October 23, 2019  |  

Molecular barcoding of viral vectors enables mapping and optimization of mRNA trans-splicing.

Genome editing has proven to be highly potent in the generation of functional gene knockouts in dividing cells. In the CNS however, efficient technologies to repair sequences are yet to materialize. Reprogramming on the mRNA level is an attractive alternative as it provides means to perform in situ editing of coding sequences without nuclease dependency. Furthermore, de novo sequences can be inserted without the requirement of homologous recombination. Such reprogramming would enable efficient editing in quiescent cells (e.g., neurons) with an attractive safety profile for translational therapies. In this study, we applied a novel molecular-barcoded screening assay to investigate RNA trans-splicing in mammalian neurons. Through three alternative screening systems in cell culture and in vivo, we demonstrate that factors determining trans-splicing are reproducible regardless of the screening system. With this screening, we have located the most permissive trans-splicing sequences targeting an intron in the Synapsin I gene. Using viral vectors, we were able to splice full-length fluorophores into the mRNA while retaining very low off-target expression. Furthermore, this approach also showed evidence of functionality in the mouse striatum. However, in its current form, the trans-splicing events are stochastic and the overall activity lower than would be required for therapies targeting loss-of-function mutations. Nevertheless, the herein described barcode-based screening assay provides a unique possibility to screen and map large libraries in single animals or cell assays with very high precision.© 2018 Davidsson et al.; Published by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press for the RNA Society.


September 22, 2019  |  

Increasing sorghum yields by seed treatment with an aqueous extract of the plant Eclipta alba may involve a dual mechanism of hydropriming and suppression of fungal pathogens

Background Soaking of sorghum seeds for six hours in an aqueous extract of Eclipta alba has been shown to increase the yield of sorghum in field experiments. The effect on yield is known to depend on field location and a mechanism involving pathogen suppression has been proposed. However, it has not been clear to which extent the same effect can be obtained by soaking of seeds in pure water (hydropriming). To address this question, fifty eight field tests were conducted comparing no treatment of seeds, hydropriming and treatment with plant extract. Experiments were distributed over three years in Burkina Faso on three locations previously showing a positive yield response to the plant extract. Results Despite strong variation across locations and years, a mean yield increase of 19.6% was found for hydropriming compared to no treatment (p?


September 22, 2019  |  

Lack of thinning effects over inter-annual changes in soil fungal community and diversity in a Mediterranean pine forest

Predicted changes in global climate might negatively affect the soil microbiome and associated ecosystem processes in Mediterranean forests. Forest treatments, such as forest thinning, have been suggested to mitigate climate change impacts on vegetation by reducing competition between trees, thus increasing water availability. Studies addressing the combined effects of climate and forest thinning on belowground fungal communities are still scarce, being fundamental to elaborate adaptive strategies to global warming. The aim of this study was to evaluate the tree density reduction effects on soil fungal communities and their response to inter-annual changes in weather conditions. The temporal dynamics of soil fungal communities in relation to these two drivers (i.e., forest management and weather conditions) were studied from 2009 until 2014 in a set of 12 pairs of thinned and un-thinned plots dominated by Pinus pinaster Ait. Thinning (from 30% up to 70% reduction in stand basal area) was conducted in 2009 and soil fungal community composition was studied during 4?years. Here, we used autumn precipitation and temperature to describe the impact of inter-annual weather changes. We used Pacific Biosciences sequencing of fungal ITS2 amplicons to study fungal communities in soil samples. Forest thinning did not significantly affect fungal community composition nor fungal species richness and diversity, indicating that the soil fungal community is resistant to forest thinning regardless of its intensity. However, fungal species composition changed progressively across years, both at the species level and with regards to functional guilds. These changes in community composition were partly driven by inter-annual variation in precipitation and temperature, with free-living fungi increasing in abundance under wetter conditions, and symbiotic fungi being more prominent under drier and colder conditions. The results indicate that mycorrhizal communities in Mediterranean forest ecosystems can resist forest thinning, if enough trees and functional roots from thinned trees are retained.


September 22, 2019  |  

Contrasting distribution patterns between aquatic and terrestrial Phytophthora species along a climatic gradient are linked to functional traits.

