September 21, 2019  |  

Characterization of multi-drug resistant Enterococcus faecalis isolated from cephalic recording chambers in research macaques (Macaca spp.).

Nonhuman primates are commonly used for cognitive neuroscience research and often surgically implanted with cephalic recording chambers for electrophysiological recording. Aerobic bacterial cultures from 25 macaques identified 72 bacterial isolates, including 15 Enterococcus faecalis isolates. The E. faecalis isolates displayed multi-drug resistant phenotypes, with resistance to ciprofloxacin, enrofloxacin, trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole, tetracycline, chloramphenicol, bacitracin, and erythromycin, as well as high-level aminoglycoside resistance. Multi-locus sequence typing showed that most belonged to two E. faecalis sequence types (ST): ST 4 and ST 55. The genomes of three representative isolates were sequenced to identify genes encoding antimicrobial resistances and other traits. Antimicrobial resistance genes identified included aac(6′)-aph(2″), aph(3′)-III, str, ant(6)-Ia, tetM, tetS, tetL, ermB, bcrABR, cat, and dfrG, and polymorphisms in parC (S80I) and gyrA (S83I) were observed. These isolates also harbored virulence factors including the cytolysin toxin genes in ST 4 isolates, as well as multiple biofilm-associated genes (esp, agg, ace, SrtA, gelE, ebpABC), hyaluronidases (hylA, hylB), and other survival genes (ElrA, tpx). Crystal violet biofilm assays confirmed that ST 4 isolates produced more biofilm than ST 55 isolates. The abundance of antimicrobial resistance and virulence factor genes in the ST 4 isolates likely relates to the loss of CRISPR-cas. This macaque colony represents a unique model for studying E. faecalis infection associated with indwelling devices, and provides an opportunity to understand the basis of persistence of this pathogen in a healthcare setting.


September 21, 2019  |  

Retrotransposons are the major contributors to the expansion of the Drosophila ananassae Muller F element.

The discordance between genome size and the complexity of eukaryotes can partly be attributed to differences in repeat density. The Muller F element (~5.2 Mb) is the smallest chromosome in Drosophila melanogaster, but it is substantially larger (>18.7 Mb) in D. ananassae To identify the major contributors to the expansion of the F element and to assess their impact, we improved the genome sequence and annotated the genes in a 1.4-Mb region of the D. ananassae F element, and a 1.7-Mb region from the D element for comparison. We find that transposons (particularly LTR and LINE retrotransposons) are major contributors to this expansion (78.6%), while Wolbachia sequences integrated into the D. ananassae genome are minor contributors (0.02%). Both D. melanogaster and D. ananassae F-element genes exhibit distinct characteristics compared to D-element genes (e.g., larger coding spans, larger introns, more coding exons, and lower codon bias), but these differences are exaggerated in D. ananassae Compared to D. melanogaster, the codon bias observed in D. ananassae F-element genes can primarily be attributed to mutational biases instead of selection. The 5′ ends of F-element genes in both species are enriched in dimethylation of lysine 4 on histone 3 (H3K4me2), while the coding spans are enriched in H3K9me2. Despite differences in repeat density and gene characteristics, D. ananassae F-element genes show a similar range of expression levels compared to genes in euchromatic domains. This study improves our understanding of how transposons can affect genome size and how genes can function within highly repetitive domains. Copyright © 2017 Leung et al.


September 21, 2019  |  

A distinct and genetically diverse lineage of the hybrid fungal pathogen Verticillium longisporum population causes stem striping in British oilseed rape.

