April 21, 2020  |  

Long metabarcoding of the eukaryotic rDNA operon to phylogenetically and taxonomically resolve environmental diversity

High-throughput environmental DNA metabarcoding has revolutionized the analysis of microbial diversity, but this approach is generally restricted to amplicon sizes below 500 base pairs. These short regions contain limited phylogenetic signal, which makes it impractical to use environmental DNA in full phylogenetic inferences. However, new long-read sequencing technologies such as the Pacific Biosciences platform may provide sufficiently large sequence lengths to overcome the poor phylogenetic resolution of short amplicons. To test this idea, we amplified soil DNA and used PacBio Circular Consensus Sequencing (CCS) to obtain a ~4500 bp region of the eukaryotic rDNA operon spanning most of the small (18S) and large subunit (28S) ribosomal RNA genes. The CCS reads were first treated with a novel curation workflow that generated 650 high-quality OTUs containing the physically linked 18S and 28S regions of the long amplicons. In order to assign taxonomy to these OTUs, we developed a phylogeny-aware approach based on the 18S region that showed greater accuracy and sensitivity than similarity-based and phylogenetic placement-based methods using shorter reads. The taxonomically-annotated OTUs were then combined with available 18S and 28S reference sequences to infer a well-resolved phylogeny spanning all major groups of eukaryotes, allowing to accurately derive the evolutionary origin of environmental diversity. A total of 1019 sequences were included, of which a majority (58%) corresponded to the new long environmental CCS reads. Comparisons to the 18S-only region of our amplicons revealed that the combined 18S-28S genes globally increased the phylogenetic resolution, recovering specific groupings otherwise missing. The long-reads also allowed to directly investigate the relationships among environmental sequences themselves, which represents a key advantage over the placement of short reads on a reference phylogeny. Altogether, our results show that long amplicons can be treated in a full phylogenetic framework to provide greater taxonomic resolution and a robust evolutionary perspective to environmental DNA.


April 21, 2020  |  

Towards PacBio-based pan-eukaryote metabarcoding using full-length ITS sequences.

Development of high-throughput sequencing techniques have greatly benefited our understanding about microbial ecology; yet the methods producing short reads suffer from species-level resolution and uncertainty of identification. Here we optimize PacBio-based metabarcoding protocols covering the Internal Transcribed Spacer (ITS region) and partial Small Subunit (SSU) of the rRNA gene for species-level identification of all eukaryotes, with a specific focus on Fungi (including Glomeromycota) and Stramenopila (particularly Oomycota). Based on tests on composite soil samples and mock communities, we propose best suitable degenerate primers, ITS9munngs + ITS4ngsUni for eukaryotes and selected groups therein and discuss pros and cons of long read-based identification of eukaryotes. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.


April 21, 2020  |  

Relative Performance of MinION (Oxford Nanopore Technologies) versus Sequel (Pacific Biosciences) Third-Generation Sequencing Instruments in Identification of Agricultural and Forest Fungal Pathogens.

Culture-based molecular identification methods have revolutionized detection of pathogens, yet these methods are slow and may yield inconclusive results from environmental materials. The second-generation sequencing tools have much-improved precision and sensitivity of detection, but these analyses are costly and may take several days to months. Of the third-generation sequencing techniques, the portable MinION device (Oxford Nanopore Technologies) has received much attention because of its small size and possibility of rapid analysis at reasonable cost. Here, we compare the relative performances of two third-generation sequencing instruments, MinION and Sequel (Pacific Biosciences), in identification and diagnostics of fungal and oomycete pathogens from conifer (Pinaceae) needles and potato (Solanum tuberosum) leaves and tubers. We demonstrate that the Sequel instrument is efficient for metabarcoding of complex samples, whereas MinION is not suited for this purpose due to a high error rate and multiple biases. However, we find that MinION can be utilized for rapid and accurate identification of dominant pathogenic organisms and other associated organisms from plant tissues following both amplicon-based and PCR-free metagenomics approaches. Using the metagenomics approach with shortened DNA extraction and incubation times, we performed the entire MinION workflow, from sample preparation through DNA extraction, sequencing, bioinformatics, and interpretation, in 2.5 h. We advocate the use of MinION for rapid diagnostics of pathogens and potentially other organisms, but care needs to be taken to control or account for multiple potential technical biases.IMPORTANCE Microbial pathogens cause enormous losses to agriculture and forestry, but current combined culturing- and molecular identification-based detection methods are too slow for rapid identification and application of countermeasures. Here, we develop new and rapid protocols for Oxford Nanopore MinION-based third-generation diagnostics of plant pathogens that greatly improve the speed of diagnostics. However, due to high error rate and technical biases in MinION, the Pacific BioSciences Sequel platform is more useful for in-depth amplicon-based biodiversity monitoring (metabarcoding) from complex environmental samples.Copyright © 2019 American Society for Microbiology.


