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1.  A Systematic Approach for Discovering Novel, Clinically Relevant Bacteria 
Emerging Infectious Diseases  2012;18(3):422-430.
We identified 95 isolates from novel taxa that may have clinical relevance.
Sequencing of the 16S rRNA gene (16S) is a reference method for bacterial identification. Its expanded use has led to increased recognition of novel bacterial species. In most clinical laboratories, novel species are infrequently encountered, and their pathogenic potential is often difficult to assess. We reviewed partial 16S sequences from >26,000 clinical isolates, analyzed during February 2006–June 2010, and identified 673 that have <99% sequence identity with valid reference sequences and are thus possibly novel species. Of these 673 isolates, 111 may represent novel genera (<95% identity). Isolates from 95 novel taxa were recovered from multiple patients, indicating possible clinical relevance. Most repeatedly encountered novel taxa belonged to the genera Nocardia (14 novel taxa, 42 isolates) and Actinomyces (12 novel taxa, 52 isolates). This systematic approach for recognition of novel species with potential diagnostic or therapeutic relevance provides a basis for epidemiologic surveys and improvement of sequence databases and may lead to identification of new clinical entities.
doi:10.3201/eid1803.111481
PMCID: PMC3309591  PMID: 22377371
16S sequencing; unidentified; new species; repeated isolation; bacteria
2.  Cultivable Anaerobic Microbiota of Severe Early Childhood Caries▿¶ 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2011;49(4):1464-1474.
Severe early childhood caries (ECC), while strongly associated with Streptococcus mutans using selective detection (culture, PCR), has also been associated with a widely diverse microbiota using molecular cloning approaches. The aim of this study was to evaluate the microbiota of severe ECC using anaerobic culture. The microbial composition of dental plaque from 42 severe ECC children was compared with that of 40 caries-free children. Bacterial samples were cultured anaerobically on blood and acid (pH 5) agars. Isolates were purified, and partial sequences for the 16S rRNA gene were obtained from 5,608 isolates. Sequence-based analysis of the 16S rRNA isolate libraries from blood and acid agars of severe ECC and caries-free children had >90% population coverage, with greater diversity occurring in the blood isolate library. Isolate sequences were compared with taxon sequences in the Human Oral Microbiome Database (HOMD), and 198 HOMD taxa were identified, including 45 previously uncultivated taxa, 29 extended HOMD taxa, and 45 potential novel groups. The major species associated with severe ECC included Streptococcus mutans, Scardovia wiggsiae, Veillonella parvula, Streptococcus cristatus, and Actinomyces gerensceriae. S. wiggsiae was significantly associated with severe ECC children in the presence and absence of S. mutans detection. We conclude that anaerobic culture detected as wide a diversity of species in ECC as that observed using cloning approaches. Culture coupled with 16S rRNA identification identified over 74 isolates for human oral taxa without previously cultivated representatives. The major caries-associated species were S. mutans and S. wiggsiae, the latter of which is a candidate as a newly recognized caries pathogen.
doi:10.1128/JCM.02427-10
PMCID: PMC3122858  PMID: 21289150
3.  Automated Identification of Medically Important Bacteria by 16S rRNA Gene Sequencing Using a Novel Comprehensive Database, 16SpathDB▿ 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2011;49(5):1799-1809.
Despite the increasing use of 16S rRNA gene sequencing, interpretation of 16S rRNA gene sequence results is one of the most difficult problems faced by clinical microbiologists and technicians. To overcome the problems we encountered in the existing databases during 16S rRNA gene sequence interpretation, we built a comprehensive database, 16SpathDB (http://147.8.74.24/16SpathDB) based on the 16S rRNA gene sequences of all medically important bacteria listed in the Manual of Clinical Microbiology and evaluated its use for automated identification of these bacteria. Among 91 nonduplicated bacterial isolates collected in our clinical microbiology laboratory, 71 (78%) were reported by 16SpathDB as a single bacterial species having >98.0% nucleotide identity with the query sequence, 19 (20.9%) were reported as more than one bacterial species having >98.0% nucleotide identity with the query sequence, and 1 (1.1%) was reported as no match. For the 71 bacterial isolates reported as a single bacterial species, all results were identical to their true identities as determined by a polyphasic approach. For the 19 bacterial isolates reported as more than one bacterial species, all results contained their true identities as determined by a polyphasic approach and all of them had their true identities as the “best match in 16SpathDB.” For the isolate (Gordonibacter pamelaeae) reported as no match, the bacterium has never been reported to be associated with human disease and was not included in the Manual of Clinical Microbiology. 16SpathDB is an automated, user-friendly, efficient, accurate, and regularly updated database for 16S rRNA gene sequence interpretation in clinical microbiology laboratories.
doi:10.1128/JCM.02350-10
PMCID: PMC3122693  PMID: 21389154
4.  Two-laboratory collaborative study on identification of mycobacteria: molecular versus phenotypic methods. 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  1996;34(2):296-303.
Previous studies have indicated that the conventional tests used for the identification of mycobacteria may (i) frequently result in erroneous identification and (ii) underestimate the diversity within the genus Mycobacterium. To address this issue in a more systematic fashion, a study comparing phenotypic and molecular methods for the identification of mycobacteria was initiated. Focus was given to isolates which were difficult to identify to species level and which yielded inconclusive results by conventional tests performed under day-to-day routine laboratory conditions. Traditional methods included growth rate, colonial morphology, pigmentation, biochemical profiles, and gas-liquid chromatography of short-chain fatty acids. Molecular identification was done by PCR-mediated partial sequence analysis of the gene encoding the 16S rRNA. A total of 34 isolates was included in this study; 13 of the isolates corresponded to established species, and 21 isolates corresponded to previously uncharacterized taxa. For five isolates, phenotypic and molecular analyses gave identical results. For five isolates, minor discrepancies were present; four isolates remained unidentified after biochemical testing. For 20 isolates, major discrepancies between traditional and molecular typing methods were observed. Retrospective analysis of the data revealed that the discrepant results were without exception due to erroneous biochemical test results or interpretations. In particular, phenotypic identification schemes were compromised with regard to the recognition of previously undescribed taxa. We conclude that molecular typing by 16S rRNA sequence determination is not only more rapid (12 to 36 h versus 4 to 8 weeks) but also more accurate than traditional typing.
PMCID: PMC228786  PMID: 8789004
5.  Determining Risk for Severe Leptospirosis by Molecular Analysis of Environmental Surface Waters for Pathogenic Leptospira 
PLoS Medicine  2006;3(8):e308.
