Plant–microbe interactions in the rhizosphere have important roles in biogeochemical cycling, and maintenance of plant health and productivity, yet remain poorly understood. Using RNA-based metatranscriptomics, the global active microbiomes were analysed in soil and rhizospheres of wheat, oat, pea and an oat mutant (sad1) deficient in production of anti-fungal avenacins. Rhizosphere microbiomes differed from bulk soil and between plant species. Pea (a legume) had a much stronger effect on the rhizosphere than wheat and oat (cereals), resulting in a dramatically different rhizosphere community. The relative abundance of eukaryotes in the oat and pea rhizospheres was more than fivefold higher than in the wheat rhizosphere or bulk soil. Nematodes and bacterivorous protozoa were enriched in all rhizospheres, whereas the pea rhizosphere was highly enriched for fungi. Metabolic capabilities for rhizosphere colonisation were selected, including cellulose degradation (cereals), H2 oxidation (pea) and methylotrophy (all plants). Avenacins had little effect on the prokaryotic community of oat, but the eukaryotic community was strongly altered in the sad1 mutant, suggesting that avenacins have a broader role than protecting from fungal pathogens. Profiling microbial communities with metatranscriptomics allows comparison of relative abundance, from multiple samples, across all domains of life, without polymerase chain reaction bias. This revealed profound differences in the rhizosphere microbiome, particularly at the kingdom level between plants.
rhizosphere; metatranscriptomics; microbiome; wheat; oat; pea
Lactobacillus salivarius is part of the vertebrate indigenous microbiota of the gastrointestinal tract, oral cavity, and milk. The properties associated with some L. salivarius strains have led to their use as probiotics. Here we describe the draft genome of the pig isolate L. salivarius cp400, providing insights into host-niche specialization.
Chronic polymicrobial infections of the lung are the foremost cause of morbidity and mortality in cystic fibrosis (CF) patients. The composition of the microbial flora of the airway alters considerably during infection, particularly during patient exacerbation. An understanding of which organisms are growing, their environment and their behaviour in the airway is of importance for designing antibiotic treatment regimes and for patient prognosis. To this end, we have analysed sputum samples taken from separate cohorts of CF and non-CF subjects for metabolites and in parallel, and we have examined both isolated DNA and RNA for the presence of 16S rRNA genes and transcripts by high-throughput sequencing of amplicon or cDNA libraries. This analysis revealed that although the population size of all dominant orders of bacteria as measured by DNA- and RNA- based methods are similar, greater discrepancies are seen with less prevalent organisms, some of which we associated with CF for the first time. Additionally, we identified a strong relationship between the abundance of specific anaerobes and fluctuations in several metabolites including lactate and putrescine during patient exacerbation. This study has hence identified organisms whose occurrence within the CF microbiome has been hitherto unreported and has revealed potential metabolic biomarkers for exacerbation.
Bdellovibrio bacteriovorus are facultatively predatory bacteria that grow within gram-negative prey, using pili to invade their periplasmic niche. They also grow prey-independently on organic nutrients after undergoing a reversible switch. The nature of the growth switching mechanism has been elusive, but several independent reports suggested mutations in the hit (host-interaction) locus on the Bdellovibrio genome were associated with the transition to prey-independent growth. Pili are essential for prey entry by Bdellovibrio and sequence analysis of the hit locus predicted that it was part of a cluster of Type IVb pilus-associated genes, containing bd0108 and bd0109. In this study we have deleted the whole bd0108 gene, which is unique to Bdellovibrio, and compared its phenotype to strains containing spontaneous mutations in bd0108 and the common natural 42 bp deletion variant of bd0108. We find that deletion of the whole bd0108 gene greatly reduced the extrusion of pili, whereas the 42 bp deletion caused greater pilus extrusion than wild-type. The pili isolated from these strains were comprised of the Type IVa pilin protein; PilA. Attempts to similarly delete gene bd0109, which like bd0108 encodes a periplasmic/secreted protein, were not successful, suggesting that it is likely to be essential for Bdellovibrio viability in any growth mode. Bd0109 has a sugar binding YD- repeat motif and an N-terminus with a putative pilin-like fold and was found to interact directly with Bd0108. These results lead us to propose that the Bd0109/Bd0108 interaction regulates pilus production in Bdellovibrio (possibly by interaction with the pilus fibre at the cell wall), and that the presence (and possibly retraction state) of the pilus feeds back to alter the growth state of the Bdellovibrio cell. We further identify a novel small RNA encoded by the hit locus, the transcription of which is altered in different bd0108 mutation backgrounds.
