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1.  TraV: A Genome Context Sensitive Transcriptome Browser 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(4):e93677.
Next-generation sequencing (NGS) technologies like Illumina and ABI Solid enable the investigation of transcriptional activities of genomes. While read mapping tools have been continually improved to enable the processing of the increasing number of reads generated by NGS technologies, analysis and visualization tools are struggling with the amount of data they are presented with. Current tools are capable of handling at most two to three datasets simultaneously before they are limited by available memory or due to processing overhead. In order to process fifteen transcriptome sequencing experiments of Bacillus licheniformis DSM13 obtained in a previous study, we developed TraV, a RNA-Seq analysis and visualization tool. The analytical methods are designed for prokaryotic RNA-seq experiments. TraV calculates single nucleotide activities from the mapping information to visualize and analyze multiple transcriptome sequencing experiments. The use of nucleotide activities instead of single read mapping information is highly memory efficient without incurring a processing overhead. TraV is available at
PMCID: PMC3977867  PMID: 24709941
2.  How to Kill the Honey Bee Larva: Genomic Potential and Virulence Mechanisms of Paenibacillus larvae 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e90914.
Paenibacillus larvae, a Gram positive bacterial pathogen, causes American Foulbrood (AFB), which is the most serious infectious disease of honey bees. In order to investigate the genomic potential of P. larvae, two strains belonging to two different genotypes were sequenced and used for comparative genome analysis. The complete genome sequence of P. larvae strain DSM 25430 (genotype ERIC II) consisted of 4,056,006 bp and harbored 3,928 predicted protein-encoding genes. The draft genome sequence of P. larvae strain DSM 25719 (genotype ERIC I) comprised 4,579,589 bp and contained 4,868 protein-encoding genes. Both strains harbored a 9.7 kb plasmid and encoded a large number of virulence-associated proteins such as toxins and collagenases. In addition, genes encoding large multimodular enzymes producing nonribosomally peptides or polyketides were identified. In the genome of strain DSM 25719 seven toxin associated loci were identified and analyzed. Five of them encoded putatively functional toxins. The genome of strain DSM 25430 harbored several toxin loci that showed similarity to corresponding loci in the genome of strain DSM 25719, but were non-functional due to point mutations or disruption by transposases. Although both strains cause AFB, significant differences between the genomes were observed including genome size, number and composition of transposases, insertion elements, predicted phage regions, and strain-specific island-like regions. Transposases, integrases and recombinases are important drivers for genome plasticity. A total of 390 and 273 mobile elements were found in strain DSM 25430 and strain DSM 25719, respectively. Comparative genomics of both strains revealed acquisition of virulence factors by horizontal gene transfer and provided insights into evolution and pathogenicity.
PMCID: PMC3944939  PMID: 24599066
3.  Fermentation stage-dependent adaptations of Bacillus licheniformis during enzyme production 
Industrial fermentations can generally be described as dynamic biotransformation processes in which microorganisms convert energy rich substrates into a desired product. The knowledge of active physiological pathways, reflected by corresponding gene activities, allows the identification of beneficial or disadvantageous performances of the microbial host. Whole transcriptome RNA-Seq is a powerful tool to accomplish in-depth quantification of these gene activities, since the low background noise and the absence of an upper limit of quantification allow the detection of transcripts with high dynamic ranges. Such data enable the identification of potential bottlenecks and futile energetic cycles, which in turn can lead to targets for rational approaches to productivity improvement. Here we present an overview of the dynamics of gene activity during an industrial-oriented fermentation process with Bacillus licheniformis, an important industrial enzyme producer. Thereby, valuable insights which help to understand the complex interactions during such processes are provided.
Whole transcriptome RNA-Seq has been performed to study the gene expression at five selected growth stages of an industrial-oriented protease production process employing a germination deficient derivative of B. licheniformis DSM13. Since a significant amount of genes in Bacillus strains are regulated posttranscriptionally, the generated data have been confirmed by 2D gel-based proteomics. Regulatory events affecting the coordinated activity of hundreds of genes have been analyzed. The data enabled the identification of genes involved in the adaptations to changing environmental conditions during the fermentation process. A special focus of the analyses was on genes contributing to central carbon metabolism, amino acid transport and metabolism, starvation and stress responses and protein secretion. Genes contributing to lantibiotics production and Tat-dependent protein secretion have been pointed out as potential optimization targets.
