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26.  Mesoionic compounds with antifungal activity against Fusarium verticillioides 
BMC Microbiology  2015;15(1):11.
Fungi contaminate the food of humans and animals, are a risk to health, and can cause financial losses. In this work, the antifungal activities of 16 mesoionic compounds (MI 1–16) were evaluated against mycotoxigenic fungi, including Aspergillus spp., Fusarium verticillioides and Penicillium citrinum. Furthermore, the decreased ergosterol in the total lipid content of Fusarium verticillioides was investigated.
F. verticillioides was the most sensitive fungus to the mesoionic compounds. Among the evaluated compounds, MI-11 and MI-16 presented higher antifungal effects against F. verticillioides, with MIC values of 7.8 μg/ml, and MI-2 and MI-3 followed, with MICs of 15.6 μg/ml. The most active compounds were those with heterocyclic ring phenyl groups substituted by electron donor moieties (MI-11 and MI-16). Among some compounds with higher activity (MI-2, MI-11 and MI-16), decreased ergosterol content in the total lipid fraction of F. verticillioides was demonstrated. MI-2 reduced the ergosterol content approximately 40% and 80% at concentrations of 7.8 μg/ml and 15.6 μg/ml, respectively, and MI-11 and MI-16 decreased the content by 30% and 50%, respectively, when at a concentration of 7.8 μg/ml.
These findings indicate that mesoionic compounds have significant antifungal activity against F. verticillioides.
PMCID: PMC4327949  PMID: 25649493
Mycotoxigenic fungi; Mycotoxicology; Mesoionic; Antifungal activity; Ergosterol
27.  Tn5/7-lux: a versatile tool for the identification and capture of promoters in Gram-negative bacteria 
BMC Microbiology  2015;15(1):17.
The combination of imaging technologies and luciferase-based bioluminescent bacterial reporter strains provide a sensitive and simple non-invasive detection method (photonic bioimaging) for the study of diverse biological processes, as well as efficacy of therapeutic interventions, in live animal models of disease. The engineering of bioluminescent bacteria required for photonic bioimaging is frequently hampered by lack of promoters suitable for strong, yet stable luciferase gene expression.
We devised a novel method for identification of constitutive native promoters in Gram-negative bacteria. The method is based on a Tn5/7 transposon that exploits the unique features of Tn5 (random transposition) and Tn7 (site-specific transposition). The transposons are designed such that Tn5 transposition will allow insertion of a promoter-less bacterial luxCDABE operon downstream of a bacterial gene promoter. Cloning of DNA fragments from luminescent isolates results in a plasmid that replicates in pir+ hosts. Sequencing of the lux-chromosomal DNA junctions on the plasmid reveals transposon insertion sites within genes or operons. The plasmid is also a mini-Tn7-lux delivery vector that can be used to introduce the promoter-lux operon fusion into other derivatives of the bacterium of interest in an isogenic fashion. Alternatively, promoter-containing sequences can be PCR-amplified from plasmid or chromosomal DNA and cloned into a series of accompanying mini-Tn7-lux vectors. The mini-Tn5/7-lux and mini-Tn7-lux vectors are equipped with diverse selection markers and thus applicable in numerous Gram-negative bacteria. Various mini-Tn5/7-lux vectors were successfully tested for transposition and promoter identification by imaging in Acinetobacter baumannii, Escherichia coli, and Burkholderia pseudomallei. Strong promoters were captured for lux expression in E. coli and A. baumannii. Some mini-Tn7-lux vectors are also equipped with attB sites for swapping of the lux operon with other reporter genes using Gateway technology.
Although mini-Tn5-lux and mini-Tn7-lux elements have previously been developed and used for bacterial promoter identification and chromosomal insertion of promoter-lux gene fusions, respectively, the newly developed mini-Tn5/7-lux and accompanying accessory plasmids streamline and accelerate the promoter discovery and bioluminescent strain engineering processes. Availability of vectors with diverse selection markers greatly extend the host-range of promoter probe and lux gene fusion vectors.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12866-015-0354-3) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4328036  PMID: 25648327
Imaging; Luciferase; Bioluminescent bacteria; Host range; Mini-Tn5/7-Lux vectors; Lux fusion vectors; Gram-negative bacteria
28.  Nasopharyngeal carriage and antimicrobial susceptibility of Haemophilus influenzae among children younger than 5 years of age in Beijing, China 
BMC Microbiology  2015;15:6.
Haemophilus influenzae is one of the main pathogens that cause community-acquired respiratory infections in children. Our previous study showed that H. influenzae is the second most common pathogen causing pneumonia and accounts for 30–50% of bacterial meningitis among Chinese children. H. influenzae carriage in children and its resistance to commonly used antimicrobials varies widely both geographically and over time.
Surveys of the nasopharyngeal carriage of H. influenzae in children younger than 5 years of age with acute respiratory tract infection (ARI) were conducted in Beijing Children’s Hospital, China in 2000, 2002, 2010, and 2012. The overall annual carriage rates of H. influenzae among children younger than 5 years of age with ARI were 35.5%, 20.6%, 14.4%, and 18.7%, and the percentages of H. influenzae isolates producing β-lactamase were 4%, 13%, 27.1%, and 31%, respectively. The percentages of susceptibility to ampicillin progressively decreased from 96% (2000) to 87% (2002) to 63% (2010) to 61% (2012). All of the ampicillin-resistant isolates were found to be beta-lactamase producers. The susceptibility to tetracycline increased from 54% (2000) to 60% (2002) to 91.5% (2010) to 94.5% (2012). No statistically significant differences were observed in the susceptibility to cefaclor, cefuroxime, sulfamethoxazole, and chloramphenicol. Amoxicillin/clavulanic acid and ceftriaxone were the most effective antimicrobials for the isolates of H. influenzae across the 10-year period.
