April 21, 2020  |  

Tandem repeats lead to sequence assembly errors and impose multi-level challenges for genome and protein databases.

The widespread occurrence of repetitive stretches of DNA in genomes of organisms across the tree of life imposes fundamental challenges for sequencing, genome assembly, and automated annotation of genes and proteins. This multi-level problem can lead to errors in genome and protein databases that are often not recognized or acknowledged. As a consequence, end users working with sequences with repetitive regions are faced with ‘ready-to-use’ deposited data whose trustworthiness is difficult to determine, let alone to quantify. Here, we provide a review of the problems associated with tandem repeat sequences that originate from different stages during the sequencing-assembly-annotation-deposition workflow, and that may proliferate in public database repositories affecting all downstream analyses. As a case study, we provide examples of the Atlantic cod genome, whose sequencing and assembly were hindered by a particularly high prevalence of tandem repeats. We complement this case study with examples from other species, where mis-annotations and sequencing errors have propagated into protein databases. With this review, we aim to raise the awareness level within the community of database users, and alert scientists working in the underlying workflow of database creation that the data they omit or improperly assemble may well contain important biological information valuable to others. © The Author(s) 2019. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Nucleic Acids Research.


April 21, 2020  |  

Genomic and Functional Analysis of Emerging Virulent and Multidrug-Resistant Escherichia coli Lineage Sequence Type 648.

The pathogenic extended-spectrum-beta-lactamase (ESBL)-producing Escherichia coli lineage ST648 is increasingly reported from multiple origins. Our study of a large and global ST648 collection from various hosts (87 whole-genome sequences) combining core and accessory genomics with functional analyses and in vivo experiments suggests that ST648 is a nascent and generalist lineage, lacking clear phylogeographic and host association signals. By including large numbers of ST131 (n?=?107) and ST10 (n?=?96) strains for comparative genomics and phenotypic analysis, we demonstrate that the combination of multidrug resistance and high-level virulence are the hallmarks of ST648, similar to international high-risk clonal lineage ST131. Specifically, our in silico, in vitro, and in vivo results demonstrate that ST648 is well equipped with biofilm-associated features, while ST131 shows sophisticated signatures indicative of adaption to urinary tract infection, potentially conveying individual ecological niche adaptation. In addition, we used a recently developed NFDS (negative frequency-dependent selection) population model suggesting that ST648 will increase significantly in frequency as a cause of bacteremia within the next few years. Also, ESBL plasmids impacting biofilm formation aided in shaping and maintaining ST648 strains to successfully emerge worldwide across different ecologies. Our study contributes to understanding what factors drive the evolution and spread of emerging international high-risk clonal lineages.Copyright © 2019 American Society for Microbiology.


April 21, 2020  |  

Into the Thermus Mobilome: Presence, Diversity and Recent Activities of Insertion Sequences Across Thermus spp.

A high level of transposon-mediated genome rearrangement is a common trait among microorganisms isolated from thermal environments, probably contributing to the extraordinary genomic plasticity and horizontal gene transfer (HGT) observed in these habitats. In this work, active and inactive insertion sequences (ISs) spanning the sequenced members of the genus Thermus were characterized, with special emphasis on three T. thermophilus strains: HB27, HB8, and NAR1. A large number of full ISs and fragments derived from different IS families were found, concentrating within megaplasmids present in most isolates. Potentially active ISs were identified through analysis of transposase integrity, and domestication-related transposition events of ISTth7 were identified in laboratory-adapted HB27 derivatives. Many partial copies of ISs appeared throughout the genome, which may serve as specific targets for homologous recombination contributing to genome rearrangement. Moreover, recruitment of IS1000 32 bp segments as spacers for CRISPR sequence was identified, pointing to the adaptability of these elements in the biology of these thermophiles. Further knowledge about the activity and functional diversity of ISs in this genus may contribute to the generation of engineered transposons as new genetic tools, and enrich our understanding of the outstanding plasticity shown by these thermophiles.


April 21, 2020  |  

Megaphylogeny resolves global patterns of mushroom evolution.