Cyclic guanosine 3′,5′-monophosphate (cyclic GMP) is a second messenger whose role in bacterial signalling is poorly understood. A genetic screen in the plant pathogen Xanthomonas campestris (Xcc) identified that XC_0250, which encodes a protein with a class III nucleotidyl cyclase domain, is required for cyclic GMP synthesis. Purified XC_0250 was active in cyclic GMP synthesis in vitro. The linked gene XC_0249 encodes a protein with a cyclic mononucleotide-binding (cNMP) domain and a GGDEF diguanylate cyclase domain. The activity of XC_0249 in cyclic di-GMP synthesis was enhanced by addition of cyclic GMP. The isolated cNMP domain of XC_0249 bound cyclic GMP and a structure–function analysis, directed by determination of the crystal structure of the holo-complex, demonstrated the site of cyclic GMP binding that modulates cyclic di-GMP synthesis. Mutation of either XC_0250 or XC_0249 led to a reduced virulence to plants and reduced biofilm formation in vitro. These findings describe a regulatory pathway in which cyclic GMP regulates virulence and biofilm formation through interaction with a novel effector that directly links cyclic GMP and cyclic di-GMP signalling.
A cyclic GMP-dependent signalling pathway regulates bacterial phytopathogenesis
In the plant pathogen X. campestris, the second messenger cGMP controls bacterial virulence and biofilm formation through direct regulation of XC_0249, a novel diguanylate cyclase that synthesises the signalling molecule cyclic di-GMP.
biofilm; cyclic di-GMP; signal transduction; virulence; Xanthomonas campestris
Ash dieback is a devastating fungal disease of ash trees that has swept across Europe and recently reached the UK. This emergent pathogen has received little study in the past and its effect threatens to overwhelm the ash population. In response to this we have produced some initial genomics datasets and taken the unusual step of releasing them to the scientific community for analysis without first performing our own. In this manner we hope to ‘crowdsource’ analyses and bring the expertise of the community to bear on this problem as quickly as possible. Our data has been released through our website at oadb.tsl.ac.uk and a public GitHub repository.
Crowdsource; Genomics; Ash dieback; Open source; Altmetrics
We have developed GFam, a platform for automatic annotation of gene/protein families. GFam provides a framework for genome initiatives and model organism resources to build domain-based families, derive meaningful functional labels and offers a seamless approach to propagate functional annotation across periodic genome updates. GFam is a hybrid approach that uses a greedy algorithm to chain component domains from InterPro annotation provided by its 12 member resources followed by a sequence-based connected component analysis of un-annotated sequence regions to derive consensus domain architecture for each sequence and subsequently generate families based on common architectures. Our integrated approach increases sequence coverage by 7.2 percentage points and residue coverage by 14.6 percentage points higher than the coverage relative to the best single-constituent database within InterPro for the proteome of Arabidopsis. The true power of GFam lies in maximizing annotation provided by the different InterPro data sources that offer resource-specific coverage for different regions of a sequence. GFam’s capability to capture higher sequence and residue coverage can be useful for genome annotation, comparative genomics and functional studies. GFam is a general-purpose software and can be used for any collection of protein sequences. The software is open source and can be obtained from http://www.paccanarolab.org/software/gfam/.
Storage triacylglycerols in castor bean seeds are enriched in the hydroxylated fatty acid ricinoleate. Extensive tissue-specific RNA-Seq transcriptome and lipid analysis will help identify components important for its biosynthesis.
