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1.  Turnerbactin, a Novel Triscatecholate Siderophore from the Shipworm Endosymbiont Teredinibacter turnerae T7901 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(10):e76151.
Shipworms are marine bivalve mollusks (Family Teredinidae) that use wood for shelter and food. They harbor a group of closely related, yet phylogenetically distinct, bacterial endosymbionts in bacteriocytes located in the gills. This endosymbiotic community is believed to support the host's nutrition in multiple ways, through the production of cellulolytic enzymes and the fixation of nitrogen. The genome of the shipworm endosymbiont Teredinibacter turnerae T7901 was recently sequenced and in addition to the potential for cellulolytic enzymes and diazotrophy, the genome also revealed a rich potential for secondary metabolites. With nine distinct biosynthetic gene clusters, nearly 7% of the genome is dedicated to secondary metabolites. Bioinformatic analyses predict that one of the gene clusters is responsible for the production of a catecholate siderophore. Here we describe this gene cluster in detail and present the siderophore product from this cluster. Genes similar to the entCEBA genes of enterobactin biosynthesis involved in the production and activation of dihydroxybenzoic acid (DHB) are present in this cluster, as well as a two-module non-ribosomal peptide synthetase (NRPS). A novel triscatecholate siderophore, turnerbactin, was isolated from the supernatant of iron-limited T. turnerae T7901 cultures. Turnerbactin is a trimer of N-(2,3-DHB)-L-Orn-L-Ser with the three monomeric units linked by Ser ester linkages. A monomer, dimer, dehydrated dimer, and dehydrated trimer of 2,3-DHB-L-Orn-L-Ser were also found in the supernatant. A link between the gene cluster and siderophore product was made by constructing a NRPS mutant, TtAH03. Siderophores could not be detected in cultures of TtAH03 by HPLC analysis and Fe-binding activity of culture supernatant was significantly reduced. Regulation of the pathway by iron is supported by identification of putative Fur box sequences and observation of increased Fe-binding activity under iron restriction. Evidence of a turnerbactin fragment was found in shipworm extracts, suggesting the production of turnerbactin in the symbiosis.
PMCID: PMC3795760  PMID: 24146831
2.  Microbial Distribution and Abundance in the Digestive System of Five Shipworm Species (Bivalvia: Teredinidae) 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(9):e45309.
Marine bivalves of the family Teredinidae (shipworms) are voracious consumers of wood in marine environments. In several shipworm species, dense communities of intracellular bacterial endosymbionts have been observed within specialized cells (bacteriocytes) of the gills (ctenidia). These bacteria are proposed to contribute to digestion of wood by the host. While the microbes of shipworm gills have been studied extensively in several species, the abundance and distribution of microbes in the digestive system have not been adequately addressed. Here we use Fluorescence In-Situ Hybridization (FISH) and laser scanning confocal microscopy with 16S rRNA directed oligonucleotide probes targeting all domains, domains Bacteria and Archaea, and other taxonomic groups to examine the digestive microbiota of 17 specimens from 5 shipworm species (Bankia setacea, Lyrodus pedicellatus, Lyrodus massa, Lyrodus sp. and Teredo aff. triangularis). These data reveal that the caecum, a large sac-like appendage of the stomach that typically contains large quantities of wood particles and is considered the primary site of wood digestion, harbors only very sparse microbial populations. However, a significant number of bacterial cells were observed in fecal pellets within the intestines. These results suggest that due to low abundance, bacteria in the caecum may contribute little to lignocellulose degradation. In contrast, the comparatively high population density of bacteria in the intestine suggests a possible role for intestinal bacteria in the degradation of lignocellulose.
PMCID: PMC3447940  PMID: 23028923
3.  The Complete Genome of Teredinibacter turnerae T7901: An Intracellular Endosymbiont of Marine Wood-Boring Bivalves (Shipworms) 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(7):e6085.
