Next-generation sequencing projects continue to drive a vast accumulation of metagenomic sequence data. Given the growth rate of this data, automated approaches to functional annotation are indispensable and a cornerstone heuristic of many computational protocols is the concept of guilt by association. The guilt by association paradigm has been heavily exploited by genomic context methods that offer functional predictions that are complementary to homology-based annotations, thereby offering a means to extend functional annotation. In particular, operon methods that exploit co-directional intergenic distances can provide homology-free functional annotation through the transfer of functions among co-operonic genes, under the assumption that guilt by association is indeed applicable. Although guilt by association is a well-accepted annotative device, its applicability to metagenomic functional annotation has not been definitively demonstrated. Here a large-scale assessment of metagenomic guilt by association is undertaken where functional associations are predicted on the basis of co-directional intergenic distances. Specifically, functional annotations are compared within pairs of adjacent co-directional genes, as well as operons of various lengths (i.e. number of member genes), in order to reveal new information about annotative cohesion versus operon length. The results suggests that co-directional gene pairs offer reduced confidence for metagenomic guilt by association due to difficulty in resolving the existence of functional associations when intergenic distance is the sole predictor of pairwise gene interactions. However, metagenomic operons, particularly those with substantial lengths, appear to be capable of providing a superior basis for metagenomic guilt by association due to increased annotative stability. The need for improved recognition of metagenomic operons is discussed, as well as the limitations of the present work.
Whole genome amplification by the multiple displacement amplification (MDA) method allows sequencing of genomes from single cells of bacteria that cannot be cultured. However, genome assembly is challenging because of highly non-uniform read coverage generated by MDA. We describe an improved assembly approach tailored for single cell Illumina sequences that incorporates a progressively increasing coverage cutoff. This allows variable coverage datasets to be utilized effectively with assembly of E. coli and S. aureus single cell reads capturing >91% of genes within contigs, approaching the 95% captured from a multi-cell E. coli assembly. We apply this method to assemble a single cell genome of the uncultivated SAR324 clade of Deltaproteobacteria, a cosmopolitan bacterial lineage in the global ocean. Metabolic reconstruction suggests that SAR324 is aerobic, motile and chemotaxic. These new methods enable acquisition of genome assemblies for individual uncultivated bacteria, providing cell-specific genetic information absent from metagenomic studies.
In this study, metagenomics was applied to characterize the microbial community and to discover carbohydrate-active genes of an enriched thermophilic cellulose-degrading sludge. The 16S analysis showed that the sludge microbiome was dominated by genus of cellulolytic Clostridium and methanogenesis Methanothermobacter. In order to retrieve genes from the metagenome, de novo assembly of the 11,930,760 Illumina 100 bp paired-end reads (totally 1.2 Gb) was carried out. 75% of all reads was utilized in the de novo assembly. 31,499 ORFs (Open Reading Frame) with an average length of 852 bp were predicted from the assembly; and 64% of these ORFs were predicted to present full-length genes. Based on the Hidden Markol Model, 253 of the predicted thermo-stable genes were identified as putatively carbohydrate-active. Among them the relative dominance of GH9 (Glycoside Hydrolase) and corresponding CBM3 (Carbohydrate Binding Module) revealed a cellulosome-based attached metabolism of polysaccharide in the thermophilic sludge. The putative carbohydrate-active genes ranged from 20% to 100% amino acid sequence identity to known proteins in NCBI nr database, with half of them showed less than 50% similarity. In addition, the coverage of the genes (in terms of ORFs) identified in the sludge were developed into three clear trends (112×, 29× and 8×) in which 85% of the high coverage trend (112×) mainly consisted of phylum of Firmicutes while 49.3% of the 29× trend was affiliated to the phylum of Chloroflexi.