The presented data give unprecedented insights into the complex adaptations of bacterial production strains to the changing physiological demands during an industrial-oriented fermentation. These are, to our knowledge, the first publicly available data that document quantifiable transcriptional responses of the commonly employed production strain B. licheniformis to changing conditions over the course of a typical fermentation process in such extensive depth.
PMCID: PMC3878961  PMID: 24313996
Differential gene expression; Transcriptomics; Proteomics; RNA-Seq; Subtilisin Carlsberg; Industrial production; Stress response; Sporulation; Lichenicidin
4.  Phaeobacter gallaeciensis genomes from globally opposite locations reveal high similarity of adaptation to surface life 
The ISME Journal  2012;6(12):2229-2244.
Phaeobacter gallaeciensis, a member of the abundant marine Roseobacter clade, is known to be an effective colonizer of biotic and abiotic marine surfaces. Production of the antibiotic tropodithietic acid (TDA) makes P. gallaeciensis a strong antagonist of many bacteria, including fish and mollusc pathogens. In addition to TDA, several other secondary metabolites are produced, allowing the mutualistic bacterium to also act as an opportunistic pathogen. Here we provide the manually annotated genome sequences of the P. gallaeciensis strains DSM 17395 and 2.10, isolated at the Atlantic coast of north western Spain and near Sydney, Australia, respectively. Despite their isolation sites from the two different hemispheres, the genome comparison demonstrated a surprisingly high level of synteny (only 3% nucleotide dissimilarity and 88% and 93% shared genes). Minor differences in the genomes result from horizontal gene transfer and phage infection. Comparison of the P. gallaeciensis genomes with those of other roseobacters revealed unique genomic traits, including the production of iron-scavenging siderophores. Experiments supported the predicted capacity of both strains to grow on various algal osmolytes. Transposon mutagenesis was used to expand the current knowledge on the TDA biosynthesis pathway in strain DSM 17395. This first comparative genomic analysis of finished genomes of two closely related strains belonging to one species of the Roseobacter clade revealed features that provide competitive advantages and facilitate surface attachment and interaction with eukaryotic hosts.
PMCID: PMC3504968  PMID: 22717884
antibiotic; comparative genomics; prophages; Roseobacter clade; siderophores; symbiosis
5.  RNA-Seq of Bacillus licheniformis: active regulatory RNA features expressed within a productive fermentation 
BMC Genomics  2013;14:667.
The production of enzymes by an industrial strain requires a complex adaption of the bacterial metabolism to the conditions within the fermenter. Regulatory events within the process result in a dynamic change of the transcriptional activity of the genome. This complex network of genes is orchestrated by proteins as well as regulatory RNA elements. Here we present an RNA-Seq based study considering selected phases of an industry-oriented fermentation of Bacillus licheniformis.
A detailed analysis of 20 strand-specific RNA-Seq datasets revealed a multitude of transcriptionally active genomic regions. 3314 RNA features encoded by such active loci have been identified and sorted into ten functional classes. The identified sequences include the expected RNA features like housekeeping sRNAs, metabolic riboswitches and RNA switches well known from studies on Bacillus subtilis as well as a multitude of completely new candidates for regulatory RNAs. An unexpectedly high number of 855 RNA features are encoded antisense to annotated protein and RNA genes, in addition to 461 independently transcribed small RNAs. These antisense transcripts contain molecules with a remarkable size range variation from 38 to 6348 base pairs in length. The genome of the type strain B. licheniformis DSM13 was completely reannotated using data obtained from RNA-Seq analyses and from public databases.
The hereby generated data-sets represent a solid amount of knowledge on the dynamic transcriptional activities during the investigated fermentation stages. The identified regulatory elements enable research on the understanding and the optimization of crucial metabolic activities during a productive fermentation of Bacillus licheniformis strains.
PMCID: PMC3871023  PMID: 24079885
dRNA-Seq; RNA-based regulation; UTR; ncRNA; sRNA; Antisense RNA; Subtilisin; Transcription start site; Operon prediction; Reannotation
6.  First Insights into the Completely Annotated Genome Sequence of Bacillus licheniformis Strain 9945A 
Genome Announcements  2013;1(4):e00525-13.
Strains of the species Bacillus licheniformis are widely used in biotechnology for the production of enzymes and antibiotics (M. Schallmey, A. Singh, and O. P. Ward, Can. J. Microbiol. 50:1–17, 2004). However, research and application of B. licheniformis strains are adversely affected by poor genetic accessibility. Thus, for a closer inspection of natural competence in B. licheniformis, the genome of strain 9945A, of which derivatives are known to be naturally competent (C. B. Thorne and H. B. Stull, J. Bacteriol. 91:1012–1020, 1966), was completely sequenced and manually annotated.
