Traditionally derived from fossil fuels, biological production of propionic acid has recently gained interest. Propionibacterium species produce propionic acid as their main fermentation product. Production of other organic acids reduces propionic acid yield and productivity, pointing to by-products gene-knockout strategies as a logical solution to increase yield. However, removing by-product formation has seen limited success due to our inability to genetically engineer the best producing strains (i.e. Propionibacterium acidipropionici). To overcome this limitation, random mutagenesis continues to be the best path towards improving strains for biological propionic acid production. Recent advances in next generation sequencing opened new avenues to understand improved strains. In this work, we use genome shuffling on two wild type strains to generate a better propionic acid producing strain. Using next generation sequencing, we mapped the genomic changes leading to the improved phenotype. The best strain produced 25% more propionic acid than the wild type strain. Sequencing of the strains showed that genomic changes were restricted to single point mutations and gene duplications in well-conserved regions in the genomes. Such results confirm the involvement of gene conversion in genome shuffling as opposed to long genomic insertions. © 2016 The Authors. Biotechnology Journal published by WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim.
Draft genome sequence of Sulfurospirillum sp. strain MES, reconstructed from the metagenome of a microbial electrosynthesis system.
A draft genome of Sulfurospirillum sp. strain MES was isolated through taxonomic binning of a metagenome sequenced from a microbial electrosynthesis system (MES) actively producing acetate and hydrogen. The genome contains the nosZDFLY genes, which are involved in nitrous oxide reduction, suggesting the potential role of this strain in denitrification. Copyright © 2015 Ross et al.
The methylome of the gut microbiome: disparate Dam methylation patterns in intestinal Bacteroides dorei
Despite the large interest in the human microbiome in recent years, there are no reports of bacterial DNA methylation in the microbiome. Here metagenomic sequencing using the Pacific Biosciences platform allowed for rapid identification of bacterial GATC methylation status of a bacterial species in human stool samples. For this work, two stool samples were chosen that were dominated by a single species, Bacteroides dorei. Based on 16S rRNA analysis, this species represented over 45% of the bacteria present in these two samples. The B. dorei genome sequence from these samples was determined and the GATC methylation sites mapped. The Bacteroides dorei genome from one subject lacked any GATC methylation and lacked the DNA adenine methyltransferase genes. In contrast, B. dorei from another subject contained 20,551 methylated GATC sites. Of the 4970 open reading frames identified in the GATC methylated B. dorei genome, 3184 genes were methylated as well as 1735 GATC methylations in intergenic regions. These results suggest that DNA methylation patterns are important to consider in multi-omic analyses of microbiome samples seeking to discover the diversity of bacterial functions and may differ between disease states.
Most current approaches to analyse metagenomic data rely on reference genomes. Novel microbial communities extend far beyond the coverage of reference databases and de novo metagenome assembly from complex microbial communities remains a great challenge. Here we present a novel experimental and bioinformatic framework, metaSort, for effective construction of bacterial genomes from metagenomic samples. MetaSort provides a sorted mini-metagenome approach based on flow cytometry and single-cell sequencing methodologies, and employs new computational algorithms to efficiently recover high-quality genomes from the sorted mini-metagenome by the complementary of the original metagenome. Through extensive evaluations, we demonstrated that metaSort has an excellent and unbiased performance on genome recovery and assembly. Furthermore, we applied metaSort to an unexplored microflora colonized on the surface of marine kelp and successfully recovered 75 high-quality genomes at one time. This approach will greatly improve access to microbial genomes from complex or novel communities.
Evaluating the mobility potential of antibiotic resistance genes in environmental resistomes without metagenomics.
Antibiotic resistance genes are ubiquitous in the environment. However, only a fraction of them are mobile and able to spread to pathogenic bacteria. Until now, studying the mobility of antibiotic resistance genes in environmental resistomes has been challenging due to inadequate sensitivity and difficulties in contig assembly of metagenome based methods. We developed a new cost and labor efficient method based on Inverse PCR and long read sequencing for studying mobility potential of environmental resistance genes. We applied Inverse PCR on sediment samples and identified 79 different MGE clusters associated with the studied resistance genes, including novel mobile genetic elements, co-selected resistance genes and a new putative antibiotic resistance gene. The results show that the method can be used in antibiotic resistance early warning systems. In comparison to metagenomics, Inverse PCR was markedly more sensitive and provided more data on resistance gene mobility and co-selected resistances.
