Genomic sequencing from single cells is a powerful tool in microbiology and holds great promise for infectious disease research. Vast numbers of uncultivable species and pathogens that persist at low abundance in environmental reservoirs are now accessible for genomic analysis.
Recent advances in single-cell genomics provide an alternative to largely gene-centric metagenomics studies, enabling whole-genome sequencing of uncultivated bacteria. However, single-cell assembly projects are challenging due to (i) the highly nonuniform read coverage and (ii) a greatly elevated number of chimeric reads and read pairs. While recently developed single-cell assemblers have addressed the former challenge, methods for assembling highly chimeric reads remain poorly explored. We present algorithms for identifying chimeric edges and resolving complex bulges in de Bruijn graphs, which significantly improve single-cell assemblies. We further describe applications of the single-cell assembler SPAdes to a new approach for capturing and sequencing “microbial dark matter” that forms small pools of randomly selected single cells (called a mini-metagenome) and further sequences all genomes from the mini-metagenome at once. On single-cell bacterial datasets, SPAdes improves on the recently developed E+V-SC and IDBA-UD assemblers specifically designed for single-cell sequencing. For standard (cultivated monostrain) datasets, SPAdes also improves on A5, ABySS, CLC, EULER-SR, Ray, SOAPdenovo, and Velvet. Thus, recently developed single-cell assemblers not only enable single-cell sequencing, but also improve on conventional assemblers on their own turf. SPAdes is available for free online download under a GPLv2 license.
bacterial assembly; chimeric reads; de Bruijn graph; multiple displacement amplification (MDA); single cell
Oral microbes represent one of the most well studied microbial communities owing to the fact that they are a fundamental part of human development influencing health and disease, an easily accessible human microbiome, a highly structured and remarkably resilient biofilm as well as a model of bacteria-bacteria and bacteria-host interactions. In the last 80 years since oral plaque was first characterized for its functionally stable physiological properties such as the highly repeatable rapid pH decrease upon carbohydrate addition and subsequent recovery phase, the fundamental approaches to study the oral microbiome have cycled back and forth between community level investigations and characterizing individual model isolates. Since that time, many individual species have been well characterized and the development of the early plaque community, which involves many cell–cell binding interactions, has been carefully described. With high throughput sequencing enabling the enormous diversity of the oral cavity to be realized, a number of new challenges to progress were revealed. The large number of uncultivated oral species, the high interpersonal variability of taxonomic carriage and the possibility of multiple pathways to dysbiosis pose as major hurdles to obtain a systems level understanding from the community to the gene level. It is now possible however to start connecting the insights gained from single species with community wide approaches. This review will discuss some of the recent insights into the oral microbiome at a fundamental level, existing knowledge gaps, as well as challenges that have surfaced and the approaches to address them.
oral microbiome; metagenomics; metatranscriptomics; stable isotope probing; single cell genomics
Our knowledge of microbial diversity in the human oral cavity has vastly expanded during the last two decades of research. However, much of what is known about the behavior of oral species to date derives from pure culture approaches and the studies combining several cultivated species, which likely does not fully reflect their function in complex microbial communities. It has been shown in studies with a limited number of cultivated species that early oral biofilm development occurs in a successional manner and that continuous low pH can lead to an enrichment of aciduric species. Observations that in vitro grown plaque biofilm microcosms can maintain similar pH profiles in response to carbohydrate addition as plaque in vivo suggests a complex microbial community can be established in the laboratory. In light of this, our primary goal was to develop a robust in vitro biofilm-model system from a pooled saliva inoculum in order to study the stability, reproducibility, and development of the oral microbiome, and its dynamic response to environmental changes from the community to the molecular level.
Comparative metagenomic analyses confirmed a high similarity of metabolic potential in biofilms to recently available oral metagenomes from healthy subjects as part of the Human Microbiome Project. A time-series metagenomic analysis of the taxonomic community composition in biofilms revealed that the proportions of major species at 3 hours of growth are maintained during 48 hours of biofilm development. By employing deep pyrosequencing of the 16S rRNA gene to investigate this biofilm model with regards to bacterial taxonomic diversity, we show a high reproducibility of the taxonomic carriage and proportions between: 1) individual biofilm samples; 2) biofilm batches grown at different dates; 3) DNA extraction techniques and 4) research laboratories.
Our study demonstrates that we now have the capability to grow stable oral microbial in vitro biofilms containing more than one hundred operational taxonomic units (OTU) which represent 60-80% of the original inoculum OTU richness. Previously uncultivated Human Oral Taxa (HOT) were identified in the biofilms and contributed to approximately one-third of the totally captured 16S rRNA gene diversity. To our knowledge, this represents the highest oral bacterial diversity reported for an in vitro model system so far. This robust model will help investigate currently uncultivated species and the known virulence properties for many oral pathogens not solely restricted to pure culture systems, but within multi-species biofilms.