Background
Although previous data indicate that the overall incidence of human leptospirosis in the Peruvian Amazon is similar in urban and rural sites, severe leptospirosis has been observed only in the urban context. As a potential explanation for this epidemiological observation, we tested the hypothesis that concentrations of more virulent Leptospira would be higher in urban than in rural environmental surface waters.
Methods and Findings
A quantitative real-time PCR assay was used to compare levels of Leptospira in urban and rural environmental surface waters in sites in the Peruvian Amazon region of Iquitos. Molecular taxonomic analysis of a 1,200-bp segment of the leptospiral 16S ribosomal RNA gene was used to identify Leptospira to the species level. Pathogenic Leptospira species were found only in urban slum water sources (Fisher's exact test; p = 0.013). The concentration of pathogen-related Leptospira was higher in urban than rural water sources (~103 leptospires/ml versus 0.5 × 102 leptospires/ml; F = 8.406, p < 0.05). Identical 16S rRNA gene sequences from Leptospira interrogans serovar Icterohaemorrhagiae were found in urban slum market area gutter water and in human isolates, suggesting a specific mode of transmission from rats to humans. In a prospective, population-based study of patients presenting with acute febrile illness, isolation of L. interrogans-related leptospires from humans was significantly associated with urban acquisition (75% of urban isolates); human isolates of other leptospiral species were associated with rural acquisition (78% of rural isolates) (chi-square analysis; p < 0.01). This distribution of human leptospiral isolates mirrored the distribution of leptospiral 16S ribosomal gene sequences in urban and rural water sources.
Conclusions
Our findings data support the hypothesis that urban severe leptospirosis in the Peruvian Amazon is associated with higher concentrations of more pathogenic leptospires at sites of exposure and transmission. This combined quantitative and molecular taxonomical risk assessment of environmental surface waters is globally applicable for assessing risk for leptospiral infection and severe disease in leptospirosis-endemic regions.
Vinetz and colleagues used a quantitative real time PCR assay combined with molecular taxonomic analysis to quantify Leptospira in environmental surface waters in the Peruvian Amazon region of Iquitos.
Editors' Summary
Background.
Humans catch many diseases from animals—so-called zoonotic infections. Often, these occur in limited regions of the world. However, one—leptospirosis—occurs in temperate and tropical climates, and in urban and rural settings, making it the most widespread zoonotic disease. Leptospirosis is caused by Leptospira, a large group of closely related spiral-shaped bacteria that live in both domestic animals (for example, cattle) and wild animals (particularly rats). Millions of humans become infected each year with leptospires through close contact with water, food, or soil contaminated with the urine of infected animals—swimming or wading in contaminated water is particularly hazardous. Some infected people have no symptoms; others develop a flu-like disease that clears up within a few days. However, in 5%–10% of infected people, the disease progresses to a second, sometimes fatal phase. This is usually characterized by jaundice, kidney problems, and an enlarged spleen (it's then called Weil disease) but can also involve the lungs (pulmonary leptospirosis). Leptospirosis can be successfully treated with antibiotics if treatment is started soon after infection.
Why Was This Study Done?
In a recent study in the Peruvian Amazon, half of the people visiting urban hospitals and rural health posts with acute fever had antibodies in their blood to Leptospira, suggesting that they had acute leptospirosis. However, only patients living in urban areas developed pulmonary leptospirosis. In this study, the researchers tested the hypothesis that this pattern arose because more virulent types of Leptospira were present at higher levels in urban environmental surface water than in rural water sources.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
Between June 2003 and March 2004, the researchers isolated strains of Leptospira from patients with acute fever who visited a hospital in the town of Iquitos or clinics in nearby villages. Early in 2004, they also collected a large number of different water samples from an urban slum in Iquitos and from a nearby rural community. They measured the concentrations of Leptospira in these samples by using a molecular technique called real-time PCR (polymerase chain reaction) to detect and quantify a type of RNA found only in disease-causing Leptospira. They also identified which specific Leptospira were present in the water samples and the patient samples by sequencing this RNA. The researchers found that leptospires were present in both urban and rural water samples (particularly in samples from gutters and puddles in the urban slum's market area) but that their concentration in the positive water samples from the urban sites was 20 times that in the positive samples from the rural sites. Furthermore, the distribution of different Leptospira types isolated from the patients mirrored that of the bacteria in the local environment. So, one particular type of Leptospira interrogans known as icterohaemorrhagiae—the leptospire most commonly associated with severe leptospirosis in the patients—was found more often in the urban water samples than in the rural ones. Finally, the researchers discovered a new group of Leptospira in the rural environment. This group may contain one or several new species of Leptospira but whether any of them causes human disease is unknown.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These results support the researchers' hypothesis that pulmonary leptospirosis in urban areas of the Peruvian Amazon is associated with high environmental levels of specific disease-causing leptospires. The researchers were able to discover this link only by using molecular techniques—this sort of study is impossible with traditional bacteriological techniques because Leptospira are hard to grow in the laboratory and cannot be isolated efficiently from environmental water sources. Different types can't be identified using a microscope. The researchers' findings need to be validated in other settings, but they suggest that environmental interventions such as reducing sources of standing water and clearing away garbage in urban areas might reduce the number of cases of severe leptospirosis. The distribution of different Leptospira types also suggests that whereas rats may be the main disease reservoir in towns, cattle, pigs, and bats may be more important in rural settings in Peru and presumably elsewhere. Overall, this new information, together with the availability of molecular methods for rapid clinical diagnosis and environmental risk assessment, should aid attempts to control leptospirosis around the world.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0030308.
US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, information for patients and professionals on leptospirosis
The Leptospirosis Information Center, information and advice on human leptospirosis for the public and medical professionals
MedlinePlus encyclopedia entry on leptospirosis
NHS Direct Online, patient information on leptospirosis from the UK National Health Service online encyclopedia
Wikipedia pages on leptospirosis (note: Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0030308
PMCID: PMC1551915  PMID: 16933963
6.  Impact of 16S rRNA Gene Sequence Analysis for Identification of Bacteria on Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases 
Clinical Microbiology Reviews  2004;17(4):840-862.