This report on the H. influenzae carriage rates in children and the susceptibility of these bacteria to commonly used antibiotics showed that H. influenzae carriage decreased from 2000 to 2012. Additionally, the percentage of β-lactamase-producing isolates increased while their susceptibility to ampicillin progressively decreased during this time. These results indicate that the appropriate empirical antimicrobial therapy should be changed for pediatric patients in China.
PMCID: PMC4332420  PMID: 25648185
Haemophilus influenzae; Antimicrobial susceptibility; Acute upper respiratory tract infection; Pediatrics
29.  Downy mildew disease promotes the colonization of romaine lettuce by Escherichia coli O157:H7 and Salmonella enterica 
BMC Microbiology  2015;15:19.
Downy mildew, a plant disease caused by the oomycete Bremia lactucae, is endemic in many lettuce-growing regions of the world. Invasion by plant pathogens may create new portals and opportunities for microbial colonization of plants. The occurrence of outbreaks of Escherichia coli O157:H7 (EcO157) and Salmonella enterica Typhimurium (S. Typhimurium) infections linked to lettuce prompted us to investigate the role of downy mildew in the colonization of romaine lettuce by these human pathogens under controlled laboratory conditions.
Whereas both EcO157 and S. Typhimurium population sizes increased 102-fold on healthy leaf tissue under conditions of warm temperature and free water on the leaves, they increased by 105-fold in necrotic lesions caused by B. lactucae. Confocal microscopy of GFP-EcO157 in the necrotic tissue confirmed its massive population density and association with the oomycete hyphae. Multiplication of EcO157 in the diseased tissue was significantly lower in the RH08-0464 lettuce line, which has a high level of resistance to downy mildew than in the more susceptible cultivar Triple Threat. qRT-PCR quantification of expression of the plant basal immunity gene PR-1, revealed that this gene had greater transcriptional activity in line RH08-0464 than in cultivar Triple Threat, indicating that it may be one of the factors involved in the differential growth of the human pathogen in B. lactucae lesions between the two lettuce accessions. Additionally, downy mildew disease had a significant effect on the colonization of EcO157 at high relative humidity (RH 90-100%) and on its persistence at lower RH (65-75%). The latter conditions, which promoted overall dryness of the lettuce leaf surface, allowed for only 0.0011% and 0.0028% EcO157 cell survival in healthy and chlorotic tissue, respectively, whereas 1.58% of the cells survived in necrotic tissue.
Our results indicate that downy mildew significantly alters the behavior of enteric pathogens in the lettuce phyllosphere and that breeding for resistance to B. lactucae may lower the increased risk of microbial contamination caused by this plant pathogen.
PMCID: PMC4334606  PMID: 25648408
Produce contamination; Bremia lactucae; Plant pathogen; Oomycete; Human pathogen; Foodborne pathogen; Enteric pathogen; Basal plant immunity
30.  Inhibitory effect of zingiber officinale towards Streptococcus mutans virulence and caries development: in vitro and in vivo studies 
BMC Microbiology  2015;15(1):1.
Streptococcus mutans is known as a key causative agent of dental caries. It metabolizes dietary carbohydrate to produce acids which reduce the environmental pH leading to tooth demineralization. The ability of this bacterium to tolerate acids coupled with acid production, allows its effective colonization in the oral cavity leading to the establishment of highly cariogenic plaque. For this reason, S. mutans is the only bacterium found in significantly higher numbers than other bacteria in the dental plaque. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effect of crude extract and methanolic fraction of Z. officinale against S. mutans virulence properties.
We investigated in vitro and in vivo activity of crude extract and methanolic fraction at sub- MIC levels against cariogenic properties of S. mutans. We found that these extracts strongly inhibited a variety of virulence properties which are critical for its pathogenesis. The biofilm formation in S. mutans was found to be reduced during critical growth phases. Furthermore, the glucan synthesis and adherence was also found to be inhibited. Nevertheless, the insoluble glucan synthesis and sucrose dependent adherence were apparently more reduced as compared to soluble glucan synthesis and sucrose- independent adherence. Biofilm architecture inspected with the help of confocal and scanning electron microscopy, showed dispersion of cells in the treated group as compared to the control. The Quantitative Real Time PCR (qRT-PCR) data had shown the down regulation of the virulence genes, which is believed to be one of the major reasons responsible for the observed reduction in the virulence properties. The incredible reduction of caries development was found in treated group of rats as compared to the untreated group which further validate our in vitro data.
The whole study concludes a prospective role of crude extract and methanolic fraction of Z. officinale in targeting complete array of cariogenic properties of S. mutans, thus reducing its pathogenesis. Hence, it may be strongly proposed as a putative anti- cariogenic agent.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12866-014-0320-5) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4316655  PMID: 25591663
Streptococcus mutans; qRT- PCR; Biofilm; Dental caries; Gas chromatography-mass spectrometry; Glucosyltransferases; Dental plaque
31.  The canine isolate Lactobacillus acidophilus LAB20 adheres to intestinal epithelium and attenuates LPS-induced IL-8 secretion of enterocytes in vitro 
BMC Microbiology  2015;15(1):4.
