All over the world, the incidence of Salmonella spp contamination on different food sources like broilers, clams and cow milk has increased rapidly in recent years. The multifaceted properties of Salomnella serovars allow the microorganism to grow and multiply in various food matrices, even under adverse conditions. Therefore, methods are needed to detect and trace this pathogen along the entire food supply network. In the present work, PFGE and ERIC-PCR were used to subtype 45 Salmonella isolates belonging to different serovars and derived from different food origins. Among these isolates, S. Enteritidis and S. Kentucky were found to be the most predominant serovars. The Discrimination Index obtained by ERIC-PCR (0.85) was slightly below the acceptable confidence value. The best discriminatory ability was observed when PFGE typing method was used alone (DI = 0.94) or combined with ERIC-PCR (DI = 0.93). A wide variety of profiles was observed between the different serovars using PFGE or/and ERIC-PCR. This diversity is particularly important when the sample origins are varied and even within the same sampling origin.
Current microbial source tracking (MST) methods for water depend on testing for fecal indicator bacterial counts or specific marker gene sequences to identify fecal contamination where potential human pathogenic bacteria could be present. In this study, we applied 454 high-throughput pyrosequencing to identify bacterial pathogen DNA sequences, including those not traditionally monitored by MST and correlated their abundances to specific sources of contamination such as urban runoff and agricultural runoff from concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), recreation park area, waste-water treatment plants, and natural sites with little or no human activities. Samples for pyrosequencing were surface water, and sediment collected from 19 sites. A total of 12,959 16S rRNA gene sequences with average length of ≤400 bp were obtained, and were assigned to corresponding taxonomic ranks using ribosomal database project (RDP), Classifier and Greengenes databases. The percent of total potential pathogens were highest in urban runoff water (7.94%), agricultural runoff sediment (6.52%), and Prado Park sediment (6.00%), respectively. Although the numbers of DNA sequence tags from pyrosequencing were very high for the natural site, corresponding percent potential pathogens were very low (3.78–4.08%). Most of the potential pathogenic bacterial sequences identified were from three major phyla, namely, Proteobacteria, Bacteroidetes, and Firmicutes. The use of deep sequencing may provide improved and faster methods for the identification of pathogen sources in most watersheds so that better risk assessment methods may be developed to enhance public health.
The Himalaya with its altitude and geographical position forms a barrier to atmospheric transport, which produces much aqueous-particle monsoon precipitation and makes it the largest continuous ice-covered area outside polar regions. There is a paucity of data on high-altitude microbial communities, their native environments and responses to environmental-spatial variables relative to seasonal and deglaciation events.
Soils were sampled along altitude transects from 5000 m to 6000 m to determine environmental, spatial and seasonal factors structuring bacterial communities characterized by 16 S rRNA gene deep sequencing. Dust traps and fresh-snow samples were used to assess dust abundance and viability, community structure and abundance of dust associated microbial communities. Significantly different habitats among the altitude-transect samples corresponded to both phylogenetically distant and closely-related communities at distances as short as 50 m showing high community spatial divergence. High within-group variability that was related to an order of magnitude higher dust deposition obscured seasonal and temporal rearrangements in microbial communities. Although dust particle and associated cell deposition rates were highly correlated, seasonal dust communities of bacteria were distinct and differed significantly from recipient soil communities. Analysis of closest relatives to dust OTUs, HYSPLIT back-calculation of airmass trajectories and small dust particle size (4–12 µm) suggested that the deposited dust and microbes came from distant continental, lacustrine and marine sources, e.g. Sahara, India, Caspian Sea and Tibetan plateau. Cyanobacteria represented less than 0.5% of microbial communities suggesting that the microbial communities benefitted from (co)deposited carbon which was reflected in the psychrotolerant nature of dust-particle associated bacteria.
The spatial, environmental and temporal complexity of the high-altitude soils of the Himalaya generates ongoing disturbance and colonization events that subject heterogeneous microniches to stochastic colonization by far away dust associated microbes and result in the observed spatially divergent bacterial communities.
