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1.  Metagenomic Insights into the Uncultured Diversity and Physiology of Microbes in Four Hypersaline Soda Lake Brines 
Soda lakes are salt lakes with a naturally alkaline pH due to evaporative concentration of sodium carbonates in the absence of major divalent cations. Hypersaline soda brines harbor microbial communities with a high species- and strain-level archaeal diversity and a large proportion of still uncultured poly-extremophiles compared to neutral brines of similar salinities. We present the first “metagenomic snapshots” of microbial communities thriving in the brines of four shallow soda lakes from the Kulunda Steppe (Altai, Russia) covering a salinity range from 170 to 400 g/L. Both amplicon sequencing of 16S rRNA fragments and direct metagenomic sequencing showed that the top-level taxa abundance was linked to the ambient salinity: Bacteroidetes, Alpha-, and Gamma-proteobacteria were dominant below a salinity of 250 g/L, Euryarchaeota at higher salinities. Within these taxa, amplicon sequences related to Halorubrum, Natrinema, Gracilimonas, purple non-sulfur bacteria (Rhizobiales, Rhodobacter, and Rhodobaca) and chemolithotrophic sulfur oxidizers (Thioalkalivibrio) were highly abundant. Twenty-four draft population genomes from novel members and ecotypes within the Nanohaloarchaea, Halobacteria, and Bacteroidetes were reconstructed to explore their metabolic features, environmental abundance and strategies for osmotic adaptation. The Halobacteria- and Bacteroidetes-related draft genomes belong to putative aerobic heterotrophs, likely with the capacity to ferment sugars in the absence of oxygen. Members from both taxonomic groups are likely involved in primary organic carbon degradation, since some of the reconstructed genomes encode the ability to hydrolyze recalcitrant substrates, such as cellulose and chitin. Putative sodium-pumping rhodopsins were found in both a Flavobacteriaceae- and a Chitinophagaceae-related draft genome. The predicted proteomes of both the latter and a Rhodothermaceae-related draft genome were indicative of a “salt-in” strategy of osmotic adaptation. The primary catabolic and respiratory pathways shared among all available reference genomes of Nanohaloarchaea and our novel genome reconstructions remain incomplete, but point to a primarily fermentative lifestyle. Encoded xenorhodopsins found in most drafts suggest that light plays an important role in the ecology of Nanohaloarchaea. Putative encoded halolysins and laccase-like oxidases might indicate the potential for extracellular degradation of proteins and peptides, and phenolic or aromatic compounds.
PMCID: PMC4766312  PMID: 26941731
soda lake brines; Nanohaloarchaea; Halobacteria; Bacteroidetes; hydrolytics; cellulase; chitinase; rhodopsin
2.  A Phylogenomic Analysis of the Bacterial Phylum Fibrobacteres 
The Fibrobacteres has been recognized as a bacterial phylum for over a decade, but little is known about the group beyond its environmental distribution, and characterization of its sole cultured representative genus, Fibrobacter, after which the phylum was named. Based on these incomplete data, it is thought that cellulose hydrolysis, anaerobic metabolism, and lack of motility are unifying features of the phylum. There are also contradicting views as to whether an uncultured sister lineage, candidate phylum TG3, should be included in the Fibrobacteres. Recently, chitin-degrading cultured representatives of TG3 were isolated from a hypersaline soda lake, and the genome of one species, Chitinivibrio alkaliphilus, sequenced and described in detail. Here, we performed a comparative analysis of Fibrobacter succinogenes, C. alkaliphilus and eight near or substantially complete Fibrobacteres/TG3 genomes of environmental populations recovered from termite gut, anaerobic digester, and sheep rumen metagenomes. We propose that TG3 should be amalgamated with the Fibrobacteres phylum based on robust monophyly of the two lineages and shared character traits. Polymer hydrolysis, using a distinctive set of glycoside hydrolases and binding domains, appears to be a prominent feature of members of the Fibrobacteres. Not all members of this phylum are strictly anaerobic as some termite gut Fibrobacteres have respiratory chains adapted to the microaerophilic conditions found in this habitat. Contrary to expectations, flagella-based motility is predicted to be an ancestral and common trait in this phylum and has only recently been lost in F. succinogenes and its relatives based on phylogenetic distribution of flagellar genes. Our findings extend current understanding of the Fibrobacteres and provide an improved basis for further investigation of this phylum.