Diversity of microbial organisms is linked to global climatic gradients. The genus Phytophthora includes both aquatic and terrestrial plant pathogenic species that display a large variation of functional traits. The extent to which the physical environment (water or soil) modulates the interaction of microorganisms with climate is unknown. Here, we explored the main environmental drivers of diversity and functional trait composition of Phytophthora communities. Communities were obtained by a novel metabarcoding setup based on PacBio sequencing of river filtrates in 96 river sites along a geographical gradient. Species were classified as terrestrial or aquatic based on their phylogenetic clade. Overall, terrestrial and aquatic species showed contrasting patterns of diversity. For terrestrial species, precipitation was a stronger driver than temperature, and diversity and functional diversity decreased with decreasing temperature and precipitation. In cold and dry areas, the dominant species formed resistant structures and had a low optimum temperature. By contrast, for aquatic species, temperature and water chemistry were the strongest drivers, and diversity increased with decreasing temperature and precipitation. Within the same area, environmental filtering affected terrestrial species more strongly than aquatic species (20% versus 3% of the studied communities, respectively). Our results highlight the importance of functional traits and the physical environment in which microorganisms develop their life cycle when predicting their distribution under changing climatic conditions. Temperature and rainfall may be buffered differently by water and soil, and thus pose contrasting constrains to microbial assemblies.


September 22, 2019  |  

Long-read sequencing revealed an extensive transcript complexity in herpesviruses.

Long-read sequencing (LRS) techniques are very recent advancements, but they have already been used for transcriptome research in all of the three subfamilies of herpesviruses. These techniques have multiplied the number of known transcripts in each of the examined viruses. Meanwhile, they have revealed a so far hidden complexity of the herpesvirus transcriptome with the discovery of a large number of novel RNA molecules, including coding and non-coding RNAs, as well as transcript isoforms, and polycistronic RNAs. Additionally, LRS techniques have uncovered an intricate meshwork of transcriptional overlaps between adjacent and distally located genes. Here, we review the contribution of LRS to herpesvirus transcriptomics and present the complexity revealed by this technology, while also discussing the functional significance of this phenomenon.


September 22, 2019  |  

Integrative analysis of three RNA sequencing methods identifies mutually exclusive exons of MADS-box isoforms during early bud development in Picea abies.

Recent efforts to sequence the genomes and transcriptomes of several gymnosperm species have revealed an increased complexity in certain gene families in gymnosperms as compared to angiosperms. One example of this is the gymnosperm sister clade to angiosperm TM3-like MADS-box genes, which at least in the conifer lineage has expanded in number of genes. We have previously identified a member of this sub-clade, the conifer gene DEFICIENS AGAMOUS LIKE 19 (DAL19), as being specifically upregulated in cone-setting shoots. Here, we show through Sanger sequencing of mRNA-derived cDNA and mapping to assembled conifer genomic sequences that DAL19 produces six mature mRNA splice variants in Picea abies. These splice variants use alternate first and last exons, while their four central exons constitute a core region present in all six transcripts. Thus, they are likely to be transcript isoforms. Quantitative Real-Time PCR revealed that two mutually exclusive first DAL19 exons are differentially expressed across meristems that will form either male or female cones, or vegetative shoots. Furthermore, mRNA in situ hybridization revealed that two mutually exclusive last DAL19 exons were expressed in a cell-specific pattern within bud meristems. Based on these findings in DAL19, we developed a sensitive approach to transcript isoform assembly from short-read sequencing of mRNA. We applied this method to 42 putative MADS-box core regions in P. abies, from which we assembled 1084 putative transcripts. We manually curated these transcripts to arrive at 933 assembled transcript isoforms of 38 putative MADS-box genes. 152 of these isoforms, which we assign to 28 putative MADS-box genes, were differentially expressed across eight female, male, and vegetative buds. We further provide evidence of the expression of 16 out of the 38 putative MADS-box genes by mapping PacBio Iso-Seq circular consensus reads derived from pooled sample sequencing to assembled transcripts. In summary, our analyses reveal the use of mutually exclusive exons of MADS-box gene isoforms during early bud development in P. abies, and we find that the large number of identified MADS-box transcripts in P. abies results not only from expansion of the gene family through gene duplication events but also from the generation of numerous splice variants.


September 22, 2019  |  

Single-molecule DNA sequencing of acute myeloid leukemia and myelodysplastic syndromes with multiple TP53 alterations.