A variety of microbial communities and their genes (microbiome) exist throughout the human body, playing fundamental roles in human health and disease. The NIH funded Human Microbiome Project (HMP) Consortium has established a population-scale framework which catalyzed significant development of metagenomic protocols resulting in a broad range of quality-controlled resources and data including standardized methods for creating, processing and interpreting distinct types of high-throughput metagenomic data available to the scientific community. Here we present resources from a population of 242 healthy adults sampled at 15 to 18 body sites up to three times, which to date, have generated 5,177 microbial taxonomic profiles from 16S rRNA genes and over 3.5 Tb of metagenomic sequence. In parallel, approximately 800 human-associated reference genomes have been sequenced. Collectively, these data represent the largest resource to date describing the abundance and variety of the human microbiome, while providing a platform for current and future studies.
Pipelines for the analysis of Next-Generation Sequencing (NGS) data are generally composed of a set of different publicly available software, configured together in order to map short reads of a genome and call variants. The fidelity of pipelines is variable. We have developed ArtificialFastqGenerator, which takes a reference genome sequence as input and outputs artificial paired-end FASTQ files containing Phred quality scores. Since these artificial FASTQs are derived from the reference genome, it provides a gold-standard for read-alignment and variant-calling, thereby enabling the performance of any NGS pipeline to be evaluated. The user can customise DNA template/read length, the modelling of coverage based on GC content, whether to use real Phred base quality scores taken from existing FASTQ files, and whether to simulate sequencing errors. Detailed coverage and error summary statistics are outputted. Here we describe ArtificialFastqGenerator and illustrate its implementation in evaluating a typical bespoke NGS analysis pipeline under different experimental conditions. ArtificialFastqGenerator was released in January 2012. Source code, example files and binaries are freely available under the terms of the GNU General Public License v3.0. from https://sourceforge.net/projects/artfastqgen/.
The amplified fragment length polymorphisms (AFLP) method has become an attractive tool in phylogenetics due to the ease with which large numbers of characters can be generated. In contrast to sequence-based phylogenetic approaches, AFLP data consist of anonymous multilocus markers. However, potential artificial amplifications or amplification failures of fragments contained in the AFLP data set will reduce AFLP reliability especially in phylogenetic inferences. In the present study, we introduce a new automated scoring approach, called “AMARE” (AFLP MAtrix REduction). The approach is based on replicates and makes marker selection dependent on marker reproducibility to control for scoring errors. To demonstrate the effectiveness of our approach we record error rate estimations, resolution scores, PCoA and stemminess calculations. As in general the true tree (i.e. the species phylogeny) is not known, we tested AMARE with empirical, already published AFLP data sets, and compared tree topologies of different AMARE generated character matrices to existing phylogenetic trees and/or other independent sources such as morphological and geographical data. It turns out that the selection of masked character matrices with highest resolution scores gave similar or even better phylogenetic results than the original AFLP data sets.
The goal of the Human Microbiome Project (HMP) is to generate a comprehensive catalog of human-associated microorganisms including reference genomes representing the most common species. Toward this goal, the HMP has characterized the microbial communities at 18 body habitats in a cohort of over 200 healthy volunteers using 16S rRNA gene (16S) sequencing and has generated nearly 1,000 reference genomes from human-associated microorganisms. To determine how well current reference genome collections capture the diversity observed among the healthy microbiome and to guide isolation and future sequencing of microbiome members, we compared the HMP’s 16S data sets to several reference 16S collections to create a ‘most wanted’ list of taxa for sequencing. Our analysis revealed that the diversity of commonly occurring taxa within the HMP cohort microbiome is relatively modest, few novel taxa are represented by these OTUs and many common taxa among HMP volunteers recur across different populations of healthy humans. Taken together, these results suggest that it should be possible to perform whole-genome sequencing on a large fraction of the human microbiome, including the ‘most wanted’, and that these sequences should serve to support microbiome studies across multiple cohorts. Also, in stark contrast to other taxa, the ‘most wanted’ organisms are poorly represented among culture collections suggesting that novel culture- and single-cell-based methods will be required to isolate these organisms for sequencing.
