April 21, 2020  |  

Evolution of a clade of Acinetobacter baumannii global clone 1, lineage 1 via acquisition of carbapenem- and aminoglycoside-resistance genes and dispersion of ISAba1.

Resistance to carbapenem and aminoglycoside antibiotics is a critical problem in Acinetobacter baumannii, particularly when genes conferring resistance are acquired by multiply or extensively resistant members of successful globally distributed clonal complexes, such as global clone 1 (GC1) . Here, we investigate the evolution of an expanding clade of lineage 1 of the GC1 complex via repeated acquisition of carbapenem- and aminoglycoside-resistance genes. Lineage 1 arose in the late 1970s and the Tn6168/OCL3 clade arose in the late 1990s from an ancestor that had already acquired resistance to third-generation cephalosporins and fluoroquinolones. Between 2000 and 2002, two distinct subclades have emerged, and they are distinguishable via the presence of an integrated phage genome in subclade 1 and AbaR4 (carrying the oxa23 carbapenem-resistance gene in Tn2006) at a specific chromosomal location in subclade 2. Part or all of the original resistance gene cluster in the chromosomally located AbaR3 has been lost from some isolates, but plasmids carrying alternate resistance genes have been gained. In one group in subclade 2, the chromosomally located AbGRI3, carrying the armA aminoglycoside-resistance gene, has been acquired from a GC2 isolate and incorporated via homologous recombination. ISAba1 entered the common ancestor of this clade as part of the cephalosporin-resistance transposon Tn6168 and has dispersed differently in each subclade. Members of subclade 1 share an ISAba1 in one specific position in the chromosome and in subclade 2 two different ISAba1 locations are shared. Further shared ISAba1 locations distinguish further divisions, potentially providing simple markers for epidemiological studies.


April 21, 2020  |  

Comparative genomic analysis of eight novel haloalkaliphilic bacteriophages from Lake Elmenteita, Kenya.

We report complete genome sequences of eight bacteriophages isolated from Haloalkaline Lake Elmenteita found on the floor of Kenyan Rift Valley. The bacteriophages were sequenced, annotated and a comparative genomic analysis using various Bioinformatics tools carried out to determine relatedness of the bacteriophages to each other, and to those in public databases. Basic genome properties like genome size, percentage coding density, number of open reading frames, percentage GC content and gene organizations revealed the bacteriophages had no relationship to each other. Comparison to other nucleotide sequences in GenBank database showed no significant similarities hence novel. At the amino acid level, phages of our study revealed mosaicism to genes with conserved domains to already described phages. Phylogenetic analyses of large terminase gene responsible for DNA packaging and DNA polymerase gene for replication further showed diversity among the bacteriophages. Our results give insight into diversity of bacteriophages in Lake Elmenteita and provide information on their evolution. By providing primary sequence information, this study not only provides novel sequences for biotechnological exploitation, but also sets stage for future studies aimed at better understanding of virus diversity and genomes from haloalkaline lakes in the Rift Valley.


April 21, 2020  |  

The Isolation and Characterization of Kronos, a Novel Caulobacter Rhizosphere Phage that is Similar to Lambdoid Phages.

Despite their ubiquity, relatively few bacteriophages have been characterized. Here, we set out to explore Caulobacter bacteriophages (caulophages) in the rhizosphere and characterized Kronos, the first caulophage isolated from the rhizosphere. Kronos is a member of the Siphoviridae family since it has a long flexible tail. In addition, an analysis of the Kronos genome indicated that many of the predicted proteins were distantly related to those of bacteriophages in the lambdoid family. Consistent with this observation, we were able to demonstrate the presence of cos sites that are similar to those found at the ends of lambdoid phage genomes. Moreover, Kronos displayed a relatively rare head and tail morphology compared to other caulophages but was similar to that of the lambdoid phages. Taken together, these data indicate that Kronos is distantly related to lambdoid phages and may represent a new Siphoviridae genus.


April 21, 2020  |  

Biomimetic hydroxyapatite nanocrystals are an active carrier for Salmonella bacteriophages.

The use of bacteriophages represents a valid alternative to conventional antimicrobial treatments, overcoming the widespread bacterial antibiotic resistance phenomenon. In this work, we evaluated whether biomimetic hydroxyapatite (HA) nanocrystals are able to enhance some properties of bacteriophages. The final goal of this study was to demonstrate that biomimetic HA nanocrystals can be used for bacteriophage delivery in the context of bacterial infections, and contribute – at the same time – to enhance some of the biological properties of the same bacteriophages such as stability, preservation, antimicrobial activity, and so on.Phage isolation and characterization were carried out by using Mitomycin C and following double-layer agar technique. The biomimetic HA water suspension was synthesized in order to obtain nanocrystals with plate-like morphology and nanometric dimensions. The interaction of phages with the HA was investigated by dynamic light scattering and Zeta potential analyses. The cytotoxicity and intracellular killing activities of the phage-HA complex were evaluated in human hepatocellular carcinoma HepG2 cells. The bacterial inhibition capacity of the complex was assessed on chicken minced meat samples infected with Salmonella Rissen.Our data highlighted that the biomimetic HA nanocrystal-bacteriophage complex was more stable and more effective than phages alone in all tested experimental conditions.Our results evidenced the important contribution of biomimetic HA nanocrystals: they act as an excellent carrier for bacteriophage delivery and enhance its biological characteristics. This study confirmed the significant role of the mineral HA when it is complexed with biological entities like bacteriophages, as it has been shown for molecules such as lactoferrin.


April 21, 2020  |  

Single-molecule sequencing detection of N6-methyladenine in microbial reference materials.

The DNA base modification N6-methyladenine (m6A) is involved in many pathways related to the survival of bacteria and their interactions with hosts. Nanopore sequencing offers a new, portable method to detect base modifications. Here, we show that a neural network can improve m6A detection at trained sequence contexts compared to previously published methods using deviations between measured and expected current values as each adenine travels through a pore. The model, implemented as the mCaller software package, can be extended to detect known or confirm suspected methyltransferase target motifs based on predictions of methylation at untrained contexts. We use PacBio, Oxford Nanopore, methylated DNA immunoprecipitation sequencing (MeDIP-seq), and whole-genome bisulfite sequencing data to generate and orthogonally validate methylomes for eight microbial reference species. These well-characterized microbial references can serve as controls in the development and evaluation of future methods for the identification of base modifications from single-molecule sequencing data.


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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