The traditional identification of bacteria on the basis of phenotypic characteristics is generally not as accurate as identification based on genotypic methods. Comparison of the bacterial 16S rRNA gene sequence has emerged as a preferred genetic technique. 16S rRNA gene sequence analysis can better identify poorly described, rarely isolated, or phenotypically aberrant strains, can be routinely used for identification of mycobacteria, and can lead to the recognition of novel pathogens and noncultured bacteria. Problems remain in that the sequences in some databases are not accurate, there is no consensus quantitative definition of genus or species based on 16S rRNA gene sequence data, the proliferation of species names based on minimal genetic and phenotypic differences raises communication difficulties, and microheterogeneity in 16S rRNA gene sequence within a species is common. Despite its accuracy, 16S rRNA gene sequence analysis lacks widespread use beyond the large and reference laboratories because of technical and cost considerations. Thus, a future challenge is to translate information from 16S rRNA gene sequencing into convenient biochemical testing schemes, making the accuracy of the genotypic identification available to the smaller and routine clinical microbiology laboratories.
doi:10.1128/CMR.17.4.840-862.2004
PMCID: PMC523561  PMID: 15489351
7.  The Role of 16S rRNA Gene Sequencing in Identification of Microorganisms Misidentified by Conventional Methods 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2005;43(12):6123-6125.
Traditional methods for microbial identification require the recognition of differences in morphology, growth, enzymatic activity, and metabolism to define genera and species. Full and partial 16S rRNA gene sequencing methods have emerged as useful tools for identifying phenotypically aberrant microorganisms. We report on three bacterial blood isolates from three different College of American Pathologists-certified laboratories that were referred to ARUP Laboratories for definitive identification. Because phenotypic identification suggested unusual organisms not typically associated with the submitted clinical diagnosis, consultation with the Medical Director was sought and further testing was performed including partial 16S rRNA gene sequencing. All three patients had endocarditis, and conventional methods identified isolates from patients A, B, and C as a Facklamia sp., Eubacterium tenue, and a Bifidobacterium sp. 16S rRNA gene sequencing identified the isolates as Enterococcus faecalis, Cardiobacterium valvarum, and Streptococcus mutans, respectively. We conclude that the initial identifications of these three isolates were erroneous, may have misled clinicians, and potentially impacted patient care. 16S rRNA gene sequencing is a more objective identification tool, unaffected by phenotypic variation or technologist bias, and has the potential to reduce laboratory errors.
doi:10.1128/JCM.43.12.6123-6125.2005
PMCID: PMC1317215  PMID: 16333109
8.  16S rRNA Terminal Restriction Fragment Length Polymorphism for the Characterization of the Nasopharyngeal Microbiota 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(12):e52241.
A novel non-culture based 16S rRNA Terminal Restriction Fragment Length Polymorphism (T-RFLP) method using the restriction enzymes Tsp509I and Hpy166II was developed for the characterization of the nasopharyngeal microbiota and validated using recently published 454 pyrosequencing data. 16S rRNA gene T-RFLP for 153 clinical nasopharyngeal samples from infants with acute otitis media (AOM) revealed 5 Tsp509I and 6 Hpy166II terminal fragments (TFs) with a prevalence of >10%. Cloning and sequencing identified all TFs with a prevalence >6% allowing a sufficient description of bacterial community changes for the most important bacterial taxa. The conjugated 7-valent pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PCV-7) and prior antibiotic exposure had significant effects on the bacterial composition in an additive main effects and multiplicative interaction model (AMMI) in concordance with the 16S rRNA 454 pyrosequencing data. In addition, the presented T-RFLP method is able to discriminate S. pneumoniae from other members of the Mitis group of streptococci, which therefore allows the identification of one of the most important human respiratory tract pathogens. This is usually not achieved by current high throughput sequencing protocols. In conclusion, the presented 16S rRNA gene T-RFLP method is a highly robust, easy to handle and a cheap alternative to the computationally demanding next-generation sequencing analysis. In case a lot of nasopharyngeal samples have to be characterized, it is suggested to first perform 16S rRNA T-RFLP and only use next generation sequencing if the T-RFLP nasopharyngeal patterns differ or show unknown TFs.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0052241
PMCID: PMC3527403  PMID: 23284951
9.  Sequence specific detection of bacterial 23S ribosomal RNA by TLR13 
eLife  2012;1:e00102.
Toll-like receptors (TLRs) detect microbial infections and trigger innate immune responses. Among vertebrate TLRs, the role of TLR13 and its ligand are unknown. Here we show that TLR13 detects the 23S ribosomal RNA of both gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria. A sequence containing 13 nucleotides near the active site of 23S rRNA ribozyme, which catalyzes peptide bond synthesis, was both necessary and sufficient to trigger TLR13-dependent interleukin-1β production. Single point mutations within this sequence destroyed the ability of the 23S rRNA to stimulate the TLR13 pathway. Knockout of TLR13 in mice abolished the induction of interleukin-1β and other cytokines by the 23S rRNA sequence. Thus, TLR13 detects bacterial RNA with exquisite sequence specificity.
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7554/eLife.00102.001
eLife digest
A central feature of the immune system is the ability to detect bacteria, viruses and other pathogens so that they can be repelled or neutralized before they cause lasting damage to an organism. Cells employ a number of different receptors that can detect these pathogens or the molecules they produce. Many of these are called pattern recognition receptors because they recognize certain signatures of microorganisms such as nucleic acids or carbohydrates. An important class of pattern recognition receptor is the toll-like receptor: there are many different families of the receptors, each recognizing a unique feature of bacteria or viruses. (The word toll, which means ‘great’ in German, refers to a gene whose mutations lead to striking phenotypes in flies, and has nothing to do with road and bridge tolls.)
Toll-like receptors have two parts that perform two different functions: when one part binds the relevant microbial molecules, the other part sends a signal that results in the production of effector proteins. These proteins include interleukin-1β, which helps to fight infection by causing the inflammation of tissue. To date, 12 different types of toll-like receptors have been found in mice, including three—known as TLR11, TLR12 and TLR13—that are not present in humans. Very little is known about the functions of TLR12 and TLR13. Humans, on the other hand, possess 10 different TLRs, only one of which, TLR10, is not found in mice.
Li and Chen have now discovered that TLR13 is responsible for detecting a certain type of ribosomal RNA called 23S ribosomal RNA that are present in bacteria but not in eukaryotic cells. Moreover, they have shown that a short sequence of 13 residues within the 23S ribosomal RNA triggers this pathway and leads to the production of interleukin-1β. The sequence of 13 residues is located at an active site in the RNA that catalyzes the synthesis of peptide bonds, and changing just one of these residues stops the production of interleukin-1β. Other forms of ribosomal RNA are unable to trigger the production of interleukin-1β. These results show that TLR13 differs from all other pattern recognition receptors because it is able to recognize a specific RNA sequence. Li and Chen went on to generate mice lacking TLR13 and showed that immune cells isolated from these mice failed to respond to bacterial RNA. These mice can be used to investigate the role of TLR13 in immune responses to bacterial infections in vivo.
