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Sunday, September 22, 2019

Unraveling microbial communities associated with methylmercury production in paddy soils.

Rice consumption is now recognized as an important pathway of human exposure to the neurotoxin methylmercury (MeHg), particularly in countries where rice is a staple food. Although the discovery of a two-gene cluster hgcAB has linked Hg methylation to several phylogenetically diverse groups of anaerobic microorganisms converting inorganic mercury (Hg) to MeHg, the prevalence and diversity of Hg methylators in microbial communities of rice paddy soils remain unclear. We characterized the abundance and distribution of hgcAB genes using third-generation PacBio long-read sequencing and Illumina short-read metagenomic sequencing, in combination with quantitative PCR analyses in several mine-impacted paddy soils from southwest…

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Sunday, September 22, 2019

Genotype to phenotype: Diet-by-mitochondrial DNA haplotype interactions drive metabolic flexibility and organismal fitness.

Diet may be modified seasonally or by biogeographic, demographic or cultural shifts. It can differentially influence mitochondrial bioenergetics, retrograde signalling to the nuclear genome, and anterograde signalling to mitochondria. All these interactions have the potential to alter the frequencies of mtDNA haplotypes (mitotypes) in nature and may impact human health. In a model laboratory system, we fed four diets varying in Protein: Carbohydrate (P:C) ratio (1:2, 1:4, 1:8 and 1:16 P:C) to four homoplasmic Drosophila melanogaster mitotypes (nuclear genome standardised) and assayed their frequency in population cages. When fed a high protein 1:2 P:C diet, the frequency of flies harbouring…

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Sunday, September 22, 2019

The changing landscape of vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus faecium in Australia: a population-level genomic study.

Vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus faecium (VREfm) represent a major source of nosocomial infection worldwide. In Australia, there has been a recent concerning increase in bacteraemia associated with the vanA genotype, prompting investigation into the genomic epidemiology of VREfm.A population-level study of VREfm (10 November-9 December 2015) was conducted. A total of 321 VREfm isolates (from 286 patients) across Victoria State were collected and sequenced with Illumina NextSeq. SNPs were used to assess relatedness. STs and genes associated with resistance and virulence were identified. The vanA-harbouring plasmid from an isolate from each ST was assembled using long-read data. Illumina reads from remaining isolates…

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Sunday, September 22, 2019

Genomic and genetic insights into a cosmopolitan fungus, Paecilomyces variotii (Eurotiales).

Species in the genus Paecilomyces, a member of the fungal order Eurotiales, are ubiquitous in nature and impact a variety of human endeavors. Here, the biology of one common species, Paecilomyces variotii, was explored using genomics and functional genetics. Sequencing the genome of two isolates revealed key genome and gene features in this species. A striking feature of the genome was the two-part nature, featuring large stretches of DNA with normal GC content separated by AT-rich regions, a hallmark of many plant-pathogenic fungal genomes. These AT-rich regions appeared to have been mutated by repeat-induced point (RIP) mutations. We developed methods…

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Sunday, September 22, 2019

Chemical Synergy between Ionophore PBT2 and Zinc Reverses Antibiotic Resistance.

The World Health Organization reports that antibiotic-resistant pathogens represent an imminent global health disaster for the 21st century. Gram-positive superbugs threaten to breach last-line antibiotic treatment, and the pharmaceutical industry antibiotic development pipeline is waning. Here we report the synergy between ionophore-induced physiological stress in Gram-positive bacteria and antibiotic treatment. PBT2 is a safe-for-human-use zinc ionophore that has progressed to phase 2 clinical trials for Alzheimer’s and Huntington’s disease treatment. In combination with zinc, PBT2 exhibits antibacterial activity and disrupts cellular homeostasis in erythromycin-resistant group A Streptococcus (GAS), methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), and vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus (VRE). We were unable to…

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Saturday, September 21, 2019

Functional analysis of the first complete genome sequence of a multidrug resistant sequence type 2 Staphylococcus epidermidis.

Staphylococcus epidermidis is a significant opportunistic pathogen of humans. The ST2 lineage is frequently multidrug resistant and accounts for most of the clinical disease worldwide. However, there are no publically available, closed ST2 genomes and pathogenesis studies have not focused on these strains. We report the complete genome and methylome of BPH0662, a multidrug resistant, hospital adapted, ST2 S. epidermidis, and describe the correlation between resistome and phenotype, as well as demonstrate its relationship to publically available, international ST2 isolates. Furthermore, we delineate the methylome determined by the two type I restriction modification systems present in BPH0662 through heterologous expression…

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Saturday, September 21, 2019

Population sequencing reveals clonal diversity and ancestral inbreeding in the grapevine cultivar Chardonnay.

Chardonnay is the basis of some of the world’s most iconic wines and its success is underpinned by a historic program of clonal selection. There are numerous clones of Chardonnay available that exhibit differences in key viticultural and oenological traits that have arisen from the accumulation of somatic mutations during centuries of asexual propagation. However, the genetic variation that underlies these differences remains largely unknown. To address this knowledge gap, a high-quality, diploid-phased Chardonnay genome assembly was produced from single-molecule real time sequencing, and combined with re-sequencing data from 15 different Chardonnay clones. There were 1620 markers identified that distinguish…

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Friday, July 19, 2019

Comparative genomic analysis and virulence differences in closely related Salmonella enterica serotype Heidelberg isolates from humans, retail meats, and animals.

