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  |  

Dual Role of gnaA in Antibiotic Resistance and Virulence in Acinetobacter baumannii.

Acinetobacter baumannii is an important Gram-negative pathogen in hospital-related infections. However, treatment options for A. baumannii infections have become limited due to multidrug resistance. Bacterial virulence is often associated with capsule genes found in the K locus, many of which are essential for biosynthesis of the bacterial envelope. However, the roles of other genes in the K locus remain largely unknown. From an in vitro evolution experiment, we obtained an isolate of the virulent and multidrug-resistant A. baumannii strain MDR-ZJ06, called MDR-ZJ06M, which has an insertion by the ISAba16 transposon in gnaA (encoding UDP-N-acetylglucosamine C-6 dehydrogenase), a gene found in the K locus. The isolate showed an increased resistance toward tigecycline, whereas the MIC decreased in the case of carbapenems, cephalosporins, colistin, and minocycline. By using knockout and complementation experiments, we demonstrated that gnaA is important for the synthesis of lipooligosaccharide and capsular polysaccharide and that disruption of the gene affects the morphology, drug susceptibility, and virulence of the pathogen.Copyright © 2019 American Society for Microbiology.


April 21, 2020  |  

Computational aspects underlying genome to phenome analysis in plants.

Recent advances in genomics technologies have greatly accelerated the progress in both fundamental plant science and applied breeding research. Concurrently, high-throughput plant phenotyping is becoming widely adopted in the plant community, promising to alleviate the phenotypic bottleneck. While these technological breakthroughs are significantly accelerating quantitative trait locus (QTL) and causal gene identification, challenges to enable even more sophisticated analyses remain. In particular, care needs to be taken to standardize, describe and conduct experiments robustly while relying on plant physiology expertise. In this article, we review the state of the art regarding genome assembly and the future potential of pangenomics in plant research. We also describe the necessity of standardizing and describing phenotypic studies using the Minimum Information About a Plant Phenotyping Experiment (MIAPPE) standard to enable the reuse and integration of phenotypic data. In addition, we show how deep phenotypic data might yield novel trait-trait correlations and review how to link phenotypic data to genomic data. Finally, we provide perspectives on the golden future of machine learning and their potential in linking phenotypes to genomic features. © 2018 The Authors The Plant Journal published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd and Society for Experimental Biology.


April 21, 2020  |  

Characterization of vanM carrying clinical Enterococcus isolates and diversity of the suppressed vanM gene cluster.

Here we report the prevalence of the suppressed vanM gene cluster as a reservoir of vancomycin resistance genes. Among 1284 clinical isolates of enterococci from four hospitals in Hangzhou, China, 55 isolates of Enterococcus faecium and one isolate of Enterococcus faecalis were screened positive for the vanM genotype. Antimicrobial susceptibility testing showed that 55 of the 56 vanM-positive isolates were susceptible to vancomycin and teicoplanin. Most of them (54/56) belonged to the main epidemic lineage CC17, mostly the ST78 type. The vanM gene clusters in the 55 vancomycin-susceptible isolates showed sequence diversity owing to different insertion locations of IS1216E. The vanM transposons could be classified into five types and they all carried two or more IS1216E elements, leading to complete or partial deletions of vanR, vanS, or vanX. Quantitative reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction showed that the expression level of vanM was significantly lower in the vancomycin-susceptible isolates than in the vancomycin-resistant isolate. Considering the prevalence of the vanM genotype and the potential for conversion to a resistant phenotype, vanM might act as an important determinant of glycopeptide resistance in the future. It is essential to strengthen the surveillance of vanM-containing enterococci to control the dissemination of vancomycin resistance. Copyright © 2018. Published by Elsevier B.V.


April 21, 2020  |  

PacBio sequencing reveals bacterial community diversity in cheeses collected from different regions.