Although the frequency of TP53 mutations in hemato- logic malignancies is low, these mutations have a high clinical relevance and are usually associated with poor prognosis. Somatic TP53 mutations have been detected in up to 73.3% of cases of acute myeloid leukemia (AML) with complex karyotype and 18.9% of AML with other unfavorable cytogenetic risk factors. AML with TP53 mutations, and/or chromosomal aneuploidy, has been defined as a distinct AML subtype. In low-risk myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS), TP53 mutations occur at an early disease stage and predict disease progression. TP53 mutation diagnosis is now part of the revised European LeukemiaNet (ELN) guidelines.


September 22, 2019  |  

Analysis of aquaporins from the euryhaline barnacle Balanus improvisus reveals differential expression in response to changes in salinity.

Barnacles are sessile macro-invertebrates, found along rocky shores in coastal areas worldwide. The euryhaline bay barnacle Balanus improvisus (Darwin, 1854) (= Amphibalanus improvisus) can tolerate a wide range of salinities, but the molecular mechanisms underlying the osmoregulatory capacity of this truly brackish species are not well understood. Aquaporins are pore-forming integral membrane proteins that facilitate transport of water, small solutes and ions through cellular membranes, and that have been shown to be important for osmoregulation in many organisms. The knowledge of the function of aquaporins in crustaceans is, however, limited and nothing is known about them in barnacles. We here present the repertoire of aquaporins from a thecostracan crustacean, the barnacle B. improvisus, based on genome and transcriptome sequencing. Our analyses reveal that B. improvisus contains eight genes for aquaporins. Phylogenetic analysis showed that they represented members of the classical water aquaporins (Aqp1, Aqp2), the aquaglyceroporins (Glp1, Glp2), the unorthodox aquaporin (Aqp12) and the arthropod-specific big brain aquaporin (Bib). Interestingly, we also found two big brain-like proteins (BibL1 and BibL2) constituting a new group of aquaporins not yet described in arthropods. In addition, we found that the two water-specific aquaporins were expressed as C-terminal splice variants. Heterologous expression of some of the aquaporins followed by functional characterization showed that Aqp1 transported water and Glp2 water and glycerol, agreeing with the predictions of substrate specificity based on 3D modeling and phylogeny. To investigate a possible role for the B. improvisus aquaporins in osmoregulation, mRNA expression changes in adult barnacles were analysed after long-term acclimation to different salinities. The most pronounced expression difference was seen for AQP1 with a substantial (>100-fold) decrease in the mantle tissue in low salinity (3 PSU) compared to high salinity (33 PSU). Our study provides a base for future mechanistic studies on the role of aquaporins in osmoregulation.


September 22, 2019  |  

Shift in fungal communities and associated enzyme activities along an age gradient of managed Pinus sylvestris stands.

Forestry reshapes ecosystems with respect to tree age structure, soil properties and vegetation composition. These changes are likely to be paralleled by shifts in microbial community composition with potential feedbacks on ecosystem functioning. Here, we assessed fungal communities across a chronosequence of managed Pinus sylvestris stands and investigated correlations between taxonomic composition and extracellular enzyme activities. Not surprisingly, clear-cutting had a negative effect on ectomycorrhizal fungal abundance and diversity. In contrast, clear-cutting favoured proliferation of saprotrophic fungi correlated with enzymes involved in holocellulose decomposition. During stand development, the re-establishing ectomycorrhizal fungal community shifted in composition from dominance by Atheliaceae in younger stands to Cortinarius and Russula species in older stands. Late successional ectomycorrhizal taxa correlated with enzymes involved in mobilisation of nutrients from organic matter, indicating intensified nutrient limitation. Our results suggest that maintenance of functional diversity in the ectomycorrhizal fungal community may sustain long-term forest production by retaining a capacity for symbiosis-driven recycling of organic nutrient pools.


September 22, 2019  |  

Multiscale patterns and drivers of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungal communities in the roots and root-associated soil of a wild perennial herb.

Arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi form diverse communities and are known to influence above-ground community dynamics and biodiversity. However, the multiscale patterns and drivers of AM fungal composition and diversity are still poorly understood. We sequenced DNA markers from roots and root-associated soil from Plantago lanceolata plants collected across multiple spatial scales to allow comparison of AM fungal communities among neighbouring plants, plant subpopulations, nearby plant populations, and regions. We also measured soil nutrients, temperature, humidity, and community composition of neighbouring plants and nonAM root-associated fungi. AM fungal communities were already highly dissimilar among neighbouring plants (c. 30 cm apart), albeit with a high variation in the degree of similarity at this small spatial scale. AM fungal communities were increasingly, and more consistently, dissimilar at larger spatial scales. Spatial structure and environmental drivers explained a similar percentage of the variation, from 7% to 25%. A large fraction of the variation remained unexplained, which may be a result of unmeasured environmental variables, species interactions and stochastic processes. We conclude that AM fungal communities are highly variable among nearby plants. AM fungi may therefore play a major role in maintaining small-scale variation in community dynamics and biodiversity.© 2018 The Authors. New Phytologist © 2018 New Phytologist Trust.


September 22, 2019  |  

Clonal distribution of BCR-ABL1 mutations and splice isoforms by single-molecule long-read RNA sequencing.

The evolution of mutations in the BCR-ABL1 fusion gene transcript renders CML patients resistant to tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI) based therapy. Thus screening for BCR-ABL1 mutations is recommended particularly in patients experiencing poor response to treatment. Herein we describe a novel approach for the detection and surveillance of BCR-ABL1 mutations in CML patients.To detect mutations in the BCR-ABL1 transcript we developed an assay based on the Pacific Biosciences (PacBio) sequencing technology, which allows for single-molecule long-read sequencing of BCR-ABL1 fusion transcript molecules. Samples from six patients with poor response to therapy were analyzed both at diagnosis and follow-up. cDNA was generated from total RNA and a 1,6 kb fragment encompassing the BCR-ABL1 transcript was amplified using long range PCR. To estimate the sensitivity of the assay, a serial dilution experiment was performed.Over 10,000 full-length BCR-ABL1 sequences were obtained for all samples studied. Through the serial dilution analysis, mutations in CML patient samples could be detected down to a level of at least 1%. Notably, the assay was determined to be sufficiently sensitive even in patients harboring a low abundance of BCR-ABL1 levels. The PacBio sequencing successfully identified all mutations seen by standard methods. Importantly, we identified several mutations that escaped detection by the clinical routine analysis. Resistance mutations were found in all but one of the patients. Due to the long reads afforded by PacBio sequencing, compound mutations present in the same molecule were readily distinguished from independent alterations arising in different molecules. Moreover, several transcript isoforms of the BCR-ABL1 transcript were identified in two of the CML patients. Finally, our assay allowed for a quick turn around time allowing samples to be reported upon within 2 days.In summary the PacBio sequencing assay can be applied to detect BCR-ABL1 resistance mutations in both diagnostic and follow-up CML patient samples using a simple protocol applicable to routine diagnosis. The method besides its sensitivity, gives a complete view of the clonal distribution of mutations, which is of importance when making therapy decisions.


September 22, 2019  |  

Soil microclimate changes affect soil fungal communities in a Mediterranean pine forest.

Soil microclimate is a potentially important regulator of the composition of plant-associated fungal communities in climates with significant drought periods. Here, we investigated the spatio-temporal dynamics of soil fungal communities in a Mediterranean Pinus pinaster forest in relation to soil moisture and temperature. Fungal communities in 336 soil samples collected monthly over 1 year from 28 long-term experimental plots were assessed by PacBio sequencing of ITS2 amplicons. Total fungal biomass was estimated by analysing ergosterol. Community changes were analysed in the context of functional traits. Soil fungal biomass was lowest during summer and late winter and highest during autumn, concurrent with a greater relative abundance of mycorrhizal species. Intra-annual spatio-temporal changes in community composition correlated significantly with soil moisture and temperature. Mycorrhizal fungi were less affected by summer drought than free-living fungi. In particular, mycorrhizal species of the short-distance exploration type increased in relative abundance under dry conditions, whereas species of the long-distance exploration type were more abundant under wetter conditions. Our observations demonstrate a potential for compositional and functional shifts in fungal communities in response to changing climatic conditions. Free-living fungi and mycorrhizal species with extensive mycelia may be negatively affected by increasing drought periods in Mediterranean forest ecosystems.© 2018 The Authors. New Phytologist © 2018 New Phytologist Trust.


September 22, 2019  |  

Below-ground organic matter accumulation along a boreal forest fertility gradient relates to guild interaction within fungal communities.

