June 1, 2021  |  

Accurately surveying uncultured microbial species with SMRT Sequencing

Background: Microbial ecology is reshaping our understanding of the natural world by revealing the large phylogenetic and functional diversity of microbial life. However the vast majority of these microorganisms remain poorly understood, as most cultivated representatives belong to just four phylogenetic groups and more than half of all identified phyla remain uncultivated. Characterization of this microbial ‘dark matter’ will thus greatly benefit from new metagenomic methods for in situ analysis. For example, sensitive high throughput methods for the characterization of community composition and structure from the sequencing of conserved marker genes. Methods: Here we utilize Single Molecule Real-Time (SMRT) sequencing of full-length 16S rRNA amplicons to phylogenetically profile microbial communities to below the genus-level. We test this method on a mock community of known composition, as well as a previously studied microbial community from a lake known to predominantly contain poorly characterized phyla. These results are compared to traditional 16S tag sequencing from short-read technologies and subsets of the full-length data corresponding to the same regions of the 16S gene. Results: We explore the benefits of using full-length amplicons for estimating community structure and diversity. In addition, we investigate the possible effects of context-specific and GC-content biases known to affect short-read sequencing technologies on the predicted community structure. We characterize the potential benefits of profiling metagenomic communities with full-length 16S rRNA genes from SMRT sequencing relative to standard methods.


June 1, 2021  |  

SMRT Sequencing and assembly of the human microbiome project Mock Community sample – a feasibility project.

While the utility of Single Molecule, Real-Time (SMRT) Sequencing for de novo assembly and finishing of bacterial isolates is well established, this technology has not yet been widely applied to shotgun sequencing of microbial communities. In order to demonstrate the feasibility of this approach, we sequenced genomic DNA from the Microbial Mock Community B of the Human Microbiome Project


June 1, 2021  |  

Complete microbial genomes, epigenomes, and transcriptomes using long-read PacBio Sequencing.

For comprehensive metabolic reconstructions and a resulting understanding of the pathways leading to natural products, it is desirable to obtain complete information about the genetic blueprint of the organisms used. Traditional Sanger and next-generation, short-read sequencing technologies have shortcomings with respect to read lengths and DNA-sequence context bias, leading to fragmented and incomplete genome information. The development of long-read, single molecule, real-time (SMRT) DNA sequencing from Pacific Biosciences, with >10,000 bp average read lengths and a lack of sequence context bias, now allows for the generation of complete genomes in a fully automated workflow. In addition to the genome sequence, DNA methylation is characterized in the process of sequencing. PacBio® sequencing has also been applied to microbial transcriptomes. Long reads enable sequencing of full-length cDNAs allowing for identification of complete gene and operon sequences without the need for transcript assembly. We will highlight several examples where these capabilities have been leveraged in the areas of industrial microbiology, including biocommodities, biofuels, bioremediation, new bacteria with potential commercial applications, antibiotic discovery, and livestock/plant microbiome interactions.


June 1, 2021  |  

Minimization of chimera formation and substitution errors in full-length 16S PCR amplification

The constituents and intra-communal interactions of microbial populations have garnered increasing interest in areas such as water remediation, agriculture and human health. One popular, efficient method of profiling communities is to amplify and sequence the evolutionarily conserved 16S rRNA sequence. Currently, most targeted amplification focuses on short, hypervariable regions of the 16S sequence. Distinguishing information not spanned by the targeted region is lost and species-level classification is often not possible. SMRT Sequencing easily spans the entire 1.5 kb 16S gene, and in combination with highly-accurate single-molecule sequences, can improve the identification of individual species in a metapopulation. However, when amplifying a mixture of sequences with close similarities, the products may contain chimeras, or recombinant molecules, at rates as high as 20-30%. These PCR artifacts make it difficult to identify novel species, and reduce the amount of productive sequences. We investigated multiple factors that have been hypothesized to contribute to chimera formation, such as template damage, denaturing time before and during cycling, polymerase extension time, and reaction volume. Of the factors tested, we found two major related contributors to chimera formation: the amount of input template into the PCR reaction and the number of PCR cycles. Sequence errors generated during amplification and sequencing can also confound the analysis of complex populations. Circular Consensus Sequencing (CCS) can generate single-molecule reads with >99% accuracy, and the SMRT Analysis software provides filtering of these reads to >99.99% accuracies. Remaining substitution errors in these highly-filtered reads are likely dominated by mis-incorporations during amplification. Therefore, we compared the impact of several commercially-available high-fidelity PCR kits with full-length 16S amplification. We show results of our experiments and describe an optimized protocol for full-length 16S amplification for SMRT Sequencing. These optimizations have broader implications for other applications that use PCR amplification to phase variations across targeted regions and to generate highly accurate reference sequences.