Cheese is a fermented dairy product that is popular for its unique flavor and nutritional value. Recent studies have shown that microorganisms in cheese play an important role in the fermentation process and determine the quality of the cheese. We collected 12 cheese samples from different regions and studied the composition of their bacterial communities using PacBio small-molecule real-time sequencing (Pacific Biosciences, Menlo Park, CA). Our data revealed 144 bacterial genera (including Lactobacillus, Streptococcus, Lactococcus, and Staphylococcus) and 217 bacterial species (including Lactococcus lactis, Streptococcus thermophilus, Staphylococcus equorum, and Streptococcus uberis). We investigated the flavor quality of the cheese samples using an electronic nose system and we found differences in flavor-quality indices among samples from different regions. We found a clustering tendency based on flavor quality using principal component analysis. We found correlations between lactic acid bacteria and the flavor quality of the cheese samples. Biodegradation and metabolism of xenobiotics, and lipid-metabolism-related pathways, were predicted to contribute to differences in cheese flavor using Phylogenetic Investigation of Communities by Reconstruction of Unobserved States (PICRUSt). This preliminary study explored the bacterial communities in cheeses collected from different regions and their potential genome functions from the perspective of flavor quality.Copyright © 2020 American Dairy Science Association. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


April 21, 2020  |  

Recompleting the Caenorhabditis elegans genome.

Caenorhabditis elegans was the first multicellular eukaryotic genome sequenced to apparent completion. Although this assembly employed a standard C. elegans strain (N2), it used sequence data from several laboratories, with DNA propagated in bacteria and yeast. Thus, the N2 assembly has many differences from any C. elegans available today. To provide a more accurate C. elegans genome, we performed long-read assembly of VC2010, a modern strain derived from N2. Our VC2010 assembly has 99.98% identity to N2 but with an additional 1.8 Mb including tandem repeat expansions and genome duplications. For 116 structural discrepancies between N2 and VC2010, 97 structures matching VC2010 (84%) were also found in two outgroup strains, implying deficiencies in N2. Over 98% of N2 genes encoded unchanged products in VC2010; moreover, we predicted =53 new genes in VC2010. The recompleted genome of C. elegans should be a valuable resource for genetics, genomics, and systems biology. © 2019 Yoshimura et al.; Published by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press.


April 21, 2020  |  

An integrated whole genome analysis of Mycobacterium tuberculosis reveals insights into relationship between its genome, transcriptome and methylome.

Human tuberculosis disease (TB), caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb), is a complex disease, with a spectrum of outcomes. Genomic, transcriptomic and methylation studies have revealed differences between Mtb lineages, likely to impact on transmission, virulence and drug resistance. However, so far no studies have integrated sequence-based genomic, transcriptomic and methylation characterisation across a common set of samples, which is critical to understand how DNA sequence and methylation affect RNA expression and, ultimately, Mtb pathogenesis. Here we perform such an integrated analysis across 22?M. tuberculosis clinical isolates, representing ancient (lineage 1) and modern (lineages 2 and 4) strains. The results confirm the presence of lineage-specific differential gene expression, linked to specific SNP-based expression quantitative trait loci: with 10 eQTLs involving SNPs in promoter regions or transcriptional start sites; and 12 involving potential functional impairment of transcriptional regulators. Methylation status was also found to have a role in transcription, with evidence of differential expression in 50 genes across lineage 4 samples. Lack of methylation was associated with three novel variants in mamA, likely to cause loss of function of this enzyme. Overall, our work shows the relationship of DNA sequence and methylation to RNA expression, and differences between ancient and modern lineages. Further studies are needed to verify the functional consequences of the identified mechanisms of gene expression regulation.


April 21, 2020  |  

Genomics-driven discovery of a biosynthetic gene cluster required for the synthesis of BII-Rafflesfungin from the fungus Phoma sp. F3723.

