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.


June 1, 2021  |  

Unbiased characterization of metagenome composition and function using HiFi sequencing on the PacBio Sequel II System

Recent work comparing metagenomic sequencing methods indicates that a comprehensive picture of the taxonomic and functional diversity of complex communities will be difficult to achieve with one sequencing technology alone. While the lower cost of short reads has enabled greater sequencing depth, the greater contiguity of long-read assemblies and lack of GC bias in SMRT Sequencing has enabled better gene finding. However, since long-read assembly typically requires high coverage for error correction, these benefits have in the past been lost for low-abundance species. The introduction of the Sequel II System has enabled a new, higher throughput, assembly-optional data type that addresses these challenges: HiFi reads. HiFi reads combine QV20 accuracy with long read lengths, eliminating the need for assembly for most metagenome applications, including gene discovery and metabolic pathway reconstruction. In fact, the read lengths and accuracy of HiFi data match or outperform the quality metrics of most metagenome assemblies, enabling cost-effective recovery of intact genes and operons while omitting the resource intensive and data-inefficient assembly step. Here we present the application of HiFi sequencing to both mock and human fecal samples using full-length 16S and shotgun methods. This proof-of-concept work demonstrates the unique strengths of the HiFi method. First, the high correspondence between the expected community composition,16S and shotgun profiling data reflects low context bias. In addition, every HiFi read yields ~5-8 predicted genes, without assembly, using standard tools. If assembly is desired, excellent results can be achieved with Canu and contig binning tools. In summary, HiFi sequencing is a new, cost-effective option for high-resolution functional profiling of metagenomes which complements existing short read workflows.


June 1, 2021  |  

Metagenomic analysis of type II diabetes gut microbiota using PacBio HiFi reads reveals taxonomic and functional differences

In the past decade, the human microbiome has been increasingly shown to play a major role in health. For example, imbalances in gut microbiota appear to be associated with Type II diabetes mellitus (T2DM) and cardiovascular disease. Coronary artery disease (CAD) is a major determinant of the long-term prognosis among T2DM patients, with a 2- to 4-fold increased mortality risk when present. However, the exact microbial strains or functions implicated in disease need further investigation. From a large study with 523 participants (185 healthy controls, 186 T2DM patients without CAD, and 106 T2DM patients with CAD), 3 samples from each patient group were selected for long read sequencing. Each sample was prepared and sequenced on one Sequel II System SMRT Cell, to assess whether long accurate PacBio HiFi reads could yield additional insights to those made using short reads. Each of the 9 samples was subject to metagenomic assembly and binning, taxonomic classification and functional profiling. Results from metagenomic assembly and binning show that it is possible to generate a significant number of complete MAGs (Metagenome Assembled Genomes) from each sample, with over half of the high-quality MAGs being represented by a single circular contig. We show that differences found in taxonomic and functional profiles of healthy versus diabetic patients in the small 9-sample study align with the results of the larger study, as well as with results reported in literature. For example, the abundances of beneficial short- chain fatty acid (SCFA) producers such as Phascolarctobacterium faecium and Faecalibacterium prausnitzii were decreased in T2DM gut microbiota in both studies, while the abundances of quinol and quinone biosynthesis pathways were increased as compared to healthy controls. In conclusion, metagenomic analysis of long accurate HiFi reads revealed important taxonomic and functional differences in T2DM versus healthy gut microbiota. Furthermore, metagenome assembly of long HiFi reads led to the recovery of many complete MAGs and a significant number of complete circular bacterial chromosome sequences.


April 21, 2020  |  

Complete genome sequence of Pseudoalteromonas sp. MEBiC 03485, isolated from deep-sea sediment

Pseudoalteromonas strains are widely distributed in the marine environment and most have attracted considerable interest owing to their ability to synthesize biologically active metabolites. In this study, we report and describe the genome sequence of Pseudoalteromonas sp. MEBiC 03485, isolated from the deep-sea sediment of Pacific Ocean at a depth of 2000?m. The complete genome consisted of three contigs with a total genome size of 4,167,407?bp and a GC content of 40.76?l%, and was predicted to contain 4194 protein-coding genes and 131 non-coding RNA genes. The strain MEBiC 03485 genome was also shown to contain genes for diverse metabolic pathways. Genome analysis revealed that the genome of strain MEBiC 03485 was enriched with genes involved in signal transduction, mobile elements, and cold-adaptation, some of which might improve ecological fitness in the deep-sea environment. These findings improve our understanding of microbial adaptation strategies in deep-sea environments.


