June 1, 2021  |  

Automated, non-hybrid de novo genome assemblies and epigenomes of bacterial pathogens.

Understanding the genetic basis of infectious diseases is critical to enacting effective treatments, and several large-scale sequencing initiatives are underway to collect this information. Sequencing bacterial samples is typically performed by mapping sequence reads against genomes of known reference strains. While such resequencing informs on the spectrum of single-nucleotide differences relative to the chosen reference, it can miss numerous other forms of variation known to influence pathogenicity: structural variations (duplications, inversions), acquisition of mobile elements (phages, plasmids), homonucleotide length variation causing phase variation, and epigenetic marks (methylation, phosphorothioation) that influence gene expression to switch bacteria from non- pathogenic to pathogenic states. Therefore, sequencing methods which provide complete, de novo genome assemblies and epigenomes are necessary to fully characterize infectious disease agents in an unbiased, hypothesis-free manner. Hybrid assembly methods have been described that combine long sequence reads from SMRT DNA Sequencing with short reads (SMRT CCS (circular consensus) or second-generation reads), wherein the short reads are used to error-correct the long reads which are then used for assembly. We have developed a new paradigm for microbial de novo assemblies in which SMRT sequencing reads from a single long insert library are used exclusively to close the genome through a hierarchical genome assembly process, thereby obviating the need for a second sample preparation, sequencing run, and data set. We have applied this method to achieve closed de novo genomes with accuracies exceeding QV50 (>99.999%) for numerous disease outbreak samples, including E. coli, Salmonella, Campylobacter, Listeria, Neisseria, and H. pylori. The kinetic information from the same SMRT Sequencing reads is utilized to determine epigenomes. Approximately 70% of all methyltransferase specificities we have determined to date represent previously unknown bacterial epigenetic signatures. With relatively short sequencing run times and automated analysis pipelines, it is possible to go from an unknown DNA sample to its complete de novo genome and epigenome in about a day.


June 1, 2021  |  

Automated, non-hybrid de novo genome assemblies and epigenomes of bacterial pathogens

Understanding the genetic basis of infectious diseases is critical to enacting effective treatments, and several large-scale sequencing initiatives are underway to collect this information. Sequencing bacterial samples is typically performed by mapping sequence reads against genomes of known reference strains. While such resequencing informs on the spectrum of single nucleotide differences relative to the chosen reference, it can miss numerous other forms of variation known to influence pathogenicity: structural variations (duplications, inversions), acquisition of mobile elements (phages, plasmids), homonucleotide length variation causing phase variation, and epigenetic marks (methylation, phosphorothioation) that influence gene expression to switch bacteria from non-pathogenic to pathogenic states. Therefore, sequencing methods which provide complete, de novo genome assemblies and epigenomes are necessary to fully characterize infectious disease agents in an unbiased, hypothesis-free manner. Hybrid assembly methods have been described that combine long sequence reads from SMRT DNA sequencing with short, high-accuracy reads (SMRT (circular consensus sequencing) CCS or second-generation reads) to generate long, highly accurate reads that are then used for assembly. We have developed a new paradigm for microbial de novo assemblies in which long SMRT sequencing reads (average readlengths >5,000 bases) are used exclusively to close the genome through a hierarchical genome assembly process, thereby obviating the need for a second sample preparation, sequencing run and data set. We have applied this method to achieve closed de novo genomes with accuracies exceeding QV50 (>99.999%) to numerous disease outbreak samples, including E. coli, Salmonella, Campylobacter, Listeria, Neisseria, and H. pylori. The kinetic information from the same SMRT sequencing reads is utilized to determine epigenomes. Approximately 70% of all methyltransferase specificities we have determined to date represent previously unknown bacterial epigenetic signatures. The process has been automated and requires less than 1 day from an unknown DNA sample to its complete de novo genome and epigenome.


June 1, 2021  |  

New discoveries from closing Salmonella genomes using Pacific Biosciences continuous long reads.

