Genomic analysis of the methanotrophic verrucomicrobium “Methylacidiphilum infernorum” strain V4 has shown that most pathways conferring its methanotrophic lifestyle are similar to those found in proteobacterial methanotrophs. However, due to the large sequence divergence of its methane monooxygenase-encoding genes (pmo), “universal” pmoA polymerase chain reaction (PCR) primers do not target these bacteria. Unlike proteobacterial methanotrophs, “Methylacidiphilum” fixes carbon autotrophically, and uses methane only for energy generation. As a result, techniques used to detect methanotrophs in the environment such as 13CH4-stable isotope probing (SIP) and pmoA-targeted PCR do not detect verrucomicrobial methanotrophs, and they may have been overlooked in previous environmental studies. We developed a modified SIP technique to identify active methanotrophic Verrucomicrobia in the environment by labeling with 13CO2 and 13CH4, individually and in combination. Testing the protocol in “M. infernorum” strain V4 resulted in assimilation of 13CO2 but not 13CH4, verifying its autotrophic lifestyle. To specifically detect methanotrophs (as opposed to other autotrophs) via 13CO2-SIP, a quantitative PCR (qPCR) assay specific for verrucomicrobial-pmoA genes was developed and used in combination with SIP. Incubation of an acidic, high-temperature geothermal soil with 13CH4 + 12CO2 caused little shift in the density distribution of verrucomicrobial-pmoA genes relative to controls. However, labeling with 13CO2 in combination with 12CH4 or 13CH4 induced a strong shift in the distribution of verrucomicrobial-pmoA genes towards the heavy DNA fractions. The modified SIP technique demonstrated that the primary methanotrophs active in the soil were autotrophs and belonged to the Verrucomicrobia. This is the first demonstration of autotrophic, non-proteobacterial methanotrophy in situ, and provides a tool to detect verrucomicrobial methanotrophs in other ecosystems.
Verrucomicrobia; methane; methanotroph; stable isotope probing; “Methylacidiphilum”; acidophile
Aerobic methanotrophic bacteria can use methane as their sole energy source. The discovery of “Ca. Methylacidiphilum fumariolicum” strain SolV and other verrucomicrobial methanotrophs has revealed that the ability of bacteria to oxidize CH4 is much more diverse than has previously been assumed in terms of ecology, phylogeny, and physiology. A remarkable characteristic of the methane-oxidizing Verrucomicrobia is their extremely acidophilic phenotype, growing even below pH 1. In this study we used RNA-Seq to analyze the metabolic regulation of “Ca. M. fumariolicum” SolV cells growing at μmax in batch culture or under nitrogen fixing or oxygen limited conditions in chemostats, all at pH 2. The analysis showed that two of the three pmoCAB operons each encoding particulate methane monoxygenases were differentially expressed, probably regulated by the available oxygen. The hydrogen produced during N2 fixation is apparently recycled as demonstrated by the upregulation of the genes encoding a Ni/Fe-dependent hydrogenase. These hydrogenase genes were also upregulated under low oxygen conditions. Handling of nitrosative stress was shown by the expression of the nitric oxide reductase encoding genes norB and norC under all conditions tested, the upregulation of nitrite reductase nirK under oxygen limitation and of hydroxylamine oxidoreductase hao in the presence of ammonium. Unraveling the gene regulation of carbon and nitrogen metabolism helps to understand the underlying physiological adaptations of strain SolV in view of the harsh conditions of its natural ecosystem.