June 1, 2021  |  

Minimization of chimera formation and substitution errors in full-length 16S PCR amplification

The constituents and intra-communal interactions of microbial populations have garnered increasing interest in areas such as water remediation, agriculture and human health. Amplification and sequencing of the evolutionarily conserved 16S rRNA gene is an efficient method of profiling communities. Currently, most targeted amplification focuses on short, hypervariable regions of the 16S sequence. Distinguishing information not spanned by the targeted region is lost, and species-level classification is often not possible. PacBio SMRT Sequencing easily spans the entire 1.5 kb 16S gene in a single read, producing highly accurate single-molecule sequences that can improve the identification of individual species in a metapopulation.However, this process still relies upon PCR amplification from a mixture of similar sequences, which may result in chimeras, or recombinant molecules, at rates upwards of 20%. These PCR artifacts make it difficult to identify novel species, and reduce the amount of informative sequences. We investigated multiple factors that may contribute to chimera formation, such as template damage, denaturation time before and during thermocycling, polymerase extension time, and reaction volume. We found two related factors that contribute to chimera formation: the amount of input template into the PCR reaction, and the number of PCR cycles.A second problem that can confound analysis is sequence errors generated during amplification and sequencing. With the updated algorithm for circular consensus sequencing (CCS2), single-molecule reads can be filtered to 99.99% predicted accuracy. Substitution errors in these highly filtered reads may be dominated by mis-incorporations during amplification. Sequence differences in full-length 16S amplicons from several commercial high-fidelity PCR kits were compared.We show results of our experiments and describe our optimized protocol for full-length 16S amplification for SMRT Sequencing. These optimizations have broader implications for other applications that use PCR amplification to phase variations across targeted regions and generate highly accurate reference sequences.


June 1, 2021  |  

Single chromosomal genome assemblies on the Sequel System with Circulomics high molecular weight DNA extraction for microbes

Background: The Nanobind technology from Circulomics provides an elegant HMW DNA extraction solution for genome sequencing of Gram-positive and -negative microbes. Nanobind is a nanostructured magnetic disk that can be used for rapid extraction of high molecular weight (HMW) DNA from diverse sample types including cultured cells, blood, plant nuclei, and bacteria. Processing can be completed in <1 hour for most sample types and can be performed manually or automated with common instruments. Methods:We have validated several critical steps for generating high-quality microbial genome assemblies in a streamlined microbial multiplexing workflow. This new workflow enables high-volume, cost-effective sequencing of up to 16 microbes totaling 30 Mb in genome size on a single SMRT Cell 1M using a target shear size of 10 kb. We also evaluated this method on a pool of four “class 3” microbes that contain >7 kb repeats. Fragment size was increased to ~14 kb, with some fragments >30 kb. Results: Here we present a demonstration of these capabilities using isolates relevant to high-throughput sequencing applications, including common foodborne pathogens (Shigella, Listeria, Salmonella), and species often seen in hospital settings (Klebsiella, Staphylococcus). For nearly all microbes, including difficult-to-assemble class III microbes, we achieved complete de novo microbial assemblies of =5 chromosomal contigs with minimum quality scores of 40 (99.99% accuracy) using data from multiplexed SMRTbell libraries. Each library was sequenced on a single SMRT Cell 1M with the PacBio Sequel System and analyzed with streamlined SMRT Analysis assembly methods. Conclusions: We achieved high-quality, closed microbial genomes using a combination of Circulomics Nanobind extraction and PacBio SMRT Sequencing, along with a newly streamlined workflow that includes automated demultiplexing and push-button 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 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.