April 21, 2020  |  

A microbial factory for defensive kahalalides in a tripartite marine symbiosis.

Chemical defense against predators is widespread in natural ecosystems. Occasionally, taxonomically distant organisms share the same defense chemical. Here, we describe an unusual tripartite marine symbiosis, in which an intracellular bacterial symbiont (“Candidatus Endobryopsis kahalalidefaciens”) uses a diverse array of biosynthetic enzymes to convert simple substrates into a library of complex molecules (the kahalalides) for chemical defense of the host, the alga Bryopsis sp., against predation. The kahalalides are subsequently hijacked by a third partner, the herbivorous mollusk Elysia rufescens, and employed similarly for defense. “Ca E. kahalalidefaciens” has lost many essential traits for free living and acts as a factory for kahalalide production. This interaction between a bacterium, an alga, and an animal highlights the importance of chemical defense in the evolution of complex symbioses.Copyright © 2019 The Authors, some rights reserved; exclusive licensee American Association for the Advancement of Science. No claim to original U.S. Government Works.


April 21, 2020  |  

Complete Genome Sequence of Leuconostoc kimchii Strain NKJ218, Isolated from Homemade Kimchi.

Leuconostoc kimchii strain NKJ218 was isolated from homemade kimchi in South Korea. The whole genome was sequenced using the PacBio RS II and Illumina NovoSeq 6000 platforms. Here, we report a genome sequence of strain NKJ218, which consists of a 1.9-Mbp chromosome and three plasmid contigs. A total of 2,005 coding sequences (CDS) were predicted, including 1,881 protein-coding sequences.Copyright © 2019 Jung et al.


April 21, 2020  |  

Shared and unique microbes between Small hive beetles (Aethina tumida) and their honey bee hosts.

The small hive beetle (SHB) is an opportunistic parasite that feeds on bee larvae, honey, and pollen. While SHBs can also feed on fruit and other plant products, like its plant-feeding relatives, SHBs prefer to feed on hive resources and only reproduce inside bee colonies. As parasites, SHBs are inevitably exposed to bee-associated microbes, either directly from the bees or from the hive environment. These microbes have unknown impacts on beetles, nor is it known how extensively beetles transfer microbes among their bee hosts. To identify sets of beetle microbes and the transmission of microbes from bees to beetles, a metagenomic analysis was performed. We identified sets of herbivore-associated bacteria, as well as typical bee symbiotic bacteria for pollen digestion, in SHB larvae and adults. Deformed wing virus was highly abundant in beetles, which colonize SHBs as suggested by a controlled feeding trial. Our data suggest SHBs are vectors for pathogen transmission among bees and between colonies. The dispersal of host pathogens by social parasites via floral resources and the hive environment increases the threats of these parasites to honey bees. © 2019 The Authors. MicrobiologyOpen published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


April 21, 2020  |  

Reconstruction of the genomes of drug-resistant pathogens for outbreak investigation through metagenomic sequencing

Culture-independent methods that target genome fragments have shown promise in identifying certain pathogens, but the holy grail of comprehensive pathogen genome detection from microbiologically complex samples for subsequent forensic analyses remains a challenge. In the context of an investigation of a nosocomial outbreak, we used shotgun metagenomic sequencing of a human fecal sample and a neural network algorithm based on tetranucleotide frequency profiling to reconstruct microbial genomes and tested the same approach using rectal swabs from a second patient. The approach rapidly and readily detected the genome of Klebsiella pneumoniae carbapenemase (KPC)-producing K. pneumoniae in the patient fecal specimen and in the rectal swab sample, achieving a level of strain resolution that was sufficient for confident transmission inference during a highly clonal outbreak. The analysis also detected previously unrecognized colonization of the patient by vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus faecium, another multidrug-resistant bacterium.IMPORTANCE The study results reported here perfectly demonstrate the power and promise of clinical metagenomics to recover genome sequences of important drug-resistant bacteria and to rapidly provide rich data that inform outbreak investigations and treatment decisions, independently of the need to culture the organisms.


