September 22, 2019  |  

A chromosome conformation capture ordered sequence of the barley genome.

Cereal grasses of the Triticeae tribe have been the major food source in temperate regions since the dawn of agriculture. Their large genomes are characterized by a high content of repetitive elements and large pericentromeric regions that are virtually devoid of meiotic recombination. Here we present a high-quality reference genome assembly for barley (Hordeum vulgare L.). We use chromosome conformation capture mapping to derive the linear order of sequences across the pericentromeric space and to investigate the spatial organization of chromatin in the nucleus at megabase resolution. The composition of genes and repetitive elements differs between distal and proximal regions. Gene family analyses reveal lineage-specific duplications of genes involved in the transport of nutrients to developing seeds and the mobilization of carbohydrates in grains. We demonstrate the importance of the barley reference sequence for breeding by inspecting the genomic partitioning of sequence variation in modern elite germplasm, highlighting regions vulnerable to genetic erosion.


September 22, 2019  |  

Long-term changes of bacterial and viral compositions in the intestine of a recovered Clostridium difficile patient after fecal microbiota transplantation

Fecal microbiota transplantation (FMT) is an effective treatment for recurrent Clostridium difficile infections (RCDIs). However, long-term effects on the patients’ gut microbiota and the role of viruses remain to be elucidated. Here, we characterized bacterial and viral microbiota in the feces of a cured RCDI patient at various time points until 4.5 yr post-FMT compared with the stool donor. Feces were subjected to DNA sequencing to characterize bacteria and double-stranded DNA (dsDNA) viruses including phages. The patient’s microbial communities varied over time and showed little overall similarity to the donor until 7 mo post-FMT, indicating ongoing gut microbiota adaption in this time period. After 4.5 yr, the patient’s bacteria attained donor-like compositions at phylum, class, and order levels with similar bacterial diversity. Differences in the bacterial communities between donor and patient after 4.5 yr were seen at lower taxonomic levels. C. difficile remained undetectable throughout the entire timespan. This demonstrated sustainable donor feces engraftment and verified long-term therapeutic success of FMT on the molecular level. Full engraftment apparently required longer than previously acknowledged, suggesting the implementation of year-long patient follow-up periods into clinical practice. The identified dsDNA viruses were mainly Caudovirales phages. Unexpectedly, sequences related to giant algae–infecting Chlorella viruses were also detected. Our findings indicate that intestinal viruses may be implicated in the establishment of gut microbiota. Therefore, virome analyses should be included in gut microbiota studies to determine the roles of phages and other viruses—such as Chlorella viruses—in human health and disease, particularly during RCDI.


September 22, 2019  |  

High-resolution community profiling of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi.

Community analyses of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) using ribosomal small subunit (SSU) or internal transcribed spacer (ITS) DNA sequences often suffer from low resolution or coverage. We developed a novel sequencing based approach for a highly resolving and specific profiling of AMF communities. We took advantage of previously established AMF-specific PCR primers that amplify a c. 1.5-kb long fragment covering parts of SSU, ITS and parts of the large ribosomal subunit (LSU), and we sequenced the resulting amplicons with single molecule real-time (SMRT) sequencing. The method was applicable to soil and root samples, detected all major AMF families and successfully discriminated closely related AMF species, which would not be discernible using SSU sequences. In inoculation tests we could trace the introduced AMF inoculum at the molecular level. One of the introduced strains almost replaced the local strain(s), revealing that AMF inoculation can have a profound impact on the native community. The methodology presented offers researchers a powerful new tool for AMF community analysis because it unifies improved specificity and enhanced resolution, whereas the drawback of medium sequencing throughput appears of lesser importance for low-diversity groups such as AMF.© 2016 The Authors. New Phytologist © 2016 New Phytologist Trust.


September 22, 2019  |  

Genomes of 13 domesticated and wild rice relatives highlight genetic conservation, turnover and innovation across the genus Oryza.

