September 22, 2019  |  

The microbiota of freshwater fish and freshwater niches contain omega-3 producing Shewanella species.

Approximately 30 years ago, it was discovered that free-living bacteria isolated from cold ocean depths could produce polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) such as eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) (20:5n-3) or docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) (22:6n-3), two PUFA essential for human health. Numerous laboratories have also discovered that EPA- and/or DHA-producing bacteria, many of them members of the Shewanella genus, could be isolated from the intestinal tracts of omega-3 fatty acid-rich marine fish. If bacteria contribute omega-3 fatty acids to the host fish in general or if they assist some bacterial species in adaptation to cold, then cold freshwater fish or habitats should also harbor these producers. Thus, we undertook a study to see if these niches also contained omega-3 fatty acid producers. We were successful in isolating and characterizing unique EPA-producing strains of Shewanella from three strictly freshwater native fish species, i.e., lake whitefish (Coregonus clupeaformis), lean lake trout (Salvelinus namaycush), and walleye (Sander vitreus), and from two other freshwater nonnative fish, i.e., coho salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch) and seeforellen brown trout (Salmo trutta). We were also able to isolate four unique free-living strains of EPA-producing Shewanella from freshwater habitats. Phylogenetic and phenotypic analyses suggest that one producer is clearly a member of the Shewanella morhuae species and another is sister to members of the marine PUFA-producing Shewanella baltica species. However, the remaining isolates have more ambiguous relationships, sharing a common ancestor with non-PUFA-producing Shewanella putrefaciens isolates rather than marine S. baltica isolates despite having a phenotype more consistent with S. baltica strains. Copyright © 2015, American Society for Microbiology. All Rights Reserved.


September 22, 2019  |  

Improved full-length killer cell immunoglobulin-like receptor transcript discovery in Mauritian cynomolgus macaques.

Killer cell immunoglobulin-like receptors (KIRs) modulate disease progression of pathogens including HIV, malaria, and hepatitis C. Cynomolgus and rhesus macaques are widely used as nonhuman primate models to study human pathogens, and so, considerable effort has been put into characterizing their KIR genetics. However, previous studies have relied on cDNA cloning and Sanger sequencing that lack the throughput of current sequencing platforms. In this study, we present a high throughput, full-length allele discovery method utilizing Pacific Biosciences circular consensus sequencing (CCS). We also describe a new approach to Macaque Exome Sequencing (MES) and the development of the Rhexome1.0, an adapted target capture reagent that includes macaque-specific capture probe sets. By using sequence reads generated by whole genome sequencing (WGS) and MES to inform primer design, we were able to increase the sensitivity of KIR allele discovery. We demonstrate this increased sensitivity by defining nine novel alleles within a cohort of Mauritian cynomolgus macaques (MCM), a geographically isolated population with restricted KIR genetics that was thought to be completely characterized. Finally, we describe an approach to genotyping KIRs directly from sequence reads generated using WGS/MES reads. The findings presented here expand our understanding of KIR genetics in MCM by associating new genes with all eight KIR haplotypes and demonstrating the existence of at least one KIR3DS gene associated with every haplotype.


September 22, 2019  |  

Novel full-length major histocompatibility complex class I allele discovery and haplotype definition in pig-tailed macaques.

Pig-tailed macaques (Macaca nemestrina, Mane) are important models for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) studies. Their infectability with minimally modified HIV makes them a uniquely valuable animal model to mimic human infection with HIV and progression to acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). However, variation in the pig-tailed macaque major histocompatibility complex (MHC) and the impact of individual transcripts on the pathogenesis of HIV and other infectious diseases is understudied compared to that of rhesus and cynomolgus macaques. In this study, we used Pacific Biosciences single-molecule real-time circular consensus sequencing to describe full-length MHC class I (MHC-I) transcripts for 194 pig-tailed macaques from three breeding centers. We then used the full-length sequences to infer Mane-A and Mane-B haplotypes containing groups of MHC-I transcripts that co-segregate due to physical linkage. In total, we characterized full-length open reading frames (ORFs) for 313 Mane-A, Mane-B, and Mane-I sequences that defined 86 Mane-A and 106 Mane-B MHC-I haplotypes. Pacific Biosciences technology allows us to resolve these Mane-A and Mane-B haplotypes to the level of synonymous allelic variants. The newly defined haplotypes and transcript sequences containing full-length ORFs provide an important resource for infectious disease researchers as certain MHC haplotypes have been shown to provide exceptional control of simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) replication and prevention of AIDS-like disease in nonhuman primates. The increased allelic resolution provided by Pacific Biosciences sequencing also benefits transplant research by allowing researchers to more specifically match haplotypes between donors and recipients to the level of nonsynonymous allelic variation, thus reducing the risk of graft-versus-host disease.