In vitro model; Biofilm; Oral microbiome; Saliva; Streptococcus; Lactobacillus; Uncultivated bacteria
A facultative iron-reducing [Fe(III)-reducing] Paenibacillus sp. strain was isolated from Hanford 300A subsurface sediment biofilms that was capable of reducing soluble Fe(III) complexes [Fe(III)-nitrilotriacetic acid and Fe(III)-citrate] but unable to reduce poorly crystalline ferrihydrite (Fh). However, Paenibacillus sp. 300A was capable of reducing Fh in the presence of low concentrations (2 μM) of either of the electron transfer mediators (ETMs) flavin mononucleotide (FMN) or anthraquinone-2,6-disulfonate (AQDS). Maximum initial Fh reduction rates were observed at catalytic concentrations (<10 μM) of either FMN or AQDS. Higher FMN concentrations inhibited Fh reduction, while increased AQDS concentrations did not. We also found that Paenibacillus sp. 300A could reduce Fh in the presence of natural ETMs from Hanford 300A subsurface sediments. In the absence of ETMs, Paenibacillus sp. 300A was capable of immobilizing U(VI) through both reduction and adsorption. The relative contributions of adsorption and microbial reduction to U(VI) removal from the aqueous phase were ∼7:3 in PIPES [piperazine-N,N′-bis(2-ethanesulfonic acid)] and ∼1:4 in bicarbonate buffer. Our study demonstrated that Paenibacillus sp. 300A catalyzes Fe(III) reduction and U(VI) immobilization and that these reactions benefit from externally added or naturally existing ETMs in 300A subsurface sediments.
Many human microbial infectious diseases including dental caries are polymicrobial in nature. How these complex multi-species communities evolve from a healthy to a diseased state is not well understood. Although many health- or disease-associated oral bacteria have been characterized in vitro, their physiology within the complex oral microbiome is difficult to determine with current approaches. In addition, about half of these species remain uncultivated to date with little known besides their 16S rRNA sequence. Lacking culture-based physiological analyses, the functional roles of uncultivated species will remain enigmatic despite their apparent disease correlation. To start addressing these knowledge gaps, we applied a combination of Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy (MRS) with RNA and DNA based Stable Isotope Probing (SIP) to oral plaque communities from healthy children for in vitro temporal monitoring of metabolites and identification of metabolically active and inactive bacterial species.
Supragingival plaque samples from caries-free children incubated with 13C-substrates under imposed healthy (buffered, pH 7) and diseased states (pH 5.5 and pH 4.5) produced lactate as the dominant organic acid from glucose metabolism. Rapid lactate utilization upon glucose depletion was observed under pH 7 conditions. SIP analyses revealed a number of genera containing cultured and uncultivated taxa with metabolic capabilities at pH 5.5. The diversity of active species decreased significantly at pH 4.5 and was dominated by Lactobacillus and Propionibacterium species, both of which have been previously found within carious lesions from children.
Our approach allowed for identification of species that metabolize carbohydrates under different pH conditions and supports the importance of Lactobacilli and Propionibacterium in the development of childhood caries. Identification of species within healthy subjects that are active at low pH can lead to a better understanding of oral caries onset and generate appropriate targets for preventative measures in the early stages.
Diffusive mass transfer in biofilms is characterized by the effective diffusion coefficient. It is well-documented that the effective diffusion coefficient can vary by location in a biofilm. The current literature is dominated by effective diffusion coefficient measurements for distinct cell clusters and stratified biofilms showing this spatial variation. Regardless of whether distinct cell clusters or surface-averaging methods are used, position-dependent measurements of the effective diffusion coefficient are currently: 1) invasive to the biofilm, 2) performed under unnatural conditions, 3) lethal to cells, and/or 4) spatially restricted to only certain regions of the biofilm. Invasive measurements can lead to inaccurate results and prohibit further (time-dependent) measurements which are important for the mathematical modeling of biofilms. In this study our goals were to: 1) measure the effective diffusion coefficient for water in live biofilms, 2) monitor how the effective diffusion coefficient changes over time under growth conditions, and 3) correlate the effective diffusion coefficient with depth in the biofilm. We measured in situ two-dimensional effective diffusion coefficient maps within Shewanella oneidensis MR-1 biofilms using pulsed-field gradient nuclear magnetic resonance methods, and used them to calculate surface-averaged relative effective diffusion coefficient (Drs) profiles. We found that 1) Drs decreased from the top of the biofilm to the bottom, 2) Drs profiles differed for biofilms of different ages, 3) Drs profiles changed over time and generally decreased with time, 4) all the biofilms showed very similar Drs profiles near the top of the biofilm, and 5) the Drs profile near the bottom of the biofilm was different for each biofilm. Practically, our results demonstrate that advanced biofilm models should use a variable effective diffusivity which changes with time and location in the biofilm.
biofilm; diffusion coefficient; diffusivity; in situ; mass transfer; magnetic resonance imaging; nuclear magnetic resonance; pulsed-field gradients; Shewanella oneidensis
Whole genome amplification and sequencing of single microbial cells has significantly influenced genomics and microbial ecology by facilitating direct recovery of reference genome data. However, viral genomics continues to suffer due to difficulties related to the isolation and characterization of uncultivated viruses. We report here on a new approach called ‘Single Virus Genomics’, which enabled the isolation and complete genome sequencing of the first single virus particle. A mixed assemblage comprised of two known viruses; E. coli bacteriophages lambda and T4, were sorted using flow cytometric methods and subsequently immobilized in an agarose matrix. Genome amplification was then achieved in situ via multiple displacement amplification (MDA). The complete lambda phage genome was recovered with an average depth of coverage of approximately 437X. The isolation and genome sequencing of uncultivated viruses using Single Virus Genomics approaches will enable researchers to address questions about viral diversity, evolution, adaptation and ecology that were previously unattainable.