Mushroom-forming fungi (Agaricomycetes) have the greatest morphological diversity and complexity of any group of fungi. They have radiated into most niches and fulfil diverse roles in the ecosystem, including wood decomposers, pathogens or mycorrhizal mutualists. Despite the importance of mushroom-forming fungi, large-scale patterns of their evolutionary history are poorly known, in part due to the lack of a comprehensive and dated molecular phylogeny. Here, using multigene and genome-based data, we assemble a 5,284-species phylogenetic tree and infer ages and broad patterns of speciation/extinction and morphological innovation in mushroom-forming fungi. Agaricomycetes started a rapid class-wide radiation in the Jurassic, coinciding with the spread of (sub)tropical coniferous forests and a warming climate. A possible mass extinction, several clade-specific adaptive radiations and morphological diversification of fruiting bodies followed during the Cretaceous and the Paleogene, convergently giving rise to the classic toadstool morphology, with a cap, stalk and gills (pileate-stipitate morphology). This morphology is associated with increased rates of lineage diversification, suggesting it represents a key innovation in the evolution of mushroom-forming fungi. The increase in mushroom diversity started during the Mesozoic-Cenozoic radiation event, an era of humid climate when terrestrial communities dominated by gymnosperms and reptiles were also expanding.


April 21, 2020  |  

Newly designed 16S rRNA metabarcoding primers amplify diverse and novel archaeal taxa from the environment.

High-throughput studies of microbial communities suggest that Archaea are a widespread component of microbial diversity in various ecosystems. However, proper quantification of archaeal diversity and community ecology remains limited, as sequence coverage of Archaea is usually low owing to the inability of available prokaryotic primers to efficiently amplify archaeal compared to bacterial rRNA genes. To improve identification and quantification of Archaea, we designed and validated the utility of several primer pairs to efficiently amplify archaeal 16S rRNA genes based on up-to-date reference genes. We demonstrate that several of these primer pairs amplify phylogenetically diverse Archaea with high sequencing coverage, outperforming commonly used primers. Based on comparing the resulting long 16S rRNA gene fragments with public databases from all habitats, we found several novel family- to phylum-level archaeal taxa from topsoil and surface water. Our results suggest that archaeal diversity has been largely overlooked due to the limitations of available primers, and that improved primer pairs enable to estimate archaeal diversity more accurately. © 2018 The Authors. Environmental Microbiology Reports published by Society for Applied Microbiology and John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


April 21, 2020  |  

The role of long-term mineral and organic fertilisation treatment in changing pathogen and symbiont community composition in soil

Application of organic fertilisers to soil prevents erosion, improves fertility and may suppress certain soil-borne plant pathogens, but it is still unclear how different trophic groups of fungi and oomycetes respond to long-term fertilisation treatment. The objective of the study was to examine the effect of different fertilisation regimes on fungal and oomycete pathogen- and mycorrhizal symbiont diversity and community structure in both soil and roots, using PacBio SMRT sequencing. The field experiment included three fertilisation treatments that have been applied since 1989: nitrogen fertilisation (WOM), nitrogen fertilisation with manure amendment (FYM) and alternative organic fertilisation (AOF), each applied at five different rates. Soil samples were collected three times during the growing season, while root samples were collected during the flowering stage. There was no influence of the studied variables on soil and root pathogen richness. Contrary to our hypothesis, pathogen relative abundance in both soil and roots was significantly higher in plots with the AOF treatment. Furthermore, richness and relative abundance of arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi decreased significantly in the AOF treatment. Permutational analysis of variance (PERMANOVA) demonstrated the effect of fertilisation treatment on pathogen community composition in both soil and roots. Our findings indicate that organic fertilisers may not always benefit soil microbial community composition. Therefore, further studies are needed to understand how fertilisation affects mycorrhizal mutualists and pathogens.


April 21, 2020  |  

Phylogenetic barriers to horizontal transfer of antimicrobial peptide resistance genes in the human gut microbiota.

The human gut microbiota has adapted to the presence of antimicrobial peptides (AMPs), which are ancient components of immune defence. Despite its medical importance, it has remained unclear whether AMP resistance genes in the gut microbiome are available for genetic exchange between bacterial species. Here, we show that AMP resistance and antibiotic resistance genes differ in their mobilization patterns and functional compatibilities with new bacterial hosts. First, whereas AMP resistance genes are widespread in the gut microbiome, their rate of horizontal transfer is lower than that of antibiotic resistance genes. Second, gut microbiota culturing and functional metagenomics have revealed that AMP resistance genes originating from phylogenetically distant bacteria have only a limited potential to confer resistance in Escherichia coli, an intrinsically susceptible species. Taken together, functional compatibility with the new bacterial host emerges as a key factor limiting the genetic exchange of AMP resistance genes. Finally, our results suggest that AMPs induce highly specific changes in the composition of the human microbiota, with implications for disease risks.


