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.


October 23, 2019  |  

High resolution profiling of coral-associated bacterial communities using full-length 16S rRNA sequence data from PacBio SMRT sequencing system.

Coral reefs are a complex ecosystem consisting of coral animals and a vast array of associated symbionts including the dinoflagellate Symbiodinium, fungi, viruses and bacteria. Several studies have highlighted the importance of coral-associated bacteria and their fundamental roles in fitness and survival of the host animal. The scleractinian coral Porites lutea is one of the dominant reef-builders in the Indo-West Pacific. Currently, very little is known about the composition and structure of bacterial communities across P. lutea reefs. The purpose of this study is twofold: to demonstrate the advantages of using PacBio circular consensus sequencing technology in microbial community studies and to investigate the diversity and structure of P. lutea-associated microbiome in the Indo-Pacific. This is the first metagenomic study of marine environmental samples that utilises the PacBio sequencing system to capture full-length 16S rRNA sequences. We observed geographically distinct coral-associated microbial profiles between samples from the Gulf of Thailand and Andaman Sea. Despite the geographical and environmental impacts on the coral-host interactions, we identified a conserved community of bacteria that were present consistently across diverse reef habitats. Finally, we demonstrated the superior performance of full-length 16S rRNA sequences in resolving taxonomic uncertainty of coral associates at the species level.


September 22, 2019  |  

Is there foul play in the leaf pocket? The metagenome of floating fern Azolla reveals endophytes that do not fix N2 but may denitrify.

Dinitrogen fixation by Nostoc azollae residing in specialized leaf pockets supports prolific growth of the floating fern Azolla filiculoides. To evaluate contributions by further microorganisms, the A. filiculoides microbiome and nitrogen metabolism in bacteria persistently associated with Azolla ferns were characterized. A metagenomic approach was taken complemented by detection of N2 O released and nitrogen isotope determinations of fern biomass. Ribosomal RNA genes in sequenced DNA of natural ferns, their enriched leaf pockets and water filtrate from the surrounding ditch established that bacteria of A. filiculoides differed entirely from surrounding water and revealed species of the order Rhizobiales. Analyses of seven cultivated Azolla species confirmed persistent association with Rhizobiales. Two distinct nearly full-length Rhizobiales genomes were identified in leaf-pocket-enriched samples from ditch grown A. filiculoides. Their annotation revealed genes for denitrification but not N2 -fixation. 15 N2 incorporation was active in ferns with N. azollae but not in ferns without. N2 O was not detectably released from surface-sterilized ferns with the Rhizobiales. N2 -fixing N. azollae, we conclude, dominated the microbiome of Azolla ferns. The persistent but less abundant heterotrophic Rhizobiales bacteria possibly contributed to lowering O2 levels in leaf pockets but did not release detectable amounts of the strong greenhouse gas N2 O.© 2017 The Authors. New Phytologist © 2017 New Phytologist Trust.


September 22, 2019  |  

A comprehensive fungi-specific 18S rRNA gene sequence primer toolkit suited for diverse research issues and sequencing platforms.

Several fungi-specific primers target the 18S rRNA gene sequence, one of the prominent markers for fungal classification. The design of most primers goes back to the last decades. Since then, the number of sequences in public databases increased leading to the discovery of new fungal groups and changes in fungal taxonomy. However, no reevaluation of primers was carried out and relevant information on most primers is missing. With this study, we aimed to develop an 18S rRNA gene sequence primer toolkit allowing an easy selection of the best primer pair appropriate for different sequencing platforms, research aims (biodiversity assessment versus isolate classification) and target groups.We performed an intensive literature research, reshuffled existing primers into new pairs, designed new Illumina-primers, and annealing blocking oligonucleotides. A final number of 439 primer pairs were subjected to in silico PCRs. Best primer pairs were selected and experimentally tested. The most promising primer pair with a small amplicon size, nu-SSU-1333-5’/nu-SSU-1647-3′ (FF390/FR-1), was successful in describing fungal communities by Illumina sequencing. Results were confirmed by a simultaneous metagenomics and eukaryote-specific primer approach. Co-amplification occurred in all sample types but was effectively reduced by blocking oligonucleotides.The compiled data revealed the presence of an enormous diversity of fungal 18S rRNA gene primer pairs in terms of fungal coverage, phylum spectrum and co-amplification. Therefore, the primer pair has to be carefully selected to fulfill the requirements of the individual research projects. The presented primer toolkit offers comprehensive lists of 164 primers, 439 primer combinations, 4 blocking oligonucleotides, and top primer pairs holding all relevant information including primer’s characteristics and performance to facilitate primer pair selection.


