June 1, 2021  |  

Next generation sequencing of full-length HIV-1 env during primary infection.

Background: The use of next generation sequencing (NGS) to examine circulating HIV env variants has been limited due to env’s length (2.6 kb), extensive indel polymorphism, GC deficiency, and long homopolymeric regions. We developed and standardized protocols for isolation, RT-PCR amplification, single molecule real-time (SMRT) sequencing, and haplotype analysis of circulating HIV-1 env variants to evaluate viral diversity in primary infection. Methodology: HIV RNA was extracted from 7 blood plasma samples (1 mL) collected from 5 subjects (one individual sampled and sequenced at 3 time points) in the San Diego Primary Infection Cohort between 3-33 months from their estimated date of infection (EDI). Median viral load per sample was 50,118 HIV RNA copies/mL (range: 22,387-446,683). Full-length (3.2 kb) env amplicons were constructed into SMRTbell templates without shearing, and sequenced on the PacBio RS II using P4/C2 chemistry and 180 minute movie collection without stage start. To examine viral diversity in each sample, we determined haplotypes by clustering circular consensus sequences (CCS), and reconstructing a cluster consensus sequence using a partial order alignment approach. We measured sample diversity both as the mean pairwise distance among reads, and the fraction of reads containing indel polymorphisms. Results: We collected a median of 8,775 CCS reads per SMRT Cell (range: 4243-12234). A median of 7 haplotypes per subject (range: 1-55) were inferred at baseline. For the one subject with longitudinal samples analyzed, we observed an increasing number of distinct haplotypes (8 to 55 haplotypes over the course of 30 months), and an increasing mean pairwise distance among reads (from 0.8% to 1.6%, Tamura-Nei 93). We also observed significant indel polymorphism, with 16% of reads from one sample later in infection (33 months post-EDI) exhibiting deletions of more than 10% of env with respect to the reference strain, HXB2. Conclusions: This study developed a standardized NGS procedure (PacBio SMRT) to deep sequence full-length HIV RNA env variants from the circulating viral population, achieving good coverage, confirming low env diversity during primary infection that increased over time, and revealing significant indel polymorphism that highlights structural variation as important to env evolution. The long, accurate reads greatly simplified downstream bioinformatics analyses, especially haplotype phasing, increasing our confidence in the results. The sequencing methodology and analysis tools developed here could be successfully applied to any area for which full-length HIV env analysis would be useful.


June 1, 2021  |  

Comparative genome analysis of Clavibacter michiganensis subsp. michiganensis strains provides insights into genetic diversity and virulence.

Clavibacter michiganensis subsp. michiganensis (Cmm) is a gram positive actinomycete, causing bacterial canker of tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) a disease that can cause significant losses in tomato production. In this study, we determined the complete genome sequence of 13 California Cmm strains and one saprophytic Clavibacter strain using a combination of Ilumina and PacBio sequencing. The California Cmm strains have genome size (3.2 -3.3 mb) similar to the reference strain NCPPB382 (3.3 mb) with =98% sequence identity. Cmm strains from California share =92% genes (8-10% are noble genes) with the reference Cmm strain NCPPB382. Despite this similarity, we detected significant alternatives in California strains with respect to plasmid number, plasmid composition, and genomic island presence indicating acquisition of unique mechanisms controlling virulence. Plasmids pCM1 and pCM2, that were previously demonstrated to be required for NCPPB382 virulence, also differ in their presence and gene content across Cmm strains. pCM2 is absent in some Cmm strains and that still retain virulence in tomato. Saprophytic Clavibacter possess a novel plasmid, pSCM, and lacks the majority of characterized virulence factors. Genome sequence information was also used to design specific and sensitive primer pairs for Cmm detection. A mechanistic understanding of how genomic changes have impacted Cmm virulence and survival across diverse strains will be necessary for developing a robust disease control strategies for bacterial canker of tomato.


April 21, 2020  |  

Into the Thermus Mobilome: Presence, Diversity and Recent Activities of Insertion Sequences Across Thermus spp.