For a good probiotic candidate, the abilities to adhere to intestinal epithelium and to fortify barrier function are considered to be crucial for colonization and functionality of the strain. The strain Lactobacillus acidophilus LAB20 was isolated from the jejunum of a healthy dog, where it was found to be the most pre-dominant lactobacilli. In this study, the adhesion ability of LAB20 to intestinal epithelial cell (IECs) lines, IECs isolated from canine intestinal biopsies, and to canine, porcine and human intestinal mucus was investigated. Further, we studied the ability of LAB20 to fortify the epithelial cell monolayer and to reduce LPS-induced interleukin (IL-8) release from enterocytes.
We found that LAB20 presented higher adhesion to canine colonic mucus as compared to mucus isolated from porcine colon. LAB20 showed adhesion to HT-29 and Caco-2 cell lines, and importantly also to canine IECs isolated from canine intestinal biopsies. In addition, LAB20 increased the transepithelial electrical resistance (TER) of enterocyte monolayers and thus strengthened the intestinal barrier function. The strain showed also anti-inflammatory capacity in being able to attenuate the LPS-induced IL-8 production of HT-29 cells.
In conclusion, canine indigenous strain LAB20 is a potential probiotic candidate for dogs adhering to the host epithelium and showing intestinal barrier fortifying and anti-inflammatory effects.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12866-014-0337-9) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4320479  PMID: 25591990
Lactobacillus; Probiotics; Adhesion; Anti-inflammatory; Transepithelial resistance; Interleukin-8; Canine
32.  Sm2, a paralog of the Trichoderma cerato-platanin elicitor Sm1, is also highly important for plant protection conferred by the fungal-root interaction of Trichoderma with maize 
BMC Microbiology  2015;15(1):2.
The proteins Sm1 and Sm2 from the biocontrol fungus Trichoderma virens belong to the cerato-platanin protein family. Members of this family are small, secreted proteins that are abundantly produced by filamentous fungi with all types of life-styles. Some species of the fungal genus Trichoderma are considered as biocontrol fungi because they are mycoparasites and are also able to directly interact with plants, thereby stimulating plant defense responses. It was previously shown that the cerato-platanin protein Sm1 from T. virens - and to a lesser extent its homologue Epl1 from Trichoderma atroviride - induce plant defense responses. The plant protection potential of other members of the cerato-platanin protein family in Trichoderma, however, has not yet been investigated.
In order to analyze the function of the cerato-platanin protein Sm2, sm1 and sm2 knockout strains were generated and characterized. The effect of the lack of Sm1 and Sm2 in T. virens on inducing systemic resistance in maize seedlings, challenged with the plant pathogen Cochliobolus heterostrophus, was tested. These plant experiments were also performed with T. atroviride epl1 and epl2 knockout strains. In our plant-pathogen system T. virens was a more effective plant protectant than T. atroviride and the results with both Trichoderma species showed concordantly that the level of plant protection was more strongly reduced in plants treated with the sm2/epl2 knockout strains than with sm1/epl1 knockout strains.
Although the cerato-platanin genes sm1/epl1 are more abundantly expressed than sm2/epl2 during fungal growth, Sm2/Epl2 are, interestingly, more important than Sm1/Epl1 for the promotion of plant protection conferred by Trichoderma in the maize-C. heterostrophus pathosystem.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12866-014-0333-0) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4320488  PMID: 25591782
Cerato-platanin protein; Trichoderma virens; Trichoderma atroviride; Mycoparasitism; Biocontrol; Plant protection; Maize; Cochliobolus heterostrophus
33.  Bifidobacteria strains isolated from stools of iron deficient infants can efficiently sequester iron 
BMC Microbiology  2015;15(1):3.
Bifidobacteria is one of the major gut commensal groups found in infants. Their colonization is commonly associated with beneficial effects to the host through mechanisms like niche occupation and nutrient competition against pathogenic bacteria. Iron is an essential element necessary for most microorganisms, including bifidobacteria and efficient competition for this micronutrient is linked to proliferation and persistence. For this research we hypothesized that bifidobacteria in the gut of iron deficient infants can efficiently sequester iron. The aim of the present study was to isolate bifidobacteria in fecal samples of iron deficient Kenyan infants and to characterize siderophore production and iron internalization capacity.
Fifty-six bifidobacterial strains were isolated by streaking twenty-eight stool samples from Kenyan infants, in enrichment media. To target strains with high iron sequestration mechanisms, a strong iron chelator 2,2-dipyridyl was supplemented to the agar media. Bifidobacterial isolates were first identified to species level by 16S rRNA sequencing, yielding B. bifidum (19 isolates), B. longum (15), B. breve (11), B. kashiwanohense (7), B. pseudolongum (3) and B. pseudocatenulatum (1). While most isolated bifidobacterial species are commonly encountered in the infantile gut, B. kashiwanohense was not frequently reported in infant feces. Thirty strains from culture collections and 56 isolates were characterized for their siderophore production, tested by the CAS assay. Siderophore activity ranged from 3 to 89% siderophore units, with 35 strains (41%) exhibiting high siderophore activity, and 31 (36%) and 20 (23%) showing intermediate or low activity. The amount of internalized iron of 60 bifidobacteria strains selected for their siderophore activity, was in a broad range from 8 to118 μM Fe. Four strains, B. pseudolongum PV8-2, B. kashiwanohense PV20-2, B. bifidum PV28-2a and B. longum PV5-1 isolated from infant stool samples were selected for both high siderophore activity and iron internalization.
A broad diversity of bifidobacteria were isolated in infant stools using iron limited conditions, with some strains exhibiting high iron sequestration properties. The ability of bifidobacteria to efficiently utilize iron sequestration mechanism such as siderophore production and iron internalization may confer an ecological advantage and be the basis for enhanced competition against enteropathogens.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12866-014-0334-z) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4320568  PMID: 25591860
Bifidobacteria; Iron; Siderophore; Nutrient competition; CAS assay
34.  The near-quantitative sampling of genomic DNA from various food-borne Eubacteria 
BMC Microbiology  2014;14(1):326.
