April 21, 2020  |  

The genomic architecture of introgression among sibling species of bacteria

Gene transfer between bacterial species is an important mechanism for adaptation. For example, sets of genes that confer the ability to form nitrogen-fixing root nodules on host plants have frequently moved between Rhizobium species. It is not clear, though, whether such transfer is exceptional, or if frequent inter-species introgression is typical. To address this, we sequenced the genomes of 196 isolates of the Rhizobium leguminosarum species complex obtained from root nodules of white clover (Trifolium repens). Core gene phylogeny placed the isolates into five distinct genospecies that show high intra-genospecies recombination rates and remarkably different demographic histories. Most gene phylogenies were largely concordant with the genospecies, indicating that recent gene transfer between genospecies was rare. In contrast, very similar symbiosis gene sequences were found in two or more genospecies, suggesting recent horizontal transfer. The replication and conjugative transfer genes of the plasmids carrying the symbiosis genes showed a similar pattern, implying that introgression occurred by conjugative plasmid transfer. The only other regions that showed strong phylogenetic discordance with the genospecies classification were two small chromosomal clusters, one neighbouring a conjugative transfer system. Phage-related sequences were observed in the genomes, but appeared to have very limited impact on introgression. Introgression among these closely-related species has been very limited, confined to the symbiosis plasmids and a few chromosomal islands. Both introgress through conjugative transfer, but have been subject to different types of selective forces.

April 21, 2020  |  

Plantibacter flavus, Curtobacterium herbarum, Paenibacillus taichungensis, and Rhizobium selenitireducens Endophytes Provide Host-Specific Growth Promotion of Arabidopsis thaliana, Basil, Lettuce, and Bok Choy Plants.

A collection of bacterial endophytes isolated from stem tissues of plants growing in soils highly contaminated with petroleum hydrocarbons were screened for plant growth-promoting capabilities. Twenty-seven endophytic isolates significantly improved the growth of Arabidopsis thaliana plants in comparison to that of uninoculated control plants. The five most beneficial isolates, one strain each of Curtobacterium herbarum, Paenibacillus taichungensis, and Rhizobium selenitireducens and two strains of Plantibacter flavus were further examined for growth promotion in Arabidopsis, lettuce, basil, and bok choy plants. Host-specific plant growth promotion was observed when plants were inoculated with the five bacterial strains. P. flavus strain M251 increased the total biomass and total root length of Arabidopsis plants by 4.7 and 5.8 times, respectively, over that of control plants and improved lettuce and basil root growth, while P. flavus strain M259 promoted Arabidopsis shoot and root growth, lettuce and basil root growth, and bok choy shoot growth. A genome comparison between P. flavus strains M251 and M259 showed that both genomes contain up to 70 actinobacterial putative plant-associated genes and genes involved in known plant-beneficial pathways, such as those for auxin and cytokinin biosynthesis and 1-aminocyclopropane-1-carboxylate deaminase production. This study provides evidence of direct plant growth promotion by Plantibacter flavusIMPORTANCE The discovery of new plant growth-promoting bacteria is necessary for the continued development of biofertilizers, which are environmentally friendly and cost-efficient alternatives to conventional chemical fertilizers. Biofertilizer effects on plant growth can be inconsistent due to the complexity of plant-microbe interactions, as the same bacteria can be beneficial to the growth of some plant species and neutral or detrimental to others. We examined a set of bacterial endophytes isolated from plants growing in a unique petroleum-contaminated environment to discover plant growth-promoting bacteria. We show that strains of Plantibacter flavus exhibit strain-specific plant growth-promoting effects on four different plant species.Copyright © 2019 American Society for Microbiology.

April 21, 2020  |  

Nodule bacteria from the cultured legume Phaseolus dumosus (belonging to the Phaseolus vulgaris cross-inoculation group) with common tropici phenotypic characteristics and symbiovar but distinctive phylogenomic position and chromid.

Phaseolus dumosus is an endemic species from mountain tops in Mexico that was found in traditional agriculture areas in Veracruz, Mexico. P. dumosus plants were identified by ITS sequences and their nodules were collected from agricultural fields or from trap plant experiments in the laboratory. Bacteria from P. dumosus nodules were identified as belonging to the phaseoli-etli-leguminosarum (PEL) or to the tropici group by 16S rRNA gene sequences. We obtained complete closed genomes from two P. dumosus isolates CCGE531 and CCGE532 that were phylogenetically placed within the tropici group but with a distinctive phylogenomic position and low average nucleotide identity (ANI). CCGE531 and CCGE532 had common phenotypic characteristics with tropici type B rhizobial symbionts. Genome synteny analysis and ANI showed that P. dumosus isolates had different chromids and our analysis suggests that chromids have independently evolved in different lineages of the Rhizobium genus. Finally, we considered that P. dumosus and Phaseolus vulgaris plants belong to the same cross-inoculation group since they have conserved symbiotic affinites for rhizobia.Copyright © 2018 Elsevier GmbH. All rights reserved.

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.

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