April 21, 2020  |  

Dynamic virulence-related regions of the plant pathogenic fungus Verticillium dahliae display enhanced sequence conservation.

Plant pathogens continuously evolve to evade host immune responses. During host colonization, many fungal pathogens secrete effectors to perturb such responses, but these in turn may become recognized by host immune receptors. To facilitate the evolution of effector repertoires, such as the elimination of recognized effectors, effector genes often reside in genomic regions that display increased plasticity, a phenomenon that is captured in the two-speed genome hypothesis. The genome of the vascular wilt fungus Verticillium dahliae displays regions with extensive presence/absence polymorphisms, so-called lineage-specific regions, that are enriched in in planta-induced putative effector genes. As expected, comparative genomics reveals differential degrees of sequence divergence between lineage-specific regions and the core genome. Unanticipated, lineage-specific regions display markedly higher sequence conservation in coding as well as noncoding regions than the core genome. We provide evidence that disqualifies horizontal transfer to explain the observed sequence conservation and conclude that sequence divergence occurs at a slower pace in lineage-specific regions of the V. dahliae genome. We hypothesize that differences in chromatin organisation may explain lower nucleotide substitution rates in the plastic, lineage-specific regions of V. dahliae. © 2019 The Authors. Molecular Ecology Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

April 21, 2020  |  

Global-level population genomics reveals differential effects of geography and phylogeny on horizontal gene transfer in soil bacteria.

Although microorganisms are known to dominate Earth’s biospheres and drive biogeochemical cycling, little is known about the geographic distributions of microbial populations or the environmental factors that pattern those distributions. We used a global-level hierarchical sampling scheme to comprehensively characterize the evolutionary relationships and distributional limitations of the nitrogen-fixing bacterial symbionts of the crop chickpea, generating 1,027 draft whole-genome sequences at the level of bacterial populations, including 14 high-quality PacBio genomes from a phylogenetically representative subset. We find that diverse Mesorhizobium taxa perform symbiosis with chickpea and have largely overlapping global distributions. However, sampled locations cluster based on the phylogenetic diversity of Mesorhizobium populations, and diversity clusters correspond to edaphic and environmental factors, primarily soil type and latitude. Despite long-standing evolutionary divergence and geographic isolation, the diverse taxa observed to nodulate chickpea share a set of integrative conjugative elements (ICEs) that encode the major functions of the symbiosis. This symbiosis ICE takes 2 forms in the bacterial chromosome-tripartite and monopartite-with tripartite ICEs confined to a broadly distributed superspecies clade. The pairwise evolutionary relatedness of these elements is controlled as much by geographic distance as by the evolutionary relatedness of the background genome. In contrast, diversity in the broader gene content of Mesorhizobium genomes follows a tight linear relationship with core genome phylogenetic distance, with little detectable effect of geography. These results illustrate how geography and demography can operate differentially on the evolution of bacterial genomes and offer useful insights for the development of improved technologies for sustainable agriculture.

April 21, 2020  |  

SMRT sequencing reveals differential patterns of methylation in two O111:H- STEC isolates from a hemolytic uremic syndrome outbreak in Australia.

In 1995 a severe haemolytic-uremic syndrome (HUS) outbreak in Adelaide occurred. A recent genomic analysis of Shiga toxigenic Escherichia coli (STEC) O111:H- strains 95JB1 and 95NR1 from this outbreak found that the more virulent isolate, 95NR1, harboured two additional copies of the Shiga toxin 2 (Stx2) genes encoded within prophage regions. The structure of the Stx2-converting prophages could not be fully resolved using short-read sequence data alone and it was not clear if there were other genomic differences between 95JB1 and 95NR1. In this study we have used Pacific Biosciences (PacBio) single molecule real-time (SMRT) sequencing to characterise the genome and methylome of 95JB1 and 95NR1. We completely resolved the structure of all prophages including two, tandemly inserted, Stx2-converting prophages in 95NR1 that were absent from 95JB1. Furthermore we defined all insertion sequences and found an additional IS1203 element in the chromosome of 95JB1. Our analysis of the methylome of 95NR1 and 95JB1 identified hemi-methylation of a novel motif (5′-CTGCm6AG-3′) in more than 4000 sites in the 95NR1 genome. These sites were entirely unmethylated in the 95JB1 genome, and included at least 177 potential promoter regions that could contribute to regulatory differences between the strains. IS1203 mediated deactivation of a novel type IIG methyltransferase in 95JB1 is the likely cause of the observed differential patterns of methylation between 95NR1 and 95JB1. This study demonstrates the capability of PacBio SMRT sequencing to resolve complex prophage regions and reveal the genetic and epigenetic heterogeneity within a clonal population of bacteria.

April 21, 2020  |  

Full-length transcript sequencing and comparative transcriptomic analysis to evaluate the contribution of osmotic and ionic stress components towards salinity tolerance in the roots of cultivated alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.).

Alfalfa is the most extensively cultivated forage legume. Salinity is a major environmental factor that impacts on alfalfa’s productivity. However, little is known about the molecular mechanisms underlying alfalfa responses to salinity, especially the relative contribution of the two important components of osmotic and ionic stress.In this study, we constructed the first full-length transcriptome database for alfalfa root tips under continuous NaCl and mannitol treatments for 1, 3, 6, 12, and 24?h (three biological replicates for each time points, including the control group) via PacBio Iso-Seq. This resulted in the identification of 52,787 full-length transcripts, with an average length of 2551?bp. Global transcriptional changes in the same 33 stressed samples were then analyzed via BGISEQ-500 RNA-Seq. Totals of 8861 NaCl-regulated and 8016 mannitol-regulated differentially expressed genes (DEGs) were identified. Metabolic analyses revealed that these DEGs overlapped or diverged in the cascades of molecular networks involved in signal perception, signal transduction, transcriptional regulation, and antioxidative defense. Notably, several well characterized signalling pathways, such as CDPK, MAPK, CIPK, and PYL-PP2C-SnRK2, were shown to be involved in osmotic stress, while the SOS core pathway was activated by ionic stress. Moreover, the physiological shifts of catalase and peroxidase activity, glutathione and proline content were in accordance with dynamic transcript profiles of the relevant genes, indicating that antioxidative defense system plays critical roles in response to salinity stress.Overall, our study provides evidence that the response to salinity stress in alfalfa includes both osmotic and ionic components. The key osmotic and ionic stress-related genes are candidates for future studies as potential targets to improve resistance to salinity stress via genetic engineering.

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