The newer hierarchical genome assembly process (HGAP) performs de novo assembly using data from a single PacBio long insert library. To assess the benefits of this method, DNA from several Salmonella enterica serovars was isolated from a pure culture. Genome sequencing was performed using Pacific Biosciences RS sequencing technology. The HGAP process enabled us to close sixteen Salmonella subsp. enterica genomes and their associated mobile elements: The ten serotypes include: Salmonella enterica subsp. enterica serovar Enteritidis (S. Enteritidis) S. Bareilly, S. Heidelberg, S. Cubana, S. Javiana and S. Typhimurium, S. Newport, S. Montevideo, S. Agona, and S. Tennessee. In addition, we were able to detect novel methyltransferases (MTases) by using the Pacific Biosciences kinetic score distributions showing that each serovar appears to have a novel methylation pattern. For example while all Salmonella serovars examined so far have methylase specific activity for 5’-GATC-3’/3’-CTAG-5’ and 5’-CAGAG-3’/3’-GTCTC-5’ (underlined base indicates a modification), S. Heidelberg is uniquely specific for 5’-ACCANCC-3’/3’-TGGTNGG-5’, while S. Typhimurium has uniquely methylase specific for 5′-GATCAG-3’/3′- CTAGTC-5′ sites, for the samples examined so far. We believe that this may be due to the unique environments and phages that these serotypes have been exposed to. Furthermore, our analysis identified and closed a variety of plasmids such as mobilization plasmids, antimicrobial resistance plasmids and IncX plasmids carrying a Type IV secretion system (T4SS). The VirB/D4 T4SS apparatus is important in that it assists with rapid dissemination of antibiotic resistance and virulence determinants. Presently, only limited information exists regarding the genotypic characterization of drug resistance in S. Heidelberg isolates derived from various host species. Here, we characterize two S. Heidelberg outbreak isolates from two different outbreaks. Both isolates contain the IncX plasmid of approximately 35 kb, and carried the genes virB1, virB2, virB3/4, virB5, virB6, virB7, virB8, virB9, virB10, virB11, virD2, and virD4, that are associated with the T4SS. In addition, the outbreak isolate associated with ground turkey carries a 4,473 bp mobilization plasmid and an incompatibility group (Inc) I1 antimicrobial resistance plasmid encoding resistance to gentamicin (aacC2), beta-lactam (bl2b_tem), streptomycin (aadAI) and tetracycline (tetA, tetR) while the outbreak isolate associated with chicken breast carries the IncI1 plasmid encoding resistance to gentamicin (aacC2), streptomycin (aadAI) and sulfisoxazole (sul1). Using this new technology we explored the genetic elements present in resistant pathogens which will achieve a better understanding of the evolution of Salmonella.


June 1, 2021  |  

Genome analysis of a bacterium that causes lameness.

Lameness is a significant problem resulting in millions of dollars in lost revenue annually. In commercial broilers, the most common cause of lameness is bacterial chondronecrosis with osteomyelitis (BCO). We are using a wire flooring model to induce lameness attributable to BCO. We used 16S ribosomal DNA sequencing to determine that Staphylococcus spp. were the main species associated with BCO. Staphylococcus agnetis, which previously had not been isolated from poultry, was the principal species isolated from the majority of the bone lesion samples. Administering S. agnetis in the drinking water to broilers reared on wire flooring increased the incidence of BCO three-fold when compared with broilers drinking tap water (P = 0.001). We found that the minimum effective dose of Staphylococcus agnetis to induce BCO in broilers grown on wire flooring experiment is 105 cfu/ml. We used PacBio and Illumina sequencing to assemble a 2.4 Mbp contig representing the genome and a 34 kbp contig for the largest plasmid of S. agnetis. Annotation of this genome is underway through comparative genomics with other Staphylococcus genomes, and identification of virulence factors. Our goal is to elucidate genetic diversity, toxins, and pathogenicity determinants, for this poorly characterized species. Isolating pathogenic bacterial species, defining their likely route of transmission to broilers, and genomic analyses will contribute substantially to the development of measures for mitigating BCO losses in poultry.


June 1, 2021  |  

Comparative genome analysis of Clavibacter michiganensis subsp. michiganensis strains provides insights into genetic diversity and virulence.

