June 1, 2021  |  

Applying Sequel to Genomic Datasets

De novo assembly is a large part of JGI’s analysis portfolio. Repetitive DNA sequences are abundant in a wide range of organisms we sequence and pose a significant technical challenge for assembly. We are interested in long read technologies capable of spanning genomic repeats to produce better assemblies. We currently have three RS II and two Sequel PacBio machines. RS II machines are primarily used for fungal and microbial genome assembly as well as synthetic biology validation. Between microbes and fungi we produce hundreds of PacBio libraries a year and for throughput reasons the vast majority of these are >10 kb AMPure libraries. Throughput for RS II is about 1 Gb per SMRT Cell. This is ideal for microbial sized genomes but can be costly and labor intensive for larger projects which require multiple cells. JGI was an early access site for Sequel and began testing with real samples in January 2016. During that time we’ve had the opportunity to sequence microbes, fungi, metagenomes, and plants. Here we present our experience over the last 18 months using the Sequel platform and provide comparisons with RS II results.


February 5, 2021  |  

Movie: The new biology part II – cancer

Part II of The New Biology documentary. This documentary film features the wave of cutting-edge technologies that now provide the opportunity to create predictive models of living systems, and gain…


February 5, 2021  |  

Movie: The new biology

This documentary film features the wave of cutting-edge technologies that now provide the opportunity to create predictive models of living systems, and gain wisdom about the fundamental nature of life…


April 21, 2020  |  

Transcriptional initiation of a small RNA, not R-loop stability, dictates the frequency of pilin antigenic variation in Neisseria gonorrhoeae.

Neisseria gonorrhoeae, the sole causative agent of gonorrhea, constitutively undergoes diversification of the Type IV pilus. Gene conversion occurs between one of the several donor silent copies located in distinct loci and the recipient pilE gene, encoding the major pilin subunit of the pilus. A guanine quadruplex (G4) DNA structure and a cis-acting sRNA (G4-sRNA) are located upstream of the pilE gene and both are required for pilin antigenic variation (Av). We show that the reduced sRNA transcription lowers pilin Av frequencies. Extended transcriptional elongation is not required for Av, since limiting the transcript to 32 nt allows for normal Av frequencies. Using chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) assays, we show that cellular G4s are less abundant when sRNA transcription is lower. In addition, using ChIP, we demonstrate that the G4-sRNA forms a stable RNA:DNA hybrid (R-loop) with its template strand. However, modulating R-loop levels by controlling RNase HI expression does not alter G4 abundance quantified through ChIP. Since pilin Av frequencies were not altered when modulating R-loop levels by controlling RNase HI expression, we conclude that transcription of the sRNA is necessary, but stable R-loops are not required to promote pilin Av. © 2019 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


April 21, 2020  |  

Optimized Cas9 expression systems for highly efficient Arabidopsis genome editing facilitate isolation of complex alleles in a single generation.

Genetic resources for the model plant Arabidopsis comprise mutant lines defective in almost any single gene in reference accession Columbia. However, gene redundancy and/or close linkage often render it extremely laborious or even impossible to isolate a desired line lacking a specific function or set of genes from segregating populations. Therefore, we here evaluated strategies and efficiencies for the inactivation of multiple genes by Cas9-based nucleases and multiplexing. In first attempts, we succeeded in isolating a mutant line carrying a 70 kb deletion, which occurred at a frequency of ~?1.6% in the T2 generation, through PCR-based screening of numerous individuals. However, we failed to isolate a line lacking Lhcb1 genes, which are present in five copies organized at two loci in the Arabidopsis genome. To improve efficiency of our Cas9-based nuclease system, regulatory sequences controlling Cas9 expression levels and timing were systematically compared. Indeed, use of DD45 and RPS5a promoters improved efficiency of our genome editing system by approximately 25-30-fold in comparison to the previous ubiquitin promoter. Using an optimized genome editing system with RPS5a promoter-driven Cas9, putatively quintuple mutant lines lacking detectable amounts of Lhcb1 protein represented approximately 30% of T1 transformants. These results show how improved genome editing systems facilitate the isolation of complex mutant alleles, previously considered impossible to generate, at high frequency even in a single (T1) generation.