April 21, 2020  |  

Long-read sequence capture of the haemoglobin gene clusters across codfish species.

Combining high-throughput sequencing with targeted sequence capture has become an attractive tool to study specific genomic regions of interest. Most studies have so far focused on the exome using short-read technology. These approaches are not designed to capture intergenic regions needed to reconstruct genomic organization, including regulatory regions and gene synteny. Here, we demonstrate the power of combining targeted sequence capture with long-read sequencing technology for comparative genomic analyses of the haemoglobin (Hb) gene clusters across eight species separated by up to 70 million years. Guided by the reference genome assembly of the Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua) together with genome information from draft assemblies of selected codfishes, we designed probes covering the two Hb gene clusters. Use of custom-made barcodes combined with PacBio RSII sequencing led to highly continuous assemblies of the LA (~100 kb) and MN (~200 kb) clusters, which include syntenic regions of coding and intergenic sequences. Our results revealed an overall conserved genomic organization of the Hb genes within this lineage, yet with several, lineage-specific gene duplications. Moreover, for some of the species examined, we identified amino acid substitutions at two sites in the Hbb1 gene as well as length polymorphisms in its regulatory region, which has previously been linked to temperature adaptation in Atlantic cod populations. This study highlights the use of targeted long-read capture as a versatile approach for comparative genomic studies by generation of a cross-species genomic resource elucidating the evolutionary history of the Hb gene family across the highly divergent group of codfishes. © 2018 The Authors. Molecular Ecology Resources Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


September 22, 2019  |  

Cow, yak, and camel milk diets differentially modulated the systemic immunity and fecal microbiota of rats

Cow milk is most widely consumed; however, non-cattle milk has gained increasing interest because of added nutritive values. We compared the health effects of yak, cow, and camel milk in rats. By measuring several plasma immune factors, significantly more interferon-? was detected in the camel than the yak (P=0.0020) or cow (P=0.0062) milk group. Significantly more IgM was detected in the yak milk than the control group (P=0.0071). The control group had significantly less interleukin 6 than the yak (P=0.0499) and cow (P=0.0248) milk groups. The fecal microbiota of the 144 samples comprised mainly of the Firmicutes (76.70±11.03%), Bacteroidetes (15.27±7.79%), Proteobacteria (3.61±4.34%), and Tenericutes (2.61±2.53%) phyla. Multivariate analyses revealed a mild shift in the fecal microbiota along the milk treatment. We further identified the differential microbes across the four groups. At day 14, 22 and 28 differential genera and species were identified (P=0.0000–0.0462), while 8 and 11 differential genera and species (P=0.0000–0.0013) were found at day 28. Some short-chain fatty acid and succinate producers increased, while certain health-concerned bacteria (Prevotella copri, Phascolarctobacterium faecium, and Bacteroides uniformis) decreased after 14days of yak or camel milk treatment. We demonstrated that different animal milk could confer distinctive nutritive value to the host.


September 22, 2019  |  

PacBio metabarcoding of Fungi and other eukaryotes: errors, biases and perspectives.

Second-generation, high-throughput sequencing methods have greatly improved our understanding of the ecology of soil microorganisms, yet the short barcodes (< 500 bp) provide limited taxonomic and phylogenetic information for species discrimination and taxonomic assignment. Here, we utilized the third-generation Pacific Biosciences (PacBio) RSII and Sequel instruments to evaluate the suitability of full-length internal transcribed spacer (ITS) barcodes and longer rRNA gene amplicons for metabarcoding Fungi, Oomycetes and other eukaryotes in soil samples. Metabarcoding revealed multiple errors and biases: Taq polymerase substitution errors and mis-incorporating indels in sequencing homopolymers constitute major errors; sequence length biases occur during PCR, library preparation, loading to the sequencing instrument and quality filtering; primer-template mismatches bias the taxonomic profile when using regular and highly degenerate primers. The RSII and Sequel platforms enable the sequencing of amplicons up to 3000 bp, but the sequence quality remains slightly inferior to Illumina sequencing especially in longer amplicons. The full ITS barcode and flanking rRNA small subunit gene greatly improve taxonomic identification at the species and phylum levels, respectively. We conclude that PacBio sequencing provides a viable alternative for metabarcoding of organisms that are of relatively low diversity, require > 500-bp barcode for reliable identification or when phylogenetic approaches are intended.© 2017 The Authors. New Phytologist © 2017 New Phytologist Trust.