Metagenomic data sets were generated from samples collected along a coastal to open ocean transect between Southern California Bight and California Current waters during a seasonal upwelling event, providing an opportunity to examine the impact of episodic pulses of cold nutrient-rich water into surface ocean microbial communities. The data set consists of ∼5.8 million predicted proteins across seven sites, from three different size classes: 0.1–0.8, 0.8–3.0 and 3.0–200.0 μm. Taxonomic and metabolic analyses suggest that sequences from the 0.1–0.8 μm size class correlated with their position along the upwelling mosaic. However, taxonomic profiles of bacteria from the larger size classes (0.8–200 μm) were less constrained by habitat and characterized by an increase in Cyanobacteria, Bacteroidetes, Flavobacteria and double-stranded DNA viral sequences. Functional annotation of transmembrane proteins indicate that sites comprised of organisms with small genomes have an enrichment of transporters with substrate specificities for amino acids, iron and cadmium, whereas organisms with larger genomes have a higher percentage of transporters for ammonium and potassium. Eukaryotic-type glutamine synthetase (GS) II proteins were identified and taxonomically classified as viral, most closely related to the GSII in Mimivirus, suggesting that marine Mimivirus-like particles may have played a role in the transfer of GSII gene functions. Additionally, a Planctomycete bloom was sampled from one upwelling site providing a rare opportunity to assess the genomic composition of a marine Planctomycete population. The significant correlations observed between genomic properties, community structure and nutrient availability provide insights into habitat-driven dynamics among oligotrophic versus upwelled marine waters adjoining each other spatially.
marine; metagenomics; upwelling; California Current
There is an ever growing number of molecular phylogenetic studies published, due to, in part, the advent of new techniques that allow cheap and quick DNA sequencing. Hence, the demand for relational databases with which to manage and annotate the amassing DNA sequences, genes, voucher specimens and associated biological data is increasing. In addition, a user-friendly interface is necessary for easy integration and management of the data stored in the database back-end. Available databases allow management of a wide variety of biological data. However, most database systems are not specifically constructed with the aim of being an organizational tool for researchers working in phylogenetic inference. We here report a new software facilitating easy management of voucher and sequence data, consisting of a relational database as back-end for a graphic user interface accessed via a web browser. The application, VoSeq, includes tools for creating molecular datasets of DNA or amino acid sequences ready to be used in commonly used phylogenetic software such as RAxML, TNT, MrBayes and PAUP, as well as for creating tables ready for publishing. It also has inbuilt BLAST capabilities against all DNA sequences stored in VoSeq as well as sequences in NCBI GenBank. By using mash-ups and calls to web services, VoSeq allows easy integration with public services such as Yahoo! Maps, Flickr, Encyclopedia of Life (EOL) and GBIF (by generating data-dumps that can be processed with GBIF's Integrated Publishing Toolkit).
Chromodorid nudibranchs (16 genera, 300+ species) are beautiful, brightly colored sea slugs found primarily in tropical coral reef habitats and subtropical coastal waters. The chromodorids are the most speciose family of opisthobranchs and one of the most diverse heterobranch clades. Chromodorids have the potential to be a model group with which to study diversification, color pattern evolution, are important source organisms in natural products chemistry and represent a stunning and widely compelling example of marine biodiversity. Here, we present the most complete molecular phylogeny of the chromodorid nudibranchs to date, with a broad sample of 244 specimens (142 new), representing 157 (106 new) chromodorid species, four actinocylcid species and four additional dorid species utilizing two mitochondrial markers (16s and COI). We confirmed the monophyly of the Chromodorididae and its sister group relationship with the Actinocyclidae. We were also able to, for the first time, test generic monophyly by including more than one member of all 14 of the non-monotypic chromodorid genera. Every one of these 14 traditional chromodorid genera are either non-monophyletic, or render another genus paraphyletic. Additionally, both the monotypic genera Verconia and Diversidoris are nested within clades. Based on data shown here, there are three individual species and five clades limited to the eastern Pacific and Atlantic Oceans (or just one of these ocean regions), while the majority of chromodorid clades and species are strictly Indo-Pacific in distribution. We present a new classification of the chromodorid nudibranchs. We use molecular data to untangle evolutionary relationships and retain a historical connection to traditional systematics by using generic names attached to type species as clade names.
