat regions. We survey here a wide range of emerging sequencing platforms and analytical tools for de novo assembly, provide background information for each of their steps, and discuss the spectrum of available options. Our decision tree recommends workflows for the generation of a high-quality genome assembly when used in combination with the specific needs and resources of a project.Copyright © 2019 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


April 21, 2020  |  

Genomic and Functional Characterization of the Endophytic Bacillus subtilis 7PJ-16 Strain, a Potential Biocontrol Agent of Mulberry Fruit Sclerotiniose.

Bacillus sp. 7PJ-16, an endophytic bacterium isolated from a healthy mulberry stem and previously identified as Bacillus tequilensis 7PJ-16, exhibits strong antifungal activity and has the capacity to promote plant growth. This strain was studied for its effectiveness as a biocontrol agent to reduce mulberry fruit sclerotiniose in the field and as a growth-promoting agent for mulberry in the greenhouse. In field studies, the cell suspension and supernatant of strain 7PJ-16 exhibited biocontrol efficacy and the lowest disease incidence was reduced down to only 0.80%. In greenhouse experiments, the cell suspension (1.0?×?106 and 1.0?×?105 CFU/mL) and the cell-free supernatant (100-fold and 1000-fold dilution) stimulated mulberry seed germination and promoted mulberry seedling growth. In addition, to accurately identify the 7PJ-16 strain and further explore the mechanisms of its antifungal and growth-promoting properties, the complete genome of this strain was sequenced and annotated. The 7PJ-16 genome is comprised of two circular plasmids and a 4,209,045-bp circular chromosome, containing 4492 protein-coding genes and 116 RNA genes. This strain was ultimately designed as Bacillus subtilis based on core genome sequence analyses using a phylogenomic approach. In this genome, we identified a series of gene clusters that function in the synthesis of non-ribosomal peptides (surfactin, fengycin, bacillibactin, and bacilysin) as well as the ribosome-dependent synthesis of tasA and bacteriocins (subtilin, subtilosin A), which are responsible for the biosynthesis of numerous antimicrobial metabolites. Additionally, several genes with function that promote plant growth, such as indole-3-acetic acid biosynthesis, the production of volatile substances, and siderophores synthesis, were also identified. The information described in this study has established a good foundation for understanding the beneficial interactions between endophytes and host plants, and facilitates the further application of B. subtilis 7PJ-16 as an agricultural biofertilizer and biocontrol agent.


April 21, 2020  |  

The role of long-term mineral and organic fertilisation treatment in changing pathogen and symbiont community composition in soil

Application of organic fertilisers to soil prevents erosion, improves fertility and may suppress certain soil-borne plant pathogens, but it is still unclear how different trophic groups of fungi and oomycetes respond to long-term fertilisation treatment. The objective of the study was to examine the effect of different fertilisation regimes on fungal and oomycete pathogen- and mycorrhizal symbiont diversity and community structure in both soil and roots, using PacBio SMRT sequencing. The field experiment included three fertilisation treatments that have been applied since 1989: nitrogen fertilisation (WOM), nitrogen fertilisation with manure amendment (FYM) and alternative organic fertilisation (AOF), each applied at five different rates. Soil samples were collected three times during the growing season, while root samples were collected during the flowering stage. There was no influence of the studied variables on soil and root pathogen richness. Contrary to our hypothesis, pathogen relative abundance in both soil and roots was significantly higher in plots with the AOF treatment. Furthermore, richness and relative abundance of arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi decreased significantly in the AOF treatment. Permutational analysis of variance (PERMANOVA) demonstrated the effect of fertilisation treatment on pathogen community composition in both soil and roots. Our findings indicate that organic fertilisers may not always benefit soil microbial community composition. Therefore, further studies are needed to understand how fertilisation affects mycorrhizal mutualists and pathogens.


April 21, 2020  |  

A siphonous macroalgal genome suggests convergent functions of homeobox genes in algae and land plants.

Genome evolution and development of unicellular, multinucleate macroalgae (siphonous algae) are poorly known, although various multicellular organisms have been studied extensively. To understand macroalgal developmental evolution, we assembled the ~26?Mb genome of a siphonous green alga, Caulerpa lentillifera, with high contiguity, containing 9,311 protein-coding genes. Molecular phylogeny using 107 nuclear genes indicates that the diversification of the class Ulvophyceae, including C. lentillifera, occurred before the split of the Chlorophyceae and Trebouxiophyceae. Compared with other green algae, the TALE superclass of homeobox genes, which expanded in land plants, shows a series of lineage-specific duplications in this siphonous macroalga. Plant hormone signalling components were also expanded in a lineage-specific manner. Expanded transport regulators, which show spatially different expression, suggest that the structural patterning strategy of a multinucleate cell depends on diversification of nuclear pore proteins. These results not only imply functional convergence of duplicated genes among green plants, but also provide insight into evolutionary roots of green plants. Based on the present results, we propose cellular and molecular mechanisms involved in the structural differentiation in the siphonous alga. © The Author(s) 2019. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Kazusa DNA Research Institute.