A high level of transposon-mediated genome rearrangement is a common trait among microorganisms isolated from thermal environments, probably contributing to the extraordinary genomic plasticity and horizontal gene transfer (HGT) observed in these habitats. In this work, active and inactive insertion sequences (ISs) spanning the sequenced members of the genus Thermus were characterized, with special emphasis on three T. thermophilus strains: HB27, HB8, and NAR1. A large number of full ISs and fragments derived from different IS families were found, concentrating within megaplasmids present in most isolates. Potentially active ISs were identified through analysis of transposase integrity, and domestication-related transposition events of ISTth7 were identified in laboratory-adapted HB27 derivatives. Many partial copies of ISs appeared throughout the genome, which may serve as specific targets for homologous recombination contributing to genome rearrangement. Moreover, recruitment of IS1000 32 bp segments as spacers for CRISPR sequence was identified, pointing to the adaptability of these elements in the biology of these thermophiles. Further knowledge about the activity and functional diversity of ISs in this genus may contribute to the generation of engineered transposons as new genetic tools, and enrich our understanding of the outstanding plasticity shown by these thermophiles.


April 21, 2020  |  

A whole genome scan of SNP data suggests a lack of abundant hard selective sweeps in the genome of the broad host range plant pathogenic fungus Sclerotinia sclerotiorum.

The pathogenic fungus Sclerotinia sclerotiorum infects over 600 species of plant. It is present in numerous environments throughout the world and causes significant damage to many agricultural crops. Fragmentation and lack of gene flow between populations may lead to population sub-structure. Within discrete recombining populations, positive selection may lead to a ‘selective sweep’. This is characterised by an increase in frequency of a favourable allele leading to reduction in genotypic diversity in a localised genomic region due to the phenomenon of genetic hitchhiking. We aimed to assess whether isolates of S. sclerotiorum from around the world formed genotypic clusters associated with geographical origin and to determine whether signatures of population-specific positive selection could be detected. To do this, we sequenced the genomes of 25 isolates of S. sclerotiorum collected from four different continents-Australia, Africa (north and south), Europe and North America (Canada and the northen United States) and conducted SNP based analyses of population structure and selective sweeps. Among the 25 isolates, there was evidence for two major population clusters. One of these consisted of 11 isolates from Canada, the USA and France (population 1), and the other consisted of nine isolates from Australia and one from Morocco (population 2). The rest of the isolates were genotypic outliers. We found that there was evidence of outcrossing in these two populations based on linkage disequilibrium decay. However, only a single candidate selective sweep was observed, and it was present in population 2. This sweep was close to a Major Facilitator Superfamily transporter gene, and we speculate that this gene may have a role in nutrient uptake from the host. The low abundance of selective sweeps in the S. sclerotiorum genome contrasts the numerous examples in the genomes of other fungal pathogens. This may be a result of its slow rate of evolution and low effective recombination rate due to self-fertilisation and vegetative reproduction.


April 21, 2020  |  

Decreased biofilm formation ability of Acinetobacter baumannii after spaceflight on China’s Shenzhou 11 spacecraft.

China has prepared for construction of a space station by the early 2020s. The mission will require astronauts to stay on the space station for at least 180 days. Microbes isolated from the International Space Station (ISS) have shown profound resistance to clinical antibiotics and environmental stresses. Previous studies have demonstrated that the space environment could affect microbial survival, growth, virulence, biofilms, metabolism, as well as their antibiotic-resistant phenotypes. Furthermore, several studies have reported that astronauts experience a decline in their immunity during long-duration spaceflights. Monitoring microbiomes in the ISS or the spacecraft will be beneficial for the prevention of infection among the astronauts during spaceflight. The development of a manned space program worldwide not only provides an opportunity to investigate the impact of this extreme environment on opportunistic pathogenic microbes, but also offers a unique platform to detect mutations in pathogenic bacteria. Various microorganisms have been carried on a spacecraft for academic purposes. Acinetobacter baumannii is a common multidrug-resistant bacterium often prevalent in hospitals. Variations in the ability to cope with environmental hazards increase the chances of microbial survival. Our study aimed to compare phenotypic variations and analyze genomic and transcriptomic variations in A. baumannii among three different groups: SS1 (33 days on the Shenzhou 11 spacecraft), GS1 (ground control), and Aba (reference strain). Consequently, the biofilm formation ability of the SS1 strain decreased after 33 days of spaceflight. Furthermore, high-throughput sequencing revealed that some differentially expressed genes were downregulated in the SS1 strain compared with those in the GS1 strain. In conclusion, this present study provides insights into the environmental adaptation of A. baumannii and might be useful for understanding changes in the opportunistic pathogenic microbes on our spacecraft and on China’s future ISS. © 2018 The Authors. MicrobiologyOpen published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