New bioinformatic tools are needed to analyze the growing volume of DNA sequence data. This is especially true in the case of secondary metabolite biosynthesis, where the highly repetitive nature of the associated genes creates major challenges for accurate sequence assembly and analysis. Here we introduce the web tool Natural Product Domain Seeker (NaPDoS), which provides an automated method to assess the secondary metabolite biosynthetic gene diversity and novelty of strains or environments. NaPDoS analyses are based on the phylogenetic relationships of sequence tags derived from polyketide synthase (PKS) and non-ribosomal peptide synthetase (NRPS) genes, respectively. The sequence tags correspond to PKS-derived ketosynthase domains and NRPS-derived condensation domains and are compared to an internal database of experimentally characterized biosynthetic genes. NaPDoS provides a rapid mechanism to extract and classify ketosynthase and condensation domains from PCR products, genomes, and metagenomic datasets. Close database matches provide a mechanism to infer the generalized structures of secondary metabolites while new phylogenetic lineages provide targets for the discovery of new enzyme architectures or mechanisms of secondary metabolite assembly. Here we outline the main features of NaPDoS and test it on four draft genome sequences and two metagenomic datasets. The results provide a rapid method to assess secondary metabolite biosynthetic gene diversity and richness in organisms or environments and a mechanism to identify genes that may be associated with uncharacterized biochemistry.
The diatom family Rhaphoneidaceae is characterized by high generic diversity and low species diversity with most genera known to have long stratigraphic ranges. The genera within this family are neritic marine, and mostly epipsammic. A new modern and epipsammic genus, Meloneis gen. nov., is described herein and is compared to all genera within Rhaphoneidaceae and especially to Rhaphoneis Ehrenberg s.l. Within Meloneis three new species and one variety are distinguished and described herein: M. mimallis sp. nov., M. mimallis var. zephyria var. nov., M. akytos sp. nov., and M. gorgis sp. nov.
We have developed a unified format for phylogenetic placements, that is, mappings of environmental sequence data (e.g., short reads) into a phylogenetic tree. We are motivated to do so by the growing number of tools for computing and post-processing phylogenetic placements, and the lack of an established standard for storing them. The format is lightweight, versatile, extensible, and is based on the JSON format, which can be parsed by most modern programming languages. Our format is already implemented in several tools for computing and post-processing parsimony- and likelihood-based phylogenetic placements and has worked well in practice. We believe that establishing a standard format for analyzing read placements at this early stage will lead to a more efficient development of powerful and portable post-analysis tools for the growing applications of phylogenetic placement.
Among proteins, orthologs are defined as those that are derived by vertical descent from a single progenitor in the last common ancestor of their host organisms. Our goal is to compute a complete set of protein orthologs derived from all currently available complete bacterial and archaeal genomes. Traditional approaches typically rely on all-against-all BLAST searching which is prohibitively expensive in terms of hardware requirements or computational time (requiring an estimated 18 months or more on a typical server). Here, we present xBASE-Orth, a system for ongoing ortholog annotation, which applies a “divide and conquer” approach and adopts a pragmatic scheme that trades accuracy for speed. Starting at species level, xBASE-Orth carefully constructs and uses pan-genomes as proxies for the full collections of coding sequences at each level as it progressively climbs the taxonomic tree using the previously computed data. This leads to a significant decrease in the number of alignments that need to be performed, which translates into faster computation, making ortholog computation possible on a global scale. Using xBASE-Orth, we analyzed an NCBI collection of 1,288 bacterial and 94 archaeal complete genomes with more than 4 million coding sequences in 5 weeks and predicted more than 700 million ortholog pairs, clustered in 175,531 orthologous groups. We have also identified sets of highly conserved bacterial and archaeal orthologs and in so doing have highlighted anomalies in genome annotation and in the proposed composition of the minimal bacterial genome. In summary, our approach allows for scalable and efficient computation of the bacterial and archaeal ortholog annotations. In addition, due to its hierarchical nature, it is suitable for incorporating novel complete genomes and alternative genome annotations. The computed ortholog data and a continuously evolving set of applications based on it are integrated in the xBASE database, available at http://www.xbase.ac.uk/.