September 22, 2019  |  

Single-cell (meta-)genomics of a dimorphic Candidatus Thiomargarita nelsonii reveals genomic plasticity.

The genus Thiomargarita includes the world’s largest bacteria. But as uncultured organisms, their physiology, metabolism, and basis for their gigantism are not well understood. Thus, a genomics approach, applied to a single Candidatus Thiomargarita nelsonii cell was employed to explore the genetic potential of one of these enigmatic giant bacteria. The Thiomargarita cell was obtained from an assemblage of budding Ca. T. nelsonii attached to a provannid gastropod shell from Hydrate Ridge, a methane seep offshore of Oregon, USA. Here we present a manually curated genome of Bud S10 resulting from a hybrid assembly of long Pacific Biosciences and short Illumina sequencing reads. With respect to inorganic carbon fixation and sulfur oxidation pathways, the Ca. T. nelsonii Hydrate Ridge Bud S10 genome was similar to marine sister taxa within the family Beggiatoaceae. However, the Bud S10 genome contains genes suggestive of the genetic potential for lithotrophic growth on arsenite and perhaps hydrogen. The genome also revealed that Bud S10 likely respires nitrate via two pathways: a complete denitrification pathway and a dissimilatory nitrate reduction to ammonia pathway. Both pathways have been predicted, but not previously fully elucidated, in the genomes of other large, vacuolated, sulfur-oxidizing bacteria. Surprisingly, the genome also had a high number of unusual features for a bacterium to include the largest number of metacaspases and introns ever reported in a bacterium. Also present, are a large number of other mobile genetic elements, such as insertion sequence (IS) transposable elements and miniature inverted-repeat transposable elements (MITEs). In some cases, mobile genetic elements disrupted key genes in metabolic pathways. For example, a MITE interrupts hupL, which encodes the large subunit of the hydrogenase in hydrogen oxidation. Moreover, we detected a group I intron in one of the most critical genes in the sulfur oxidation pathway, dsrA. The dsrA group I intron also carried a MITE sequence that, like the hupL MITE family, occurs broadly across the genome. The presence of a high degree of mobile elements in genes central to Thiomargarita’s core metabolism has not been previously reported in free-living bacteria and suggests a highly mutable genome.


September 22, 2019  |  

Precise fecal microbiome of the herbivorous Tibetan antelope inhabiting high-altitude alpine plateau

The metataxonomic approach combining 16S rRNA gene amplicon sequencing using the PacBio technology with the application of the operational phylogenetic unit (OPU) approach, has been used to analyze the fecal microbial composition of the high-altitude and herbivorous Tibetan antelopes. The fecal samples of the antelope were collected in Hoh Xil National Nature Reserve, at an altitude over 4500 m, the largest depopulated zone in Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau, China, where non-native animals or humans may experience life-threatening acute mountain sickness. In total, 104 antelope fecal samples were enrolled in this study, and were clustered into 61,258 operational taxonomic units (OTUs) at an identity of 98.7% and affiliated with 757 OPUs, including 144 known species, 256 potentially new species, 103 potentially higher taxa within known lineages. In addition, 254 comprised sequences not affiliating with any known family, and the closest relatives were unclassified lineages of existing orders or classes. A total of 42 out of 757 OPUs conformed to the core fecal microbiome, of which four major lineages, namely, un-cultured Ruminococcaceae, Lachnospiraceae, Akkermansia and Christensenellaceae were associated with human health or longevity. The current study reveals that the fecal core microbiome of antelope is mainly composited of uncultured bacteria. The most abundant core taxa, namely, uncultured Ruminococcaceae, uncultured Akkermansia, uncultured Bacteroides, uncultured Christensenellaceae, uncultured Mollicutes, and uncultured Lachnospiraceae, may represent new bacterial candidates at high taxa levels, and several may have beneficial roles in health promotion or anti-intestinal dysbiosis. These organisms should be further isolated and evaluated for potential effect on human health and longevity.


