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1.  Convergent Bacterial Microbiotas in the Fungal Agricultural Systems of Insects 
mBio  2014;5(6):e02077-14.
The ability to cultivate food is an innovation that has produced some of the most successful ecological strategies on the planet. Although most well recognized in humans, where agriculture represents a defining feature of civilization, species of ants, beetles, and termites have also independently evolved symbioses with fungi that they cultivate for food. Despite occurring across divergent insect and fungal lineages, the fungivorous niches of these insects are remarkably similar, indicating convergent evolution toward this successful ecological strategy. Here, we characterize the microbiota of ants, beetles, and termites engaged in nutritional symbioses with fungi to define the bacterial groups associated with these prominent herbivores and forest pests. Using culture-independent techniques and the in silico reconstruction of 37 composite genomes of dominant community members, we demonstrate that different insect-fungal symbioses that collectively shape ecosystems worldwide have highly similar bacterial microbiotas comprised primarily of the genera Enterobacter, Rahnella, and Pseudomonas. Although these symbioses span three orders of insects and two phyla of fungi, we show that they are associated with bacteria sharing high whole-genome nucleotide identity. Due to the fine-scale correspondence of the bacterial microbiotas of insects engaged in fungal symbioses, our findings indicate that this represents an example of convergence of entire host-microbe complexes.
The cultivation of fungi for food is a behavior that has evolved independently in ants, beetles, and termites and has enabled many species of these insects to become ecologically important and widely distributed herbivores and forest pests. Although the primary fungal cultivars of these insects have been studied for decades, comparatively little is known of their bacterial microbiota. In this study, we show that diverse fungus-growing insects are associated with a common bacterial community composed of the same dominant members. Furthermore, by demonstrating that many of these bacteria have high whole-genome similarity across distantly related insect hosts that reside thousands of miles apart, we show that these bacteria are an important and underappreciated feature of diverse fungus-growing insects. Because of the similarities in the agricultural lifestyles of these insects, this is an example of convergence between both the life histories of the host insects and their symbiotic microbiota.
PMCID: PMC4251994  PMID: 25406380
2.  Functional Adaptation of a Plant Receptor- Kinase Paved the Way for the Evolution of Intracellular Root Symbioses with Bacteria 
PLoS Biology  2008;6(3):e68.
Nitrogen-fixing root nodule symbioses (RNS) occur in two major forms—Actinorhiza and legume-rhizobium symbiosis—which differ in bacterial partner, intracellular infection pattern, and morphogenesis. The phylogenetic restriction of nodulation to eurosid angiosperms indicates a common and recent evolutionary invention, but the molecular steps involved are still obscure. In legumes, at least seven genes—including the symbiosis receptor-kinase gene SYMRK—are essential for the interaction with rhizobia bacteria and for the Arbuscular Mycorrhiza (AM) symbiosis with phosphate-acquiring fungi, which is widespread in occurrence and believed to date back to the earliest land plants. We show that SYMRK is also required for Actinorhiza symbiosis of the cucurbit Datisca glomerata with actinobacteria of the genus Frankia, revealing a common genetic basis for both forms of RNS. We found that SYMRK exists in at least three different structural versions, of which the shorter forms from rice and tomato are sufficient for AM, but not for functional endosymbiosis with bacteria in the legume Lotus japonicus. Our data support the idea that SYMRK sequence evolution was involved in the recruitment of a pre-existing signalling network from AM, paving the way for the evolution of intracellular root symbioses with nitrogen-fixing bacteria.
Author Summary
As an adaptation to nutrient limitations in terrestrial ecosystems, most plants form Arbuscular Mycorrhiza (AM), which is a symbiotic relationship between phosphate-delivering fungi and plant roots that dates back to the earliest land plants. More recently, a small group including the legumes and close relatives has evolved the ability to accommodate nitrogen-fixing bacteria intracellularly. The resulting symbiosis is manifested by the formation of specialized root organs, the nodules, and comes in two forms: the interaction of legumes with rhizobia, and the more widespread Actinorhiza symbiosis of mostly woody plants with Frankia bacteria. The symbiosis receptor kinase SYMRK acts in a signalling pathway that legume plants require to trigger the development of nodules and the uptake of fungi or bacteria into their root cells. Here we show that the induction of Actinorhiza nodulation also relies on SYMRK, consistent with the idea that both types of nodulation evolved by recruiting common signalling genes from the pre-existing AM program. We observed that SYMRK from different land plant lineages differs significantly in exon composition, with a “full-length” version in the nodulating clade and shorter SYMRK genes in plants outside this lineage. Only the most complete SYMRK version was fully functional in nodulation, suggesting this gene played a central role in the recruitment event associated with the evolution of intracellular root symbioses with bacteria.
Root nodule symbioses with nitrogen-fixing bacteria provide many plants with a source of nitrogen. This study uncovers evidence that changes in the gene SYMRK were involved in the evolution of this important biological innovation.
PMCID: PMC2270324  PMID: 18318603
3.  Eurocan plus report: feasibility study for coordination of national cancer research activities 
The EUROCAN+PLUS Project, called for by the European Parliament, was launched in October 2005 as a feasibility study for coordination of national cancer research activities in Europe. Over the course of the next two years, the Project process organized over 60 large meetings and countless smaller meetings that gathered in total over a thousand people, the largest Europe–wide consultation ever conducted in the field of cancer research.
Despite a strong tradition in biomedical science in Europe, fragmentation and lack of sustainability remain formidable challenges for implementing innovative cancer research and cancer care improvement. There is an enormous duplication of research effort in the Member States, which wastes time, wastes money and severely limits the total intellectual concentration on the wide cancer problem. There is a striking lack of communication between some of the biggest actors on the European scene, and there are palpable tensions between funders and those researchers seeking funds.
It is essential to include the patients’ voice in the establishment of priority areas in cancer research at the present time. The necessity to have dialogue between funders and scientists to establish the best mechanisms to meet the needs of the entire community is evident. A top priority should be the development of translational research (in its widest form), leading to the development of effective and innovative cancer treatments and preventive strategies. Translational research ranges from bench–to–bedside innovative cancer therapies and extends to include bringing about changes in population behaviours when a risk factor is established.
The EUROCAN+PLUS Project recommends the creation of a small, permanent and independent European Cancer Initiative (ECI). This should be a model structure and was widely supported at both General Assemblies of the project. The ECI should assume responsibility for stimulating innovative cancer research and facilitating processes, becoming the common voice of the cancer research community and serving as an interface between the cancer research community and European citizens, patients’ organizations, European institutions, Member States, industry and small and medium enterprises (SMEs), putting into practice solutions aimed at alleviating barriers to collaboration and coordination of cancer research activities in the European Union, and dealing with legal and regulatory issues. The development of an effective ECI will require time, but this entity should be established immediately. As an initial step, coordination efforts should be directed towards the creation of a platform on translational research that could encompass (1) coordination between basic, clinical and epidemiological research; (2) formal agreements of co–operation between comprehensive cancer centres and basic research laboratories throughout Europe and (3) networking between funding bodies at the European level.
The European Parliament and its instruments have had a major influence in cancer control in Europe, notably in tobacco control and in the implementation of effective population–based screening. To make further progress there is a need for novelty and innovation in cancer research and prevention in Europe, and having a platform such as the ECI, where those involved in all aspects of cancer research can meet, discuss and interact, is a decisive development for Europe.
Executive Summary
Cancer is one of the biggest public health crises facing Europe in the 21st century—one for which Europe is currently not prepared nor preparing itself. Cancer is a major cause of death in Europe with two million casualties and three million new cases diagnosed annually, and the situation is set to worsen as the population ages.
These facts led the European Parliament, through the Research Directorate-General of the European Commission, to call for initiatives for better coordination of cancer research efforts in the European Union. The EUROCAN+PLUS Project was launched in October 2005 as a feasibility study for coordination of national cancer research activities. Over the course of the next two years, the Project process organized over 60 large meetings and countless smaller meetings that gathered in total over a thousand people. In this respect, the Project became the largest Europe-wide consultation ever conducted in the field of cancer research, implicating researchers, cancer centres and hospitals, administrators, healthcare professionals, funding agencies, industry, patients’ organizations and patients.
