September 22, 2019  |  

A comprehensive analysis of alternative splicing in paleopolyploid maize.

Identifying and characterizing alternative splicing (AS) enables our understanding of the biological role of transcript isoform diversity. This study describes the use of publicly available RNA-Seq data to identify and characterize the global diversity of AS isoforms in maize using the inbred lines B73 and Mo17, and a related species, sorghum. Identification and characterization of AS within maize tissues revealed that genes expressed in seed exhibit the largest differential AS relative to other tissues examined. Additionally, differences in AS between the two genotypes B73 and Mo17 are greatest within genes expressed in seed. We demonstrate that changes in the level of alternatively spliced transcripts (intron retention and exon skipping) do not solely reflect differences in total transcript abundance, and we present evidence that intron retention may act to fine-tune gene expression across seed development stages. Furthermore, we have identified temperature sensitive AS in maize and demonstrate that drought-induced changes in AS involve distinct sets of genes in reproductive and vegetative tissues. Examining our identified AS isoforms within B73 × Mo17 recombinant inbred lines (RILs) identified splicing QTL (sQTL). The 43.3% of cis-sQTL regulated junctions are actually identified as alternatively spliced junctions in our analysis, while 10 Mb windows on each side of 48.2% of trans-sQTLs overlap with splicing related genes. Using sorghum as an out-group enabled direct examination of loss or conservation of AS between homeologous genes representing the two subgenomes of maize. We identify several instances where AS isoforms that are conserved between one maize homeolog and its sorghum ortholog are absent from the second maize homeolog, suggesting that these AS isoforms may have been lost after the maize whole genome duplication event. This comprehensive analysis provides new insights into the complexity of AS in maize.


September 22, 2019  |  

High-resolution expression map of the Arabidopsis root reveals alternative splicing and lincRNA regulation.

The extent to which alternative splicing and long intergenic noncoding RNAs (lincRNAs) contribute to the specialized functions of cells within an organ is poorly understood. We generated a comprehensive dataset of gene expression from individual cell types of the Arabidopsis root. Comparisons across cell types revealed that alternative splicing tends to remove parts of coding regions from a longer, major isoform, providing evidence for a progressive mechanism of splicing. Cell-type-specific intron retention suggested a possible origin for this common form of alternative splicing. Coordinated alternative splicing across developmental stages pointed to a role in regulating differentiation. Consistent with this hypothesis, distinct isoforms of a transcription factor were shown to control developmental transitions. lincRNAs were generally lowly expressed at the level of individual cell types, but co-expression clusters provided clues as to their function. Our results highlight insights gained from analysis of expression at the level of individual cell types. Copyright © 2016 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


September 22, 2019  |  

Single-cell (meta-)genomics of a dimorphic Candidatus Thiomargarita nelsonii reveals genomic plasticity.

The genus Thiomargarita includes the world’s largest bacteria. But as uncultured organisms, their physiology, metabolism, and basis for their gigantism are not well understood. Thus, a genomics approach, applied to a single Candidatus Thiomargarita nelsonii cell was employed to explore the genetic potential of one of these enigmatic giant bacteria. The Thiomargarita cell was obtained from an assemblage of budding Ca. T. nelsonii attached to a provannid gastropod shell from Hydrate Ridge, a methane seep offshore of Oregon, USA. Here we present a manually curated genome of Bud S10 resulting from a hybrid assembly of long Pacific Biosciences and short Illumina sequencing reads. With respect to inorganic carbon fixation and sulfur oxidation pathways, the Ca. T. nelsonii Hydrate Ridge Bud S10 genome was similar to marine sister taxa within the family Beggiatoaceae. However, the Bud S10 genome contains genes suggestive of the genetic potential for lithotrophic growth on arsenite and perhaps hydrogen. The genome also revealed that Bud S10 likely respires nitrate via two pathways: a complete denitrification pathway and a dissimilatory nitrate reduction to ammonia pathway. Both pathways have been predicted, but not previously fully elucidated, in the genomes of other large, vacuolated, sulfur-oxidizing bacteria. Surprisingly, the genome also had a high number of unusual features for a bacterium to include the largest number of metacaspases and introns ever reported in a bacterium. Also present, are a large number of other mobile genetic elements, such as insertion sequence (IS) transposable elements and miniature inverted-repeat transposable elements (MITEs). In some cases, mobile genetic elements disrupted key genes in metabolic pathways. For example, a MITE interrupts hupL, which encodes the large subunit of the hydrogenase in hydrogen oxidation. Moreover, we detected a group I intron in one of the most critical genes in the sulfur oxidation pathway, dsrA. The dsrA group I intron also carried a MITE sequence that, like the hupL MITE family, occurs broadly across the genome. The presence of a high degree of mobile elements in genes central to Thiomargarita’s core metabolism has not been previously reported in free-living bacteria and suggests a highly mutable genome.