Population genetic structures illustrate evolutionary trajectories of organisms adapting to differential environmental conditions. Verticillium stem striping disease on oilseed rape was mainly observed in continental Europe, but has recently emerged in the United Kingdom. The disease is caused by the hybrid fungal species Verticillium longisporum that originates from at least three separate hybridization events, yet hybrids between Verticillium progenitor species A1 and D1 are mainly responsible for Verticillium stem striping. We reveal a hitherto un-described dichotomy within V. longisporum lineage A1/D1 that correlates with the geographic distribution of the isolates with an ‘A1/D1 West’ and an ‘A1/D1 East’ cluster. Genome comparison between representatives of the A1/D1 West and East clusters excluded population distinctiveness through separate hybridization events. Remarkably, the A1/D1 West population that is genetically more diverse than the entire A1/D1 East cluster caused the sudden emergence of Verticillium stem striping in the UK, whereas in continental Europe Verticillium stem striping is predominantly caused by the more genetically uniform A1/D1 East population. The observed genetic diversity of the A1/D1 West population argues against a recent introduction of the pathogen into the UK, but rather suggests that the pathogen previously established in the UK and remained latent or unnoticed as oilseed rape pathogen until recently.© 2017 The Authors. Environmental Microbiology published by Society for Applied Microbiology and John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


September 21, 2019  |  

PacBio assembly of a Plasmodium knowlesi genome sequence with Hi-C correction and manual annotation of the SICAvar gene family.

Plasmodium knowlesi has risen in importance as a zoonotic parasite that has been causing regular episodes of malaria throughout South East Asia. The P. knowlesi genome sequence generated in 2008 highlighted and confirmed many similarities and differences in Plasmodium species, including a global view of several multigene families, such as the large SICAvar multigene family encoding the variant antigens known as the schizont-infected cell agglutination proteins. However, repetitive DNA sequences are the bane of any genome project, and this and other Plasmodium genome projects have not been immune to the gaps, rearrangements and other pitfalls created by these genomic features. Today, long-read PacBio and chromatin conformation technologies are overcoming such obstacles. Here, based on the use of these technologies, we present a highly refined de novo P. knowlesi genome sequence of the Pk1(A+) clone. This sequence and annotation, referred to as the ‘MaHPIC Pk genome sequence’, includes manual annotation of the SICAvar gene family with 136 full-length members categorized as type I or II. This sequence provides a framework that will permit a better understanding of the SICAvar repertoire, selective pressures acting on this gene family and mechanisms of antigenic variation in this species and other pathogens.


September 21, 2019  |  

The kinetoplastid-infecting Bodo saltans virus (BsV), a window into the most abundant giant viruses in the sea.

Giant viruses are ecologically important players in aquatic ecosystems that have challenged concepts of what constitutes a virus. Herein, we present the giant Bodo saltans virus (BsV), the first characterized representative of the most abundant group of giant viruses in ocean metagenomes, and the first isolate of a klosneuvirus, a subgroup of the Mimiviridae proposed from metagenomic data. BsV infects an ecologically important microzooplankton, the kinetoplastid Bodo saltans. Its 1.39 Mb genome encodes 1227 predicted ORFs, including a complex replication machinery. Yet, much of its translational apparatus has been lost, including all tRNAs. Essential genes are invaded by homing endonuclease-encoding self-splicing introns that may defend against competing viruses. Putative anti-host factors show extensive gene duplication via a genomic accordion indicating an ongoing evolutionary arms race and highlighting the rapid evolution and genomic plasticity that has led to genome gigantism and the enigma that is giant viruses.© 2018, Deeg et al.


September 21, 2019  |  

Potato late blight field resistance from QTL dPI09c is conferred by the NB-LRR gene R8.

Following the often short-lived protection that major nucleotide binding, leucine-rich-repeat (NB-LRR) resistance genes offer against the potato pathogen Phytophthora infestans, field resistance was thought to provide a more durable alternative to prevent late blight disease. We previously identified the QTL dPI09c on potato chromosome 9 as a more durable field resistance source against late blight. Here, the resistance QTL was fine-mapped to a 186 kb region. The interval corresponds to a larger, 389 kb, genomic region in the potato reference genome of Solanum tuberosum Group Phureja doubled monoploid clone DM1-3 (DM) and from which functional NB-LRRs R8, R9a, Rpi-moc1, and Rpi_vnt1 have arisen independently in wild species. dRenSeq analysis of parental clones alongside resistant and susceptible bulks of the segregating population B3C1HP showed full sequence representation of R8. This was independently validated using long-range PCR and screening of a bespoke bacterial artificial chromosome library. The latter enabled a comparative analysis of the sequence variation in this locus in diverse Solanaceae. We reveal for the first time that broad spectrum and durable field resistance against P. infestans is conferred by the NB-LRR gene R8, which is thought to provide narrow spectrum race-specific resistance.