Clavibacter michiganensis subsp. michiganensis (Cmm) is a gram positive actinomycete, causing bacterial canker of tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) a disease that can cause significant losses in tomato production. In this study, we determined the complete genome sequence of 13 California Cmm strains and one saprophytic Clavibacter strain using a combination of Ilumina and PacBio sequencing. The California Cmm strains have genome size (3.2 -3.3 mb) similar to the reference strain NCPPB382 (3.3 mb) with =98% sequence identity. Cmm strains from California share =92% genes (8-10% are noble genes) with the reference Cmm strain NCPPB382. Despite this similarity, we detected significant alternatives in California strains with respect to plasmid number, plasmid composition, and genomic island presence indicating acquisition of unique mechanisms controlling virulence. Plasmids pCM1 and pCM2, that were previously demonstrated to be required for NCPPB382 virulence, also differ in their presence and gene content across Cmm strains. pCM2 is absent in some Cmm strains and that still retain virulence in tomato. Saprophytic Clavibacter possess a novel plasmid, pSCM, and lacks the majority of characterized virulence factors. Genome sequence information was also used to design specific and sensitive primer pairs for Cmm detection. A mechanistic understanding of how genomic changes have impacted Cmm virulence and survival across diverse strains will be necessary for developing a robust disease control strategies for bacterial canker of tomato.


April 21, 2020  |  

Long-read sequencing for rare human genetic diseases.

During the past decade, the search for pathogenic mutations in rare human genetic diseases has involved huge efforts to sequence coding regions, or the entire genome, using massively parallel short-read sequencers. However, the approximate current diagnostic rate is <50% using these approaches, and there remain many rare genetic diseases with unknown cause. There may be many reasons for this, but one plausible explanation is that the responsible mutations are in regions of the genome that are difficult to sequence using conventional technologies (e.g., tandem-repeat expansion or complex chromosomal structural aberrations). Despite the drawbacks of high cost and a shortage of standard analytical methods, several studies have analyzed pathogenic changes in the genome using long-read sequencers. The results of these studies provide hope that further application of long-read sequencers to identify the causative mutations in unsolved genetic diseases may expand our understanding of the human genome and diseases. Such approaches may also be applied to molecular diagnosis and therapeutic strategies for patients with genetic diseases in the future.


April 21, 2020  |  

Tandem repeats lead to sequence assembly errors and impose multi-level challenges for genome and protein databases.

The widespread occurrence of repetitive stretches of DNA in genomes of organisms across the tree of life imposes fundamental challenges for sequencing, genome assembly, and automated annotation of genes and proteins. This multi-level problem can lead to errors in genome and protein databases that are often not recognized or acknowledged. As a consequence, end users working with sequences with repetitive regions are faced with ‘ready-to-use’ deposited data whose trustworthiness is difficult to determine, let alone to quantify. Here, we provide a review of the problems associated with tandem repeat sequences that originate from different stages during the sequencing-assembly-annotation-deposition workflow, and that may proliferate in public database repositories affecting all downstream analyses. As a case study, we provide examples of the Atlantic cod genome, whose sequencing and assembly were hindered by a particularly high prevalence of tandem repeats. We complement this case study with examples from other species, where mis-annotations and sequencing errors have propagated into protein databases. With this review, we aim to raise the awareness level within the community of database users, and alert scientists working in the underlying workflow of database creation that the data they omit or improperly assemble may well contain important biological information valuable to others. © The Author(s) 2019. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Nucleic Acids Research.


April 21, 2020  |  

Evolution of a 72-kb cointegrant, conjugative multiresistance plasmid from early community-associated methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus isolates.

Horizontal transfer of plasmids encoding antimicrobial-resistance and virulence determinants has been instrumental in Staphylococcus aureus evolution, including the emergence of community-associated methicillin-resistant S. aureus (CA-MRSA). In the early 1990s the first CA-MRSA isolated in Western Australia (WA), WA-5, encoded cadmium, tetracycline and penicillin-resistance genes on plasmid pWBG753 (~30 kb). WA-5 and pWBG753 appeared only briefly in WA, however, fusidic-acid-resistance plasmids related to pWBG753 were also present in the first European CA-MRSA at the time. Here we characterized a 72-kb conjugative plasmid pWBG731 present in multiresistant WA-5-like clones from the same period. pWBG731 was a cointegrant formed from pWBG753 and a pWBG749-family conjugative plasmid. pWBG731 carried mupirocin, trimethoprim, cadmium and penicillin-resistance genes. The stepwise evolution of pWBG731 likely occurred through the combined actions of IS257, IS257-dependent miniature inverted-repeat transposable elements (MITEs) and the BinL resolution system of the ß-lactamase transposon Tn552 An evolutionary intermediate ~42-kb non-conjugative plasmid pWBG715, possessed the same resistance genes as pWBG731 but retained an integrated copy of the small tetracycline-resistance plasmid pT181. IS257 likely facilitated replacement of pT181 with conjugation genes on pWBG731, thus enabling autonomous transfer. Like conjugative plasmid pWBG749, pWBG731 also mobilized non-conjugative plasmids carrying oriT mimics. It seems likely that pWBG731 represents the product of multiple recombination events between the WA-5 pWBG753 plasmid and other mobile genetic elements present in indigenous CA-MSSA. The molecular evolution of pWBG731 saliently illustrates how diverse mobile genetic elements can together facilitate rapid accrual and horizontal dissemination of multiresistance in S. aureus CA-MRSA.Copyright © 2019 American Society for Microbiology.


