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.


April 21, 2020  |  

Towards PacBio-based pan-eukaryote metabarcoding using full-length ITS sequences.

Development of high-throughput sequencing techniques have greatly benefited our understanding about microbial ecology; yet the methods producing short reads suffer from species-level resolution and uncertainty of identification. Here we optimize PacBio-based metabarcoding protocols covering the Internal Transcribed Spacer (ITS region) and partial Small Subunit (SSU) of the rRNA gene for species-level identification of all eukaryotes, with a specific focus on Fungi (including Glomeromycota) and Stramenopila (particularly Oomycota). Based on tests on composite soil samples and mock communities, we propose best suitable degenerate primers, ITS9munngs + ITS4ngsUni for eukaryotes and selected groups therein and discuss pros and cons of long read-based identification of eukaryotes. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.


April 21, 2020  |  

Relative Performance of MinION (Oxford Nanopore Technologies) versus Sequel (Pacific Biosciences) Third-Generation Sequencing Instruments in Identification of Agricultural and Forest Fungal Pathogens.

Culture-based molecular identification methods have revolutionized detection of pathogens, yet these methods are slow and may yield inconclusive results from environmental materials. The second-generation sequencing tools have much-improved precision and sensitivity of detection, but these analyses are costly and may take several days to months. Of the third-generation sequencing techniques, the portable MinION device (Oxford Nanopore Technologies) has received much attention because of its small size and possibility of rapid analysis at reasonable cost. Here, we compare the relative performances of two third-generation sequencing instruments, MinION and Sequel (Pacific Biosciences), in identification and diagnostics of fungal and oomycete pathogens from conifer (Pinaceae) needles and potato (Solanum tuberosum) leaves and tubers. We demonstrate that the Sequel instrument is efficient for metabarcoding of complex samples, whereas MinION is not suited for this purpose due to a high error rate and multiple biases. However, we find that MinION can be utilized for rapid and accurate identification of dominant pathogenic organisms and other associated organisms from plant tissues following both amplicon-based and PCR-free metagenomics approaches. Using the metagenomics approach with shortened DNA extraction and incubation times, we performed the entire MinION workflow, from sample preparation through DNA extraction, sequencing, bioinformatics, and interpretation, in 2.5 h. We advocate the use of MinION for rapid diagnostics of pathogens and potentially other organisms, but care needs to be taken to control or account for multiple potential technical biases.IMPORTANCE Microbial pathogens cause enormous losses to agriculture and forestry, but current combined culturing- and molecular identification-based detection methods are too slow for rapid identification and application of countermeasures. Here, we develop new and rapid protocols for Oxford Nanopore MinION-based third-generation diagnostics of plant pathogens that greatly improve the speed of diagnostics. However, due to high error rate and technical biases in MinION, the Pacific BioSciences Sequel platform is more useful for in-depth amplicon-based biodiversity monitoring (metabarcoding) from complex environmental samples.Copyright © 2019 American Society for Microbiology.


April 21, 2020  |  

Nine Novel Phages from a Plateau Lake in Southwest China: Insights into Aeromonas Phage Diversity.

Aeromonas species are common pathogens of fish and some of them can opportunistically cause infectious diseases in humans. The overuse of antibiotics has led to the emergence of bacterial drug-resistance. To date, only 51 complete genome sequences of Aeromonas phages are available in GenBank. Here, we report the isolation of nine Aeromonas phages from a plateau lake in China. The protein cluster, dot plot and ANI analyses were performed on all 60 currently sequenced Aeromonas phage genomes and classified into nine clusters and thirteen singletons. Among the nine isolated phages, the DNA-packaging strategy of cluster 2L372D (including 2L372D, 2L372X, 4L372D, 4L372XY) is unknown, while the other five phages use the headful (P22/Sf6) DNA-packaging strategy. Notably, the isolated phages with larger genomes conservatively encode auxiliary metabolism genes, DNA replication and metabolism genes, while in smaller phage genomes, recombination-related genes were conserved. Finally, we propose a new classification scheme for Aeromonas phages.


April 21, 2020  |  

Klebsiella quasipneumoniae Provides a Window into Carbapenemase Gene Transfer, Plasmid Rearrangements, and Patient Interactions with the Hospital Environment.