June 1, 2021  |  

Metagenomic analysis of type II diabetes gut microbiota using PacBio HiFi reads reveals taxonomic and functional differences

In the past decade, the human microbiome has been increasingly shown to play a major role in health. For example, imbalances in gut microbiota appear to be associated with Type II diabetes mellitus (T2DM) and cardiovascular disease. Coronary artery disease (CAD) is a major determinant of the long-term prognosis among T2DM patients, with a 2- to 4-fold increased mortality risk when present. However, the exact microbial strains or functions implicated in disease need further investigation. From a large study with 523 participants (185 healthy controls, 186 T2DM patients without CAD, and 106 T2DM patients with CAD), 3 samples from each patient group were selected for long read sequencing. Each sample was prepared and sequenced on one Sequel II System SMRT Cell, to assess whether long accurate PacBio HiFi reads could yield additional insights to those made using short reads. Each of the 9 samples was subject to metagenomic assembly and binning, taxonomic classification and functional profiling. Results from metagenomic assembly and binning show that it is possible to generate a significant number of complete MAGs (Metagenome Assembled Genomes) from each sample, with over half of the high-quality MAGs being represented by a single circular contig. We show that differences found in taxonomic and functional profiles of healthy versus diabetic patients in the small 9-sample study align with the results of the larger study, as well as with results reported in literature. For example, the abundances of beneficial short- chain fatty acid (SCFA) producers such as Phascolarctobacterium faecium and Faecalibacterium prausnitzii were decreased in T2DM gut microbiota in both studies, while the abundances of quinol and quinone biosynthesis pathways were increased as compared to healthy controls. In conclusion, metagenomic analysis of long accurate HiFi reads revealed important taxonomic and functional differences in T2DM versus healthy gut microbiota. Furthermore, metagenome assembly of long HiFi reads led to the recovery of many complete MAGs and a significant number of complete circular bacterial chromosome sequences.


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  |  

Characterization of Extracellular Biosurfactants Expressed by a Pseudomonas putida Strain Isolated from the Interior of Healthy Roots from Sida hermaphrodita Grown in a Heavy Metal Contaminated Soil.

Pseudomonas putida E41 isolated from root interior of Sida hermaphrodita (grown on a field contaminated with heavy metals) showed high biosurfactant activity. In this paper, we describe data from mass spectrometry and genome analysis, to improve our understanding on the phenotypic properties of the strain. Supernatant derived from P. putida E41 liquid culture exhibited a strong decrease in the surface tension accompanied by the ability for emulsion stabilization. We identified extracellular lipopeptides, putisolvin I and II expression but did not detect rhamnolipids. Their presence was confirmed by matrix-assisted laser desorption and ionization (MALDI) TOF/TOF technique. Moreover, ten phospholipids (mainly phosphatidylethanolamines PE 33:1 and PE 32:1) which were excreted by vesicles were also detected. In contrast the bacterial cell pellet was dominated by phosphatidylglycerols (PGs), which were almost absent in the supernatant. It seems that the composition of extracellular (secreted to the environment) and cellular lipids in this strain differs. Long-read sequencing and complete genome reconstruction allowed the identification of a complete putisolvin biosynthesis pathway. In the genome of P. putida E41 were also found all genes involved in glycerophospholipid biosynthesis, and they are likely responsible for the production of detected phospholipids. Overall this is the first report describing the expression of extracellular lipopeptides (identified as putisolvins) and phospholipids by a P. putida strain, which might be explained by the need to adapt to the highly contaminated environment.


April 21, 2020  |  

Potent LpxC Inhibitors with In Vitro Activity Against Multi-Drug Resistant Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

New drugs with novel mechanisms of resistance are desperately needed to address both community and nosocomial infections due to Gram-negative bacteria. One such potential target is LpxC, an essential enzyme that catalyzes the first committed step of Lipid A biosynthesis. Achaogen conducted an extensive research campaign to discover novel LpxC inhibitors with activity against Pseudomonas aeruginosa We report here the in vitro antibacterial activity and pharmacodynamics of ACHN-975, the only molecule from these efforts and the first ever LpxC inhibitor to be evaluated in Phase 1 clinical trials. In addition, we describe the profile of three additional LpxC inhibitors that were identified as potential lead molecules. These efforts did not produce an additional development candidate with a sufficiently large therapeutic window and the program was subsequently terminated.Copyright © 2019 American Society for Microbiology.


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.


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