Land degradation is a global concern. In tropical areas it primarily concerns the conversion of forest into non-forest lands and the associated losses of environmental services. Defining such degradation is not straightforward hampering effective reduction in degradation and use of already degraded lands for more productive purposes. To facilitate the processes of avoided degradation and land rehabilitation, we have developed a methodology in which we have used international environmental and social sustainability standards to determine the suitability of lands for sustainable agricultural expansion. The method was developed and tested in one of the frontiers of agricultural expansion, West Kalimantan province in Indonesia. The focus was on oil palm expansion, which is considered as a major driver for deforestation in tropical regions globally. The results suggest that substantial changes in current land-use planning are necessary for most new plantations to comply with international sustainability standards. Through visualizing options for sustainable expansion with our methodology, we demonstrate that the link between oil palm expansion and degradation can be broken. Application of the methodology with criteria and thresholds similar to ours could help the Indonesian government and the industry to achieve its pro-growth, pro-job, pro-poor and pro-environment development goals. For sustainable agricultural production, context specific guidance has to be developed in areas suitable for expansion. Our methodology can serve as a template for designing such commodity and country specific tools and deliver such guidance.
The deep-sea represents a substantial portion of the biosphere and has a major influence on carbon cycling and global biogeochemistry. Benthic deep-sea prokaryotes have crucial roles in this ecosystem, with their recycling of organic matter from the photic zone. Despite this, little is known about the large-scale distribution of prokaryotes in the surface deep-sea sediments. To assess the influence of environmental and trophic variables on the large-scale distribution of prokaryotes, we investigated the prokaryotic assemblage composition (Bacteria to Archaea and Euryarchaeota to Crenarchaeota ratio) and activity in the surface deep-sea sediments of the Mediterranean Sea and the adjacent North Atlantic Ocean. Prokaryotic abundance and biomass did not vary significantly across the Mediterranean Sea; however, there were depth-related trends in all areas. The abundance of prokaryotes was positively correlated with the sedimentary concentration of protein, an indicator of the quality and bioavailability of organic matter. Moving eastwards, the Bacteria contribution to the total prokaryotes decreased, which appears to be linked to the more oligotrophic conditions of the Eastern Mediterranean basins. Despite the increased importance of Archaea, the contributions of Crenarchaeota Marine Group I to the total pool was relatively constant across the investigated stations, with the exception of Matapan-Vavilov Deep, in which Euryarchaeota Marine Group II dominated. Overall, our data suggest that deeper areas of the Mediterranean Sea share more similar communities with each other than with shallower sites. Freshness and quality of sedimentary organic matter were identified through Generalized Additive Model analysis as the major factors for describing the variation in the prokaryotic community structure and activity in the surface deep-sea sediments. Longitude was also important in explaining the observed variability, which suggests that the overlying water masses might have a critical role in shaping the benthic communities.
Leafy green produce has been associated with numerous outbreaks of foodborne illness caused by strains of Escherichia coli O157:H7. While the amounts of culturable E. coli O157:H7 rapidly decline after introduction onto lettuce in the field, it remains to be determined whether the reduction in cell numbers is due to losses in cell viability, cell injury and a subsequent inability to be detected by standard laboratory culturing methods, or a lack of adherence and hence rapid removal of the organism from the plants during application. To assess which of these options is most relevant for E. coli O157:H7 on leafy green produce, we developed and applied a propidium monoazide (PMA) real-time PCR assay to quantify viable (with PMA) and total (without PMA) E. coli O157:H7 cells on growth chamber and field-grown lettuce. E. coli O157:H7, suspended in 0.1% peptone, was inoculated onto 4-week-old lettuce plants at a level of approximately 106 CFU/plant. In the growth chamber at low relative humidity (30%), culturable amounts of the nontoxigenic E. coli O157:H7 strain ATCC 700728 and the virulent strain EC4045 declined 100 to 1000-fold in 24 h. Fewer E. coli O157:H7 cells survived when applied onto plants in droplets with a pipette compared with a fine spray inoculation. Total cells for both strains were equivalent to inoculum levels for 7 days after application, and viable cell quantities determined by PMA real-time PCR were approximately 104 greater than found by colony enumeration. Within 2 h after application onto plants in the field, the number of culturable E. coli ATCC 700728 was reduced by up to 1000-fold, whereas PCR-based assessments showed that total cell amounts were equivalent to inoculum levels. These findings show that shortly after inoculation onto plants, the majority of E. coli O157:H7 cells either die or are no longer culturable.