April 21, 2020  |  

Comparative genomics reveals unique wood-decay strategies and fruiting body development in the Schizophyllaceae.

Agaricomycetes are fruiting body-forming fungi that produce some of the most efficient enzyme systems to degrade wood. Despite decades-long interest in their biology, the evolution and functional diversity of both wood-decay and fruiting body formation are incompletely known. We performed comparative genomic and transcriptomic analyses of wood-decay and fruiting body development in Auriculariopsis ampla and Schizophyllum commune (Schizophyllaceae), species with secondarily simplified morphologies, an enigmatic wood-decay strategy and weak pathogenicity to woody plants. The plant cell wall-degrading enzyme repertoires of Schizophyllaceae are transitional between those of white rot species and less efficient wood-degraders such as brown rot or mycorrhizal fungi. Rich repertoires of suberinase and tannase genes were found in both species, with tannases restricted to Agaricomycetes that preferentially colonize bark-covered wood, suggesting potential complementation of their weaker wood-decaying abilities and adaptations to wood colonization through the bark. Fruiting body transcriptomes revealed a high rate of divergence in developmental gene expression, but also several genes with conserved expression patterns, including novel transcription factors and small-secreted proteins, some of the latter which might represent fruiting body effectors. Taken together, our analyses highlighted novel aspects of wood-decay and fruiting body development in an important family of mushroom-forming fungi. © 2019 The Authors. New Phytologist © 2019 New Phytologist Trust.


April 21, 2020  |  

Transcriptional initiation of a small RNA, not R-loop stability, dictates the frequency of pilin antigenic variation in Neisseria gonorrhoeae.

Neisseria gonorrhoeae, the sole causative agent of gonorrhea, constitutively undergoes diversification of the Type IV pilus. Gene conversion occurs between one of the several donor silent copies located in distinct loci and the recipient pilE gene, encoding the major pilin subunit of the pilus. A guanine quadruplex (G4) DNA structure and a cis-acting sRNA (G4-sRNA) are located upstream of the pilE gene and both are required for pilin antigenic variation (Av). We show that the reduced sRNA transcription lowers pilin Av frequencies. Extended transcriptional elongation is not required for Av, since limiting the transcript to 32 nt allows for normal Av frequencies. Using chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) assays, we show that cellular G4s are less abundant when sRNA transcription is lower. In addition, using ChIP, we demonstrate that the G4-sRNA forms a stable RNA:DNA hybrid (R-loop) with its template strand. However, modulating R-loop levels by controlling RNase HI expression does not alter G4 abundance quantified through ChIP. Since pilin Av frequencies were not altered when modulating R-loop levels by controlling RNase HI expression, we conclude that transcription of the sRNA is necessary, but stable R-loops are not required to promote pilin Av. © 2019 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


April 21, 2020  |  

Comparative Genomic Analysis of Virulence, Antimicrobial Resistance, and Plasmid Profiles of Salmonella Dublin Isolated from Sick Cattle, Retail Beef, and Humans in the United States.