Phomafungin is a recently reported broad spectrum antifungal compound but its biosynthetic pathway is unknown. We combed publicly available Phoma genomes but failed to find any putative biosynthetic gene cluster that could account for its biosynthesis.Therefore, we sequenced the genome of one of our Phoma strains (F3723) previously identified as having antifungal activity in a high-throughput screen. We found a biosynthetic gene cluster that was predicted to synthesize a cyclic lipodepsipeptide that differs in the amino acid composition compared to Phomafungin. Antifungal activity guided isolation yielded a new compound, BII-Rafflesfungin, the structure of which was determined.We describe the NRPS-t1PKS cluster ‘BIIRfg’ compatible with the synthesis of the cyclic lipodepsipeptide BII-Rafflesfungin [HMHDA-L-Ala-L-Glu-L-Asn-L-Ser-L-Ser-D-Ser-D-allo-Thr-Gly]. We report new Stachelhaus codes for Ala, Glu, Asn, Ser, Thr, and Gly. We propose a mechanism for BII-Rafflesfungin biosynthesis, which involves the formation of the lipid part by BIIRfg_PKS followed by activation and transfer of the lipid chain by a predicted AMP-ligase on to the first PCP domain of the BIIRfg_NRPS gene.


October 23, 2019  |  

Dynamics of coral-associated microbiomes during a thermal bleaching event.

Coral-associated microorganisms play an important role in their host fitness and survival. A number of studies have demonstrated connections between thermal tolerance in corals and the type/relative abundance of Symbiodinium they harbor. More recently, the shifts in coral-associated bacterial profiles were also shown to be linked to the patterns of coral heat tolerance. Here, we investigated the dynamics of Porites lutea-associated bacterial and algal communities throughout a natural bleaching event, using full-length 16S rRNA and internal transcribed spacer sequences (ITS) obtained from PacBio circular consensus sequencing. We provided evidence of significant changes in the structure and diversity of coral-associated microbiomes during thermal stress. The balance of the symbiosis shifted from a predominant association between corals and Gammaproteobacteria to a predominance of Alphaproteobacteria and to a lesser extent Betaproteobacteria following the bleaching event. On the contrary, the composition and diversity of Symbiodinium communities remained unaltered throughout the bleaching event. It appears that the switching and/or shuffling of Symbiodinium types may not be the primary mechanism used by P. lutea to cope with increasing seawater temperature. The shifts in the structure and diversity of associated bacterial communities may contribute more to the survival of the coral holobiont under heat stress.© 2018 The Authors. MicrobiologyOpen published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


September 22, 2019  |  

Carbohydrate staple food modulates gut microbiota of Mongolians in China.

Gut microbiota is a determining factor in human physiological functions and health. It is commonly accepted that diet has a major influence on the gut microbial community, however, the effects of diet is not fully understood. The typical Mongolian diet is characterized by high and frequent consumption of fermented dairy products and red meat, and low level of carbohydrates. In this study, the gut microbiota profile of 26 Mongolians whom consumed wheat, rice and oat as the sole carbohydrate staple food for a week each consecutively was determined. It was observed that changes in staple carbohydrate rapidly (within a week) altered gut microbial community structure and metabolic pathway of the subjects. Wheat and oat favored bifidobacteria (Bifidobacterium catenulatum, Bifodobacteriumbifidum, Bifidobacterium adolescentis); whereas rice suppressed bifidobacteria (Bifidobacterium longum, Bifidobacterium adolescentis) and wheat suppresses Lactobaciilus, Ruminococcus and Bacteroides. The study exhibited two gut microbial clustering patterns with the preference of fucosyllactose utilization linking to fucosidase genes (glycoside hydrolase family classifications: GH95 and GH29) encoded by Bifidobacterium, and xylan and arabinoxylan utilization linking to xylanase and arabinoxylanase genes encoded by Bacteroides. There was also a correlation between Lactobacillus ruminis and sialidase, as well as Butyrivibrio crossotus and xylanase/xylosidase. Meanwhile, a strong concordance was found between the gastrointestinal bacterial microbiome and the intestinal virome. Present research will contribute to understanding the impacts of the dietary carbohydrate on human gut microbiome, which will ultimately help understand relationships between dietary factor, microbial populations, and the health of global humans.


September 22, 2019  |  

Molecular characterization of eukaryotic algal communities in the tropical phyllosphere based on real-time sequencing of the 18S rDNA gene.