April 21, 2020  |  

One Aeromonas salmonicida subsp. salmonicida isolate with a pAsa5 variant bearing antibiotic resistance and a pRAS3 variant making a link with a swine pathogen.

The Gram-negative bacterium Aeromonas salmonicida subsp. salmonicida is an aquatic pathogen which causes furunculosis to salmonids, especially in fish farms. The emergence of strains of this bacterium exhibiting antibiotic resistance is increasing, limiting the effectiveness of antibiotherapy as a treatment against this worldwide disease. In the present study, we discovered an isolate of A. salmonicida subsp. salmonicida that harbors two novel plasmids variants carrying antibiotic resistance genes. The use of long-read sequencing (PacBio) allowed us to fully characterize those variants, named pAsa5-3432 and pRAS3-3432, which both differ from their classic counterpart through their content in mobile genetic elements. The plasmid pAsa5-3432 carries a new multidrug region composed of multiple mobile genetic elements, including a Class 1 integron similar to an integrated element of Salmonella enterica. With this new region, probably acquired through plasmid recombination, pAsa5-3432 is the first reported plasmid of this bacterium that bears both an essential virulence factor (the type three secretion system) and multiple antibiotic resistance genes. As for pRAS3-3432, compared to the classic pRAS3, it carries a new mobile element that has only been identified in Chlamydia suis. Hence, with the identification of those two novel plasmids harboring mobile genetic elements that are normally encountered in other bacterial species, the present study puts emphasis on the important impact of mobile genetic elements in the genomic plasticity of A. salmonicida subsp. salmonicida and suggests that this aquatic bacterium could be an important reservoir of antibiotic resistance genes that can be exchanged with other bacteria, including human and animal pathogens. Copyright © 2019 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


April 21, 2020  |  

Comparative genomic analysis of Lactobacillus mucosae LM1 identifies potential niche-specific genes and pathways for gastrointestinal adaptation.

Lactobacillus mucosae is currently of interest as putative probiotics due to their metabolic capabilities and ability to colonize host mucosal niches. L. mucosae LM1 has been studied in its functions in cell adhesion and pathogen inhibition, etc. It demonstrated unique abilities to use energy from carbohydrate and non-carbohydrate sources. Due to these functions, we report the first complete genome sequence of an L. mucosae strain, L. mucosae LM1. Analysis of the pan-genome in comparison with closely-related Lactobacillus species identified a complete glycogen metabolism pathway, as well as folate biosynthesis, complementing previous proteomic data on the LM1 strain. It also revealed common and unique niche-adaptation genes among the various L. mucosae strains. The aim of this study was to derive genomic information that would reveal the probable mechanisms underlying the probiotic effect of L. mucosae LM1, and provide a better understanding of the nature of L. mucosae sp. Copyright © 2017 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


April 21, 2020  |  

Population Genome Sequencing of the Scab Fungal Species Venturia inaequalis, Venturia pirina, Venturia aucupariae and Venturia asperata.