The developmental and temporal succession patterns and disturbance responses of phyllosphere bacterial communities are largely unknown. These factors might influence the capacity of human pathogens to persist in association with those communities on agriculturally-relevant plants. In this study, the phyllosphere microbiota was identified for Romaine lettuce plants grown in the Salinas Valley, CA, USA from four plantings performed over 2 years and including two irrigation methods and inoculations with an attenuated strain of Escherichia coli O157:H7. High-throughput DNA pyrosequencing of the V5 to V9 variable regions of bacterial 16S rRNA genes recovered in lettuce leaf washes revealed that the bacterial diversity in the phyllosphere was distinct for each field trial but was also strongly correlated with the season of planting. Firmicutes were generally most abundant in early season (June) plantings and Proteobacteria comprised the majority of bacteria recovered later in the year (August and October). Comparisons within individual field trials showed that bacterial diversity differed between sprinkler (overhead) and drip (surface) irrigated lettuce and increased over time as the plants grew. The microbiota were also distinct between control and E. coli O157:H7-inoculated plants and between E. coli O157:H7-inoculated plants with and without surviving pathogen cells. The bacterial inhabitants of the phyllosphere therefore appear to be affected by seasonal, irrigation, and biological factors in ways that are relevant for assessments of fresh produce food safety.
There is substantial concern that microbial and nutrient pollution by cattle on public lands degrades water quality, threatening human and ecological health. Given the importance of clean water on multiple-use landscapes, additional research is required to document and examine potential water quality issues across common resource use activities. During the 2011 grazing-recreation season, we conducted a cross sectional survey of water quality conditions associated with cattle grazing and/or recreation on 12 public lands grazing allotments in California. Our specific study objectives were to 1) quantify fecal indicator bacteria (FIB; fecal coliform and E. coli), total nitrogen, nitrate, ammonium, total phosphorus, and soluble-reactive phosphorus concentrations in surface waters; 2) compare results to a) water quality regulatory benchmarks, b) recommended maximum nutrient concentrations, and c) estimates of nutrient background concentrations; and 3) examine relationships between water quality, environmental conditions, cattle grazing, and recreation. Nutrient concentrations observed throughout the grazing-recreation season were at least one order of magnitude below levels of ecological concern, and were similar to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) estimates for background water quality conditions in the region. The relative percentage of FIB regulatory benchmark exceedances widely varied under individual regional and national water quality standards. Relative to USEPA’s national E. coli FIB benchmarks–the most contemporary and relevant standards for this study–over 90% of the 743 samples collected were below recommended criteria values. FIB concentrations were significantly greater when stream flow was low or stagnant, water was turbid, and when cattle were actively observed at sampling. Recreation sites had the lowest mean FIB, total nitrogen, and soluble-reactive phosphorus concentrations, and there were no significant differences in FIB and nutrient concentrations between key grazing areas and non-concentrated use areas. Our results suggest cattle grazing, recreation, and provisioning of clean water can be compatible goals across these national forest lands.
Enterohaemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EHEC) O157:H7 is a major cause of zoonotic food- and water-borne intestinal infections worldwide with clinical consequences ranging from mild diarrhoea to hemolytic uraemic syndrome. The genome of EHEC O157:H7 contains many regions of unique DNA that are referred to as O islands including the Shiga toxin prophages and pathogenicity islands encoding key virulence factors. However many of these O islands are of unknown function. In this study, genetic analysis was conducted on OI-172 which is a 44,434 bp genomic island with 27 open reading frames. Comparative genome analysis showed that O1-72 is a composite island with progressive gain of genes since O157:H7 evolved from its ancestral O55:H7. A partial OI-172 island was also found in 2 unrelated E. coli strains and 2 Salmonella strains. OI-172 encodes several putative helicases, one of which (Z5898) is a putative DEAH box RNA helicase. To investigate the function of Z5898, a deletion mutant (EDL933ΔZ5898) was constructed in the O157:H7 strain EDL933. Comparative proteomic analysis of the mutant with the wild-type EDL933 found that flagellin was down-regulated in the Z5898 mutant. Motility assay showed that EDL933ΔZ5898 migrated slower than the wild-type EDL933 and electron microscopy found no surface flagella. Quantitative reverse transcription PCR revealed that the fliC expression of EDL933ΔZ5898 was significantly lower while the expression of its upstream regulator gene, fliA, was not affected. Using a fliA and a fliC promoter – green fluorescent protein fusion contruct, Z5898 was found to affect only the fliC promoter activity. Therefore, Z5898 regulates the flagella based motility by exerting its effect on fliC. We conclude that OI-172 is a motility associated O island and hereby name it the MAO island.
