June 1, 2021  |  

SMRT Sequencing and assembly of the human microbiome project Mock Community sample – a feasibility project.

While the utility of Single Molecule, Real-Time (SMRT) Sequencing for de novo assembly and finishing of bacterial isolates is well established, this technology has not yet been widely applied to shotgun sequencing of microbial communities. In order to demonstrate the feasibility of this approach, we sequenced genomic DNA from the Microbial Mock Community B of the Human Microbiome Project


June 1, 2021  |  

Minimization of chimera formation and substitution errors in full-length 16S PCR amplification

The constituents and intra-communal interactions of microbial populations have garnered increasing interest in areas such as water remediation, agriculture and human health. One popular, efficient method of profiling communities is to amplify and sequence the evolutionarily conserved 16S rRNA sequence. Currently, most targeted amplification focuses on short, hypervariable regions of the 16S sequence. Distinguishing information not spanned by the targeted region is lost and species-level classification is often not possible. SMRT Sequencing easily spans the entire 1.5 kb 16S gene, and in combination with highly-accurate single-molecule sequences, can improve the identification of individual species in a metapopulation. However, when amplifying a mixture of sequences with close similarities, the products may contain chimeras, or recombinant molecules, at rates as high as 20-30%. These PCR artifacts make it difficult to identify novel species, and reduce the amount of productive sequences. We investigated multiple factors that have been hypothesized to contribute to chimera formation, such as template damage, denaturing time before and during cycling, polymerase extension time, and reaction volume. Of the factors tested, we found two major related contributors to chimera formation: the amount of input template into the PCR reaction and the number of PCR cycles. Sequence errors generated during amplification and sequencing can also confound the analysis of complex populations. Circular Consensus Sequencing (CCS) can generate single-molecule reads with >99% accuracy, and the SMRT Analysis software provides filtering of these reads to >99.99% accuracies. Remaining substitution errors in these highly-filtered reads are likely dominated by mis-incorporations during amplification. Therefore, we compared the impact of several commercially-available high-fidelity PCR kits with full-length 16S amplification. We show results of our experiments and describe an optimized protocol for full-length 16S amplification for SMRT Sequencing. These optimizations have broader implications for other applications that use PCR amplification to phase variations across targeted regions and to generate highly accurate reference sequences.


June 1, 2021  |  

Minimization of chimera formation and substitution errors in full-length 16S PCR amplification

The constituents and intra-communal interactions of microbial populations have garnered increasing interest in areas such as water remediation, agriculture and human health. Amplification and sequencing of the evolutionarily conserved 16S rRNA gene is an efficient method of profiling communities. Currently, most targeted amplification focuses on short, hypervariable regions of the 16S sequence. Distinguishing information not spanned by the targeted region is lost, and species-level classification is often not possible. PacBio SMRT Sequencing easily spans the entire 1.5 kb 16S gene in a single read, producing highly accurate single-molecule sequences that can improve the identification of individual species in a metapopulation.However, this process still relies upon PCR amplification from a mixture of similar sequences, which may result in chimeras, or recombinant molecules, at rates upwards of 20%. These PCR artifacts make it difficult to identify novel species, and reduce the amount of informative sequences. We investigated multiple factors that may contribute to chimera formation, such as template damage, denaturation time before and during thermocycling, polymerase extension time, and reaction volume. We found two related factors that contribute to chimera formation: the amount of input template into the PCR reaction, and the number of PCR cycles.A second problem that can confound analysis is sequence errors generated during amplification and sequencing. With the updated algorithm for circular consensus sequencing (CCS2), single-molecule reads can be filtered to 99.99% predicted accuracy. Substitution errors in these highly filtered reads may be dominated by mis-incorporations during amplification. Sequence differences in full-length 16S amplicons from several commercial high-fidelity PCR kits were compared.We show results of our experiments and describe our optimized protocol for full-length 16S amplification for SMRT Sequencing. These optimizations have broader implications for other applications that use PCR amplification to phase variations across targeted regions and generate highly accurate reference sequences.