Methylacidiphilum; methane; RNA-Seq; Verrucomicrobia; metabolic regulation; nitrogen; pMMO
Most soil bacteria belong to family-level phylogenetic groups with few or no known cultivated representatives. We cultured a collection of 350 isolates from soil by using simple solid media in petri dishes. These isolates were assigned to 60 family-level groupings in nine bacterial phyla on the basis of a comparative analysis of their 16S rRNA genes. Ninety-three (27%) of the isolates belonged to 20 as-yet-unnamed family-level groupings, many from poorly studied bacterial classes and phyla. They included members of subdivisions 1, 2, 3, and 4 of the phylum Acidobacteria, subdivision 3 of the phylum Verrucomicrobia, subdivision 1 of the phylum Gemmatimonadetes, and subclasses Acidimicrobidae and Rubrobacteridae of the phylum Actinobacteria. In addition, members of 10 new family-level groupings of subclass Actinobacteridae of the phylum Actinobacteria and classes Alphaproteobacteria, Betaproteobacteria, and Gammaproteobacteria of the phylum Proteobacteria were obtained. The high degree of phylogenetic novelty and the number of isolates affiliated with so-called unculturable groups show that simple cultivation methods can still be developed further to obtain laboratory cultures of many phylogenetically novel soil bacteria.
The phylum Verrucomicrobia is a divergent phylum within domain Bacteria including members of the microbial communities of soil and fresh and marine waters; recently extremely acidophilic members from hot springs have been found to oxidize methane. At least one genus, Prosthecobacter, includes species with genes homologous to those encoding eukaryotic tubulins. A significant superphylum relationship of Verrucomicrobia with members of phylum Planctomycetes possessing a unique compartmentalized cell plan, and members of the phylum Chlamydiae including human pathogens with a complex intracellular life cycle, has been proposed. Based on the postulated superphylum relationship, we hypothesized that members of the two separate phyla Planctomycetes and Verrucomicrobia might share a similar ultrastructure plan differing from classical prokaryote organization.
The ultrastructure of cells of four members of phylum Verrucomicrobia – Verrucomicrobium spinosum, Prosthecobacter dejongeii, Chthoniobacter flavus, and strain Ellin514 – was examined using electron microscopy incorporating high-pressure freezing and cryosubstitution. These four members of phylum Verrucomicrobia, representing 3 class-level subdivisions within the phylum, were found to possess a compartmentalized cell plan analogous to that found in phylum Planctomycetes. Like all planctomycetes investigated, they possess a major pirellulosome compartment containing a condensed nucleoid and ribosomes surrounded by an intracytoplasmic membrane (ICM), as well as a ribosome-free paryphoplasm compartment between the ICM and cytoplasmic membrane.
A unique compartmentalized cell plan so far found among Domain Bacteria only within phylum Planctomycetes, and challenging our concept of prokaryote cell plans, has now been found in a second phylum of the Domain Bacteria, in members of phylum Verrucomicrobia. The planctomycete cell plan thus occurs in at least two distinct phyla of the Bacteria, phyla which have been suggested from other evidence to be related phylogenetically in the proposed PVC (Planctomycetes-Verrucomicrobia-Chlamydiae) superphylum. This planctomycete cell plan is present in at least 3 of 6 subdivisions of Verrucomicrobia, suggesting that the common ancestor of the verrucomicrobial phylum was also compartmentalized and possessed such a plan. The presence of this compartmentalized cell plan in both phylum Planctomycetes and phylum Verrucomicrobia suggest that the last common ancestor of these phyla was also compartmentalized.
The draft genome of Methylacidiphilum fumariolicum SolV, a thermoacidophilic methanotroph of the phylum Verrucomicrobia, is presented. Annotation revealed pathways for one-carbon, nitrogen, and hydrogen catabolism and respiration together with central metabolic pathways. The genome encodes three orthologues of particulate methane monooxygenases. Sequencing of this genome will help in the understanding of methane cycling in volcanic environments.