Understanding the soil bacterial resistome is essential to understanding the evolution and development of antibiotic resistance, and its spread between species and biomes. We have identified and characterized multi-drug resistance (MDR) mechanisms in the culturable soil antibiotic resistome and linked the resistance profiles to bacterial species. We isolated 412 antibiotic resistant bacteria from agricultural, urban and pristine soils. All isolates were multi-drug resistant, of which greater than 80% were resistant to 16–23 antibiotics, comprising almost all classes of antibiotic. The mobile resistance genes investigated, (ESBL, blaNDM-1, and plasmid mediated quinolone resistance (PMQR) resistance genes) were not responsible for the respective resistance phenotypes nor were they present in the extracted soil DNA. Efflux was demonstrated to play an important role in MDR and many resistance phenotypes. Clinically relevant Burkholderia species are intrinsically resistant to ciprofloxacin but the soil Burkholderia species were not intrinsically resistant to ciprofloxacin. Using a phenotypic enzyme assay we identified the antibiotic specific inactivation of trimethoprim in 21 bacteria from different soils. The results of this study identified the importance of the efflux mechanism in the soil resistome and variations between the intrinsic resistance profiles of clinical and soil bacteria of the same family.
During a 2.5-year survey of 33 farms and ranches in a major leafy greens production region in California, 13,650 produce, soil, livestock, wildlife, and water samples were tested for Shiga toxin (stx)-producing Escherichia coli (STEC). Overall, 357 and 1,912 samples were positive for E. coli O157:H7 (2.6%) or non-O157 STEC (14.0%), respectively. Isolates differentiated by O-typing ELISA and multilocus variable number tandem repeat analysis (MLVA) resulted in 697 O157:H7 and 3,256 non-O157 STEC isolates saved for further analysis. Cattle (7.1%), feral swine (4.7%), sediment (4.4%), and water (3.3%) samples were positive for E. coli O157:H7; 7/32 birds, 2/145 coyotes, 3/88 samples from elk also were positive. Non-O157 STEC were at approximately 5-fold higher incidence compared to O157 STEC: cattle (37.9%), feral swine (21.4%), birds (2.4%), small mammals (3.5%), deer or elk (8.3%), water (14.0%), sediment (12.3%), produce (0.3%) and soil adjacent to produce (0.6%). stx1, stx2 and stx1/stx2 genes were detected in 63%, 74% and 35% of STEC isolates, respectively. Subtilase, intimin and hemolysin genes were present in 28%, 25% and 79% of non-O157 STEC, respectively; 23% were of the “Top 6″ O-types. The initial method was modified twice during the study revealing evidence of culture bias based on differences in virulence and O-antigen profiles. MLVA typing revealed a diverse collection of O157 and non-O157 STEC strains isolated from multiple locations and sources and O157 STEC strains matching outbreak strains. These results emphasize the importance of multiple approaches for isolation of non-O157 STEC, that livestock and wildlife are common sources of potentially virulent STEC, and evidence of STEC persistence and movement in a leafy greens production environment.
Agricultural irrigation practices will likely be affected by climate change. In this paper, we use a statistical model relating observed water use by U.S. producers to the moisture deficit, and then use this statistical model to project climate changes impact on both the fraction of agricultural land irrigated and the irrigation rate (m3ha−1). Data on water withdrawals for US states (1985–2005) show that both quantities are highly positively correlated with moisture deficit (precipitation – PET). If current trends hold, climate change would increase agricultural demand for irrigation in 2090 by 4.5–21.9 million ha (B1 scenario demand: 4.5–8.7 million ha, A2 scenario demand: 9.1–21.9 million ha). Much of this new irrigated area would occur in states that currently have a wet climate and a small fraction of their agricultural land currently irrigated, posing a challenge to policymakers in states with less experience with strict regulation of agriculture water use. Moreover, most of this expansion will occur in states where current agricultural production has relatively low market value per hectare, which may make installation of irrigation uneconomical without significant changes in crops or practices by producers. Without significant increases in irrigation efficiency, climate change would also increase the average irrigation rate from 7,963 to 8,400–10,415 m3ha−1 (B1 rate: 8,400–9,145 m3ha−1, A2 rate: 9,380–10,415 m3ha−1). The irrigation rate will increase the most in states that already have dry climates and large irrigation rates, posing a challenge for water supply systems in these states. Accounting for both the increase in irrigated area and irrigation rate, total withdrawals might increase by 47.7–283.4 billion m3 (B1 withdrawal: 47.7–106.0 billion m3, A2 withdrawal: 117.4–283.4 billion m3). Increases in irrigation water-use efficiency, particularly by reducing the prevalence of surface irrigation, could eliminate the increase in total irrigation withdrawals in many states.
