April 21, 2020  |  

Into the Thermus Mobilome: Presence, Diversity and Recent Activities of Insertion Sequences Across Thermus spp.

A high level of transposon-mediated genome rearrangement is a common trait among microorganisms isolated from thermal environments, probably contributing to the extraordinary genomic plasticity and horizontal gene transfer (HGT) observed in these habitats. In this work, active and inactive insertion sequences (ISs) spanning the sequenced members of the genus Thermus were characterized, with special emphasis on three T. thermophilus strains: HB27, HB8, and NAR1. A large number of full ISs and fragments derived from different IS families were found, concentrating within megaplasmids present in most isolates. Potentially active ISs were identified through analysis of transposase integrity, and domestication-related transposition events of ISTth7 were identified in laboratory-adapted HB27 derivatives. Many partial copies of ISs appeared throughout the genome, which may serve as specific targets for homologous recombination contributing to genome rearrangement. Moreover, recruitment of IS1000 32 bp segments as spacers for CRISPR sequence was identified, pointing to the adaptability of these elements in the biology of these thermophiles. Further knowledge about the activity and functional diversity of ISs in this genus may contribute to the generation of engineered transposons as new genetic tools, and enrich our understanding of the outstanding plasticity shown by these thermophiles.


April 21, 2020  |  

Real time monitoring of Aeromonas salmonicida evolution in response to successive antibiotic therapies in a commercial fish farm.

Our ability to predict evolutionary trajectories of pathogens in response to antibiotic pressure is one of the promising leverage to fight against the present antibiotic resistance worldwide crisis. Yet, few studies tackled this question in situ at the outbreak level, due to the difficulty to link a given pathogenic clone evolution with its precise antibiotic exposure over time. In this study, we monitored the real-time evolution of an Aeromonas salmonicida clone in response to successive antibiotic and vaccine therapies in a commercial fish farm. The clone was responsible for a four-year outbreak of furunculosis within a Recirculating Aquaculture System Salmo salar farm in China, and we reconstructed the precise tempo of mobile genetic elements (MGEs) acquisition events during this period. The resistance profile provided by the acquired MGEs closely mirrored the antibiotics used to treat the outbreak, and we evidenced that two subclonal groups developed similar resistances although unrelated MGE acquisitions. Finally, we also demonstrated the efficiency of vaccination in outbreak management and its positive effect on antibiotic resistance prevalence. Our study provides unprecedented knowledge critical to understand evolutionary trajectories of resistant pathogens outside the laboratory. © 2019 Society for Applied Microbiology and John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


April 21, 2020  |  

Complete genome sequence analysis of the thermoacidophilic verrucomicrobial methanotroph “Candidatus Methylacidiphilum kamchatkense” strain Kam1 and comparison with its closest relatives.

The candidate genus “Methylacidiphilum” comprises thermoacidophilic aerobic methane oxidizers belonging to the Verrucomicrobia phylum. These are the first described non-proteobacterial aerobic methane oxidizers. The genes pmoCAB, encoding the particulate methane monooxygenase do not originate from horizontal gene transfer from proteobacteria. Instead, the “Ca. Methylacidiphilum” and the sister genus “Ca. Methylacidimicrobium” represent a novel and hitherto understudied evolutionary lineage of aerobic methane oxidizers. Obtaining and comparing the full genome sequences is an important step towards understanding the evolution and physiology of this novel group of organisms.Here we present the closed genome of “Ca. Methylacidiphilum kamchatkense” strain Kam1 and a comparison with the genomes of its two closest relatives “Ca. Methylacidiphilum fumariolicum” strain SolV and “Ca. Methylacidiphilum infernorum” strain V4. The genome consists of a single 2,2 Mbp chromosome with 2119 predicted protein coding sequences. Genome analysis showed that the majority of the genes connected with metabolic traits described for one member of “Ca. Methylacidiphilum” is conserved between all three genomes. All three strains encode class I CRISPR-cas systems. The average nucleotide identity between “Ca. M. kamchatkense” strain Kam1 and strains SolV and V4 is =95% showing that they should be regarded as separate species. Whole genome comparison revealed a high degree of synteny between the genomes of strains Kam1 and SolV. In contrast, comparison of the genomes of strains Kam1 and V4 revealed a number of rearrangements. There are large differences in the numbers of transposable elements found in the genomes of the three strains with 12, 37 and 80 transposable elements in the genomes of strains Kam1, V4 and SolV respectively. Genomic rearrangements and the activity of transposable elements explain much of the genomic differences between strains. For example, a type 1h uptake hydrogenase is conserved between strains Kam1 and SolV but seems to have been lost from strain V4 due to genomic rearrangements.Comparing three closed genomes of “Ca. Methylacidiphilum” spp. has given new insights into the evolution of these organisms and revealed large differences in numbers of transposable elements between strains, the activity of these explains much of the genomic differences between strains.