Genome data of the extreme acidophilic verrucomicrobial methanotroph Methylacidiphilum fumariolicumstrain SolV indicated the ability of autotrophic growth. This was further validated by transcriptome analysis, which showed that all genes required for a functional Calvin-Benson-Bassham (CBB) cycle were transcribed. Experiments with 13CH4or 13CO2in batch and chemostat cultures demonstrated that CO2is the sole carbon source for growth of strain SolV. In the presence of CH4, CO2concentrations in the headspace below 1% (vol/vol) were growth limiting, and no growth was observed when CO2concentrations were below 0.3% (vol/vol). The activity of the key enzyme of the CBB cycle, ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase/oxygenase (RuBisCO), measured with a 13C stable-isotope method was about 70 nmol CO2fixed · min−1· mg of protein−1. An immune reaction with antibody against the large subunit of RuBisCO on Western blots was found only in the supernatant fractions of cell extracts. The apparent native mass of the RuBisCO complex in strain SolV was about 482 kDa, probably consisting of 8 large (53-kDa) and 8 small (16-kDa) subunits. Based on phylogenetic analysis of the corresponding RuBisCO gene, we postulate that RuBisCO of the verrucomicrobial methanotrophs represents a new type of form I RuBisCO.
Our knowledge of pathogens and symbionts is heavily biased toward phyla containing species that are straightforward to isolate in pure culture. Novel bacterial phyla are often represented by a handful of strains, and the number of species interacting with eukaryotes is likely underestimated. Identification of predicted pathogenesis and symbiosis determinants such as the Type III Secretion System (T3SS) in the genomes of “free-living” bacteria suggests that these microbes participate in uncharacterized interactions with eukaryotes. Our study aimed to test this hypothesis on Verrucomicrobium spinosum (phylum Verrucomicrobia) and to begin characterization of its predicted T3SS. We showed the putative T3SS structural genes to be transcriptionally active, and that expression of predicted effector proteins was toxic to yeast in an established functional screen. Our results suggest that the predicted T3SS genes of V. spinosum could encode a functional T3SS, although further work is needed to determine whether V. spinosum produces a T3SS injectisome that delivers the predicted effectors. In the absence of a known eukaryotic host, we made use of invertebrate infection models. The injection or feeding of V. spinosum to Drosophila melanogaster and Caenorhabditis elegans, respectively, was shown to result in increased mortality rates relative to controls, a phenomenon exaggerated in C. elegans mutants hypersensitive to pathogen infection. This finding, although not conclusively demonstrating pathogenesis, suggests that V. spinosum is capable of pathogenic activity toward an invertebrate host. Symbiotic interactions with a natural host provide an alternative explanation for the results seen in the invertebrate models. Further work is needed to determine whether V. spinosum can establish and maintain interactions with eukaryotic species found in its natural habitat, and whether the predicted T3SS is directly involved in pathogenic or symbiotic activity.
Verrucomicrobia; genome; eukaryotic host
Previously we reported the cultivation of novel verrucomicrobia, including strain TAV2 (93% 16S rRNA gene identity to its nearest cultivated representative, Opitutus terreae PB90-1) from the gut of the termite Reticulitermes flavipes. To gain better insight into the Verrucomicrobia as a whole and understand the role of verrucomicrobia within the termite gut ecosystem, we analyzed a draft genome and undertook a physiological characterization of TAV2. Strain TAV2 is an autochthonous member of the R. flavipes gut microbiota and groups phylogenetically among diverse Verrucomicrobia from R. flavipes and other termites that are represented by 16S rRNA gene sequences alone. TAV2 is a microaerophile, possessing a high-affinity cbb3-type terminal oxidase-encoding gene and exhibiting an optimum growth rate between 2 and 8% (vol/vol) oxygen. It has the genetic potential to degrade cellulose, an important function within termite guts, but its in vitro substrate utilization spectrum was limited to starch and a few mono- and disaccharides. Growth occurred on nitrogen-free medium, and genomic screening revealed genes for dinitrogenases, heretofore detected in only a few members of the Verrucomicrobia. This represents the first (i) characterization of a verrucomicrobial species from the termite gut, (ii) report of nif and anf genes in a nonacidophilic verrucomicrobial species, and (iii) description of a microaerophilic genotype and phenotype in this phylum of bacteria. The genetic and physiological distinctiveness of TAV2 supports its recognition as the type strain of a new genus and species, for which the name Diplosphaera colitermitum gen. nov., sp. nov., is proposed.