Escherichia coli O157:H7 is an important food-borne pathogen that can cause hemorrhagic colitis and hemolytic-uremic syndrome in humans. pO157_Sal, a novel conjugative plasmid is present in a Chinese O157:H7 outbreak strain Xuzhou21. Here we investigated the phenotypic and transcriptional differences between the wild type strain Xuzhou21 and the pO157_Sal cured mutant strain Xuzhou21m. RNA-Seq analysis found that all 52 ORFs encoded on pO157_Sal were transcribed. One hundred and sixty eight chromosomal and pO157 genes were differentially expressed (≥2 fold difference) between Xuzhou21 and Xuzhou21m. Sixty-seven and 101 genes were up-regulated and down-regulated respectively by pO157_Sal including genes related to stress response, adaption and virulence. The plasmid-cured mutant Xuzhou21m grew slower than wild type Xuzhou21 and pO157_Sal plasmid complemented strain Xuzhou21c in M9 medium under the condition of high NaCl or presence of sodium deoxycholate (NaDC), corroborating with the RNA-Seq data. Seven differentially expressed genes are associated with NaDC resistance, including the adenine-specific DNA-methyltransferase gene (dam), multidrug efflux system subunit gene mdtA, hyperosmotically inducible periplasmic protein gene osmY and oxidation-reduction related genes while two differentially expressed genes (osmY and pspD) are likely to be related to resistance to osmotic pressure. A number of differentially expressed genes were virulence associated including four genes encoding T3SS effectors from the chromosome and ehxD from pO157. Through complementation of Xuzhou21m with a plasmid construct carrying the pO157_Sal hha homolog we further showed that the pO157_Sal hha represses the expression of T3SS effectors. These findings demonstrated that the plasmid pO157_Sal affects the transcription of the chromosomal and pO157 plasmid genes and contributes to the enhanced ability to resist stress. We conclude that pO157_Sal plays an important role in regulating global gene expression and affects the virulence and adaptation of E. coli O157:H7.
While sand filters are widely used to treat drinking water, the role of sand filter associated microorganisms in water purification has not been extensively studied. In the current investigation, we integrated molecular (based on metagenomic) and physicochemical analyses to elucidate microbial community composition and function in a common sand filter used to treat groundwater for potable consumption. The results revealed that the biofilm developed rapidly within 2 days (reaching ∼1011 prokaryotes per gram) in the sand filter along with abiotic and biotic particulates accumulated in the interstitial spaces. Bacteria (up to 90%) dominated the biofilm microbial community, with Alphaproteobacteria being the most common class. Thaumarchaeota was the sole phylum of Archaea, which might be involved in ammonia oxidation. Function annotation of metagenomic datasets revealed a number of aromatic degradation pathway genes, such as aromatic oxygenase and dehydrogenase genes, in the biofilm, suggesting a significant role for microbes in the breakdown of aromatic compounds in groundwater. Simultaneous nitrification and denitrification pathways were confirmed as the primary routes of nitrogen removal. Dissolved heavy metals in groundwater, e.g. Mn2+ and As3+, might be biologically oxidized to insoluble or easily adsorbed compounds and deposited in the sand filter. Our study demonstrated that the role of the microbial community in the sand filter treatment system are critical to effective water purification in drinking water.
DNA-based techniques are widely used to study microbial populations; however, this approach is not specific to active microbes, because DNA may originate from inactive and/or dead cells. Using cDNA and DNA, respectively, we aimed to discriminate the active microbes from the total microbial community within the rumen of dairy cows fed diets with increasing proportions of corn silage (CS). Nine multiparous lactating Holstein cows fitted with ruminal cannulas were used in a replicated 3×3 Latin square (32-d period; 21-d adaptation) design to investigate diet-induced shifts in microbial populations by targeting the rDNA gene. Cows were fed a total mixed ration with the forage portion being either barley silage (0% CS), a 50∶50 mixture of barley silage and corn silage (50% CS), or corn silage (100% CS). No differences were found for total microbes analyzed by quantitative PCR, but changes were observed within the active ones. Feeding more CS to dairy cows was accompanied by an increase in Prevotella rRNA transcripts (P = 0.10) and a decrease in the protozoal rRNA transcripts (P<0.05). Although they were distributed differently among diets, 78% of the amplicons detected in DNA- and cDNA-based fingerprints were common to total and active bacterial communities. These may represent a bacterial core of abundant and active cells that drive the fermentation processes. In contrast, 10% of amplicons were specific to total bacteria and may represent inactive or dead cells, whereas 12% were only found within the active bacterial community and may constitute slow-growing bacteria with high metabolic activity. It appears that cDNA-based analysis is more discriminative to identify diet-induced shifts within the microbial community. This approach allows the detection of diet-induced changes in the microbial populations as well as particular bacterial amplicons that remained undetected using DNA-based methods.