The Project first identified barriers impeding research and collaboration in research in Europe. Despite a strong tradition in biomedical science in Europe, fragmentation and lack of sustainability remain the formidable challenges for implementing innovative cancer research and cancer care improvement. There is an enormous duplication of research effort in the Member States, which wastes time, wastes money and severely limits the total intellectual concentration on the wide cancer problem. There is a striking lack of communication between some of the biggest actors on the European scene, and there are palpable tensions between funders and those researchers seeking funds.
In addition, there is a shortage of leadership, a multiplicity of institutions each focusing on its own agenda, sub–optimal contact with industry, inadequate training, non–existent career paths, low personnel mobility in research especially among clinicians and inefficient funding—all conspiring against efficient collaboration in cancer care and research. European cancer research today does not have a functional translational research continuum, that is the process that exploits biomedical research innovations and converts them into prevention methods, diagnostic tools and therapies. Moreover, epidemiological research is not integrated with other types of cancer research, and the implementation of the European Directives on Clinical Trials 1 and on Personal Data Protection 2 has further slowed the innovation process in Europe. Furthermore, large inequalities in health and research exist between the EU–15 and the New Member States.
The picture is not entirely bleak, however, as the European cancer research scene presents several strengths, such as excellent basic research and clinical research and innovative etiological research that should be better exploited.
When considering recommendations, several priority dimensions had to be retained. It is essential that proposals include actions and recommendations that can benefit all Member States of the European Union and not just States with the elite centres. It is also essential to have a broader patient orientation to help provide the knowledge to establish cancer control possibilities when we exhaust what can be achieved by the implementation of current knowledge. It is vital that the actions proposed can contribute to the Lisbon Strategy to make Europe more innovative and competitive in (cancer) research.
The Project participants identified six areas for which consensus solutions should be implemented in order to obtain better coordination of cancer research activities. The required solutions are as follows. The proactive management of innovation, detection, facilitation of collaborations and maintenance of healthy competition within the European cancer research community.The establishment of an exchange portal of information for health professionals, patients and policy makers.The provision of guidance for translational and clinical research including the establishment of a translational research platform involving comprehensive cancer centres and cancer research centres.The coordination of calls and financial management of cancer research projects.The construction of a ‘one–stop shop’ as a contact interface between the industry, small and medium enterprises, scientists and other stakeholders.The support of greater involvement of healthcare professionals in translational research and multidisciplinary training.
In the course of the EUROCAN+PLUS consultative process, several key collaborative projects emerged between the various groups and institutes engaged in the consultation. There was a collaboration network established with Europe’s leading Comprehensive Cancer Centres; funding was awarded for a closer collaboration of Owners of Cancer Registries in Europe (EUROCOURSE); there was funding received from FP7 for an extensive network of leading Biological Resource Centres in Europe (BBMRI); a Working Group identified the special needs of Central, Eastern and South–eastern Europe and proposed a remedy (‘Warsaw Declaration’), and the concept of developing a one–stop shop for dealing with academia and industry including the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) was discussed in detail.
Several other dimensions currently lacking were identified. There is an absolute necessity to include the patients’ voice in the establishment of priority areas in cancer research at the present time. It was a salutary lesson when it was recognized that all that is known about the quality of life of the cancer patient comes from the experience of a tiny proportion of cancer patients included in a few clinical trials. The necessity to have dialogue between funders and scientists to establish the best mechanisms to meet the needs of the entire community was evident. A top priority should be the development of translational research (in its widest form) and the development of effective and innovative cancer treatments and preventative strategies in the European Union. Translational research ranges from bench-to-bedside innovative cancer therapies and extends to include bringing about changes in population behaviours when a risk factor is established.
Having taken note of the barriers and the solutions and having examined relevant examples of existing European organizations in the field, it was agreed during the General Assembly of 19 November 2007 that the EUROCAN+PLUS Project had to recommend the creation of a small, permanent and neutral ECI. This should be a model structure and was widely supported at both General Assemblies of the project. The proposal is based on the successful model of the European Molecular Biology Organisation (EMBO), and its principal aims include providing a forum where researchers from all backgrounds and from all countries can meet with members of other specialities including patients, nurses, clinicians, funders and scientific administrators to develop priority programmes to make Europe more competitive in research and more focused on the cancer patient.
The ECI should assume responsibility for: stimulating innovative cancer research and facilitating processes;becoming the common voice of the cancer research community and serving as an interface between the cancer research community and European citizens, patients’ and organizations;European institutions, Member States, industry and small and medium enterprises;putting into practice the aforementioned solutions aimed at alleviating barriers and coordinating cancer research activities in the EU;dealing with legal and regulatory issues.
Solutions implemented through the ECI will lead to better coordination and collaboration throughout Europe, more efficient use of resources, an increase in Europe’s attractiveness to the biomedical industry and better quality of cancer research and education of health professionals.
The Project considered that European legal instruments currently available were inadequate for addressing many aspects of the barriers identified and for the implementation of effective, lasting solutions. Therefore, the legal environment that could shelter an idea like the ECI remains to be defined but should be done so as a priority. In this context, the initiative of the European Commission for a new legal entity for research infrastructure might be a step in this direction. The development of an effective ECI will require time, but this should be established immediately. As an initial step, coordination efforts should be directed towards the creation of a platform on translational research that could encompass: (1) coordination between basic, clinical and epidemiological research; (2) formal agreements of co-operation between comprehensive cancer centres and basic research laboratories throughout Europe; (3) networking between funding bodies at the European level. Another topic deserving immediate attention is the creation of a European database on cancer research projects and cancer research facilities.
Despite enormous progress in cancer control in Europe during the past two decades, there was an increase of 300,000 in the number of new cases of cancer diagnosed between 2004 and 2006. The European Parliament and its instruments have had a major influence in cancer control, notably in tobacco control and in the implementation of effective population–based screening. To make further progress there is a need for novelty and innovation in cancer research and prevention in Europe, and having a platform such as the ECI, where those involved in all aspects of cancer research can meet, discuss and interact, is a decisive development for Europe.
PMCID: PMC3234055  PMID: 22274749
4.  Molecular Basis of Symbiotic Promiscuity 
Eukaryotes often form symbioses with microorganisms. Among these, associations between plants and nitrogen-fixing bacteria are responsible for the nitrogen input into various ecological niches. Plants of many different families have evolved the capacity to develop root or stem nodules with diverse genera of soil bacteria. Of these, symbioses between legumes and rhizobia (Azorhizobium, Bradyrhizobium, Mesorhizobium, and Rhizobium) are the most important from an agricultural perspective. Nitrogen-fixing nodules arise when symbiotic rhizobia penetrate their hosts in a strictly controlled and coordinated manner. Molecular codes are exchanged between the symbionts in the rhizosphere to select compatible rhizobia from pathogens. Entry into the plant is restricted to bacteria that have the “keys” to a succession of legume “doors”. Some symbionts intimately associate with many different partners (and are thus promiscuous), while others are more selective and have a narrow host range. For historical reasons, narrow host range has been more intensively investigated than promiscuity. In our view, this has given a false impression of specificity in legume-Rhizobium associations. Rather, we suggest that restricted host ranges are limited to specific niches and represent specialization of widespread and more ancestral promiscuous symbioses. Here we analyze the molecular mechanisms governing symbiotic promiscuity in rhizobia and show that it is controlled by a number of molecular keys.
PMCID: PMC98991  PMID: 10704479
5.  Sequence variability of the pattern recognition receptor Mermaid mediates specificity of marine nematode symbioses 
The ISME journal  2011;5(6):986-998.