DNA extraction bias is a frequently cited but poorly understood limitation of molecular characterizations of environmental microbial communities. To assess the bias of a commonly used soil DNA extraction kit, we varied the cell lysis protocol and conducted multiple extractions on subsamples of clay, sand, and organic soils. DNA, as well as bacterial and fungal ribosomal gene copies as measured by quantitative PCR, continued to be isolated in successive extractions. When terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism was used, a significant shift in community composition due to extraction bias was detected for bacteria but not for fungi. Pyrosequencing indicated that the relative abundances of sequences from rarely cultivated groups such as Acidobacteria, Gemmatimonades, and Verrucomicrobia were higher in the first extraction than in the sixth but that the reverse was true for Proteobacteria and Actinobacteria. This suggests that the well-known phylum-level bacterial cultivation bias may be partially exaggerated by DNA extraction bias. We conclude that bias can be adequately reduced in many situations by pooling three successive extractions, and additional measures should be considered when divergent soil types are compared or when comprehensive community analysis is necessary.
The phylum Verrucomicrobia is increasingly recognized as an environmentally significant group of bacteria, particularly in soil habitats. At least six subdivisions of the Verrucomicrobia are resolved by comparative analysis of 16S rRNA genes, mostly obtained directly from environmental samples. To date, only two of these subdivisions (1 and 4) have characterized pure-culture representatives. We have isolated and characterized the first known pure-culture representative of subdivision 2. Strain Ellin428 is an aerobic heterotrophic bacterium that is able to grow with many of the saccharide components of plant biomass but does not grow with amino acids or organic acids other than pyruvate. Cells are yellow, rod-shaped, nonmotile, and gram-stain negative, and they contain peptidoglycan with direct cross-linkages of the A1γ meso-Dpm type. The isolate grows well at 25°C on a variety of standard biological media, including some used in the routine cultivation of bacteria from soil. The pH range for growth is 4.0 to 7.0. Low levels of menaquinones MK-10 and MK-11 were detected. The major cellular fatty acids are C14:0, a-C15:0, C16:1ω7c, and/or 2OH i-C15:0, and C16:0. The G+C content of the genomic DNA is 61 mol%. We propose a new genus and species, Chthoniobacter flavus gen. nov., sp. nov., with isolate Ellin428 as the type strain, and a new class for the subdivision to which it belongs, Spartobacteria classis nov. Environmental sequences indicate that the class Spartobacteria is largely represented by globally distributed, abundant, and active soil bacteria.
Only one isolate each of the class “Spartobacteria” (subdivision 2 of the phylum Verrucomicrobia) and of subdivision 3 of Verrucomicrobia have previously been reported to grow in laboratory culture. Using media that had been used successfully in other studies to isolate members of diverse groups of soil bacteria, we generated a collection of over 1,200 isolates from soil from a pasture. An oligonucleotide probe that targets the 16S rRNA genes of verrucomicrobia was used to screen this collection, and 14 new verrucomicrobia were identified. Nine of these belonged to the class “Spartobacteria” and were related to “Chthoniobacter flavus.” Five further isolates were members of subdivision 3 and were related to the only known isolate of this subdivision. The differences in the 16S rRNA gene sequences of the new isolates and previously described isolates, of up to 10%, indicated that the new isolates represent new species and genera. All but two of the verrucomicrobial isolates were from colonies that first became visible one or more months after inoculation of plates with soil, but subcultures grew more rapidly. Analysis of PCR-amplified 16S rRNA genes in the pasture soil showed that members of the class “Spartobacteria” were more numerous than members of subdivision 3. Isolates of subdivision 3 were only found on plates receiving an inoculum that yielded a mean of 29 colonies per plate, while members of the class “Spartobacteria” were only found on plates receiving a more dilute inoculum that resulted in a mean of five colonies per plate. This suggested that colony development by members of the class “Spartobacteria” was inhibited by other culturable bacteria.