The disruption of the bacterial cell wall plays an important part in achieving quantitative extraction of DNA from Eubacteria essential for accurate analyses of genetic material recovered from environmental samples.
In this work we have tested a dozen commercial bacterial genomic DNA extraction methodologies on an average of 7.70 × 106 (±9.05%), 4.77 × 108 (±31.0%), and 5.93 × 108 (±4.69%) colony forming units (CFU) associated with 3 cultures (n = 3) each of Brochothrix thermosphacta (Bt; Gram-positive), Shigella sonnei (Ss; Gram-negative), and Escherichia coli O79 (Ec; Gram-negative). We have utilized real-time PCR (qPCR) quantification with two specific sets of primers associated with the 16S rRNA “gene” to determine the number of copies CFU-1 by comparing the unknown target DNA qPCR results with standards for each primer set. Based upon statistical analyses of our results, we determined that the Agencourt Genfind v2, High Pure PCR Template Prep Kit, and Omnilyse methods consistently provided the best yield of genomic DNA ranging from 141 to 934, 8 to 21, and 16 to 27 16S rDNA copies CFU-1 for Bt, Ss, and Ec. If one assumes 6–7 copies of the 16S rRNA gene per genome, between 1 and 3 genomes per actively dividing cell and ≥ 100 cells CFU-1 for Bt (found to be a reasonable assumption using an optical method expounded upon herein) or between 1 and 2 cells CFU-1 for either Ss or Ec, then the Omnilyse procedure provided nearly quantitative extraction of genomic DNA from these isolates (934 ± 19.9 copies CFU-1 for Bt; 20.8 ± 2.68 copies CFU-1 for Ss; 26.9 ± 3.39 copies CFU-1 for Ec). The Agencourt, High Pure, and Omnilyse technologies were subsequently assessed using 5 additional Gram-positive and 10 Gram-negative foodborne isolates (n = 3) using a set of “universal” 16S rDNA primers.
Overall, the most notable DNA extraction method was found to be the Omnilyse procedure which is a “bead blender” technology involving high frequency agitation in the presence of zirconium silicate beads.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12866-014-0326-z) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4302497  PMID: 25551371
35.  Comparative analyses of proteins from Haemophilus influenzae biofilm and planktonic populations using metabolic labeling and mass spectrometry 
BMC Microbiology  2014;14(1):329.
Non-typeable H. influenzae (NTHi) is a nasopharyngeal commensal that can become an opportunistic pathogen causing infections such as otitis media, pneumonia, and bronchitis. NTHi is known to form biofilms. Resistance of bacterial biofilms to clearance by host defense mechanisms and antibiotic treatments is well-established. In the current study, we used stable isotope labeling by amino acids in cell culture (SILAC) to compare the proteomic profiles of NTHi biofilm and planktonic organisms. Duplicate continuous-flow growth chambers containing defined media with either “light” (L) isoleucine or “heavy” (H) 13C6-labeled isoleucine were used to grow planktonic (L) and biofilm (H) samples, respectively. Bacteria were removed from the chambers, mixed based on weight, and protein extracts were generated. Liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS) was performed on the tryptic peptides and 814 unique proteins were identified with 99% confidence.
Comparisons of the NTHi biofilm to planktonic samples demonstrated that 127 proteins showed differential expression with p-values ≤0.05. Pathway analysis demonstrated that proteins involved in energy metabolism, protein synthesis, and purine, pyrimidine, nucleoside, and nucleotide processes showed a general trend of downregulation in the biofilm compared to planktonic organisms. Conversely, proteins involved in transcription, DNA metabolism, and fatty acid and phospholipid metabolism showed a general trend of upregulation under biofilm conditions. Selected reaction monitoring (SRM)-MS was used to validate a subset of these proteins; among these were aerobic respiration control protein ArcA, NAD nucleotidase and heme-binding protein A.
The present proteomic study indicates that the NTHi biofilm exists in a semi-dormant state with decreased energy metabolism and protein synthesis yet is still capable of managing oxidative stress and in acquiring necessary cofactors important for biofilm survival.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12866-014-0329-9) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4302520  PMID: 25551439
Non-typeable Haemophilus influenzae; Metabolic labeling; Biofilms; Mass spectrometry
36.  Extragenic suppressor mutations in ΔripA disrupt stability and function of LpxA 
BMC Microbiology  2014;14(1):336.
Francisella tularensis is a Gram-negative bacterium that infects hundreds of species including humans, and has evolved to grow efficiently within a plethora of cell types. RipA is a conserved membrane protein of F. tularensis, which is required for growth inside host cells. As a means to determine RipA function we isolated and mapped independent extragenic suppressor mutants in ∆ripA that restored growth in host cells. Each suppressor mutation mapped to one of two essential genes, lpxA or glmU, which are involved in lipid A synthesis. We repaired the suppressor mutation in lpxA (S102, LpxA T36N) and the mutation in glmU (S103, GlmU E57D), and demonstrated that each mutation was responsible for the suppressor phenotype in their respective strains. We hypothesize that the mutation in S102 altered the stability of LpxA, which can provide a clue to RipA function. LpxA is an UDP-N-acetylglucosamine acyltransferase that catalyzes the transfer of an acyl chain from acyl carrier protein (ACP) to UDP-N-acetylglucosamine (UDP-GlcNAc) to begin lipid A synthesis.