A response to Lindsey et al. “Wolbachia pipientis should not be split into multiple species: A response to Ramírez-Puebla et al.”.
In Ramírez-Puebla et al.  we compared 34 Wolbachia genomes and constructed phylogenetic trees using genomic data. In general, our results were congruent with previously reported phy- logenetic trees [5,9]. Our datasets were carefully selected, checked and analyzed avoiding horizontally transferred genes. In the case of the wAna genome we did not use the raw data, but the assem- bled genome  and 31 genes were used to compare in a dataset of conserved proteins. To confirm our conclusions a new phyloge- nomic analysis was performed excluding the wAna strain in the dataset (Fig. 1). The same topology was obtained, therefore indi- cating that the results were not affected by the presence of this particular strain.
Candidatus Dactylopiibacterium carminicum, a nitrogen-fixing symbiont of Dactylopius cochineal insects (Hemiptera: Coccoidea: Dactylopiidae)
The domesticated carmine cochineal Dactylopius coccus (scale insect) has commercial value and has been used for more than 500?years for natural red pigment production. Besides the domesticated cochineal, other wild Dactylopius species such as Dactylopius opuntiae are found in the Americas, all feeding on nutrient poor sap from native cacti. To compensate nutritional deficiencies, many insects harbor symbiotic bacteria which provide essential amino acids or vitamins to their hosts. Here, we characterized a symbiont from the carmine cochineal insects, Candidatus Dactylopiibacterium carminicum (betaproteobacterium, Rhodocyclaceae family) and found it in D. coccus and in D. opuntiae ovaries by fluorescent in situ hybridization, suggesting maternal inheritance. Bacterial genomes recovered from metagenomic data derived from whole insects or tissues both from D. coccus and from D. opuntiae were around 3.6?Mb in size. Phylogenomics showed that dactylopiibacteria constituted a closely related clade neighbor to nitrogen fixing bacteria from soil or from various plants including rice and other grass endophytes. Metabolic capabilities were inferred from genomic analyses, showing a complete operon for nitrogen fixation, biosynthesis of amino acids and vitamins and putative traits of anaerobic or microoxic metabolism as well as genes for plant interaction. Dactylopiibacterium nif gene expression and acetylene reduction activity detecting nitrogen fixation were evidenced in D. coccus hemolymph and ovaries, in congruence with the endosymbiont fluorescent in situ hybridization location. Dactylopiibacterium symbionts may compensate for the nitrogen deficiency in the cochineal diet. In addition, this symbiont may provide essential amino acids, recycle uric acid, and increase the cochineal life span.
Propionibacterium acnes and Staphylococcus epidermidis live in close proximity on human skin, and both bacterial species can be isolated from normal and acne vulgaris-affected skin sites. The antagonistic interactions between the two species are poorly understood, as well as the potential significance of bacterial interferences for the skin microbiota. Here, we performed simultaneous antagonism assays to detect inhibitory activities between multiple isolates of the two species. Selected strains were sequenced to identify the genomic basis of their antimicrobial phenotypes.First, we screened 77 P. acnes strains isolated from healthy and acne-affected skin, and representing all known phylogenetic clades (I, II, and III), for their antimicrobial activities against 12?S. epidermidis isolates. One particular phylogroup (I-2) exhibited a higher antimicrobial activity than other P. acnes phylogroups. All genomes of type I-2 strains carry an island encoding the biosynthesis of a thiopeptide with possible antimicrobial activity against S. epidermidis. Second, 20?S. epidermidis isolates were examined for inhibitory activity against 25 P. acnes strains. The majority of S. epidermidis strains were able to inhibit P. acnes. Genomes of S. epidermidis strains with strong, medium and no inhibitory activities against P. acnes were sequenced. Genome comparison underlined the diversity of S. epidermidis and detected multiple clade- or strain-specific mobile genetic elements encoding a variety of functions important in antibiotic and stress resistance, biofilm formation and interbacterial competition, including bacteriocins such as epidermin. One isolate with an extraordinary antimicrobial activity against P. acnes harbors a functional ESAT-6 secretion system that might be involved in the antimicrobial activity against P. acnes via the secretion of polymorphic toxins.Taken together, our study suggests that interspecies interactions could potentially jeopardize balances in the skin microbiota. In particular, S. epidermidis strains possess an arsenal of different mechanisms to inhibit P. acnes. However, if such interactions are relevant in skin disorders such as acne vulgaris remains questionable, since no difference in the antimicrobial activity against, or the sensitivity towards S. epidermidis could be detected between health- and acne-associated strains of P. acnes.