The genus Oryza is a model system for the study of molecular evolution over time scales ranging from a few thousand to 15 million years. Using 13 reference genomes spanning the Oryza species tree, we show that despite few large-scale chromosomal rearrangements rapid species diversification is mirrored by lineage-specific emergence and turnover of many novel elements, including transposons, and potential new coding and noncoding genes. Our study resolves controversial areas of the Oryza phylogeny, showing a complex history of introgression among different chromosomes in the young ‘AA’ subclade containing the two domesticated species. This study highlights the prevalence of functionally coupled disease resistance genes and identifies many new haplotypes of potential use for future crop protection. Finally, this study marks a milestone in modern rice research with the release of a complete long-read assembly of IR 8 ‘Miracle Rice’, which relieved famine and drove the Green Revolution in Asia 50 years ago.


September 22, 2019  |  

A rapid method for directed gene knockout for screening in G0 zebrafish.

Zebrafish is a powerful model for forward genetics. Reverse genetic approaches are limited by the time required to generate stable mutant lines. We describe a system for gene knockout that consistently produces null phenotypes in G0 zebrafish. Yolk injection of sets of four CRISPR/Cas9 ribonucleoprotein complexes redundantly targeting a single gene recapitulated germline-transmitted knockout phenotypes in >90% of G0 embryos for each of 8 test genes. Early embryonic (6 hpf) and stable adult phenotypes were produced. Simultaneous multi-gene knockout was feasible but associated with toxicity in some cases. To facilitate use, we generated a lookup table of four-guide sets for 21,386 zebrafish genes and validated several. Using this resource, we targeted 50 cardiomyocyte transcriptional regulators and uncovered a role of zbtb16a in cardiac development. This system provides a platform for rapid screening of genes of interest in development, physiology, and disease models in zebrafish. Copyright © 2018 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


September 22, 2019  |  

Distinct genomic features characterize two clades of Corynebacterium diphtheriae: Proposal of Corynebacterium diphtheriae subsp. diphtheriae subsp. nov. and Corynebacterium diphtheriae subsp. lausannense subsp. nov.

Corynebacterium diphtheriae is the etiological agent of diphtheria, a disease caused by the presence of the diphtheria toxin. However, an increasing number of records report non-toxigenic C. diphtheriae infections. Here, a C. diphtheriae strain was recovered from a patient with a past history of bronchiectasis who developed a severe tracheo-bronchitis with multiple whitish lesions of the distal trachea and the mainstem bronchi. Whole-genome sequencing (WGS), performed in parallel with PCR targeting the toxin gene and the Elek test, provided clinically relevant results in a short turnaround time, showing that the isolate was non-toxigenic. A comparative genomic analysis of the new strain (CHUV2995) with 56 other publicly available genomes of C. diphtheriae revealed that the strains CHUV2995, CCUG 5865 and CMCNS703 share a lower average nucleotide identity (ANI) (95.24 to 95.39%) with the C. diphtheriae NCTC 11397T reference genome than all other C. diphtheriae genomes (>98.15%). Core genome phylogeny confirmed the presence of two monophyletic clades. Based on these findings, we propose here two new C. diphtheriae subspecies to replace the lineage denomination used in previous multilocus sequence typing studies: C. diphtheriae subsp. lausannense subsp. nov. (instead of lineage-2), regrouping strains CHUV2995, CCUG 5865, and CMCNS703, and C. diphtheriae subsp. diphtheriae subsp. nov, regrouping all other C. diphtheriae in the dataset (instead of lineage-1). Interestingly, members of subspecies lausannense displayed a larger genome size than subspecies diphtheriae and were enriched in COG categories related to transport and metabolism of lipids (I) and inorganic ion (P). Conversely, they lacked all genes involved in the synthesis of pili (SpaA-type, SpaD-type and SpaH-type), molybdenum cofactor and of the nitrate reductase. Finally, the CHUV2995 genome is particularly enriched in mobility genes and harbors several prophages. The genome encodes a type II-C CRISPR-Cas locus with 2 spacers that lacks csn2 or cas4, which could hamper the acquisition of new spacers and render strain CHUV2995 more susceptible to bacteriophage infections and gene acquisition through various mechanisms of horizontal gene transfer.


September 22, 2019  |  

Involvement of Burkholderiaceae and sulfurous volatiles in disease-suppressive soils.