LpxA was more abundant in the presence of RipA. Induced expression of lpxA in the ΔripA strain stopped bacterial division. The LpxA T36N S102 protein was less stable and therefore less abundant than wild type LpxA protein.
These data suggest RipA functions to modulate lipid A synthesis in F. tularensis as a way to adapt to the host cell environment by interacting with LpxA.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12866-014-0336-x) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4322802  PMID: 25551578
Extragenic suppressor mutations; Cell wall; Enzyme mutation; Enzyme mechanism; Membrane protein; RipA; Francisella tularensis; LpxA; Lipid A biosynthesis; UDP-N-acetylglucosamine
37.  Temporal dynamics of the very premature infant gut dominant microbiota 
BMC Microbiology  2014;14(1):325.
The very-preterm infant gut microbiota is increasingly explored due to its probable role in the development of life threatening diseases. Results of high-throughput studies validate and renew the interest in approaches with lower resolution such as PCR-Temporal Temperature Gel Electrophoresis (TTGE) for the follow-up of dominant microbiota dynamics. We report here an extensive longitudinal study of gut colonization in very preterm infants. We explored by 16S rDNA-based PCR-TTGE a total of 354 stool specimens sampled during routine monitoring from the 1st to the 8th week of life in 30 very pre-term infants born before 30 weeks of gestational age.
Combining comparison with a diversity ladder and sequencing allowed affiliation of 50 Species-Level Operational Taxonomic Units (SLOTUs) as well as semi-quantitative estimation of Operational Taxonomic Units (OTUs). Coagulase-negative staphylococci, mainly the Staphylococcus epidermidis, was found in all the infants during the study period and was the most represented (75.7% of the SLOTUs) from the first days of life. Enterococci, present in 60% of the infants were early, highly represented and persistent colonizers of the premature gut. Later Enterobacteriaceae and the genus Clostridium appeared and were found in 10 (33%) and 21 infants (70%), respectively. We showed a high representation of Veillonella in more than a quarter of the infants and being able to persistently colonize premature gut. The genera Anaerococcus, Aquabacterium, Bacillus, Bifidobacterium, Corynebacterium, Micrococcus, Oceanobacillus, Propionibacterium, Pseudomonas, Rothia, Sarcina, Sneathia and Streptococcus were observed as transient or persistent colonizers, each genus being found in a minority of infants.
Despite low resolution, PCR-TTGE remains complementary to high-throughput sequencing-based approaches because it allows the follow-up of dominant bacteria in gut microbiota in a large longitudinal cohorts of preterm neonates. We described the development of pre-term gut microbiota that should be now replaced regarding the functional role of major OTUs.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12866-014-0325-0) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4326509  PMID: 25551282
Extremely low birth weight Infant; Stool; Microbiota; Follow-up; PCR-TTGE; Diversity; Dynamics; Staphylococcus; Enterococcus; Clostridium; Enterobacteriaceae; Veillonellaceae
38.  Regulatory elements involved in the expression of competence genes in naturally transformable Vibrio cholerae 
BMC Microbiology  2014;14(1):327.
The human pathogen Vibrio cholerae normally enters the developmental program of natural competence for transformation after colonizing chitinous surfaces. Natural competence is regulated by at least three pathways in this organism: chitin sensing/degradation, quorum sensing and carbon catabolite repression (CCR). The cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP) receptor protein CRP, which is the global regulator of CCR, binds to regulatory DNA elements called CRP sites when in complex with cAMP. Previous studies in Haemophilus influenzae suggested that the CRP protein binds competence-specific CRP-S sites under competence-inducing conditions, most likely in concert with the master regulator of transformation Sxy/TfoX.
In this study, we investigated the regulation of the competence genes qstR and comEA as an example of the complex process that controls competence gene activation in V. cholerae. We identified previously unrecognized putative CRP-S sites upstream of both genes. Deletion of these motifs significantly impaired natural transformability. Moreover, site-directed mutagenesis of these sites resulted in altered gene expression. This altered gene expression also correlated directly with protein levels, bacterial capacity for DNA uptake, and natural transformability.
Based on the data provided in this study we suggest that the identified sites are important for the expression of the competence genes qstR and comEA and therefore for natural transformability of V. cholerae even though the motifs might not reflect bona fide CRP-S sites.
PMCID: PMC4299799  PMID: 25539806
Natural competence; Transformation; Vibrio cholerae; cAMP receptor protein; Quorum sensing
39.  A reduction of viral mRNA, proteins and induction of altered morphogenesis reveals the anti-HTLV-1 activity of the labdane-diterpene myriadenolide in vitro 
BMC Microbiology  2014;14(1):331.
Human T-lymphotropic virus 1 (HTLV-1) has been associated with leukemia/lymphoma (ATL) and myelopathy/tropical spastic paraparesis (HAM/TSP), in addition to other inflammatory diseases as well as infection complications. Therapeutic approaches for HTLV-1-related pathologies are limited. The labdane diterpene myriadenolide (AMY) is a natural product that exhibit biological activities, such as anti-inflammatory and antiviral activity as reported for HIV and herpesvirus.
We demonstrated that this natural product was able to inhibit the expression of gag-pol mRNA and substantially reduced the expression of the structural proteins p19 and gp46. Comparison of treated and untreated cells shows that AMY alters both the morphology and the release of viral particles. The Atomic Force Microscopy assay showed that the AMY treatment reduced the number of particles on the cell surface by 47%.
We demonstrated that the labdane diterpene myriadenolide reduced the expression of the structural proteins and the budding of viral particles, besides induces altered morphogenesis of HTLV-1, conferring on AMY a new antiviral activity that may be useful for the development of new compounds with specific anti-HTLV-1 activity.