PMCID: PMC4704652  PMID: 26779135
fibrobacteres; TG3; termite gut; anaerobic digester; comparative genomics
3.  Effects of sample treatments on genome recovery via single-cell genomics 
The ISME Journal  2014;8(12):2546-2549.
Single-cell genomics is a powerful tool for accessing genetic information from uncultivated microorganisms. Methods of handling samples before single-cell genomic amplification may affect the quality of the genomes obtained. Using three bacterial strains we show that, compared to cryopreservation, lower-quality single-cell genomes are recovered when the sample is preserved in ethanol or if the sample undergoes fluorescence in situ hybridization, while sample preservation in paraformaldehyde renders it completely unsuitable for sequencing.
PMCID: PMC4260712  PMID: 24926860
4.  Evaluating DNA Extraction Methods for Community Profiling of Pig Hindgut Microbial Community 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(11):e0142720.
Recovery of high quality PCR-amplifiable DNA has been the general minimal requirement for DNA extraction methods for bulk molecular analysis. However, modern high through-put community profiling technologies are more sensitive to representativeness and reproducibility of DNA extraction method. Here, we assess the impact of three DNA extraction methods (with different levels of extraction harshness) for assessing hindgut microbiomes from pigs fed with different diets (with different physical properties). DNA extraction from each sample was performed in three technical replicates for each extraction method and sequenced by 16S rRNA amplicon sequencing. Host was the primary driver of molecular sequencing outcomes, particularly on samples analysed by wheat based diets, but higher variability, with one failed extraction occurred on samples from a barley fed pig. Based on these results, an effective method will enable reproducible and quality outcomes on a range of samples, whereas an ineffective method will fail to generate extract, but host (rather than extraction method) remains the primary factor.
PMCID: PMC4641665  PMID: 26560873
5.  STAMP: statistical analysis of taxonomic and functional profiles 
Bioinformatics  2014;30(21):3123-3124.
Summary: STAMP is a graphical software package that provides statistical hypothesis tests and exploratory plots for analysing taxonomic and functional profiles. It supports tests for comparing pairs of samples or samples organized into two or more treatment groups. Effect sizes and confidence intervals are provided to allow critical assessment of the biological relevancy of test results. A user-friendly graphical interface permits easy exploration of statistical results and generation of publication-quality plots.
Availability and implementation: STAMP is licensed under the GNU GPL. Python source code and binaries are available from our website at:
Supplementary information: Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online.
PMCID: PMC4609014  PMID: 25061070
6.  Deterministic processes guide long-term synchronised population dynamics in replicate anaerobic digesters 
The ISME Journal  2014;8(10):2015-2028.
A replicate long-term experiment was conducted using anaerobic digestion (AD) as a model process to determine the relative role of niche and neutral theory on microbial community assembly, and to link community dynamics to system performance. AD is performed by a complex network of microorganisms and process stability relies entirely on the synergistic interactions between populations belonging to different functional guilds. In this study, three independent replicate anaerobic digesters were seeded with the same diverse inoculum, supplied with a model substrate, α-cellulose, and operated for 362 days at a 10-day hydraulic residence time under mesophilic conditions. Selective pressure imposed by the operational conditions and model substrate caused large reproducible changes in community composition including an overall decrease in richness in the first month of operation, followed by synchronised population dynamics that correlated with changes in reactor performance. This included the synchronised emergence and decline of distinct Ruminococcus phylotypes at day 148, and emergence of a Clostridium and Methanosaeta phylotype at day 178, when performance became stable in all reactors. These data suggest that many dynamic functional niches are predictably filled by phylogenetically coherent populations over long time scales. Neutral theory would predict that a complex community with a high degree of recognised functional redundancy would lead to stochastic changes in populations and community divergence over time. We conclude that deterministic processes may play a larger role in microbial community dynamics than currently appreciated, and under controlled conditions it may be possible to reliably predict community structural and functional changes over time.
PMCID: PMC4184015  PMID: 24739627
anaerobic digestion; deterministic; neutral theory; niche specialisation; synchronised dynamics
7.  Back from the dead; the curious tale of the predatory cyanobacterium Vampirovibrio chlorellavorus 
PeerJ  2015;3:e968.