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7554/eLife.00102.002
doi:10.7554/eLife.00102
PMCID: PMC3482692  PMID: 23110254
Innate Immunity; Toll-like receptor; bacteria; Ribosomal RNA; E. coli; Mouse
10.  Abundant 5S rRNA-Like Transcripts Encoded by the Mitochondrial Genome in Amoebozoa ▿ † 
Eukaryotic Cell  2010;9(5):762-773.
5S rRNAs are ubiquitous components of prokaryotic, chloroplast, and eukaryotic cytosolic ribosomes but are apparently absent from mitochondrial ribosomes (mitoribosomes) of many eukaryotic groups including animals and fungi. Nevertheless, a clearly identifiable, mitochondrion-encoded 5S rRNA is present in Acanthamoeba castellanii, a member of Amoebozoa. During a search for additional mitochondrial 5S rRNAs, we detected small abundant RNAs in other members of Amoebozoa, namely, in the lobose amoeba Hartmannella vermiformis and in the myxomycete slime mold Physarum polycephalum. These RNAs are encoded by mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), cosediment with mitoribosomes in glycerol gradients, and can be folded into a secondary structure similar to that of bona fide 5S rRNAs. Further, in the mtDNA of another slime mold, Didymium nigripes, we identified a region that in sequence, potential secondary structure, and genomic location is similar to the corresponding region encoding the Physarum small RNA. A mtDNA-encoded small RNA previously identified in Dictyostelium discoideum is here shown to share several characteristics with known 5S rRNAs. Again, we detected genes encoding potential homologs of this RNA in the mtDNA of three other species of the genus Dictyostelium as well as in a related genus, Polysphondylium. Taken together, our results indicate a widespread occurrence of small, abundant, mtDNA-encoded RNAs with 5S rRNA-like structures that are associated with the mitoribosome in various amoebozoan taxa. Our working hypothesis is that these novel small abundant RNAs represent radically divergent mitochondrial 5S rRNA homologs. We posit that currently unrecognized 5S-like RNAs may exist in other mitochondrial systems in which a conventional 5S rRNA cannot be identified.
doi:10.1128/EC.00013-10
PMCID: PMC2863963  PMID: 20304999
11.  Usefulness of the MicroSeq 500 16S Ribosomal DNA-Based Bacterial Identification System for Identification of Clinically Significant Bacterial Isolates with Ambiguous Biochemical Profiles 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2003;41(5):1996-2001.
Due to the inadequate automation in the amplification and sequencing procedures, the use of 16S rRNA gene sequence-based methods in clinical microbiology laboratories is largely limited to identification of strains that are difficult to identify by phenotypic methods. In this study, using conventional full-sequence 16S rRNA gene sequencing as the “gold standard,” we evaluated the usefulness of the MicroSeq 500 16S ribosomal DNA (rDNA)-based bacterial identification system, which involves amplification and sequencing of the first 527-bp fragment of the 16S rRNA genes of bacterial strains and analysis of the sequences using the database of the system, for identification of clinically significant bacterial isolates with ambiguous biochemical profiles. Among 37 clinically significant bacterial strains that showed ambiguous biochemical profiles, representing 37 nonduplicating aerobic gram-positive and gram-negative, anaerobic, and Mycobacterium species, the MicroSeq 500 16S rDNA-based bacterial identification system was successful in identifying 30 (81.1%) of them. Five (13.5%) isolates were misidentified at the genus level (Granulicatella adiacens was misidentified as Abiotrophia defectiva, Helcococcus kunzii was misidentified as Clostridium hastiforme, Olsenella uli was misidentified as Atopobium rimae, Leptotrichia buccalis was misidentified as Fusobacterium mortiferum, and Bergeyella zoohelcum was misidentified as Rimerella anatipestifer), and two (5.4%) were misidentified at the species level (Actinomyces odontolyticus was misidentified as Actinomyces meyeri and Arcobacter cryaerophilus was misidentified as Arcobacter butzleri). When the same 527-bp DNA sequences of these seven isolates were compared to the known 16S rRNA gene sequences in the GenBank, five yielded the correct identity, with good discrimination between the best and second best match sequences, meaning that the reason for misidentification in these five isolates was due to a lack of the 16S rRNA gene sequences of these bacteria in the database of the MicroSeq 500 16S rDNA-based bacterial identification system. In conclusion, the MicroSeq 500 16S rDNA-based bacterial identification system is useful for identification of most clinically important bacterial strains with ambiguous biochemical profiles, but the database of the MicroSeq 500 16S rDNA-based bacterial identification system has to be expanded in order to encompass the rarely encountered bacterial species and achieve better accuracy in bacterial identification.
doi:10.1128/JCM.41.5.1996-2001.2003
PMCID: PMC154750  PMID: 12734240
12.  The Human Oral Microbiome▿ † ‖  
Journal of Bacteriology  2010;192(19):5002-5017.
The human oral cavity contains a number of different habitats, including the teeth, gingival sulcus, tongue, cheeks, hard and soft palates, and tonsils, which are colonized by bacteria. The oral microbiome is comprised of over 600 prevalent taxa at the species level, with distinct subsets predominating at different habitats. The oral microbiome has been extensively characterized by cultivation and culture-independent molecular methods such as 16S rRNA cloning. Unfortunately, the vast majority of unnamed oral taxa are referenced by clone numbers or 16S rRNA GenBank accession numbers, often without taxonomic anchors. The first aim of this research was to collect 16S rRNA gene sequences into a curated phylogeny-based database, the Human Oral Microbiome Database (HOMD), and make it web accessible (www.homd.org). The HOMD includes 619 taxa in 13 phyla, as follows: Actinobacteria, Bacteroidetes, Chlamydiae, Chloroflexi, Euryarchaeota, Firmicutes, Fusobacteria, Proteobacteria, Spirochaetes, SR1, Synergistetes, Tenericutes, and TM7. The second aim was to analyze 36,043 16S rRNA gene clones isolated from studies of the oral microbiota to determine the relative abundance of taxa and identify novel candidate taxa. The analysis identified 1,179 taxa, of which 24% were named, 8% were cultivated but unnamed, and 68% were uncultivated phylotypes. Upon validation, 434 novel, nonsingleton taxa will be added to the HOMD. The number of taxa needed to account for 90%, 95%, or 99% of the clones examined is 259, 413, and 875, respectively. The HOMD is the first curated description of a human-associated microbiome and provides tools for use in understanding the role of the microbiome in health and disease.
