September 22, 2019  |  

The industrial melanism mutation in British peppered moths is a transposable element.

Discovering the mutational events that fuel adaptation to environmental change remains an important challenge for evolutionary biology. The classroom example of a visible evolutionary response is industrial melanism in the peppered moth (Biston betularia): the replacement, during the Industrial Revolution, of the common pale typica form by a previously unknown black (carbonaria) form, driven by the interaction between bird predation and coal pollution. The carbonaria locus has been coarsely localized to a 200-kilobase region, but the specific identity and nature of the sequence difference controlling the carbonaria-typica polymorphism, and the gene it influences, are unknown. Here we show that the mutation event giving rise to industrial melanism in Britain was the insertion of a large, tandemly repeated, transposable element into the first intron of the gene cortex. Statistical inference based on the distribution of recombined carbonaria haplotypes indicates that this transposition event occurred around 1819, consistent with the historical record. We have begun to dissect the mode of action of the carbonaria transposable element by showing that it increases the abundance of a cortex transcript, the protein product of which plays an important role in cell-cycle regulation, during early wing disc development. Our findings fill a substantial knowledge gap in the iconic example of microevolutionary change, adding a further layer of insight into the mechanism of adaptation in response to natural selection. The discovery that the mutation itself is a transposable element will stimulate further debate about the importance of ‘jumping genes’ as a source of major phenotypic novelty.


September 22, 2019  |  

A comprehensive benchmarking study of protocols and sequencing platforms for 16S rRNA community profiling.

In the last 5 years, the rapid pace of innovations and improvements in sequencing technologies has completely changed the landscape of metagenomic and metagenetic experiments. Therefore, it is critical to benchmark the various methodologies for interrogating the composition of microbial communities, so that we can assess their strengths and limitations. The most common phylogenetic marker for microbial community diversity studies is the 16S ribosomal RNA gene and in the last 10 years the field has moved from sequencing a small number of amplicons and samples to more complex studies where thousands of samples and multiple different gene regions are interrogated.We assembled 2 synthetic communities with an even (EM) and uneven (UM) distribution of archaeal and bacterial strains and species, as metagenomic control material, to assess performance of different experimental strategies. The 2 synthetic communities were used in this study, to highlight the limitations and the advantages of the leading sequencing platforms: MiSeq (Illumina), The Pacific Biosciences RSII, 454 GS-FLX/+ (Roche), and IonTorrent (Life Technologies). We describe an extensive survey based on synthetic communities using 3 experimental designs (fusion primers, universal tailed tag, ligated adaptors) across the 9 hypervariable 16S rDNA regions. We demonstrate that library preparation methodology can affect data interpretation due to different error and chimera rates generated during the procedure. The observed community composition was always biased, to a degree that depended on the platform, sequenced region and primer choice. However, crucially, our analysis suggests that 16S rRNA sequencing is still quantitative, in that relative changes in abundance of taxa between samples can be recovered, despite these biases.We have assessed a range of experimental conditions across several next generation sequencing platforms using the most up-to-date configurations. We propose that the choice of sequencing platform and experimental design needs to be taken into consideration in the early stage of a project by running a small trial consisting of several hypervariable regions to quantify the discriminatory power of each region. We also suggest that the use of a synthetic community as a positive control would be beneficial to identify the potential biases and procedural drawbacks that may lead to data misinterpretation. The results of this study will serve as a guideline for making decisions on which experimental condition and sequencing platform to consider to achieve the best microbial profiling.


September 22, 2019  |  

Draft genome assembly of the poultry red mite, Dermanyssus gallinae.

The poultry red mite, Dermanyssus gallinae, is a major worldwide concern in the egg-laying industry. Here, we report the first draft genome assembly and gene prediction of Dermanyssus gallinae, based on combined PacBio and MinION long-read de novo sequencing. The ~959-Mb genome is predicted to encode 14,608 protein-coding genes.


September 22, 2019  |  

The genomes of Crithidia bombi and C. expoeki, common parasites of bumblebees.