An uncultured non-photosynthetic basal lineage of the Cyanobacteria, the Melainabacteria, was recently characterised by metagenomic analyses of aphotic environmental samples. However, a predatory bacterium, Vampirovibrio chlorellavorus, originally described in 1972 appears to be the first cultured representative of the Melainabacteria based on a 16S rRNA sequence recovered from a lyophilised co-culture of the organism. Here, we sequenced the genome of V. chlorellavorus directly from 36 year-old lyophilised material that could not be resuscitated confirming its identity as a member of the Melainabacteria. We identified attributes in the genome that likely allow V. chlorellavorus to function as an obligate predator of the microalga Chlorella vulgaris, and predict that it is the first described predator to use an Agrobacterium tumefaciens-like conjugative type IV secretion system to invade its host. V. chlorellavorus is the first cyanobacterium recognised to have a predatory lifestyle and further supports the assertion that Melainabacteria are non-photosynthetic.
PMCID: PMC4451040  PMID: 26038723
Cyanobacteria; Melainabacteria; Predatory bacteria; Vampirovibrio chlorellavorus; Chlorella vulgaris; Obligate predator; Epibiotic
8.  Do You Kiss Your Mother with That Mouth? An Authentic Large-Scale Undergraduate Research Experience in Mapping the Human Oral Microbiome† 
Clinical microbiology testing is crucial for the diagnosis and treatment of community and hospital-acquired infections. Laboratory scientists need to utilize technical and problem-solving skills to select from a wide array of microbial identification techniques. The inquiry-driven laboratory training required to prepare microbiology graduates for this professional environment can be difficult to replicate within undergraduate curricula, especially in courses that accommodate large student cohorts. We aimed to improve undergraduate scientific training by engaging hundreds of introductory microbiology students in an Authentic Large-Scale Undergraduate Research Experience (ALURE). The ALURE aimed to characterize the microorganisms that reside in the healthy human oral cavity—the oral microbiome—by analyzing hundreds of samples obtained from student volunteers within the course. Students were able to choose from selective and differential culture media, Gram-staining, microscopy, as well as polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and 16S rRNA gene sequencing techniques, in order to collect, analyze, and interpret novel data to determine the collective oral microbiome of the student cohort. Pre- and postsurvey analysis of student learning gains across two iterations of the course (2012–2013) revealed significantly higher student confidence in laboratory skills following the completion of the ALURE (p < 0.05 using the Mann-Whitney U-test). Learning objectives on effective scientific communication were also met through effective student performance in laboratory reports describing the research outcomes of the project. The integration of undergraduate research in clinical microbiology has the capacity to deliver authentic research experiences and improve scientific training for large cohorts of undergraduate students.
PMCID: PMC4416505  PMID: 25949757
9.  A molecular survey of Australian and North American termite genera indicates that vertical inheritance is the primary force shaping termite gut microbiomes 
Microbiome  2015;3:5.
Termites and their microbial gut symbionts are major recyclers of lignocellulosic biomass. This important symbiosis is obligate but relatively open and more complex in comparison to other well-known insect symbioses such as the strict vertical transmission of Buchnera in aphids. The relative roles of vertical inheritance and environmental factors such as diet in shaping the termite gut microbiome are not well understood.
The gut microbiomes of 66 specimens representing seven higher and nine lower termite genera collected in Australia and North America were profiled by small subunit (SSU) rRNA amplicon pyrosequencing. These represent the first reported culture-independent gut microbiome data for three higher termite genera: Tenuirostritermes, Drepanotermes, and Gnathamitermes; and two lower termite genera: Marginitermes and Porotermes. Consistent with previous studies, bacteria comprise the largest fraction of termite gut symbionts, of which 11 phylotypes (6 Treponema, 1 Desulfarculus-like, 1 Desulfovibrio, 1 Anaerovorax-like, 1 Sporobacter-like, and 1 Pirellula-like) were widespread occurring in ≥50% of collected specimens. Archaea are generally considered to comprise only a minority of the termite gut microbiota (<3%); however, archaeal relative abundance was substantially higher and variable in a number of specimens including Macrognathotermes, Coptotermes, Schedorhinotermes, Porotermes, and Mastotermes (representing up to 54% of amplicon reads). A ciliate related to Clevelandella was detected in low abundance in Gnathamitermes indicating that protists were either reacquired after protists loss in higher termites or persisted in low numbers across this transition. Phylogenetic analyses of the bacterial communities indicate that vertical inheritance is the primary force shaping termite gut microbiota. The effect of diet is secondary and appears to influence the relative abundance, but not membership, of the gut communities.