doi:10.1128/JB.00542-10
PMCID: PMC2944498  PMID: 20656903
13.  The Canine Oral Microbiome 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(4):e36067.
Determining the bacterial composition of the canine oral microbiome is of interest for two primary reasons. First, while the human oral microbiome has been well studied using molecular techniques, the oral microbiomes of other mammals have not been studied in equal depth using culture independent methods. This study allows a comparison of the number of bacterial taxa, based on 16S rRNA-gene sequence comparison, shared between humans and dogs, two divergent mammalian species. Second, canine oral bacteria are of interest to veterinary and human medical communities for understanding their roles in health and infectious diseases. The bacteria involved are mostly unnamed and not linked by 16S rRNA-gene sequence identity to a taxonomic scheme. This manuscript describes the analysis of 5,958 16S rRNA-gene sequences from 65 clone libraries. Full length 16S rRNA reference sequences have been obtained for 353 canine bacterial taxa, which were placed in 14 bacterial phyla, 23 classes, 37 orders, 66 families, and 148 genera. Eighty percent of the taxa are currently unnamed. The bacterial taxa identified in dogs are markedly different from those of humans with only 16.4% of oral taxa are shared between dogs and humans based on a 98.5% 16S rRNA sequence similarity cutoff. This indicates that there is a large divergence in the bacteria comprising the oral microbiomes of divergent mammalian species. The historic practice of identifying animal associated bacteria based on phenotypic similarities to human bacteria is generally invalid. This report describes the diversity of the canine oral microbiome and provides a provisional 16S rRNA based taxonomic scheme for naming and identifying unnamed canine bacterial taxa.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0036067
PMCID: PMC3338629  PMID: 22558330
14.  The Pervasive Effects of an Antibiotic on the Human Gut Microbiota, as Revealed by Deep 16S rRNA Sequencing 
PLoS Biology  2008;6(11):e280.
The human intestinal microbiota is essential to the health of the host and plays a role in nutrition, development, metabolism, pathogen resistance, and regulation of immune responses. Antibiotics may disrupt these coevolved interactions, leading to acute or chronic disease in some individuals. Our understanding of antibiotic-associated disturbance of the microbiota has been limited by the poor sensitivity, inadequate resolution, and significant cost of current research methods. The use of pyrosequencing technology to generate large numbers of 16S rDNA sequence tags circumvents these limitations and has been shown to reveal previously unexplored aspects of the “rare biosphere.” We investigated the distal gut bacterial communities of three healthy humans before and after treatment with ciprofloxacin, obtaining more than 7,000 full-length rRNA sequences and over 900,000 pyrosequencing reads from two hypervariable regions of the rRNA gene. A companion paper in PLoS Genetics (see Huse et al., doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1000255) shows that the taxonomic information obtained with these methods is concordant. Pyrosequencing of the V6 and V3 variable regions identified 3,300–5,700 taxa that collectively accounted for over 99% of the variable region sequence tags that could be obtained from these samples. Ciprofloxacin treatment influenced the abundance of about a third of the bacterial taxa in the gut, decreasing the taxonomic richness, diversity, and evenness of the community. However, the magnitude of this effect varied among individuals, and some taxa showed interindividual variation in the response to ciprofloxacin. While differences of community composition between individuals were the largest source of variability between samples, we found that two unrelated individuals shared a surprising degree of community similarity. In all three individuals, the taxonomic composition of the community closely resembled its pretreatment state by 4 weeks after the end of treatment, but several taxa failed to recover within 6 months. These pervasive effects of ciprofloxacin on community composition contrast with the reports by participants of normal intestinal function and with prior assumptions of only modest effects of ciprofloxacin on the intestinal microbiota. These observations support the hypothesis of functional redundancy in the human gut microbiota. The rapid return to the pretreatment community composition is indicative of factors promoting community resilience, the nature of which deserves future investigation.
Author Summary
The intestinal microbiota is essential to human health, with effects on nutrition, metabolism, pathogen resistance, and other processes. Antibiotics may disrupt these interactions and cause acute disease, as well as contribute to chronic health problems, although technical challenges have hampered research on this front. Several recent studies have characterized uncultured and complex microbial communities by applying a new, massively parallel technology to obtain hundreds of thousands of sequences of a specific variable region within the small subunit rRNA gene. These shorter sequences provide an indication of diversity. We used this technique to track changes in the intestinal microbiota of three healthy humans before and after treatment with the antibiotic ciprofloxacin, with high sensitivity and resolution, and without sacrificing breadth of coverage. Consistent with previous results, we found that the microbiota of these individuals was similar at the genus level, but interindividual differences were evident at finer scales. Ciprofloxacin reduced the diversity of the intestinal microbiota, with significant effects on about one-third of the bacterial taxa. Despite this pervasive disturbance, the membership of the communities had largely returned to the pretreatment state within 4 weeks.
The most complete survey to date of bacterial diversity in the human gut shows extensive but temporary changes in the microbial community following ciprofloxacin treatment.
doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.0060280
PMCID: PMC2586385  PMID: 19018661
15.  A Novel Campylobacter jejuni Sequence Type from a Culture-Negative Patient in The Gambia 
PLoS ONE  2008;3(3):e1773.
The introduction of molecular diagnostic methods is crucial for improved understanding of the aetiology and epidemiology of bacterial infections in communities in resource poor settings. A blood sample from a 7 month old patient diagnosed with malaria in 2001 in a Gambian outpatient clinic was reported as culture negative after it was subjected to traditional bacterial culture protocols. We re-addressed the analysis of the blood sample from this case more recently (after 6.5 years in archival storage) in pilot work establishing 16S rRNA PCR in our molecular laboratory. Initial 16S rRNA PCR results confirmed the presence of bacterial DNA in the sample. 16S rRNA sequence analysis identified the organism as Campylobacter spp. In light of the molecular evidence we successfully grew the organism using appropriate culture conditions and subsequently biochemically confirmed that the isolate was Campylobacter jejuni. PCR and DNA sequencing of a set of seven C. jejuni housekeeping genes and in silico Multilocus Sequence Typing (MLST) analysis revealed that the isolate exhibits a novel sequence type (ST) of C. jejuni (ST 2928) and belongs to ST-443 clonal complex. This study demonstrates the potential for molecular tools to enhance the diagnosis of bacterial infections, which remain a major killer globally, not least in children in the developing world. Improvements in diagnostics are needed, and will be important not only for sick individuals but also for populations, where better measures of disease burden will contribute significantly to the improvement of public health policy.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0001773
PMCID: PMC2258414  PMID: 18335047
16.  The Internal Transcribed Spacer Region, a New Tool for Use in Species Differentiation and Delineation of Systematic Relationships within the Campylobacter Genus▿  
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2010;76(10):3071-3081.