Salmonella enterica serovar Dublin is a host-adapted serotype associated with typhoidal disease in cattle. While rare in humans, it usually causes severe illness, including bacteremia. In the United States, Salmonella Dublin has become one of the most multidrug-resistant (MDR) serotypes. To understand the genetic elements that are associated with virulence and resistance, we sequenced 61 isolates of Salmonella Dublin (49 from sick cattle and 12 from retail beef) using the Illumina MiSeq and closed 5 genomes using the PacBio sequencing platform. Genomic data of eight human isolates were also downloaded from NCBI (National Center for Biotechnology Information) for comparative analysis. Fifteen Salmonella pathogenicity islands (SPIs) and a spv operon (spvRABCD), which encodes important virulence factors, were identified in all 69 (100%) isolates. The 15 SPIs were located on the chromosome of the 5 closed genomes, with each of these isolates also carrying 1 or 2 plasmids with sizes between 36 and 329?kb. Multiple antimicrobial resistance genes (ARGs), including blaCMY-2, blaTEM-1B, aadA12, aph(3′)-Ia, aph(3′)-Ic, strA, strB, floR, sul1, sul2, and tet(A), along with spv operons were identified on these plasmids. Comprehensive antimicrobial resistance genotypes were determined, including 17 genes encoding resistance to 5 different classes of antimicrobials, and mutations in the housekeeping gene (gyrA) associated with resistance or decreased susceptibility to fluoroquinolones. Together these data revealed that this panel of Salmonella Dublin commonly carried 15 SPIs, MDR/virulence plasmids, and ARGs against several classes of antimicrobials. Such genomic elements may make important contributions to the severity of disease and treatment failures in Salmonella Dublin infections in both humans and cattle.


April 21, 2020  |  

Antibiotic susceptibility of plant-derived lactic acid bacteria conferring health benefits to human.

Lactic acid bacteria (LAB) confer health benefits to human when administered orally. We have recently isolated several species of LAB strains from plant sources, such as fruits, vegetables, flowers, and medicinal plants. Since antibiotics used to treat bacterial infection diseases induce the emergence of drug-resistant bacteria in intestinal microflora, it is important to evaluate the susceptibility of LAB strains to antibiotics to ensure the safety and security of processed foods. The aim of the present study is to determine the minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) of antibiotics against several plant-derived LAB strains. When aminoglycoside antibiotics, such as streptomycin (SM), kanamycin (KM), and gentamicin (GM), were evaluated using LAB susceptibility test medium (LSM), the MIC was higher than when using Mueller-Hinton (MH) medium. Etest, which is an antibiotic susceptibility assay method consisting of a predefined gradient of antibiotic concentrations on a plastic strip, is used to determine the MIC of antibiotics world-wide. In the present study, we demonstrated that Etest was particularly valuable while testing LAB strains. We also show that the low susceptibility of the plant-derived LAB strains against each antibiotic tested is due to intrinsic resistance and not acquired resistance. This finding is based on the whole-genome sequence information reflecting the horizontal spread of the drug-resistance genes in the LAB strains.


April 21, 2020  |  

Genomic analysis of Marinobacter sp. NP-4 and NP-6 isolated from the deep-sea oceanic crust on the western flank of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge

Two Marinobacter sp. NP-4 and NP-6 were isolated from a deep oceanic basaltic crust at North Pond, located at the western flank of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. These two strains are capable of using multiple carbon sources such as acetate, succinate, glucose and sucrose while take oxygen as a primary electron acceptor. The strain NP-4 is also able to grow anaerobically under 20?MPa, with nitrate as the electron acceptor, thus represents a piezotolerant. To explore the metabolic potentials of Marinobacter sp. NP-4 and NP-6, the complete genome of NP-4 and close-to-complete genome of NP-6 were sequenced. The genome of NP-4 contains one chromosome and two plasmids with the size of 4.6?Mb in total, and with average GC content of 57.0%. The genome of NP-6 is 4.5?Mb and consists of 6 scaffolds, with an average GC content of 57.1%. Complete glycolysis, citrate cycle and aromatics compounds degradation pathways are identified in genomes of these two strains, suggesting that they possess a heterotrophic life style. Additionally, one plasmid of NP-4 contains genes for alkane degradation, phosphonate ABC transporter and cation efflux system, enabling NP-4 extra surviving abilities. In total, genomic information of these two strains provide insights into the physiological features and adaptation strategies of Marinobacter spp. in the deep oceanic crust biosphere.


April 21, 2020  |  

Genome sequence resource for Ilyonectria mors-panacis, causing rusty root rot of Panax notoginseng.

Ilyonectria mors-panacis is a serious disease hampering the production of Panax notoginseng, an important Chinese medicinal herb, widely used for its anti-inflammatory, anti-fatigue, hepato-protective, and coronary heart disease prevention effects. Here, we report the first Illumina-Pacbio hybrid sequenced draft genome assembly of I. mors-panacis strain G3B and its annotation. The availability of this genome sequence not only represents an important tool toward understanding the genetics behind the infection mechanism of I. mors-panacis strain G3B but also will help illuminate the complexities of the taxonomy of this species.


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