Vertical inheritance is the primary force shaping the termite gut microbiome indicating that species are successfully and faithfully passed from one generation to the next via trophallaxis or coprophagy. Changes in relative abundance can occur on shorter time scales and appear to be an adaptive mechanism for dietary fluctuations.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s40168-015-0067-8) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4379614  PMID: 25830022
10.  First genomic insights into members of a candidate bacterial phylum responsible for wastewater bulking 
PeerJ  2015;3:e740.
Filamentous cells belonging to the candidate bacterial phylum KSB3 were previously identified as the causative agent of fatal filament overgrowth (bulking) in a high-rate industrial anaerobic wastewater treatment bioreactor. Here, we obtained near complete genomes from two KSB3 populations in the bioreactor, including the dominant bulking filament, using differential coverage binning of metagenomic data. Fluorescence in situ hybridization with 16S rRNA-targeted probes specific for the two populations confirmed that both are filamentous organisms. Genome-based metabolic reconstruction and microscopic observation of the KSB3 filaments in the presence of sugar gradients indicate that both filament types are Gram-negative, strictly anaerobic fermenters capable of non-flagellar based gliding motility, and have a strikingly large number of sensory and response regulator genes. We propose that the KSB3 filaments are highly sensitive to their surroundings and that cellular processes, including those causing bulking, are controlled by external stimuli. The obtained genomes lay the foundation for a more detailed understanding of environmental cues used by KSB3 filaments, which may lead to more robust treatment options to prevent bulking.
PMCID: PMC4312070  PMID: 25650158
KSB3 phylum; Candidate phylum; Wastewater treatment; Anaerobic biotechnology; Filamentous bulking; Metagenomics
11.  Genomic Encyclopedia of Bacterial and Archaeal Type Strains, Phase III: the genomes of soil and plant-associated and newly described type strains 
The Genomic Encyclopedia of Bacteria and Archaea (GEBA) project was launched by the JGI in 2007 as a pilot project to sequence about 250 bacterial and archaeal genomes of elevated phylogenetic diversity. Herein, we propose to extend this approach to type strains of prokaryotes associated with soil or plants and their close relatives as well as type strains from newly described species. Understanding the microbiology of soil and plants is critical to many DOE mission areas, such as biofuel production from biomass, biogeochemistry, and carbon cycling. We are also targeting type strains of novel species while they are being described. Since 2006, about 630 new species have been described per year, many of which are closely aligned to DOE areas of interest in soil, agriculture, degradation of pollutants, biofuel production, biogeochemical transformation, and biodiversity.
PMCID: PMC4511459  PMID: 26203337
Genome sequencing; Type stains; Prokaryotes
12.  Comparative genomics of two ‘Candidatus Accumulibacter' clades performing biological phosphorus removal 
The ISME Journal  2013;7(12):2301-2314.
Members of the genus Candidatus Accumulibacter are important in many wastewater treatment systems performing enhanced biological phosphorus removal (EBPR). The Accumulibacter lineage can be subdivided phylogenetically into multiple clades, and previous work showed that these clades are ecologically distinct. The complete genome of Candidatus Accumulibacter phosphatis strain UW-1, a member of Clade IIA, was previously sequenced. Here, we report a draft genome sequence of Candidatus Accumulibacter spp. strain UW-2, a member of Clade IA, assembled following shotgun metagenomic sequencing of laboratory-scale bioreactor sludge. We estimate the genome to be 80–90% complete. Although the two clades share 16S rRNA sequence identity of >98.0%, we observed a remarkable lack of synteny between the two genomes. We identified 2317 genes shared between the two genomes, with an average nucleotide identity (ANI) of 78.3%, and accounting for 49% of genes in the UW-1 genome. Unlike UW-1, the UW-2 genome seemed to lack genes for nitrogen fixation and carbon fixation. Despite these differences, metabolic genes essential for denitrification and EBPR, including carbon storage polymer and polyphosphate metabolism, were conserved in both genomes. The ANI from genes associated with EBPR was statistically higher than that from genes not associated with EBPR, indicating a high selective pressure in EBPR systems. Further, we identified genomic islands of foreign origins including a near-complete lysogenic phage in the Clade IA genome. Interestingly, Clade IA appeared to be more phage susceptible based on it containing only a single Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats locus as compared with the two found in Clade IIA. Overall, the comparative analysis provided a genetic basis to understand physiological differences and ecological niches of Accumulibacter populations, and highlights the importance of diversity in maintaining system functional resilience.
PMCID: PMC3834850  PMID: 23887171
enhanced biological phosphorus removal; ‘Candidatus Accumulibacter phosphatis'; activated sludge
13.  JTD special edition ‘Hot Topics in COPD’—The microbiome in COPD 
Journal of Thoracic Disease  2014;6(11):1525-1531.