Storage triacylglycerols (TAGs) in the endosperm of developing castor (Ricinus communis) seeds are highly enriched in ricinoleic acid (18:1-OH). We have analysed neutral lipid fractions from other castor tissues using TLC, GLC and mass spectrometry. Cotyledons, like the endosperm, contain high levels of 18:1-OH in TAG. Pollen and male developing flowers accumulate TAG but do not contain 18:1-OH and leaves do not contain TAG or 18:1-OH. Analysis of acyl-CoAs in developing endosperm shows that ricinoleoyl-CoA is not the dominant acyl-CoA, indicating that either metabolic channelling or enzyme substrate selectivity are important in the synthesis of tri-ricinolein in this tissue. RNA-Seq transcriptomic analysis, using Illumina sequencing by synthesis technology, has been performed on mRNA isolated from two stages of developing seeds, germinating seeds, leaf and pollen-producing male flowers in order to identify differences in lipid-metabolic pathways and enzyme isoforms which could be important in the biosynthesis of TAG enriched in 18:1-OH. This study gives comprehensive coverage of gene expression in a variety of different castor tissues. The potential role of differentially expressed genes is discussed against a background of proteins identified in the endoplasmic reticulum, which is the site of TAG biosynthesis, and transgenic studies aimed at increasing the ricinoleic acid content of TAG.
Several of the genes identified in this tissue-specific whole transcriptome study have been used in transgenic plant research aimed at increasing the level of ricinoleic acid in TAG. New candidate genes have been identified which might further improve the level of ricinoleic acid in transgenic crops.
The Arabidopsis Information Resource (TAIR, http://arabidopsis.org) is a genome database for Arabidopsis thaliana, an important reference organism for many fundamental aspects of biology as well as basic and applied plant biology research. TAIR serves as a central access point for Arabidopsis data, annotates gene function and expression patterns using controlled vocabulary terms, and maintains and updates the A. thaliana genome assembly and annotation. TAIR also provides researchers with an extensive set of visualization and analysis tools. Recent developments include several new genome releases (TAIR8, TAIR9 and TAIR10) in which the A. thaliana assembly was updated, pseudogenes and transposon genes were re-annotated, and new data from proteomics and next generation transcriptome sequencing were incorporated into gene models and splice variants. Other highlights include progress on functional annotation of the genome and the release of several new tools including Textpresso for Arabidopsis which provides the capability to carry out full text searches on a large body of research literature.
The human X chromosome has a unique biology that was shaped by its evolution as the sex chromosome shared by males and females. We have determined 99.3% of the euchromatic sequence of the X chromosome. Our analysis illustrates the autosomal origin of the mammalian sex chromosomes, the stepwise process that led to the progressive loss of recombination between X and Y, and the extent of subsequent degradation of the Y chromosome. LINE1 repeat elements cover one-third of the X chromosome, with a distribution that is consistent with their proposed role as way stations in the process of X-chromosome inactivation. We found 1,098 genes in the sequence, of which 99 encode proteins expressed in testis and in various tumour types. A disproportionately high number of mendelian diseases are documented for the X chromosome. Of this number, 168 have been explained by mutations in 113 X-linked genes, which in many cases were characterized with the aid of the DNA sequence.
Chromosome 17 is unusual among the human chromosomes in many respects. It is the largest human autosome with orthology to only a single mouse chromosome1, mapping entirely to the distal half of mouse chromosome 11. Chromosome 17 is rich in protein-coding genes, having the second highest gene density in the genome2,3. It is also enriched in segmental duplications, ranking third in density among the autosomes4. Here we report a finished sequence for human chromosome 17, as well as a structural comparison with the finished sequence for mouse chromosome 11, the first finished mouse chromosome. Comparison of the orthologous regions reveals striking differences. In contrast to the typical pattern seen in mammalian evolution5,6, the human sequence has undergone extensive intrachromosomal rearrangement, whereas the mouse sequence has been remarkably stable. Moreover, although the human sequence has a high density of segmental duplication, the mouse sequence has a very low density. Notably, these segmental duplications correspond closely to the sites of structural rearrangement, demonstrating a link between duplication and rearrangement. Examination of the main classes of duplicated segments provides insight into the dynamics underlying expansion of chromosome-specific, low-copy repeats in the human genome.