Salmonella enterica subsp. enterica serovar Heidelberg (S. Heidelberg) is one of the top serovars causing human salmonellosis. Recently, an antibiotic-resistant strain of this serovar was implicated in a large 2011 multistate outbreak resulting from consumption of contaminated ground turkey that involved 136 confirmed cases, with one death. In this study, we assessed the evolutionary diversity of 44 S. Heidelberg isolates using whole-genome sequencing (WGS) generated by the 454 GS FLX (Roche) platform. The isolates, including 30 with nearly indistinguishable (one band difference) Xbal pulsed-field gel electrophoresis patterns (JF6X01.0032, JF6X01.0058), were collected from various sources between 1982 and 2011 and included…

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Friday, July 19, 2019

Complete bypass of restriction systems for major Staphylococcus aureus lineages.

Staphylococcus aureus is a prominent global nosocomial and community-acquired bacterial pathogen. A strong restriction barrier presents a major hurdle for the introduction of recombinant DNA into clinical isolates of S. aureus. Here, we describe the construction and characterization of the IMXXB series of Escherichia coli strains that mimic the type I adenine methylation profiles of S. aureus clonal complexes 1, 8, 30, and ST93. The IMXXB strains enable direct, high-efficiency transformation and streamlined genetic manipulation of major S. aureus lineages.The genetic manipulation of clinical S. aureus isolates has been hampered due to the presence of restriction modification barriers that detect and subsequently degrade inappropriately…

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Friday, July 19, 2019

A supergene determines highly divergent male reproductive morphs in the ruff.

Three strikingly different alternative male mating morphs (aggressive ‘independents’, semicooperative ‘satellites’ and female-mimic ‘faeders’) coexist as a balanced polymorphism in the ruff, Philomachus pugnax, a lek-breeding wading bird. Major differences in body size, ornamentation, and aggressive and mating behaviors are inherited as an autosomal polymorphism. We show that development into satellites and faeders is determined by a supergene consisting of divergent alternative, dominant and non-recombining haplotypes of an inversion on chromosome 11, which contains 125 predicted genes. Independents are homozygous for the ancestral sequence. One breakpoint of the inversion disrupts the essential CENP-N gene (encoding centromere protein N), and pedigree…

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Friday, July 19, 2019

Single-molecule sequencing reveals complex genomic variation of hepatitis B virus during 15 years of chronic infection following liver transplantation.

Chronic hepatitis B (CHB) is prevalent worldwide. The infectious agent, hepatitis B virus (HBV) replicates via an RNA intermediate and is error-prone, leading to rapid generation of closely related but not identical viral variants, including those that can escape host immune responses and antiviral treatments. The complexity of CHB can be further enhanced by the presence of HBV variants with large deletions in the genome, generated via splicing (spHBV). Although spHBV variants are incapable of autonomous replication, their replication is rescued by wild-type HBV. SpHBV variants have been shown to enhance wild-type virus replication, and their prevalence increases with liver…

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Friday, July 19, 2019

Exploiting members of the BAHD acyltransferase family to synthesize multiple hydroxycinnamate and benzoate conjugates in yeast.

BAHD acyltransferases, named after the first four biochemically characterized enzymes of the group, are plant-specific enzymes that catalyze the transfer of coenzyme A-activated donors onto various acceptor molecules. They are responsible for the synthesis in plants of a myriad of secondary metabolites, some of which are beneficial for humans either as therapeutics or as specialty chemicals such as flavors and fragrances. The production of pharmaceutical, nutraceutical and commodity chemicals using engineered microbes is an alternative, green route to energy-intensive chemical syntheses that consume petroleum-based precursors. However, identification of appropriate enzymes and validation of their functional expression in heterologous hosts is…

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Friday, July 19, 2019

The genome of Chenopodium quinoa.

Chenopodium quinoa (quinoa) is a highly nutritious grain identified as an important crop to improve world food security. Unfortunately, few resources are available to facilitate its genetic improvement. Here we report the assembly of a high-quality, chromosome-scale reference genome sequence for quinoa, which was produced using single-molecule real-time sequencing in combination with optical, chromosome-contact and genetic maps. We also report the sequencing of two diploids from the ancestral gene pools of quinoa, which enables the identification of sub-genomes in quinoa, and reduced-coverage genome sequences for 22 other samples of the allotetraploid goosefoot complex. The genome sequence facilitated the identification of…

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Friday, July 19, 2019

Increased risk of low birth weight in women with placental malaria associated with P. falciparum VAR2CSA clade.

Pregnancy associated malaria (PAM) causes adverse pregnancy and birth outcomes owing to Plasmodium falciparum accumulation in the placenta. Placental accumulation is mediated by P. falciparum protein VAR2CSA, a leading PAM-specific vaccine target. The extent of its antigen diversity and impact on clinical outcomes remain poorly understood. Through amplicon deep-sequencing placental malaria samples from women in Malawi and Benin, we assessed sequence diversity of VAR2CSA’s ID1-DBL2x region, containing putative vaccine targets and estimated associations of specific clades with adverse birth outcomes. Overall, var2csa diversity was high and haplotypes subdivided into five clades, the largest two defined by homology to parasites strains,…

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Friday, July 19, 2019

Adaptation and conservation insights from the koala genome.

The koala, the only extant species of the marsupial family Phascolarctidae, is classified as ‘vulnerable’ due to habitat loss and widespread disease. We sequenced the koala genome, producing a complete and contiguous marsupial reference genome, including centromeres. We reveal that the koala’s ability to detoxify eucalypt foliage may be due to expansions within a cytochrome P450 gene family, and its ability to smell, taste and moderate ingestion of plant secondary metabolites may be due to expansions in the vomeronasal and taste receptors. We characterized novel lactation proteins that protect young in the pouch and annotated immune genes important for response…

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