PMCID: PMC3731831  PMID: 23908277
7.  Complete Genome Sequence of Mannheimia haemolytica Strain 42548 from a Case of Bovine Respiratory Disease 
Genome Announcements  2013;1(3):e00318-13.
Mannheimia haemolytica is the major bacterial component in the bovine respiratory disease complex, which accounts for considerable economic losses to the cattle industry worldwide. The complete genome sequence of M. haemolytica strain 42548 was determined. It has a size of 2.73 Mb and contains 2,888 genes, including several antibiotic resistance genes.
PMCID: PMC3668016  PMID: 23723408
8.  Physiological homogeneity among the endosymbionts of Riftia pachyptila and Tevnia jerichonana revealed by proteogenomics 
The ISME Journal  2011;6(4):766-776.
The two closely related deep-sea tubeworms Riftia pachyptila and Tevnia jerichonana both rely exclusively on a single species of sulfide-oxidizing endosymbiotic bacteria for their nutrition. They do, however, thrive in markedly different geochemical conditions. A detailed proteogenomic comparison of the endosymbionts coupled with an in situ characterization of the geochemical environment was performed to investigate their roles and expression profiles in the two respective hosts. The metagenomes indicated that the endosymbionts are genotypically highly homogeneous. Gene sequences coding for enzymes of selected key metabolic functions were found to be 99.9% identical. On the proteomic level, the symbionts showed very consistent metabolic profiles, despite distinctly different geochemical conditions at the plume level of the respective hosts. Only a few minor variations were observed in the expression of symbiont enzymes involved in sulfur metabolism, carbon fixation and in the response to oxidative stress. Although these changes correspond to the prevailing environmental situation experienced by each host, our data strongly suggest that the two tubeworm species are able to effectively attenuate differences in habitat conditions, and thus to provide their symbionts with similar micro-environments.
PMCID: PMC3309349  PMID: 22011719
chemoautotrophy; endosymbiosis; hydrothermal vent; metagenome; proteomics; tubeworms
9.  Complete Genome Sequence of Bacillus thuringiensis Strain 407 Cry- 
Genome Announcements  2013;1(1):e00158-12.
Bacillus thuringiensis is an insect pathogen that has been used widely as a biopesticide. Here, we report the genome sequence of strain 407 Cry-, which is used to study the genetic determinants of pathogenicity. The genome consists of a 5.5-Mb chromosome and nine plasmids, including a novel 502-kb megaplasmid.
PMCID: PMC3569317  PMID: 23405326
10.  Genetic Analysis of the Upper Phenylacetate Catabolic Pathway in the Production of Tropodithietic Acid by Phaeobacter gallaeciensis 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2012;78(10):3539-3551.
Production of the antibiotic tropodithietic acid (TDA) depends on the central phenylacetate catabolic pathway, specifically on the oxygenase PaaABCDE, which catalyzes epoxidation of phenylacetyl-coenzyme A (CoA). Our study was focused on genes of the upper part of this pathway leading to phenylacetyl-CoA as precursor for TDA. Phaeobacter gallaeciensis DSM 17395 encodes two genes with homology to phenylacetyl-CoA ligases (paaK1 and paaK2), which were shown to be essential for phenylacetate catabolism but not for TDA biosynthesis and phenylalanine degradation. Thus, in P. gallaeciensis another enzyme must produce phenylacetyl-CoA from phenylalanine. Using random transposon insertion mutagenesis of a paaK1-paaK2 double mutant we identified a gene (ior1) with similarity to iorA and iorB in archaea, encoding an indolepyruvate:ferredoxin oxidoreductase (IOR). The ior1 mutant was unable to grow on phenylalanine, and production of TDA was significantly reduced compared to the wild-type level (60%). Nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopic investigations using 13C-labeled phenylalanine isotopomers demonstrated that phenylalanine is transformed into phenylacetyl-CoA by Ior1. Using quantitative real-time PCR, we could show that expression of ior1 depends on the adjacent regulator IorR. Growth on phenylalanine promotes production of TDA, induces expression of ior1 (27-fold) and paaK1 (61-fold), and regulates the production of TDA. Phylogenetic analysis showed that the aerobic type of IOR as found in many roseobacters is common within a number of different phylogenetic groups of aerobic bacteria such as Burkholderia, Cupriavidis, and Rhizobia, where it may also contribute to the degradation of phenylalanine.