The pathogenesis of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and its exacerbations, are intricately linked to colonisation and infection with bacteria and other microbes. Despite their undeniable importance, we have a poor understanding of the complex relationships between COPD phenotypes, physiology, cellular and molecular biology and the roles of colonising microbe or infecting pathogens. The management algorithms for the care of patients with COPD that include microbial influences, have almost exclusively been developed using microbial methods that were entirely dependent on the ability to grow bacteria on suitable media. The shortcomings of this approach are becoming clear now that it is possible to completely and accurately define the microbial ecology of ecosystems using genomic methods, which do not rely on the ability to cultivate the organisms present. Whilst our appreciation of the relationships between some bacterial ecosystems and the organ in which they reside in humans is now relatively advanced, this is not true for lung. This perspective serves to highlight the growing importance of including an accurate description of bacterial ecology in any attempt to decipher the pathobiology of COPD. While this field is in its infancy, there is significant potential to gain new insights which will translate into more rational and effective treatment algorithms for patients with COPD.
PMCID: PMC4255167  PMID: 25478194
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD); microbiome; metagenomics
14.  GroopM: an automated tool for the recovery of population genomes from related metagenomes 
PeerJ  2014;2:e603.
Metagenomic binning methods that leverage differential population abundances in microbial communities (differential coverage) are emerging as a complementary approach to conventional composition-based binning. Here we introduce GroopM, an automated binning tool that primarily uses differential coverage to obtain high fidelity population genomes from related metagenomes. We demonstrate the effectiveness of GroopM using synthetic and real-world metagenomes, and show that GroopM produces results comparable with more time consuming, labor-intensive methods.
PMCID: PMC4183954  PMID: 25289188
Metagenomics; Population genome binning; Bioinformatics; Microbial ecology
15.  Genomic Encyclopedia of Bacteria and Archaea: Sequencing a Myriad of Type Strains 
PLoS Biology  2014;12(8):e1001920.
This manuscript calls for an international effort to generate a comprehensive catalog from genome sequences of all the archaeal and bacterial type strains.
Microbes hold the key to life. They hold the secrets to our past (as the descendants of the earliest forms of life) and the prospects for our future (as we mine their genes for solutions to some of the planet's most pressing problems, from global warming to antibiotic resistance). However, the piecemeal approach that has defined efforts to study microbial genetic diversity for over 20 years and in over 30,000 genome projects risks squandering that promise. These efforts have covered less than 20% of the diversity of the cultured archaeal and bacterial species, which represent just 15% of the overall known prokaryotic diversity. Here we call for the funding of a systematic effort to produce a comprehensive genomic catalog of all cultured Bacteria and Archaea by sequencing, where available, the type strain of each species with a validly published name (currently∼11,000). This effort will provide an unprecedented level of coverage of our planet's genetic diversity, allow for the large-scale discovery of novel genes and functions, and lead to an improved understanding of microbial evolution and function in the environment.
PMCID: PMC4122341  PMID: 25093819
16.  Defining the core Arabidopsis thaliana root microbiome 
Nature  2012;488(7409):86-90.
Land plants associate with a root microbiota distinct from the complex microbial community present in surrounding soil. The microbiota colonizing therhizosphere(immediately surroundingthe root) and the endophytic compartment (within the root) contribute to plant growth, productivity, carbon sequestration and phytoremediation1-3. Colonization of the root occurs despite a sophisticated plant immune system4,5, suggesting finely tuned discrimination of mutualists and commensals from pathogens. Genetic principles governing the derivation of host-specific endophyte communities from soil communities are poorly understood. Here we report the pyrosequencing of the bacterial 16S ribosomal RNA gene of more than 600 Arabidopsis thaliana plants to test the hypotheses that the root rhizosphere and endophytic compartment microbiota of plants grown under controlled conditions in natural soils are sufficiently dependent on the host to remain consistent across different soil types and developmental stages, and sufficiently dependent on host genotype to vary between inbred Arabidopsis accessions. We describe different bacterial communities in two geochemically distinct bulk soils and in rhizosphere and endophytic compartments prepared from roots grown in these soils. The communities in each compartment are strongly influenced by soil type. Endophytic compartments from both soils feature overlapping, low-complexity communities that are markedly enriched in Actinobacteria and specific families from other phyla, notably Proteobacteria. Some bacteria vary quantitatively between plants of different developmental stage and genotype. Our rigorous definition of an endophytic compartment microbiome should facilitate controlled dissection of plantmicrobe interactions derived from complex soil communities.