Selection of a specific microbial partner by the host is an all-important process. It guarantees the persistence of highly specific symbioses throughout host generations. The cuticle of the marine nematode Laxus oneistus is covered by a single phylotype of sulfur-oxidizing bacteria. They are embedded in a layer of host-secreted mucus containing the mannose-binding protein Mermaid. This Ca2+-dependent lectin mediates symbiont aggregation and attachment to the nematode. Here, we show that Stilbonema majum—a symbiotic nematode co-occurring with L. oneistus in shallow water sediment—is covered by bacteria phylogenetically distinct to those covering L. oneistus. Mermaid cDNA analysis revealed extensive protein sequence variability in both the nematode species. We expressed three recombinant Mermaid isoforms, which based on the structural predictions display the most different carbohydrate recognition domains (CRDs). We show that the three CRDs (DNT, DDA and GDA types) possess different affinities for L. oneistus and S. majum symbionts. In particular, the GDA type, exclusively expressed by S. majum, displays highest agglutination activity towards its symbionts and lowest towards its L. oneistus symbionts. Moreover, incubation of L. oneistus in the GDA type does not result in complete symbiont detachment, whereas incubation in the other types does. This indicates that the presence of particular Mermaid isoforms on the nematode surface has a role in the attachment of specific symbionts. This is the first report of the functional role of sequence variability in a microbe-associated molecular patterns receptor in a beneficial association.
PMCID: PMC3131856  PMID: 21228893
symbiosis; C-type lectin; sulfur-oxidizing bacteria; nematode; microbe-associated molecular pattern receptor; marine sediment
6.  Molecular Mechanisms of Persistence of Mutualistic Bacteria Photorhabdus in the Entomopathogenic Nematode Host 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(10):e13154.
Symbioses between microbes and animals are ubiquitous, yet little is known about the intricate mechanisms maintaining such associations. In an emerging mutualistic model system, insect-pathogenic bacteria Photorhabdus and their insect-parasitic nematode partner Heterorhabditis, we found that the bacteria undergo major transcriptional reshaping in the nematode intestine. Besides general starvation mechanisms, the bacteria induce cellular acidification to slow down growth, switch to pentose phosphate pathway to overcome oxidative stress and nutrition limitation, and shed motility but develop biofilm to persist in the nematode intestine until being released into the insect hemolymph. These findings demonstrate how the symbiotic bacteria reduce their nutritional dependence on the enduring nematode partner to ensure successful transmission of the couple to the next insect host.
PMCID: PMC2950140  PMID: 20957199
7.  Culture-Independent Investigation of the Microbiome Associated with the Nematode Acrobeloides maximus 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(7):e67425.
Symbioses between metazoans and microbes are widespread and vital to many ecosystems. Recent work with several nematode species has suggested that strong associations with microbial symbionts may also be common among members of this phylu. In this work we explore possible symbiosis between bacteria and the free living soil bacteriovorous nematode Acrobeloides maximus.
We used a soil microcosm approach to expose A. maximus populations grown monoxenically on RFP labeled Escherichia coli in a soil slurry. Worms were recovered by density gradient separation and examined using both culture-independent and isolation methods. A 16S rRNA gene survey of the worm-associated bacteria was compared to the soil and to a similar analysis using Caenorhabditis elegans N2. Recovered A. maximus populations were maintained on cholesterol agar and sampled to examine the population dynamics of the microbiome.
A consistent core microbiome was extracted from A. maximus that differed from those in the bulk soil or the C. elegans associated set. Three genera, Ochrobactrum, Pedobacter, and Chitinophaga, were identified at high levels only in the A. maximus populations, which were less diverse than the assemblage associated with C. elegans. Putative symbiont populations were maintained for at least 4 months post inoculation, although the levels decreased as the culture aged. Fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) using probes specific for Ochrobactrum and Pedobacter stained bacterial cells in formaldehyde fixed nematode guts.
Three microorganisms were repeatedly observed in association with Acrobeloides maximus when recovered from soil microcosms. We isolated several Ochrobactrum sp. and Pedobacter sp., and demonstrated that they inhabit the nematode gut by FISH. Although their role in A. maximus is not resolved, we propose possible mutualistic roles for these bacteria in protection of the host against pathogens and facilitating enzymatic digestion of other ingested bacteria.
PMCID: PMC3718782  PMID: 23894287
8.  Myco-heterotrophy: when fungi host plants 
Annals of Botany  2009;104(7):1255-1261.
Myco-heterotrophic plants are partly or entirely non-photosynthetic plants that obtain energy and nutrients from fungi. These plants form a symbiosis with arbuscular mycorrhizal, ectomycorrhizal or saprotrophic fungi to meet their nutrient demands.
This Botanical Briefing summarizes current knowledge about myco-heterotrophy, discusses its controversial aspects and highlights future directions for research.
Considerable recent progress has been made in terms of understanding the evolutionary history, germination and nutrition of myco-heterotrophic plants. Myco-heterotrophic plants: (1) are diverse and often ancient lineages that have coevolved with fungi, (2) often demonstrate unusually high specificity towards fungi during germination and maturity, and (3) can either cheat common mycorrhizal networks supported by neighbouring photosynthetic plants to satisfy all or part of their energetic and nutritional needs, or recruit free-living saprotrophic fungi into novel mycorrhizal symbioses. However, several fundamental aspects of myco-heterotrophy remain controversial or unknown, such as symbiotic costs and physiology.
PMCID: PMC2778383  PMID: 19767309
Cheater; common mycorrhizal network; mutualism; myco-heterotrophy; non-photosynthetic; symbiosis
9.  Ant-plant mutualisms should be viewed as symbiotic communities 
Plant Signaling & Behavior  2009;4(6):554-556.
Ant-plants provide food and nesting space (domatia) for ants that protect them against herbivores. These mutualisms are often very specific and are usually considered as bipartite, or tripartite when ants use hemipterans as trophobionts. However, fungi growing inside domatia have been recorded by a few authors. Here we report on their occurrence on additional ant-plants from Africa, Asia and South America. We demonstrated the symbiotic nature of the relationship between the plant, the ant and the fungus in the model plant Leonardoxa africana africana and its mutualistic ant Petalomyrmex phylax. Moreover, data suggest the ant-fungus relationship is mutualistic. Here we discuss the most probable role of the fungus and the potential implications on the understanding of nutritional ecology of ant-plant symbioses. The fungus is also associated with the presence of nematodes and bacteria. Many ant-plant symbioses previously considered to be bipartite will soon likely prove to be multipartite symbiotic communities.
PMCID: PMC2688311  PMID: 19816123
symbiosis; mutualism; ant-plant; fungi; community ecology; Leonardoxa; coevolution; nematodes
10.  Differential Genome Evolution Between Companion Symbionts in an Insect-Bacterial Symbiosis 
mBio  2014;5(5):e01697-14.
Obligate symbioses with bacteria allow insects to feed on otherwise unsuitable diets. Some symbionts have extremely reduced genomes and have lost many genes considered to be essential in other bacteria. To understand how symbiont genome degeneration proceeds, we compared the genomes of symbionts in two leafhopper species, Homalodisca vitripennis (glassy-winged sharpshooter [GWSS]) and Graphocephala atropunctata (blue-green sharpshooter [BGSS]) (Hemiptera: Cicadellidae). Each host species is associated with the anciently acquired “Candidatus Sulcia muelleri” (Bacteroidetes) and the more recently acquired “Candidatus Baumannia cicadellinicola” (Gammaproteobacteria). BGSS “Ca. Baumannia” retains 89 genes that are absent from GWSS “Ca. Baumannia”; these underlie central cellular functions, including cell envelope biogenesis, cellular replication, and stress response. In contrast, “Ca. Sulcia” strains differ by only a few genes. Although GWSS “Ca. Baumannia” cells are spherical or pleomorphic (a convergent trait of obligate symbionts), electron microscopy reveals that BGSS “Ca. Baumannia” maintains a rod shape, possibly due to its retention of genes involved in cell envelope biogenesis and integrity. Phylogenomic results suggest that “Ca. Baumannia” is derived from the clade consisting of Sodalis and relatives, a group that has evolved symbiotic associations with numerous insect hosts. Finally, the rates of synonymous and nonsynonymous substitutions are higher in “Ca. Baumannia” than in “Ca. Sulcia,” which may be due to a lower mutation rate in the latter. Taken together, our results suggest that the two “Ca. Baumannia” genomes represent different stages of genome reduction in which many essential functions are being lost and likely compensated by hosts. “Ca. Sulcia” exhibits much greater genome stability and slower sequence evolution, although the mechanisms underlying these differences are poorly understood.