PMCID: PMC3346364  PMID: 22407685
11.  Sequence of the hyperplastic genome of the naturally competent Thermus scotoductus SA-01 
BMC Genomics  2011;12:577.
Many strains of Thermus have been isolated from hot environments around the world. Thermus scotoductus SA-01 was isolated from fissure water collected 3.2 km below surface in a South African gold mine. The isolate is capable of dissimilatory iron reduction, growth with oxygen and nitrate as terminal electron acceptors and the ability to reduce a variety of metal ions, including gold, chromate and uranium, was demonstrated. The genomes from two different Thermus thermophilus strains have been completed. This paper represents the completed genome from a second Thermus species - T. scotoductus.
The genome of Thermus scotoductus SA-01 consists of a chromosome of 2,346,803 bp and a small plasmid which, together are about 11% larger than the Thermus thermophilus genomes. The T. thermophilus megaplasmid genes are part of the T. scotoductus chromosome and extensive rearrangement, deletion of nonessential genes and acquisition of gene islands have occurred, leading to a loss of synteny between the chromosomes of T. scotoductus and T. thermophilus. At least nine large inserts of which seven were identified as alien, were found, the most remarkable being a denitrification cluster and two operons relating to the metabolism of phenolics which appear to have been acquired from Meiothermus ruber. The majority of acquired genes are from closely related species of the Deinococcus-Thermus group, and many of the remaining genes are from microorganisms with a thermophilic or hyperthermophilic lifestyle. The natural competence of Thermus scotoductus was confirmed experimentally as expected as most of the proteins of the natural transformation system of Thermus thermophilus are present. Analysis of the metabolic capabilities revealed an extensive energy metabolism with many aerobic and anaerobic respiratory options. An abundance of sensor histidine kinases, response regulators and transporters for a wide variety of compounds are indicative of an oligotrophic lifestyle.
The genome of Thermus scotoductus SA-01 shows remarkable plasticity with the loss, acquisition and rearrangement of large portions of its genome compared to Thermus thermophilus. Its ability to naturally take up foreign DNA has helped it adapt rapidly to a subsurface lifestyle in the presence of a dense and diverse population which acted as source of nutrients. The genome of Thermus scotoductus illustrates how rapid adaptation can be achieved by a highly dynamic and plastic genome.
PMCID: PMC3235269  PMID: 22115438
12.  Molecular Basis of Macrolide, Triamilide, and Lincosamide Resistance in Pasteurella multocida from Bovine Respiratory Disease▿ 
The mechanism of macrolide-triamilide resistance in Pasteurella multocida has been unknown. During whole-genome sequencing of a multiresistant bovine P. multocida isolate, three new resistance genes, the rRNA methylase gene erm(42), the macrolide transporter gene msr(E), and the macrolide phosphotransferase gene mph(E), were detected. The three genes were PCR amplified, cloned into suitable plasmid vectors, and shown to confer either macrolide-lincosamide resistance [erm(42)] or macrolide-triamilide resistance [msr(E)-mph(E)] in macrolide-susceptible Escherichia coli and P. multocida hosts.
PMCID: PMC3088232  PMID: 21402855
13.  Genomic analysis reveals Lactobacillus sanfranciscensis as stable element in traditional sourdoughs 
Microbial Cell Factories  2011;10(Suppl 1):S6.
Sourdough has played a significant role in human nutrition and culture for thousands of years and is still of eminent importance for human diet and the bakery industry. Lactobacillus sanfranciscensis is the predominant key bacterium in traditionally fermented sourdoughs.
The genome of L. sanfranciscensis TMW 1.1304 isolated from an industrial sourdough fermentation was sequenced with a combined Sanger/454-pyrosequencing approach followed by gap closing by walking on fosmids. The sequencing data revealed a circular chromosomal sequence of 1,298,316 bp and two additional plasmids, pLS1 and pLS2, with sizes of 58,739 bp and 18,715 bp, which are predicted to encode 1,437, 63 and 19 orfs, respectively. The overall GC content of the chromosome is 34.71%. Several specific features appear to contribute to the ability of L. sanfranciscensis to outcompete other bacteria in the fermentation. L. sanfranciscensis contains the smallest genome within the lactobacilli and the highest density of ribosomal RNA operons per Mbp genome among all known genomes of free-living bacteria, which is important for the rapid growth characteristics of the organism. A high frequency of gene inactivation and elimination indicates a process of reductive evolution. The biosynthetic capacity for amino acids scarcely availably in cereals and exopolysaccharides reveal the molecular basis for an autochtonous sourdough organism with potential for further exploitation in functional foods. The presence of two CRISPR/cas loci versus a high number of transposable elements suggests recalcitrance to gene intrusion and high intrinsic genome plasticity.