Anthropogenic activities have increased the rate of biological extinction many-fold. Recent empirical studies suggest that projected extinction may lead to extensive loss to the Tree of Life, much more than if extinction were random. One suggested cause is that extinction risk is heritable (phylogenetically patterned), such that entire higher groups will be lost. We show here with simulation that phylogenetically clustered extinction risks are necessary but not sufficient for the extensive loss of phylogenetic diversity (PD) compared to random extinction. We simulated Yule trees and evolved extinction risks at various levels of heritability (measured using Pagel's ). At most levels of heritability ( in range of 0 to 10), mean values of extinction risk (range 0.25 to 0.75), tree sizes (64 to 128 tips), tree balance and temporal heterogeneity of diversification rates (Yule and coalescent trees), extinction risks do not substantially increase the loss of PD in these trees when compared to random extinction. The maximum loss of PD (20% above random) was only associated with the combination of extremely excessive values of phylogenetic signal, high mean species' extinction probabilities, and extreme (coalescent) tree shapes. Interestingly, we also observed a decline in the rate of increase in the loss of PD at high phylogenetic clustering of extinction risks. Our results suggest that the interplay between various aspects of tree shape and a predisposition of higher extinction risks in species-poor clades is required to explain the substantial pruning of the Tree of Life.
Bacterial sRNAs are a class of small regulatory RNAs involved in regulation of expression of a variety of genes. Most sRNAs act in trans via base-pairing with target mRNAs, leading to repression or activation of translation or mRNA degradation. To date, more than 1,000 sRNAs have been identified. However, direct targets have been identified for only approximately 50 of these sRNAs. Computational predictions can provide candidates for target validation, thereby increasing the speed of sRNA target identification. Although several methods have been developed, target prediction for bacterial sRNAs remains challenging.
Here, we propose a novel method for sRNA target prediction, termed sTarPicker, which was based on a two-step model for hybridization between an sRNA and an mRNA target. This method first selects stable duplexes after screening all possible duplexes between the sRNA and the potential mRNA target. Next, hybridization between the sRNA and the target is extended to span the entire binding site. Finally, quantitative predictions are produced with an ensemble classifier generated using machine-learning methods. In calculations to determine the hybridization energies of seed regions and binding regions, both thermodynamic stability and site accessibility of the sRNAs and targets were considered. Comparisons with the existing methods showed that sTarPicker performed best in both performance of target prediction and accuracy of the predicted binding sites.
sTarPicker can predict bacterial sRNA targets with higher efficiency and determine the exact locations of the interactions with a higher accuracy than competing programs. sTarPicker is available at http://ccb.bmi.ac.cn/starpicker/.
Vibrio parahaemolyticus is a common cause of foodborne disease. Beginning in 1996, a more virulent strain having serotype O3:K6 caused major outbreaks in India and other parts of the world, resulting in the emergence of a pandemic. Other serovariants of this strain emerged during its dissemination and together with the original O3:K6 were termed strains of the pandemic clone. Two genomes, one of this virulent strain and one pre-pandemic strain have been sequenced. We sequenced four additional genomes of V. parahaemolyticus in this study that were isolated from different geographical regions and time points. Comparative genomic analyses of six strains of V. parahaemolyticus isolated from Asia and Peru were performed in order to advance knowledge concerning the evolution of V. parahaemolyticus; specifically, the genetic changes contributing to serotype conversion and virulence. Two pre-pandemic strains and three pandemic strains, isolated from different geographical regions, were serotype O3:K6 and either toxin profiles (tdh+, trh-) or (tdh-, trh+). The sixth pandemic strain sequenced in this study was serotype O4:K68.
Genomic analyses revealed that the trh+ and tdh+ strains had different types of pathogenicity islands and mobile elements as well as major structural differences between the tdh pathogenicity islands of the pre-pandemic and pandemic strains. In addition, the results of single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) analysis showed that 94% of the SNPs between O3:K6 and O4:K68 pandemic isolates were within a 141 kb region surrounding the O- and K-antigen-encoding gene clusters. The "core" genes of V. parahaemolyticus were also compared to those of V. cholerae and V. vulnificus, in order to delineate differences between these three pathogenic species. Approximately one-half (49-59%) of each species' core genes were conserved in all three species, and 14-24% of the core genes were species-specific and in different functional categories.