The Campylobacter genus consists of a number of important human and animal pathogens. Although the 16S rRNA gene has been used extensively for detection and identification of Campylobacter species, there is currently limited information on the 23S rRNA gene and the internal transcribed spacer (ITS) region that lies between the 16S and 23S rRNA genes. We examined the potential of the 23S rRNA gene and the ITS region to be used in species differentiation and delineation of systematic relationships for 30 taxa within the Campylobacter genus. The ITS region produced the highest mean pairwise percentage difference (35.94%) compared to the 16S (5.34%) and 23S (7.29%) rRNA genes. The discriminatory power for each region was further validated using Simpson's index of diversity (D value). The D values were 0.968, 0.995, and 0.766 for the ITS region and the 23S and 16S rRNA genes, respectively. A closer examination of the ITS region revealed that Campylobacter concisus, Campylobacter showae, and Campylobacter fetus subsp. fetus harbored tRNA configurations not previously reported for other members of the Campylobacter genus. We also observed the presence of strain-dependent intervening sequences in the 23S rRNA genes. Neighbor-joining trees using the ITS region revealed that Campylobacter jejuni and Campylobacter coli strains clustered in subgroups, which was not observed in trees derived from the 16S or 23S rRNA gene. Of the three regions examined, the ITS region is by far the most cost-effective region for the differentiation and delineation of systematic relationships within the Campylobacter genus.
doi:10.1128/AEM.02551-09
PMCID: PMC2869123  PMID: 20348308
17.  Multiple Copies of the 16S rRNA Gene in Nocardia nova Isolates and Implications for Sequence-Based Identification Procedures 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2005;43(6):2881-2885.
Molecular investigation of two Nocardia patient isolates showed unusual restriction fragment length polymorphism patterns with restriction endonuclease assays (REA) using an amplified portion of the 16S rRNA gene. Patterns typical of Nocardia nova were obtained with REA of an amplified portion of the 65-kDa heat shock protein gene. Subsequent sequence analysis of the 16S rRNA gene regions of these isolates showed the presence of ambiguous bases within an expected restriction endonuclease recognition site which were not able to be resolved on repeat testing. Cloning of amplified regions of the 16S rRNA genes and subsequent sequencing of the resulting clones from the two patient isolates showed three different 16S rRNA gene sequences which corresponded to sequences found in N. nova, a molecular variant of N. nova, and a previously undescribed sequence. Hybridization studies using a DNA probe corresponding to an 89-bp conserved region of the 16S rRNA gene confirmed the presence of at least two copies of the 16S rRNA gene in the N. nova type strain, in a patient isolate identical to the molecular variant of N. nova, and in the two other patient isolates. All isolates were found to belong to the species N. nova as determined by DNA-DNA hybridization. Because minimal variation has been found in the 16S rRNA gene sequences of different species of Nocardia, those laboratories employing molecular methods for identification of these species must be aware of the potential identification complications that may be caused by the presence of differing 16S rRNA genes in the same isolate.
doi:10.1128/JCM.43.6.2881-2885.2005
PMCID: PMC1151890  PMID: 15956412
18.  Targeted recovery of novel phylogenetic diversity from next-generation sequence data 
The ISME Journal  2012;6(11):2067-2077.
Next-generation sequencing technologies have led to recognition of a so-called ‘rare biosphere'. These microbial operational taxonomic units (OTUs) are defined by low relative abundance and may be specifically adapted to maintaining low population sizes. We hypothesized that mining of low-abundance next-generation 16S ribosomal RNA (rRNA) gene data would lead to the discovery of novel phylogenetic diversity, reflecting microorganisms not yet discovered by previous sampling efforts. Here, we test this hypothesis by combining molecular and bioinformatic approaches for targeted retrieval of phylogenetic novelty within rare biosphere OTUs. We combined BLASTN network analysis, phylogenetics and targeted primer design to amplify 16S rRNA gene sequences from unique potential bacterial lineages, comprising part of the rare biosphere from a multi-million sequence data set from an Arctic tundra soil sample. Demonstrating the feasibility of the protocol developed here, three of seven recovered phylogenetic lineages represented extremely divergent taxonomic entities. These divergent target sequences correspond to (a) a previously unknown lineage within the BRC1 candidate phylum, (b) a sister group to the early diverging and currently recognized monospecific Cyanobacteria Gloeobacter, a genus containing multiple plesiomorphic traits and (c) a highly divergent lineage phylogenetically resolved within mitochondria. A comparison to twelve next-generation data sets from additional soils suggested persistent low-abundance distributions of these novel 16S rRNA genes. The results demonstrate this sequence analysis and retrieval pipeline as applicable for exploring underrepresented phylogenetic novelty and recovering taxa that may represent significant steps in bacterial evolution.
doi:10.1038/ismej.2012.50
PMCID: PMC3475379  PMID: 22791239
rare biosphere; bioprospecting; molecular ecology; organellar evolution; next-generation sequencing; 16S rRNA
19.  A Novel Bacterium Associated with Lymphadenitis in a Patient with Chronic Granulomatous Disease 
PLoS Pathogens  2006;2(4):e28.
Chronic granulomatous disease (CGD) is a rare inherited disease of the phagocyte NADPH oxidase system causing defective production of toxic oxygen metabolites, impaired bacterial and fungal killing, and recurrent life-threatening infections. We identified a novel gram-negative rod in excised lymph nodes from a patient with CGD. Gram-negative rods grew on charcoal-yeast extract, but conventional tests could not identify it. The best 50 matches of the 16S rRNA (using BLAST) were all members of the family Acetobacteraceae, with the closest match being Gluconobacter sacchari. Patient serum showed specific band recognition in whole lysate immunoblot. We used mouse models of CGD to determine whether this organism was a genuine CGD pathogen. Intraperitoneal injection of gp91phox −/− (X-linked) and p47 phox −/− (autosomal recessive) mice with this bacterium led to larger burdens of organism recovered from knockout compared with wild-type mice. Knockout mouse lymph nodes had histopathology that was similar to that seen in our patient. We recovered organisms with 16S rRNA sequence identical to the patient's original isolate from the infected mice. We identified a novel gram-negative rod from a patient with CGD. To confirm its pathogenicity, we demonstrated specific immune reaction by high titer antibody, showed that it was able to cause similar disease when introduced into CGD, but not wild-type mice, and we recovered the same organism from pathologic lesions in these mice. Therefore, we have fulfilled Koch's postulates for a new pathogen. This is the first reported case of invasive human disease caused by any of the Acetobacteraceae. Polyphasic taxonomic analysis shows this organism to be a new genus and species for which we propose the name Granulobacter bethesdensis.
