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  |  

Microbial diversity in the tick Argas japonicus (Acari: Argasidae) with a focus on Rickettsia pathogens.

The soft tick Argas japonicus mainly infests birds and can cause human dermatitis; however, no pathogen has been identified from this tick species in China. In the present study, the microbiota in A. japonicus collected from an epidemic community was explored, and some putative Rickettsia pathogens were further characterized. The results obtained indicated that bacteria in A. japonicus were mainly ascribed to the phyla Proteobacteria, Firmicutes and Actinobacteria. At the genus level, the male A. japonicus harboured more diverse bacteria than the females and nymphs. The bacteria Alcaligenes, Pseudomonas, Rickettsia and Staphylococcus were common in nymphs and adults. The abundance of bacteria belonging to the Rickettsia genus in females and males was 7.27% and 10.42%, respectively. Furthermore, the 16S rRNA gene of Rickettsia was amplified and sequenced, and phylogenetic analysis revealed that 13 sequences were clustered with the spotted fever group rickettsiae (Rickettsia heilongjiangensis and Rickettsia japonica) and three were clustered with Rickettsia limoniae, which suggested that the characterized Rickettsia in A. japonicus were novel putative pathogens and also that the residents were at considerable risk for infection by tick-borne pathogens. © 2019 The Royal Entomological Society.


April 21, 2020  |  

Biogeography and Microscale Diversity Shape the Biosynthetic Potential of Fungus-growing Ant-associated Pseudonocardia

The geographic and phylogenetic scale of ecologically relevant microbial diversity is still poorly understood. Using a model mutualism, fungus-growing ants and their defensive bacterial associate Pseudonocardia, we analyzed genetic diversity and biosynthetic potential in 46 strains isolated from ant colonies in a 20km transect near Barro Colorado Island in Panama. Despite an average pairwise core genome similarity of greater than 99%, population genomic analysis revealed several distinct bacterial populations matching ant host geographic distribution. We identified both genetic diversity signatures and divergent genes distinct to each lineage. We also identify natural product biosynthesis clusters specific to isolation locations. These geographic patterns were observable despite the populations living in close proximity to each other and provides evidence of ongoing genetic exchange. Our results add to the growing body of literature suggesting that variation in traits of interest can be found at extremely fine phylogenetic scales.


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  |  

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

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


April 21, 2020  |  

Identification of Initial Colonizing Bacteria in Dental Plaques from Young Adults Using Full-Length 16S rRNA Gene Sequencing.

Development of dental plaque begins with the adhesion of salivary bacteria to the acquired pellicle covering the tooth surface. In this study, we collected in vivo dental plaque formed on hydroxyapatite disks for 6 h from 74 young adults and identified initial colonizing taxa based on full-length 16S rRNA gene sequences. A long-read, single-molecule sequencer, PacBio Sequel, provided 100,109 high-quality full-length 16S rRNA gene sequence reads from the early plaque microbiota, which were assigned to 90 oral bacterial taxa. The microbiota obtained from every individual mostly comprised the 21 predominant taxa with the maximum relative abundance of over 10% (95.8?±?6.2%, mean ± SD), which included Streptococcus species as well as nonstreptococcal species. A hierarchical cluster analysis of their relative abundance distribution suggested three major patterns of microbiota compositions: a Streptococcus mitis/Streptococcus sp. HMT-423-dominant profile, a Neisseria sicca/Neisseria flava/Neisseria mucosa-dominant profile, and a complex profile with high diversity. No notable variations in the community structures were associated with the dental caries status, although the total bacterial amounts were larger in the subjects with a high number of caries-experienced teeth (=8) than in those with no or a low number of caries-experienced teeth. Our results revealed the bacterial taxa primarily involved in early plaque formation on hydroxyapatite disks in young adults.IMPORTANCE Selective attachment of salivary bacteria to the tooth surface is an initial and repetitive phase in dental plaque development. We employed full-length 16S rRNA gene sequence analysis with a high taxonomic resolution using a third-generation sequencer, PacBio Sequel, to determine the bacterial composition during early plaque formation in 74 young adults accurately and in detail. The results revealed 21 bacterial taxa primarily involved in early plaque formation on hydroxyapatite disks in young adults, which include several streptococcal species as well as nonstreptococcal species, such as Neisseria sicca/Nflava/Nmucosa and Rothia dentocariosa Given that no notable variations in the microbiota composition were associated with the dental caries status, the maturation process, rather than the specific bacterial species that are the initial colonizers, is likely to play an important role in the development of dysbiotic microbiota associated with dental caries. Copyright © 2019 Ihara et al.