Obesity leads to changes in the gut microbial community which contribute to the metabolic dysregulation in obesity. Dietary fat and fiber affect the caloric density of foods. The impact of dietary fat content and fiber type on the microbial community in the hind gut is unknown. Effect of dietary fat level and fiber type on hindgut microbiota and volatile fatty acid (VFA) profiles was investigated. Expression of metabolic marker genes in the gut, adipose tissue and liver was determined. A 2×2 experiment was conducted in pigs fed at two dietary fat levels (5% or 17.5% swine grease) and two fiber types (4% inulin, fermentable fructo-oligosaccharide or 4% solka floc, non-fermentable cellulose). High fat diets (HFD) resulted in a higher (P<0.05) total body weight gain, feed efficiency and back fat accumulation than the low fat diet. Feeding of inulin, but not solka floc, attenuated (P<0.05) the HFD-induced higher body weight gain and fat mass accumulation. Inulin feeding tended to lead to higher total VFA production in the cecum and resulted in a higher (P<0.05) expression of acyl coA oxidase (ACO), a marker of peroxisomal β-oxidation. Inulin feeding also resulted in lower expression of sterol regulatory element binding protein 1c (SREBP-1c), a marker of lipid anabolism. Bacteria community structure characterized by DGGE analysis of PCR amplified 16S rRNA gene fragments showed that inulin feeding resulted in greater bacterial population richness than solka floc feeding. Cluster analysis of pairwise Dice similarity comparisons of the DGGE profiles showed grouping by fiber type but not the level of dietary fat. Canonical correspondence analysis (CCA) of PCR- DGGE profiles showed that inulin feeding negatively correlated with back fat thickness. This study suggests a strong interplay between dietary fat level and fiber type in determining susceptibility to obesity.
Enterococci are part of the normal intestinal flora in a large number of mammals, and these microbes are currently used as indicators of fecal contamination in water and food for human consumption. These organisms are considered one of the primary causes of nosocomial and environmental infections due to their ability to survive in the environment and to their intrinsic resistance to antimicrobials. The aims of this study were to determine the biochemical patterns and antimicrobial susceptibilities of Enterococcus faecalis and E. faecium isolates from clinical samples and from water (groundwater, water from the Xochimilco wetland, and treated water from the Mexico City Metropolitan Area) and to determine the genetic relationships among these isolates. A total of 121 enterococcus strains were studied; 31 and 90 strains were isolated from clinical samples and water (groundwater, water from the Xochimilco wetland, and water for agricultural irrigation), respectively. Identification to the species level was performed using a multiplex PCR assay, and antimicrobial profiles were obtained using a commercial kit. Twenty-eight strains were analyzed by pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE). E. faecium strains isolated from water showed an atypical biochemical pattern. The clinical isolates showed higher resistance to antibiotics than those from water. Both the enterococci isolated from humans, and those isolated from water showed high genetic diversity according to the PFGE analysis, although some strains seemed to be closely related. In conclusion, enterococci isolated from humans and water are genetically different. However, water represents a potential route of transmission to the community and a source of antimicrobial resistance genes that may be readily transmitted to other, different bacterial species.
Natural scrublands in semi-arid deserts are increasingly being converted into fields. This results in losses of characteristic flora and fauna, and may also affect microbial diversity. In the present study, the long-term effect (50 years) of such a transition on soil bacterial communities was explored at two sites typical of semi-arid deserts. Comparisons were made between soil samples from alfalfa fields and the adjacent scrublands by two complementary methods based on 16S rRNA gene fragments amplified from total community DNA. Denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) analyses revealed significant effects of the transition on community composition of Bacteria, Actinobacteria, Alpha- and Betaproteobacteria at both sites. PhyloChip hybridization analysis uncovered that the transition negatively affected taxa such as Acidobacteria, Chloroflexi, Acidimicrobiales, Rubrobacterales, Deltaproteobacteria and Clostridia, while Alpha-, Beta- and Gammaproteobacteria, Bacteroidetes and Actinobacteria increased in abundance. Redundancy analysis suggested that the community composition of phyla responding to agricultural use (except for Spirochaetes) correlated with soil parameters that were significantly different between the agricultural and scrubland soil. The arable soils were lower in organic matter and phosphate concentration, and higher in salinity. The variation in the bacterial community composition was higher in soils from scrubland than from agriculture, as revealed by DGGE and PhyloChip analyses, suggesting reduced beta diversity due to agricultural practices. The long-term use for agriculture resulted in profound changes in the bacterial community and physicochemical characteristics of former scrublands, which may irreversibly affect the natural soil ecosystem.