Here we report the complete genome sequence of Teredinibacter turnerae T7901. T. turnerae is a marine gamma proteobacterium that occurs as an intracellular endosymbiont in the gills of wood-boring marine bivalves of the family Teredinidae (shipworms). This species is the sole cultivated member of an endosymbiotic consortium thought to provide the host with enzymes, including cellulases and nitrogenase, critical for digestion of wood and supplementation of the host's nitrogen-deficient diet. T. turnerae is closely related to the free-living marine polysaccharide degrading bacterium Saccharophagus degradans str. 2–40 and to as yet uncultivated endosymbionts with which it coexists in shipworm cells. Like S. degradans, the T. turnerae genome encodes a large number of enzymes predicted to be involved in complex polysaccharide degradation (>100). However, unlike S. degradans, which degrades a broad spectrum (>10 classes) of complex plant, fungal and algal polysaccharides, T. turnerae primarily encodes enzymes associated with deconstruction of terrestrial woody plant material. Also unlike S. degradans and many other eubacteria, T. turnerae dedicates a large proportion of its genome to genes predicted to function in secondary metabolism. Despite its intracellular niche, the T. turnerae genome lacks many features associated with obligate intracellular existence (e.g. reduced genome size, reduced %G+C, loss of genes of core metabolism) and displays evidence of adaptations common to free-living bacteria (e.g. defense against bacteriophage infection). These results suggest that T. turnerae is likely a facultative intracellular ensosymbiont whose niche presently includes, or recently included, free-living existence. As such, the T. turnerae genome provides insights into the range of genomic adaptations associated with intracellular endosymbiosis as well as enzymatic mechanisms relevant to the recycling of plant materials in marine environments and the production of cellulose-derived biofuels.
PMCID: PMC2699552  PMID: 19568419
4.  CelAB, a Multifunctional Cellulase Encoded by Teredinibacter turnerae T7902T, a Culturable Symbiont Isolated from the Wood-Boring Marine Bivalve Lyrodus pedicellatus▿  
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2007;73(23):7785-7788.
We characterized a multifunctional cellulase (CelAB) encoded by the endosymbiont Teredinibacter turnerae T7902T. CelAB contains two catalytic and two carbohydrate-binding domains, each separated by polyserine linker regions. CelAB binds cellulose and chitin, degrades multiple complex polysaccharides, and displays two catalytic activities, cellobiohydrolase (EC and β-1,4(3) endoglucanase (EC
PMCID: PMC2168062  PMID: 17933945
5.  Extensive Variation in Intracellular Symbiont Community Composition among Members of a Single Population of the Wood-Boring Bivalve Lyrodus pedicellatus (Bivalvia: Teredinidae) 
Shipworms (wood-boring bivalves of the family Teredinidae) harbor in their gills intracellular bacterial symbionts thought to produce enzymes that enable the host to consume cellulose as its primary carbon source. Recently, it was demonstrated that multiple genetically distinct symbiont populations coexist within one shipworm species, Lyrodus pedicellatus. Here we explore the extent to which symbiont communities vary among individuals of this species by quantitatively examining the diversity, abundance, and pattern of occurrence of symbiont ribotypes (unique 16S rRNA sequence types) among specimens drawn from a single laboratory-reared population. A total of 18 ribotypes were identified in two clone libraries generated from gill tissue of (i) a single specimen and (ii) four pooled specimens. Phylogenetic analysis assigned all of the ribotypes to a unique clade within the γ subgroup of proteobacteria which contained at least five well-supported internal clades (phylotypes). By competitive quantitative PCR and constant denaturant capillary electrophoresis, we estimated the number and abundance of symbiont phylotypes in gill samples of 13 individual shipworm specimens. Phylotype composition varied greatly; however, in all specimens the numerically dominant symbiont belonged to one of two nearly mutually exclusive phylotypes, each of which was detected with similar frequencies among specimens. A third phylotype, containing the culturable symbiont Teredinibacter turnerae, was identified in nearly all specimens, and two additional phylotypes were observed more sporadically. Such extensive variation in ribotype and phylotype composition among host specimens adds to a growing body of evidence that microbial endosymbiont populations may be both complex and dynamic and suggests that such genetic variation should be evaluated with regard to physiological and ecological differentiation.