PMCID: PMC4302425  PMID: 25539906
HTLV-1; Diterpene myriadenolide; Antiviral activity; HAM/TSP; ATL
40.  Altered motility of Caulobacter Crescentus in viscous and viscoelastic media 
BMC Microbiology  2014;14(1):322.
Motility of flagellated bacteria depends crucially on their organelles such as flagella and pili, as well as physical properties of the external medium, such as viscosity and matrix elasticity. We studied the motility of wild-type and two mutant strains of Caulobacter crescentus swarmer cells in two different types of media: a viscous and hyperosmotic glycerol-growth medium mixture and a viscoelastic growth medium, containing polyethylene glycol or polyethylene oxide of different defined sizes.
For all three strains in the medium containing glycerol, we found linear drops in percentage of motile cells and decreases in speed of those that remained motile to be inversely proportional to viscosity. The majority of immobilized cells lost viability, evidenced by their membrane leakage. In the viscoelastic media, we found less loss of motility and attenuated decrease of swimming speed at shear viscosity values comparable to the viscous medium. In both types of media, we found more severe loss in percentage of motile cells of wild-type than the mutants without pili, indicating that the interference of pili with flagellated motility is aggravated by increased viscosity. However, we found no difference in swimming speed among all three strains under all test conditions for the cells that remained motile. Finally, the viscoelastic medium caused no significant change in intervals between flagellar motor switches unless the motor stalled.
Hyperosmotic effect causes loss of motility and cell death. Addition of polymers into the cell medium also causes loss of motility due to increased shear viscosity, but the majority of immobilized bacteria remain viable. Both viscous and viscoelastic media alter the motility of flagellated bacteria without affecting the internal regulation of their motor switching behavior.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12866-014-0322-3) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4302598  PMID: 25539737
Bacterial motility; Hydrodynamics; Hyperosmolarity; Rheology; Viscous agent; Viscoelasticity
41.  Global transcriptome analysis of Mesorhizobium alhagi CCNWXJ12-2 under salt stress 
BMC Microbiology  2014;14(1):319.
Mesorhizobium alhagi CCNWXJ12-2 is a α-proteobacterium which could be able to fix nitrogen in the nodules formed with Alhagi sparsifolia in northwest of China. Desiccation and high salinity are the two major environmental problems faced by M. alhagi CCNWXJ12-2. In order to identify genes involved in salt-stress adaption, a global transcriptional analysis of M. alhagi CCNWXJ12-2 growing under salt-free and high salt conditions was carried out. The next generation sequencing technology, RNA-Seq, was used to obtain the transcription profiles.
We have compared the transcriptome of M. alhagi growing in TY medium under high salt conditions (0.4 M NaCl) with salt free conditions as a control. A total of 1,849 differentially expressed genes (fold change ≧ 2) were identified and 933 genes were downregulated while 916 genes were upregulated under high salt condition. Except for the upregulation of some genes proven to be involved in salt resistance, we found that the expression levels of protein secretion systems were changed under high salt condition and the expression levels of some heat shock proteins were reduced by salt stress. Notably, a gene encoding YadA domain-containing protein (yadA), a gene encoding trimethylamine methyltransferase (mttB) and a gene encoding formate--tetrahydrofolate ligase (fhs) were highly upregulated. Growth analysis of the three gene knockout mutants under salt stress demonstrated that yadA was involved in salt resistance while the other two were not.
To our knowledge, this is the first report about transcriptome analysis of a rhizobia using RNA-Seq to elucidate the salt resistance mechanism. Our results showed the complex mechanism of bacterial adaption to salt stress and it was a systematic work for bacteria to cope with the high salinity environmental problems. Therefore, these results could be helpful for further investigation of the bacterial salt resistance mechanism.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12866-014-0319-y) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4302635  PMID: 25539655
Salt stress; RNA-Seq; Secretion system; Chaperones; Mesorhizobium alhagi
42.  Microbiological diagnostic procedures for respiratory cystic fibrosis samples in Spain: towards standard of care practices 
BMC Microbiology  2014;14(1):335.
The microbiological procedures for cystic fibrosis (CF) samples of 17 participating Spanish centers were examined to verify their compliance with current international and national guidelines and to implement the best standards of care for microbiology practices. A 47-item questionnaire covering different CF microbiology aspects was sent to participant laboratories. Telephone interviews were performed when necessary. Data about samples processing for bacteria, mycobacteria and fungi were collected.
Gene sequencing (71%), MALDI-TOF (59%) or both (94%) were available for most laboratories. Susceptibility testing was performed by automated microdilution systems (94%) and manual diffusion methods (59%). However, a low use of selective media for Staphylococcus aureus (59%) and Burkholderia cepacia complex (71%), and of epidemiological typing methods (41%) was reported.
Most Spanish laboratories are in agreement with consensus guidelines for the processing of CF respiratory samples, but need to improve in the use of specific selective media and typing methods for epidemiologic studies.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12866-014-0335-y) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4302700
Cystic fibrosis; Microbiology; Laboratory procedures; Respiratory samples; Consensus guidelines
43.  Whole genome amplification approach reveals novel polyhydroxyalkanoate synthases (PhaCs) from Japan Trench and Nankai Trough seawater 
BMC Microbiology  2014;14(1):318.
Special features of the Japanese ocean include its ranges of latitude and depth. This study is the first to examine the diversity of Class I and II PHA synthases (PhaC) in DNA samples from pelagic seawater taken from the Japan Trench and Nankai Trough from a range of depths from 24 m to 5373 m. PhaC is the key enzyme in microorganisms that determines the types of monomer units that are polymerized into polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA) and thus affects the physicochemical properties of this thermoplastic polymer. Complete putative PhaC sequences were determined via genome walking, and the activities of newly discovered PhaCs were evaluated in a heterologous host.