The ectopic overexpression of Bcl-2 restricts both influenza A virus-induced apoptosis and influenza A virus replication in MDCK cells, thus suggesting a role for Bcl-2 family members during infection. Here we report that influenza A virus cannot establish an apoptotic response without functional Bax, a downstream target of Bcl-2, and that both Bax and Bak are directly involved in influenza A virus replication and virus-induced cell death. Bak is substantially downregulated during influenza A virus infection in MDCK cells, and the knockout of Bak in mouse embryonic fibroblasts yields a dramatic rise in the rate of apoptotic death and a corresponding increase in levels of virus replication, suggesting that Bak suppresses both apoptosis and the replication of virus and that the virus suppresses Bak. Bax, however, is activated and translocates from the cytosol to the mitochondria; this activation is required for the efficient induction of apoptosis and virus replication. The knockout of Bax in mouse embryonic fibroblasts blocks the induction of apoptosis, restricts the infection-mediated activation of executioner caspases, and inhibits virus propagation. Bax knockout cells still die but by an alternative death pathway displaying characteristics of autophagy, similarly to our previous observation that influenza A virus infection in the presence of a pancaspase inhibitor leads to an increase in levels of autophagy. The knockout of Bax causes a retention of influenza A virus NP within the nucleus. We conclude that the cell and virus struggle to control apoptosis and autophagy, as appropriately timed apoptosis is important for the replication of influenza A virus.
High-throughput analyses that are central to microbial systems biology and ecophysiology research benefit from highly homogeneous and physiologically well-defined cell cultures. While attention has focused on the technical variation associated with high-throughput technologies, biological variation introduced as a function of cell cultivation methods has been largely overlooked. This study evaluated the impact of cultivation methods, controlled batch or continuous culture in bioreactors versus shake flasks, on the reproducibility of global proteome measurements in Shewanellaoneidensis MR-1. Variability in dissolved oxygen concentration and consumption rate, metabolite profiles, and proteome was greater in shake flask than controlled batch or chemostat cultures. Proteins indicative of suboxic and anaerobic growth (e.g., fumarate reductase and decaheme c-type cytochromes) were more abundant in cells from shake flasks compared to bioreactor cultures, a finding consistent with data demonstrating that “aerobic” flask cultures were O2 deficient due to poor mass transfer kinetics. The work described herein establishes the necessity of controlled cultivation for ensuring highly reproducible and homogenous microbial cultures. By decreasing cell to cell variability, higher quality samples will allow for the interpretive accuracy necessary for drawing conclusions relevant to microbial systems biology research.
Controlled cultivation; Systems biology; Proteomics; Shewanella
Modern approaches for bioremediation of radionuclide contaminated environments are based on the ability of microorganisms to effectively catalyze changes in the oxidation states of metals that in turn influence their solubility. Although microbial metal reduction has been identified as an effective means for immobilizing highly-soluble uranium(VI) complexes in situ, the biomolecular mechanisms of U(VI) reduction are not well understood. Here, we show that
c-type cytochromes of a dissimilatory metal-reducing bacterium,
Shewanella oneidensis MR-1, are essential for the reduction of U(VI) and formation of extracelluar UO
2 nanoparticles. In particular, the outer membrane (OM) decaheme cytochrome MtrC (metal reduction), previously implicated in Mn(IV) and Fe(III) reduction, directly transferred electrons to U(VI). Additionally, deletions of
omcA significantly affected the in vivo U(VI) reduction rate relative to wild-type MR-1. Similar to the wild-type, the mutants accumulated UO
2 nanoparticles extracellularly to high densities in association with an extracellular polymeric substance (EPS). In wild-type cells, this UO
2-EPS matrix exhibited glycocalyx-like properties and contained multiple elements of the OM, polysaccharide, and heme-containing proteins. Using a novel combination of methods including synchrotron-based X-ray fluorescence microscopy and high-resolution immune-electron microscopy, we demonstrate a close association of the extracellular UO
2 nanoparticles with MtrC and OmcA (outer membrane cytochrome). This is the first study to our knowledge to directly localize the OM-associated cytochromes with EPS, which contains biogenic UO
2 nanoparticles. In the environment, such association of UO
2 nanoparticles with biopolymers may exert a strong influence on subsequent behavior including susceptibility to oxidation by O
2 or transport in soils and sediments.
Microorganisms that catalyze changes in oxidation states of metals can be used to decontaminate environments of radionuclides. Here,
c-type cytochromes on the outer membrane of a dissimilatory metal reducing bacterium are shown to be essential for the reduction of uranium(VI).