Disease-suppressive soils are ecosystems in which plants suffer less from root infections due to the activities of specific microbial consortia. The characteristics of soils suppressive to specific fungal root pathogens are comparable to those of adaptive immunity in animals, as reported by Raaijmakers and Mazzola (Science 352:1392-3, 2016), but the mechanisms and microbial species involved in the soil suppressiveness are largely unknown. Previous taxonomic and metatranscriptome analyses of a soil suppressive to the fungal root pathogen Rhizoctonia solani revealed that members of the Burkholderiaceae family were more abundant and more active in suppressive than in non-suppressive soils. Here, isolation, phylogeny, and soil bioassays revealed a significant disease-suppressive activity for representative isolates of Burkholderia pyrrocinia, Paraburkholderia caledonica, P. graminis, P. hospita, and P. terricola. In vitro antifungal activity was only observed for P. graminis. Comparative genomics and metabolite profiling further showed that the antifungal activity of P. graminis PHS1 was associated with the production of sulfurous volatile compounds encoded by genes not found in the other four genera. Site-directed mutagenesis of two of these genes, encoding a dimethyl sulfoxide reductase and a cysteine desulfurase, resulted in a loss of antifungal activity both in vitro and in situ. These results indicate that specific members of the Burkholderiaceae family contribute to soil suppressiveness via the production of sulfurous volatile compounds.


September 22, 2019  |  

PacBio-based mitochondrial genome assembly of Leucaena trichandra (Leguminosae) and an intrageneric assessment of mitochondrial RNA editing.

Reconstructions of vascular plant mitochondrial genomes (mt-genomes) are notoriously complicated by rampant recombination that has resulted in comparatively few plant mt-genomes being available. The dearth of plant mitochondrial resources has limited our understanding of mt-genome structural diversity, complex patterns of RNA editing, and the origins of novel mt-genome elements. Here, we use an efficient long read (PacBio) iterative assembly pipeline to generate mt-genome assemblies for Leucaena trichandra (Leguminosae: Caesalpinioideae: mimosoid clade), providing the first assessment of non-papilionoid legume mt-genome content and structure to date. The efficiency of the assembly approach facilitated the exploration of alternative structures that are common place among plant mitochondrial genomes. A compact version (729 kbp) of the recovered assemblies was used to investigate sources of mt-genome size variation among legumes and mt-genome sequence similarity to the legume associated root holoparasite Lophophytum. The genome and an associated suite of transcriptome data from select species of Leucaena permitted an in-depth exploration of RNA editing in a diverse clade of closely related species that includes hybrid lineages. RNA editing in the allotetraploid, Leucaena leucocephala, is consistent with co-option of nearly equal maternal and paternal C-to-U edit components, generating novel combinations of RNA edited sites. A preliminary investigation of L. leucocephala C-to-U edit frequencies identified the potential for a hybrid to generate unique pools of alleles from parental variation through edit frequencies shared with one parental lineage, those intermediate between parents, and transgressive patterns.


September 22, 2019  |  

The genome of Naegleria lovaniensis, the basis for a comparative approach to unravel pathogenicity factors of the human pathogenic amoeba N. fowleri.

Members of the genus Naegleria are free-living eukaryotes with the capability to transform from the amoeboid form into resting cysts or moving flagellates in response to environmental conditions. More than 40 species have been characterized, but only Naegleria fowleri (N. fowleri) is known as a human pathogen causing primary amoebic meningoencephalitis (PAM), a fast progressing and mostly fatal disease of the central nervous system. Several studies report an involvement of phospholipases and other molecular factors, but the mechanisms involved in pathogenesis are still poorly understood. To gain a better understanding of the relationships within the genus of Naegleria and to investigate pathogenicity factors of N. fowleri, we characterized the genome of its closest non-pathogenic relative N. lovaniensis.To gain insights into the taxonomy of Naegleria, we sequenced the genome of N. lovaniensis using long read sequencing technology. The assembly of the data resulted in a 30 Mb genome including the circular mitochondrial sequence. Unravelling the phylogenetic relationship using OrthoMCL protein clustering and maximum likelihood methods confirms the close relationship of N. lovaniensis and N. fowleri. To achieve an overview of the diversity of Naegleria proteins and to assess characteristics of the human pathogen N. fowleri, OrthoMCL protein clustering including data of N. fowleri, N. lovaniensis and N. gruberi was performed. GO enrichment analysis shows an association of N. fowleri specific proteins to the GO terms “Membrane” and “Protein Secretion.”In this study, we characterize the hitherto unknown genome of N. lovaniensis. With the description of the 30 Mb genome, a further piece is added to reveal the complex taxonomic relationship of Naegleria. Further, the whole genome sequencing data confirms the hypothesis of the close relationship between N. fowleri and N. lovaniensis. Therefore, the genome of N. lovaniensis provides the basis for further comparative approaches on the molecular and genomic level to unravel pathogenicity factors of its closest human pathogenic relative N. fowleri and possible treatment options for the rare but mostly fatal primary meningoencephalitis.