Several emerging pathogens have arisen as a result of selection pressures exerted by modern health care. Klebsiella quasipneumoniae was recently defined as a new species, yet its prevalence, niche, and propensity to acquire antimicrobial resistance genes are not fully described. We have been tracking inter- and intraspecies transmission of the Klebsiella pneumoniae carbapenemase (KPC) gene, blaKPC, between bacteria isolated from a single institution. We applied a combination of Illumina and PacBio whole-genome sequencing to identify and compare K. quasipneumoniae from patients and the hospital environment over 10- and 5-year periods, respectively. There were 32 blaKPC-positive K. quasipneumoniae isolates, all of which were identified as K. pneumoniae in the clinical microbiology laboratory, from 8 patients and 11 sink drains, with evidence for seven separate blaKPC plasmid acquisitions. Analysis of a single subclade of K. quasipneumoniae subsp. quasipneumoniae (n?=?23 isolates) from three patients and six rooms demonstrated seeding of a sink by a patient, subsequent persistence of the strain in the hospital environment, and then possible transmission to another patient. Longitudinal analysis of this strain demonstrated the acquisition of two unique blaKPC plasmids and then subsequent within-strain genetic rearrangement through transposition and homologous recombination. Our analysis highlights the apparent molecular propensity of K. quasipneumoniae to persist in the environment as well as acquire carbapenemase plasmids from other species and enabled an assessment of the genetic rearrangements which may facilitate horizontal transmission of carbapenemases. Copyright © 2019 Mathers et al.


April 21, 2020  |  

Effect of sulfur-iron modified biochar on the available cadmium and bacterial community structure in contaminated soils.

Cadmium contamination in paddy soils has aroused increasing concern around the world, and biochar has many positive properties, such as large specific surface areas, micro porous structure for the heavy metal immobilization in soils. However there are few studies on sulfur-iron modified biochar as well as its microbiology effects. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the Cd immobilization effects of sulfur or sulfur-iron modified biochar and its related microbial community changes in Cd-contaminated soils. SEM-EDX analysis confirmed that sulfur and iron were loaded on the raw biochar successfully. Sulfur-modified biochar (S-BC) and sulfur-iron modified biochar (SF-BC) addition increased pH value and the content of soil organic matter, and also decreased DTPA-extractable Cd. There was a negative significant correlation between organic matter content and the available Cd (P?


April 21, 2020  |  

Mobilome of Brevibacterium aurantiacum Sheds Light on Its Genetic Diversity and Its Adaptation to Smear-Ripened Cheeses.

Brevibacterium aurantiacum is an actinobacterium that confers key organoleptic properties to washed-rind cheeses during the ripening process. Although this industrially relevant species has been gaining an increasing attention in the past years, its genome plasticity is still understudied due to the unavailability of complete genomic sequences. To add insights on the mobilome of this group, we sequenced the complete genomes of five dairy Brevibacterium strains and one non-dairy strain using PacBio RSII. We performed phylogenetic and pan-genome analyses, including comparisons with other publicly available Brevibacterium genomic sequences. Our phylogenetic analysis revealed that these five dairy strains, previously identified as Brevibacterium linens, belong instead to the B. aurantiacum species. A high number of transposases and integrases were observed in the Brevibacterium spp. strains. In addition, we identified 14 and 12 new insertion sequences (IS) in B. aurantiacum and B. linens genomes, respectively. Several stretches of homologous DNA sequences were also found between B. aurantiacum and other cheese rind actinobacteria, suggesting horizontal gene transfer (HGT). A HGT region from an iRon Uptake/Siderophore Transport Island (RUSTI) and an iron uptake composite transposon were found in five B. aurantiacum genomes. These findings suggest that low iron availability in milk is a driving force in the adaptation of this bacterial species to this niche. Moreover, the exchange of iron uptake systems suggests cooperative evolution between cheese rind actinobacteria. We also demonstrated that the integrative and conjugative element BreLI (Brevibacterium Lanthipeptide Island) can excise from B. aurantiacum SMQ-1417 chromosome. Our comparative genomic analysis suggests that mobile genetic elements played an important role into the adaptation of B. aurantiacum to cheese ecosystems.


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