September 22, 2019  |  

A comprehensive quality evaluation system for complex herbal medicine using PacBio sequencing, PCR-denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis, and several chemical approaches.

Herbal medicine is a major component of complementary and alternative medicine, contributing significantly to the health of many people and communities. Quality control of herbal medicine is crucial to ensure that it is safe and sound for use. Here, we investigated a comprehensive quality evaluation system for a classic herbal medicine, Danggui Buxue Formula, by applying genetic-based and analytical chemistry approaches to authenticate and evaluate the quality of its samples. For authenticity, we successfully applied two novel technologies, third-generation sequencing and PCR-DGGE (denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis), to analyze the ingredient composition of the tested samples. For quality evaluation, we used high performance liquid chromatography assays to determine the content of chemical markers to help estimate the dosage relationship between its two raw materials, plant roots of Huangqi and Danggui. A series of surveys were then conducted against several exogenous contaminations, aiming to further access the efficacy and safety of the samples. In conclusion, the quality evaluation system demonstrated here can potentially address the authenticity, quality, and safety of herbal medicines, thus providing novel insight for enhancing their overall quality control. Highlight: We established a comprehensive quality evaluation system for herbal medicine, by combining two genetic-based approaches third-generation sequencing and DGGE (denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis) with analytical chemistry approaches to achieve the authentication and quality connotation of the samples.


September 22, 2019  |  

Elevated expression of a minor isoform of ANK3 is a risk factor for bipolar disorder.

Ankyrin-3 (ANK3) is one of the few genes that have been consistently identified as associated with bipolar disorder by multiple genome-wide association studies. However, the exact molecular basis of the association remains unknown. A rare loss-of-function splice-site SNP (rs41283526*G) in a minor isoform of ANK3 (incorporating exon ENSE00001786716) was recently identified as protective of bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. This suggests that an elevated expression of this isoform may be involved in the etiology of the disorders. In this study, we used novel approaches and data sets to test this hypothesis. First, we strengthen the statistical evidence supporting the allelic association by replicating the protective effect of the minor allele of rs41283526 in three additional large independent samples (meta-analysis p-values: 6.8E-05 for bipolar disorder and 8.2E-04 for schizophrenia). Second, we confirm the hypothesis that both bipolar and schizophrenia patients have a significantly higher expression of this isoform than controls (p-values: 3.3E-05 for schizophrenia and 9.8E-04 for bipolar type I). Third, we determine the transcription start site for this minor isoform by Pacific Biosciences sequencing of full-length cDNA and show that it is primarily expressed in the corpus callosum. Finally, we combine genotype and expression data from a large Norwegian sample of psychiatric patients and controls, and show that the risk alleles in ANK3 identified by bipolar disorder GWAS are located near the transcription start site of this isoform and are significantly associated with its elevated expression. Together, these results point to the likely molecular mechanism underlying ANK3´s association with bipolar disorder.


September 22, 2019  |  

Enigmatic Diphyllatea eukaryotes: culturing and targeted PacBio RS amplicon sequencing reveals a higher order taxonomic diversity and global distribution.

The class Diphyllatea belongs to a group of enigmatic unicellular eukaryotes that play a key role in reconstructing the morphological innovation and diversification of early eukaryotic evolution. Despite its evolutionary significance, very little is known about the phylogeny and species diversity of Diphyllatea. Only three species have described morphology, being taxonomically divided by flagella number, two or four, and cell size. Currently, one 18S rRNA Diphyllatea sequence is available, with environmental sequencing surveys reporting only a single partial sequence from a Diphyllatea-like organism. Accordingly, geographical distribution of Diphyllatea based on molecular data is limited, despite morphological data suggesting the class has a global distribution. We here present a first attempt to understand species distribution, diversity and higher order structure of Diphyllatea.We cultured 11 new strains, characterised these morphologically and amplified their rRNA for a combined 18S-28S rRNA phylogeny. We sampled environmental DNA from multiple sites and designed new Diphyllatea-specific PCR primers for long-read PacBio RSII technology. Near full-length 18S rRNA sequences from environmental DNA, in addition to supplementary Diphyllatea sequence data mined from public databases, resolved the phylogeny into three deeply branching and distinct clades (Diphy I – III). Of these, the Diphy III clade is entirely novel, and in congruence with Diphy II, composed of species morphologically consistent with the earlier described Collodictyon triciliatum. The phylogenetic split between the Diphy I and Diphy II?+?III clades corresponds with a morphological division of Diphyllatea into bi- and quadriflagellate cell forms.This altered flagella composition must have occurred early in the diversification of Diphyllatea and may represent one of the earliest known morphological transitions among eukaryotes. Further, the substantial increase in molecular data presented here confirms Diphyllatea has a global distribution, seemingly restricted to freshwater habitats. Altogether, the results reveal the advantage of combining a group-specific PCR approach and long-read high-throughput amplicon sequencing in surveying enigmatic eukaryote lineages. Lastly, our study shows the capacity of PacBio RS when targeting a protist class for increasing phylogenetic resolution.