September 21, 2019  |  

Chromulinavorax destructans, a pathogenic TM6 bacterium with an unusual replication strategy targeting protist mitochondrion

Most of the diversity of microbial life is not available in culture, and as such we lack even a fundamental understanding of the biological diversity of several branches on the tree of life. One branch that is highly underrepresented is the candidate phylum TM6, also known as the Dependentiae. Their biology is known only from reduced genomes recovered from metagenomes around the world and two isolates infecting amoebae, all suggest that they live highly host-associated lifestyles as parasites or symbionts. Chromulinavorax destructans is an isolate from the TM6/Dependentiae that infects and lyses the abundant heterotrophic flagellate, Spumella elongata. Chromulinavorax destructans is characterized by a high degree of reduction and specialization for infection, so much so it was discovered in a screen for giant viruses. Its 1.2 Mb genome shows no metabolic potential and C. destructans instead relies on extensive transporter system to import nutrients, and even energy in the form of ATP from the host. Accordingly, it replicates in a viral-like fashion, while extensively reorganizing and expanding the host mitochondrion. 44% of proteins contain signal sequences for secretion, which includes many proteins of unknown function as well as 98 copies of ankyrin-repeat domain proteins, known effectors of host modulation, suggesting the presence of an extensive host-manipulation apparatus.


September 21, 2019  |  

Multi-Locus Variable number of tandem repeat Analysis (MLVA) of Yersinia ruckeri confirms the existence of host-specificity, geographic endemism and anthropogenic dissemination of virulent clones.

A Multi-Locus Variable number of tandem repeat Analysis (MLVA) assay was developed for epizootiological study of the internationally significant fish pathogen Yersinia ruckeri, which causes yersiniosis in salmonids. The assay involves amplification of ten Variable Number of Tandem Repeat (VNTR) loci in two five-plex PCR reactions, followed by capillary electrophoresis. A collection of 484 Y. ruckeri isolates, originating from various biological sources and collected from four continents over seven decades, was analysed. Minimum spanning tree cluster analysis of MLVA profiles separated the studied population into nine major clonal complexes, and a number of minor clusters and singletons. The major clonal complexes could be associated with host species, geographic origin and serotype. A single large clonal complex of serotype O1 isolates dominating the yersiniosis situation in international rainbow trout farming suggests anthropogenic spread of this clone, possibly related to transport of fish. Moreover, sub-clustering within this clonal complex indicates putative transmission routes and multiple biotype shift events. In contrast to the situation in rainbow trout, Y. ruckeri strains associated with disease in Atlantic salmon appear as more or less geographically isolated clonal complexes. A single complex of serotype O1 exclusive to Norway was found to be responsible for almost all major yersiniosis outbreaks in modern Norwegian salmon farming, and site-specific sub-clustering further indicates persistent colonisation of freshwater farms in Norway. Identification of genetically diverse Y. ruckeri isolates from clinically healthy fish and environmental sources also suggests the widespread existence of less virulent or avirulent strains.Importance This comprehensive population study substantially improves our understanding of the epizootiological history and nature of an internationally important fish pathogenic bacterium. The MLVA assay developed and presented represents a high-resolution typing tool particularly well suited for Yersinia ruckeri infection tracing, selection of strains for vaccine inclusion, and risk assessment. The ability of the assay to separate isolates into geographically linked and/or possibly host-specific clusters reflects its potential utility for maintenance of national biosecurity. The MLVA is internationally applicable, robust, and provides clear, unambiguous and easily interpreted results. Typing is reasonably inexpensive, with a moderate technological requirement, and may be completed from a harvested colony within a single working day. As the resulting MLVA profiles are readily portable, any Y. ruckeri strain may rapidly be placed in a global epizootiological context. Copyright © 2018 Gulla et al.


September 21, 2019  |  

Assessing genome assembly quality using the LTR Assembly Index (LAI).