In obligate animal-bacterial symbioses, bacteria experience extreme patterns of genome evolution, including massive gene loss and rapid evolution. However, little is known about this process, particularly in systems with complementary bacterial partners. To understand whether genome evolution impacts symbiont types equally and whether lineages follow the same evolutionary path, we sequenced the genomes of two coresident symbiotic bacteria from a plant sap-feeding insect and compared them to the symbionts from a related host species. We found that the older symbiont has a highly reduced genome with low rates of mutation and gene loss. In contrast, the younger symbiont has a larger genome that exhibits higher mutation rates and varies dramatically in the retention of genes related to cell wall biogenesis, cellular replication, and stress response. We conclude that while symbiotic bacteria evolve toward tiny genomes, this process is shaped by different selection intensities that may reflect the different ages and metabolic roles of symbiont types.
PMCID: PMC4196230  PMID: 25271287
11.  Transcriptomic analysis of the entomopathogenic nematode Heterorhabditis bacteriophora TTO1 
BMC Genomics  2009;10:205.
The entomopathogenic nematode Heterorhabditis bacteriophora and its symbiotic bacterium, Photorhabdus luminescens, are important biological control agents of insect pests. This nematode-bacterium-insect association represents an emerging tripartite model for research on mutualistic and parasitic symbioses. Elucidation of mechanisms underlying these biological processes may serve as a foundation for improving the biological control potential of the nematode-bacterium complex. This large-scale expressed sequence tag (EST) analysis effort enables gene discovery and development of microsatellite markers. These ESTs will also aid in the annotation of the upcoming complete genome sequence of H. bacteriophora.
A total of 31,485 high quality ESTs were generated from cDNA libraries of the adult H. bacteriophora TTO1 strain. Cluster analysis revealed the presence of 3,051 contigs and 7,835 singletons, representing 10,886 distinct EST sequences. About 72% of the distinct EST sequences had significant matches (E value < 1e-5) to proteins in GenBank's non-redundant (nr) and Wormpep190 databases. We have identified 12 ESTs corresponding to 8 genes potentially involved in RNA interference, 22 ESTs corresponding to 14 genes potentially involved in dauer-related processes, and 51 ESTs corresponding to 27 genes potentially involved in defense and stress responses. Comparison to ESTs and proteins of free-living nematodes led to the identification of 554 parasitic nematode-specific ESTs in H. bacteriophora, among which are those encoding F-box-like/WD-repeat protein theromacin, Bax inhibitor-1-like protein, and PAZ domain containing protein. Gene Ontology terms were assigned to 6,685 of the 10,886 ESTs. A total of 168 microsatellite loci were identified with primers designable for 141 loci.
A total of 10,886 distinct EST sequences were identified from adult H. bacteriophora cDNA libraries. BLAST searches revealed ESTs potentially involved in parasitism, RNA interference, defense responses, stress responses, and dauer-related processes. The putative microsatellite markers identified in H. bacteriophora ESTs will enable genetic mapping and population genetic studies. These genomic resources provide the material base necessary for genome annotation, microarray development, and in-depth gene functional analysis.
PMCID: PMC2686736  PMID: 19405965
12.  Connecting research discovery with care delivery in dementia: the development of the Indianapolis Discovery Network for Dementia 
The US Institute of Medicine has recommended an integrated, locally sensitive collaboration among the various members of the community, health care systems, and research organizations to improve dementia care and dementia research.
Using complex adaptive system theory and reflective adaptive process, we developed a professional network called the “Indianapolis Discovery Network for Dementia” (IDND). The IDND facilitates effective and sustainable interactions among a local and diverse group of dementia researchers, clinical providers, and community advocates interested in improving care for dementia patients in Indianapolis, Indiana.
The IDND was established in February 2006 and now includes more than 250 members from more than 30 local (central Indiana) organizations representing 20 disciplines. The network uses two types of communication to connect its members. The first is a 2-hour face-to-face bimonthly meeting open to all members. The second is a web-based resource center ( ). To date, the network has: (1) accomplished the development of a network website with an annual average of 12,711 hits per day; (2) produced clinical tools such as the Healthy Aging Brain Care Monitor and the Anticholinergic Cognitive Burden Scale; (3) translated and implemented the collaborative dementia care model into two local health care systems; (4) created web-based tracking software, the Enhanced Medical Record for Aging Brain Care (eMR-ABC), to support care coordination for patients with dementia; (5) received more than USD$24 million in funding for members for dementia-related research studies; and (6) adopted a new group-based problem-solving process called the “IDND consultancy round.”
A local interdisciplinary “think-tank” network focused on dementia that promotes collaboration in research projects, educational initiatives, and quality improvement efforts that meet the local research, clinical, and community needs relevant to dementia care has been built.
PMCID: PMC3508557  PMID: 23204843
cognitive impairment; community research; translational research; complex adaptive system
13.  Characterization of chemoautotrophic bacterial symbionts in a gutless marine worm Oligochaeta, Annelida) by phylogenetic 16S rRNA sequence analysis and in situ hybridization. 
The phylogenetic relationships of chemoautotrophic endosymbionts in the gutless marine oligochaete Inanidrilus leukodermatus to chemoautotrophic ecto- and endosymbionts from other host phyla and to free-living bacteria were determined by comparative 16S rRNA sequence analysis. Fluorescent in situ hybridization confirmed that the 16S rRNA sequence obtained from these worms originated from the symbionts. The symbiont sequence is unique to I. leukodermatus. In phylogenetic trees inferred by both distance and parsimony methods, the oligochaete symbiont is peripherally associated with one of two clusters of chemoautotrophic symbionts that belong to the gamma subdivision of the Proteobacteria. The endosymbionts of this oligochaete form a monophyletic group with chemoautotrophic ectosymbionts of a marine nematode. The oligochaete and nematode symbionts are very closely related, although their hosts belong to separate, unrelated animal phyla. Thus, cospeciation between the nematode and oligochaete hosts and their symbionts could not have occurred. Instead, the similar geographic locations and habitats of the hosts may have influenced the establishment of these symbioses.
PMCID: PMC167506  PMID: 7793955
14.  The Genetics of Symbiotic Nitrogen Fixation: Comparative Genomics of 14 Rhizobia Strains by Resolution of Protein Clusters  
Genes  2012;3(1):138-166.
The symbiotic relationship between legumes and nitrogen fixing bacteria is critical for agriculture, as it may have profound impacts on lowering costs for farmers, on land sustainability, on soil quality, and on mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions. However, despite the importance of the symbioses to the global nitrogen cycling balance, very few rhizobial genomes have been sequenced so far, although there are some ongoing efforts in sequencing elite strains. In this study, the genomes of fourteen selected strains of the order Rhizobiales, all previously fully sequenced and annotated, were compared to assess differences between the strains and to investigate the feasibility of defining a core ‘symbiome’—the essential genes required by all rhizobia for nodulation and nitrogen fixation. Comparison of these whole genomes has revealed valuable information, such as several events of lateral gene transfer, particularly in the symbiotic plasmids and genomic islands that have contributed to a better understanding of the evolution of contrasting symbioses. Unique genes were also identified, as well as omissions of symbiotic genes that were expected to be found. Protein comparisons have also allowed the identification of a variety of similarities and differences in several groups of genes, including those involved in nodulation, nitrogen fixation, production of exopolysaccharides, Type I to Type VI secretion systems, among others, and identifying some key genes that could be related to host specificity and/or a better saprophytic ability. However, while several significant differences in the type and number of proteins were observed, the evidence presented suggests no simple core symbiome exists. A more abstract systems biology concept of nitrogen fixing symbiosis may be required. The results have also highlighted that comparative genomics represents a valuable tool for capturing specificities and generalities of each genome.