Trypanosomatids (Trypanosomatidae, Kinetoplastida) are flagellated protozoa containing many parasites of medical or agricultural importance. Among those, Crithidia bombi and C. expoeki, are common parasites in bumble bees around the world, and phylogenetically close to Leishmania and Leptomonas. They have a simple and direct life cycle with one host, and partially castrate the founding queens greatly reducing their fitness. Here, we report the nuclear genome sequences of one clone of each species, extracted from a field-collected infection. Using a combination of Roche 454 FLX Titanium, Pacific Biosciences PacBio RS, and Illumina GA2 instruments for C. bombi, and PacBio for C. expoeki, we could produce high-quality and well resolved sequences. We find that these genomes are around 32 and 34 MB, with 7,808 and 7,851 annotated genes for C. bombi and C. expoeki, respectively-which is somewhat less than reported from other trypanosomatids, with few introns, and organized in polycistronic units. A large fraction of genes received plausible functional support in comparison primarily with Leishmania and Trypanosoma. Comparing the annotated genes of the two species with those of six other trypanosomatids (C. fasciculata, L. pyrrhocoris, L. seymouri, B. ayalai, L. major, and T. brucei) shows similar gene repertoires and many orthologs. Similar to other trypanosomatids, we also find signs of concerted evolution in genes putatively involved in the interaction with the host, a high degree of synteny between C. bombi and C. expoeki, and considerable overlap with several other species in the set. A total of 86 orthologous gene groups show signatures of positive selection in the branch leading to the two Crithidia under study, mostly of unknown function. As an example, we examined the initiating glycosylation pathway of surface components in C. bombi, finding it deviates from most other eukaryotes and also from other kinetoplastids, which may indicate rapid evolution in the extracellular matrix that is involved in interactions with the host. Bumble bees are important pollinators and Crithidia-infections are suspected to cause substantial selection pressure on their host populations. These newly sequenced genomes provide tools that should help better understand host-parasite interactions in these pollinator pathogens.


September 22, 2019  |  

Microbiome and infectivity studies reveal complex polyspecies tree disease in Acute Oak Decline.

Decline-diseases are complex and becoming increasingly problematic to tree health globally. Acute Oak Decline (AOD) is characterized by necrotic stem lesions and galleries of the bark-boring beetle, Agrilus biguttatus, and represents a serious threat to oak. Although multiple novel bacterial species and Agrilus galleries are associated with AOD lesions, the causative agent(s) are unknown. The AOD pathosystem therefore provides an ideal model for a systems-based research approach to address our hypothesis that AOD lesions are caused by a polymicrobial complex. Here we show that three bacterial species, Brenneria goodwinii, Gibbsiella quercinecans and Rahnella victoriana, are consistently abundant in the lesion microbiome and possess virulence genes used by canonical phytopathogens that are expressed in AOD lesions. Individual and polyspecies inoculations on oak logs and trees demonstrated that B. goodwinii and G. quercinecans cause tissue necrosis and, in combination with A. biguttatus, produce the diagnostic symptoms of AOD. We have proved a polybacterial cause of AOD lesions, providing new insights into polymicrobial interactions and tree disease. This work presents a novel conceptual and methodological template for adapting Koch’s postulates to address the role of microbial communities in disease.


September 22, 2019  |  

Blood CXCR3+CD4 T cells are enriched in inducible replication competent HIV in aviremic antiretroviral therapy-treated individuals.