September 22, 2019  |  

Comparative genomics of Spiraeoideae-infecting Erwinia amylovora strains provides novel insight to genetic diversity and identifies the genetic basis of a low-virulence strain.

Erwinia amylovora is the causal agent of fire blight, one of the most devastating diseases of apple and pear. Erwinia amylovora is thought to have originated in North America and has now spread to at least 50 countries worldwide. An understanding of the diversity of the pathogen population and the transmission to different geographical regions is important for the future mitigation of this disease. In this research, we performed an expanded comparative genomic study of the Spiraeoideae-infecting (SI) E. amylovora population in North America and Europe. We discovered that, although still highly homogeneous, the genetic diversity of 30 E. amylovora genomes examined was about 30 times higher than previously determined. These isolates belong to four distinct clades, three of which display geographical clustering and one of which contains strains from various geographical locations (‘Widely Prevalent’ clade). Furthermore, we revealed that strains from the Widely Prevalent clade displayed a higher level of recombination with strains from a clade strictly from the eastern USA, which suggests that the Widely Prevalent clade probably originated from the eastern USA before it spread to other locations. Finally, we detected variations in virulence in the SI E. amylovora strains on immature pear, and identified the genetic basis of one of the low-virulence strains as being caused by a single nucleotide polymorphism in hfq, a gene encoding an important virulence regulator. Our results provide insights into the population structure, distribution and evolution of SI E. amylovora in North America and Europe.© 2017 BSPP AND JOHN WILEY & SONS LTD.


September 22, 2019  |  

Bacterial virulence against an oceanic bloom-forming phytoplankter is mediated by algal DMSP

Emiliania huxleyi is a bloom-forming microalga that affects the global sulfur cycle by producing large amounts of dimethylsulfoniopropionate (DMSP) and its volatile metabolic product dimethyl sulfide. Top-down regulation of E. huxleyi blooms has been attributed to viruses and grazers; however, the possible involvement of algicidal bacteria in bloom demise has remained elusive. We demonstrate that a Roseobacter strain, Sulfitobacter D7, that we isolated from a North Atlantic E. huxleyi bloom, exhibited algicidal effects against E. huxleyi upon coculturing. Both the alga and the bacterium were found to co-occur during a natural E. huxleyi bloom, therefore establishing this host-pathogen system as an attractive, ecologically relevant model for studying algal-bacterial interactions in the oceans. During interaction, Sulfitobacter D7 consumed and metabolized algal DMSP to produce high amounts of methanethiol, an alternative product of DMSP catabolism. We revealed a unique strain-specific response, in which E. huxleyi strains that exuded higher amounts of DMSP were more susceptible to Sulfitobacter D7 infection. Intriguingly, exogenous application of DMSP enhanced bacterial virulence and induced susceptibility in an algal strain typically resistant to the bacterial pathogen. This enhanced virulence was highly specific to DMSP compared to addition of propionate and glycerol which had no effect on bacterial virulence. We propose a novel function for DMSP, in addition to its central role in mutualistic interactions among marine organisms, as a mediator of bacterial virulence that may regulate E. huxleyi blooms.


July 7, 2019  |  

Recombination of virulence genes in divergent Acidovorax avenae strains that infect a common host.

Bacterial etiolation and decline (BED), caused by Acidovorax avenae, is an emerging disease of creeping bentgrass on golf courses in the United States. We performed the first comprehensive analysis of A. avenae on a nationwide collection of turfgrass- and maize-pathogenic A. avenae. Surprisingly, our results reveal that the turfgrass-pathogenic A. avenae in North America are not only highly divergent but also belong to two distinct phylogroups. Both phylogroups specifically infect turfgrass but are more closely related to maize pathogens than to each other. This suggests that, although the disease is only recently reported, it has likely been infecting turfgrass for a long time. To identify a genetic basis for the host specificity, we searched for genes closely related among turfgrass strains but distantly related to their homologs from maize strains. We found a cluster of 11 such genes generated by three ancient recombination events within the type III secretion system (T3SS) pathogenicity island. Ever since the recombination, the cluster has been conserved by strong purifying selection, hinting at its selective importance. Together our analyses suggest that BED is an ancient disease that may owe its host specificity to a highly conserved cluster of 11 T3SS genes.


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