June 1, 2021  |  

An interactive workflow for the analysis of contigs from the metagenomic shotgun assembly of SMRT Sequencing data.

The data throughput of next-generation sequencing allows whole microbial communities to be analyzed using a shotgun sequencing approach. Because a key task in taking advantage of these data is the ability to cluster reads that belong to the same member in a community, single-molecule long reads of up to 30 kb from SMRT Sequencing provide a unique capability in identifying those relationships and pave the way towards finished assemblies of community members. Long reads become even more valuable as samples get more complex with lower intra-species variation, a larger number of closely related species, or high intra-species variation. Here we present a collection of tools tailored for PacBio data for the analysis of these fragmented metagenomic assembles, allowing improvements in the assembly results, and greater insight into the communities themselves. Supervised classification is applied to a large set of sequence characteristics, e.g., GC content, raw-read coverage, k-mer frequency, and gene prediction information, allowing the clustering of contigs from single or highly related species. A unique feature of SMRT Sequencing data is the availability of base modification / methylation information, which can be used to further analyze clustered contigs expected to be comprised of single or very closely related species. Here we show base modification information can be used to further study variation, based on differences in the methylated DNA motifs involved in the restriction modification system. Application of these techniques is demonstrated on a monkey intestinal microbiome sample and an in silico mix of real sequencing data from distinct bacterial samples.


June 1, 2021  |  

A workflow for the analysis of contigs from the metagenomic shotgun assembly of SMRT Sequencing data

The throughput of SMRT Sequencing and long reads allows microbial communities to be analyzed using a shotgun sequencing approach. Key to leveraging this data is the ability to cluster sequences belonging to the same member of a community. Long reads of up to 40 kb provide a unique capability in identifying those relationships, and pave the way towards finished assemblies of community members. Long reads are highly valuable when samples are more complex and containing lower intra-species variation, such as a larger number of closely related species, or high intra-species variation. Here, we present a collection of tools tailored for the analysis of PacBio metagenomic assemblies. These tools allow for improvements in the assembly results, and greater insight into the complexity of the study communities. Supervised classification is applied to a large set of sequence characteristics (e.g. GC content, raw read coverage, k-mer frequency, and gene prediction information) and to cluster contigs from single or highly related species. Assembly in isolation of the raw data associated with these contigs is shown to improve assembly statistics. A unique feature of SMRT Sequencing is the availability to leverage simultaneously collected base modification / methylation data to aid the clustering of contigs expected to comprise a single or very closely related species. We demonstrate the added value of base modification information to distinguish and study variation within metagenomic samples based on differences in the methylated DNA motifs involved in the restriction modification system. Application of these techniques is demonstrated on a mock community and monkey intestinal microbiome sample.


April 21, 2020  |  

Morphological and genomic characterisation of the hybrid schistosome infecting humans in Europe reveals a complex admixture between Schistosoma haematobium and Schistosoma bovis parasites

Schistosomes cause schistosomiasis, the worldtextquoterights second most important parasitic disease after malaria. A peculiar feature of schistosomes is their ability to produce viable and fertile hybrids. Originally only present in the tropics, schistosomiasis is now also endemic in Europe. Based on two genetic markers the European species had been identified as a hybrid between the ruminant-infective Schistosoma bovis and the human-infective Schistosoma haematobium.Here we describe for the first time the genomic composition of the European schistosome hybrid (77% of S. haematobium and 23% of S. bovis origins), its morphometric parameters and its compatibility with the European vector snail and intermediate host Compatibility is a key parameter for the parasites life cycle progression. We also show that egg morphology (a classical diagnostic parameter) does not allow for differential diagnosis while genetic tests do so. Additionally, we performed genome assembly improvement and annotation of S. bovis, the parental species for which no satisfactory genome assembly was available.For the first time since the discovery of hybrid schistosomes, these results reveal at the whole genomic level a complex admixture of parental genomes highlighting (i) the high permeability of schistosomes to other speciestextquoteright alleles, and (ii) the importance of hybrid formation for pushing species boundaries not only conceptionally but also geographically.


April 21, 2020  |  

Draft Genome Sequence of Streptomyces sp. Strain RKND-216, an Antibiotic Producer Isolated from Marine Sediment in Prince Edward Island, Canada.