April 21, 2020  |  

A Species-Wide Inventory of NLR Genes and Alleles in Arabidopsis thaliana.

Infectious disease is both a major force of selection in nature and a prime cause of yield loss in agriculture. In plants, disease resistance is often conferred by nucleotide-binding leucine-rich repeat (NLR) proteins, intracellular immune receptors that recognize pathogen proteins and their effects on the host. Consistent with extensive balancing and positive selection, NLRs are encoded by one of the most variable gene families in plants, but the true extent of intraspecific NLR diversity has been unclear. Here, we define a nearly complete species-wide pan-NLRome in Arabidopsis thaliana based on sequence enrichment and long-read sequencing. The pan-NLRome largely saturates with approximately 40 well-chosen wild strains, with half of the pan-NLRome being present in most accessions. We chart NLR architectural diversity, identify new architectures, and quantify selective forces that act on specific NLRs and NLR domains. Our study provides a blueprint for defining pan-NLRomes.Copyright © 2019 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


April 21, 2020  |  

Development of CRISPR-Cas systems for genome editing and beyond

The development of clustered regularly interspaced short-palindromic repeat (CRISPR)-Cas systems for genome editing has transformed the way life science research is conducted and holds enormous potential for the treatment of disease as well as for many aspects of biotech- nology. Here, I provide a personal perspective on the development of CRISPR-Cas9 for genome editing within the broader context of the field and discuss our work to discover novel Cas effectors and develop them into additional molecular tools. The initial demonstra- tion of Cas9-mediated genome editing launched the development of many other technologies, enabled new lines of biological inquiry, and motivated a deeper examination of natural CRISPR-Cas systems, including the discovery of new types of CRISPR-Cas systems. These new discoveries in turn spurred further technological developments. I review these exciting discoveries and technologies as well as provide an overview of the broad array of applications of these technologies in basic research and in the improvement of human health. It is clear that we are only just beginning to unravel the potential within microbial diversity, and it is quite likely that we will continue to discover other exciting phenomena, some of which it may be possible to repurpose as molecular technologies. The transformation of mysterious natural phenomena to powerful tools, however, takes a collective effort to discover, characterize, and engineer them, and it has been a privilege to join the numerous researchers who have contributed to this transformation of CRISPR-Cas systems.


April 21, 2020  |  

Complete Assembly of the Genome of an Acidovorax citrulli Strain Reveals a Naturally Occurring Plasmid in This Species.

Acidovorax citrulli is the causal agent of bacterial fruit blotch (BFB), a serious threat to cucurbit crop production worldwide. Based on genetic and phenotypic properties, A. citrulli strains are divided into two major groups: group I strains have been generally isolated from melon and other non-watermelon cucurbits, while group II strains are closely associated with watermelon. In a previous study, we reported the genome of the group I model strain, M6. At that time, the M6 genome was sequenced by MiSeq Illumina technology, with reads assembled into 139 contigs. Here, we report the assembly of the M6 genome following sequencing with PacBio technology. This approach not only allowed full assembly of the M6 genome, but it also revealed the occurrence of a ~53 kb plasmid. The M6 plasmid, named pACM6, was further confirmed by plasmid extraction, Southern-blot analysis of restricted fragments and obtention of M6-derivative cured strains. pACM6 occurs at low copy numbers (average of ~4.1 ± 1.3 chromosome equivalents) in A. citrulli M6 and contains 63 open reading frames (ORFs), most of which (55.6%) encoding hypothetical proteins. The plasmid contains several genes encoding type IV secretion components, and typical plasmid-borne genes involved in plasmid maintenance, replication and transfer. The plasmid also carries an operon encoding homologs of a Fic-VbhA toxin-antitoxin (TA) module. Transcriptome data from A. citrulli M6 revealed that, under the tested conditions, the genes encoding the components of this TA system are among the highest expressed genes in pACM6. Whether this TA module plays a role in pACM6 maintenance is still to be determined. Leaf infiltration and seed transmission assays revealed that, under tested conditions, the loss of pACM6 did not affect the virulence of A. citrulli M6. We also show that pACM6 or similar plasmids are present in several group I strains, but absent in all tested group II strains of A. citrulli.


April 21, 2020  |  

Differential transcriptome analysis of enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli strains reveals differences in response to plant-derived compounds.