We recently demonstrated that lymph nodes (LNs) PD-1+/T follicular helper (Tfh) cells from antiretroviral therapy (ART)-treated HIV-infected individuals were enriched in cells containing replication competent virus. However, the distribution of cells containing inducible replication competent virus has been only partially elucidated in blood memory CD4 T-cell populations including the Tfh cell counterpart circulating in blood (cTfh). In this context, we have investigated the distribution of (1) total HIV-infected cells and (2) cells containing replication competent and infectious virus within various blood and LN memory CD4 T-cell populations of conventional antiretroviral therapy (cART)-treated HIV-infected individuals. In the present study, we show that blood CXCR3-expressing memory CD4 T cells are enriched in cells containing inducible replication competent virus and contributed the most to the total pool of cells containing replication competent and infectious virus in blood. Interestingly, subsequent proviral sequence analysis did not indicate virus compartmentalization between blood and LN CD4 T-cell populations, suggesting dynamic interchanges between the two compartments. We then investigated whether the composition of blood HIV reservoir may reflect the polarization of LN CD4 T cells at the time of reservoir seeding and showed that LN PD-1+CD4 T cells of viremic untreated HIV-infected individuals expressed significantly higher levels of CXCR3 as compared to CCR4 and/or CCR6, suggesting that blood CXCR3-expressing CD4 T cells may originate from LN PD-1+CD4 T cells. Taken together, these results indicate that blood CXCR3-expressing CD4 T cells represent the major blood compartment containing inducible replication competent virus in treated aviremic HIV-infected individuals.


September 22, 2019  |  

Genomics of habitat choice and adaptive evolution in a deep-sea fish.

Intraspecific diversity promotes evolutionary change, and when partitioned among geographic regions or habitats can form the basis for speciation. Marine species live in an environment that can provide as much scope for diversification in the vertical as in the horizontal dimension. Understanding the relevant mechanisms will contribute significantly to our understanding of eco-evolutionary processes and effective biodiversity conservation. Here, we provide an annotated genome assembly for the deep-sea fish Coryphaenoides rupestris and re-sequencing data to show that differentiation at non-synonymous sites in functional loci distinguishes individuals living at different depths, independent of horizontal spatial distance. Our data indicate disruptive selection at these loci; however, we find no clear evidence for differentiation at neutral loci that may indicate assortative mating. We propose that individuals with distinct genotypes at relevant loci segregate by depth as they mature (supported by survey data), which may be associated with ecotype differentiation linked to distinct phenotypic requirements at different depths.


September 22, 2019  |  

Horizontal antimicrobial resistance transfer drives epidemics of multiple Shigella species.

Horizontal gene transfer has played a role in developing the global public health crisis of antimicrobial resistance (AMR). However, the dynamics of AMR transfer through bacterial populations and its direct impact on human disease is poorly elucidated. Here, we study parallel epidemic emergences of multiple Shigella species, a priority AMR organism, in men who have sex with men to gain insight into AMR emergence and spread. Using genomic epidemiology, we show that repeated horizontal transfer of a single AMR plasmid among Shigella enhanced existing and facilitated new epidemics. These epidemic patterns contrasted with slighter, slower increases in disease caused by organisms with vertically inherited (chromosomally encoded) AMR. This demonstrates that horizontal transfer of AMR directly affects epidemiological outcomes of globally important AMR pathogens and highlights the need for integration of genomic analyses into all areas of AMR research, surveillance and management.


September 22, 2019  |  

The consistent differential expression of genetic pathways following exposure of an industrial Pseudomonas aeruginosa strain to preservatives and a laundry detergent formulation.

Pseudomonas aeruginosa is a common contaminant associated with product recalls in the home and personal care industry. Preservation systems are used to prevent spoilage and protect consumers, but greater knowledge is needed of preservative resistance mechanisms used by P. aeruginosa contaminants. We aimed to identify genetic pathways associated with preservative exposure by using an industrial P. aeruginosa strain and implementing RNA-Seq to understand gene expression changes in response to industry relevant conditions. The consistent differential expression of five genetic pathways during exposure to multiple industrial growth conditions associated with benzisothiazolone (BIT) and phenoxyethanol (POE) preservatives, and a laundry detergent (LD) formulation, was observed. A MexPQ-OpmE Resistance Nodulation Division efflux pump system was commonly upregulated in response to POE, a combination of BIT and POE, and LD together with BIT. In response to all industry conditions, a putative sialic acid transporter and isoprenoid biosynthesis gnyRDBHAL operon demonstrated consistent upregulation. Two operons phnBA and pqsEDCBA involved in Pseudomonas quinolone signaling production and quorum-sensing were also consistently downregulated during exposure to all the industry conditions. The ability to identify consistently differentially expressed genetic pathways in P. aeruginosa can inform the development of future targeted preservation systems that maintain product safety and minimise resistance development.


