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1.  Using phage display selected antibodies to dissect microbiomes for complete de novo genome sequencing of low abundance microbes 
BMC Microbiology  2013;13:270.
Single cell genomics has revolutionized microbial sequencing, but complete coverage of genomes in complex microbiomes is imperfect due to enormous variation in organismal abundance and amplification bias. Empirical methods that complement rapidly improving bioinformatic tools will improve characterization of microbiomes and facilitate better genome coverage for low abundance microbes.
We describe a new approach to sequencing individual species from microbiomes that combines antibody phage display against intact bacteria with fluorescence activated cell sorting (FACS). Single chain (scFv) antibodies are selected using phage display against a bacteria or microbial community, resulting in species-specific antibodies that can be used in FACS for relative quantification of an organism in a community, as well as enrichment or depletion prior to genome sequencing.
We selected antibodies against Lactobacillus acidophilus and demonstrate a FACS-based approach for identification and enrichment of the organism from both laboratory-cultured and commercially derived bacterial mixtures. The ability to selectively enrich for L. acidophilus when it is present at a very low abundance (<0.2%) leads to complete (>99.8%) de novo genome coverage whereas the standard single-cell sequencing approach is incomplete (<68%). We show that specific antibodies can be selected against L. acidophilus when the monoculture is used as antigen as well as when a community of 10 closely related species is used demonstrating that in principal antibodies can be generated against individual organisms within microbial communities.
The approach presented here demonstrates that phage-selected antibodies against bacteria enable identification, enrichment of rare species, and depletion of abundant organisms making it tractable to virtually any microbe or microbial community. Combining antibody specificity with FACS provides a new approach for characterizing and manipulating microbial communities prior to genome sequencing.
PMCID: PMC3907030  PMID: 24279426
Phage antibodies; Genome completion; Single cell genomics; MDA; Flow cytometry
2.  Complete genome sequence of Halorhodospira halophila SL1 
Standards in Genomic Sciences  2013;8(2):206-214.
Halorhodospira halophila is among the most halophilic organisms known. It is an obligately photosynthetic and anaerobic purple sulfur bacterium that exhibits autotrophic growth up to saturated NaCl concentrations. The type strain H. halophila SL1 was isolated from a hypersaline lake in Oregon. Here we report the determination of its entire genome in a single contig. This is the first genome of a phototrophic extreme halophile. The genome consists of 2,678,452 bp, encoding 2,493 predicted genes as determined by automated genome annotation. Of the 2,407 predicted proteins, 1,905 were assigned to a putative function. Future detailed analysis of this genome promises to yield insights into the halophilic adaptations of this organism, its ability for photoautotrophic growth under extreme conditions, and its characteristic sulfur metabolism.
PMCID: PMC3746430  PMID: 23991253
halophile; saturated salt; sulfur metabolism; purple sulfur bacterium; phototrophic
3.  Genomic Comparison of Escherichia coli O104:H4 Isolates from 2009 and 2011 Reveals Plasmid, and Prophage Heterogeneity, Including Shiga Toxin Encoding Phage stx2 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(11):e48228.
In May of 2011, an enteroaggregative Escherichia coli O104:H4 strain that had acquired a Shiga toxin 2-converting phage caused a large outbreak of bloody diarrhea in Europe which was notable for its high prevalence of hemolytic uremic syndrome cases. Several studies have described the genomic inventory and phylogenies of strains associated with the outbreak and a collection of historical E. coli O104:H4 isolates using draft genome assemblies. We present the complete, closed genome sequences of an isolate from the 2011 outbreak (2011C–3493) and two isolates from cases of bloody diarrhea that occurred in the Republic of Georgia in 2009 (2009EL–2050 and 2009EL–2071). Comparative genome analysis indicates that, while the Georgian strains are the nearest neighbors to the 2011 outbreak isolates sequenced to date, structural and nucleotide-level differences are evident in the Stx2 phage genomes, the mer/tet antibiotic resistance island, and in the prophage and plasmid profiles of the strains, including a previously undescribed plasmid with homology to the pMT virulence plasmid of Yersinia pestis. In addition, multiphenotype analysis showed that 2009EL–2071 possessed higher resistance to polymyxin and membrane-disrupting agents. Finally, we show evidence by electron microscopy of the presence of a common phage morphotype among the European and Georgian strains and a second phage morphotype among the Georgian strains. The presence of at least two stx2 phage genotypes in host genetic backgrounds that may derive from a recent common ancestor of the 2011 outbreak isolates indicates that the emergence of stx2 phage-containing E. coli O104:H4 strains probably occurred more than once, or that the current outbreak isolates may be the result of a recent transfer of a new stx2 phage element into a pre-existing stx2-positive genetic background.
PMCID: PMC3486847  PMID: 23133618
4.  Capturing Single Cell Genomes of Active Polysaccharide Degraders: An Unexpected Contribution of Verrucomicrobia 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(4):e35314.
Microbial hydrolysis of polysaccharides is critical to ecosystem functioning and is of great interest in diverse biotechnological applications, such as biofuel production and bioremediation. Here we demonstrate the use of a new, efficient approach to recover genomes of active polysaccharide degraders from natural, complex microbial assemblages, using a combination of fluorescently labeled substrates, fluorescence-activated cell sorting, and single cell genomics. We employed this approach to analyze freshwater and coastal bacterioplankton for degraders of laminarin and xylan, two of the most abundant storage and structural polysaccharides in nature. Our results suggest that a few phylotypes of Verrucomicrobia make a considerable contribution to polysaccharide degradation, although they constituted only a minor fraction of the total microbial community. Genomic sequencing of five cells, representing the most predominant, polysaccharide-active Verrucomicrobia phylotype, revealed significant enrichment in genes encoding a wide spectrum of glycoside hydrolases, sulfatases, peptidases, carbohydrate lyases and esterases, confirming that these organisms were well equipped for the hydrolysis of diverse polysaccharides. Remarkably, this enrichment was on average higher than in the sequenced representatives of Bacteroidetes, which are frequently regarded as highly efficient biopolymer degraders. These findings shed light on the ecological roles of uncultured Verrucomicrobia and suggest specific taxa as promising bioprospecting targets. The employed method offers a powerful tool to rapidly identify and recover discrete genomes of active players in polysaccharide degradation, without the need for cultivation.
PMCID: PMC3335022  PMID: 22536372
5.  Genome of the Cyanobacterium Microcoleus vaginatusFGP-2, a Photosynthetic Ecosystem Engineer of Arid Land Soil Biocrusts Worldwide▿  
Journal of Bacteriology  2011;193(17):4569-4570.
The filamentous cyanobacterium Microcoleus vaginatusis found in arid land soils worldwide. The genome of M. vaginatusstrain FGP-2 allows exploration of genes involved in photosynthesis, desiccation tolerance, alkane production, and other features contributing to this organism's ability to function as a major component of biological soil crusts in arid lands.
PMCID: PMC3165530  PMID: 21705610

Results 1-5 (5)