PMCID: PMC3899959  PMID: 24704847
nitrogen fixation; symbiosis; Rhizobiales; genome; comparative genomics; nodulation genes; secretion systems
15.  Siboglinid-bacteria endosymbiosis 
Siboglinid worms are a group of gutless marine annelids which are nutritionally dependent upon endosymbiotic bacteria.1,2 Four major groups of siboglinids are known including vestimentiferans, Osedax spp., frenulates and moniliferans.3–5 Very little is known about the diversity of bacterial endosymbionts associated with frenulate or monoliferan siboglinids. This lack of knowledge is surprising considering the global distribution of siboglinids; this system is likely among the most common symbioses in the deep sea. At least three distinct clades of endosymbiotic γ-proteobacteria associate with siboglinid annelids.6 Frenulates harbor a clade of γ-proteobacteria that are divergent from both the thiotrophic bacteria of vestimentiferans and monoliferans as well as the heterotrophic bacteria of Osedax spp.6,7 We also discuss priorities for future siboglinid research and the need to move beyond descriptive studies. A promising new method, laser-capture microdissection (LCM), allows for the precise excision of tissue regions of interest.8 This method, when used in concert with molecular and genomic techniques, such as Expressed Sequence Tag (EST) surveys using pyrosequencing technology, will likely enable investigations into physiological processes and mechanisms in these symbioses. Furthermore, adopting a comparative approach using different siboglinid groups, such as worms harboring thiotrophic versus methanotrophic endosymbionts, may yield considerable insight into the ecology and evolution of the Siboglinidae.
PMCID: PMC2686010  PMID: 19704881
endosymbiont; Frenulata; Osedax; Pogonophora; Siboglinidae; symbiosis; Vestimentifera; γ-proteobacteria symbiont
16.  A New C-Type Lectin Similar to the Human Immunoreceptor DC-SIGN Mediates Symbiont Acquisition by a Marine Nematode†  
Although thiotrophic symbioses have been intensively studied for the last three decades, nothing is known about the molecular mechanisms of symbiont acquisition. We used the symbiosis between the marine nematode Laxus oneistus and sulfur-oxidizing bacteria to study this process. In this association a monolayer of symbionts covers the whole cuticle of the nematode, except its anterior-most region. Here, we identify a novel Ca2+-dependent mannose-specific lectin that was exclusively secreted onto the posterior, bacterium-associated region of L. oneistus cuticle. A recombinant form of this lectin induced symbiont aggregation in seawater and was able to compete with the native lectin for symbiont binding in vivo. Surprisingly, the carbohydrate recognition domain of this mannose-binding protein was similar both structurally and functionally to a human dendritic cell-specific immunoreceptor. Our results provide a molecular link between bacterial symbionts and host-secreted mucus in a marine symbiosis and suggest conservation in the mechanisms of host-microbe interactions throughout the animal kingdom.
PMCID: PMC1449045  PMID: 16598002
17.  Interspecific competition between entomopathogenic nematodes (Steinernema) is modified by their bacterial symbionts (Xenorhabdus) 
Symbioses between invertebrates and prokaryotes are biological systems of particular interest in order to study the evolution of mutualism. The symbioses between the entomopathogenic nematodes Steinernema and their bacterial symbiont Xenorhabdus are very tractable model systems. Previous studies demonstrated (i) a highly specialized relationship between each strain of nematodes and its naturally associated bacterial strain and (ii) that mutualism plays a role in several important life history traits of each partner such as access to insect host resources, dispersal and protection against various biotic and abiotic factors. The goal of the present study was to address the question of the impact of Xenorhabdus symbionts on the progression and outcome of interspecific competition between individuals belonging to different Steinernema species. For this, we monitored experimental interspecific competition between (i) two nematode species: S. carpocapsae and S. scapterisci and (ii) their respective symbionts: X. nematophila and X. innexi within an experimental insect-host (Galleria mellonella). Three conditions of competition between nematodes were tested: (i) infection of insects with aposymbiotic IJs (i.e. without symbiont) of both species (ii) infection of insects with aposymbiotic IJs of both species in presence of variable proportion of their two Xenorhabdus symbionts and (iii) infection of insects with symbiotic IJs (i.e. naturally associated with their symbionts) of both species.
We found that both the progression and the outcome of interspecific competition between entomopathogenic nematodes were influenced by their bacterial symbionts. Thus, the results obtained with aposymbiotic nematodes were totally opposite to those obtained with symbiotic nematodes. Moreover, the experimental introduction of different ratios of Xenorhabdus symbionts in the insect-host during competition between Steinernema modified the proportion of each species in the adults and in the global offspring.
We showed that Xenorhabdus symbionts modified the competition between their Steinernema associates. This suggests that Xenorhabdus not only provides Steinernema with access to food sources but also furnishes new abilities to deal with biotic parameters such as competitors.
PMCID: PMC1569874  PMID: 16953880
18.  Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor Mutation (EGFR) Testing for Prediction of Response to EGFR-Targeting Tyrosine Kinase Inhibitor (TKI) Drugs in Patients with Advanced Non-Small-Cell Lung Cancer 
Executive Summary
In February 2010, the Medical Advisory Secretariat (MAS) began work on evidence-based reviews of the literature surrounding three pharmacogenomic tests. This project came about when Cancer Care Ontario (CCO) asked MAS to provide evidence-based analyses on the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of three oncology pharmacogenomic tests currently in use in Ontario.
Evidence-based analyses have been prepared for each of these technologies. These have been completed in conjunction with internal and external stakeholders, including a Provincial Expert Panel on Pharmacogenetics (PEPP). Within the PEPP, subgroup committees were developed for each disease area. For each technology, an economic analysis was also completed by the Toronto Health Economics and Technology Assessment Collaborative (THETA) and is summarized within the reports.
The following reports can be publicly accessed at the MAS website at: or at
Gene Expression Profiling for Guiding Adjuvant Chemotherapy Decisions in Women with Early Breast Cancer: An Evidence-Based Analysis
Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor Mutation (EGFR) Testing for Prediction of Response to EGFR-Targeting Tyrosine Kinase Inhibitor (TKI) Drugs in Patients with Advanced Non-Small-Cell Lung Cancer: an Evidence-Based Analysis
K-RAS testing in Treatment Decisions for Advanced Colorectal Cancer: an Evidence-Based Analysis
The Medical Advisory Secretariat undertook a systematic review of the evidence on the clinical effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) mutation testing compared with no EGFR mutation testing to predict response to tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs), gefitinib (Iressa®) or erlotinib (Tarceva®) in patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).
Clinical Need: Target Population and Condition
With an estimated 7,800 new cases and 7,000 deaths last year, lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in Ontario. Those with unresectable or advanced disease are commonly treated with concurrent chemoradiation or platinum-based combination chemotherapy. Although response rates to cytotoxic chemotherapy for advanced NSCLC are approximately 30 to 40%, all patients eventually develop resistance and have a median survival of only 8 to 10 months. Treatment for refractory or relapsed disease includes single-agent treatment with docetaxel, pemetrexed or EGFR-targeting TKIs (gefitinib, erlotinib). TKIs disrupt EGFR signaling by competing with adenosine triphosphate (ATP) for the binding sites at the tyrosine kinase (TK) domain, thus inhibiting the phosphorylation and activation of EGFRs and the downstream signaling network. Gefitinib and erlotinib have been shown to be either non-inferior or superior to chemotherapy in the first- or second-line setting (gefitinib), or superior to placebo in the second- or third-line setting (erlotinib).
Certain patient characteristics (adenocarcinoma, non-smoking history, Asian ethnicity, female gender) predict for better survival benefit and response to therapy with TKIs. In addition, the current body of evidence shows that somatic mutations in the EGFR gene are the most robust biomarkers for EGFR-targeting therapy selection. Drugs used in this therapy, however, can be costly, up to C$ 2000 to C$ 3000 per month, and they have only approximately a 10% chance of benefiting unselected patients. For these reasons, the predictive value of EGFR mutation testing for TKIs in patients with advanced NSCLC needs to be determined.
The Technology: EGFR mutation testing
The EGFR gene sequencing by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assays is the most widely used method for EGFR mutation testing. PCR assays can be performed at pathology laboratories across Ontario. According to experts in the province, sequencing is not currently done in Ontario due to lack of adequate measurement sensitivity. A variety of new methods have been introduced to increase the measurement sensitivity of the mutation assay. Some technologies such as single-stranded conformational polymorphism, denaturing high-performance liquid chromatography, and high-resolution melting analysis have the advantage of facilitating rapid mutation screening of large numbers of samples with high measurement sensitivity but require direct sequencing to confirm the identity of the detected mutations. Other techniques have been developed for the simple, but highly sensitive detection of specific EGFR mutations, such as the amplification refractory mutations system (ARMS) and the peptide nucleic acid-locked PCR clamping. Others selectively digest wild-type DNA templates with restriction endonucleases to enrich mutant alleles by PCR. Experts in the province of Ontario have commented that currently PCR fragment analysis for deletion and point mutation conducts in Ontario, with measurement sensitivity of 1% to 5%.