Diverse communities of bacteria inhabit plant leaves and roots and those bacteria play a crucial role for plant health and growth. Arabidopsis thaliana is an important model to study plant pathogen interactions, but little is known about its associated bacterial community under natural conditions. We used 454 pyrosequencing to characterize the bacterial communities associated with the roots and the leaves of wild A. thaliana collected at 4 sites; we further compared communities on the outside of the plants with communities in the endophytic compartments. We found that the most heavily sequenced bacteria in A. thaliana associated community are related to culturable species. Proteobacteria, Actinobacteria, and Bacteroidetes are the most abundant phyla in both leaf and root samples. At the genus level, sequences of Massilia and Flavobacterium are prevalent in both samples. Organ (leaf vs root) and habitat (epiphytes vs endophytes) structure the community. In the roots, richness is higher in the epiphytic communities compared to the endophytic compartment (P = 0.024), while the reverse is true for the leaves (P = 0.032). Interestingly, leaf and root endophytic compartments do not differ in richness, diversity and evenness, while they differ in community composition (P = 0.001). The results show that although the communities associated with leaves and roots share many bacterial species, the associated communities differ in structure.
Controlling the prevalence of Escherichia coli O157 in cattle at the pre-harvest level is critical to reduce outbreaks of this pathogen in humans. Multilayers of factors including the environmental and bacterial factors modulate the colonization and persistence of E. coli O157 in cattle that serve as a reservoir of this pathogen. Here, we report animal factors contributing to the prevalence of E. coli O157 in cattle. We observe the lowest number of E. coli O157 in Brahman breed when compared with other crosses in an Angus-Brahman multibreed herd, and bulls excrete more E. coli O157 than steers in the pens where cattle were housed together. The presence of super-shedders, cattle excreting >105 CFU/rectal anal swab, increases the concentration of E. coli O157 in the pens; thereby super-shedders enhance transmission of this pathogen among cattle. Molecular subtyping analysis reveal only one subtype of E. coli O157 in the multibreed herd, indicating the variance in the levels of E. coli O157 in cattle is influenced by animal factors. Furthermore, strain tracking after relocation of the cattle to a commercial feedlot reveals farm-to-farm transmission of E. coli O157, likely via super-shedders. Our results reveal high risk factors in the prevalence of E. coli O157 in cattle whereby animal genetic and physiological factors influence whether this pathogen can persist in cattle at high concentration, providing insights to intervene this pathogen at the pre-harvest level.
Escherichia coli is a single species consisting of many biotypes, some of which are commensal colonizers of mammals and others that cause disease. Humans are colonized on average with five commensal biotypes, and it is widely thought that the commensals serve as a barrier to infection by pathogens. Previous studies showed that a combination of three pre-colonized commensal E. coli strains prevents colonization of E. coli O157:H7 in a mouse model (Leatham, et al., 2010, Infect Immun 77: 2876–7886). The commensal biotypes included E. coli HS, which is known to successfully colonize humans at high doses with no adverse effects, and E. coli Nissle 1917, a human commensal strain that is used in Europe as a preventative of traveler's diarrhea. We hypothesized that commensal biotypes could exert colonization resistance by consuming nutrients needed by E. coli O157:H7 to colonize, thus preventing this first step in infection. Here we report that to colonize streptomycin-treated mice E. coli HS consumes six of the twelve sugars tested and E. coli Nissle 1917 uses a complementary yet divergent set of seven sugars to colonize, thus establishing a nutritional basis for the ability of E. coli HS and Nissle 1917 to occupy distinct niches in the mouse intestine. Together these two commensals use the five sugars previously determined to be most important for colonization of E. coli EDL933, an O157:H7 strain. As predicted, the two commensals prevented E. coli EDL933 colonization. The results support a model in which invading pathogenic E. coli must compete with the gut microbiota to obtain the nutrients needed to colonize and establish infection; accordingly, the outcome of the challenge is determined by the aggregate capacity of the native microbiota to consume the nutrients required by the pathogen.
A three year field study (2007–2009) of the diversity and numbers of the total and metabolically active free-living diazotophic bacteria and total bacterial communities in organic and conventionally managed agricultural soil was conducted using the Nafferton Factorial Systems Comparison (NFSC) study, in northeast England. Fertility management appeared to have little impact on both diazotrophic and total bacterial communities. However, copy numbers of the nifH gene did appear to be negatively impacted by conventional crop protection measures across all years suggesting diazotrophs may be particularly sensitive to pesticides. Impacts of crop management were greatly overshadowed by the influence of temporal effects with diazotrophic communities changing on a year by year basis and from season to season. Quantitative analyses using qPCR of each community indicated that metabolically active diazotrophs were highest in year 1 but the population significantly declined in year 2 before recovering somewhat in the final year. The total bacterial population in contrast increased significantly each year. It appeared that the dominant drivers of qualitative and quantitative changes in both communities were annual and seasonal effects. Moreover, regression analyses showed activity of both communities was significantly affected by soil temperature and climatic conditions.