April 21, 2020  |  

Harnessing long-read amplicon sequencing to uncover NRPS and Type I PKS gene sequence diversity in polar desert soils.

The severity of environmental conditions at Earth’s frigid zones present attractive opportunities for microbial biomining due to their heightened potential as reservoirs for novel secondary metabolites. Arid soil microbiomes within the Antarctic and Arctic circles are remarkably rich in Actinobacteria and Proteobacteria, bacterial phyla known to be prolific producers of natural products. Yet the diversity of secondary metabolite genes within these cold, extreme environments remain largely unknown. Here, we employed amplicon sequencing using PacBio RS II, a third generation long-read platform, to survey over 200 soils spanning twelve east Antarctic and high Arctic sites for natural product-encoding genes, specifically targeting non-ribosomal peptides (NRPS) and Type I polyketides (PKS). NRPS-encoding genes were more widespread across the Antarctic, whereas PKS genes were only recoverable from a handful of sites. Many recovered sequences were deemed novel due to their low amino acid sequence similarity to known protein sequences, particularly throughout the east Antarctic sites. Phylogenetic analysis revealed that a high proportion were most similar to antifungal and biosurfactant-type clusters. Multivariate analysis showed that soil fertility factors of carbon, nitrogen and moisture displayed significant negative relationships with natural product gene richness. Our combined results suggest that secondary metabolite production is likely to play an important physiological component of survival for microorganisms inhabiting arid, nutrient-starved soils. © FEMS 2019.


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  |  

Genomic variation and strain-specific functional adaptation in the human gut microbiome during early life.

The human gut microbiome matures towards the adult composition during the first years of life and is implicated in early immune development. Here, we investigate the effects of microbial genomic diversity on gut microbiome development using integrated early childhood data sets collected in the DIABIMMUNE study in Finland, Estonia and Russian Karelia. We show that gut microbial diversity is associated with household location and linear growth of children. Single nucleotide polymorphism- and metagenomic assembly-based strain tracking revealed large and highly dynamic microbial pangenomes, especially in the genus Bacteroides, in which we identified evidence of variability deriving from Bacteroides-targeting bacteriophages. Our analyses revealed functional consequences of strain diversity; only 10% of Finnish infants harboured Bifidobacterium longum subsp. infantis, a subspecies specialized in human milk metabolism, whereas Russian infants commonly maintained a probiotic Bifidobacterium bifidum strain in infancy. Groups of bacteria contributing to diverse, characterized metabolic pathways converged to highly subject-specific configurations over the first two years of life. This longitudinal study extends the current view of early gut microbial community assembly based on strain-level genomic variation.


April 21, 2020  |  

Investigating the bacterial microbiota of traditional fermented dairy products using propidium monoazide with single-molecule real-time sequencing.