September 22, 2019  |  

Improved metagenome assemblies and taxonomic binning using long-read circular consensus sequence data.

DNA assembly is a core methodological step in metagenomic pipelines used to study the structure and function within microbial communities. Here we investigate the utility of Pacific Biosciences long and high accuracy circular consensus sequencing (CCS) reads for metagenomic projects. We compared the application and performance of both PacBio CCS and Illumina HiSeq data with assembly and taxonomic binning algorithms using metagenomic samples representing a complex microbial community. Eight SMRT cells produced approximately 94 Mb of CCS reads from a biogas reactor microbiome sample that averaged 1319 nt in length and 99.7% accuracy. CCS data assembly generated a comparative number of large contigs greater than 1?kb, to those assembled from a ~190x larger HiSeq dataset (~18 Gb) produced from the same sample (i.e approximately 62% of total contigs). Hybrid assemblies using PacBio CCS and HiSeq contigs produced improvements in assembly statistics, including an increase in the average contig length and number of large contigs. The incorporation of CCS data produced significant enhancements in taxonomic binning and genome reconstruction of two dominant phylotypes, which assembled and binned poorly using HiSeq data alone. Collectively these results illustrate the value of PacBio CCS reads in certain metagenomics applications.


September 22, 2019  |  

The repeat structure of two paralogous genes, Yersinia ruckeri invasin (yrInv) and a “Y. ruckeri invasin-like molecule”, (yrIlm) sheds light on the evolution of adhesive capacities of a fish pathogen.

Inverse autotransporters comprise the recently identified type Ve secretion system and are exemplified by intimin from enterohaemorrhagic Escherichia coli and invasin from enteropathogenic Yersiniae. These proteins share a common domain architecture and promote bacterial adhesion to host cells. Here, we identified and characterized two putative inverse autotransporter genes in the fish pathogen Yersinia ruckeri NVH_3758, namely yrInv (for Y. ruckeri invasin) and yrIlm (for Y. ruckeri invasin-like molecule). When trying to clone the highly repetitive genes for structural and functional studies, we experienced problems in obtaining PCR products. PCR failures and the highly repetitive nature of inverse autotransporters prompted us to sequence the genome of Y. ruckeri NVH_3758 using PacBio sequencing, which produces some of the longest average read lengths available in the industry at this moment. According to our sequencing data, YrIlm is composed of 2603 amino acids (7812bp) and has a molecular mass of 256.4kDa. Based on the new genome information, we performed PCR analysis on four non-sequenced Y. ruckeri strains as well as the sequenced. Y. ruckeri type strain. We found that the genes are variably present in the strains, and that the length of yrIlm, when present, also varies. In addition, the length of the gene product for all strains, including the type strain, was much longer than expected based on deposited sequences. The internal repeats of the yrInv gene product are highly diverged, but represent the same bacterial immunoglobulin-like domains as in yrIlm. Using qRT-PCR, we found that yrIlm and yrInv are differentially expressed under conditions relevant for pathogenesis. In addition, we compared the genomic context of both genes in the newly sequenced Y. ruckeri strain to all available PacBio-sequenced Y. ruckeri genomes, and found indications of recent events of horizontal gene transfer. Taken together, this study demonstrates and highlights the power of Single Molecule Real-Time technology for sequencing highly repetitive proteins, and sheds light on the genetic events that gave rise to these highly repetitive genes in a commercially important fish pathogen. Copyright © 2017 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


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