Research Questions
In patients with locally-advanced or metastatic NSCLC, what is the clinical effectiveness of EGFR mutation testing for prediction of response to treatment with TKIs (gefitinib, erlotinib) in terms of progression-free survival (PFS), objective response rates (ORR), overall survival (OS), and quality of life (QoL)?
What is the impact of EGFR mutation testing on overall clinical decision-making for patients with advanced or metastatic NSCLC?
What is the cost-effectiveness of EGFR mutation testing in selecting patients with advanced NSCLC for treatment with gefitinib or erlotinib in the first-line setting?
What is the budget impact of EGFR mutation testing in selecting patients with advanced NSCLC for treatment with gefitinib or erlotinib in the second- or third-line setting?
A literature search was performed on March 9, 2010 using OVID MEDLINE, MEDLINE In-Process and Other Non-Indexed Citations, OVID EMBASE, Wiley Cochrane, CINAHL, Centre for Reviews and Dissemination/International Agency for Health Technology Assessment for studies published from January 1, 2004 until February 28, 2010 using the following terms:
Non-Small-Cell Lung Carcinoma
Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor
An automatic literature update program also extracted all papers published from February 2010 until August 2010. Abstracts were reviewed by a single reviewer and for those studies meeting the eligibility criteria full-text articles were obtained. Reference lists were also examined for any additional relevant studies not identified through the search. Articles with unknown eligibility were reviewed with a second clinical epidemiologist, and then a group of epidemiologists, until consensus was established. The quality of evidence was assessed as high, moderate, low or very low according to GRADE methodology.
The inclusion criteria were as follows:
Population: patients with locally advanced or metastatic NSCLC (stage IIIB or IV)
Procedure: EGFR mutation testing before treatment with gefitinib or erlotinib
Language: publication in English
Published health technology assessments, guidelines, and peer-reviewed literature (abstracts, full text, conference abstract)
Outcomes: progression-free survival (PFS), Objective response rate (ORR), overall survival (OS), quality of life (QoL).
The exclusion criteria were as follows:
Studies lacking outcomes specific to those of interest
Studies focused on erlotinib maintenance therapy
Studies focused on gefitinib or erlotinib use in combination with cytotoxic agents or any other drug
Grey literature, where relevant, was also reviewed.
Outcomes of Interest
ORR determined by means of the Response Evaluation Criteria in Solid Tumours (RECIST)
Quality of Evidence
The quality of the Phase II trials and observational studies was based on the method of subject recruitment and sampling, possibility of selection bias, and generalizability to the source population. The overall quality of evidence was assessed as high, moderate, low or very low according to the GRADE Working Group criteria.
Summary of Findings
Since the last published health technology assessment by Blue Cross Blue Shield Association in 2007 there have been a number of phase III trials which provide evidence of predictive value of EGFR mutation testing in patients who were treated with gefitinib compared to chemotherapy in the first- or second-line setting. The Iressa Pan Asian Study (IPASS) trial showed the superiority of gefitinib in terms of PFS in patients with EGFR mutations versus patients with wild-type EGFR (Hazard ratio [HR], 0.48, 95%CI; 0.36-0.64 versus HR, 2.85; 95%CI, 2.05-3.98). Moreover, there was a statistically significant increased ORR in patients who received gefitinib and had EGFR mutations compared to patients with wild-type EGFR (71% versus 1%). The First-SIGNAL trial in patients with similar clinical characteristics as IPASS as well as the NEJ002 and WJTOG3405 trials that included only patients with EGFR mutations, provide confirmation that gefitinib is superior to chemotherapy in terms of improved PFS or higher ORR in patients with EGFR mutations. The INTEREST trial further indicated that patients with EGFR mutations had prolonged PFS and higher ORR when treated with gefitinib compared with docetaxel.
In contrast, there is still a paucity of strong evidence regarding the predictive value of EGFR mutation testing for response to erlotinib in the second- or third-line setting. The BR.21 trial randomized 731 patients with NSCLC who were refractory or intolerant to prior first- or second-line chemotherapy to receive erlotinib or placebo. While the HR of 0.61 (95%CI, 0.51-0.74) favored erlotinib in the overall population, this was not a significant in the subsequent retrospective subgroup analysis. A retrospective evaluation of 116 of the BR.21 tumor samples demonstrated that patients with EGFR mutations had significantly higher ORRs when treated with erlotinib compared with placebo (27% versus 7%; P=0.03). However, erlotinib did not confer a significant survival benefit compared with placebo in patients with EGFR mutations (HR, 0.55; 95%CI, 0.25-1.19) versus wild-type (HR, 0.74; 95%CI, 0.52-1.05). The interaction between EGFR mutation status and erlotinib use was not significant (P=0.47). The lack of significance could be attributable to a type II error since there was a low sample size that was available for subgroup analysis.
A series of phase II studies have examined the clinical effectiveness of erlotinib in patients known to have EGFR mutations. Evidence from these studies has consistently shown that erlotinib yields a very high ORR (typically 70% vs. 4%) and a prolonged PFS (9 months vs. 2 months) in patients with EGFR mutations compared with patients with wild-type EGFR. Although having a prolonged PFS and higher respond in EGFR mutated patients might be due to a better prognostic profile regardless of the treatment received. In the absence of a comparative treatment or placebo control group, it is difficult to determine if the observed differences in survival benefit in patients with EGFR mutation is attributed to prognostic or predictive value of EGFR mutation status.
Based on moderate quality of evidence, patients with locally advanced or metastatic NSCLC with adenocarcinoma histology being treated with gefitinib in the first-line setting are highly likely to benefit from gefitinib if they have EGFR mutations compared to those with wild-type EGFR. This advantage is reflected in improved PFS, ORR and QoL in patients with EGFR mutation who are being treated with gefitinib relative to patients treated with chemotherapy.
Based on low quality of evidence, in patients with locally advanced or metastatic NSCLC who are being treated with erlotinib, the identification of EGFR mutation status selects those who are most likely to benefit from erlotinib relative to patients treated with placebo in the second or third-line setting.
PMCID: PMC3377519  PMID: 23074402
19.  Generalists at the interface: Nematode transmission between wild and domestic ungulates 
•Nematodes vary in host range, affecting potential for cross-species transmission.•Host-specific parasites account for <50% of the parasite species infecting a host.•Goats are most and horses are least liable to nematodes carried by wildlife.•Plains zebra and mouflon are most liable to nematodes carried by livestock.•Existing knowledge is biased, 84% of references are from Africa, Europe, North America.
Graphical Abstract
Many parasitic nematode species are generalists capable of infecting multiple host species. The complex life cycle of nematodes, involving partial development outside of the host, facilitates transmission of these parasites between host species even when there is no direct contact between hosts. Infective nematode larvae persist in the environment, and where grazing or water sources are shared ingestion of parasite larvae deposited by different host species is likely. In this paper we examine the extent to which nematode parasite species have been observed in sympatric wild and domestic ungulates. First, using existing host–parasite databases, we describe expected overlap of 412 nematode species between 76 wild and 8 domestic ungulate host species. Our results indicate that host-specific parasites make up less than half of the nematode parasites infecting any particular ungulate host species. For wild host species, between 14% (for common warthog) and 76% (for mouflon) of parasitic nematode species are shared with domestic species. For domestic host species, between 42% (for horse) and 77% (for llamas/alpacas) of parasitic nematode species are shared with wild species. We also present an index of liability to describe the risk of cross-boundary parasites to each host species. We then examine specific examples from the literature in which transmission of nematode parasites between domestic and wild ungulates is described. However, there are many limitations in the existing data due to geographical bias and certain host species being studied more frequently than others. Although we demonstrate that many species of parasitic nematode are found in both wild and domestic hosts, little work has been done to demonstrate whether transmission is occurring between species or whether similar strains circulate separately. Additional research on cross-species transmission, including the use of models and of genetic methods to define strains, will provide evidence to answer this question.