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.


September 22, 2019  |  

Comprehensive exploration of the rumen microbial ecosystem with advancements in metagenomics

Ruminant farming and its environmental impact has long remained an economic concern. Metagenomics unravel the vast structural and functional diversity of the rumen microbial community that plays a major role in animal nutrition. Hereby, we summarize rumen metagenomic studies that have enhanced the knowledge of rumen microbe dynamics subsequently leading to development of better feed strategies to improve livestock production and reduce methane emissions.


September 22, 2019  |  

Next generation multilocus sequence typing (NGMLST) and the analytical software program MLSTEZ enable efficient, cost-effective, high-throughput, multilocus sequencing typing.

Multilocus sequence typing (MLST) has become the preferred method for genotyping many biological species, and it is especially useful for analyzing haploid eukaryotes. MLST is rigorous, reproducible, and informative, and MLST genotyping has been shown to identify major phylogenetic clades, molecular groups, or subpopulations of a species, as well as individual strains or clones. MLST molecular types often correlate with important phenotypes. Conventional MLST involves the extraction of genomic DNA and the amplification by PCR of several conserved, unlinked gene sequences from a sample of isolates of the taxon under investigation. In some cases, as few as three loci are sufficient to yield definitive results. The amplicons are sequenced, aligned, and compared by phylogenetic methods to distinguish statistically significant differences among individuals and clades. Although MLST is simpler, faster, and less expensive than whole genome sequencing, it is more costly and time-consuming than less reliable genotyping methods (e.g. amplified fragment length polymorphisms). Here, we describe a new MLST method that uses next-generation sequencing, a multiplexing protocol, and appropriate analytical software to provide accurate, rapid, and economical MLST genotyping of 96 or more isolates in single assay. We demonstrate this methodology by genotyping isolates of the well-characterized, human pathogenic yeast Cryptococcus neoformans. Copyright © 2015 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


September 22, 2019  |  

Extensive horizontal gene transfer in cheese-associated bacteria.

Acquisition of genes through horizontal gene transfer (HGT) allows microbes to rapidly gain new capabilities and adapt to new or changing environments. Identifying widespread HGT regions within multispecies microbiomes can pinpoint the molecular mechanisms that play key roles in microbiome assembly. We sought to identify horizontally transferred genes within a model microbiome, the cheese rind. Comparing 31 newly sequenced and 134 previously sequenced bacterial isolates from cheese rinds, we identified over 200 putative horizontally transferred genomic regions containing 4733 protein coding genes. The largest of these regions are enriched for genes involved in siderophore acquisition, and are widely distributed in cheese rinds in both Europe and the US. These results suggest that HGT is prevalent in cheese rind microbiomes, and that identification of genes that are frequently transferred in a particular environment may provide insight into the selective forces shaping microbial communities.


September 22, 2019  |  

Enigmatic Diphyllatea eukaryotes: culturing and targeted PacBio RS amplicon sequencing reveals a higher order taxonomic diversity and global distribution.

The class Diphyllatea belongs to a group of enigmatic unicellular eukaryotes that play a key role in reconstructing the morphological innovation and diversification of early eukaryotic evolution. Despite its evolutionary significance, very little is known about the phylogeny and species diversity of Diphyllatea. Only three species have described morphology, being taxonomically divided by flagella number, two or four, and cell size. Currently, one 18S rRNA Diphyllatea sequence is available, with environmental sequencing surveys reporting only a single partial sequence from a Diphyllatea-like organism. Accordingly, geographical distribution of Diphyllatea based on molecular data is limited, despite morphological data suggesting the class has a global distribution. We here present a first attempt to understand species distribution, diversity and higher order structure of Diphyllatea.We cultured 11 new strains, characterised these morphologically and amplified their rRNA for a combined 18S-28S rRNA phylogeny. We sampled environmental DNA from multiple sites and designed new Diphyllatea-specific PCR primers for long-read PacBio RSII technology. Near full-length 18S rRNA sequences from environmental DNA, in addition to supplementary Diphyllatea sequence data mined from public databases, resolved the phylogeny into three deeply branching and distinct clades (Diphy I – III). Of these, the Diphy III clade is entirely novel, and in congruence with Diphy II, composed of species morphologically consistent with the earlier described Collodictyon triciliatum. The phylogenetic split between the Diphy I and Diphy II?+?III clades corresponds with a morphological division of Diphyllatea into bi- and quadriflagellate cell forms.This altered flagella composition must have occurred early in the diversification of Diphyllatea and may represent one of the earliest known morphological transitions among eukaryotes. Further, the substantial increase in molecular data presented here confirms Diphyllatea has a global distribution, seemingly restricted to freshwater habitats. Altogether, the results reveal the advantage of combining a group-specific PCR approach and long-read high-throughput amplicon sequencing in surveying enigmatic eukaryote lineages. Lastly, our study shows the capacity of PacBio RS when targeting a protist class for increasing phylogenetic resolution.