September 22, 2019  |  

Extensive exchange of transposable elements in the Drosophila pseudoobscura group.

As species diverge, so does their transposable element (TE) content. Within a genome, TE families may eventually become dormant due to host-silencing mechanisms, natural selection and the accumulation of inactive copies. The transmission of active copies from a TE families, both vertically and horizontally between species, can allow TEs to escape inactivation if it occurs often enough, as it may allow TEs to temporarily escape silencing in a new host. Thus, the contribution of horizontal exchange to TE persistence has been of increasing interest.Here, we annotated TEs in five species with sequenced genomes from the D. pseudoobscura species group, and curated a set of TE families found in these species. We found that, compared to host genes, many TE families showed lower neutral divergence between species, consistent with recent transmission of TEs between species. Despite these transfers, there are differences in the TE content between species in the group.The TE content is highly dynamic in the D. pseudoobscura species group, frequently transferring between species, keeping TEs active. This result highlights how frequently transposable elements are transmitted between sympatric species and, despite these transfers, how rapidly species TE content can diverge.


September 22, 2019  |  

Comparative genomics of Campylobacter concisus: Analysis of clinical strains reveals genome diversity and pathogenic potential.

In recent years, an increasing number of Campylobacter species have been associated with human gastrointestinal (GI) diseases including gastroenteritis, inflammatory bowel disease, and colorectal cancer. Campylobacter concisus, an oral commensal historically linked to gingivitis and periodontitis, has been increasingly detected in the lower GI tract. In the present study, we generated robust genome sequence data from C. concisus strains and undertook a comprehensive pangenome assessment to identify C. concisus virulence properties and to explain potential adaptations acquired while residing in specific ecological niche(s) of the GI tract. Genomes of 53 new C. concisus strains were sequenced, assembled, and annotated including 36 strains from gastroenteritis patients, 13 strains from Crohn’s disease patients and four strains from colitis patients (three collagenous colitis and one lymphocytic colitis). When compared with previous published sequences, strains clustered into two main groups/genomospecies (GS) with phylogenetic clustering explained neither by disease phenotype nor sample location. Paired oral/faecal isolates, from the same patient, indicated that there are few genetic differences between oral and gut isolates which suggests that gut isolates most likely reflect oral strain relocation. Type IV and VI secretion systems genes, genes known to be important for pathogenicity in the Campylobacter genus, were present in the genomes assemblies, with 82% containing Type VI secretion system genes. Our findings indicate that C. concisus strains are genetically diverse, and the variability in bacterial secretion system content may play an important role in their virulence potential.


September 22, 2019  |  

Evolutionary trade-offs associated with loss of PmrB function in host-adapted Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

Pseudomonas aeruginosa colonises the upper airway of cystic fibrosis (CF) patients, providing a reservoir of host-adapted genotypes that subsequently establish chronic lung infection. We previously experimentally-evolved P. aeruginosa in a murine model of respiratory tract infection and observed early-acquired mutations in pmrB, encoding the sensor kinase of a two-component system that promoted establishment and persistence of infection. Here, using proteomics, we show downregulation of proteins involved in LPS biosynthesis, antimicrobial resistance and phenazine production in pmrB mutants, and upregulation of proteins involved in adherence, lysozyme resistance and inhibition of the chloride ion channel CFTR, relative to wild-type strain LESB65. Accordingly, pmrB mutants are susceptible to antibiotic treatment but show enhanced adherence to airway epithelial cells, resistance to lysozyme treatment, and downregulate host CFTR expression. We propose that P. aeruginosa pmrB mutations in CF patients are subject to an evolutionary trade-off, leading to enhanced colonisation potential, CFTR inhibition, and resistance to host defences, but also to increased susceptibility to antibiotics.


September 22, 2019  |  

An outbreak of a rare Shiga-toxin-producing Escherichia coli serotype (O117:H7) among men who have sex with men.