Our data support the idea that the pandemic strains are closely related and that recent South American outbreaks of foodborne disease caused by V. parahaemolyticus are closely linked to outbreaks in India. Serotype conversion from O3:K6 to O4:K68 was likely due to a recombination event involving a region much larger than the O-antigen- and K-antigen-encoding gene clusters. Major differences between pathogenicity islands and mobile elements are also likely driving the evolution of V. parahaemolyticus. In addition, our analyses categorized genes that may be useful in differentiating pathogenic Vibrios at the species level.
In order to enrich the phylogenetic diversity represented in the available sequenced bacterial genomes and as part of an “Assembling the Tree of Life” project, we determined the genome sequence of Thermomicrobium roseum DSM 5159. T. roseum DSM 5159 is a red-pigmented, rod-shaped, Gram-negative extreme thermophile isolated from a hot spring that possesses both an atypical cell wall composition and an unusual cell membrane that is composed entirely of long-chain 1,2-diols. Its genome is composed of two circular DNA elements, one of 2,006,217 bp (referred to as the chromosome) and one of 919,596 bp (referred to as the megaplasmid). Strikingly, though few standard housekeeping genes are found on the megaplasmid, it does encode a complete system for chemotaxis including both chemosensory components and an entire flagellar apparatus. This is the first known example of a complete flagellar system being encoded on a plasmid and suggests a straightforward means for lateral transfer of flagellum-based motility. Phylogenomic analyses support the recent rRNA-based analyses that led to T. roseum being removed from the phylum Thermomicrobia and assigned to the phylum Chloroflexi. Because T. roseum is a deep-branching member of this phylum, analysis of its genome provides insights into the evolution of the Chloroflexi. In addition, even though this species is not photosynthetic, analysis of the genome provides some insight into the origins of photosynthesis in the Chloroflexi. Metabolic pathway reconstructions and experimental studies revealed new aspects of the biology of this species. For example, we present evidence that T. roseum oxidizes CO aerobically, making it the first thermophile known to do so. In addition, we propose that glycosylation of its carotenoids plays a crucial role in the adaptation of the cell membrane to this bacterium's thermophilic lifestyle. Analyses of published metagenomic sequences from two hot springs similar to the one from which this strain was isolated, show that close relatives of T. roseum DSM 5159 are present but have some key differences from the strain sequenced.
The availability of complete genomic sequences for hundreds of organisms promises to make obtaining genome-wide estimates of substitution rates, selective constraints and other molecular evolution variables of interest an increasingly important approach to addressing broad evolutionary questions. Two of the programs most widely used for this purpose are codeml and baseml, parts of the PAML (Phylogenetic Analysis by Maximum Likelihood) suite. A significant drawback of these programs is their lack of a graphical user interface, which can limit their user base and considerably reduce their efficiency.
We have developed IDEA (Interactive Display for Evolutionary Analyses), an intuitive graphical input and output interface which interacts with PHYLIP for phylogeny reconstruction and with codeml and baseml for molecular evolution analyses. IDEA's graphical input and visualization interfaces eliminate the need to edit and parse text input and output files, reducing the likelihood of errors and improving processing time. Further, its interactive output display gives the user immediate access to results. Finally, IDEA can process data in parallel on a local machine or computing grid, allowing genome-wide analyses to be completed quickly.
IDEA provides a graphical user interface that allows the user to follow a codeml or baseml analysis from parameter input through to the exploration of results. Novel options streamline the analysis process, and post-analysis visualization of phylogenies, evolutionary rates and selective constraint along protein sequences simplifies the interpretation of results. The integration of these functions into a single tool eliminates the need for lengthy data handling and parsing, significantly expediting access to global patterns in the data.