Single cell genomic study of Dehalococcoidetes species from deep-sea sediments of the Peruvian Margin.
The phylum Chloroflexi is one of the most frequently detected phyla in the subseafloor of the Pacific Ocean margins. Dehalogenating Chloroflexi (Dehalococcoidetes) was originally discovered as the key microorganisms mediating reductive dehalogenation via their key enzymes reductive dehalogenases (Rdh) as sole mode of energy conservation in terrestrial environments. The frequent detection of Dehalococcoidetes-related 16S rRNA and rdh genes in the marine subsurface implies a role for dissimilatory dehalorespiration in this environment; however, the two genes have never been linked to each other. To provide fundamental insights into the metabolism, genomic population structure and evolution of marine subsurface Dehalococcoidetes sp., we analyzed a non-contaminated deep-sea sediment core sample from the Peruvian Margin Ocean Drilling Program (ODP) site 1230, collected 7.3?m below the seafloor by a single cell genomic approach. We present for the first time single cell genomic data on three deep-sea Chloroflexi (Dsc) single cells from a marine subsurface environment. Two of the single cells were considered to be part of a local Dehalococcoidetes population and assembled together into a 1.38-Mb genome, which appears to be at least 85% complete. Despite a high degree of sequence-level similarity between the shared proteins in the Dsc and terrestrial Dehalococcoidetes, no evidence for catabolic reductive dehalogenation was found in Dsc. The genome content is however consistent with a strictly anaerobic organotrophic or lithotrophic lifestyle.
Long-read sequencing technologies enable high-quality, contiguous genome assemblies. Here we used SMRT sequencing to assemble the genome of a Drosophila simulans strain originating from Madagascar, the ancestral range of the species. We generated 8 Gb of raw data (~50x coverage) with a mean read length of 6,410 bp, a NR50 of 9,125 bp and the longest subread at 49 kb. We benchmarked six different assemblers and merged the best two assemblies from Canu and Falcon. Our final assembly was 127.41 Mb with a N50 of 5.38 Mb and 305 contigs. We anchored more than 4 Mb of novel sequence to the major chromosome arms, and significantly improved the assembly of peri-centromeric and telomeric regions. Finally, we performed full-length transcript sequencing and used this data in conjunction with short-read RNAseq data to annotate 13,422 genes in the genome, improving the annotation in regions with complex, nested gene structures.
Single-cell (meta-)genomics of a dimorphic Candidatus Thiomargarita nelsonii reveals genomic plasticity.
The genus Thiomargarita includes the world’s largest bacteria. But as uncultured organisms, their physiology, metabolism, and basis for their gigantism are not well understood. Thus, a genomics approach, applied to a single Candidatus Thiomargarita nelsonii cell was employed to explore the genetic potential of one of these enigmatic giant bacteria. The Thiomargarita cell was obtained from an assemblage of budding Ca. T. nelsonii attached to a provannid gastropod shell from Hydrate Ridge, a methane seep offshore of Oregon, USA. Here we present a manually curated genome of Bud S10 resulting from a hybrid assembly of long Pacific Biosciences and short Illumina sequencing reads. With respect to inorganic carbon fixation and sulfur oxidation pathways, the Ca. T. nelsonii Hydrate Ridge Bud S10 genome was similar to marine sister taxa within the family Beggiatoaceae. However, the Bud S10 genome contains genes suggestive of the genetic potential for lithotrophic growth on arsenite and perhaps hydrogen. The genome also revealed that Bud S10 likely respires nitrate via two pathways: a complete denitrification pathway and a dissimilatory nitrate reduction to ammonia pathway. Both pathways have been predicted, but not previously fully elucidated, in the genomes of other large, vacuolated, sulfur-oxidizing bacteria. Surprisingly, the genome also had a high number of unusual features for a bacterium to include the largest number of metacaspases and introns ever reported in a bacterium. Also present, are a large number of other mobile genetic elements, such as insertion sequence (IS) transposable elements and miniature inverted-repeat transposable elements (MITEs). In some cases, mobile genetic elements disrupted key genes in metabolic pathways. For example, a MITE interrupts hupL, which encodes the large subunit of the hydrogenase in hydrogen oxidation. Moreover, we detected a group I intron in one of the most critical genes in the sulfur oxidation pathway, dsrA. The dsrA group I intron also carried a MITE sequence that, like the hupL MITE family, occurs broadly across the genome. The presence of a high degree of mobile elements in genes central to Thiomargarita’s core metabolism has not been previously reported in free-living bacteria and suggests a highly mutable genome.