September 22, 2019  |  

Mesoscale variability of the summer bloom over the northern Ross Sea shelf: A tale of two banks

Multi-year satellite records indicate an asymmetric spatial pattern in the summer bloom in the Northern Ross Sea, with the largest blooms over the shallows of Pennell Bank compared to Mawson Bank. In 2010–2011, high-resolution spatiotemporal in situ sampling focused on these two banks to better understand factors contributing to this pattern. Dissolved and particulate Fe profiles suggested similar surface water depletion of dissolved Fe on both banks. The surface sediments and velocity observations indicate a more energetic water column over Mawson Bank. Consequently, the surface mixed layer over Pennell Bank was more homogeneous and shallower. Over Mawson Bank we observed a thicker more homogeneous bottom boundary layer resulting from stronger tidal and sub-tidal currents. These stronger currents scour the seafloor resulting in sediments less likely to release additional sedimentary iron. Estimates of the quantum yield of photosynthesis and the initial slope of the photosynthesis-irradiance response were lower over Mawson Bank, indicating higher iron stress over Mawson Bank. Overall, the apparent additional sedimentary source of iron to, and longer surface residence time over Pennell Bank, as well as the reduced fluxes from the more isolated bottom mixed layer over Mawson Bank, sustain the observed asymmetric pattern across both banks.


September 22, 2019  |  

Towards long-read metagenomics: complete assembly of three novel genomes from bacteria dependent on a diazotrophic cyanobacterium in a freshwater lake co-culture.

Here we report three complete bacterial genome assemblies from a PacBio shotgun metagenome of a co-culture from Upper Klamath Lake, OR. Genome annotations and culture conditions indicate these bacteria are dependent on carbon and nitrogen fixation from the cyanobacterium Aphanizomenon flos-aquae, whose genome was assembled to draft-quality. Due to their taxonomic novelty relative to previously sequenced bacteria, we have temporarily designated these bacteria as incertae sedis Hyphomonadaceae strain UKL13-1 (3,501,508 bp and 56.12% GC), incertae sedis Betaproteobacterium strain UKL13-2 (3,387,087 bp and 54.98% GC), and incertae sedis Bacteroidetes strain UKL13-3 (3,236,529 bp and 37.33% GC). Each genome consists of a single circular chromosome with no identified plasmids. When compared with binned Illumina assemblies of the same three genomes, there was ~7% discrepancy in total genome length. Gaps where Illumina assemblies broke were often due to repetitive elements. Within these missing sequences were essential genes and genes associated with a variety of functional categories. Annotated gene content reveals that both Proteobacteria are aerobic anoxygenic phototrophs, with Betaproteobacterium UKL13-2 potentially capable of phototrophic oxidation of sulfur compounds. Both proteobacterial genomes contain transporters suggesting they are scavenging fixed nitrogen from A. flos-aquae in the form of ammonium. Bacteroidetes UKL13-3 has few completely annotated biosynthetic pathways, and has a comparatively higher proportion of unannotated genes. The genomes were detected in only a few other freshwater metagenomes, suggesting that these bacteria are not ubiquitous in freshwater systems. Our results indicate that long-read sequencing is a viable method for sequencing dominant members from low-diversity microbial communities, and should be considered for environmental metagenomics when conditions meet these requirements.


September 22, 2019  |  

Metagenomic binning of a marine sponge microbiome reveals unity in defense but metabolic specialization.

Marine sponges are ancient metazoans that are populated by distinct and highly diverse microbial communities. In order to obtain deeper insights into the functional gene repertoire of the Mediterranean sponge Aplysina aerophoba, we combined Illumina short-read and PacBio long-read sequencing followed by un-targeted metagenomic binning. We identified a total of 37 high-quality bins representing 11 bacterial phyla and two candidate phyla. Statistical comparison of symbiont genomes with selected reference genomes revealed a significant enrichment of genes related to bacterial defense (restriction-modification systems, toxin-antitoxin systems) as well as genes involved in host colonization and extracellular matrix utilization in sponge symbionts. A within-symbionts genome comparison revealed a nutritional specialization of at least two symbiont guilds, where one appears to metabolize carnitine and the other sulfated polysaccharides, both of which are abundant molecules in the sponge extracellular matrix. A third guild of symbionts may be viewed as nutritional generalists that perform largely the same metabolic pathways but lack such extraordinary numbers of the relevant genes. This study characterizes the genomic repertoire of sponge symbionts at an unprecedented resolution and it provides greater insights into the molecular mechanisms underlying microbial-sponge symbiosis.


September 22, 2019  |  

Metabolic versatility of a novel N2-fixing Alphaproteobacterium isolated from a marine oxygen minimum zone.