A total of 76 putative phaC PCR fragments were amplified from the whole genome amplified seawater DNA. Of these 55 clones contained conserved PhaC domains and were classified into 20 genetic groups depending on their sequence similarity. Eleven genetic groups have undisclosed PhaC activity based on their distinct phylogenetic lineages from known PHA producers. Three complete DNA coding sequences were determined by IAN-PCR, and one PhaC was able to produce poly(3-hydroxybutyrate) in recombinant Cupriavidus necator PHBˉ4 (PHB-negative mutant).
A new functional PhaC that has close identity to Marinobacter sp. was discovered in this study. Phylogenetic classification for all the phaC genes isolated from uncultured bacteria has revealed that seawater and other environmental resources harbor a great diversity of PhaCs with activities that have not yet been investigated. Functional evaluation of these in silico-based PhaCs via genome walking has provided new insights into the polymerizing ability of these enzymes.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12866-014-0318-z) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4326521  PMID: 25539583
Japan seawater; Polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA); PHA synthase (PhaC); Whole genome amplification (WGA); Genome walking; Marinobacter
44.  Endophytic microbial community in two transgenic maize genotypes and in their near-isogenic non-transgenic maize genotype 
BMC Microbiology  2014;14(1):332.
Despite all the benefits assigned to the genetically modified plants, there are still no sufficient data available in literature concerning the possible effects on the microbial communities associated with these plants. Therefore, this study was aimed at examining the effects of the genetic modifications of two transgenic maize genotypes (MON810 – expressing the insecticidal Bt-toxin and TC1507 – expressing the insecticidal Bt-toxin and the herbicide resistance PAT [phosphinothricin-N-acetyltransferase]) on their endophytic microbial communities, in comparison to the microbial community found in the near-isogenic non-transgenic maize (control).
The structure of the endophytic communities (Bacteria, Archaea and fungi) and their composition (Bacteria) were evaluated by denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) and the construction of clone libraries, respectively. DGGE analysis and the clone libraries of the bacterial community showed that genotype TC1507 slightly differed from the other two genotypes. Genotype TC1507 showed a higher diversity within its endophytic bacterial community when compared to the other genotypes. Although some bacterial genera were found in all genotypes, such as the genera Burkholderia, Achromobacer and Stenotrophomonas, some were unique to genotype TC1507. Moreover, OTUs associated with Enterobacter predominated only in TC1507 clone libraries.
The endophytic bacterial community of the maize genotype TC1507 differed from the communities of the maize genotype MON810 and of their near-isogenic parental genotypes (non-Bt or control). The differences observed among the maize genotypes studied may be associated with insertion of the gene coding for the protein PAT present only in the transgenic genotype TC1507.
PMCID: PMC4327796
Genetically modified maize; Near-isogenic non-transgenic maize; Endophytic microbial community; PAT enzyme; Cry proteins
45.  Identification of an immuno-dominant protein from Klebsiella pneumoniae strains causing pyogenic liver abscess: implication in serodiagnosis 
BMC Microbiology  2014;14(1):2318.
Klebsiella pneumoniae has emerged worldwide as a cause of pyogenic liver abscess (PLA) often complicated by meningitis and endophthalmitis. Early detection of this infectious disease will improve its clinical outcome. Therefore, we tried to isolate immunodominant proteins secreted by K. pneumoniae strains causing PLA.
The secreted proteins of the NTUH-K2044 strain were separated by two-dimensional electrophoresis and then immunoblotted using convalescent sera from patients with K. pneumoniae PLA. A ~30-kDa immunodominant protein was then identified. Liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) revealed an open reading frame (KP1_p307) located on the pK2044 plasmid and bioinformatic analysis identified this protein as a signal peptide of unknown function. The KP1_p307 gene was more prevalent in PLA strains and capsular type K1/K2 strains, but disruption of this gene in NTUH-K2044 strain did not decrease virulence in mice. Ten of fourteen (71%) sera from patients with K. pneumoniae PLA were immunoreactive with the recombinant KP1_p307 protein. Seroconversion demonstrated by a rise in serum titer in serial serum samples confirmed that antibodies against the KP1_p307 protein were elicited after infection.
The KP1_p307 protein could be used as an antigen for early serodiagnosis of K. pneumoniae PLA, particularly in K1/K2 PLA strains.
PMCID: PMC4280002  PMID: 25528354
Klebsiella pneumoniae; Pyogenic liver abscess; Antigen; Serodiagnosis
46.  Chlamydia pneumoniae effector chlamydial outer protein N sequesters fructose bisphosphate aldolase A, providing a benefit to bacterial growth 
BMC Microbiology  2014;14(1):330.
Pathogenic chlamydiae are obligate intracellular pathogens and have adapted successfully to human cells, causing sexually transmitted diseases or pneumonia. Chlamydial outer protein N (CopN) is likely a critical effector protein secreted by the type III secretion system in chlamydiae, which manipulates host cells. However, the mechanisms of its action remain to be clarified. In this work, we aimed to identify previously unidentified CopN effector target in host cells.