April 21, 2020  |  

High-throughput amplicon sequencing of the full-length 16S rRNA gene with single-nucleotide resolution.

Targeted PCR amplification and high-throughput sequencing (amplicon sequencing) of 16S rRNA gene fragments is widely used to profile microbial communities. New long-read sequencing technologies can sequence the entire 16S rRNA gene, but higher error rates have limited their attractiveness when accuracy is important. Here we present a high-throughput amplicon sequencing methodology based on PacBio circular consensus sequencing and the DADA2 sample inference method that measures the full-length 16S rRNA gene with single-nucleotide resolution and a near-zero error rate. In two artificial communities of known composition, our method recovered the full complement of full-length 16S sequence variants from expected community members without residual errors. The measured abundances of intra-genomic sequence variants were in the integral ratios expected from the genuine allelic variants within a genome. The full-length 16S gene sequences recovered by our approach allowed Escherichia coli strains to be correctly classified to the O157:H7 and K12 sub-species clades. In human fecal samples, our method showed strong technical replication and was able to recover the full complement of 16S rRNA alleles in several E. coli strains. There are likely many applications beyond microbial profiling for which high-throughput amplicon sequencing of complete genes with single-nucleotide resolution will be of use. © The Author(s) 2019. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Nucleic Acids Research.


April 21, 2020  |  

The UNITE database for molecular identification of fungi: handling dark taxa and parallel taxonomic classifications.

UNITE (https://unite.ut.ee/) is a web-based database and sequence management environment for the molecular identification of fungi. It targets the formal fungal barcode-the nuclear ribosomal internal transcribed spacer (ITS) region-and offers all ~1 000 000 public fungal ITS sequences for reference. These are clustered into ~459 000 species hypotheses and assigned digital object identifiers (DOIs) to promote unambiguous reference across studies. In-house and web-based third-party sequence curation and annotation have resulted in more than 275 000 improvements to the data over the past 15 years. UNITE serves as a data provider for a range of metabarcoding software pipelines and regularly exchanges data with all major fungal sequence databases and other community resources. Recent improvements include redesigned handling of unclassifiable species hypotheses, integration with the taxonomic backbone of the Global Biodiversity Information Facility, and support for an unlimited number of parallel taxonomic classification systems.


April 21, 2020  |  

Expedited assessment of terrestrial arthropod diversity by coupling Malaise traps with DNA barcoding 1.

Monitoring changes in terrestrial arthropod communities over space and time requires a dramatic increase in the speed and accuracy of processing samples that cannot be achieved with morphological approaches. The combination of DNA barcoding and Malaise traps allows expedited, comprehensive inventories of species abundance whose cost will rapidly decline as high-throughput sequencing technologies advance. Aside from detailing protocols from specimen sorting to data release, this paper describes their use in a survey of arthropod diversity in a national park that examined 21?194 specimens representing 2255 species. These protocols can support arthropod monitoring programs at regional, national, and continental scales.


April 21, 2020  |  

PacBio amplicon sequencing for metabarcoding of mixed DNA samples from lichen herbarium specimens.

The detection and identification of species of fungi in the environment using molecular methods heavily depends on reliable reference sequence databases. However, these databases are largely incomplete in terms of taxon coverage, and a significant effort is required from herbaria and living fungal collections for the mass-barcoding of well-identified and well-curated fungal specimens or strains. Here, a PacBio amplicon sequencing approach is applied to recent lichen herbarium specimens for the sequencing of the fungal ITS barcode, allowing a higher throughput sample processing than Sanger sequencing, which often required the use of cloning. Out of 96 multiplexed samples, a full-length ITS sequence of the target lichenised fungal species was recovered for 85 specimens. In addition, sequences obtained for co-amplified fungi gave an interesting insight into the diversity of endolichenic fungi. Challenges encountered at both the laboratory and bioinformatic stages are discussed, and cost and quality are compared with Sanger sequencing. With increasing data output and reducing sequencing cost, PacBio amplicon sequencing is seen as a promising approach for the generation of reference sequences for lichenised fungi as well as the characterisation of lichen-associated fungal communities.