The N2-fixing (diazotrophic) community in marine ecosystems is dominated by non-cyanobacterial microorganisms. Yet, very little is known about their identity, function and ecological relevance due to a lack of cultured representatives. Here we report a novel heterotrophic diazotroph isolated from the oxygen minimum zone (OMZ) off Peru. The new species belongs to the genus Sagittula (Rhodobacteraceae, Alphaproteobacteria) and its capability to fix N2was confirmed in laboratory experiments. Genome sequencing revealed that it is a strict heterotroph with a high versatility in substrate utilization and energy acquisition mechanisms. Pathways for sulfide oxidation and nitrite reduction to nitrous oxide are encoded in the genome and might explain the presence throughout the Peruvian OMZ. The genome further indicates that this novel organism could be in direct interaction with other microbes or particles. NanoSIMS analyses were used to compare the metabolic potential of S. castanea with single-cell activity in situ; however, N2fixation by this diazotroph could not be detected at the isolation site. While the biogeochemical impact of S. castanea is yet to be resolved, its abundance and widespread distribution suggests that its potential to contribute to the marine N input could be significant at a larger geographical scale.© 2017 Society for Applied Microbiology and John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


September 22, 2019  |  

Characterization and heterologous expression of the neoabyssomicin/abyssomicin biosynthetic gene cluster from Streptomyces koyangensis SCSIO 5802.

The deep-sea-derived microbe Streptomyces koyangensis SCSIO 5802 produces neoabyssomicins A-B (1-2) and abyssomicins 2 (3) and 4 (4). Neoabyssomicin A (1) augments human immunodeficiency virus-1 (HIV-1) replication whereas abyssomicin 2 (3) selectively reactivates latent HIV and is also active against Gram-positive pathogens including methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). Structurally, neoabyssomicins A-B constitute a new subtype within the abyssomicin family and feature unique structural traits characteristic of extremely interesting biosynthetic transformations.In this work, the biosynthetic gene cluster (BGC) for the neoabyssomicins and abyssomicins, composed of 28 opening reading frames, was identified in S. koyangensis SCSIO 5802, and its role in neoabyssomicin/abyssomicin biosynthesis was confirmed via gene inactivation and heterologous expression experiments. Bioinformatics and genomics analyses enabled us to propose a biosynthetic pathway for neoabyssomicin/abyssomicin biosynthesis. Similarly, a protective export system by which both types of compounds are secreted from the S. koyangensis producer was identified, as was a four-component ABC transporter-based import system central to neoabyssomicin/abyssomicin biosynthesis. Furthermore, two regulatory genes, abmI and abmH, were unambiguously shown to be positive regulators of neoabyssomicin/abyssomicin biosynthesis. Consistent with their roles as positive regulatory genes, the overexpression of abmI and abmH (independent of each other) was shown to improve neoabyssomicin/abyssomicin titers.These studies provide new insight into the biosynthesis of the abyssomicin class of natural products, and highlight important exploitable features of its BGC for future efforts. Elucidation of the neoabyssomicin/abyssomicin BGC now enables combinatorial biosynthetic initiatives aimed at improving both the titers and pharmaceutical properties of these important natural products-based drug leads.


September 22, 2019  |  

Genome sequencing of Streptomyces atratus SCSIOZH16 and activation production of nocardamine via metabolic engineering.

The Actinomycetes are metabolically flexible microorganisms capable of producing a wide range of interesting compounds, including but by no means limited to, siderophores which have high affinity for ferric iron. In this study, we report the complete genome sequence of marine-derived Streptomyces atratus ZH16 and the activation of an embedded siderophore gene cluster via the application of metabolic engineering methods. The S. atratus ZH16 genome reveals that this strain has the potential to produce 26 categories of natural products (NPs) barring the ilamycins. Our activation studies revealed S. atratus SCSIO ZH16 to be a promising source of the production of nocardamine-type (desferrioxamine) compounds which are important in treating acute iron intoxication and performing ecological remediation. We conclude that metabolic engineering provides a highly effective strategy by which to discover drug-like compounds and new NPs in the genomic era.


September 22, 2019  |  

Biosynthetic Baeyer-Villiger chemistry enables access to two anthracene scaffolds from a single gene cluster in Deep-Sea-derived Streptomyces olivaceus SCSIO T05.