September 22, 2019  |  

High-resolution phylogenetic microbial community profiling.

Over the past decade, high-throughput short-read 16S rRNA gene amplicon sequencing has eclipsed clone-dependent long-read Sanger sequencing for microbial community profiling. The transition to new technologies has provided more quantitative information at the expense of taxonomic resolution with implications for inferring metabolic traits in various ecosystems. We applied single-molecule real-time sequencing for microbial community profiling, generating full-length 16S rRNA gene sequences at high throughput, which we propose to name PhyloTags. We benchmarked and validated this approach using a defined microbial community. When further applied to samples from the water column of meromictic Sakinaw Lake, we show that while community structures at the phylum level are comparable between PhyloTags and Illumina V4 16S rRNA gene sequences (iTags), variance increases with community complexity at greater water depths. PhyloTags moreover allowed less ambiguous classification. Last, a platform-independent comparison of PhyloTags and in silico generated partial 16S rRNA gene sequences demonstrated significant differences in community structure and phylogenetic resolution across multiple taxonomic levels, including a severe underestimation in the abundance of specific microbial genera involved in nitrogen and methane cycling across the Lake’s water column. Thus, PhyloTags provide a reliable adjunct or alternative to cost-effective iTags, enabling more accurate phylogenetic resolution of microbial communities and predictions on their metabolic potential.


September 22, 2019  |  

Using experimental evolution to identify druggable targets that could inhibit the evolution of antimicrobial resistance.

With multi-drug and pan-drug-resistant bacteria becoming increasingly common in hospitals, antibiotic resistance has threatened to return us to a pre-antibiotic era that would completely undermine modern medicine. There is an urgent need to develop new antibiotics and strategies to combat resistance that are substantially different from earlier drug discovery efforts. One such strategy that would complement current and future antibiotics would be a class of co-drugs that target the evolution of resistance and thereby extend the efficacy of specific classes of antibiotics. A critical step in the development of such strategies lies in understanding the critical evolutionary trajectories responsible for resistance and which proteins or biochemical pathways within those trajectories would be good candidates for co-drug discovery. We identify the most important steps in the evolution of resistance for a specific pathogen and antibiotic combination by evolving highly polymorphic populations of pathogens to resistance in a novel bioreactor that favors biofilm development. As the populations evolve to increasing drug concentrations, we use deep sequencing to elucidate the network of genetic changes responsible for resistance and subsequent in vitro biochemistry and often structure determination to determine how the adaptive mutations produce resistance. Importantly, the identification of the molecular steps, their frequency within the populations and their chronology within the evolutionary trajectory toward resistance is critical to assessing their relative importance. In this work, we discuss findings from the evolution of the ESKAPE pathogen, Pseudomonas aeruginosa to the drug of last resort, colistin to illustrate the power of this approach.


September 22, 2019  |  

Stress-adaptive responses associated with high-level carbapenem resistance in KPC-producing Klebsiella pneumoniae.

Carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE) organisms have emerged to become a major global public health threat among antimicrobial resistant bacterial human pathogens. Little is known about how CREs emerge. One characteristic phenotype of CREs is heteroresistance, which is clinically associated with treatment failure in patients given a carbapenem. Through in vitro whole-transcriptome analysis we tracked gene expression over time in two different strains (BR7, BR21) of heteroresistant KPC-producing Klebsiella pneumoniae, first exposed to a bactericidal concentration of imipenem followed by growth in drug-free medium. In both strains, the immediate response was dominated by a shift in expression of genes involved in glycolysis toward those involved in catabolic pathways. This response was followed by global dampening of transcriptional changes involving protein translation, folding and transport, and decreased expression of genes encoding critical junctures of lipopolysaccharide biosynthesis. The emerged high-level carbapenem-resistant BR21 subpopulation had a prophage (IS1) disrupting ompK36 associated with irreversible OmpK36 porin loss. On the other hand, OmpK36 loss in BR7 was reversible. The acquisition of high-level carbapenem resistance by the two heteroresistant strains was associated with distinct and shared stepwise transcriptional programs. Carbapenem heteroresistance may emerge from the most adaptive subpopulation among a population of cells undergoing a complex set of stress-adaptive responses.