PMCID: PMC1352252  PMID: 16391072
6.  Phylogenetic Analysis of the Hypervariable Region of the 18S rRNA Gene of Cryptosporidium Oocysts in Feces of Canada Geese (Branta canadensis): Evidence for Five Novel Genotypes 
To assess genetic diversity in Cryptosporidium oocysts from Canada geese, 161 fecal samples from Canada geese in the United States were analyzed. Eleven (6.8%) were positive for Cryptosporidium spp. following nested PCR amplification of the hypervariable region of the 18S rRNA gene. Nine PCR products from geese were cloned and sequenced, and all nine diverged from previously reported Cryptosporidium 18S rRNA gene sequences. Five sequences were very similar or identical to each other but genetically distinct from that of Cryptosporidium baileyi; two were most closely related to, but genetically distinct from, the first five; and two were distinct from any other sequence analyzed. One additional sequence in the hypervariable region of the 18S rRNA gene isolated from a cormorant was identical to that of C. baileyi. Phylogenetic analysis provided evidence for new genotypes of Cryptosporidium species in Canada geese. Results of this study suggest that the taxonomy of Cryptosporidium species in geese is complex and that a more complete understanding of genetic diversity among these parasites will facilitate our understanding of oocyst sources and species in the environment.
PMCID: PMC321269  PMID: 14711674
7.  Protistan Grazing Analysis by Flow Cytometry Using Prey Labeled by In Vivo Expression of Fluorescent Proteins 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2003;69(11):6848-6855.
Selective grazing by protists can profoundly influence bacterial community structure, and yet direct, quantitative observation of grazing selectivity has been difficult to achieve. In this investigation, flow cytometry was used to study grazing by the marine heterotrophic flagellate Paraphysomonas imperforata on live bacterial cells genetically modified to express the fluorescent protein markers green fluorescent protein (GFP) and red fluorescent protein (RFP). Broad-host-range plasmids were constructed that express fluorescent proteins in three bacterial prey species, Escherichia coli, Enterobacter aerogenes, and Pseudomonas putida. Micromonas pusilla, an alga with red autofluorescence, was also used as prey. Predator-prey interactions were quantified by using a FACScan flow cytometer and analyzed by using a Perl program described here. Grazing preference of P. imperforata was influenced by prey type, size, and condition. In competitive feeding trials, P. imperforata consumed algal prey at significantly lower rates than FP (fluorescent protein)-labeled bacteria of similar or different size. Within-species size selection was also observed, but only for P. putida, the largest prey species examined; smaller cells of P. putida were grazed preferentially. No significant difference in clearance rate was observed between GFP- and RFP-labeled strains of the same prey species or between wild-type and GFP-labeled strains. In contrast, the common chemical staining method, 5-(4,6-dichloro-triazin-2-yl)-amino fluorescein hydrochloride, depressed clearance rates for bacterial prey compared to unlabeled or RFP-labeled cells.
PMCID: PMC262319  PMID: 14602649
9.  Molecular and Functional Analysis of an Interferon Gene from the Zebrafish, Danio rerio†  
Journal of Virology  2003;77(3):1992-2002.
The interferon (IFN) family consisting of alpha IFN (IFN-α), IFN-β, IFN-ω, IFN-δ, IFN-κ, and IFN-τ is a large group of cytokines involved in the innate immune response against various microorganisms. Genes for IFN have been cloned from a variety of mammalian and avian species; however, IFN genes from lower-order vertebrates have not been forthcoming. Here, we report the cloning and characterization of the IFN gene from the zebrafish, Danio rerio. Zebrafish IFN (zfIFN) is 185 amino acids in length, with the first 22 amino acids representing a putative signal peptide. Treatment with the known IFN inducer polyinosinic acid-polycytidylic acid (poly[I]-poly[C]) resulted in an increase in zfIFN mRNA transcripts. zfIFN was also able to activate the IFN-inducible Mx promoter when cotransfected with a plasmid containing the zebrafish Mx promoter upstream of a luciferase reporter gene. To demonstrate antiviral activity, zebrafish cells were transfected with zfIFN and challenged with a fish rhabdovirus. A 36% reduction in plaque number was seen in zfIFN-transfected cells, compared to cells transfected with a control vector. Phylogenetic analysis has shown zfIFN to be approximately equally divergent from avian and mammalian IFN, consistent with its origin from an IFN present in the most recent common ancestor of these divergent lineages. A putative IFN from puffer, Fugu rubripes, was also found when zfIFN was used to search the fugu genome database, demonstrating that zfIFN can be used to find additional fish IFN genes. These results demonstrate that zebrafish can be used as an effective model for studying innate immunity and immune response to infectious disease.