In terrestrial subsurface environments where nitrate is a critical groundwater contaminant, few cultivated representatives are available to verify the metabolism of organisms that catalyze denitrification. In this study, five species of denitrifying bacteria from three phyla were isolated from subsurface sediments exposed to metal radionuclide and nitrate contamination as part of the U.S. Department of Energy's Oak Ridge Integrated Field Research Challenge (OR-IFRC). Isolates belonged to the genera Afipia and Hyphomicrobium (Alphaproteobacteria), Rhodanobacter (Gammaproteobacteria), Intrasporangium (Actinobacteria), and Bacillus (Firmicutes). Isolates from the phylum Proteobacteria were complete denitrifiers, whereas the Gram-positive isolates reduced nitrate to nitrous oxide. rRNA gene analyses coupled with physiological and genomic analyses suggest that bacteria from the genus Rhodanobacter are a diverse population of denitrifiers that are circumneutral to moderately acidophilic, with a high relative abundance in areas of the acidic source zone at the OR-IFRC site. Based on genome analysis, Rhodanobacter species contain two nitrite reductase genes and have not been detected in functional-gene surveys of denitrifying bacteria at the OR-IFRC site. Nitrite and nitrous oxide reductase gene sequences were recovered from the isolates and from the terrestrial subsurface by designing primer sets mined from genomic and metagenomic data and from draft genomes of two of the isolates. We demonstrate that a combination of cultivation and genomic and metagenomic data is essential to the in situ characterization of denitrifiers and that current PCR-based approaches are not suitable for deep coverage of denitrifiers. Our results indicate that the diversity of denitrifiers is significantly underestimated in the terrestrial subsurface.
The Rehai and Ruidian geothermal fields, located in Tengchong County, Yunnan Province, China, host a variety of geochemically distinct hot springs. In this study, we report a comprehensive, cultivation-independent census of microbial communities in 37 samples collected from these geothermal fields, encompassing sites ranging in temperature from 55.1 to 93.6°C, in pH from 2.5 to 9.4, and in mineralogy from silicates in Rehai to carbonates in Ruidian. Richness was low in all samples, with 21–123 species-level OTUs detected. The bacterial phylum Aquificae or archaeal phylum Crenarchaeota were dominant in Rehai samples, yet the dominant taxa within those phyla depended on temperature, pH, and geochemistry. Rehai springs with low pH (2.5–2.6), high temperature (85.1–89.1°C), and high sulfur contents favored the crenarchaeal order Sulfolobales, whereas those with low pH (2.6–4.8) and cooler temperature (55.1–64.5°C) favored the Aquificae genus Hydrogenobaculum. Rehai springs with neutral-alkaline pH (7.2–9.4) and high temperature (>80°C) with high concentrations of silica and salt ions (Na, K, and Cl) favored the Aquificae genus Hydrogenobacter and crenarchaeal orders Desulfurococcales and Thermoproteales. Desulfurococcales and Thermoproteales became predominant in springs with pH much higher than the optimum and even the maximum pH known for these orders. Ruidian water samples harbored a single Aquificae genus Hydrogenobacter, whereas microbial communities in Ruidian sediment samples were more diverse at the phylum level and distinctly different from those in Rehai and Ruidian water samples, with a higher abundance of uncultivated lineages, close relatives of the ammonia-oxidizing archaeon “Candidatus Nitrosocaldus yellowstonii”, and candidate division O1aA90 and OP1. These differences between Ruidian sediments and Rehai samples were likely caused by temperature, pH, and sediment mineralogy. The results of this study significantly expand the current understanding of the microbiology in Tengchong hot springs and provide a basis for comparison with other geothermal systems around the world.