PMCID: PMC3231932  PMID: 21995419
14.  Genome sequence analyses of two isolates from the recent Escherichia coli outbreak in Germany reveal the emergence of a new pathotype: Entero-Aggregative-Haemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EAHEC) 
Archives of Microbiology  2011;193(12):883-891.
The genome sequences of two Escherichia coli O104:H4 strains derived from two different patients of the 2011 German E. coli outbreak were determined. The two analyzed strains were designated E. coli GOS1 and GOS2 (German outbreak strain). Both isolates comprise one chromosome of approximately 5.31 Mbp and two putative plasmids. Comparisons of the 5,217 (GOS1) and 5,224 (GOS2) predicted protein-encoding genes with various E. coli strains, and a multilocus sequence typing analysis revealed that the isolates were most similar to the entero-aggregative E. coli (EAEC) strain 55989. In addition, one of the putative plasmids of the outbreak strain is similar to pAA-type plasmids of EAEC strains, which contain aggregative adhesion fimbrial operons. The second putative plasmid harbors genes for extended-spectrum β-lactamases. This type of plasmid is widely distributed in pathogenic E. coli strains. A significant difference of the E. coli GOS1 and GOS2 genomes to those of EAEC strains is the presence of a prophage encoding the Shiga toxin, which is characteristic for enterohemorrhagic E. coli (EHEC) strains. The unique combination of genomic features of the German outbreak strain, containing characteristics from pathotypes EAEC and EHEC, suggested that it represents a new pathotype Entero-Aggregative-Haemorrhagic Escherichiacoli (EAHEC).
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00203-011-0725-6) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC3219860  PMID: 21713444
EHEC outbreak; EAHEC; Genome sequencing; Pathotype; Genome evolution
15.  Comparative genome analysis and genome-guided physiological analysis of Roseobacter litoralis 
BMC Genomics  2011;12:324.
Roseobacter litoralis OCh149, the type species of the genus, and Roseobacter denitrificans OCh114 were the first described organisms of the Roseobacter clade, an ecologically important group of marine bacteria. Both species were isolated from seaweed and are able to perform aerobic anoxygenic photosynthesis.
The genome of R. litoralis OCh149 contains one circular chromosome of 4,505,211 bp and three plasmids of 93,578 bp (pRLO149_94), 83,129 bp (pRLO149_83) and 63,532 bp (pRLO149_63). Of the 4537 genes predicted for R. litoralis, 1122 (24.7%) are not present in the genome of R. denitrificans. Many of the unique genes of R. litoralis are located in genomic islands and on plasmids. On pRLO149_83 several potential heavy metal resistance genes are encoded which are not present in the genome of R. denitrificans. The comparison of the heavy metal tolerance of the two organisms showed an increased zinc tolerance of R. litoralis. In contrast to R. denitrificans, the photosynthesis genes of R. litoralis are plasmid encoded. The activity of the photosynthetic apparatus was confirmed by respiration rate measurements, indicating a growth-phase dependent response to light. Comparative genomics with other members of the Roseobacter clade revealed several genomic regions that were only conserved in the two Roseobacter species. One of those regions encodes a variety of genes that might play a role in host association of the organisms. The catabolism of different carbon and nitrogen sources was predicted from the genome and combined with experimental data. In several cases, e.g. the degradation of some algal osmolytes and sugars, the genome-derived predictions of the metabolic pathways in R. litoralis differed from the phenotype.
The genomic differences between the two Roseobacter species are mainly due to lateral gene transfer and genomic rearrangements. Plasmid pRLO149_83 contains predominantly recently acquired genetic material whereas pRLO149_94 was probably translocated from the chromosome. Plasmid pRLO149_63 and one plasmid of R. denitrifcans (pTB2) seem to have a common ancestor and are important for cell envelope biosynthesis. Several new mechanisms of substrate degradation were indicated from the combination of experimental and genomic data. The photosynthetic activity of R. litoralis is probably regulated by nutrient availability.
PMCID: PMC3141670  PMID: 21693016
16.  Genome Sequence of the Polysaccharide-Degrading, Thermophilic Anaerobe Spirochaeta thermophila DSM 6192▿  
Journal of Bacteriology  2010;192(24):6492-6493.