September 22, 2019  |  

Genome-based evolutionary history of Pseudomonas spp.

Pseudomonas is a large and diverse genus of Gammaproteobacteria. To provide a framework for discovery of evolutionary and taxonomic relationships of these bacteria, we compared the genomes of type strains of 163 species and 3 additional subspecies of Pseudomonas, including 118 genomes sequenced herein. A maximum likelihood phylogeny of the 166 type strains based on protein sequences of 100 single-copy orthologous genes revealed thirteen groups of Pseudomonas, composed of two to sixty three species each. Pairwise average nucleotide identities and alignment fractions were calculated for the data set of the 166 type strains and 1224 genomes of Pseudomonas available in public databases. Results revealed that 394 of the 1224 genomes were distinct from any type strain, suggesting that the type strains represent only a fraction of the genomic diversity of the genus. The core genome of Pseudomonas was determined to contain 794 genes conferring primarily housekeeping functions. The results of this study provide a phylogenetic framework for future studies aiming to resolve the classification and phylogenetic relationships, identify new gene functions and phenotypes, and explore the ecological and metabolic potential of the Pseudomonas spp.© 2018 Society for Applied Microbiology and John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


September 22, 2019  |  

Mycobacterial biomaterials and resources for researchers.

There are many resources available to mycobacterial researchers, including culture collections around the world that distribute biomaterials to the general scientific community, genomic and clinical databases, and powerful bioinformatics tools. However, many of these resources may be unknown to the research community. This review article aims to summarize and publicize many of these resources, thus strengthening the quality and reproducibility of mycobacterial research by providing the scientific community access to authenticated and quality-controlled biomaterials and a wealth of information, analytical tools and research opportunities.


September 22, 2019  |  

Directed evolution of multiple genomic loci allows the prediction of antibiotic resistance.

Antibiotic development is frequently plagued by the rapid emergence of drug resistance. However, assessing the risk of resistance development in the preclinical stage is difficult. Standard laboratory evolution approaches explore only a small fraction of the sequence space and fail to identify exceedingly rare resistance mutations and combinations thereof. Therefore, new rapid and exhaustive methods are needed to accurately assess the potential of resistance evolution and uncover the underlying mutational mechanisms. Here, we introduce directed evolution with random genomic mutations (DIvERGE), a method that allows an up to million-fold increase in mutation rate along the full lengths of multiple predefined loci in a range of bacterial species. In a single day, DIvERGE generated specific mutation combinations, yielding clinically significant resistance against trimethoprim and ciprofloxacin. Many of these mutations have remained previously undetected or provide resistance in a species-specific manner. These results indicate pathogen-specific resistance mechanisms and the necessity of future narrow-spectrum antibacterial treatments. In contrast to prior claims, we detected the rapid emergence of resistance against gepotidacin, a novel antibiotic currently in clinical trials. Based on these properties, DIvERGE could be applicable to identify less resistance-prone antibiotics at an early stage of drug development. Finally, we discuss potential future applications of DIvERGE in synthetic and evolutionary biology. Copyright © 2018 the Author(s). Published by PNAS.


September 22, 2019  |  

Comprehensive evaluation of the host responses to infection with differentially virulent classical swine fever virus strains in pigs.

Classical swine fever virus (CSFV) infection causes most variable clinical syndromes from chronic or latent infection to acute death, and it is generally acknowledged that the course of disease is affected by both virus and host factors. To compare host immune responses to differentially virulent CSFV strains in pigs, fifteen 8-week-old specific-pathogen-free pigs were randomly divided into four groups and inoculated with the CSFV Shimen strain (a highly virulent strain), the HLJZZ2014 strain (a moderately virulent strains), C-strain (an avirulent strain), and DMEM (mock control), respectively. Infection with the Shimen or HLJZZ2014 strain resulted in fever, clinical signs and histopathological lesions, which were not observed in the C-strain-inoculated pigs, though low viral genome copies were detected in the peripheral blood and tissue samples. The data showed that the virulence of the strains affected the outcome of duration and intensity of the disease rather than the tissue tropism of the virus. Furthermore, leukopenia, lymphocytopenia, differentiation of T-cells, and the secretion of cytokines associated with inflammation or apoptosis such as interferon alpha (IFN-a), tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-a), interleukin 2 (IL-2), IL-4, IL-6, and IL-10 were induced by the virulent CSFV infection, the differences reflected in onset and extent of the regulation. Taken together, our results revealed that the major differences among the three strains resided in the kinetics of host response to the infection: severe and immediate with the highly virulent strain, while progressive and delayed with the moderately virulent one. This comparative study will help to dissect the pathogenesis of CSFV. Copyright © 2018 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


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