September 22, 2019  |  

Tracing back multidrug-resistant bacteria in fresh herb production: from chive to source through the irrigation water chain.

Environmental antibiotic-resistant bacteria (ARB) can be transferred to humans through foods. Fresh produce in particular is an ideal vector due to frequent raw consumption. A major contamination source of fresh produce is irrigation water. We hypothesized that water quality significantly affects loads of ARB and their diversity on fresh produce despite various other contamination sources present under agricultural practice conditions. Chive irrigated from an open-top reservoir or sterile-filtered water (control) was examined. Heterotrophic plate counts (HPC) and ARB were determined for water and chive with emphasis on Escherichia coli and Enterococcus spp. High HPC of freshly planted chive decreased over time and were significantly lower on control- vs. reservoir-irrigated chive at harvest (1.3 log (CFU/g) lower). Ciprofloxacin- and ceftazidime-resistant bacteria were significantly lower on control-irrigated chive at harvest and end of shelf life (up to 1.8 log (CFU/g) lower). Escherichia coli and Enterococcus spp. repeatedly isolated from water and chive proved resistant to up to six or four antibiotic classes (80% or 49% multidrug-resistant, respectively). Microbial source tracking identified E. coli-ST1056 along the irrigation chain and on chive. Whole-genome sequencing revealed that E. coli-ST1056 from both environments were clonal and carried the same transmissible multidrug-resistance plasmid, proving water as source of chive contamination. These findings emphasize the urgent need for guidelines concerning ARB in irrigation water and development of affordable water disinfection technologies to diminish ARB on irrigated produce.


September 22, 2019  |  

Antibiotic-resistant indicator bacteria in irrigation water: High prevalence of extended-spectrum beta-lactamase (ESBL)-producing Escherichia coli.

Irrigation water is a major source of fresh produce contamination with undesired microorganisms including antibiotic-resistant bacteria (ARB), and contaminated fresh produce can transfer ARB to the consumer especially when consumed raw. Nevertheless, no legal guidelines exist so far regulating quality of irrigation water with respect to ARB. We therefore examined irrigation water from major vegetable growing areas for occurrence of antibiotic-resistant indicator bacteria Escherichia coli and Enterococcus spp., including extended-spectrum ß-lactamase (ESBL)-producing E. coli and vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus spp. Occurrence of ARB strains was compared to total numbers of the respective species. We categorized water samples according to total numbers and found that categories with higher total E. coli or Enterococcus spp. numbers generally had an increased proportion of respective ARB-positive samples. We further detected high prevalence of ESBL-producing E. coli with eight positive samples of thirty-six (22%), while two presumptive vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus spp. were vancomycin-susceptible in confirmatory tests. In disk diffusion assays all ESBL-producing E. coli were multidrug-resistant (n = 21) and whole-genome sequencing of selected strains revealed a multitude of transmissible resistance genes (ARG), with blaCTX-M-1 (4 of 11) and blaCTX-M-15 (3 of 11) as the most frequent ESBL genes. Overall, the increased occurrence of indicator ARB with increased total indicator bacteria suggests that the latter might be a suitable estimate for presence of respective ARB strains. Finally, the high prevalence of ESBL-producing E. coli with transmissible ARG emphasizes the need to establish legal critical values and monitoring guidelines for ARB in irrigation water.