Streptomyces sp. strain RKND-216 was isolated from marine sediment collected in Prince Edward Island, Canada, and produces a putatively novel bioactive natural product with antitubercular activity. The genome assembly consists of two contigs covering 5.61?Mb. Genome annotation identified 4,618 predicted protein-coding sequences and 19 predicted natural product biosynthetic gene clusters.Copyright © 2019 Liang et al.


April 21, 2020  |  

Diversity of phytobeneficial traits revealed by whole-genome analysis of worldwide-isolated phenazine-producing Pseudomonas spp.

Plant-beneficial Pseudomonas spp. competitively colonize the rhizosphere and display plant-growth promotion and/or disease-suppression activities. Some strains within the P. fluorescens species complex produce phenazine derivatives, such as phenazine-1-carboxylic acid. These antimicrobial compounds are broadly inhibitory to numerous soil-dwelling plant pathogens and play a role in the ecological competence of phenazine-producing Pseudomonas spp. We assembled a collection encompassing 63 strains representative of the worldwide diversity of plant-beneficial phenazine-producing Pseudomonas spp. In this study, we report the sequencing of 58 complete genomes using PacBio RS II sequencing technology. Distributed among four subgroups within the P. fluorescens species complex, the diversity of our collection is reflected by the large pangenome which accounts for 25 413 protein-coding genes. We identified genes and clusters encoding for numerous phytobeneficial traits, including antibiotics, siderophores and cyclic lipopeptides biosynthesis, some of which were previously unknown in these microorganisms. Finally, we gained insight into the evolutionary history of the phenazine biosynthetic operon. Given its diverse genomic context, it is likely that this operon was relocated several times during Pseudomonas evolution. Our findings acknowledge the tremendous diversity of plant-beneficial phenazine-producing Pseudomonas spp., paving the way for comparative analyses to identify new genetic determinants involved in biocontrol, plant-growth promotion and rhizosphere competence. © 2018 Society for Applied Microbiology and John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


April 21, 2020  |  

One Aeromonas salmonicida subsp. salmonicida isolate with a pAsa5 variant bearing antibiotic resistance and a pRAS3 variant making a link with a swine pathogen.

The Gram-negative bacterium Aeromonas salmonicida subsp. salmonicida is an aquatic pathogen which causes furunculosis to salmonids, especially in fish farms. The emergence of strains of this bacterium exhibiting antibiotic resistance is increasing, limiting the effectiveness of antibiotherapy as a treatment against this worldwide disease. In the present study, we discovered an isolate of A. salmonicida subsp. salmonicida that harbors two novel plasmids variants carrying antibiotic resistance genes. The use of long-read sequencing (PacBio) allowed us to fully characterize those variants, named pAsa5-3432 and pRAS3-3432, which both differ from their classic counterpart through their content in mobile genetic elements. The plasmid pAsa5-3432 carries a new multidrug region composed of multiple mobile genetic elements, including a Class 1 integron similar to an integrated element of Salmonella enterica. With this new region, probably acquired through plasmid recombination, pAsa5-3432 is the first reported plasmid of this bacterium that bears both an essential virulence factor (the type three secretion system) and multiple antibiotic resistance genes. As for pRAS3-3432, compared to the classic pRAS3, it carries a new mobile element that has only been identified in Chlamydia suis. Hence, with the identification of those two novel plasmids harboring mobile genetic elements that are normally encountered in other bacterial species, the present study puts emphasis on the important impact of mobile genetic elements in the genomic plasticity of A. salmonicida subsp. salmonicida and suggests that this aquatic bacterium could be an important reservoir of antibiotic resistance genes that can be exchanged with other bacteria, including human and animal pathogens. Copyright © 2019 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


April 21, 2020  |  

Alternative Splicing of the Delta-Opioid Receptor Gene Suggests Existence of New Functional Isoforms.

