April 21, 2020  |  

Urinary tract colonization is enhanced by a plasmid that regulates uropathogenic Acinetobacter baumannii chromosomal genes.

Multidrug resistant (MDR) Acinetobacter baumannii poses a growing threat to global health. Research on Acinetobacter pathogenesis has primarily focused on pneumonia and bloodstream infections, even though one in five A. baumannii strains are isolated from urinary sites. In this study, we highlight the role of A. baumannii as a uropathogen. We develop the first A. baumannii catheter-associated urinary tract infection (CAUTI) murine model using UPAB1, a recent MDR urinary isolate. UPAB1 carries the plasmid pAB5, a member of the family of large conjugative plasmids that represses the type VI secretion system (T6SS) in multiple Acinetobacter strains. pAB5 confers niche specificity, as its carriage improves UPAB1 survival in a CAUTI model and decreases virulence in a pneumonia model. Comparative proteomic and transcriptomic analyses show that pAB5 regulates the expression of multiple chromosomally-encoded virulence factors besides T6SS. Our results demonstrate that plasmids can impact bacterial infections by controlling the expression of chromosomal genes.


April 21, 2020  |  

Complete Genome Sequence of Sequevar 14M Ralstonia solanacearum Strain HA4-1 Reveals Novel Type III Effectors Acquired Through Horizontal Gene Transfer.

Ralstonia solanacearum, which causes bacterial wilt in a broad range of plants, is considered a “species complex” due to its significant genetic diversity. Recently, we have isolated a new R. solanacearum strain HA4-1 from Hong’an county in Hubei province of China and identified it being phylotype I, sequevar 14M (phylotype I-14M). Interestingly, we found that it can cause various disease symptoms among different potato genotypes and display different pathogenic behavior compared to a phylogenetically related strain, GMI1000. To dissect the pathogenic mechanisms of HA4-1, we sequenced its whole genome by combined sequencing technologies including Illumina HiSeq2000, PacBio RS II, and BAC-end sequencing. Genome assembly results revealed the presence of a conventional chromosome, a megaplasmid as well as a 143 kb plasmid in HA4-1. Comparative genome analysis between HA4-1 and GMI1000 shows high conservation of the general virulence factors such as secretion systems, motility, exopolysaccharides (EPS), and key regulatory factors, but significant variation in the repertoire and structure of type III effectors, which could be the determinants of their differential pathogenesis in certain potato species or genotypes. We have identified two novel type III effectors that were probably acquired through horizontal gene transfer (HGT). These novel R. solanacearum effectors display homology to several YopJ and XopAC family members. We named them as RipBR and RipBS. Notably, the copy of RipBR on the plasmid is a pseudogene, while the other on the megaplasmid is normal. For RipBS, there are three copies located in the megaplasmid and plasmid, respectively. Our results have not only enriched the genome information on R. solanacearum species complex by sequencing the first sequevar 14M strain and the largest plasmid reported in R. solanacearum to date but also revealed the variation in the repertoire of type III effectors. This will greatly contribute to the future studies on the pathogenic evolution, host adaptation, and interaction between R. solanacearum and potato.


April 21, 2020  |  

Whole Genome Analysis of Lactobacillus plantarum Strains Isolated From Kimchi and Determination of Probiotic Properties to Treat Mucosal Infections by Candida albicans and Gardnerella vaginalis.