Spirochaeta thermophila is a thermophilic, free-living anaerobe that is able to degrade various α- and β-linked sugar polymers, including cellulose. We report here the complete genome sequence of S. thermophila DSM 6192, which is the first genome sequence of a thermophilic, free-living member of the Spirochaetes phylum. The genome data reveal a high density of genes encoding enzymes from more than 30 glycoside hydrolase families, a noncellulosomal enzyme system for (hemi)cellulose degradation, and indicate the presence of a novel carbohydrate-binding module.
PMCID: PMC3008529  PMID: 20935097
17.  Complete Genome Sequence of Methanothermobacter marburgensis, a Methanoarchaeon Model Organism▿  
Journal of Bacteriology  2010;192(21):5850-5851.
The circular genome sequence of the chemolithoautotrophic euryarchaeon Methanothermobacter marburgensis, with 1,639,135 bp, was determined and compared with that of Methanothermobacter thermautotrophicus. The genomes of the two model methanogens differ substantially in protein coding sequences, in insertion sequence (IS)-like elements, and in clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR) loci.
PMCID: PMC2953689  PMID: 20802048
18.  Deep sequencing-based identification of small non-coding RNAs in Streptomyces coelicolor 
RNA Biology  2011;8(3):468-477.
Streptomyces coelicolor is considered the model organism among Gram-positive, GC-rich bacteria. Its genome has been sequenced but little is known about the occurrence and distribution of small non-coding RNAs in this biotechnologically relevant organism. Using deep sequencing we analyzed the transcriptome at the end of exponential growth, which corresponds to the onset of secondary metabolism. We mapped 193 transcriptional start sites of mRNA genes and identified putative new and alternative open reading frames. We identified 63 non-coding RNAs including 29 cis encoded antisense RNAs and confirmed expression for 11, most of them being growth-phase-dependent. A comparison between the sequencing results and bioinformatic sRNA predictions using Dynalign and RNAz revealed only a small overlap between the different approaches.
PMCID: PMC3218513  PMID: 21521948
small non-coding RNA; Streptomyces coelicolor; transcriptome; deep sequencing; bioinformatic prediction
19.  More Than 200 Genes Required for Methane Formation from H2 and CO2 and Energy Conservation Are Present in Methanothermobacter marburgensis and Methanothermobacter thermautotrophicus 
Archaea  2011;2011:973848.
The hydrogenotrophic methanogens Methanothermobacter marburgensis and Methanothermobacter thermautotrophicus can easily be mass cultured. They have therefore been used almost exclusively to study the biochemistry of methanogenesis from H2 and CO2, and the genomes of these two model organisms have been sequenced. The close relationship of the two organisms is reflected in their genomic architecture and coding potential. Within the 1,607 protein coding sequences (CDS) in common, we identified approximately 200 CDS required for the synthesis of the enzymes, coenzymes, and prosthetic groups involved in CO2 reduction to methane and in coupling this process with the phosphorylation of ADP. Approximately 20 additional genes, such as those for the biosynthesis of F430 and methanofuran and for the posttranslational modifications of the two methyl-coenzyme M reductases, remain to be identified.
PMCID: PMC3087415  PMID: 21559116
20.  Facilitation of Direct Conditional Knockout of Essential Genes in Bacillus licheniformis DSM13 by Comparative Genetic Analysis and Manipulation of Genetic Competence▿ †  
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2010;76(15):5046-5057.
The genetic manageability of the biotechnologically important Bacillus licheniformis is hampered due to its poor transformability, whereas Bacillus subtilis efficiently takes up DNA during genetic competence, a quorum-sensing-dependent process. Since the sensor histidine kinase ComP, encoded by a gene of the quorum-sensing module comQXPA of B. licheniformis DSM13, was found to be inactive due to an insertion element within comP, the coding region was exchanged with a functional copy. Quorum sensing was restored, but the already-poor genetic competence dropped further. The inducible expression of the key regulator for the transcription of competence genes, ComK, in trans resulted in highly competent strains and facilitated the direct disruption of genes, as well as the conditional knockout of an essential operon. As ComK is inhibited at low cell densities by a proteolytic complex in which MecA binds ComK and such inhibition is antagonized by the interaction of MecA with ComS (the expression of the latter is controlled by cell density in B. subtilis), we performed an in silico analysis of MecA and the hitherto unidentified ComS, which revealed differences for competent and noncompetent strains, indicating that the reduced competence possibly is due to a nonfunctional coupling of the comQXPA-encoded quorum module and ComK. The obtained increased genetic tractability of this industrial workhorse should improve a wide array of scientific investigations.