The Venturia genus comprises fungal species that are pathogens on Rosaceae host plants, including V. inaequalis and V. asperata on apple, V. aucupariae on sorbus and V. pirina on pear. Although the genetic structure of V. inaequalis populations has been investigated in detail, genomic features underlying these subdivisions remain poorly understood. Here, we report whole genome sequencing of 87 Venturia strains that represent each species and each population within V. inaequalis We present a PacBio genome assembly for the V. inaequalis EU-B04 reference isolate. The size of selected genomes was determined by flow cytometry, and varied from 45 to 93 Mb. Genome assemblies of V. inaequalis and V. aucupariae contain a high content of transposable elements (TEs), most of which belong to the Gypsy or Copia LTR superfamilies and have been inactivated by Repeat-Induced Point mutations. The reference assembly of V. inaequalis presents a mosaic structure of GC-equilibrated regions that mainly contain predicted genes and AT-rich regions, mainly composed of TEs. Six pairs of strains were identified as clones. Single-Nucleotide Polymorphism (SNP) analysis between these clones revealed a high number of SNPs that are mostly located in AT-rich regions due to misalignments and allowed determining a false discovery rate. The availability of these genome sequences is expected to stimulate genetics and population genomics research of Venturia pathogens. Especially, it will help understanding the evolutionary history of Venturia species that are pathogenic on different hosts, a history that has probably been substantially influenced by TEs.Copyright © 2019 Le Cam et al.


April 21, 2020  |  

Genomic analysis of three Clostridioides difficile isolates from urban water sources.

We investigated inflow of a wastewater treatment plant and sediment of an urban lake for the presence of Clostridioides difficile by cultivation and PCR. Among seven colonies we sequenced the complete genomes of three: two non-toxigenic isolates from wastewater and one toxigenic isolate from the urban lake. For all obtained isolates, a close genomic relationship with human-derived isolates was observed.Copyright © 2019 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


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  |  

Ancestral Admixture Is the Main Determinant of Global Biodiversity in Fission Yeast.

Mutation and recombination are key evolutionary processes governing phenotypic variation and reproductive isolation. We here demonstrate that biodiversity within all globally known strains of Schizosaccharomyces pombe arose through admixture between two divergent ancestral lineages. Initial hybridization was inferred to have occurred ~20-60 sexual outcrossing generations ago consistent with recent, human-induced migration at the onset of intensified transcontinental trade. Species-wide heritable phenotypic variation was explained near-exclusively by strain-specific arrangements of alternating ancestry components with evidence for transgressive segregation. Reproductive compatibility between strains was likewise predicted by the degree of shared ancestry. To assess the genetic determinants of ancestry block distribution across the genome, we characterized the type, frequency, and position of structural genomic variation using nanopore and single-molecule real-time sequencing. Despite being associated with double-strand break initiation points, over 800 segregating structural variants exerted overall little influence on the introgression landscape or on reproductive compatibility between strains. In contrast, we found strong ancestry disequilibrium consistent with negative epistatic selection shaping genomic ancestry combinations during the course of hybridization. This study provides a detailed, experimentally tractable example that genomes of natural populations are mosaics reflecting different evolutionary histories. Exploiting genome-wide heterogeneity in the history of ancestral recombination and lineage-specific mutations sheds new light on the population history of S. pombe and highlights the importance of hybridization as a creative force in generating biodiversity. © The Author(s) 2019. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution.


April 21, 2020  |  

The Genome of C57BL/6J “Eve”, the Mother of the Laboratory Mouse Genome Reference Strain.

Isogenic laboratory mouse strains enhance reproducibility because individual animals are genetically identical. For the most widely used isogenic strain, C57BL/6, there exists a wealth of genetic, phenotypic, and genomic data, including a high-quality reference genome (GRCm38.p6). Now 20 years after the first release of the mouse reference genome, C57BL/6J mice are at least 26 inbreeding generations removed from GRCm38 and the strain is now maintained with periodic reintroduction of cryorecovered mice derived from a single breeder pair, aptly named Adam and Eve. To provide an update to the mouse reference genome that more accurately represents the genome of today’s C57BL/6J mice, we took advantage of long read, short read, and optical mapping technologies to generate a de novo assembly of the C57BL/6J Eve genome (B6Eve). Using these data, we have addressed recurring variants observed in previous mouse genomic studies. We have also identified structural variations, closed gaps in the mouse reference assembly, and revealed previously unannotated coding sequences. This B6Eve assembly explains discrepant observations that have been associated with GRCm38-based analyses, and will inform a reference genome that is more representative of the C57BL/6J mice that are in use today.Copyright © 2019 Sarsani et al.