Verrucomicrobia are ubiquitous in soil, but members of this bacterial phylum are thought to be present at low frequency in soil, with few studies focusing specifically on verrucomicrobial abundance, diversity, and distribution. Here we used barcoded pyrosequencing to analyze verrucomicrobial communities in surface soils collected across a range of biomes in Antarctica, Europe, and the Americas (112 samples), as well as soils collected from pits dug in a montane coniferous forest (69 samples). Data collected from surface horizons indicate that Verrucomicrobia average 23% of bacterial sequences, making them far more abundant than had been estimated. We show that this underestimation is likely due to primer bias, as many of the commonly used PCR primers appear to exclude verrucomicrobial 16S rRNA genes during amplification. Verrucomicrobia were detected in 180 out of 181 soils examined, with members of the class Spartobacteria dominating verrucomicrobial communities in nearly all biomes and soil depths. The relative abundance of Verrucomicrobia was highest in grasslands and in subsurface soil horizons, where they were often the dominant bacterial phylum. Although their ecology remains poorly understood, Verrucomicrobia appear to be dominant in many soil bacterial communities across the globe, making additional research on their ecology clearly necessary.
Verrucomicrobia; Spartobacteria; Bacteria; Relative abundance; Ecological dominance; Primer bias; Barcoded pyrosequencing; 16S rRNA genes; Oligotroph; Subsurface horizon
The microbes in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract are of high importance for the health of the host. In this study, Roche 454 pyrosequencing was applied to a pooled set of different 16S rRNA gene amplicons obtained from GI content of common carp (Cyprinus carpio) to make an inventory of the diversity of the microbiota in the GI tract. Compared to other studies, our culture-independent investigation reveals an impressive diversity of the microbial flora of the carp GI tract. The major group of obtained sequences belonged to the phylum Fusobacteria. Bacteroidetes, Planctomycetes and Gammaproteobacteria were other well represented groups of micro-organisms. Verrucomicrobiae, Clostridia and Bacilli (the latter two belonging to the phylum Firmicutes) had fewer representatives among the analyzed sequences. Many of these bacteria might be of high physiological relevance for carp as these groups have been implicated in vitamin production, nitrogen cycling and (cellulose) fermentation.
intestinal tract; biodiversity; carp; aquaculture; pyrosequencing; 16S rRNA
Bacteria of the deeply branching phylum Verrucomicrobia are rarely cultured yet commonly detected in metagenomic libraries from aquatic, terrestrial, and intestinal environments. We have sequenced the genome of Opitutus terrae PB90-1, a fermentative anaerobe within this phylum, isolated from rice paddy soil and capable of propionate production from plant-derived polysaccharides.
Staphylothermus marinus Fiala and Stetter 1986 belongs to the order Desulfurococcales within the archaeal phylum Crenarchaeota. S. marinus is a hyperthermophilic, sulfur-dependent, anaerobic heterotroph. Strain F1 was isolated from geothermally heated sediments at Vulcano, Italy, but S. marinus has also been isolated from a hydrothermal vent on the East Pacific Rise. We report the complete genome of S. marinus strain F1, the type strain of the species. This is the fifth reported complete genome sequence from the order Desulfurococcales.
Archaea; Desulfurococcales; sulfur-reducing; hyperthermophile
Legionella species are frequently detected in aquatic environments, but their occurrence in extreme, acidic, geothermal habitats has not been explored with cultivation-independent methods. We investigated a predominately eukaryotic algal mat community in a pH 2.7 geothermal stream in Yellowstone National Park for the presence of Legionella and potential host amoebae. Our analyses, using PCR amplification with Legionella-specific primers targeting 16S rRNA genes, detected four known Legionella species, as well as Legionella sequences from species that are not represented in sequence databases, in mat samples and cultivated isolates. The nonrandom occurrence of sequences detected at lower (30°C) and higher (35 to 38°C) temperatures suggests that natural thermal gradients in the stream influence Legionella species distributions in this mat community. We detected only one sequence, Legionella micdadei, from cultivated isolates. We cultured and sequenced partial 18S rRNA gene regions from two potential hosts, Acanthamoeba and Euglena species.