April 21, 2020  |  

Conventional culture methods with commercially available media unveil the presence of novel culturable bacteria.

Recent metagenomic analysis has revealed that our gut microbiota plays an important role in not only the maintenance of our health but also various diseases such as obesity, diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, and allergy. However, most intestinal bacteria are considered ‘unculturable’ bacteria, and their functions remain unknown. Although culture-independent genomic approaches have enabled us to gain insight into their potential roles, culture-based approaches are still required to understand their characteristic features and phenotypes. To date, various culturing methods have been attempted to obtain these ‘unculturable’ bacteria, but most such methods require advanced techniques. Here, we have tried to isolate possible unculturable bacteria from a healthy Japanese individual by using commercially available media. A 16S rRNA (ribosomal RNA) gene metagenomic analysis revealed that each culture medium showed bacterial growth depending on its selective features and a possibility of the presence of novel bacterial species. Whole genome sequencing of these candidate strains suggested the isolation of 8 novel bacterial species classified in the Actinobacteria and Firmicutes phyla. Our approach indicates that a number of intestinal bacteria hitherto considered unculturable are potentially culturable and can be cultured on commercially available media. We have obtained novel gut bacteria from a healthy Japanese individual using a combination of comprehensive genomics and conventional culturing methods. We would expect that the discovery of such novel bacteria could illuminate pivotal roles for the gut microbiota in association with human health.


April 21, 2020  |  

Carbohydrate catabolic capability of a Flavobacteriia bacterium isolated from hadal water.

Flavobacteriia are abundant in many marine environments including hadal waters, as demonstrated recently. However, it is unclear how this flavobacterial population adapts to hadal conditions. In this study, extensive comparative genomic analyses were performed for the flavobacterial strain Euzebyella marina RN62 isolated from the Mariana Trench hadal water in low abundance. The complete genome of RN62 possessed a considerable number of carbohydrate-active enzymes with a different composition. There was a predominance of GH family 13 proteins compared to closely related relatives, suggesting that RN62 has preserved a certain capacity for carbohydrate utilization and that the hadal ocean may hold an organic matter reservoir distinct from the surface ocean. Additionally, RN62 possessed potential intracellular cycling of the glycogen/starch pathway, which may serve as a strategy for carbon storage and consumption in response to nutrient pulse and starvation. Moreover, the discovery of higher glycoside hydrolase dissimilarities among Flavobacteriia, compared to peptidases and transporters, suggested variation in polysaccharide utilization related traits as an important ecophysiological factor in response to environmental alterations, such as decreased labile organic carbon in hadal waters. The presence of abundant toxin exporting, transcription and signal transduction related genes in RN62 may further help to survive in hadal conditions, including high pressure/low temperature.Copyright © 2019 Elsevier GmbH. All rights reserved.


April 21, 2020  |  

Metagenomic assembly through the lens of validation: recent advances in assessing and improving the quality of genomes assembled from metagenomes.

Metagenomic samples are snapshots of complex ecosystems at work. They comprise hundreds of known and unknown species, contain multiple strain variants and vary greatly within and across environments. Many microbes found in microbial communities are not easily grown in culture making their DNA sequence our only clue into their evolutionary history and biological function. Metagenomic assembly is a computational process aimed at reconstructing genes and genomes from metagenomic mixtures. Current methods have made significant strides in reconstructing DNA segments comprising operons, tandem gene arrays and syntenic blocks. Shorter, higher-throughput sequencing technologies have become the de facto standard in the field. Sequencers are now able to generate billions of short reads in only a few days. Multiple metagenomic assembly strategies, pipelines and assemblers have appeared in recent years. Owing to the inherent complexity of metagenome assembly, regardless of the assembly algorithm and sequencing method, metagenome assemblies contain errors. Recent developments in assembly validation tools have played a pivotal role in improving metagenomics assemblers. Here, we survey recent progress in the field of metagenomic assembly, provide an overview of key approaches for genomic and metagenomic assembly validation and demonstrate the insights that can be derived from assemblies through the use of assembly validation strategies. We also discuss the potential for impact of long-read technologies in metagenomics. We conclude with a discussion of future challenges and opportunities in the field of metagenomic assembly and validation. © The Author 2017. Published by Oxford University Press.