Three Lactobacillus plantarum strains ATG-K2, ATG-K6, and ATG-K8 were isolated from Kimchi, a Korean traditional fermented food, and their probiotic potentials were examined. All three strains were free of antibiotic resistance, hemolysis, and biogenic amine production and therefore assumed to be safe, as supported by whole genome analyses. These strains demonstrated several basic probiotic functions including a wide range of antibacterial activity, bile salt hydrolase activity, hydrogen peroxide production, and heat resistance at 70°C for 60 s. Further studies of antimicrobial activities against Candida albicans and Gardnerella vaginalis revealed growth inhibitory effects from culture supernatants, coaggregation effects, and killing effects of the three probiotic strains, with better efficacy toward C. albicans. In vitro treatment of bacterial lysates of the probiotic strains to the RAW264.7 murine macrophage cell line resulted in innate immunity enhancement via IL-6 and TNF-a production without lipopolysaccharide (LPS) treatment and anti-inflammatory effects via significantly increased production of IL-10 when co-treated with LPS. However, the degree of probiotic effect was different for each strain as the highest TNF-a and the lowest IL-10 production by the RAW264.7 cell were observed in the K8 lysate treated group compared to the K2 and K6 lysate treated groups, which may be related to genomic differences such as chromosome size (K2: 3,034,884 bp, K6: 3,205,672 bp, K8: 3,221,272 bp), plasmid numbers (K2: 3, K6 and K8: 1), or total gene numbers (K2: 3,114, K6: 3,178, K8: 3,186). Although more correlative inspections to connect genomic information and biological functions are needed, genomic analyses of the three strains revealed distinct genomic compositions of each strain. Also, this finding suggests genome level analysis may be required to accurately identify microorganisms. Nevertheless, L. plantarum ATG-K2, ATG-K6, and ATG-K8 demonstrated their potential as probiotics for mucosal health improvement in both microbial and immunological contexts.


April 21, 2020  |  

Comparative genomics and pathogenicity potential of members of the Pseudomonas syringae species complex on Prunus spp.

Diseases on Prunus spp. have been associated with a large number of phylogenetically different pathovars and species within the P. syringae species complex. Despite their economic significance, there is a severe lack of genomic information of these pathogens. The high phylogenetic diversity observed within strains causing disease on Prunus spp. in nature, raised the question whether other strains or species within the P. syringae species complex were potentially pathogenic on Prunus spp.To gain insight into the genomic potential of adaptation and virulence in Prunus spp., a total of twelve de novo whole genome sequences of P. syringae pathovars and species found in association with diseases on cherry (sweet, sour and ornamental-cherry) and peach were sequenced. Strains sequenced in this study covered three phylogroups and four clades. These strains were screened in vitro for pathogenicity on Prunus spp. together with additional genome sequenced strains thus covering nine out of thirteen of the currently defined P. syringae phylogroups. Pathogenicity tests revealed that most of the strains caused symptoms in vitro and no obvious link was found between presence of known virulence factors and the observed pathogenicity pattern based on comparative genomics. Non-pathogenic strains were displaying a two to three times higher generation time when grown in rich medium.In this study, the first set of complete genomes of cherry associated P. syringae strains as well as the draft genome of the quarantine peach pathogen P. syringae pv. persicae were generated. The obtained genomic data were matched with phenotypic data in order to determine factors related to pathogenicity to Prunus spp. Results of this study suggest that the inability to cause disease on Prunus spp. in vitro is not the result of host specialization but rather linked to metabolic impairments of individual strains.


April 21, 2020  |  

Long-read based de novo assembly of low-complexity metagenome samples results in finished genomes and reveals insights into strain diversity and an active phage system.