Sexually transmissible enteric infections (STEIs) are commonly associated with transmission among men who have sex with men (MSM). In the past decade, the UK has experienced multiple parallel STEI emergences in MSM caused by a range of bacterial species of the genus Shigella, and an outbreak of an uncommon serotype (O117?:?H7) of Shiga-toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC). Here, we used microbial genomics on 6 outbreak and 30 sporadic STEC O117?:?H7 isolates to explore the origins and pathogenic drivers of the STEC O117?:?H7 emergence in MSM. Using genomic epidemiology, we found that the STEC O117?:?H7 outbreak lineage was potentially imported from Latin America and likely continues to circulate both in the UK MSM population and in Latin America. We found genomic relationships consistent with existing symptomatic evidence for chronic infection with this STEC serotype. Comparative genomic analysis indicated the existence of a novel Shiga toxin 1-encoding prophage in the outbreak isolates, and evidence of horizontal gene exchange among the STEC O117?:?H7 outbreak lineage and other enteric pathogens. There was no evidence of increased virulence in the outbreak strains relative to contextual isolates, but the outbreak lineage was associated with azithromycin resistance. Comparing these findings with similar genomic investigations of emerging MSM-associated Shigella in the UK highlighted many parallels, the most striking of which was the importance of the azithromycin phenotype for STEI emergence in this patient group.


September 22, 2019  |  

The structure of a conserved telomeric region associated with variant antigen loci in the blood parasite Trypanosoma congolense

African trypanosomiasis is a vector-borne disease of humans and livestock caused by African trypanosomes (Trypanosoma spp.). Survival in the vertebrate bloodstream depends on antigenic variation of Variant Surface Glycoproteins (VSGs) coating the parasite surface. In T. brucei, a model for antigenic variation, monoallelic VSG expression originates from dedicated VSG expression sites (VES). Trypanosoma brucei VES have a conserved structure consisting of a telomeric VSG locus downstream of unique, repeat sequences, and an independent promoter. Additional protein-coding sequences, known as “Expression Site Associated Genes (ESAGs)”, are also often present and are implicated in diverse, bloodstream-stage functions. Trypanosoma congolense is a related veterinary pathogen, also displaying VSG-mediated antigenic variation. A T. congolense VES has not been described, making it unclear if regulation of VSG expression is conserved between species. Here, we describe a conserved telomeric region associated with VSG loci from long-read DNA sequencing of two T. congolense strains, which consists of a distal repeat, conserved noncoding elements and other genes besides the VSG; although these are not orthologous to T. brucei ESAGs. Most conserved telomeric regions are associated with accessory minichromosomes, but the same structure may also be associated with megabase chromosomes. We propose that this region represents the T. congolense VES, and through comparison with T. brucei, we discuss the parallel evolution of antigenic switching mechanisms, and unique adaptation of the T. brucei VES for developmental regulation of bloodstream-stage genes. Hence, we provide a basis for understanding antigenic switching in T. congolense and the origins of the African trypanosome VES.


September 22, 2019  |  

The sequence of a male-specific genome region containing the sex determination switch in Aedes aegypti.

Aedes aegypti is the principal vector of several important arboviruses. Among the methods of vector control to limit transmission of disease are genetic strategies that involve the release of sterile or genetically modified non-biting males, which has generated interest in manipulating mosquito sex ratios. Sex determination in Ae. aegypti is controlled by a non-recombining Y chromosome-like region called the M locus, yet characterisation of this locus has been thwarted by the repetitive nature of the genome. In 2015, an M locus gene named Nix was identified that displays the qualities of a sex determination switch.With the use of a whole-genome bacterial artificial chromosome (BAC) library, we amplified and sequenced a ~200 kb region containing the male-determining gene Nix. In this study, we show that Nix is comprised of two exons separated by a 99 kb intron primarily composed of repetitive DNA, especially transposable elements.Nix, an unusually large and highly repetitive gene, exhibits features in common with Y chromosome genes in other organisms. We speculate that the lack of recombination at the M locus has allowed the expansion of repeats in a manner characteristic of a sex-limited chromosome, in accordance with proposed models of sex chromosome evolution in insects.


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