The delta-opioid receptor (DOPr) participates in mediating the effects of opioid analgesics. However, no selective agonists have entered clinical care despite potential to ameliorate many neurological and psychiatric disorders. In an effort to address the drug development challenges, the functional contribution of receptor isoforms created by alternative splicing of the three-exonic coding gene, OPRD1, has been overlooked. We report that the gene is transcriptionally more diverse than previously demonstrated, producing novel protein isoforms in humans and mice. We provide support for the functional relevance of splice variants through context-dependent expression profiling (tissues, disease model) and conservation of the transcriptional landscape in closely related vertebrates. The conserved alternative transcriptional events have two distinct patterns. First, cassette exon inclusions between exons 1 and 2 interrupt the reading frame, producing truncated receptor fragments comprising only the first transmembrane (TM) domain, despite the lack of exact exon orthologues between distant species. Second, a novel promoter and transcriptional start site upstream of exon 2 produces a transcript of an N-terminally truncated 6TM isoform. However, a fundamental difference in the exonic landscaping as well as translation and translation products poses limits for modelling the human DOPr receptor system in mice.


April 21, 2020  |  

Vaccine-induced protection from homologous tier 2 SHIV challenge in nonhuman primates depends on serum-neutralizing antibody titers.

Passive administration of HIV neutralizing antibodies (nAbs) can protect macaques from hard-to-neutralize (tier 2) chimeric simian-human immunodeficiency virus (SHIV) challenge. However, conditions for nAb-mediated protection after vaccination have not been established. Here, we selected groups of 6 rhesus macaques with either high or low serum nAb titers from a total of 78 animals immunized with recombinant native-like (SOSIP) Env trimers. Repeat intrarectal challenge with homologous tier 2 SHIVBG505 led to rapid infection in unimmunized and low-titer animals. High-titer animals, however, demonstrated protection that was gradually lost as nAb titers waned over time. An autologous serum ID50 nAb titer of ~1:500 afforded more than 90% protection from medium-dose SHIV infection. In contrast, antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity and T cell activity did not correlate with protection. Therefore, Env protein-based vaccination strategies can protect against hard-to-neutralize SHIV challenge in rhesus macaques by inducing tier 2 nAbs, provided appropriate neutralizing titers can be reached and maintained. Copyright © 2018 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


April 21, 2020  |  

Human Migration and the Spread of the Nematode Parasite Wuchereria bancrofti.

The human disease lymphatic filariasis causes the debilitating effects of elephantiasis and hydrocele. Lymphatic filariasis currently affects the lives of 90 million people in 52 countries. There are three nematodes that cause lymphatic filariasis, Brugia malayi, Brugia timori, and Wuchereria bancrofti, but 90% of all cases of lymphatic filariasis are caused solely by W. bancrofti (Wb). Here we use population genomics to reconstruct the probable route and timing of migration of Wb strains that currently infect Africa, Haiti, and Papua New Guinea (PNG). We used selective whole genome amplification to sequence 42 whole genomes of single Wb worms from populations in Haiti, Mali, Kenya, and PNG. Our results are consistent with a hypothesis of an Island Southeast Asia or East Asian origin of Wb. Our demographic models support divergence times that correlate with the migration of human populations. We hypothesize that PNG was infected at two separate times, first by the Melanesians and later by the migrating Austronesians. The migrating Austronesians also likely introduced Wb to Madagascar where later migrations spread it to continental Africa. From Africa, Wb spread to the New World during the transatlantic slave trade. Genome scans identified 17 genes that were highly differentiated among Wb populations. Among these are genes associated with human immune suppression, insecticide sensitivity, and proposed drug targets. Identifying the distribution of genetic diversity in Wb populations and selection forces acting on the genome will build a foundation to test future hypotheses and help predict response to current eradication efforts. © The Author(s) 2019. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail: journals.permissions@oup.com.


April 21, 2020  |  

Plastid genomes from diverse glaucophyte genera reveal a largely conserved gene content and limited architectural diversity.

Plastid genome (ptDNA) data of Glaucophyta have been limited for many years to the genus Cyanophora. Here, we sequenced the ptDNAs of Gloeochaete wittrockiana, Cyanoptyche gloeocystis, Glaucocystis incrassata, and Glaucocystis sp. BBH. The reported sequences are the first genome-scale plastid data available for these three poorly studied glaucophyte genera. Although the Glaucophyta plastids appear morphologically “ancestral,” they actually bear derived genomes not radically different from those of red algae or viridiplants. The glaucophyte plastid coding capacity is highly conserved (112 genes shared) and the architecture of the plastid chromosomes is relatively simple. Phylogenomic analyses recovered Glaucophyta as the earliest diverging Archaeplastida lineage, but the position of viridiplants as the first branching group was not rejected by the approximately unbiased test. Pairwise distances estimated from 19 different plastid genes revealed that the highest sequence divergence between glaucophyte genera is frequently higher than distances between species of different classes within red algae or viridiplants. Gene synteny and sequence similarity in the ptDNAs of the two Glaucocystis species analyzed is conserved. However, the ptDNA of Gla. incrassata contains a 7.9-kb insertion not detected in Glaucocystis sp. BBH. The insertion contains ten open reading frames that include four coding regions similar to bacterial serine recombinases (two open reading frames), DNA primases, and peptidoglycan aminohydrolases. These three enzymes, often encoded in bacterial plasmids and bacteriophage genomes, are known to participate in the mobilization and replication of DNA mobile elements. It is therefore plausible that the insertion in Gla. incrassata ptDNA is derived from a DNA mobile element.