September 22, 2019  |  

Meeting report: 31st International Mammalian Genome Conference, Mammalian Genetics and Genomics: From Molecular Mechanisms to Translational Applications.

High on the Heidelberg hills, inside the Advanced Training Centre of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) campus with its unique double-helix staircase, scientists gathered for the EMBL conference “Mammalian Genetics and Genomics: From Molecular Mechanisms to Translational Applications,” organized in cooperation with the International Mammalian Genome Society (IMGS) and the Mouse Molecular Genetics (MMG) group. The conference attracted 205 participants from 30 countries, representing 6 of the 7 continents-all except Antarctica. It was a richly diverse group of geneticists, clinicians, and bioinformaticians, with presentations by established and junior investigators, including many trainees. From the 24th-27th of October 2017, they shared exciting advances in mammalian genetics and genomics research, from the introduction of cutting-edge technologies to descriptions of translational studies involving highly relevant models of human disease.


September 22, 2019  |  

A community-based culture collection for targeting novel plant growth-promoting bacteria from the sugarcane microbiome.

The soil-plant ecosystem harbors an immense microbial diversity that challenges investigative approaches to study traits underlying plant-microbe association. Studies solely based on culture-dependent techniques have overlooked most microbial diversity. Here we describe the concomitant use of culture-dependent and -independent techniques to target plant-beneficial microbial groups from the sugarcane microbiome. The community-based culture collection (CBC) approach was used to access microbes from roots and stalks. The CBC recovered 399 unique bacteria representing 15.9% of the rhizosphere core microbiome and 61.6-65.3% of the endophytic core microbiomes of stalks. By cross-referencing the CBC (culture-dependent) with the sugarcane microbiome profile (culture-independent), we designed a synthetic community comprised of naturally occurring highly abundant bacterial groups from roots and stalks, most of which has been poorly explored so far. We then used maize as a model to probe the abundance-based synthetic inoculant. We show that when inoculated in maize plants, members of the synthetic community efficiently colonize plant organs, displace the natural microbiota and dominate at 53.9% of the rhizosphere microbial abundance. As a result, inoculated plants increased biomass by 3.4-fold as compared to uninoculated plants. The results demonstrate that abundance-based synthetic inoculants can be successfully applied to recover beneficial plant microbes from plant microbiota.


September 22, 2019  |  

Localized electron transfer rates and microelectrode-based enrichment of microbial communities within a phototrophic microbial mat.

Phototrophic microbial mats frequently exhibit sharp, light-dependent redox gradients that regulate microbial respiration on specific electron acceptors as a function of depth. In this work, a benthic phototrophic microbial mat from Hot Lake, a hypersaline, epsomitic lake located near Oroville in north-central Washington, was used to develop a microscale electrochemical method to study local electron transfer processes within the mat. To characterize the physicochemical variables influencing electron transfer, we initially quantified redox potential, pH, and dissolved oxygen gradients by depth in the mat under photic and aphotic conditions. We further demonstrated that power output of a mat fuel cell was light-dependent. To study local electron transfer processes, we deployed a microscale electrode (microelectrode) with tip size ~20 µm. To enrich a subset of microorganisms capable of interacting with the microelectrode, we anodically polarized the microelectrode at depth in the mat. Subsequently, to characterize the microelectrode-associated community and compare it to the neighboring mat community, we performed amplicon sequencing of the V1-V3 region of the 16S gene. Differences in Bray-Curtis beta diversity, illustrated by large changes in relative abundance at the phylum level, suggested successful enrichment of specific mat community members on the microelectrode surface. The microelectrode-associated community exhibited substantially reduced alpha diversity and elevated relative abundances of Prosthecochloris, Loktanella, Catellibacterium, other unclassified members of Rhodobacteraceae, Thiomicrospira, and Limnobacter, compared with the community at an equivalent depth in the mat. Our results suggest that local electron transfer to an anodically polarized microelectrode selected for a specific microbial population, with substantially more abundance and diversity of sulfur-oxidizing phylotypes compared with the neighboring mat community.


September 22, 2019  |  

A carnivorous plant genetic map: pitcher/insect-capture QTL on a genetic linkage map of Sarracenia.