The dimorphic prosthecate bacteria (DPB) are α-proteobacteria that reproduce in an asymmetric manner rather than by binary fission and are of interest as simple models of development. Prior to this work, the only member of this group for which genome sequence was available was the model freshwater organism Caulobacter crescentus. Here we describe the genome sequence of Hyphomonas neptunium, a marine member of the DPB that differs from C. crescentus in that H. neptunium uses its stalk as a reproductive structure. Genome analysis indicates that this organism shares more genes with C. crescentus than it does with Silicibacter pomeroyi (a closer relative according to 16S rRNA phylogeny), that it relies upon a heterotrophic strategy utilizing a wide range of substrates, that its cell cycle is likely to be regulated in a similar manner to that of C. crescentus, and that the outer membrane complements of H. neptunium and C. crescentus are remarkably similar. H. neptunium swarmer cells are highly motile via a single polar flagellum. With the exception of cheY and cheR, genes required for chemotaxis were absent in the H. neptunium genome. Consistent with this observation, H. neptunium swarmer cells did not respond to any chemotactic stimuli that were tested, which suggests that H. neptunium motility is a random dispersal mechanism for swarmer cells rather than a stimulus-controlled navigation system for locating specific environments. In addition to providing insights into bacterial development, the H. neptunium genome will provide an important resource for the study of other interesting biological processes including chromosome segregation, polar growth, and cell aging.
The ciliate Tetrahymena thermophila is a model organism for molecular and cellular biology. Like other ciliates, this species has separate germline and soma functions that are embodied by distinct nuclei within a single cell. The germline-like micronucleus (MIC) has its genome held in reserve for sexual reproduction. The soma-like macronucleus (MAC), which possesses a genome processed from that of the MIC, is the center of gene expression and does not directly contribute DNA to sexual progeny. We report here the shotgun sequencing, assembly, and analysis of the MAC genome of T. thermophila, which is approximately 104 Mb in length and composed of approximately 225 chromosomes. Overall, the gene set is robust, with more than 27,000 predicted protein-coding genes, 15,000 of which have strong matches to genes in other organisms. The functional diversity encoded by these genes is substantial and reflects the complexity of processes required for a free-living, predatory, single-celled organism. This is highlighted by the abundance of lineage-specific duplications of genes with predicted roles in sensing and responding to environmental conditions (e.g., kinases), using diverse resources (e.g., proteases and transporters), and generating structural complexity (e.g., kinesins and dyneins). In contrast to the other lineages of alveolates (apicomplexans and dinoflagellates), no compelling evidence could be found for plastid-derived genes in the genome. UGA, the only T. thermophila stop codon, is used in some genes to encode selenocysteine, thus making this organism the first known with the potential to translate all 64 codons in nuclear genes into amino acids. We present genomic evidence supporting the hypothesis that the excision of DNA from the MIC to generate the MAC specifically targets foreign DNA as a form of genome self-defense. The combination of the genome sequence, the functional diversity encoded therein, and the presence of some pathways missing from other model organisms makes T. thermophila an ideal model for functional genomic studies to address biological, biomedical, and biotechnological questions of fundamental importance.
The macronuclear genome ofTetrahymena thermophila is sequenced and analyzed. Conservation in this single-celled ciliate of some features normally observed in only multicellular organisms sheds light on early eukaryotic evolution.
Fungi can undergo autophagic- or apoptotic-type programmed cell death (PCD) on exposure to antifungal agents, developmental signals, and stress factors. Filamentous fungi can also exhibit a form of cell death called heterokaryon incompatibility (HI) triggered by fusion between two genetically incompatible individuals. With the availability of recently sequenced genomes of Aspergillus fumigatus and several related species, we were able to define putative components of fungi-specific death pathways and the ancestral core apoptotic machinery shared by all fungi and metazoa.
Phylogenetic profiling of HI-associated proteins from four Aspergilli and seven other fungal species revealed lineage-specific protein families, orphan genes, and core genes conserved across all fungi and metazoa. The Aspergilli-specific domain architectures include NACHT family NTPases, which may function as key integrators of stress and nutrient availability signals. They are often found fused to putative effector domains such as Pfs, SesB/LipA, and a newly identified domain, HET-s/LopB. Many putative HI inducers and mediators are specific to filamentous fungi and not found in unicellular yeasts. In addition to their role in HI, several of them appear to be involved in regulation of cell cycle, development and sexual differentiation. Finally, the Aspergilli possess many putative downstream components of the mammalian apoptotic machinery including several proteins not found in the model yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae.