The Arabidopsis Information Resource (TAIR, http://arabidopsis.org) is the model organism database for the fully sequenced and intensively studied model plant Arabidopsis thaliana. Data in TAIR is derived in large part from manual curation of the Arabidopsis research literature and direct submissions from the research community. New developments at TAIR include the addition of the GBrowse genome viewer to the TAIR site, a redesigned home page, navigation structure and portal pages to make the site more intuitive and easier to use, the launch of several TAIR web services and a new genome annotation release (TAIR7) in April 2007. A combination of manual and computational methods were used to generate this release, which contains 27 029 protein-coding genes, 3889 pseudogenes or transposable elements and 1123 ncRNAs (32 041 genes in all, 37 019 gene models). A total of 681 new genes and 1002 new splice variants were added. Overall, 10 098 loci (one-third of all loci from the previous TAIR6 release) were updated for the TAIR7 release.
The GENCODE consortium was formed to identify and map all protein-coding genes within the ENCODE regions. This was achieved by a combination of initial manual annotation by the HAVANA team, experimental validation by the GENCODE consortium and a refinement of the annotation based on these experimental results.
The GENCODE gene features are divided into eight different categories of which only the first two (known and novel coding sequence) are confidently predicted to be protein-coding genes. 5' rapid amplification of cDNA ends (RACE) and RT-PCR were used to experimentally verify the initial annotation. Of the 420 coding loci tested, 229 RACE products have been sequenced. They supported 5' extensions of 30 loci and new splice variants in 50 loci. In addition, 46 loci without evidence for a coding sequence were validated, consisting of 31 novel and 15 putative transcripts. We assessed the comprehensiveness of the GENCODE annotation by attempting to validate all the predicted exon boundaries outside the GENCODE annotation. Out of 1,215 tested in a subset of the ENCODE regions, 14 novel exon pairs were validated, only two of them in intergenic regions.
In total, 487 loci, of which 434 are coding, have been annotated as part of the GENCODE reference set available from the UCSC browser. Comparison of GENCODE annotation with RefSeq and ENSEMBL show only 40% of GENCODE exons are contained within the two sets, which is a reflection of the high number of alternative splice forms with unique exons annotated. Over 50% of coding loci have been experimentally verified by 5' RACE for EGASP and the GENCODE collaboration is continuing to refine its annotation of 1% human genome with the aid of experimental validation.
The bacterium Xanthomonas campestris is an economically important pathogen of many crop species and a model for the study of bacterial phytopathogenesis. In X. campestris, a regulatory system mediated by the signal molecule DSF controls virulence to plants. The synthesis and recognition of the DSF signal depends upon different Rpf proteins. DSF signal generation requires RpfF whereas signal perception and transduction depends upon a system comprising the sensor RpfC and regulator RpfG. Here we have addressed the action and role of Rpf/DSF signalling in phytopathogenesis by high-resolution transcriptional analysis coupled to functional genomics. We detected transcripts for many genes that were unidentified by previous computational analysis of the genome sequence. Novel transcribed regions included intergenic transcripts predicted as coding or non-coding as well as those that were antisense to coding sequences. In total, mutation of rpfF, rpfG and rpfC led to alteration in transcript levels (more than fourfold) of approximately 480 genes. The regulatory influence of RpfF and RpfC demonstrated considerable overlap. Contrary to expectation, the regulatory influence of RpfC and RpfG had limited overlap, indicating complexities of the Rpf signalling system. Importantly, functional analysis revealed over 160 new virulence factors within the group of Rpf-regulated genes.