The study of carnivorous plants can afford insight into their unique evolutionary adaptations and their interactions with prokaryotic and eukaryotic species. For Sarracenia (pitcher plants), we identified 64 quantitative trait loci (QTL) for insect-capture traits of the pitchers, providing the genetic basis for differences between the pitfall and lobster-trap strategies of insect capture. The linkage map developed here is based upon the F2 of a cross between Sarracenia rosea and Sarracenia psittacina; we mapped 437 single nucleotide polymorphism and simple sequence repeat markers. We measured pitcher traits which differ between S. rosea and S. psittacina, mapping 64 QTL for 17 pitcher traits; there are hot-spot locations where multiple QTL map near each other. There are epistatic interactions in many cases where there are multiple loci for a trait. The QTL map uncovered the genetic basis for the differences between pitfall- and lobster-traps, and the changes that occurred during the divergence of these species. The longevity and clonability of Sarracenia plants make the F2 mapping population a resource for mapping more traits and for phenotype-to-genotype studies.


September 22, 2019  |  

Capturing single cell genomes of active polysaccharide degraders: an unexpected contribution of Verrucomicrobia.

Microbial hydrolysis of polysaccharides is critical to ecosystem functioning and is of great interest in diverse biotechnological applications, such as biofuel production and bioremediation. Here we demonstrate the use of a new, efficient approach to recover genomes of active polysaccharide degraders from natural, complex microbial assemblages, using a combination of fluorescently labeled substrates, fluorescence-activated cell sorting, and single cell genomics. We employed this approach to analyze freshwater and coastal bacterioplankton for degraders of laminarin and xylan, two of the most abundant storage and structural polysaccharides in nature. Our results suggest that a few phylotypes of Verrucomicrobia make a considerable contribution to polysaccharide degradation, although they constituted only a minor fraction of the total microbial community. Genomic sequencing of five cells, representing the most predominant, polysaccharide-active Verrucomicrobia phylotype, revealed significant enrichment in genes encoding a wide spectrum of glycoside hydrolases, sulfatases, peptidases, carbohydrate lyases and esterases, confirming that these organisms were well equipped for the hydrolysis of diverse polysaccharides. Remarkably, this enrichment was on average higher than in the sequenced representatives of Bacteroidetes, which are frequently regarded as highly efficient biopolymer degraders. These findings shed light on the ecological roles of uncultured Verrucomicrobia and suggest specific taxa as promising bioprospecting targets. The employed method offers a powerful tool to rapidly identify and recover discrete genomes of active players in polysaccharide degradation, without the need for cultivation.


September 22, 2019  |  

Multiplex amplicon sequencing for microbe identification in community-based culture collections.

Microbiome analysis using metagenomic sequencing has revealed a vast microbial diversity associated with plants. Identifying the molecular functions associated with microbiome-plant interaction is a significant challenge concerning the development of microbiome-derived technologies applied to agriculture. An alternative to accelerate the discovery of the microbiome benefits to plants is to construct microbial culture collections concomitant with accessing microbial community structure and abundance. However, traditional methods of isolation, cultivation, and identification of microbes are time-consuming and expensive. Here we describe a method for identification of microbes in culture collections constructed by picking colonies from primary platings that may contain single or multiple microorganisms, which we named community-based culture collections (CBC). A multiplexing 16S rRNA gene amplicon sequencing based on two-step PCR amplifications with tagged primers for plates, rows, and columns allowed the identification of the microbial composition regardless if the well contains single or multiple microorganisms. The multiplexing system enables pooling amplicons into a single tube. The sequencing performed on the PacBio platform led to recovery near-full-length 16S rRNA gene sequences allowing accurate identification of microorganism composition in each plate well. Cross-referencing with plant microbiome structure and abundance allowed the estimation of diversity and abundance representation of microorganism in the CBC.


September 22, 2019  |  

Contemporary evolution of a Lepidopteran species, Heliothis virescens, in response to modern agricultural practices.