Complete and contiguous genome assemblies greatly improve the quality of subsequent systems-wide functional profiling studies and the ability to gain novel biological insights. While a de novo genome assembly of an isolated bacterial strain is in most cases straightforward, more informative data about co-existing bacteria as well as synergistic and antagonistic effects can be obtained from a direct analysis of microbial communities. However, the complexity of metagenomic samples represents a major challenge. While third generation sequencing technologies have been suggested to enable finished metagenome-assembled genomes, to our knowledge, the complete genome assembly of all dominant strains in a microbiome sample has not been demonstrated. Natural whey starter cultures (NWCs) are used in cheese production and represent low-complexity microbiomes. Previous studies of Swiss Gruyère and selected Italian hard cheeses, mostly based on amplicon metagenomics, concurred that three species generally pre-dominate: Streptococcus thermophilus, Lactobacillus helveticus and Lactobacillus delbrueckii.Two NWCs from Swiss Gruyère producers were subjected to whole metagenome shotgun sequencing using the Pacific Biosciences Sequel and Illumina MiSeq platforms. In addition, longer Oxford Nanopore Technologies MinION reads had to be generated for one to resolve repeat regions. Thereby, we achieved the complete assembly of all dominant bacterial genomes from these low-complexity NWCs, which was corroborated by a 16S rRNA amplicon survey. Moreover, two distinct L. helveticus strains were successfully co-assembled from the same sample. Besides bacterial chromosomes, we could also assemble several bacterial plasmids and phages and a corresponding prophage. Biologically relevant insights were uncovered by linking the plasmids and phages to their respective host genomes using DNA methylation motifs on the plasmids and by matching prokaryotic CRISPR spacers with the corresponding protospacers on the phages. These results could only be achieved by employing long-read sequencing data able to span intragenomic as well as intergenomic repeats.Here, we demonstrate the feasibility of complete de novo genome assembly of all dominant strains from low-complexity NWCs based on whole metagenomics shotgun sequencing data. This allowed to gain novel biological insights and is a fundamental basis for subsequent systems-wide omics analyses, functional profiling and phenotype to genotype analysis of specific microbial communities.


April 21, 2020  |  

Characterization of an NDM-5 carbapenemase-producing Escherichia coli ST156 isolate from a poultry farm in Zhejiang, China.

The emergence of carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae strains has posed a severe threat to public health in recent years. The mobile elements carrying the New Delhi metallo-ß-lactqtamase (NDM) gene have been regarded as the major mechanism leading to the rapid increase of carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae strains isolated from clinics and animals.We describe an NDM-5-producing Escherichia coli strain, ECCRA-119 (sequence type 156 [ST156]), isolated from a poultry farm in Zhejiang, China. ECCRA-119 is a multidrug-resistant (MDR) isolate that exhibited resistance to 27 antimicrobial compounds, including imipenem and meropenem, as detected by antimicrobial susceptibility testing (AST). The complete genome sequence of the ECCRA-119 isolate was also obtained using the PacBio RS II platform. Eleven acquired resistance genes were identified in the chromosome; four were detected in plasmid pTB201, while six were detected in plasmid pTB202. Importantly, the carbapenem-resistant gene blaNDM-5 was detected in the IncX3 plasmid pTB203. In addition, seven virulence genes and one metal-resistance gene were also detected. The results of conjugation experiments and the transfer regions identification indicated that the blaNDM-5-harboring plasmid pTB203 could be transferred between E. coli strains.The results reflected the severe bacterial resistance in a poultry farm in Zhejiang province and increased our understanding of the presence and transmission of the blaNDM-5 gene.


April 21, 2020  |  

Comparative Genomic Analyses Reveal Core-Genome-Wide Genes Under Positive Selection and Major Regulatory Hubs in Outlier Strains of Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

Genomic information for outlier strains of Pseudomonas aeruginosa is exiguous when compared with classical strains. We sequenced and constructed the complete genome of an environmental strain CR1 of P. aeruginosa and performed the comparative genomic analysis. It clustered with the outlier group, hence we scaled up the analyses to understand the differences in environmental and clinical outlier strains. We identified eight new regions of genomic plasticity and a plasmid pCR1 with a VirB/D4 complex followed by trimeric auto-transporter that can induce virulence phenotype in the genome of strain CR1. Virulence genotype analysis revealed that strain CR1 lacked hemolytic phospholipase C and D, three genes for LPS biosynthesis and had reduced antibiotic resistance genes when compared with clinical strains. Genes belonging to proteases, bacterial exporters and DNA stabilization were found to be under strong positive selection, thus facilitating pathogenicity and survival of the outliers. The outliers had the complete operon for the production of vibrioferrin, a siderophore present in plant growth promoting bacteria. The competence to acquire multidrug resistance and new virulence factors makes these strains a potential threat. However, we identified major regulatory hubs that can be used as drug targets against both the classical and outlier groups.


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