PMCID: PMC4074413  PMID: 22859206
17.  Genome sequence of the Thermotoga thermarum type strain (LA3T) from an African solfataric spring 
Standards in Genomic Sciences  2014;9(3):1105-1117.
Thermotoga thermarum Windberger et al. 1989 is a member to the genomically well characterized genus Thermotoga in the phylum ‘Thermotogae’. T. thermarum is of interest for its origin from a continental solfataric spring vs. predominantly marine oil reservoirs of other members of the genus. The genome of strain LA3T also provides fresh data for the phylogenomic positioning of the (hyper-)thermophilic bacteria. T. thermarum strain LA3T is the fourth sequenced genome of a type strain from the genus Thermotoga, and the sixth in the family Thermotogaceae to be formally described in a publication. Phylogenetic analyses do not reveal significant discrepancies between the current classification of the group, 16S rRNA gene data and whole-genome sequences. Nevertheless, T. thermarum significantly differs from other Thermotoga species regarding its iron-sulfur cluster synthesis, as it contains only a minimal set of the necessary proteins. Here we describe the features of this organism, together with the complete genome sequence and annotation. The 2,039,943 bp long chromosome with its 2,015 protein-coding and 51 RNA genes is a part of the Genomic Encyclopedia of Bacteria and Archaea project.
PMCID: PMC4148951  PMID: 25197486
anaerobic; motile; thermophilic; chemoorganotrophic; solfataric spring; outer sheath-like structure; Thermotogaceae; GEBA
18.  An Expanded Genomic Representation of the Phylum Cyanobacteria 
Genome Biology and Evolution  2014;6(5):1031-1045.
Molecular surveys of aphotic habitats have indicated the presence of major uncultured lineages phylogenetically classified as members of the Cyanobacteria. One of these lineages has recently been proposed as a nonphotosynthetic sister phylum to the Cyanobacteria, the Melainabacteria, based on recovery of population genomes from human gut and groundwater samples. Here, we expand the phylogenomic representation of the Melainabacteria through sequencing of six diverse population genomes from gut and bioreactor samples supporting the inference that this lineage is nonphotosynthetic, but not the assertion that they are strictly fermentative. We propose that the Melainabacteria is a class within the phylogenetically defined Cyanobacteria based on robust monophyly and shared ancestral traits with photosynthetic representatives. Our findings are consistent with theories that photosynthesis occurred late in the Cyanobacteria and involved extensive lateral gene transfer and extends the recognized functionality of members of this phylum.
PMCID: PMC4040986  PMID: 24709563
Melainabacteria; culture-independent; evolution; photosynthesis
19.  Genome Sequence of Enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli Strain B2C 
Genome Announcements  2014;2(2):e00247-14.
Enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli (ETEC) is a major cause of diarrheal disease around the globe, causing an estimated 380,000 deaths annually. The disease is caused by a wide variety of strains. Here, we report the genome sequence of ETEC strain B2C, which was isolated from an American soldier in Vietnam.
PMCID: PMC3983298  PMID: 24723709
20.  CopyRighter: a rapid tool for improving the accuracy of microbial community profiles through lineage-specific gene copy number correction 
Microbiome  2014;2:11.
Culture-independent molecular surveys targeting conserved marker genes, most notably 16S rRNA, to assess microbial diversity remain semi-quantitative due to variations in the number of gene copies between species.
Based on 2,900 sequenced reference genomes, we show that 16S rRNA gene copy number (GCN) is strongly linked to microbial phylogenetic taxonomy, potentially under-representing Archaea in amplicon microbial profiles. Using this relationship, we inferred the GCN of all bacterial and archaeal lineages in the Greengenes database within a phylogenetic framework. We created CopyRighter, new software which uses these estimates to correct 16S rRNA amplicon microbial profiles and associated quantitative (q)PCR total abundance. CopyRighter parses microbial profiles and, because GCN estimates are pre-computed for all taxa in the reference taxonomy, rapidly corrects GCN bias. Software validation with in silico and in vitro mock communities indicated that GCN correction results in more accurate estimates of microbial relative abundance and improves the agreement between metagenomic and amplicon profiles. Analyses of human-associated and anaerobic digester microbiomes illustrate that correction makes tangible changes to estimates of qPCR total abundance, α and β diversity, and can significantly change biological interpretation. For example, human gut microbiomes from twins were reclassified into three rather than two enterotypes after GCN correction.