April 21, 2020  |  

The ADEP Biosynthetic Gene Cluster in Streptomyces hawaiiensis NRRL 15010 Reveals an Accessory clpP Gene as a Novel Antibiotic Resistance Factor.

The increasing threat posed by multiresistant bacterial pathogens necessitates the discovery of novel antibacterials with unprecedented modes of action. ADEP1, a natural compound produced by Streptomyces hawaiiensis NRRL 15010, is the prototype for a new class of acyldepsipeptide (ADEP) antibiotics. ADEP antibiotics deregulate the proteolytic core ClpP of the bacterial caseinolytic protease, thereby exhibiting potent antibacterial activity against Gram-positive bacteria, including multiresistant pathogens. ADEP1 and derivatives, here collectively called ADEP, have been previously investigated for their antibiotic potency against different species, structure-activity relationship, and mechanism of action; however, knowledge on the biosynthesis of the natural compound and producer self-resistance have remained elusive. In this study, we identified and analyzed the ADEP biosynthetic gene cluster in S. hawaiiensis NRRL 15010, which comprises two NRPSs, genes necessary for the biosynthesis of (4S,2R)-4-methylproline, and a type II polyketide synthase (PKS) for the assembly of highly reduced polyenes. While no resistance factor could be identified within the gene cluster itself, we discovered an additional clpP homologous gene (named clpPADEP) located further downstream of the biosynthetic genes, separated from the biosynthetic gene cluster by several transposable elements. Heterologous expression of ClpPADEP in three ADEP-sensitive Streptomyces species proved its role in conferring ADEP resistance, thereby revealing a novel type of antibiotic resistance determinant.IMPORTANCE Antibiotic acyldepsipeptides (ADEPs) represent a promising new class of potent antibiotics and, at the same time, are valuable tools to study the molecular functioning of their target, ClpP, the proteolytic core of the bacterial caseinolytic protease. Here, we present a straightforward purification procedure for ADEP1 that yields substantial amounts of the pure compound in a time- and cost-efficient manner, which is a prerequisite to conveniently study the antimicrobial effects of ADEP and the operating mode of bacterial ClpP machineries in diverse bacteria. Identification and characterization of the ADEP biosynthetic gene cluster in Streptomyces hawaiiensis NRRL 15010 enables future bioinformatics screenings for similar gene clusters and/or subclusters to find novel natural compounds with specific substructures. Most strikingly, we identified a cluster-associated clpP homolog (named clpPADEP) as an ADEP resistance gene. ClpPADEP constitutes a novel bacterial resistance factor that alone is necessary and sufficient to confer high-level ADEP resistance to Streptomyces across species.Copyright © 2019 American Society for Microbiology.


April 21, 2020  |  

Genome-Guided Discovery of Pretilactam from Actinosynnema pretiosum ATCC 31565.

Actinosynnema is a small but well-known genus of actinomycetes for production of ansamitocin, the payload component of antibody-drug conjugates against cancers. However, the secondary metabolite production profile of Actinosynnema pretiosum ATCC 31565, the most famous producer of ansamitocin, has never been fully explored. Our antiSMASH analysis of the genomic DNA of Actinosynnema pretiosum ATCC 31565 revealed a NRPS-PKS gene cluster for polyene macrolactam. The gene cluster is very similar to gene clusters for mirilactam and salinilactam, two 26-membered polyene macrolactams from Actinosynnema mirum and Salinispora tropica, respectively. Guided by this bioinformatics prediction, we characterized a novel 26-membered polyene macrolactam from Actinosynnema pretiosum ATCC 31565 and designated it pretilactam. The structure of pretilactam was elucidated by a comprehensive analysis of HRMS, 1D and 2D-NMR, with absolute configuration of chiral carbons predicted bioinformatically. Pretilactam features a dihydroxy tetrahydropyran moiety, and has a hexaene unit and a diene unit as its polyene system. A preliminary antibacterial assay indicated that pretilactam is inactive against Bacillus subtilis and Candida albicans.