April 21, 2020  |  

Whole Genome Sequencing of the Mutamouse Model Reveals Strain- and Colony-Level Variation, and Genomic Features of the Transgene Integration Site.

The MutaMouse transgenic rodent model is widely used for assessing in vivo mutagenicity. Here, we report the characterization of MutaMouse’s whole genome sequence and its genetic variants compared to the C57BL/6 reference genome. High coverage (>50X) next-generation sequencing (NGS) of whole genomes from multiple MutaMouse animals from the Health Canada (HC) colony showed ~5 million SNVs per genome, ~20% of which are putatively novel. Sequencing of two animals from a geographically separated colony at Covance indicated that, over the course of 23 years, each colony accumulated 47,847 (HC) and 17,677 (Covance) non-parental homozygous single nucleotide variants. We found no novel nonsense or missense mutations that impair the MutaMouse response to genotoxic agents. Pairing sequencing data with array comparative genomic hybridization (aCGH) improved the accuracy and resolution of copy number variants (CNVs) calls and identified 300 genomic regions with CNVs. We also used long-read sequence technology (PacBio) to show that the transgene integration site involved a large deletion event with multiple inversions and rearrangements near a retrotransposon. The MutaMouse genome gives important genetic context to studies using this model, offers insight on the mechanisms of structural variant formation, and contributes a framework to analyze aCGH results alongside NGS data.


April 21, 2020  |  

Urinary tract colonization is enhanced by a plasmid that regulates uropathogenic Acinetobacter baumannii chromosomal genes.

Multidrug resistant (MDR) Acinetobacter baumannii poses a growing threat to global health. Research on Acinetobacter pathogenesis has primarily focused on pneumonia and bloodstream infections, even though one in five A. baumannii strains are isolated from urinary sites. In this study, we highlight the role of A. baumannii as a uropathogen. We develop the first A. baumannii catheter-associated urinary tract infection (CAUTI) murine model using UPAB1, a recent MDR urinary isolate. UPAB1 carries the plasmid pAB5, a member of the family of large conjugative plasmids that represses the type VI secretion system (T6SS) in multiple Acinetobacter strains. pAB5 confers niche specificity, as its carriage improves UPAB1 survival in a CAUTI model and decreases virulence in a pneumonia model. Comparative proteomic and transcriptomic analyses show that pAB5 regulates the expression of multiple chromosomally-encoded virulence factors besides T6SS. Our results demonstrate that plasmids can impact bacterial infections by controlling the expression of chromosomal genes.


April 21, 2020  |  

Closing the Yield Gap for Cannabis: A Meta-Analysis of Factors Determining Cannabis Yield.

Until recently, the commercial production of Cannabis sativa was restricted to varieties that yielded high-quality fiber while producing low levels of the psychoactive cannabinoid tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). In the last few years, a number of jurisdictions have legalized the production of medical and/or recreational cannabis with higher levels of THC, and other jurisdictions seem poised to follow suit. Consequently, demand for industrial-scale production of high yield cannabis with consistent cannabinoid profiles is expected to increase. In this paper we highlight that currently, projected annual production of cannabis is based largely on facility size, not yield per square meter. This meta-analysis of cannabis yields reported in scientific literature aimed to identify the main factors contributing to cannabis yield per plant, per square meter, and per W of lighting electricity. In line with previous research we found that variety, plant density, light intensity and fertilization influence cannabis yield and cannabinoid content; we also identified pot size, light type and duration of the flowering period as predictors of yield and THC accumulation. We provide insight into the critical role of light intensity, quality, and photoperiod in determining cannabis yields, with particular focus on the potential for light-emitting diodes (LEDs) to improve growth and reduce energy requirements. We propose that the vast amount of genomics data currently available for cannabis can be used to better understand the effect of genotype on yield. Finally, we describe diversification that is likely to emerge in cannabis growing systems and examine the potential role of plant-growth promoting rhizobacteria (PGPR) for growth promotion, regulation of cannabinoid biosynthesis, and biocontrol.