Soil acidification is accelerated by anthropogenic and agricultural activities, which could significantly affect global methane cycles. However, detailed knowledge of the genomic properties of methanotrophs adapted to acidic soils remains scarce. Using metagenomic approaches, we analyzed methane-utilizing communities enriched from acidic forest soils with pH 3 and 4, and recovered near-complete genomes of proteobacterial methanotrophs. Novel methanotroph genomes designated KS32 and KS41, belonging to two representative clades of methanotrophs (Methylocystis of Alphaproteobacteria and Methylobacter of Gammaproteobacteria), were dominant. Comparative genomic analysis revealed diverse systems of membrane transporters for ensuring pH homeostasis and defense against toxic chemicals. Various potassium transporter systems, sodium/proton antiporters, and two copies of proton-translocating F1F0-type ATP synthase genes were identified, which might participate in the key pH homeostasis mechanisms in KS32. In addition, the V-type ATP synthase and urea assimilation genes might be used for pH homeostasis in KS41. Genes involved in the modification of membranes by incorporation of cyclopropane fatty acids and hopanoid lipids might be used for reducing proton influx into cells. The two methanotroph genomes possess genes for elaborate heavy metal efflux pumping systems, possibly owing to increased heavy metal toxicity in acidic conditions. Phylogenies of key genes involved in acid adaptation, methane oxidation, and antiviral defense in KS41 were incongruent with that of 16S rRNA. Thus, the detailed analysis of the genome sequences provides new insights into the ecology of methanotrophs responding to soil acidification.
Accurate determination of bacterial abundances in human metagenomes using full-length 16S sequencing reads
DNA sequencing of PCR-amplified marker genes, especially but not limited to the 16S rRNA gene, is perhaps the most common approach for profiling microbial communities. Due to technological constraints of commonly available DNA sequencing, these approaches usually take the form of short reads sequenced from a narrow, targeted variable region, with a corresponding loss of taxonomic resolution relative to the full length marker gene. We use Pacific Biosciences single-molecule, real-time circular consensus sequencing to sequence amplicons spanning the entire length of the 16S rRNA gene. However, this sequencing technology suffers from high sequencing error rate that needs to be addressed in order to take full advantage of the longer sequence. Here, we present a method to model the sequencing error process using a generalized pair hidden Markov chain model and estimate bacterial abundances in microbial samples. We demonstrate, with simulated and real data, that our model and its associated estimation procedure are able to give accurate estimates at the species (or subspecies) level, and is more flexible than existing methods like SImple Non-Bayesian TAXonomy (SINTAX).
Acquisition of genes through horizontal gene transfer (HGT) allows microbes to rapidly gain new capabilities and adapt to new or changing environments. Identifying widespread HGT regions within multispecies microbiomes can pinpoint the molecular mechanisms that play key roles in microbiome assembly. We sought to identify horizontally transferred genes within a model microbiome, the cheese rind. Comparing 31 newly sequenced and 134 previously sequenced bacterial isolates from cheese rinds, we identified over 200 putative horizontally transferred genomic regions containing 4733 protein coding genes. The largest of these regions are enriched for genes involved in siderophore acquisition, and are widely distributed in cheese rinds in both Europe and the US. These results suggest that HGT is prevalent in cheese rind microbiomes, and that identification of genes that are frequently transferred in a particular environment may provide insight into the selective forces shaping microbial communities.
Genome mining has become an increasingly powerful, scalable, and economically accessible tool for the study of natural product biosynthesis and drug discovery. However, there remain important biological and practical problems that can complicate or obscure biosynthetic analysis in genomic and metagenomic sequencing projects. Here, we focus on limitations of available technology as well as computational and experimental strategies to overcome them. We review the unique challenges and approaches in the study of symbiotic and uncultured systems, as well as those associated with biosynthetic gene cluster (BGC) assembly and product prediction. Finally, to explore sequencing parameters that affect the recovery and contiguity of large and repetitive BGCs assembled de novo, we simulate Illumina and PacBio sequencing of the Salinispora tropica genome focusing on assembly of the salinilactam (slm) BGC.