April 21, 2020  |  

WGS of 1058 Enterococcus faecium from Copenhagen, Denmark, reveals rapid clonal expansion of vancomycin-resistant clone ST80 combined with widespread dissemination of a vanA-containing plasmid and acquisition of a heterogeneous accessory genome.

From 2012 to 2015, a sudden significant increase in vancomycin-resistant (vanA) Enterococcus faecium (VREfm) was observed in the Capital Region of Denmark. Clonal relatedness of VREfm and vancomycin-susceptible E. faecium (VSEfm) was investigated, transmission events between hospitals were identified and the pan-genome and plasmids from the largest VREfm clonal group were characterized.WGS of 1058 E. faecium isolates was carried out on the Illumina platform to perform SNP analysis and to identify the pan-genome. One isolate was also sequenced on the PacBio platform to close the genome. Epidemiological data were collected from laboratory information systems.Phylogeny of 892 VREfm and 166 VSEfm revealed a polyclonal structure, with a single clonal group (ST80) accounting for 40% of the VREfm isolates. VREfm and VSEfm co-occurred within many clonal groups; however, no VSEfm were related to the dominant VREfm group. A similar vanA plasmid was identified in =99% of isolates belonging to the dominant group and 69% of the remaining VREfm. Ten plasmids were identified in the completed genome, and ~29% of this genome consisted of dispensable accessory genes. The size of the pan-genome among isolates in the dominant group was 5905 genes.Most probably, VREfm emerged owing to importation of a successful VREfm clone which rapidly transmitted to the majority of hospitals in the region whilst simultaneously disseminating a vanA plasmid to pre-existing VSEfm. Acquisition of a heterogeneous accessory genome may account for the success of this clone by facilitating adaptation to new environmental challenges. © The Author(s) 2019. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the British Society for Antimicrobial Chemotherapy. All rights reserved. For permissions, please email: journals.permissions@oup.com.


April 21, 2020  |  

Sequential evolution of virulence and resistance during clonal spread of community-acquired methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus.

The past two decades have witnessed an alarming expansion of staphylococcal disease caused by community-acquired methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (CA-MRSA). The factors underlying the epidemic expansion of CA-MRSA lineages such as USA300, the predominant CA-MRSA clone in the United States, are largely unknown. Previously described virulence and antimicrobial resistance genes that promote the dissemination of CA-MRSA are carried by mobile genetic elements, including phages and plasmids. Here, we used high-resolution genomics and experimental infections to characterize the evolution of a USA300 variant plaguing a patient population at increased risk of infection to understand the mechanisms underlying the emergence of genetic elements that facilitate clonal spread of the pathogen. Genetic analyses provided conclusive evidence that fitness (manifest as emergence of a dominant clone) changed coincidently with the stepwise emergence of (i) a unique prophage and mutation of the regulator of the pyrimidine nucleotide biosynthetic operon that promoted abscess formation and colonization, respectively, thereby priming the clone for success; and (ii) a unique plasmid that conferred resistance to two topical microbiocides, mupirocin and chlorhexidine, frequently used for decolonization and infection prevention. The resistance plasmid evolved through successive incorporation of DNA elements from non-S. aureus spp. into an indigenous cryptic plasmid, suggesting a mechanism for interspecies genetic exchange that promotes antimicrobial resistance. Collectively, the data suggest that clonal spread in a vulnerable population resulted from extensive clinical intervention and intense selection pressure toward a pathogen lifestyle that involved the evolution of consequential mutations and mobile genetic elements.


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