April 21, 2020  |  

Strain-level metagenomic assignment and compositional estimation for long reads with MetaMaps.

Metagenomic sequence classification should be fast, accurate and information-rich. Emerging long-read sequencing technologies promise to improve the balance between these factors but most existing methods were designed for short reads. MetaMaps is a new method, specifically developed for long reads, capable of mapping a long-read metagenome to a comprehensive RefSeq database with >12,000 genomes in <16?GB or RAM on a laptop computer. Integrating approximate mapping with probabilistic scoring and EM-based estimation of sample composition, MetaMaps achieves >94% accuracy for species-level read assignment and r2?>?0.97 for the estimation of sample composition on both simulated and real data when the sample genomes or close relatives are present in the classification database. To address novel species and genera, which are comparatively harder to predict, MetaMaps outputs mapping locations and qualities for all classified reads, enabling functional studies (e.g. gene presence/absence) and detection of incongruities between sample and reference genomes.


April 21, 2020  |  

Metaepigenomic analysis reveals the unexplored diversity of DNA methylation in an environmental prokaryotic community.

DNA methylation plays important roles in prokaryotes, and their genomic landscapes-prokaryotic epigenomes-have recently begun to be disclosed. However, our knowledge of prokaryotic methylation systems is focused on those of culturable microbes, which are rare in nature. Here, we used single-molecule real-time and circular consensus sequencing techniques to reveal the ‘metaepigenomes’ of a microbial community in the largest lake in Japan, Lake Biwa. We reconstructed 19 draft genomes from diverse bacterial and archaeal groups, most of which are yet to be cultured. The analysis of DNA chemical modifications in those genomes revealed 22 methylated motifs, nine of which were novel. We identified methyltransferase genes likely responsible for methylation of the novel motifs, and confirmed the catalytic specificities of four of them via transformation experiments using synthetic genes. Our study highlights metaepigenomics as a powerful approach for identification of the vast unexplored variety of prokaryotic DNA methylation systems in nature.


April 21, 2020  |  

Long-read based de novo assembly of low-complexity metagenome samples results in finished genomes and reveals insights into strain diversity and an active phage system.

Complete and contiguous genome assemblies greatly improve the quality of subsequent systems-wide functional profiling studies and the ability to gain novel biological insights. While a de novo genome assembly of an isolated bacterial strain is in most cases straightforward, more informative data about co-existing bacteria as well as synergistic and antagonistic effects can be obtained from a direct analysis of microbial communities. However, the complexity of metagenomic samples represents a major challenge. While third generation sequencing technologies have been suggested to enable finished metagenome-assembled genomes, to our knowledge, the complete genome assembly of all dominant strains in a microbiome sample has not been demonstrated. Natural whey starter cultures (NWCs) are used in cheese production and represent low-complexity microbiomes. Previous studies of Swiss Gruyère and selected Italian hard cheeses, mostly based on amplicon metagenomics, concurred that three species generally pre-dominate: Streptococcus thermophilus, Lactobacillus helveticus and Lactobacillus delbrueckii.Two NWCs from Swiss Gruyère producers were subjected to whole metagenome shotgun sequencing using the Pacific Biosciences Sequel and Illumina MiSeq platforms. In addition, longer Oxford Nanopore Technologies MinION reads had to be generated for one to resolve repeat regions. Thereby, we achieved the complete assembly of all dominant bacterial genomes from these low-complexity NWCs, which was corroborated by a 16S rRNA amplicon survey. Moreover, two distinct L. helveticus strains were successfully co-assembled from the same sample. Besides bacterial chromosomes, we could also assemble several bacterial plasmids and phages and a corresponding prophage. Biologically relevant insights were uncovered by linking the plasmids and phages to their respective host genomes using DNA methylation motifs on the plasmids and by matching prokaryotic CRISPR spacers with the corresponding protospacers on the phages. These results could only be achieved by employing long-read sequencing data able to span intragenomic as well as intergenomic repeats.Here, we demonstrate the feasibility of complete de novo genome assembly of all dominant strains from low-complexity NWCs based on whole metagenomics shotgun sequencing data. This allowed to gain novel biological insights and is a fundamental basis for subsequent systems-wide omics analyses, functional profiling and phenotype to genotype analysis of specific microbial communities.


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