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 short-read 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 requires high coverage for error correction, the benefits of unbiased coverage have in the past been lost for low abundance species. SMRT Sequencing performance improvements and the introduction of the Sequel II System has enabled a new, high throughput data type uniquely suited to metagenome characterization: HiFi reads. HiFi reads combine high accuracy with read lengths up to 15 kb, eliminating the need for assembly for most microbiome applications, including functional profiling, gene discovery, and metabolic pathway reconstruction. Here we present the application of the HiFi data type to enable a new method of analyzing metagenomes that does not require assembly.


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.


April 21, 2020  |  

Dual Role of gnaA in Antibiotic Resistance and Virulence in Acinetobacter baumannii.

Acinetobacter baumannii is an important Gram-negative pathogen in hospital-related infections. However, treatment options for A. baumannii infections have become limited due to multidrug resistance. Bacterial virulence is often associated with capsule genes found in the K locus, many of which are essential for biosynthesis of the bacterial envelope. However, the roles of other genes in the K locus remain largely unknown. From an in vitro evolution experiment, we obtained an isolate of the virulent and multidrug-resistant A. baumannii strain MDR-ZJ06, called MDR-ZJ06M, which has an insertion by the ISAba16 transposon in gnaA (encoding UDP-N-acetylglucosamine C-6 dehydrogenase), a gene found in the K locus. The isolate showed an increased resistance toward tigecycline, whereas the MIC decreased in the case of carbapenems, cephalosporins, colistin, and minocycline. By using knockout and complementation experiments, we demonstrated that gnaA is important for the synthesis of lipooligosaccharide and capsular polysaccharide and that disruption of the gene affects the morphology, drug susceptibility, and virulence of the pathogen.Copyright © 2019 American Society for Microbiology.


April 21, 2020  |  

Phylogenetic barriers to horizontal transfer of antimicrobial peptide resistance genes in the human gut microbiota.

The human gut microbiota has adapted to the presence of antimicrobial peptides (AMPs), which are ancient components of immune defence. Despite its medical importance, it has remained unclear whether AMP resistance genes in the gut microbiome are available for genetic exchange between bacterial species. Here, we show that AMP resistance and antibiotic resistance genes differ in their mobilization patterns and functional compatibilities with new bacterial hosts. First, whereas AMP resistance genes are widespread in the gut microbiome, their rate of horizontal transfer is lower than that of antibiotic resistance genes. Second, gut microbiota culturing and functional metagenomics have revealed that AMP resistance genes originating from phylogenetically distant bacteria have only a limited potential to confer resistance in Escherichia coli, an intrinsically susceptible species. Taken together, functional compatibility with the new bacterial host emerges as a key factor limiting the genetic exchange of AMP resistance genes. Finally, our results suggest that AMPs induce highly specific changes in the composition of the human microbiota, with implications for disease risks.


April 21, 2020  |  

Comparative genome analysis provides novel insight into the interaction of Aquimarina sp. AD1, BL5 and AD10 with their macroalgal host.

The Aquimarina genus is widely distributed throughout the marine environment, however little is understood regarding its ecological role, particularly when in association with eukaryotic hosts. Here, we examine the genomes of two opportunistic pathogens, Aquimarina sp. AD1 and BL5, and a non-pathogenic strain Aquimarina sp. AD10, that were isolated from diseased individuals of the red alga Delisea pulchra. Each strain encodes multiple genes for the degradation of marine carbohydrates and vitamin biosynthesis. These traits are hypothesised to promote nutrient exchange between the Aquimarina strains and their algal host, facilitating a close symbiotic relationship. Moreover, each strain harbours the necessary genes for the assembly of a Type 9 Secretion System (T9SS) and the associated gliding motility apparatus. In addition to these common features, pathogenic strains AD1 and BL5, encode genes for the production of flexirubin type pigments and a number of unique non-ribosomal peptide synthesis (NRPS) gene clusters, suggesting a role for these uncharacterised traits in virulence. This study provides valuable insight into the potential ecological role of Aquimarina in the marine environment and the complex factors driving pathogenesis and symbiosis in this genus.Copyright © 2019 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


April 21, 2020  |  

Resource Concentration Modulates the Fate of Dissimilated Nitrogen in a Dual-Pathway Actinobacterium.

Respiratory ammonification and denitrification are two evolutionarily unrelated dissimilatory nitrogen (N) processes central to the global N cycle, the activity of which is thought to be controlled by carbon (C) to nitrate (NO3-) ratio. Here we find that Intrasporangium calvum C5, a novel dual-pathway denitrifier/respiratory ammonifier, disproportionately utilizes ammonification rather than denitrification when grown under low C concentrations, even at low C:NO3- ratios. This finding is in conflict with the paradigm that high C:NO3- ratios promote ammonification and low C:NO3- ratios promote denitrification. We find that the protein atomic composition for denitrification modules (NirK) are significantly cost minimized for C and N compared to ammonification modules (NrfA), indicating that limitation for C and N is a major evolutionary selective pressure imprinted in the architecture of these proteins. The evolutionary precedent for these findings suggests ecological importance for microbial activity as evidenced by higher growth rates when I. calvum grows predominantly using its ammonification pathway and by assimilating its end-product (ammonium) for growth under ammonium-free conditions. Genomic analysis of I. calvum further reveals a versatile ecophysiology to cope with nutrient stress and redox conditions. Metabolite and transcriptional profiles during growth indicate that enzyme modules, NrfAH and NirK, are not constitutively expressed but rather induced by nitrite production via NarG. Mechanistically, our results suggest that pathway selection is driven by intracellular redox potential (redox poise), which may be lowered when resource concentrations are low, thereby decreasing catalytic activity of upstream electron transport steps (i.e., the bc1 complex) needed for denitrification enzymes. Our work advances our understanding of the biogeochemical flexibility of N-cycling organisms, pathway evolution, and ecological food-webs.


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