PMCID: PMC4241528  PMID: 25426420
Nematode; Ungulate; Parasite; Domestic; Generalist
20.  Genomic and Proteomic Analyses of the Fungus Arthrobotrys oligospora Provide Insights into Nematode-Trap Formation 
PLoS Pathogens  2011;7(9):e1002179.
Nematode-trapping fungi are “carnivorous” and attack their hosts using specialized trapping devices. The morphological development of these traps is the key indicator of their switch from saprophytic to predacious lifestyles. Here, the genome of the nematode-trapping fungus Arthrobotrys oligospora Fres. (ATCC24927) was reported. The genome contains 40.07 Mb assembled sequence with 11,479 predicted genes. Comparative analysis showed that A. oligospora shared many more genes with pathogenic fungi than with non-pathogenic fungi. Specifically, compared to several sequenced ascomycete fungi, the A. oligospora genome has a larger number of pathogenicity-related genes in the subtilisin, cellulase, cellobiohydrolase, and pectinesterase gene families. Searching against the pathogen-host interaction gene database identified 398 homologous genes involved in pathogenicity in other fungi. The analysis of repetitive sequences provided evidence for repeat-induced point mutations in A. oligospora. Proteomic and quantitative PCR (qPCR) analyses revealed that 90 genes were significantly up-regulated at the early stage of trap-formation by nematode extracts and most of these genes were involved in translation, amino acid metabolism, carbohydrate metabolism, cell wall and membrane biogenesis. Based on the combined genomic, proteomic and qPCR data, a model for the formation of nematode trapping device in this fungus was proposed. In this model, multiple fungal signal transduction pathways are activated by its nematode prey to further regulate downstream genes associated with diverse cellular processes such as energy metabolism, biosynthesis of the cell wall and adhesive proteins, cell division, glycerol accumulation and peroxisome biogenesis. This study will facilitate the identification of pathogenicity-related genes and provide a broad foundation for understanding the molecular and evolutionary mechanisms underlying fungi-nematodes interactions.
Author Summary
The fungus Arthrobotrys oligospora has multiple lifestyles. It's not only a nematode pathogen, but also a saprophyte, a pathogen of other fungi, and a colonizer of plant roots. As a nematode pathogen, A. oligospora forms adhesive networks to capture nematodes and is a model organism for understanding the interaction between these fungi and their host nematodes. In this study, the whole genome sequence of A. oligospora was reported. Our analyses of the proteome profiles of intracellular proteins from cells treated with nematode extracts for 10 h and 48 h revealed a key set of genes involved in trap formation. The changes in protein levels for some trap formation related genes were further confirmed by qPCR. The combined genome and proteome analysis identified the major genetic and metabolic pathways involved in trap formation in A. oligospora. Our results provide the first glimpse into the genome and proteome of this fascinating group of carnivorous fungi. The data should serve as a roadmap for further investigations into the interaction between nematode-trapping fungi and their host nematodes, providing broad foundations for research on the biocontrol of pathogenic nematodes.
PMCID: PMC3164635  PMID: 21909256
21.  The genome of the intracellular bacterium of the coastal bivalve, Solemya velum: a blueprint for thriving in and out of symbiosis 
BMC Genomics  2014;15(1):924.
Symbioses between chemoautotrophic bacteria and marine invertebrates are rare examples of living systems that are virtually independent of photosynthetic primary production. These associations have evolved multiple times in marine habitats, such as deep-sea hydrothermal vents and reducing sediments, characterized by steep gradients of oxygen and reduced chemicals. Due to difficulties associated with maintaining these symbioses in the laboratory and culturing the symbiotic bacteria, studies of chemosynthetic symbioses rely heavily on culture independent methods. The symbiosis between the coastal bivalve, Solemya velum, and its intracellular symbiont is a model for chemosynthetic symbioses given its accessibility in intertidal environments and the ability to maintain it under laboratory conditions. To better understand this symbiosis, the genome of the S. velum endosymbiont was sequenced.
Relative to the genomes of obligate symbiotic bacteria, which commonly undergo erosion and reduction, the S. velum symbiont genome was large (2.7 Mb), GC-rich (51%), and contained a large number (78) of mobile genetic elements. Comparative genomics identified sets of genes specific to the chemosynthetic lifestyle and necessary to sustain the symbiosis. In addition, a number of inferred metabolic pathways and cellular processes, including heterotrophy, branched electron transport, and motility, suggested that besides the ability to function as an endosymbiont, the bacterium may have the capacity to live outside the host.
The physiological dexterity indicated by the genome substantially improves our understanding of the genetic and metabolic capabilities of the S. velum symbiont and the breadth of niches the partners may inhabit during their lifecycle.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/1471-2164-15-924) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4287430  PMID: 25342549
Symbiosis; Chemosynthesis; Sulfur oxidation; Respiratory flexibility; H+/Na+ -membrane cycles; Calvin cycle; Pyrophosphate-dependent phosphofructokinase; Heterotrophy; Motility; Mobile genetic elements
22.  The Complexity of Virus Systems: The Case of Endosymbionts 
Current opinion in microbiology  2012;15(4):546-552.
Host-microbe symbioses involving bacterial endosymbionts comprise some of the most intimate and long-lasting interactions on the planet. While restricted gene flow might be expected due to their intracellular lifestyle, many endosymbionts, especially those that switch hosts, are rampant with mobile DNA and bacteriophages. One endosymbiont, Wolbachia pipientis, infects a vast number of arthropod and nematode species and often has a significant portion of its genome dedicated to prophage sequences of a virus called WO. This phage has challenged fundamental theories of bacteriophage and endosymbiont evolution, namely the phage Modular Theory and bacterial genome stability in obligate intracellular species. WO has also opened up exciting windows into the tripartite interactions between viruses, bacteria, and eukaryotes.
PMCID: PMC3424318  PMID: 22609369
23.  Cardiac Magnetic Resonance Imaging for the Diagnosis of Coronary Artery Disease 
Executive Summary
In July 2009, the Medical Advisory Secretariat (MAS) began work on Non-Invasive Cardiac Imaging Technologies for the Diagnosis of Coronary Artery Disease (CAD), an evidence-based review of the literature surrounding different cardiac imaging modalities to ensure that appropriate technologies are accessed by patients suspected of having CAD. This project came about when the Health Services Branch at the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care asked MAS to provide an evidentiary platform on effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of non-invasive cardiac imaging modalities.
After an initial review of the strategy and consultation with experts, MAS identified five key non-invasive cardiac imaging technologies for the diagnosis of CAD. Evidence-based analyses have been prepared for each of these five imaging modalities: cardiac magnetic resonance imaging, single photon emission computed tomography, 64-slice computed tomographic angiography, stress echocardiography, and stress echocardiography with contrast. For each technology, an economic analysis was also completed (where appropriate). A summary decision analytic model was then developed to encapsulate the data from each of these reports (available on the OHTAC and MAS website).
The Non-Invasive Cardiac Imaging Technologies for the Diagnosis of Coronary Artery Disease series is made up of the following reports, which can be publicly accessed at the MAS website at: or at
Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography for the Diagnosis of Coronary Artery Disease: An Evidence-Based Analysis
Stress Echocardiography for the Diagnosis of Coronary Artery Disease: An Evidence-Based Analysis
Stress Echocardiography with Contrast for the Diagnosis of Coronary Artery Disease: An Evidence-Based Analysis
64-Slice Computed Tomographic Angiography for the Diagnosis of Coronary Artery Disease: An Evidence-Based Analysis
Cardiac Magnetic Resonance Imaging for the Diagnosis of Coronary Artery Disease: An Evidence-Based Analysis
Pease note that two related evidence-based analyses of non-invasive cardiac imaging technologies for the assessment of myocardial viability are also available on the MAS website:
Positron Emission Tomography for the Assessment of Myocardial Viability: An Evidence-Based Analysis
Magnetic Resonance Imaging for the Assessment of Myocardial Viability: an Evidence-Based Analysis
The Toronto Health Economics and Technology Assessment Collaborative has also produced an associated economic report entitled:
The Relative Cost-effectiveness of Five Non-invasive Cardiac Imaging Technologies for Diagnosing Coronary Artery Disease in Ontario [Internet]. Available from:
The objective of this analysis was to determine the diagnostic accuracy of cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) for the diagnosis of patients with known/suspected coronary artery disease (CAD) compared to coronary angiography.