Our analysis identified more than 100 putative PCD associated genes in the Aspergilli, which may help expand the range of currently available treatments for aspergillosis and other invasive fungal diseases. The list includes species-specific protein families as well as conserved core components of the ancestral PCD machinery shared by fungi and metazoa.
Accurate identification of DNA polymorphisms using next-generation sequencing technology is challenging because of a high rate of sequencing error and incorrect mapping of reads to reference genomes. Currently available short read aligners and DNA variant callers suffer from these problems. We developed the Coval software to improve the quality of short read alignments. Coval is designed to minimize the incidence of spurious alignment of short reads, by filtering mismatched reads that remained in alignments after local realignment and error correction of mismatched reads. The error correction is executed based on the base quality and allele frequency at the non-reference positions for an individual or pooled sample. We demonstrated the utility of Coval by applying it to simulated genomes and experimentally obtained short-read data of rice, nematode, and mouse. Moreover, we found an unexpectedly large number of incorrectly mapped reads in ‘targeted’ alignments, where the whole genome sequencing reads had been aligned to a local genomic segment, and showed that Coval effectively eliminated such spurious alignments. We conclude that Coval significantly improves the quality of short-read sequence alignments, thereby increasing the calling accuracy of currently available tools for SNP and indel identification. Coval is available at http://sourceforge.net/projects/coval105/.
Pedicularis section Cyathophora is a monophyletic group characterized by perfoliate leaf and/or bract bases at each node. This section comprises four series, corresponding to four general corolla types of Pedicularis, i.e. toothless, toothed, beaked and long-tubed corollas. In this study, we aim to reconstruct a comprehensive phylogeny of section Cyathophora, and compare phylogenetic incongruence between nuclear and chloroplast datasets. Sixty-seven accessions belonging to section Cyathophora and 9 species for other Pedicularis were sampled, and one nuclear gene (nrITS) and four chloroplast genes (matK, rbcL, trnH-psbA and trnL-F) were sequenced. Phylogenetic analyses show that the topologies and networks inferred from nrITS and the concatenated chloroplast datasets were incongruent, and the nrITS phylogenies and network agreed with the morphology-based taxonomy to some degree. The chloroplast genome of two Sichuan samples of P. cyathophylloides (E4 and E5) may show introgression from an ancestor of P. cyathophylla. Neither the nrITS dataset nor the concatenated chloroplast dataset were able to adequately resolve relationships among species in the series Reges; this is most likely due to incomplete lineage sorting and/or introgression/hybridization. The nrITS phylogeny indicates the beakless (toothed and toothless) and beaked galeas may have evolved independently within section Cyathophora, and the chloroplast phylogeny reveals that the long corolla tube with beaked galea is derived from the short one.
Many studies link the compositions of microbial communities to their environments, but the energetics of organism-specific biomass synthesis as a function of geochemical variables have rarely been assessed. We describe a thermodynamic model that integrates geochemical and metagenomic data for biofilms sampled at five sites along a thermal and chemical gradient in the outflow channel of the hot spring known as “Bison Pool” in Yellowstone National Park. The relative abundances of major phyla in individual communities sampled along the outflow channel are modeled by computing metastable equilibrium among model proteins with amino acid compositions derived from metagenomic sequences. Geochemical conditions are represented by temperature and activities of basis species, including pH and oxidation-reduction potential quantified as the activity of dissolved hydrogen. By adjusting the activity of hydrogen, the model can be tuned to closely approximate the relative abundances of the phyla observed in the community profiles generated from BLAST assignments. The findings reveal an inverse relationship between the energy demand to form the proteins at equal thermodynamic activities and the abundance of phyla in the community. The distance from metastable equilibrium of the communities, assessed using an equation derived from energetic considerations that is also consistent with the information-theoretic entropy change, decreases along the outflow channel. Specific divergences from metastable equilibrium, such as an underprediction of the relative abundances of phototrophic organisms at lower temperatures, can be explained by considering additional sources of energy and/or differences in growth efficiency. Although the metabolisms used by many members of these communities are driven by chemical disequilibria, the results support the possibility that higher-level patterns of chemotrophic microbial ecosystems are shaped by metastable equilibrium states that depend on both the composition of biomass and the environmental conditions.