April 21, 2020  |  

Newly designed 16S rRNA metabarcoding primers amplify diverse and novel archaeal taxa from the environment.

High-throughput studies of microbial communities suggest that Archaea are a widespread component of microbial diversity in various ecosystems. However, proper quantification of archaeal diversity and community ecology remains limited, as sequence coverage of Archaea is usually low owing to the inability of available prokaryotic primers to efficiently amplify archaeal compared to bacterial rRNA genes. To improve identification and quantification of Archaea, we designed and validated the utility of several primer pairs to efficiently amplify archaeal 16S rRNA genes based on up-to-date reference genes. We demonstrate that several of these primer pairs amplify phylogenetically diverse Archaea with high sequencing coverage, outperforming commonly used primers. Based on comparing the resulting long 16S rRNA gene fragments with public databases from all habitats, we found several novel family- to phylum-level archaeal taxa from topsoil and surface water. Our results suggest that archaeal diversity has been largely overlooked due to the limitations of available primers, and that improved primer pairs enable to estimate archaeal diversity more accurately. © 2018 The Authors. Environmental Microbiology Reports published by Society for Applied Microbiology and John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


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  |  

Confident phylogenetic identification of uncultured prokaryotes through long read amplicon sequencing of the 16S-ITS-23S rRNA operon.

Amplicon sequencing of the 16S rRNA gene is the predominant method to quantify microbial compositions and to discover novel lineages. However, traditional short amplicons often do not contain enough information to confidently resolve their phylogeny. Here we present a cost-effective protocol that amplifies a large part of the rRNA operon and sequences the amplicons with PacBio technology. We tested our method on a mock community and developed a read-curation pipeline that reduces the overall read error rate to 0.18%. Applying our method on four environmental samples, we captured near full-length rRNA operon amplicons from a large diversity of prokaryotes. The method operated at moderately high-throughput (22286-37,850 raw ccs reads) and generated a large amount of putative novel archaeal 23S rRNA gene sequences compared to the archaeal SILVA database. These long amplicons allowed for higher resolution during taxonomic classification by means of long (~1000 bp) 16S rRNA gene fragments and for substantially more confident phylogenies by means of combined near full-length 16S and 23S rRNA gene sequences, compared to shorter traditional amplicons (250 bp of the 16S rRNA gene). We recommend our method to those who wish to cost-effectively and confidently estimate the phylogenetic diversity of prokaryotes in environmental samples at high throughput. © 2019 The Authors. Environmental Microbiology published by Society for Applied Microbiology and John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


April 21, 2020  |  

Agricultural intensification reduces microbial network complexity and the abundance of keystone taxa in roots.

Root-associated microbes play a key role in plant performance and productivity, making them important players in agroecosystems. So far, very few studies have assessed the impact of different farming systems on the root microbiota and it is still unclear whether agricultural intensification influences the structure and complexity of microbial communities. We investigated the impact of conventional, no-till, and organic farming on wheat root fungal communities using PacBio SMRT sequencing on samples collected from 60 farmlands in Switzerland. Organic farming harbored a much more complex fungal network with significantly higher connectivity than conventional and no-till farming systems. The abundance of keystone taxa was the highest under organic farming where agricultural intensification was the lowest. We also found a strong negative association (R2?=?0.366; P?


April 21, 2020  |  

Petunia-and Arabidopsis-Specific Root Microbiota Responses to Phosphate Supplementation

Phosphorus (P) is a limiting element for plant growth. Several root microbes, including arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF), have the capacity to improve plant nutrition and their abundance is known to depend on P fertility. However, how complex root-associated bacterial and fungal communities respond to various levels of P supplementation remains ill-defined. Here we investigated the responses of the root-associated bacteria and fungi to varying levels of P supply using 16S rRNA gene and internal transcribed spacer amplicon sequencing. We grew Petunia, which forms symbiosis with AMF, and the nonmycorrhizal model species Arabidopsis as a control in a soil that is limiting in plant-available P and we then supplemented the plants with complete fertilizer solutions that varied only in their phosphate concentrations. We searched for microbes, whose abundances varied by P fertilization, tested whether a core microbiota responding to the P treatments could be identified and asked whether bacterial and fungal co-occurrence patterns change in response to the varying P levels. Root microbiota composition varied substantially in response to the varying P application. A core microbiota was not identified as different bacterial and fungal groups responded to low-P conditions in Arabidopsis and Petunia. Microbes with P-dependent abundance patterns included Mortierellomycotina in Arabidopsis, while in Petunia, they included AMF and their symbiotic endobacteria. Of note, the P-dependent root colonization by AMF was reliably quantified by sequencing. The fact that the root microbiotas of the two plant species responded differently to low-P conditions suggests that plant species specificity would need to be considered for the eventual development of microbial products that improve plant P nutrition.