Adaptation to human-induced environmental change has the potential to profoundly influence the genomic architecture of affected species. This is particularly true in agricultural ecosystems, where anthropogenic selection pressure is strong. Heliothis virescens primarily feeds on cotton in its larval stages, and US populations have been declining since the widespread planting of transgenic cotton, which endogenously expresses proteins derived from Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt). No physiological adaptation to Bt toxin has been found in the field, so adaptation in this altered environment could involve (i) shifts in host plant selection mechanisms to avoid cotton, (ii) changes in detoxification mechanisms required for cotton-feeding vs. feeding on other hosts or (iii) loss of resistance to previously used management practices including insecticides. Here, we begin to address whether such changes occurred in H. virescens populations between 1997 and 2012, as Bt-cotton cultivation spread through the agricultural landscape. For our study, we produced an H. virescens genome assembly and used this in concert with a ddRAD-seq-enabled genome scan to identify loci with significant allele frequency changes over the 15-year period. Genetic changes at a previously described H. virescens insecticide target of selection were detectable in our genome scan and increased our confidence in this methodology. Additional loci were also detected as being under selection, and we quantified the selection strength required to elicit observed allele frequency changes at each locus. Potential contributions of genes near loci under selection to adaptive phenotypes in the H. virescens cotton system are discussed.© 2017 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


September 22, 2019  |  

Identification of the biosynthetic pathway for the antibiotic bicyclomycin.

Diketopiperazines (DKPs) make up a large group of natural products with diverse structures and biological activities. Bicyclomycin is a broad-spectrum DKP antibiotic with unique structure and function: it contains a highly oxidized bicyclic [4.2.2] ring and is the only known selective inhibitor of the bacterial transcription termination factor, Rho. Here, we identify the biosynthetic gene cluster for bicyclomycin containing six iron-dependent oxidases. We demonstrate that the DKP core is made by a tRNA-dependent cyclodipeptide synthase, and hydroxylations on two unactivated sp(3) carbons are performed by two mononuclear iron, a-ketoglutarate-dependent hydroxylases. Using bioinformatics, we also identify a homologous gene cluster prevalent in a human pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa. We detect bicyclomycin by overexpressing this gene cluster and establish P. aeruginosa as a new producer of bicyclomycin. Our work uncovers the biosynthetic pathway for bicyclomycin and sheds light on the intriguing oxidation chemistry that converts a simple DKP into a powerful antibiotic.


September 22, 2019  |  

CagY-dependent regulation of type IV secretion in Helicobacter pylori is associated with alterations in integrin binding.

Strains of Helicobacter pylori that cause ulcer or gastric cancer typically express a type IV secretion system (T4SS) encoded by the cag pathogenicity island (cagPAI). CagY is an ortholog of VirB10 that, unlike other VirB10 orthologs, has a large middle repeat region (MRR) with extensive repetitive sequence motifs, which undergo CD4+ T cell-dependent recombination during infection of mice. Recombination in the CagY MRR reduces T4SS function, diminishes the host inflammatory response, and enables the bacteria to colonize at a higher density. Since CagY is known to bind human a5ß1 integrin, we tested the hypothesis that recombination in the CagY MRR regulates T4SS function by modulating binding to a5ß1 integrin. Using a cell-free microfluidic assay, we found that H. pylori binding to a5ß1 integrin under shear flow is dependent on the CagY MRR, but independent of the presence of the T4SS pili, which are only formed when H. pylori is in contact with host cells. Similarly, expression of CagY in the absence of other T4SS genes was necessary and sufficient for whole bacterial cell binding to a5ß1 integrin. Bacteria with variant cagY alleles that reduced T4SS function showed comparable reduction in binding to a5ß1 integrin, although CagY was still expressed on the bacterial surface. We speculate that cagY-dependent modulation of H. pylori T4SS function is mediated by alterations in binding to a5ß1 integrin, which in turn regulates the host inflammatory response so as to maximize persistent infection.IMPORTANCE Infection with H. pylori can cause peptic ulcers and is the most important risk factor for gastric cancer, the third most common cause of cancer death worldwide. The major H. pylori virulence factor that determines whether infection causes disease or asymptomatic colonization is the type IV secretion system (T4SS), a sort of molecular syringe that injects bacterial products into gastric epithelial cells and alters host cell physiology. We previously showed that recombination in CagY, an essential T4SS component, modulates the function of the T4SS. Here we found that these recombination events produce parallel changes in specific binding to a5ß1 integrin, a host cell receptor that is essential for T4SS-dependent translocation of bacterial effectors. We propose that CagY-dependent binding to a5ß1 integrin acts like a molecular rheostat that alters T4SS function and modulates the host immune response to promote persistent infection. Copyright © 2018 Skoog et al.


September 22, 2019  |  

T-independent IFN? and B cells cooperate to prevent mortality associated with disseminated Chlamydia muridarum genital tract infection.