Cardiac MRI
Stress cardiac MRI is a non-invasive, x-ray free imaging technique that takes approximately 30 to 45 minutes to complete and can be performed using to two different methods, a) perfusion imaging following a first pass of an intravenous bolus of gadolinium contrast, or b) wall motion imaging. Stress is induced pharmacologically with either dobutamine, dipyridamole, or adenosine, as physical exercise is difficult to perform within the magnet bore and often induces motion artifacts. Alternatives to stress cardiac perfusion MRI include stress single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) and stress echocardiography (ECHO). The advantage of cardiac MRI is that it does not pose the radiation burden associated with SPECT. During the same sitting, cardiac MRI can also assess left and right ventricular dimensions, viability, and cardiac mass. It may also mitigate the need for invasive diagnostic coronary angiography in patients with intermediate risk factors for CAD.
Evidence-Based Analysis
Literature Search
A literature search was performed on October 9, 2009 using OVID MEDLINE, MEDLINE In-Process and Other Non-Indexed Citations, EMBASE, the Cumulative Index to Nursing & Allied Health Literature (CINAHL), the Cochrane Library, and the International Agency for Health Technology Assessment (INAHTA) for studies published from January 1, 2005 to October 9, 2008. Abstracts were reviewed by a single reviewer and, for those studies meeting the eligibility criteria, full-text articles were obtained. Reference lists were also examined for any relevant studies not identified through the search. Articles with unknown eligibility were reviewed with a second clinical epidemiologist and then a group of epidemiologists until consensus was established. The quality of evidence was assessed as high, moderate, low or very low according to GRADE methodology.
Given the large amount of clinical heterogeneity of the articles meeting the inclusion criteria, as well as suggestions from an Expert Advisory Panel Meeting held on October 5, 2009, the inclusion criteria were revised to examine the effectiveness of cardiac MRI for the detection of CAD.
Heath technology assessments, systematic reviews, randomized controlled trials, observational studies
≥20 adult patients enrolled.
Published 2004-2009
Licensed by Health Canada
For diagnosis of CAD:
Reference standard is coronary angiography
Significant CAD defined as ≥ 50% coronary stenosis
Patients with suspected or known CAD
Reported results by patient, not segment
Non-English studies
Grey literature
Planar imaging
Patients with recent MI (i.e., within 1 month)
Patients with non-ischemic heart disease
Studies done exclusively in special populations (e.g., women, diabetics)
Outcomes of Interest
Sensitivity and specificity
Area under the curve (AUC)
Diagnostic odds ratio (DOR)
Summary of Findings
Stress cardiac MRI using perfusion analysis yielded a pooled sensitivity of 0.91 (95% CI: 0.89 to 0.92) and specificity of 0.79 (95% CI: 0.76 to 0.82) for the detection of CAD.
Stress cardiac MRI using wall motion analysis yielded a pooled sensitivity of 0.81 (95% CI: 0.77 to 0.84) and specificity of 0.85 (95% CI: 0.81 to 0.89) for the detection of CAD.
Based on DORs, there was no significant difference between pooled stress cardiac MRI using perfusion analysis and pooled stress cardiac MRI using wall motion analysis (P=0.26) for the detection of CAD.
Pooled subgroup analysis of stress cardiac MRI using perfusion analysis showed no significant difference in the DORs between 1.5T and 3T MRI (P=0.72) for the detection of CAD.
One study (N=60) was identified that examined stress cardiac MRI using wall motion analysis with a 3T MRI. The sensitivity and specificity of 3T MRI were 0.64 (95% CI: 0.44 to 0.81) and 1.00 (95% CI: 0.89 to 1.00), respectively, for the detection of CAD.
The effectiveness of stress cardiac MRI for the detection of CAD in unstable patients with acute coronary syndrome was reported in only one study (N=35). Using perfusion analysis, the sensitivity and specificity were 0.72 (95% CI: 0.53 to 0.87) and 1.00 (95% CI: 0.54 to 1.00), respectively, for the detection of CAD.
Ontario Health System Impact Analysis
According to an expert consultant, in Ontario:
Stress first pass perfusion is currently performed in small numbers in London (London Health Sciences Centre) and Toronto (University Health Network at the Toronto General Hospital site and Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre).
Stress wall motion is only performed as part of research protocols and not very often.
Cardiac MRI machines use 1.5T almost exclusively, with 3T used in research for first pass perfusion.
On November 25 2009, the Cardiac Imaging Expert Advisory Panel met and made the following comments about stress cardiac MRI for perfusion analysis:
Accessibility to cardiac MRI is limited and generally used to assess structural abnormalities. Most MRIs in Ontario are already in 24–hour, constant use and it would thus be difficult to add cardiac MRI for CAD diagnosis as an additional indication.
The performance of cardiac MRI for the diagnosis of CAD can be technically challenging.
GRADE Quality of Evidence for Cardiac MRI in the Diagnosis of CAD
The quality of the body of evidence was assessed according to the GRADE Working Group criteria for diagnostic tests. For perfusion analysis, the overall quality was determined to be low and for wall motion analysis the overall quality was very low.
PMCID: PMC3377522  PMID: 23074389
24.  Marine bacterial, archaeal and protistan association networks reveal ecological linkages 
The ISME Journal  2011;5(9):1414-1425.
Microbes have central roles in ocean food webs and global biogeochemical processes, yet specific ecological relationships among these taxa are largely unknown. This is in part due to the dilute, microscopic nature of the planktonic microbial community, which prevents direct observation of their interactions. Here, we use a holistic (that is, microbial system-wide) approach to investigate time-dependent variations among taxa from all three domains of life in a marine microbial community. We investigated the community composition of bacteria, archaea and protists through cultivation-independent methods, along with total bacterial and viral abundance, and physico-chemical observations. Samples and observations were collected monthly over 3 years at a well-described ocean time-series site of southern California. To find associations among these organisms, we calculated time-dependent rank correlations (that is, local similarity correlations) among relative abundances of bacteria, archaea, protists, total abundance of bacteria and viruses and physico-chemical parameters. We used a network generated from these statistical correlations to visualize and identify time-dependent associations among ecologically important taxa, for example, the SAR11 cluster, stramenopiles, alveolates, cyanobacteria and ammonia-oxidizing archaea. Negative correlations, perhaps suggesting competition or predation, were also common. The analysis revealed a progression of microbial communities through time, and also a group of unknown eukaryotes that were highly correlated with dinoflagellates, indicating possible symbioses or parasitism. Possible ‘keystone' species were evident. The network has statistical features similar to previously described ecological networks, and in network parlance has non-random, small world properties (that is, highly interconnected nodes). This approach provides new insights into the natural history of microbes.
PMCID: PMC3160682  PMID: 21430787
co-occurrence patterns; stramenopiles; dinoflagellates; SAR11; cyanobacteria; time series
25.  Toward 959 nematode genomes 
Worm  2012;1(1):42-50.
The sequencing of the complete genome of the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans was a landmark achievement and ushered in a new era of whole-organism, systems analyses of the biology of this powerful model organism. The success of the C. elegans genome sequencing project also inspired communities working on other organisms to approach genome sequencing of their species. The phylum Nematoda is rich and diverse and of interest to a wide range of research fields from basic biology through ecology and parasitic disease. For all these communities, it is now clear that access to genome scale data will be key to advancing understanding, and in the case of parasites, developing new ways to control or cure diseases. The advent of second-generation sequencing technologies, improvements in computing algorithms and infrastructure and growth in bioinformatics and genomics literacy is making the addition of genome sequencing to the research goals of any nematode research program a less daunting prospect. To inspire, promote and coordinate genomic sequencing across the diversity of the phylum, we have launched a community wiki and the 959 Nematode Genomes initiative ( Just as the deciphering of the developmental lineage of the 959 cells of the adult hermaphrodite C. elegans was the gateway to broad advances in biomedical science, we hope that a nematode phylogeny with (at least) 959 sequenced species will underpin further advances in understanding the origins of parasitism, the dynamics of genomic change and the adaptations that have made Nematoda one of the most successful animal phyla.
PMCID: PMC3670170  PMID: 24058822
genome; nematode; next-generation sequencing; second-generation sequencing; wiki

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