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 select for mutants resistant to PBT2-zinc treatment. While ineffective alone against resistant bacteria, several clinically relevant antibiotics act synergistically with PBT2-zinc to enhance killing of these Gram-positive pathogens. These data represent a new paradigm whereby disruption of bacterial metal homeostasis reverses antibiotic-resistant phenotypes in a number of priority human bacterial pathogens.IMPORTANCE The rise of bacterial antibiotic resistance coupled with a reduction in new antibiotic development has placed significant burdens on global health care. Resistant bacterial pathogens such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus and vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus are leading causes of community- and hospital-acquired infection and present a significant clinical challenge. These pathogens have acquired resistance to broad classes of antimicrobials. Furthermore, Streptococcus pyogenes, a significant disease agent among Indigenous Australians, has now acquired resistance to several antibiotic classes. With a rise in antibiotic resistance and reduction in new antibiotic discovery, it is imperative to investigate alternative therapeutic regimens that complement the use of current antibiotic treatment strategies. As stated by the WHO Director-General, “On current trends, common diseases may become untreatable. Doctors facing patients will have to say, Sorry, there is nothing I can do for you.” Copyright © 2018 Bohlmann et al.


September 21, 2019  |  

Mistranslation drives the evolution of robustness in TEM-1 ß-lactamase.

How biological systems such as proteins achieve robustness to ubiquitous perturbations is a fundamental biological question. Such perturbations include errors that introduce phenotypic mutations into nascent proteins during the translation of mRNA. These errors are remarkably frequent. They are also costly, because they reduce protein stability and help create toxic misfolded proteins. Adaptive evolution might reduce these costs of protein mistranslation by two principal mechanisms. The first increases the accuracy of translation via synonymous “high fidelity” codons at especially sensitive sites. The second increases the robustness of proteins to phenotypic errors via amino acids that increase protein stability. To study how these mechanisms are exploited by populations evolving in the laboratory, we evolved the antibiotic resistance gene TEM-1 in Escherichia coli hosts with either normal or high rates of mistranslation. We analyzed TEM-1 populations that evolved under relaxed and stringent selection for antibiotic resistance by single molecule real-time sequencing. Under relaxed selection, mistranslating populations reduce mistranslation costs by reducing TEM-1 expression. Under stringent selection, they efficiently purge destabilizing amino acid changes. More importantly, they accumulate stabilizing amino acid changes rather than synonymous changes that increase translational accuracy. In the large populations we study, and on short evolutionary timescales, the path of least resistance in TEM-1 evolution consists of reducing the consequences of translation errors rather than the errors themselves.


July 19, 2019  |  

Full-length haplotype reconstruction to infer the structure of heterogeneous virus populations.

Next-generation sequencing (NGS) technologies enable new insights into the diversity of virus populations within their hosts. Diversity estimation is currently restricted to single-nucleotide variants or to local fragments of no more than a few hundred nucleotides defined by the length of sequence reads. To study complex heterogeneous virus populations comprehensively, novel methods are required that allow for complete reconstruction of the individual viral haplotypes. Here, we show that assembly of whole viral genomes of ~8600 nucleotides length is feasible from mixtures of heterogeneous HIV-1 strains derived from defined combinations of cloned virus strains and from clinical samples of an HIV-1 superinfected individual. Haplotype reconstruction was achieved using optimized experimental protocols and computational methods for amplification, sequencing and assembly. We comparatively assessed the performance of the three NGS platforms 454 Life Sciences/Roche, Illumina and Pacific Biosciences for this task. Our results prove and delineate the feasibility of NGS-based full-length viral haplotype reconstruction and provide new tools for studying evolution and pathogenesis of viruses.© The Author(s) 2014. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Nucleic Acids Research.


July 19, 2019  |  

The genome sequence of African rice (Oryza glaberrima) and evidence for independent domestication.

The cultivation of rice in Africa dates back more than 3,000 years. Interestingly, African rice is not of the same origin as Asian rice (Oryza sativa L.) but rather is an entirely different species (i.e., Oryza glaberrima Steud.). Here we present a high-quality assembly and annotation of the O. glaberrima genome and detailed analyses of its evolutionary history of domestication and selection. Population genomics analyses of 20 O. glaberrima and 94 Oryza barthii accessions support the hypothesis that O. glaberrima was domesticated in a single region along the Niger river as opposed to noncentric domestication events across Africa. We detected evidence for artificial selection at a genome-wide scale, as well as with a set of O. glaberrima genes orthologous to O. sativa genes that are known to be associated with domestication, thus indicating convergent yet independent selection of a common set of genes during two geographically and culturally distinct domestication processes.


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