Synopsis
As new bacteria continue to be discovered every year, it is inevitable that some of them will be found to cause human disease. The authors describe the isolation and characterization of a new bacterium, grown from a patient with chronic granulomatous disease (CGD). In this genetic disease, one of the main lines of defense against infection, the neutrophil, has a discrete defect in the generation of superoxide, leading to recurrent infections with a narrow spectrum of bacteria and fungi. This new organism was cultured from lymph nodes that had been inflamed for several months. To prove that this new bacterium was indeed a pathogen, Greenberg and colleagues measured specific antibody response in the patient: they inoculated CGD mice with this organism and reproduced the appearance of the human infection; they recovered the organism in pure growth from infected mouse spleens.
This new bacterium belongs to the family Acetobacteraceae, bacteria that are found widely in the environment. They have a variety of industrial uses, such as the production of vinegar, but have never been reported to cause invasive human disease. Disease-causing organisms remain to be discovered. The researchers outline some of the steps that can be taken to verify the pathogenicity of novel organisms.
doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.0020028
PMCID: PMC1435791  PMID: 16617373
20.  Integrating metagenomic and amplicon databases to resolve the phylogenetic and ecological diversity of the Chlamydiae 
The ISME Journal  2013;8(1):115-125.
In the era of metagenomics and amplicon sequencing, comprehensive analyses of available sequence data remain a challenge. Here we describe an approach exploiting metagenomic and amplicon data sets from public databases to elucidate phylogenetic diversity of defined microbial taxa. We investigated the phylum Chlamydiae whose known members are obligate intracellular bacteria that represent important pathogens of humans and animals, as well as symbionts of protists. Despite their medical relevance, our knowledge about chlamydial diversity is still scarce. Most of the nine known families are represented by only a few isolates, while previous clone library-based surveys suggested the existence of yet uncharacterized members of this phylum. Here we identified more than 22 000 high quality, non-redundant chlamydial 16S rRNA gene sequences in diverse databases, as well as 1900 putative chlamydial protein-encoding genes. Even when applying the most conservative approach, clustering of chlamydial 16S rRNA gene sequences into operational taxonomic units revealed an unexpectedly high species, genus and family-level diversity within the Chlamydiae, including 181 putative families. These in silico findings were verified experimentally in one Antarctic sample, which contained a high diversity of novel Chlamydiae. In our analysis, the Rhabdochlamydiaceae, whose known members infect arthropods, represents the most diverse and species-rich chlamydial family, followed by the protist-associated Parachlamydiaceae, and a putative new family (PCF8) with unknown host specificity. Available information on the origin of metagenomic samples indicated that marine environments contain the majority of the newly discovered chlamydial lineages, highlighting this environment as an important chlamydial reservoir.
doi:10.1038/ismej.2013.142
PMCID: PMC3869019  PMID: 23949660
16S rRNA; next-generation sequencing; amplicon sequencing; metagenomics
21.  Identification of Pathogenic Nocardia Species by Reverse Line Blot Hybridization Targeting the 16S rRNA and 16S-23S rRNA Gene Spacer Regions▿  
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2009;48(2):503-511.
Although 16S rRNA gene sequence analysis is employed most often for the definitive identification of Nocardia species, alternate molecular methods and polymorphisms in other gene targets have also enabled species determinations. We evaluated a combined Nocardia PCR-based reverse line blot (RLB) hybridization assay based on 16S and 16S-23S rRNA gene spacer region polymorphisms to identify 12 American Type Culture Collection and 123 clinical Nocardia isolates representing 14 species; results were compared with results from 16S rRNA gene sequencing. Thirteen 16S rRNA gene-based (two group-specific and 11 species-specific) and five 16S-23S spacer-targeted (two taxon-specific and three species-specific) probes were utilized. 16S rRNA gene-based probes correctly identified 124 of 135 isolates (sensitivity, 92%) but were unable to identify Nocardia paucivorans strains (n = 10 strains) and a Nocardia asteroides isolate with a novel 16S rRNA gene sequence. Nocardia farcinica and Nocardia cyriacigeorgica strains were identified by the sequential use of an N. farcinica-“negative” probe and a combined N. farcinica/N. cyriacigeorgica probe. The assay specificity was high (99%) except for weak cross-reactivity between the Nocardia brasiliensis probe with the Nocardia thailandica DNA product; however, cross-hybridization with closely related nontarget species may occur. The incorporation of 16S-23S rRNA gene spacer-based probes enabled the identification of all N. paucivorans strains. The overall sensitivity using both probe sets was >99%. Both N. farcinica-specific 16S-23S rRNA gene spacer-directed probes were required to identify all N. farcinica stains by using this probe set. The study demonstrates the utility of a combined PCR/RLB assay for the identification of clinically relevant Nocardia species and its potential for studying subtypes of N. farcinica. Where species assignment is ambiguous or not possible, 16S rRNA gene sequencing is recommended.
doi:10.1128/JCM.01761-09
PMCID: PMC2815619  PMID: 19955277
22.  Single Clinical Isolates from Acute Uncomplicated Urinary Tract Infections Are Representative of Dominant In Situ Populations 
mBio  2014;5(2):e01064-13.
ABSTRACT
Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are one of the most commonly acquired bacterial infections in humans, and uropathogenic Escherichia coli strains are responsible for over 80% of all cases. The standard method for identification of uropathogens in clinical laboratories is cultivation, primarily using solid growth media under aerobic conditions, coupled with morphological and biochemical tests of typically a single isolate colony. However, these methods detect only culturable microorganisms, and characterization is phenotypic in nature. Here, we explored the genotypic identity of communities in acute uncomplicated UTIs from 50 individuals by using culture-independent amplicon pyrosequencing and whole-genome and metagenomic shotgun sequencing. Genus-level characterization of the UTI communities was achieved using the 16S rRNA gene (V8 region). Overall UTI community richness was very low in comparison to other human microbiomes. We strain-typed Escherichia-dominated UTIs using amplicon pyrosequencing of the fimbrial adhesin gene, fimH. There were nine highly abundant fimH types, and each UTI sample was dominated by a single type. Molecular analysis of the corresponding clinical isolates revealed that in the majority of cases the isolate was representative of the dominant taxon in the community at both the genus and the strain level. Shotgun sequencing was performed on a subset of eight E. coli urine UTI and isolate pairs. The majority of UTI microbial metagenomic sequences mapped to isolate genomes, confirming the results obtained using phylogenetic markers. We conclude that for the majority of acute uncomplicated E. coli-mediated UTIs, single cultured isolates are diagnostic of the infection.