June 1, 2021  |  

Unbiased characterization of metagenome composition and function using HiFi sequencing on the PacBio Sequel II System

Recent work comparing metagenomic sequencing methods indicates that a comprehensive picture of the taxonomic and functional diversity of complex communities will be difficult to achieve with short-read technology alone. While the lower cost of short reads has enabled greater sequencing depth, the greater contiguity of long-read assemblies and lack of GC bias in SMRT Sequencing has enabled better gene finding. However, since long-read assembly requires high coverage for error correction, the benefits of unbiased coverage have in the past been lost for low abundance species. SMRT Sequencing performance improvements and the introduction of the Sequel II System has enabled a new, high throughput data type uniquely suited to metagenome characterization: HiFi reads. HiFi reads combine high accuracy with read lengths up to 15 kb, eliminating the need for assembly for most microbiome applications, including functional profiling, gene discovery, and metabolic pathway reconstruction. Here we present the application of the HiFi data type to enable a new method of analyzing metagenomes that does not require assembly.


June 1, 2021  |  

Unbiased characterization of metagenome composition and function using HiFi sequencing on the PacBio Sequel II System

Recent work comparing metagenomic sequencing methods indicates that a comprehensive picture of the taxonomic and functional diversity of complex communities will be difficult to achieve with one sequencing technology alone. While the lower cost of short reads has enabled greater sequencing depth, the greater contiguity of long-read assemblies and lack of GC bias in SMRT Sequencing has enabled better gene finding. However, since long-read assembly typically requires high coverage for error correction, these benefits have in the past been lost for low-abundance species. The introduction of the Sequel II System has enabled a new, higher throughput, assembly-optional data type that addresses these challenges: HiFi reads. HiFi reads combine QV20 accuracy with long read lengths, eliminating the need for assembly for most metagenome applications, including gene discovery and metabolic pathway reconstruction. In fact, the read lengths and accuracy of HiFi data match or outperform the quality metrics of most metagenome assemblies, enabling cost-effective recovery of intact genes and operons while omitting the resource intensive and data-inefficient assembly step. Here we present the application of HiFi sequencing to both mock and human fecal samples using full-length 16S and shotgun methods. This proof-of-concept work demonstrates the unique strengths of the HiFi method. First, the high correspondence between the expected community composition,16S and shotgun profiling data reflects low context bias. In addition, every HiFi read yields ~5-8 predicted genes, without assembly, using standard tools. If assembly is desired, excellent results can be achieved with Canu and contig binning tools. In summary, HiFi sequencing is a new, cost-effective option for high-resolution functional profiling of metagenomes which complements existing short read workflows.


April 21, 2020  |  

Remedial Treatment of Corroded Iron Objects by Environmental Aeromonas Isolates.

Using bacteria to transform reactive corrosion products into stable compounds represents an alternative to traditional methods employed in iron conservation. Two environmental Aeromonas strains (CA23 and CU5) were used to transform ferric iron corrosion products (goethite and lepidocrocite) into stable ferrous iron-bearing minerals (vivianite and siderite). A genomic and transcriptomic approach was used to analyze the metabolic traits of these strains and to evaluate their pathogenic potential. Although genes involved in solid-phase iron reduction were identified, key genes present in other environmental iron-reducing species are missing from the genome of CU5. Several pathogenicity factors were identified in the genomes of both strains, but none of these was expressed under iron reduction conditions. Additional in vivo tests showed hemolytic and cytotoxic activities for strain CA23 but not for strain CU5. Both strains were easily inactivated using ethanol and heat. Nonetheless, given a lesser potential for a pathogenic lifestyle, CU5 is the most promising candidate for the development of a bio-based iron conservation method stabilizing iron corrosion. Based on all the results, a prototype treatment was established using archaeological items. On those, the conversion of reactive corrosion products and the formation of a homogenous layer of biogenic iron minerals were achieved. This study shows how naturally occurring microorganisms and their metabolic capabilities can be used to develop bio-inspired solutions to the problem of metal corrosion.IMPORTANCE Microbiology can greatly help in the quest for a sustainable solution to the problem of iron corrosion, which causes important economic losses in a wide range of fields, including the protection of cultural heritage and building materials. Using bacteria to transform reactive and unstable corrosion products into more-stable compounds represents a promising approach. The overall aim of this study was to develop a method for the conservation and restoration of corroded iron items, starting from the isolation of iron-reducing bacteria from natural environments. This resulted in the identification of a suitable candidate (Aeromonas sp. strain CU5) that mediates the formation of desirable minerals at the surfaces of the objects. This led to the proof of concept of an application method on real objects.Copyright © 2019 Kooli et al.