We first performed a pull-down assay with recombinant glutathione S-transferase (GST) fusion CopN proteins (GST–CpCopN: Chlamydia pneumoniae TW183, GST–CtCopN: Chlamydia trachomatis D/UW-3/CX) as “bait” and soluble lysates obtained from human immortal epithelial HEp-2 cells as “prey”, followed by SDS-PAGE with mass spectroscopy (MS). We found that a host cell protein specifically bound to GST–CpCopN, but not GST–CtCopN. MS revealed the host protein to be fructose bisphosphate aldolase A (aldolase A), which plays a key role in glycolytic metabolism. We also confirmed the role of aldolase A in chlamydia-infected HEp-2 cells by using two distinct experiments for gene knockdown with an siRNA specific to aldolase A transcripts, and for assessment of glycolytic enzyme gene expression levels. As a result, both the numbers of chlamydial inclusion-forming units and RpoD transcripts were increased in the chlamydia-infected aldolase A knockdown cells, as compared with the wild-type HEp-2 cells. Meanwhile, chlamydial infection tended to enhance expression of aldolase A.
We discovered that one of the C. pneumoniae CopN targets is the glycolytic enzyme aldolase A. Sequestering aldolase A may be beneficial to bacterial growth in infected host cells.
PMCID: PMC4302594  PMID: 25528659
Chlamydia pneumoniae; Type III secretion; Effectors; Chlamydial outer protein N
47.  Modulation of bacterial outer membrane vesicle production by envelope structure and content 
BMC Microbiology  2014;14(1):324.
Vesiculation is a ubiquitous secretion process of Gram-negative bacteria, where outer membrane vesicles (OMVs) are small spherical particles on the order of 50 to 250 nm composed of outer membrane (OM) and lumenal periplasmic content. Vesicle functions have been elucidated in some detail, showing their importance in virulence factor secretion, bacterial survival, and biofilm formation in pathogenesis. Furthermore, OMVs serve as an envelope stress response, protecting the secreting bacteria from internal protein misfolding stress, as well as external envelope stressors. Despite their important functional roles very little is known about the regulation and mechanism of vesicle production. Based on the envelope architecture and prior characterization of the hypervesiculation phenotypes for mutants lacking the lipoprotein, Lpp, which is involved in the covalent OM-peptidoglycan (PG) crosslinks, it is expected that an inverse relationship exists between OMV production and PG-crosslinked Lpp.
In this study, we found that subtle modifications of PG remodeling and crosslinking modulate OMV production, inversely correlating with bound Lpp levels. However, this inverse relationship was not found in strains in which OMV production is driven by an increase in “periplasmic pressure” resulting from the accumulation of protein, PG fragments, or lipopolysaccharide. In addition, the characterization of an nlpA deletion in backgrounds lacking either Lpp- or OmpA-mediated envelope crosslinks demonstrated a novel role for NlpA in envelope architecture.
From this work, we conclude that OMV production can be driven by distinct Lpp concentration-dependent and Lpp concentration-independent pathways.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12866-014-0324-1) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4302634  PMID: 25528573
48.  Isolation of Cryptococcus gattii from Oregon soil and tree bark, 2010–2011 
BMC Microbiology  2014;14(1):323.
In Oregon, human and animal infections by C. gattii were first identified in 2004. Cryptococcus gattii is considered to be an emerging non-zoonotic infection affecting animals and humans in Oregon. We report a longitudinal environmental isolation of C. gattii after an Oregon dog was diagnosed with the disease in 2009.
Cryptococcus gattii was isolated twice from the same location with a span of one year between isolation dates. Cryptococcus gattii molecular types VGIIa and VGI were isolated in 2010 from soil and tree bark near the home of a 9-month-old dog which three months previously had an infection caused by C. gattii genotype VGIIa. The environment featured heavy growth of Douglas Fir trees. In 2011, a second set of soil and tree bark samples was collected in the same area and C. gattii VGIIa was again identified from the environment, along with genotypes VGIIb and VGIIc.
The use of animal surveillance data to identify environmental niches of C. gattii should be considered to expand the understanding of this emerging pathogen. Understanding the ecology and how the environment and other factors might modify the existing niches is important for assessing risk and for designing measures to protect human and animal health.
PMCID: PMC4302699  PMID: 25528464
49.  Activation of gab cluster transcription in Bacillus thuringiensis by γ-aminobutyric acid or succinic semialdehyde is mediated by the Sigma 54-dependent transcriptional activator GabR 
BMC Microbiology  2014;14(1):2317.
Bacillus thuringiensis GabR is a Sigma 54-dependent transcriptional activator containing three typical domains, an N-terminal regulatory domain Per-ARNT-Sim (PAS), a central AAA+ (ATPases associated with different cellular activities) domain and a C-terminal helix-turn-helix (HTH) DNA binding domain. GabR positively regulates the expression of the gabT gene of the gab gene cluster, which is responsible for the γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) shunt.
Purified GabR was shown to specifically bind to a repeat region that mapped 58 bp upstream of the gabT start codon. The specific signal factors GABA and succinic semialdehyde (SSA) activated gabT expression, whereas GABA- and SSA-inducible gabT transcription was abolished in sigL and gabR mutants. GABA and SSA did not induce the expression of either SigL or GabR. Deletion of the PAS domain of GabR resulted in increased gabT transcriptional activity, both in the presence and absence of GABA.
This study identified the GabR-binding site on the gabT promoter; however, GabR does not bind to its own promoter. gabT transcription is induced by GABA and SSA, and inducible expression is dependent on SigL and activated by GabR. The PAS domain in GabR is repressing its enhancer transcriptional activity on the gabT promoter. Repression is released upon GABA addition, whereupon transcription is induced.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12866-014-0306-3) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4279683  PMID: 25527261
GabR; Sigma 54; GABA; SSA; PAS domain
50.  [No title available] 
PMCID: PMC4290818  PMID: 25527183

Results 26-50 (2549)