April 21, 2020  |  

Comprehensive transcriptome analysis reveals genes potentially involved in isoflavone biosynthesis in Pueraria thomsonii Benth.

Pueraria thomsonii Benth is an important medicinal plant. Transcriptome sequencing, unigene assembly, the annotation of transcripts and the study of gene expression profiles play vital roles in gene function research. However, the full-length transcriptome of P. thomsonii remains unknown. Here, we obtained 44,339 nonredundant transcripts of P. thomsonii by using the PacBio RS II Isoform and Illumina sequencing platforms, of which 43,195 were annotated genes. Compared with the expression levels in the plant roots, those of transcripts with a |fold change| = 4 and FDR < 0.01 in the leaves or stems were assigned as differentially expressed transcripts (DETs). In total, we found 9,225 DETs, 32 of which came from structural genes that were potentially involved in isoflavone biosynthesis. The expression profiles of 8 structural genes from the RNA-Seq data were validated by qRT-PCR. We identified 437 transcription factors (TFs) that were positively or negatively correlated with at least 1 of the structural genes involved in isoflavone biosynthesis using Pearson correlation coefficients (r) (r > 0.8 or r < -0.8). We also identified a total of 32 microRNAs (miRNAs), which targeted 805 transcripts. These miRNAs caused enriched function in 'ATP binding', 'defense response', 'ADP binding', and 'signal transduction'. Interestingly, MIR156a potentially promoted isoflavone biosynthesis by repressing SBP, and MIR319 promoted isoflavone biosynthesis by repressing TCP and HB-HD-ZIP. Finally, we identified 2,690 alternative splicing events, including that of the structural genes of trans-cinnamate 4-monooxygenase and pullulanase, which are potentially involved in the biosynthesis of isoflavone and starch, respectively, and of three TFs potentially involved in isoflavone biosynthesis. Together, these results provide us with comprehensive insight into the gene expression and regulation of P. thomsonii.


April 21, 2020  |  

Genome mining identifies cepacin as a plant-protective metabolite of the biopesticidal bacterium Burkholderia ambifaria.

Beneficial microorganisms are widely used in agriculture for control of plant pathogens, but a lack of efficacy and safety information has limited the exploitation of multiple promising biopesticides. We applied phylogeny-led genome mining, metabolite analyses and biological control assays to define the efficacy of Burkholderia ambifaria, a naturally beneficial bacterium with proven biocontrol properties but potential pathogenic risk. A panel of 64 B.?ambifaria strains demonstrated significant antimicrobial activity against priority plant pathogens. Genome sequencing, specialized metabolite biosynthetic gene cluster mining and metabolite analysis revealed an armoury of known and unknown pathways within B.?ambifaria. The biosynthetic gene cluster responsible for the production of the metabolite cepacin was identified and directly shown to mediate protection of germinating crops against Pythium damping-off disease. B.?ambifaria maintained biopesticidal protection and overall fitness in the soil after deletion of its third replicon, a non-essential plasmid associated with virulence in Burkholderia?cepacia complex bacteria. Removal of the third replicon reduced B.?ambifaria persistence in a murine respiratory infection model. Here, we show that by using interdisciplinary phylogenomic, metabolomic and functional approaches, the mode of action of natural biological control agents related to pathogens can be systematically established to facilitate their future exploitation.


April 21, 2020  |  

The smut fungus Ustilago esculenta has a bipolar mating system with three idiomorphs larger than 500?kb.

Zizania latifolia Turcz., which is mainly distributed in Asia, has had a long cultivation history as a cereal and vegetable crop. On infection with the smut fungus Ustilago esculenta, Z. latifolia becomes an edible vegetable, water bamboo. Two main cultivars, with a green shell and red shell, are cultivated for commercial production in Taiwan. Previous studies indicated that cultivars of Z. latifolia may be related to the infected U. esculenta isolates. However, related research is limited. The infection process of the corn smut fungus Ustilago maydis is coupled with sexual development and under control of the mating type locus. Thus, we aimed to use the knowledge of U. maydis to reveal the mating system of U. esculenta. We collected water bamboo samples and isolated 145 U. esculenta strains from Taiwan’s major production areas. By using PCR and idiomorph screening among meiotic offspring and field isolates, we identified three idiomorphs of the mating type locus and found no sequence recombination between them. Whole-genome sequencing (Illumina and PacBio) suggested that the mating system of U. esculenta was bipolar. Mating type locus 1 (MAT-1) was 552,895?bp and contained 44% repeated sequences. Sequence comparison revealed that U. esculenta MAT-1 shared high gene synteny with Sporisorium reilianum and many repeats with Ustilago hordei MAT-1. These results can be utilized to further explore the genomic diversity of U. esculenta isolates and their application for water bamboo breeding. Copyright © 2019 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