The CopyRighter bioinformatic tools permits rapid correction of GCN in microbial surveys, resulting in improved estimates of microbial abundance, α and β diversity.
PMCID: PMC4021573  PMID: 24708850
21.  Genome sequence of the mud-dwelling archaeon Methanoplanus limicola type strain (DSM 2279T), reclassification of Methanoplanus petrolearius as Methanolacinia petrolearia and emended descriptions of the genera Methanoplanus and Methanolacinia 
Standards in Genomic Sciences  2014;9(3):1076-1088.
Methanoplanus limicola Wildgruber et al. 1984 is a mesophilic methanogen that was isolated from a swamp composed of drilling waste near Naples, Italy, shortly after the Archaea were recognized as a separate domain of life. Methanoplanus is the type genus in the family Methanoplanaceae, a taxon that felt into disuse since modern 16S rRNA gene sequences-based taxonomy was established. Methanoplanus is now placed within the Methanomicrobiaceae, a family that is so far poorly characterized at the genome level. The only other type strain of the genus with a sequenced genome, Methanoplanus petrolearius SEBR 4847T, turned out to be misclassified and required reclassification to Methanolacinia. Both, Methanoplanus and Methanolacinia, needed taxonomic emendations due to a significant deviation of the G+C content of their genomes from previously published (pre-genome-sequence era) values. Until now genome sequences were published for only four of the 33 species with validly published names in the Methanomicrobiaceae. Here we describe the features of M. limicola, together with the improved-high-quality draft genome sequence and annotation of the type strain, M3T. The 3,200,946 bp long chromosome (permanent draft sequence) with its 3,064 protein-coding and 65 RNA genes is a part of the Genomic Encyclopedia of Bacteria and Archaea project.
PMCID: PMC4149034  PMID: 25197484
anaerobic; motile; mesophilic; methanogen; swamp; improved-high-quality draft; Methanomicrobiaceae; GEBA
22.  A new species of Burkholderia isolated from sugarcane roots promotes plant growth 
Microbial Biotechnology  2013;7(2):142-154.
Sugarcane is a globally important food, biofuel and biomaterials crop. High nitrogen (N) fertilizer rates aimed at increasing yield often result in environmental damage because of excess and inefficient application. Inoculation with diazotrophic bacteria is an attractive option for reducing N fertilizer needs. However, the efficacy of bacterial inoculants is variable, and their effective formulation remains a knowledge frontier. Here, we take a new approach to investigating diazotrophic bacteria associated with roots using culture-independent microbial community profiling of a commercial sugarcane variety (Q208A) in a field setting. We first identified bacteria that were markedly enriched in the rhizosphere to guide isolation and then tested putative diazotrophs for the ability to colonize axenic sugarcane plantlets (Q208A) and promote growth in suboptimal N supply. One isolate readily colonized roots, fixed N2 and stimulated growth of plantlets, and was classified as a new species, Burkholderia australis sp. nov. Draft genome sequencing of the isolate confirmed the presence of nitrogen fixation. We propose that culture-independent identification and isolation of bacteria that are enriched in rhizosphere and roots, followed by systematic testing and confirming their growth-promoting capacity, is a necessary step towards designing effective microbial inoculants.
PMCID: PMC3937718  PMID: 24350979
23.  Single Clinical Isolates from Acute Uncomplicated Urinary Tract Infections Are Representative of Dominant In Situ Populations 
mBio  2014;5(2):e01064-13.
Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are one of the most commonly acquired bacterial infections in humans, and uropathogenic Escherichia coli strains are responsible for over 80% of all cases. The standard method for identification of uropathogens in clinical laboratories is cultivation, primarily using solid growth media under aerobic conditions, coupled with morphological and biochemical tests of typically a single isolate colony. However, these methods detect only culturable microorganisms, and characterization is phenotypic in nature. Here, we explored the genotypic identity of communities in acute uncomplicated UTIs from 50 individuals by using culture-independent amplicon pyrosequencing and whole-genome and metagenomic shotgun sequencing. Genus-level characterization of the UTI communities was achieved using the 16S rRNA gene (V8 region). Overall UTI community richness was very low in comparison to other human microbiomes. We strain-typed Escherichia-dominated UTIs using amplicon pyrosequencing of the fimbrial adhesin gene, fimH. There were nine highly abundant fimH types, and each UTI sample was dominated by a single type. Molecular analysis of the corresponding clinical isolates revealed that in the majority of cases the isolate was representative of the dominant taxon in the community at both the genus and the strain level. Shotgun sequencing was performed on a subset of eight E. coli urine UTI and isolate pairs. The majority of UTI microbial metagenomic sequences mapped to isolate genomes, confirming the results obtained using phylogenetic markers. We conclude that for the majority of acute uncomplicated E. coli-mediated UTIs, single cultured isolates are diagnostic of the infection.