April 21, 2020  |  

Iron-associated protein interaction networks reveal the key functional modules related to survival and virulence of Pasteurella multocida.

Pasteurella multocida causes respiratory infectious diseases in a multitude of birds and mammals. A number of virulence-associated genes were reported across different strains of P. multocida, including those involved in the iron transport and metabolism. Comparative iron-associated genes of P. multocida among different animal hosts towards their interaction networks have not been fully revealed. Therefore, this study aimed to identify the iron-associated genes from core- and pan-genomes of fourteen P. multocida strains and to construct iron-associated protein interaction networks using genome-scale network analysis which might be associated with the virulence. Results showed that these fourteen strains had 1587 genes in the core-genome and 3400 genes constituting their pan-genome. Out of these, 2651 genes associated with iron transport and metabolism were selected to construct the protein interaction networks and 361 genes were incorporated into the iron-associated protein interaction network (iPIN) consisting of nine different iron-associated functional modules. After comparing with the virulence factor database (VFDB), 21 virulence-associated proteins were determined and 11 of these belonged to the heme biosynthesis module. From this study, the core heme biosynthesis module and the core outer membrane hemoglobin receptor HgbA were proposed as candidate targets to design novel antibiotics and vaccines for preventing pasteurellosis across the serotypes or animal hosts for enhanced precision agriculture to ensure sustainability in food security. Copyright © 2018. Published by Elsevier Ltd.


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  |  

New genetic context of lnu(B) composed of two multi-resistance gene clusters in clinical Streptococcus agalactiae ST-19 strains.

Clindamycin is a lincosamide antibiotic used to treat staphylococcal and streptococcal infections. Reports of clinical Streptococcus agalactiae isolates with the rare lincosamide resistance/macrolide susceptibility (LR/MS) phenotype are increasing worldwide. In this study, we characterised three clinical S. agalactiae strains with the unusual L phenotype from China.Three clinical S. agalactiae strains, Sag3, Sag27 and Sag4104, with the L phenotype were identified from 186 isolates collected from 2016 to 2018 in Shanghai, China. The MICs of clindamycin, erythromycin, tetracycline, levofloxacin, and penicillin were determined using Etest. PCR for the lnu(B) gene was conducted. Whole genome sequencing and sequence analysis were carried out to investigate the genetic context of lnu(B). Efforts to transfer lincomycin resistance by conjugation and to identify the circular form by inverse PCR were made.Sag3, Sag27, and Sag4104 were susceptible to erythromycin (MIC =0.25?mg/L) but resistant to clindamycin (MIC =1?mg/L). lnu(B) was found to be responsible for the L phenotype. lnu(B) in Sag3 and Sag27 were chromosomally located in an aadE-spw-lsa(E)-lnu(B) resistance gene cluster adjacent to an upstream 7-kb tet(L)-cat resistance gene cluster. Two resistance gene clusters were flanked by the IS6-like element, IS1216. Sag4104 only contained partial genes of aadE-spw-lsa(E)-lnu(B) resistance gene cluster and was also flanked by IS1216.These results established the presence of the L phenotype associated with lnu(B) in clinical S. agalactiae isolates in China. The lnu(B)-containing multi-resistance gene cluster possibly acts as a composite transposon flanked by IS1216 and as a vehicle for the dissemination of multidrug resistance among S. agalactiae.


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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