Assembling a plant genome is challenging due to the abundance of repetitive sequences, yet no standard is available to evaluate the assembly of repeat space. LTR retrotransposons (LTR-RTs) are the predominant interspersed repeat that is poorly assembled in draft genomes. Here, we propose a reference-free genome metric called LTR Assembly Index (LAI) that evaluates assembly continuity using LTR-RTs. After correcting for LTR-RT amplification dynamics, we show that LAI is independent of genome size, genomic LTR-RT content, and gene space evaluation metrics (i.e., BUSCO and CEGMA). By comparing genomic sequences produced by various sequencing techniques, we reveal the significant gain of assembly continuity by using long-read-based techniques over short-read-based methods. Moreover, LAI can facilitate iterative assembly improvement with assembler selection and identify low-quality genomic regions. To apply LAI, intact LTR-RTs and total LTR-RTs should contribute at least 0.1% and 5% to the genome size, respectively. The LAI program is freely available on GitHub: https://github.com/oushujun/LTR_retriever.


September 21, 2019  |  

Divergent selection causes whole genome differentiation without physical linkage among the targets in Spodoptera frugiperda (Noctuidae)

The process of speciation involves whole genome differentiation by overcoming gene flow between diverging populations. We have ample knowledge which evolutionary forces may cause genomic differentiation, and several speciation models have been proposed to explain the transition from genetic to genomic differentiation. However, it is still unclear what are critical conditions enabling genomic differentiation in nature. The Fall armyworm, Spodoptera frugiperda, is observed as two sympatric strains that have different host-plant ranges, suggesting the possibility of ecological divergent selection. In our previous study, we observed that these two strains show genetic differentiation across the whole genome with an unprecedentedly low extent, suggesting the possibility that whole genome sequences started to be differentiated between the strains. In this study, we analyzed whole genome sequences from these two strains from Mississippi to identify critical evolutionary factors for genomic differentiation. The genomic Fst is low (0.017) while 91.3% of 10kb windows have Fst greater than 0, suggesting genome-wide differentiation with a low extent. We identified nearly 400 outliers of genetic differentiation between strains, and found that physical linkage among these outliers is not a primary cause of genomic differentiation. Fst is not significantly correlated with gene density, a proxy for the strength of selection, suggesting that a genomic reduction in migration rate dominates the extent of local genetic differentiation. Our analyses reveal that divergent selection alone is sufficient to generate genomic differentiation, and any following diversifying factors may increase the level of genetic differentiation between diverging strains in the process of speciation.


September 21, 2019  |  

From the inside out: An epibiotic Bdellovibrio predator with an expanded genomic complement

Bdellovibrio and like organisms are abundant environmental predators of prokaryotes that show a diversity of predation strategies, ranging from intra-periplasmic to epibiotic predation. The novel epibiotic predator Bdellovibrio qaytius was isolated from a eutrophic freshwater pond in British Columbia, where it was a continual part of the microbial community. Bdellovibrio qaytius was found to preferentially prey on the beta-proteobacterium Paraburkholderia fungorum. Despite its epibiotic replication strategy, B. qaytius encodes a complex genomic complement more similar to periplasmic predators as well as several biosynthesis pathways not previously found in epibiotic predators. Bdellovibrio qaytius is representative of a widely distributed basal cluster within the genus Bdellovibrio, suggesting that epibiotic predation might be a common predation type in nature and ancestral to the genus.


September 21, 2019  |  

Repair of double-strand breaks induced by CRISPR-Cas9 leads to large deletions and complex rearrangements.

CRISPR-Cas9 is poised to become the gene editing tool of choice in clinical contexts. Thus far, exploration of Cas9-induced genetic alterations has been limited to the immediate vicinity of the target site and distal off-target sequences, leading to the conclusion that CRISPR-Cas9 was reasonably specific. Here we report significant on-target mutagenesis, such as large deletions and more complex genomic rearrangements at the targeted sites in mouse embryonic stem cells, mouse hematopoietic progenitors and a human differentiated cell line. Using long-read sequencing and long-range PCR genotyping, we show that DNA breaks introduced by single-guide RNA/Cas9 frequently resolved into deletions extending over many kilobases. Furthermore, lesions distal to the cut site and crossover events were identified. The observed genomic damage in mitotically active cells caused by CRISPR-Cas9 editing may have pathogenic consequences.


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