In clinical practice, the diagnosis and treatment of acute uncomplicated urinary tract infection (UTI) are based on analysis of a single bacterial isolate cultured from urine, and it is assumed that this isolate represents the dominant UTI pathogen. However, these methods detect only culturable bacteria, and the existence of multiple pathogens as well as strain diversity within a single infection is not examined. Here, we explored bacteria present in acute uncomplicated UTIs using culture-independent sequence-based methods. Escherichia coli was the most common organism identified, and analysis of E. coli dominant UTI samples and their paired clinical isolates revealed that in the majority of infections the cultured isolate was representative of the dominant taxon at both the genus and the strain level. Our data demonstrate that in most cases single cultured isolates are diagnostic of UTI and are consistent with the notion of bottlenecks that limit strain diversity during UTI pathogenesis.
PMCID: PMC3940035  PMID: 24570371
24.  Complete genome sequence of Planctomyces brasiliensis type strain (DSM 5305T), phylogenomic analysis and reclassification of Planctomycetes including the descriptions of Gimesia gen. nov., Planctopirus gen. nov. and Rubinisphaera gen. nov. and emended descriptions of the order Planctomycetales and the family Planctomycetaceae 
Planctomyces brasiliensis Schlesner 1990 belongs to the order Planctomycetales, which differs from other bacterial taxa by several distinctive features such as internal cell compartmentalization, multiplication by forming buds directly from the spherical, ovoid or pear-shaped mother cell and a cell wall consisting of a proteinaceous layer rather than a peptidoglycan layer. The first strains of P. brasiliensis, including the type strain IFAM 1448T, were isolated from a water sample of Lagoa Vermelha, a salt pit near Rio de Janeiro, Brasil. This is the second completed genome sequence of a type strain of the genus Planctomyces to be published and the sixth type strain genome sequence from the family Planctomycetaceae. The 6,006,602 bp long genome with its 4,811 protein-coding and 54 RNA genes is a part of the G enomic E ncyclopedia of Bacteria and Archaea project. Phylogenomic analyses indicate that the classification within the Planctomycetaceae is partially in conflict with its evolutionary history, as the positioning of Schlesneria renders the genus Planctomyces paraphyletic. A re-analysis of published fatty-acid measurements also does not support the current arrangement of the two genera. A quantitative comparison of phylogenetic and phenotypic aspects indicates that the three Planctomyces species with type strains available in public culture collections should be placed in separate genera. Thus the genera Gimesia, Planctopirus and Rubinisphaera are proposed to accommodate P. maris, P. limnophilus and P. brasiliensis, respectively. Pronounced differences between the reported G + C content of Gemmata obscuriglobus, Singulisphaera acidiphila and Zavarzinella formosa and G + C content calculated from their genome sequences call for emendation of their species descriptions. In addition to other features, the range of G + C values reported for the genera within the Planctomycetaceae indicates that the descriptions of the family and the order should be emended.
PMCID: PMC4334474  PMID: 25780503
Non-peptidoglycan bacteria; Stalked bacteria; Halotolerant; Gram-negative; Taxonomic descriptions; Planctomycetales; Planctomycetes; GEBA
25.  Dielectrophoresis-Based Discrimination of Bacteria at the Strain Level Based on Their Surface Properties 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(10):e76751.
Insulator-based dielectrophoresis can be used to manipulate biological particles, but has thus far found limited practical applications due to low sensitivity. We present linear sweep three-dimensional insulator-based dielectrophoresis as a considerably more sensitive approach for strain-level discrimination bacteria. In this work, linear sweep three-dimensional insulator-based dielectrophoresis was performed on Pseudomonas aeruginosa PA14 along with six isogenic mutants as well as Streptococcus mitis SF100 and PS344. Strain-level discrimination was achieved between these clinically important pathogens with applied electric fields below 10 V/mm. This low voltage, high sensitivity technique has potential applications in clinical diagnostics as well as microbial physiology research.
PMCID: PMC3797743  PMID: 24146923

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