The origin and evolution of the homologous GTP-binding cytoskeletal proteins FtsZ typical of Bacteria and tubulin characteristic of eukaryotes is a major question in molecular evolutionary biology. Both FtsZ and tubulin are central to key cell biology processes – bacterial septation and cell division in the case of FtsZ and in the case of tubulins the function of microtubules necessary for mitosis and other key cytoskeleton-dependent processes in eukaryotes. The origin of tubulin in particular is of significance to models for eukaryote origins. Most members of domain Bacteria possess FtsZ, but bacteria in genus Prosthecobacter of the phylum Verrucomicrobia form a key exception, possessing tubulin homologs BtubA and BtubB. It is therefore of interest to know whether other members of phylum Verrucomicrobia possess FtsZ or tubulin as their FtsZ-tubulin gene family representative.
Verrucomicrobium spinosum, a member of Phylum Verrucomicrobia of domain Bacteria, has been found to possess a gene for a protein homologous to the cytoskeletal protein FtsZ. The deduced amino acid sequence has sequence signatures and predicted secondary structure characteristic for FtsZ rather than tubulin, but phylogenetic trees and sequence analysis indicate that it is divergent from all other known FtsZ sequences in members of domain Bacteria. The FtsZ gene of V. spinosum is located within a dcw gene cluster exhibiting gene order conservation known to contribute to the divisome in other Bacteria and comparable to these clusters in other Bacteria, suggesting a similar functional role.
Verrucomicrobium spinosum has been found to possess a gene for a protein homologous to the cytoskeletal protein FtsZ. The results suggest the functional as well as structural homology of the V. spinosum FtsZ to the FtsZs of other Bacteria implying its involvement in cell septum formation during division. Thus, both bacteria-like FtsZ and eukaryote-like tubulin cytoskeletal homologs occur in different species of the phylum Verrucomicrobia of domain Bacteria, a result with potential major implications for understanding evolution of tubulin-like cytoskeletal proteins and the origin of eukaryote tubulins.
The human gastrointestinal tract contains a complex community of microbes, fulfilling important health-promoting functions. However, this vast complexity of species hampers the assignment of responsible organisms to these functions. Recently, Akkermansia muciniphila, a new species from the deeply branched phylum Verrucomicrobia, was isolated from the human intestinal tract based on its capacity to efficiently use mucus as a carbon and nitrogen source. This anaerobic resident is associated with the protective mucus lining of the intestines.
In order to uncover the functional potential of A. muciniphila, its genome was sequenced and annotated. It was found to contain numerous candidate mucinase-encoding genes, but lacking genes encoding canonical mucus-binding domains. Numerous phage-associated sequences found throughout the genome indicate that viruses have played an important part in the evolution of this species. Furthermore, we mined 37 GI tract metagenomes for the presence, and genetic diversity of Akkermansia sequences. Out of 37, eleven contained 16S ribosomal RNA gene sequences that are >95% identical to that of A. muciniphila. In addition, these libraries were found to contain large amounts of Akkermansia DNA based on average nucleotide identity scores, which indicated in one subject co-colonization by different Akkermansia phylotypes. An additional 12 libraries also contained Akkermansia sequences, making a total of ∼16 Mbp of new Akkermansia pangenomic DNA. The relative abundance of Akkermansia DNA varied between <0.01% to nearly 4% of the assembled metagenomic reads. Finally, by testing a large collection of full length 16S sequences, we find at least eight different representative species in the genus Akkermansia.