PMCID: PMC2916460  PMID: 20543043
21.  Host Imprints on Bacterial Genomes—Rapid, Divergent Evolution in Individual Patients 
PLoS Pathogens  2010;6(8):e1001078.
Bacteria lose or gain genetic material and through selection, new variants become fixed in the population. Here we provide the first, genome-wide example of a single bacterial strain's evolution in different deliberately colonized patients and the surprising insight that hosts appear to personalize their microflora. By first obtaining the complete genome sequence of the prototype asymptomatic bacteriuria strain E. coli 83972 and then resequencing its descendants after therapeutic bladder colonization of different patients, we identified 34 mutations, which affected metabolic and virulence-related genes. Further transcriptome and proteome analysis proved that these genome changes altered bacterial gene expression resulting in unique adaptation patterns in each patient. Our results provide evidence that, in addition to stochastic events, adaptive bacterial evolution is driven by individual host environments. Ongoing loss of gene function supports the hypothesis that evolution towards commensalism rather than virulence is favored during asymptomatic bladder colonization.
Author Summary
Bacterial virulence results from the interaction between bacteria and their hosts. This interaction provides selection pressure for bacterial adaptation towards increased fitness or virulence. Basic mechanisms involved in bacterial adaptation at the genetic level are point mutations and recombination. As bacterial genome plasticity is higher in vivo than in vitro, host-pathogen interaction may facilitate bacterial adaptation. Comparative genomics has so far been almost entirely focused on genomic changes upon prolonged bacterial growth in vitro. To achieve a better comprehension of bacterial genome plasticity and the capacity to adapt in response to their host, we studied bacterial genome evolution in vivo. We analyzed the impact of individual hosts on genome-wide bacterial adaptation under controlled conditions, by administration of asymptomatic bacteriuria E. coli isolate 83972 to several hosts. Interestingly, the different hosts appeared to personalize their microflora. Adaptation at the genomic level included point mutations in several metabolic and virulence-related genes, often affecting pleiotropic regulators, but re-isolates from each patient showed a distinct pattern of genetic alterations in addition to random changes. Our results provide new insights into bacterial traits under selection during E. coli in vivo growth, further explaining the mechanisms of bacterial adaptation to specific host environments.
PMCID: PMC2928814  PMID: 20865122
22.  The Genome of a Bacillus Isolate Causing Anthrax in Chimpanzees Combines Chromosomal Properties of B. cereus with B. anthracis Virulence Plasmids 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(7):e10986.
Anthrax is a fatal disease caused by strains of Bacillus anthracis. Members of this monophyletic species are non motile and are all characterized by the presence of four prophages and a nonsense mutation in the plcR regulator gene. Here we report the complete genome sequence of a Bacillus strain isolated from a chimpanzee that had died with clinical symptoms of anthrax. Unlike classic B. anthracis, this strain was motile and lacked the four prohages and the nonsense mutation. Four replicons were identified, a chromosome and three plasmids. Comparative genome analysis revealed that the chromosome resembles those of non-B. anthracis members of the Bacillus cereus group, whereas two plasmids were identical to the anthrax virulence plasmids pXO1 and pXO2. The function of the newly discovered third plasmid with a length of 14 kbp is unknown. A detailed comparison of genomic loci encoding key features confirmed a higher similarity to B. thuringiensis serovar konkukian strain 97-27 and B. cereus E33L than to B. anthracis strains. For the first time we describe the sequence of an anthrax causing bacterium possessing both anthrax plasmids that apparently does not belong to the monophyletic group of all so far known B. anthracis strains and that differs in important diagnostic features. The data suggest that this bacterium has evolved from a B. cereus strain independently from the classic B. anthracis strains and established a B. anthracis lifestyle. Therefore we suggest to designate this isolate as “B. cereus variety (var.) anthracis”.
PMCID: PMC2901330  PMID: 20634886
23.  Rhizobium sp. Strain NGR234 Possesses a Remarkable Number of Secretion Systems▿ †  
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2009;75(12):4035-4045.