April 21, 2020  |  

Engineering and modification of microbial chassis for systems and synthetic biology.

Engineering and modifying synthetic microbial chassis is one of the best ways not only to unravel the fundamental principles of life but also to enhance applications in the health, medicine, agricultural, veterinary, and food industries. The two primary strategies for constructing a microbial chassis are the top-down approach (genome reduction) and the bottom-up approach (genome synthesis). Research programs on this topic have been funded in several countries. The ‘Minimum genome factory’ (MGF) project was launched in 2001 in Japan with the goal of constructing microorganisms with smaller genomes for industrial use. One of the best examples of the results of this project is E. coli MGF-01, which has a reduced-genome size and exhibits better growth and higher threonine production characteristics than the parental strain [1]. The ‘cell factory’ project was carried out from 1998 to 2002 in the Fifth Framework Program of the EU (European Union), which tried to comprehensively understand microorganisms used in the application field. One of the outstanding results of this project was the elucidation of proteins secreted by Bacillus subtilis, which was summarized as the ‘secretome’ [2]. The GTL (Genomes to Life) program began in 2002 in the United States. In this program, researchers aimed to create artificial cells both in silico and in vitro, such as the successful design and synthesis of a minimal bacterial genome by John Craig Venter’s group [3]. This review provides an update on recent advances in engineering, modification and application of synthetic microbial chassis, with particular emphasis on the value of learning about chassis as a way to better understand life and improve applications.


April 21, 2020  |  

Maleness-on-the-Y (MoY) orchestrates male sex determination in major agricultural fruit fly pests.

In insects, rapidly evolving primary sex-determining signals are transduced by a conserved regulatory module controlling sexual differentiation. In the agricultural pest Ceratitis capitata (Mediterranean fruit fly, or Medfly), we identified a Y-linked gene, Maleness-on-the-Y (MoY), encoding a small protein that is necessary and sufficient for male development. Silencing or disruption of MoY in XY embryos causes feminization, whereas overexpression of MoY in XX embryos induces masculinization. Crosses between transformed XY females and XX males give rise to males and females, indicating that a Y chromosome can be transmitted by XY females. MoY is Y-linked and functionally conserved in other species of the Tephritidae family, highlighting its potential to serve as a tool for developing more effective control strategies against these major agricultural insect pests.Copyright © 2019 The Authors, some rights reserved; exclusive licensee American Association for the Advancement of Science. No claim to original U.S. Government Works.


April 21, 2020  |  

Mutation of a bHLH transcription factor allowed almond domestication.

Wild almond species accumulate the bitter and toxic cyanogenic diglucoside amygdalin. Almond domestication was enabled by the selection of genotypes harboring sweet kernels. We report the completion of the almond reference genome. Map-based cloning using an F1 population segregating for kernel taste led to the identification of a 46-kilobase gene cluster encoding five basic helix-loop-helix transcription factors, bHLH1 to bHLH5. Functional characterization demonstrated that bHLH2 controls transcription of the P450 monooxygenase-encoding genes PdCYP79D16 and PdCYP71AN24, which are involved in the amygdalin biosynthetic pathway. A nonsynonymous point mutation (Leu to Phe) in the dimerization domain of bHLH2 prevents transcription of the two cytochrome P450 genes, resulting in the sweet kernel trait. Copyright © 2019 The Authors, some rights reserved; exclusive licensee American Association for the Advancement of Science. No claim to original U.S. Government Works.


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