Plant-soil interactions link ecosystem fertility and organic matter accumulation below ground. Soil microorganisms play a central role as mediators of these interactions, but mechanistic understanding is still largely lacking. Correlative data from a coniferous forest ecosystem support the hypothesis that interactions between fungal guilds play a central role in regulating organic matter accumulation in relation to fertility. With increasing ecosystem fertility, the proportion of saprotrophic basidiomycetes increased in deeper organic layers, at the expense of ectomycorrhizal fungal species. Saprotrophs correlated positively with the activity of oxidative enzymes, which in turn favoured organic matter turnover and nitrogen recycling to plants. Combined, our findings are consistent with a fungus-mediated feedback loop, which results in a negative correlation between ecosystem fertility and below-ground carbon storage. These findings call for a shift in focus from plant litter traits to fungal traits in explaining organic matter dynamics and ecosystem fertility in boreal forests.© 2017 John Wiley & Sons Ltd/CNRS.


September 22, 2019  |  

Fungal community shifts underpin declining mycelial production and turnover across a Pinus sylvestris chronosequence

Fungi play critical roles in ecosystem processes such as decomposition and nutrient cycling, but have also been highlighted as significant contributors to organic matter build-up in boreal forest soils. Ectomycorrhizal (ECM) mycelial biomass and necromass dynamics have recently been highlighted as essential for regulating build-up of soil organic matter. Understanding the extent to which shifts in mycelial community or growth trait composition cause changes in mycelial production and turnover over ecological gradients would aid a mechanistic understanding of these important processes at an ecosystem scale. Here, we test the hypotheses that shifting species and mycelial trait (exploration type) composition within the mycelial community underpin changes in biomass turnover with increasing forest age. We quantified mycelial turnover and assessed fungal community composition in a chronosequence of eight, 12- to 158-year-old, managed Pinus sylvestris forests. Turnover was estimated by determining mycelial biomass (ergosterol) in a sequence of ingrowth mesh bags and applying mathematical models. Fungal communities in the bags were identified using Pacific Biosciences sequencing of fungal ITS2 amplicons. To evaluate the accuracy of this method to represent all ECM fungi, community composition in bags was followed over time and compared with communities in soil. Mycelial communities changed with stand age, but we found no evidence that there were concurrent shifts in mycelial exploration types. Forest age and turnover were significantly correlated with ECM mycelial community composition and collectively explained 39.4% of total variation. The similarity between fungal communities in mesh bags and in soil was strongly forest age dependent, with communities in mesh bags diverging from soil communities in stands older than 60 years. However, in all stands, when bag incubation time exceeded 75 days, communities became more similar to soil communities. Synthesis. Our results support the idea that shifts in fungal community composition underpin the forest age-related decrease in mycelial turnover; however, since ingrowth mesh bags exclude some mycorrhizal species in older forests, it remains a possibility that turnover estimates were not reflecting the entire community. While we found no evidence that mycelial exploration types of fungi changed systematically with forest age, we suggest that other traits that relate to biomass turnover and necromass degradation require further study, as they may explain the extent to which ectomycorrhizal fungi regulate and contribute to soil organic matter accumulation.


September 22, 2019  |  

Retention of seed trees fails to lifeboat ectomycorrhizal fungal diversity in harvested Scots pine forests.

Fennoscandian forestry has in the past decades changed from natural regeneration of forests towards replantation of clear-cuts, which negatively impacts ectomycorrhizal fungal (EMF) diversity. Retention of trees during harvesting enables EMF survival, and we therefore expected EMF communities to be more similar to those in old natural stands after forest regeneration using seed trees compared to full clear-cutting and replanting. We sequenced fungal internal transcribed spacer 2 (ITS2) amplicons to assess EMF communities in 10- to 60-year-old Scots pine stands regenerated either using seed trees or through replanting of clear-cuts with old natural stands as reference. We also investigated local EMF communities around retained old trees. We found that retention of seed trees failed to mitigate the impact of harvesting on EMF community composition and diversity. With increasing stand age, EMF communities became increasingly similar to those in old natural stands and permanently retained trees maintained EMF locally. From our observations, we conclude that EMF communities, at least common species, post-harvest are more influenced by environmental filtering, resulting from environmental changes induced by harvest, than by the continuity of trees. These results suggest that retention of intact forest patches is a more efficient way to conserve EMF diversity than retaining dispersed single trees.© FEMS 2017. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail: journals.permissions@oup.com.


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