These large repositories allow us to further mine for genetic heterogeneity and species diversity in the genus Akkermansia, providing novel insight towards the functionality of this abundant inhabitant of the human intestinal tract.
Microbial communities in the termite hindgut are essential for degrading plant material. We present the high-quality draft genome sequence of the Opitutaceae bacterium strain TAV1, the first member of the phylum Verrucomicrobia to be isolated from wood-feeding termites. The genomic analysis reveals genes coding for lignocellulosic degradation and nitrogen fixation.
“Pedosphaera parvula” Ellin514 is an aerobically grown verrucomicrobial isolate from pasture soil. It is one of the few cultured representatives of subdivision 3 of the phylum Verrucomicrobia. Members of this group are widespread in terrestrial environments.
Chthoniobacter flavus Ellin428 is the first isolate from the class Spartobacteria of the bacterial phylum Verrucomicrobia. C. flavus Ellin428 can metabolize many of the saccharide components of plant biomass but is incapable of growth on amino acids or organic acids other than pyruvate.
The bacterial phylum Acidobacteria has a widespread distribution and is one of the most common and diverse phyla in soil habitats. However, members of this phylum have often been recalcitrant to cultivation methods, hampering the study of this presumably important bacterial group. In this study, we used a cultivation-independent metagenomic approach to recover genomic information from soilborne members of this phylum. A soil metagenomic fosmid library was screened by PCR targeting acidobacterial 16S rRNA genes, facilitating the recovery of 17 positive clones. Recovered inserts appeared to originate from a range of Acidobacteria subdivisions, with dominance of subdivision 6 (10 clones). Upon full-length insert sequencing, gene annotation identified a total of 350 open reading frames (ORFs), representing a broad range of functions. Remarkably, six inserts from subdivision 6 contained a region of gene synteny, containing genes involved in purine de novo biosynthesis and encoding tRNA synthetase and conserved hypothetical proteins. Similar genomic regions had previously been observed in several environmental clones recovered from soil and marine sediments, facilitating comparisons with respect to gene organization and evolution. Comparative analyses revealed a general dichotomy between marine and terrestrial genes in both phylogeny and G+C content. Although the significance of this homologous gene cluster across subdivision 6 members is not known, it appears to be a common feature within a large percentage of all acidobacterial genomic fragments recovered from both of these environments.
The Planctomycetes, Verrucomicrobia, Chlamydiae (PVC) super-phylum contains bacteria with either complex cellular organization or simple cell structure; it also includes organisms of different lifestyles (pathogens, mutualists, commensal, and free-living). Genome content evolution of this group has not been studied in a systematic fashion, which would reveal genes underlying the emergence of PVC-specific phenotypes. Here, we analyzed the evolutionary dynamics of 26 PVC genomes and several outgroup species. We inferred HGT, duplications, and losses by reconciliation of 27,123 gene trees with the species phylogeny. We showed that genome expansion and contraction have driven evolution within Planctomycetes and Chlamydiae, respectively, and balanced each other in Verrucomicrobia and Lentisphaerae. We also found that for a large number of genes in PVC genomes the most similar sequences are present in Acidobacteria, suggesting past and/or current ecological interaction between organisms from these groups. We also found evidence of shared ancestry between carbohydrate degradation genes in the mucin-degrading human intestinal commensal Akkermansia muciniphila and sequences from Acidobacteria and Bacteroidetes, suggesting that glycoside hydrolases are transferred laterally between gut microbes and that the process of carbohydrate degradation is crucial for microbial survival within the human digestive system. Further, we identified a highly conserved genetic module preferentially present in compartmentalized PVC species and possibly associated with the complex cell plan in these organisms. This conserved machinery is likely to be membrane targeted and involved in electron transport, although its exact function is unknown. These genes represent good candidates for future functional studies.
genome evolution in PVC super-phylum; cellular compartmentalization; DUF1501 and Planctomycetes-specific cytochromes; mucin-degradation by Akkermansia muciniphila