April 21, 2020  |  

A microbial factory for defensive kahalalides in a tripartite marine symbiosis.

Chemical defense against predators is widespread in natural ecosystems. Occasionally, taxonomically distant organisms share the same defense chemical. Here, we describe an unusual tripartite marine symbiosis, in which an intracellular bacterial symbiont (“Candidatus Endobryopsis kahalalidefaciens”) uses a diverse array of biosynthetic enzymes to convert simple substrates into a library of complex molecules (the kahalalides) for chemical defense of the host, the alga Bryopsis sp., against predation. The kahalalides are subsequently hijacked by a third partner, the herbivorous mollusk Elysia rufescens, and employed similarly for defense. “Ca E. kahalalidefaciens” has lost many essential traits for free living and acts as a factory for kahalalide production. This interaction between a bacterium, an alga, and an animal highlights the importance of chemical defense in the evolution of complex symbioses.Copyright © 2019 The Authors, some rights reserved; exclusive licensee American Association for the Advancement of Science. No claim to original U.S. Government Works.


April 21, 2020  |  

Genomic and transcriptomic characterization of Pseudomonas aeruginosa small colony variants derived from a chronic infection model.

Phenotypic change is a hallmark of bacterial adaptation during chronic infection. In the case of chronic Pseudomonas aeruginosa lung infection in patients with cystic fibrosis, well-characterized phenotypic variants include mucoid and small colony variants (SCVs). It has previously been shown that SCVs can be reproducibly isolated from the murine lung following the establishment of chronic infection with mucoid P. aeruginosa strain NH57388A. Using a combination of single-molecule real-time (PacBio) and Illumina sequencing we identify a large genomic inversion in the SCV through recombination between homologous regions of two rRNA operons and an associated truncation of one of the 16S rRNA genes and suggest this may be the genetic switch for conversion to the SCV phenotype. This phenotypic conversion is associated with large-scale transcriptional changes distributed throughout the genome. This global rewiring of the cellular transcriptomic output results in changes to normally differentially regulated genes that modulate resistance to oxidative stress, central metabolism and virulence. These changes are of clinical relevance because the appearance of SCVs during chronic infection is associated with declining lung function.


April 21, 2020  |  

Genome Analyses of a New Mycoplasma Species from the Scorpion Centruroides vittatus.

Arthropod Mycoplasma are little known endosymbionts in insects, primarily known as plant disease vectors. Mycoplasma in other arthropods such as arachnids are unknown. We report the first complete Mycoplasma genome sequenced, identified, and annotated from a scorpion, Centruroides vittatus, and designate it as Mycoplasma vittatus We find the genome is at least a 683,827 bp single circular chromosome with a GC content of 42.7% and with 987 protein-coding genes. The putative virulence determinants include 11 genes associated with the virulence operon associated with protein synthesis or DNA transcription and ten genes with antibiotic and toxic compound resistance. Comparative analysis revealed that the M. vittatus genome is smaller than other Mycoplasma genomes and exhibits a higher GC content. Phylogenetic analysis shows M. vittatus as part of the Hominis group of Mycoplasma As arthropod genomes accumulate, further novel Mycoplasma genomes may be identified and characterized. Copyright © 2019 Yamashita et al.


April 21, 2020  |  

Engineering and modification of microbial chassis for systems and synthetic biology.

Engineering and modifying synthetic microbial chassis is one of the best ways not only to unravel the fundamental principles of life but also to enhance applications in the health, medicine, agricultural, veterinary, and food industries. The two primary strategies for constructing a microbial chassis are the top-down approach (genome reduction) and the bottom-up approach (genome synthesis). Research programs on this topic have been funded in several countries. The ‘Minimum genome factory’ (MGF) project was launched in 2001 in Japan with the goal of constructing microorganisms with smaller genomes for industrial use. One of the best examples of the results of this project is E. coli MGF-01, which has a reduced-genome size and exhibits better growth and higher threonine production characteristics than the parental strain [1]. The ‘cell factory’ project was carried out from 1998 to 2002 in the Fifth Framework Program of the EU (European Union), which tried to comprehensively understand microorganisms used in the application field. One of the outstanding results of this project was the elucidation of proteins secreted by Bacillus subtilis, which was summarized as the ‘secretome’ [2]. The GTL (Genomes to Life) program began in 2002 in the United States. In this program, researchers aimed to create artificial cells both in silico and in vitro, such as the successful design and synthesis of a minimal bacterial genome by John Craig Venter’s group [3]. This review provides an update on recent advances in engineering, modification and application of synthetic microbial chassis, with particular emphasis on the value of learning about chassis as a way to better understand life and improve applications.


April 21, 2020  |  

Comparative Genomic Analyses Reveal Core-Genome-Wide Genes Under Positive Selection and Major Regulatory Hubs in Outlier Strains of Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

Genomic information for outlier strains of Pseudomonas aeruginosa is exiguous when compared with classical strains. We sequenced and constructed the complete genome of an environmental strain CR1 of P. aeruginosa and performed the comparative genomic analysis. It clustered with the outlier group, hence we scaled up the analyses to understand the differences in environmental and clinical outlier strains. We identified eight new regions of genomic plasticity and a plasmid pCR1 with a VirB/D4 complex followed by trimeric auto-transporter that can induce virulence phenotype in the genome of strain CR1. Virulence genotype analysis revealed that strain CR1 lacked hemolytic phospholipase C and D, three genes for LPS biosynthesis and had reduced antibiotic resistance genes when compared with clinical strains. Genes belonging to proteases, bacterial exporters and DNA stabilization were found to be under strong positive selection, thus facilitating pathogenicity and survival of the outliers. The outliers had the complete operon for the production of vibrioferrin, a siderophore present in plant growth promoting bacteria. The competence to acquire multidrug resistance and new virulence factors makes these strains a potential threat. However, we identified major regulatory hubs that can be used as drug targets against both the classical and outlier groups.


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