Rhizobium sp. strain NGR234 is a unique alphaproteobacterium (order Rhizobiales) that forms nitrogen-fixing nodules with more legumes than any other microsymbiont. We report here that the 3.93-Mbp chromosome (cNGR234) encodes most functions required for cellular growth. Few essential functions are encoded on the 2.43-Mbp megaplasmid (pNGR234b), and none are present on the second 0.54-Mbp symbiotic plasmid (pNGR234a). Among many striking features, the 6.9-Mbp genome encodes more different secretion systems than any other known rhizobia and probably most known bacteria. Altogether, 132 genes and proteins are linked to secretory processes. Secretion systems identified include general and export pathways, a twin arginine translocase secretion system, six type I transporter genes, one functional and one putative type III system, three type IV attachment systems, and two putative type IV conjugation pili. Type V and VI transporters were not identified, however. NGR234 also carries genes and regulatory networks linked to the metabolism of a wide range of aromatic and nonaromatic compounds. In this way, NGR234 can quickly adapt to changing environmental stimuli in soils, rhizospheres, and plants. Finally, NGR234 carries at least six loci linked to the quenching of quorum-sensing signals, as well as one gene (ngrI) that possibly encodes a novel type of autoinducer I molecule.
PMCID: PMC2698369  PMID: 19376903
24.  Genome sequence of Desulfobacterium autotrophicum HRM2, a marine sulfate reducer oxidizing organic carbon completely to carbon dioxide 
Environmental Microbiology  2009;11(5):1038-1055.
Sulfate-reducing bacteria (SRB) belonging to the metabolically versatile Desulfobacteriaceae are abundant in marine sediments and contribute to the global carbon cycle by complete oxidation of organic compounds. Desulfobacterium autotrophicum HRM2 is the first member of this ecophysiologically important group with a now available genome sequence. With 5.6 megabasepairs (Mbp) the genome of Db. autotrophicum HRM2 is about 2 Mbp larger than the sequenced genomes of other sulfate reducers (SRB). A high number of genome plasticity elements (> 100 transposon-related genes), several regions of GC discontinuity and a high number of repetitive elements (132 paralogous genes Mbp−1) point to a different genome evolution when comparing with Desulfovibrio spp. The metabolic versatility of Db. autotrophicum HRM2 is reflected in the presence of genes for the degradation of a variety of organic compounds including long-chain fatty acids and for the Wood–Ljungdahl pathway, which enables the organism to completely oxidize acetyl-CoA to CO2 but also to grow chemolithoautotrophically. The presence of more than 250 proteins of the sensory/regulatory protein families should enable Db. autotrophicum HRM2 to efficiently adapt to changing environmental conditions. Genes encoding periplasmic or cytoplasmic hydrogenases and formate dehydrogenases have been detected as well as genes for the transmembrane TpII-c3, Hme and Rnf complexes. Genes for subunits A, B, C and D as well as for the proposed novel subunits L and F of the heterodisulfide reductases are present. This enzyme is involved in energy conservation in methanoarchaea and it is speculated that it exhibits a similar function in the process of dissimilatory sulfate reduction in Db. autotrophicum HRM2.
PMCID: PMC2702500  PMID: 19187283
25.  The Genome Sequence of Methanosphaera stadtmanae Reveals Why This Human Intestinal Archaeon Is Restricted to Methanol and H2 for Methane Formation and ATP Synthesis†  
Journal of Bacteriology  2006;188(2):642-658.
Methanosphaera stadtmanae has the most restricted energy metabolism of all methanogenic archaea. This human intestinal inhabitant can generate methane only by reduction of methanol with H2 and is dependent on acetate as a carbon source. We report here the genome sequence of M. stadtmanae, which was found to be composed of 1,767,403 bp with an average G+C content of 28% and to harbor only 1,534 protein-encoding sequences (CDS). The genome lacks 37 CDS present in the genomes of all other methanogens. Among these are the CDS for synthesis of molybdopterin and for synthesis of the carbon monoxide dehydrogenase/acetyl-coenzyme A synthase complex, which explains why M. stadtmanae cannot reduce CO2 to methane or oxidize methanol to CO2 and why this archaeon is dependent on acetate for biosynthesis of cell components. Four sets of mtaABC genes coding for methanol:coenzyme M methyltransferases were found in the genome of M. stadtmanae. These genes exhibit homology to mta genes previously identified in Methanosarcina species. The M. stadtmanae genome also contains at least 323 CDS not present in the genomes of all other archaea. Seventy-three of these CDS exhibit high levels of homology to CDS in genomes of bacteria and eukaryotes. These 73 CDS include 12 CDS which are unusually long (>2,400 bp) with conspicuous repetitive sequence elements, 13 CDS which exhibit sequence similarity on the protein level to CDS encoding enzymes involved in the biosynthesis of cell surface antigens in bacteria, and 5 CDS which exhibit sequence similarity to the subunits of bacterial type I and III restriction-modification systems.
PMCID: PMC1347301  PMID: 16385054

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