September 22, 2019  |  

PacBio metabarcoding of Fungi and other eukaryotes: errors, biases and perspectives.

Second-generation, high-throughput sequencing methods have greatly improved our understanding of the ecology of soil microorganisms, yet the short barcodes (< 500 bp) provide limited taxonomic and phylogenetic information for species discrimination and taxonomic assignment. Here, we utilized the third-generation Pacific Biosciences (PacBio) RSII and Sequel instruments to evaluate the suitability of full-length internal transcribed spacer (ITS) barcodes and longer rRNA gene amplicons for metabarcoding Fungi, Oomycetes and other eukaryotes in soil samples. Metabarcoding revealed multiple errors and biases: Taq polymerase substitution errors and mis-incorporating indels in sequencing homopolymers constitute major errors; sequence length biases occur during PCR, library preparation, loading to the sequencing instrument and quality filtering; primer-template mismatches bias the taxonomic profile when using regular and highly degenerate primers. The RSII and Sequel platforms enable the sequencing of amplicons up to 3000 bp, but the sequence quality remains slightly inferior to Illumina sequencing especially in longer amplicons. The full ITS barcode and flanking rRNA small subunit gene greatly improve taxonomic identification at the species and phylum levels, respectively. We conclude that PacBio sequencing provides a viable alternative for metabarcoding of organisms that are of relatively low diversity, require > 500-bp barcode for reliable identification or when phylogenetic approaches are intended.© 2017 The Authors. New Phytologist © 2017 New Phytologist Trust.


September 22, 2019  |  

Species-level bacterial community profiling of the healthy sinonasal microbiome using Pacific Biosciences sequencing of full-length 16S rRNA genes.

Pan-bacterial 16S rRNA microbiome surveys performed with massively parallel DNA sequencing technologies have transformed community microbiological studies. Current 16S profiling methods, however, fail to provide sufficient taxonomic resolution and accuracy to adequately perform species-level associative studies for specific conditions. This is due to the amplification and sequencing of only short 16S rRNA gene regions, typically providing for only family- or genus-level taxonomy. Moreover, sequencing errors often inflate the number of taxa present. Pacific Biosciences’ (PacBio’s) long-read technology in particular suffers from high error rates per base. Herein, we present a microbiome analysis pipeline that takes advantage of PacBio circular consensus sequencing (CCS) technology to sequence and error correct full-length bacterial 16S rRNA genes, which provides high-fidelity species-level microbiome data.Analysis of a mock community with 20 bacterial species demonstrated 100% specificity and sensitivity with regard to taxonomic classification. Examination of a 250-plus species mock community demonstrated correct species-level classification of >?90% of taxa, and relative abundances were accurately captured. The majority of the remaining taxa were demonstrated to be multiply, incorrectly, or incompletely classified. Using this methodology, we examined the microgeographic variation present among the microbiomes of six sinonasal sites, by both swab and biopsy, from the anterior nasal cavity to the sphenoid sinus from 12 subjects undergoing trans-sphenoidal hypophysectomy. We found greater variation among subjects than among sites within a subject, although significant within-individual differences were also observed. Propiniobacterium acnes (recently renamed Cutibacterium acnes) was the predominant species throughout, but was found at distinct relative abundances by site.Our microbial composition analysis pipeline for single-molecule real-time 16S rRNA gene sequencing (MCSMRT, https://github.com/jpearl01/mcsmrt ) overcomes deficits of standard marker gene-based microbiome analyses by using CCS of entire 16S rRNA genes to provide increased taxonomic and phylogenetic resolution. Extensions of this approach to other marker genes could help refine taxonomic assignments of microbial species and improve reference databases, as well as strengthen the specificity of associations between microbial communities and dysbiotic states.


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.


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