Soil microbial communities are in constant change at many different temporal and spatial scales. However, the importance of these changes to the turnover of the soil microbial communities has been rarely studied simultaneously in space and time.
In this study, we explored the temporal and spatial responses of soil bacterial, archaeal and fungal β-diversities to abiotic parameters. Taking into account data from a 3-year sampling period, we analyzed the abundances and community structures of Archaea, Bacteria and Fungi along with key soil chemical parameters. We questioned how these abiotic variables influence the turnover of bacterial, archaeal and fungal communities and how they impact the long-term patterns of changes of the aforementioned soil communities. Interestingly, we found that the bacterial and fungal β-diversities are quite stable over time, whereas archaeal diversity showed significantly higher fluctuations. These fluctuations were reflected in temporal turnover caused by soil management through addition of N-fertilizers.
Our study showed that management practices applied to agricultural soils might not significantly affect the bacterial and fungal communities, but cause slow and long-term changes in the abundance and structure of the archaeal community. Moreover, the results suggest that, to different extents, abiotic and biotic factors determine the community assembly of archaeal, bacterial and fungal communities.
Shiga toxin (Stx) are cardinal virulence factors of enterohemorrhagic E. coli O157:H7 (EHEC O157). The gene content and genomic insertion sites of Stx-associated bacteriophages differentiate clinical genotypes of EHEC O157 (CG, typical of clinical isolates) from bovine-biased genotypes (BBG, rarely identified among clinical isolates). This project was designed to identify bacteriophage-mediated differences that may affect the virulence of CG and BBG.
Stx-associated bacteriophage differences were identified by whole genome optical scans and characterized among >400 EHEC O157 clinical and cattle isolates by PCR.
Optical restriction maps of BBG strains consistently differed from those of CG strains only in the chromosomal insertion sites of Stx2-associated bacteriophages. Multiplex PCRs (stx1, stx2a, and stx2c as well as Stx-associated bacteriophage - chromosomal insertion site junctions) revealed four CG and three BBG that accounted for >90% of isolates. All BBG contained stx2c and Stx2c-associated bacteriophage – sbcB junctions. All CG contained stx2a and Stx2a-associated bacteriophage junctions in wrbA or argW.
Presence or absence of stx2a (or another product encoded by the Stx2a-associated bacteriophage) is a parsimonious explanation for differential virulence of BBG and CG, as reflected in the distributions of these genotypes in humans and in the cattle reservoir.
Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) are zoonotic enteric pathogens associated with human gastroenteritis worldwide. Cattle and small ruminants are important animal reservoirs of STEC. The present study investigated animal reservoirs for STEC in small rural farms in the Culiacan Valley, an important agricultural region located in Northwest Mexico. A total of 240 fecal samples from domestic animals were collected from five sampling sites in the Culiacan Valley and were subjected to an enrichment protocol followed by either direct plating or immunomagnetic separation before plating on selective media. Serotype O157:H7 isolates with the virulence genes stx2, eae, and ehxA were identified in 40% (26/65) of the recovered isolates from cattle, sheep and chicken feces. Pulse-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) analysis grouped most O157:H7 isolates into two clusters with 98.6% homology. The use of multiple-locus variable-number tandem repeat analysis (MLVA) differentiated isolates that were indistinguishable by PFGE. Analysis of the allelic diversity of MLVA loci suggested that the O157:H7 isolates from this region were highly related. In contrast to O157:H7 isolates, a greater genotypic diversity was observed in the non-O157 isolates, resulting in 23 PFGE types and 14 MLVA types. The relevant non-O157 serotypes O8:H19, O75:H8, O111:H8 and O146:H21 represented 35.4% (23/65) of the recovered isolates. In particular, 18.5% (12/65) of all the isolates were serotype O75:H8, which was the most variable serotype by both PFGE and MLVA. The non-O157 isolates were predominantly recovered from sheep and were identified to harbor either one or two stx genes. Most non-O157 isolates were ehxA-positive (86.5%, 32/37) but only 10.8% (4/37) harbored eae. These findings indicate that zoonotic STEC with genotypes associated with human illness are present in animals on small farms within rural communities in the Culiacan Valley and emphasize the need for the development of control measures to decrease risks associated with zoonotic STEC.