Several serious vegetable-associated outbreaks of enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EHEC) infections have occurred during the last decades. In this context, vegetables have been suggested to function as secondary reservoirs for EHEC strains. Increased knowledge about the interaction of EHEC with plants including gene expression patterns in response to plant-derived compounds is required. In the current study, EHEC O157:H7 strain Sakai, EHEC O157:H- strain 3072/96, and the EHEC/enteroaggregative E. coli (EAEC) hybrid O104:H4 strain C227-11fcu were grown in lamb’s lettuce medium and in M9 minimal medium to study the differential transcriptional response of these strains to plant-derived compounds with RNA-Seq technology.Many genes involved in carbohydrate degradation and peptide utilization were similarly upregulated in all three strains, suggesting that the lamb’s lettuce medium provides sufficient nutrients for proliferation. In particular, the genes galET and rbsAC involved in galactose metabolism and D-ribose catabolism, respectively, were uniformly upregulated in the investigated strains. The most prominent differences in shared genome transcript levels were observed for genes involved in the expression of flagella. Transcripts of all three classes of the flagellar hierarchy were highly abundant in strain C227-11fcu. Strain Sakai expressed only genes encoding the basal flagellar structure. In addition, both strains showed increased motility in presence of lamb’s lettuce extract. Moreover, strain 3072/96 showed increased transcription activity for genes encoding the type III secretion system (T3SS) including effectors, and was identified as a powerful biofilm-producer in M9 minimal medium.The current study provides clear evidence that EHEC and EHEC/EAEC strains are able to adjust their gene expression patterns towards metabolization of plant-derived compounds, demonstrating that they may proliferate well in a plant-associated environment. Moreover, we propose that flagella and other surface structures play a fundamental role in the interaction of EHEC and EHEC/EAEC with plants.


April 21, 2020  |  

Comparative genomics reveals structural and functional features specific to the genome of a foodborne Escherichia coli O157:H7.

Escherichia coli O157:H7 (O157) has been linked to numerous foodborne disease outbreaks. The ability to rapidly sequence and analyze genomes is important for understanding epidemiology, virulence, survival, and evolution of outbreak strains. In the current study, we performed comparative genomics to determine structural and functional features of the genome of a foodborne O157 isolate NADC 6564 and infer its evolutionary relationship to other O157 strains.The chromosome of NADC 6564 contained 5466?kb compared to reference strains Sakai (5498?kb) and EDL933 (5547?kb) and shared 41 of its 43 Linear Conserved Blocks (LCB) with the reference strains. However, 18 of 41 LCB had inverse orientation in NADC 6564 compared to the reference strains. NADC 6564 shared 18 of 19 bacteriophages with reference strains except that the chromosomal positioning of some of the phages differed among these strains. The additional phage (P19) of NADC 6564 was located on a 39-kb insertion element (IE) encoding several hypothetical proteins, an integrase, transposases, transcriptional regulators, an adhesin, and a phosphoethanolamine transferase (PEA). The complete homologs of the 39-kb?IE were found in E. coli PCN061 of porcine origin. The IE-encoded PEA showed low homology (32-33%) to four other PEA in NADC 6564 and PEA linked to mobilizable colistin resistance in E. coli but was highly homologous (95%) to a PEA of uropathogenic, avian pathogenic, and enteroaggregative E. coli. NADC 6564 showed slightly higher minimum inhibitory concentration of colistin compared to the reference strains. The 39-kb?IE also contained dndBCDE and dptFGH operons encoding DNA S-modification and a restriction pathway, linked to oxidative stress tolerance and self-defense against foreign DNA, respectively. Evolutionary tree analysis grouped NADC 6564 with lineage I O157 strains.These results indicated that differential phage counts and different chromosomal positioning of many bacteriophages and genomic islands might have resulted in recombination events causing altered chromosomal organization in NADC 6564. Evolutionary analysis grouped NADC 6564 with lineage I strains and suggested its earlier divergence from these strains. The ability to perform S-DNA modification might affect tolerance of NADC 6564 to various stressors.


April 21, 2020  |  

Cichorium intybus L.?×?Cicerbita alpina Walbr.: doubled haploid chicory induction and CENH3 characterization

Intergeneric hybridization between industrial chicory (Cichorium intybus L.) and Cicerbita alpina Walbr. induces interspecific hybrids and haploid chicory plants after in vitro embryo rescue. The protocol yielded haploids in 5 out of 12 cultivars pollinated; altogether 18 haploids were regenerated from 2836 embryos, with a maximum efficiency of 1.96% haploids per cross. Obtained haploids were chromosome doubled with mitosis inhibitors trifluralin and oryzalin; exposure to 0.05 g L-1 oryzalin during one week was the most efficient treatment to regenerate doubled haploids. Inbreeding effects in vitro were limited, but the ploidy level affects morphology. Transcriptome sequencing revealed two unique copies of CENH3 in Cicerbita alpina Walbr. Comparison of CENH3.1 protein sequences of Cicerbita and Cichorium obtained through transcriptome and whole shotgun genome sequencing revealed two amino-acid substitutions at critical residues of the histone fold domain. These particular changes cause chromosome elimination and reduced centromere loading in several other species and might indicate a CENH3-dependent mechanism causing chromosome elimination of parental chromosomes during Cichorium?×?Cicerbita intergeneric hybridization. Our results provide insights in chromosome elimination and might increase the efficiency of haploid induction in Cichorium.


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