CD4 T cells and antibody are required for optimal acquired immunity to C. muridarum genital tract infection, and T cell-mediated IFN? production is necessary to clear infection in the absence of humoral immunity. However, the role of T cell-independent immune responses during primary infection remains unclear. We investigated this question by inoculating wild-type and immune-deficient mice with C. muridarum CM001, a clonal isolate capable of enhanced extragenital replication. Genital inoculation of wild-type mice resulted in transient dissemination to the lungs and spleen that then was rapidly cleared from these organs. However, CM001 genital infection proved lethal for STAT1-/- and IFNG-/- mice, where IFN? signaling is absent, and for Rag1-/- mice that lack T and B cells, but retain innate IFN? signaling. In contrast, B cell-deficient muMT mice that can generate a Th1 response, and T cell-deficient mice with intact B cell and innate IFN? signaling survived. These data collectively indicate that IFN? prevents lethal CM001 dissemination in the absence of T cells and suggests a B cell co-requirement. Adoptive transfer of convalescent immune sera, but not naïve IgM, to Rag1-/- mice infected with CM001 significantly increased survival time, while transfer of naïve B cells completely rescued Rag1-/- mice from CM001 lethality. Protection was associated with a significant reduction in the lung chlamydial burden of genitally infected mice. These data reveal an important cooperation between T-independent B cell responses and innate IFN? in chlamydial host defense, and suggest interactions between T-independent antibody and IFN? are essential for limiting extragenital dissemination. Copyright © 2018 American Society for Microbiology.


September 22, 2019  |  

Periodic variation of mutation rates in bacterial genomes associated with replication timing

The causes and consequences of spatiotemporal variation in mutation rates remain to be explored in nearly all organisms. Here we examine relationships between local mutation rates and replication timing in three bacterial species whose genomes have multiple chromosomes: Vibrio fischeri, Vibrio cholerae, and Burkholderia cenocepacia Following five mutation accumulation experiments with these bacteria conducted in the near absence of natural selection, the genomes of clones from each lineage were sequenced and analyzed to identify variation in mutation rates and spectra. In lineages lacking mismatch repair, base substitution mutation rates vary in a mirrored wave-like pattern on opposing replichores of the large chromosomes of V. fischeri and V. cholerae, where concurrently replicated regions experience similar base substitution mutation rates. The base substitution mutation rates on the small chromosome are less variable in both species but occur at similar rates to those in the concurrently replicated regions of the large chromosome. Neither nucleotide composition nor frequency of nucleotide motifs differed among regions experiencing high and low base substitution rates, which along with the inferred ~800-kb wave period suggests that the source of the periodicity is not sequence specific but rather a systematic process related to the cell cycle. These results support the notion that base substitution mutation rates are likely to vary systematically across many bacterial genomes, which exposes certain genes to elevated deleterious mutational load.IMPORTANCE That mutation rates vary within bacterial genomes is well known, but the detailed study of these biases has been made possible only recently with contemporary sequencing methods. We applied these methods to understand how bacterial genomes with multiple chromosomes, like those of Vibrio and Burkholderia, might experience heterogeneous mutation rates because of their unusual replication and the greater genetic diversity found on smaller chromosomes. This study captured thousands of mutations and revealed wave-like rate variation that is synchronized with replication timing and not explained by sequence context. The scale of this rate variation over hundreds of kilobases of DNA strongly suggests that a temporally regulated cellular process may generate wave-like variation in mutation risk. These findings add to our understanding of how mutation risk is distributed across bacterial and likely also eukaryotic genomes, owing to their highly conserved replication and repair machinery. Copyright © 2018 Dillon et al.


September 22, 2019  |  

Genomic signatures of mitonuclear coevolution across populations of Tigriopus californicus.

The copepod Tigriopus californicus shows extensive population divergence and is becoming a model for understanding allopatric differentiation and the early stages of speciation. Here, we report a high-quality reference genome for one population (~190?megabases across 12 scaffolds, and ~15,500 protein-coding genes). Comparison with other arthropods reveals 2,526 genes presumed to be specific to T. californicus, with an apparent proliferation of genes involved in ion transport and receptor activity. Beyond the reference population, we report re-sequenced genomes of seven additional populations, spanning the continuum of reproductive isolation. Populations show extreme mitochondrial DNA divergence, with higher levels of amino acid differentiation than observed in other taxa. Across the nuclear genome, we find elevated protein evolutionary rates and positive selection in genes predicted to interact with mitochondrial DNA and the proteins and RNA it encodes in multiple pathways. Together, these results support the hypothesis that rapid mitochondrial evolution drives compensatory nuclear evolution within isolated populations, thereby providing a potentially important mechanism for causing intrinsic reproductive isolation.


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