PMCID: PMC140984  PMID: 12525633
10.  Coexistence of Multiple Proteobacterial Endosymbionts in the Gills of the Wood-Boring Bivalve Lyrodus pedicellatus (Bivalvia: Teredinidae) 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2002;68(12):6292-6299.
Wood-boring bivalves of the family Teredinidae (commonly called shipworms) are known to harbor dense populations of gram-negative bacteria within specialized cells (bacteriocytes) in their gills. These symbionts are thought to provide enzymes, e.g., cellulase and dinitrogenase, which assist the host in utilizing wood as a primary food source. A cellulolytic, dinitrogen-fixing bacterium, Teredinibacter turnerae, has been isolated from the gill tissues of numerous teredinid bivalves and has been proposed to constitute the sole or predominant symbiont of this bivalve family. Here we demonstrate that one teredinid species, Lyrodus pedicellatus, contains at least four distinct bacterial 16S rRNA types within its gill bacteriocytes, one of which is identical to that of T. turnerae. Phylogenetic analyses indicate that the three newly detected ribotypes are derived from gamma proteobacteria that are related to but distinct (>6.5% sequence divergence) from T. turnerae. In situ hybridizations with 16S rRNA-directed probes demonstrated that the pattern of occurrence of symbiont ribotypes within bacteriocytes was predictable and specific, with some bacteriocytes containing two symbiont ribotypes. However, only two of the six possible pairwise combinations of the four ribotypes were observed to cooccur within the same host cells. The results presented here are consistent with the existence of a complex multiple symbiosis in this shipworm species.
PMCID: PMC134422  PMID: 12450854
11.  Resolution of Prochlorococcus and Synechococcus Ecotypes by Using 16S-23S Ribosomal DNA Internal Transcribed Spacer Sequences 
Cultured isolates of the marine cyanobacteria Prochlorococcus and Synechococcus vary widely in their pigment compositions and growth responses to light and nutrients, yet show greater than 96% identity in their 16S ribosomal DNA (rDNA) sequences. In order to better define the genetic variation that accompanies their physiological diversity, sequences for the 16S-23S rDNA internal transcribed spacer (ITS) region were determined in 32 Prochlorococcus isolates and 25 Synechococcus isolates from around the globe. Each strain examined yielded one ITS sequence that contained two tRNA genes. Dramatic variations in the length and G+C content of the spacer were observed among the strains, particularly among Prochlorococcus strains. Secondary-structure models of the ITS were predicted in order to facilitate alignment of the sequences for phylogenetic analyses. The previously observed division of Prochlorococcus into two ecotypes (called high and low-B/A after their differences in chlorophyll content) were supported, as was the subdivision of the high-B/A ecotype into four genetically distinct clades. ITS-based phylogenies partitioned marine cluster A Synechococcus into six clades, three of which can be associated with a particular phenotype (motility, chromatic adaptation, and lack of phycourobilin). The pattern of sequence divergence within and between clades is suggestive of a mode of evolution driven by adaptive sweeps and implies that each clade represents an ecologically distinct population. Furthermore, many of the clades consist of strains isolated from disparate regions of the world's oceans, implying that they are geographically widely distributed. These results provide further evidence that natural populations of Prochlorococcus and Synechococcus consist of multiple coexisting ecotypes, genetically closely related but physiologically distinct, which may vary in relative abundance with changing environmental conditions.
PMCID: PMC123739  PMID: 11872466

Results 1-11 (11)