April 21, 2020  |  

Comparative Genomic Analyses Reveal Core-Genome-Wide Genes Under Positive Selection and Major Regulatory Hubs in Outlier Strains of Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

Genomic information for outlier strains of Pseudomonas aeruginosa is exiguous when compared with classical strains. We sequenced and constructed the complete genome of an environmental strain CR1 of P. aeruginosa and performed the comparative genomic analysis. It clustered with the outlier group, hence we scaled up the analyses to understand the differences in environmental and clinical outlier strains. We identified eight new regions of genomic plasticity and a plasmid pCR1 with a VirB/D4 complex followed by trimeric auto-transporter that can induce virulence phenotype in the genome of strain CR1. Virulence genotype analysis revealed that strain CR1 lacked hemolytic phospholipase C and D, three genes for LPS biosynthesis and had reduced antibiotic resistance genes when compared with clinical strains. Genes belonging to proteases, bacterial exporters and DNA stabilization were found to be under strong positive selection, thus facilitating pathogenicity and survival of the outliers. The outliers had the complete operon for the production of vibrioferrin, a siderophore present in plant growth promoting bacteria. The competence to acquire multidrug resistance and new virulence factors makes these strains a potential threat. However, we identified major regulatory hubs that can be used as drug targets against both the classical and outlier groups.


October 23, 2019  |  

Optimized CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing for Leishmania and its use to target a multigene family, induce chromosomal translocation, and study DNA break repair mechanisms.

CRISPR-Cas9-mediated genome editing has recently been adapted for Leishmania spp. parasites, the causative agents of human leishmaniasis. We have optimized this genome-editing tool by selecting for cells with CRISPR-Cas9 activity through cotargeting the miltefosine transporter gene; mutation of this gene leads to miltefosine resistance. This cotargeting strategy integrated into a triple guide RNA (gRNA) expression vector was used to delete all 11 copies of the A2 multigene family; this was not previously possible with the traditional gene-targeting method. We found that the Leishmania donovani rRNA promoter is more efficient than the U6 promoter in driving gRNA expression, and sequential transfections of the oligonucleotide donor significantly eased the isolation of edited mutants. A gRNA and Cas9 coexpression vector was developed that was functional in all tested Leishmania species, including L. donovani, L. major, and L. mexicana. By simultaneously targeting sites from two different chromosomes, all four types of targeted chromosomal translocations were generated, regardless of the polycistronic transcription direction from the parent chromosomes. It was possible to use this CRISPR system to create a single conserved amino acid substitution (A189G) mutation for both alleles of RAD51, a DNA recombinase involved in homology-directed repair. We found that RAD51 is essential for L. donovani survival based on direct observation of the death of mutants with both RAD51 alleles disrupted, further confirming that this CRISPR system can reveal gene essentiality. Evidence is also provided that microhomology-mediated end joining (MMEJ) plays a major role in double-strand DNA break repair in L. donovani. IMPORTANCELeishmania parasites cause human leishmaniasis. To accelerate characterization of Leishmania genes for new drug and vaccine development, we optimized and simplified the CRISPR-Cas9 genome-editing tool for Leishmania. We show that co-CRISPR targeting of the miltefosine transporter gene and serial transfections of an oligonucleotide donor significantly eased isolation of edited mutants. This cotargeting strategy was efficiently used to delete all 11 members of the A2 virulence gene family. This technical advancement is valuable, since there are many gene clusters and supernumerary chromosomes in the various Leishmania species and isolates. We simplified this CRISPR system by developing a gRNA and Cas9 coexpression vector which could be used to delete genes in various Leishmania species. This CRISPR system could also be used to generate specific chromosomal translocations, which will help in the study of Leishmania gene expression and transcription control. This study also provides new information about double-strand DNA break repair mechanisms in Leishmania.


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