IMPORTANCE
In clinical practice, the diagnosis and treatment of acute uncomplicated urinary tract infection (UTI) are based on analysis of a single bacterial isolate cultured from urine, and it is assumed that this isolate represents the dominant UTI pathogen. However, these methods detect only culturable bacteria, and the existence of multiple pathogens as well as strain diversity within a single infection is not examined. Here, we explored bacteria present in acute uncomplicated UTIs using culture-independent sequence-based methods. Escherichia coli was the most common organism identified, and analysis of E. coli dominant UTI samples and their paired clinical isolates revealed that in the majority of infections the cultured isolate was representative of the dominant taxon at both the genus and the strain level. Our data demonstrate that in most cases single cultured isolates are diagnostic of UTI and are consistent with the notion of bottlenecks that limit strain diversity during UTI pathogenesis.
doi:10.1128/mBio.01064-13
PMCID: PMC3940035  PMID: 24570371
23.  Identification of nine sequence types of the 16S rRNA genes of Campylobacter jejuni subsp. jejuni isolated from broilers 
Background
Campylobacter is the most commonly reported bacterial cause of enteritis in humans in the EU Member States and other industrialized countries. One significant source of infection is broilers and consumption of undercooked broiler meat. Campylobacter jejuni is the Campylobacter sp. predominantly found in infected humans and colonized broilers. Sequence analysis of the 16S rRNA gene is very useful for identification of bacteria to genus and species level. The objectives in this study were to determine the degree of intraspecific variation in the 16S rRNA genes of C. jejuni and C. coli and to determine whether the 16S rRNA sequence types correlated with genotypes generated by PFGE analysis of SmaI restricted genomic DNA of the strains.
Methods
The 16S rRNA genes of 45 strains of C. jejuni and two C. coli strains isolated from broilers were sequenced and compared with 16S rRNA sequences retrieved from the Ribosomal Database Project or GenBank. The strains were also genotyped by PFGE after digestion with SmaI.
Results
Sequence analyses of the 16S rRNA genes revealed nine sequence types of the Campylobacter strains and the similarities between the different sequence types were in the range 99.6–99.9%. The number of nucleotide substitutions varied between one and six among the nine 16S rRNA sequence types. One of the nine 16S rRNA sequence profiles was common to 12 of the strains from our study and two of these were identified as Campylobacter coli by PCR/REA. The other 10 strains were identified as Campylobacter jejuni. Five of the nine sequence types were also found among the Campylobacter sequences deposited in GenBank. The three 16S rRNA genes in the analysed strains were identical within each individual strain for all 47 strains.
Conclusion
C. jejuni and C. coli seem to lack polymorphisms in their 16S rRNA gene, but phylogenetic analysis based on 16S rRNA sequences was not always sufficient for differentiation between C. jejuni and C. coli. The strains were grouped in two major clusters according to 16S rRNA, one cluster with only C. jejuni and the other with both C. jejuni and C. coli. Genotyping of the 47 strains by PFGE after digestion with SmaI resulted in 22 subtypes. A potential correlation was found between the SmaI profiles and the 16S rRNA sequences, as a certain SmaI type only appeared in one of the two major phylogenetic groups.
doi:10.1186/1751-0147-50-10
PMCID: PMC2412886  PMID: 18492293
24.  The Human Oral Microbiome Database: a web accessible resource for investigating oral microbe taxonomic and genomic information 
The human oral microbiome is the most studied human microflora, but 53% of the species have not yet been validly named and 35% remain uncultivated. The uncultivated taxa are known primarily from 16S rRNA sequence information. Sequence information tied solely to obscure isolate or clone numbers, and usually lacking accurate phylogenetic placement, is a major impediment to working with human oral microbiome data. The goal of creating the Human Oral Microbiome Database (HOMD) is to provide the scientific community with a body site-specific comprehensive database for the more than 600 prokaryote species that are present in the human oral cavity based on a curated 16S rRNA gene-based provisional naming scheme. Currently, two primary types of information are provided in HOMD—taxonomic and genomic. Named oral species and taxa identified from 16S rRNA gene sequence analysis of oral isolates and cloning studies were placed into defined 16S rRNA phylotypes and each given unique Human Oral Taxon (HOT) number. The HOT interlinks phenotypic, phylogenetic, genomic, clinical and bibliographic information for each taxon. A BLAST search tool is provided to match user 16S rRNA gene sequences to a curated, full length, 16S rRNA gene reference data set. For genomic analysis, HOMD provides comprehensive set of analysis tools and maintains frequently updated annotations for all the human oral microbial genomes that have been sequenced and publicly released. Oral bacterial genome sequences, determined as part of the Human Microbiome Project, are being added to the HOMD as they become available. We provide HOMD as a conceptual model for the presentation of microbiome data for other human body sites.
Database URL: http://www.homd.org
doi:10.1093/database/baq013
PMCID: PMC2911848  PMID: 20624719
25.  Applied Genomics: Data Mining Reveals Species-Specific Malaria Diagnostic Targets More Sensitive than 18S rRNA▿†‡ 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2011;49(7):2411-2418.
Accurate and rapid diagnosis of malaria infections is crucial for implementing species-appropriate treatment and saving lives. Molecular diagnostic tools are the most accurate and sensitive method of detecting Plasmodium, differentiating between Plasmodium species, and detecting subclinical infections. Despite available whole-genome sequence data for Plasmodium falciparum and P. vivax, the majority of PCR-based methods still rely on the 18S rRNA gene targets. Historically, this gene has served as the best target for diagnostic assays. However, it is limited in its ability to detect mixed infections in multiplex assay platforms without the use of nested PCR. New diagnostic targets are needed. Ideal targets will be species specific, highly sensitive, and amenable to both single-step and multiplex PCRs. We have mined the genomes of P. falciparum and P. vivax to identify species-specific, repetitive sequences that serve as new PCR targets for the detection of malaria. We show that these targets (Pvr47 and Pfr364) exist in 14 to 41 copies and are more sensitive than 18S rRNA when utilized in a single-step PCR. Parasites are routinely detected at levels of 1 to 10 parasites/μl. The reaction can be multiplexed to detect both species in a single reaction. We have examined 7 P. falciparum strains and 91 P. falciparum clinical isolates from Tanzania and 10 P. vivax strains and 96 P. vivax clinical isolates from Venezuela, and we have verified a sensitivity and specificity of ∼100% for both targets compared with a nested 18S rRNA approach. We show that bioinformatics approaches can be successfully applied to identify novel diagnostic targets and improve molecular methods for pathogen detection. These novel targets provide a powerful alternative molecular diagnostic method for the detection of P. falciparum and P. vivax in conventional or multiplex PCR platforms.
doi:10.1128/JCM.02603-10
PMCID: PMC3147814  PMID: 21525225

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