Foliicolous algae are a common occurrence in tropical forests. They are referable to a few simple morphotypes (unicellular, sarcinoid-like or filamentous), which makes their morphology of limited usefulness for taxonomic studies and species diversity assessments. The relationship between algal community and their host phyllosphere was not clear. In order to obtain a more accurate assessment, we used single molecule real-time sequencing of the 18S rDNA gene to characterize the eukaryotic algal community in an area of South-western China.We annotated 2922 OTUs belonging to five classes, Ulvophyceae, Trebouxiophyceae, Chlorophyceae, Dinophyceae and Eustigmatophyceae. Novel clades formed by large numbers sequences of green algae were detected in the order Trentepohliales (Ulvophyceae) and the Watanabea clade (Trebouxiophyceae), suggesting that these foliicolous communities may be substantially more diverse than so far appreciated and require further research. Species in Trentepohliales, Watanabea clade and Apatococcus clade were detected as the core members in the phyllosphere community studied. Communities from different host trees and sampling sites were not significantly different in terms of OTUs composition. However, the communities of Musa and Ravenala differed from other host plants significantly at the genus level, since they were dominated by Trebouxiophycean epiphytes.The cryptic diversity of eukaryotic algae especially Chlorophytes in tropical phyllosphere is very high. The community structure at species-level has no significant relationship either with host phyllosphere or locations. The core algal community in tropical phyllopshere is consisted of members from Trentepohliales, Watanabea clade and Apatococcus clade. Our study provided a large amount of novel 18S rDNA sequences that will be useful to unravel the cryptic diversity of phyllosphere eukaryotic algae and for comparisons with similar future studies on this type of communities.


September 22, 2019  |  

Exploring the genome and transcriptome of the cave nectar bat Eonycteris spelaea with PacBio long-read sequencing.

In the past two decades, bats have emerged as an important model system to study host-pathogen interactions. More recently, it has been shown that bats may also serve as a new and excellent model to study aging, inflammation, and cancer, among other important biological processes. The cave nectar bat or lesser dawn bat (Eonycteris spelaea) is known to be a reservoir for several viruses and intracellular bacteria. It is widely distributed throughout the tropics and subtropics from India to Southeast Asia and pollinates several plant species, including the culturally and economically important durian in the region. Here, we report the whole-genome and transcriptome sequencing, followed by subsequent de novo assembly, of the E. spelaea genome solely using the Pacific Biosciences (PacBio) long-read sequencing platform.The newly assembled E. spelaea genome is 1.97 Gb in length and consists of 4,470 sequences with a contig N50 of 8.0 Mb. Identified repeat elements covered 34.65% of the genome, and 20,640 unique protein-coding genes with 39,526 transcripts were annotated.We demonstrated that the PacBio long-read sequencing platform alone is sufficient to generate a comprehensive de novo assembled genome and transcriptome of an important bat species. These results will provide useful insights and act as a resource to expand our understanding of bat evolution, ecology, physiology, immunology, viral infection, and transmission dynamics.


September 22, 2019  |  

Computational identification of novel genes: current and future perspectives.

While it has long been thought that all genomic novelties are derived from the existing material, many genes lacking homology to known genes were found in recent genome projects. Some of these novel genes were proposed to have evolved de novo, ie, out of noncoding sequences, whereas some have been shown to follow a duplication and divergence process. Their discovery called for an extension of the historical hypotheses about gene origination. Besides the theoretical breakthrough, increasing evidence accumulated that novel genes play important roles in evolutionary processes, including adaptation and speciation events. Different techniques are available to identify genes and classify them as novel. Their classification as novel is usually based on their similarity to known genes, or lack thereof, detected by comparative genomics or against databases. Computational approaches are further prime methods that can be based on existing models or leveraging biological evidences from experiments. Identification of novel genes remains however a challenging task. With the constant software and technologies updates, no gold standard, and no available benchmark, evaluation and characterization of genomic novelty is a vibrant field. In this review, the classical and state-of-the-art tools for gene prediction are introduced. The current methods for novel gene detection are presented; the methodological strategies and their limits are discussed along with perspective approaches for further studies.


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