Four known compounds, rishirilide B (1), rishirilide C (2), lupinacidin A (3), and galvaquinone B (4), representing two anthracene scaffolds typical of aromatic polyketides, were isolated from a culture of the deep-sea-derived Streptomyces olivaceus SCSIO T05. From the S. olivaceus producer was cloned and sequenced the rsd biosynthetic gene cluster (BGC) that drives rishirilide biosynthesis. The structural gene rsdK2 inactivation and heterologous expression of the rsd BGC confirmed the single rsd BGC encodes construction of 1-4 and, thus, accounts for two anthracene scaffolds. Precursor incubation experiments with 13C-labeled acetate revealed that a Baeyer-Villiger-type rearrangement plays a central role in construction of 1-4. Two luciferase monooxygenase components, along with a reductase component, are presumably involved in the Baeyer-Villiger-type rearrangement reaction enabling access to the two anthracene scaffold variants. Engineering of the rsd BGC unveiled three SARP family transcriptional regulators, enhancing anthracene production. Inactivation of rsdR4, a MarR family transcriptional regulator, failed to impact production of 1-4, although production of 3 was slightly improved; most importantly rsdR4 inactivation led to the new adduct 6 in high titer. Notably, inactivation of rsdH, a putative amidohydrolase, substantially improved the overall titers of 1-4 by more than 4-fold.


September 22, 2019  |  

Antimicrobial resistance profile of mcr-1 positive clinical isolates of Escherichia coli in China From 2013 to 2016.

Multidrug-resistant (MDR) Escherichia coli poses a great challenge for public health in recent decades. Polymyxins have been reconsidered as a valuable therapeutic option for the treatment of infections caused by MDR E. coli. A plasmid-encoded colistin resistance gene mcr-1 encoding phosphoethanolamine transferase has been recently described in Enterobacteriaceae. In this study, a total of 123 E. coli isolates obtained from patients with diarrheal diseases in China were used for the genetic analysis of colistin resistance in clinical isolates. Antimicrobial resistance profile of polymyxin B (PB) and 11 commonly used antimicrobial agents were determined. Among the 123 E. coli isolates, 9 isolates (7.3%) were resistant to PB and PCR screening showed that seven (5.7%) isolates carried the mcr-1 gene. A hybrid sequencing analysis using single-molecule, real-time (SMRT) sequencing and Illumina sequencing was then performed to resolve the genomes of the seven mcr-1 positive isolates. These seven isolates harbored multiple plasmids and are MDR, with six isolates carrying one mcr-1 positive plasmid and one isolate (14EC033) carrying two mcr-1 positive plasmids. These eight mcr-1 positive plasmids belonged to the IncX4, IncI2, and IncP1 types. In addition, the mcr-1 gene was the solo antibiotic resistance gene identified in the mcr-1 positive plasmids, while the rest of the antibiotic resistance genes were mostly clustered into one or two plasmids. Interestingly, one mcr-1 positive isolate (14EC047) was susceptible to PB, and we showed that the activity of MCR-1-mediated colistin resistance was not phenotypically expressed in 14EC047 host strain. Furthermore, three isolates exhibited resistance to PB but did not carry previously reported mcr-related genes. Multilocus sequence typing (MLST) showed that these mcr-1 positive E. coli isolates belonged to five different STs, and three isolates belonged to ST301 which carried multiple virulence factors related to diarrhea. Additionally, the mcr-1 positive isolates were all susceptible to imipenem (IMP), suggesting that IMP could be used to treat infection caused by mcr-1 positive E. coli isolates. Collectively, this study showed a high occurrence of mcr-1 positive plasmids in patients with diarrheal diseases of Guangzhou in China and the abolishment of the MCR-1 mediated colistin resistance in one E. coli isolate.


September 22, 2019  |  

Alpha- and beta-mannan utilization by marine Bacteroidetes.

Marine microscopic algae carry out about half of the global carbon dioxide fixation into organic matter. They provide organic substrates for marine microbes such as members of the Bacteroidetes that degrade algal polysaccharides using carbohydrate-active enzymes (CAZymes). In Bacteroidetes genomes CAZyme encoding genes are mostly grouped in distinct regions termed polysaccharide utilization loci (PULs). While some studies have shown involvement of PULs in the degradation of algal polysaccharides, the specific substrates are for the most part still unknown. We investigated four marine Bacteroidetes isolated from the southern North Sea that harbour putative mannan-specific PULs. These PULs are similarly organized as PULs in human gut Bacteroides that digest a- and ß-mannans from yeasts and plants respectively. Using proteomics and defined growth experiments with polysaccharides as sole carbon sources we could show that the investigated marine Bacteroidetes express the predicted functional proteins required for a- and ß-mannan degradation. Our data suggest that algal mannans play an as yet unknown important role in the marine carbon cycle, and that biochemical principles established for gut or terrestrial microbes also apply to marine bacteria, even though their PULs are evolutionarily distant.© 2018 The Authors. Environmental Microbiology published by Society for Applied Microbiology and John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


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