Traditional fermented dairy foods have been the major components of the Mongolian diet for millennia. In this study, we used propidium monoazide (PMA; binds to DNA of nonviable cells so that only viable cells are enumerated) and single-molecule real-time sequencing (SMRT) technology to investigate the total and viable bacterial compositions of 19 traditional fermented dairy foods, including koumiss from Inner Mongolia (KIM), koumiss from Mongolia (KM), and fermented cow milk from Mongolia (CM); sample groups treated with PMA were designated PKIM, PKM, and PCM. Full-length 16S rRNA sequencing identified 195 bacterial species in 121 genera and 13 phyla in PMA-treated and untreated samples. The PMA-treated and untreated samples differed significantly in their bacterial community composition and a-diversity values. The predominant species in KM, KIM, and CM were Lactobacillus helveticus, Streptococcus parauberis, and Lactobacillus delbrueckii, whereas the predominant species in PKM, PKIM, and PCM were Enterobacter xiangfangensis, Lactobacillus helveticus, and E. xiangfangensis, respectively. Weighted and unweighted principal coordinate analyses showed a clear clustering pattern with good separation and only minor overlapping. In addition, a pure culture method was performed to obtain lactic acid bacteria resources in dairy samples according to the results of SMRT sequencing. A total of 102 LAB strains were identified and Lb. helveticus (68.63%) was the most abundant, in agreement with SMRT sequencing results. Our results revealed that the bacterial communities of traditional dairy foods are complex and vary by type of fermented dairy product. The PMA treatment induced significant changes in bacterial community structure.Copyright © 2019 American Dairy Science Association. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


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  |  

Complete Genome Sequence of Saccharospirillum mangrovi HK-33T Sheds Light on the Ecological Role of a Bacterium in Mangrove Sediment Environment.

We present the genome sequence of Saccharospirillum mangrovi HK-33T, isolated from a mangrove sediment sample in Haikou, China. The complete genome of S. mangrovi HK-33T consisted of a single-circular chromosome with the size of 3,686,911 bp as well as an average G?+?C content of 57.37%, and contained 3,383 protein-coding genes, 4 operons of 16S-23S-5S rRNA genes, and 52 tRNA genes. Genomic annotation indicated that the genome of S. mangrovi HK-33T had many genes related to oligosaccharide and polysaccharide degradation and utilization of polyhydroxyalkanoate. For nitrogen cycle, genes encoding nitrate and nitrite reductase, glutamate dehydrogenase, glutamate synthase, and glutamine synthetase could be found. For phosphorus cycle, genes related to polyphosphate kinases (ppk1 and ppk2), the high-affinity phosphate-specific transport (Pst) system, and the low-affinity inorganic phosphate transporter (pitA) were predicted. For sulfur cycle, cysteine synthase and type III acyl coenzyme A transferase (dddD) coding genes were searched out. This study provides evidence about carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus, and sulfur metabolic patterns of S. mangrovi HK-33T and broadens our understandings about ecological roles of this bacterium in the mangrove sediment environment.


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  |  

Global-level population genomics reveals differential effects of geography and phylogeny on horizontal gene transfer in soil bacteria.

Although microorganisms are known to dominate Earth’s biospheres and drive biogeochemical cycling, little is known about the geographic distributions of microbial populations or the environmental factors that pattern those distributions. We used a global-level hierarchical sampling scheme to comprehensively characterize the evolutionary relationships and distributional limitations of the nitrogen-fixing bacterial symbionts of the crop chickpea, generating 1,027 draft whole-genome sequences at the level of bacterial populations, including 14 high-quality PacBio genomes from a phylogenetically representative subset. We find that diverse Mesorhizobium taxa perform symbiosis with chickpea and have largely overlapping global distributions. However, sampled locations cluster based on the phylogenetic diversity of Mesorhizobium populations, and diversity clusters correspond to edaphic and environmental factors, primarily soil type and latitude. Despite long-standing evolutionary divergence and geographic isolation, the diverse taxa observed to nodulate chickpea share a set of integrative conjugative elements (ICEs) that encode the major functions of the symbiosis. This symbiosis ICE takes 2 forms in the bacterial chromosome-tripartite and monopartite-with tripartite ICEs confined to a broadly distributed superspecies clade. The pairwise evolutionary relatedness of these elements is controlled as much by geographic distance as by the evolutionary relatedness of the background genome. In contrast, diversity in the broader gene content of Mesorhizobium genomes follows a tight linear relationship with core genome phylogenetic distance, with little detectable effect of geography. These results illustrate how geography and demography can operate differentially on the evolution of bacterial genomes and offer useful insights for the development of improved technologies for sustainable agriculture.


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