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1.  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
2.  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
3.  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
4.  Comparative Genomics and Transcriptomics of Propionibacterium acnes 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(6):e21581.
The anaerobic Gram-positive bacterium Propionibacterium acnes is a human skin commensal that is occasionally associated with inflammatory diseases. Recent work has indicated that evolutionary distinct lineages of P. acnes play etiologic roles in disease while others are associated with maintenance of skin homeostasis. To shed light on the molecular basis for differential strain properties, we carried out genomic and transcriptomic analysis of distinct P. acnes strains. We sequenced the genome of the P. acnes strain 266, a type I-1a strain. Comparative genome analysis of strain 266 and four other P. acnes strains revealed that overall genome plasticity is relatively low; however, a number of island-like genomic regions, encoding a variety of putative virulence-associated and fitness traits differ between phylotypes, as judged from PCR analysis of a collection of P. acnes strains. Comparative transcriptome analysis of strains KPA171202 (type I-2) and 266 during exponential growth revealed inter-strain differences in gene expression of transport systems and metabolic pathways. In addition, transcript levels of genes encoding possible virulence factors such as dermatan-sulphate adhesin, polyunsaturated fatty acid isomerase, iron acquisition protein HtaA and lipase GehA were upregulated in strain 266. We investigated differential gene expression during exponential and stationary growth phases. Genes encoding components of the energy-conserving respiratory chain as well as secreted and virulence-associated factors were transcribed during the exponential phase, while the stationary growth phase was characterized by upregulation of genes involved in stress responses and amino acid metabolism. Our data highlight the genomic basis for strain diversity and identify, for the first time, the actively transcribed part of the genome, underlining the important role growth status plays in the inflammation-inducing activity of P. acnes. We argue that the disease-causing potential of different P. acnes strains is not only determined by the phylotype-specific genome content but also by variable gene expression.
PMCID: PMC3124536  PMID: 21738717
5.  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
6.  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
7.  Horizon-Specific Bacterial Community Composition of German Grassland Soils, as Revealed by Pyrosequencing-Based Analysis of 16S rRNA Genes ▿ †  
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2010;76(20):6751-6759.
The diversity of bacteria in soil is enormous, and soil bacterial communities can vary greatly in structure. Here, we employed a pyrosequencing-based analysis of the V2-V3 16S rRNA gene region to characterize the overall and horizon-specific (A and B horizons) bacterial community compositions in nine grassland soils, which covered three different land use types. The entire data set comprised 752,838 sequences, 600,544 of which could be classified below the domain level. The average number of sequences per horizon was 41,824. The dominant taxonomic groups present in all samples and horizons were the Acidobacteria, Betaproteobacteria, Actinobacteria, Gammaproteobacteria, Alphaproteobacteria, Deltaproteobacteria, Chloroflexi, Firmicutes, and Bacteroidetes. Despite these overarching dominant taxa, the abundance, diversity, and composition of bacterial communities were horizon specific. In almost all cases, the estimated bacterial diversity (H′) was higher in the A horizons than in the corresponding B horizons. In addition, the H′ was positively correlated with the organic carbon content, the total nitrogen content, and the C-to-N ratio, which decreased with soil depth. It appeared that lower land use intensity results in higher bacterial diversity. The majority of sequences affiliated with the Actinobacteria, Bacteroidetes, Cyanobacteria, Fibrobacteres, Firmicutes, Spirochaetes, Verrucomicrobia, Alphaproteobacteria, Betaproteobacteria, and Gammaproteobacteria were derived from A horizons, whereas the majority of the sequences related to Acidobacteria, Chloroflexi, Gemmatimonadetes, Nitrospira, TM7, and WS3 originated from B horizons. The distribution of some bacterial phylogenetic groups and subgroups in the different horizons correlated with soil properties such as organic carbon content, total nitrogen content, or microbial biomass.
PMCID: PMC2953013  PMID: 20729324
8.  Pyrosequencing-Based Assessment of Bacterial Community Structure Along Different Management Types in German Forest and Grassland Soils 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(2):e17000.
Soil bacteria are important drivers for nearly all biogeochemical cycles in terrestrial ecosystems and participate in most nutrient transformations in soil. In contrast to the importance of soil bacteria for ecosystem functioning, we understand little how different management types affect the soil bacterial community composition.
Methodology/Principal Findings
We used pyrosequencing-based analysis of the V2-V3 16S rRNA gene region to identify changes in bacterial diversity and community structure in nine forest and nine grassland soils from the Schwäbische Alb that covered six different management types. The dataset comprised 598,962 sequences that were affiliated to the domain Bacteria. The number of classified sequences per sample ranged from 23,515 to 39,259. Bacterial diversity was more phylum rich in grassland soils than in forest soils. The dominant taxonomic groups across all samples (>1% of all sequences) were Acidobacteria, Alphaproteobacteria, Actinobacteria, Betaproteobacteria, Deltaproteobacteria, Gammaproteobacteria, and Firmicutes. Significant variations in relative abundances of bacterial phyla and proteobacterial classes, including Actinobacteria, Firmicutes, Verrucomicrobia, Cyanobacteria, Gemmatimonadetes and Alphaproteobacteria, between the land use types forest and grassland were observed. At the genus level, significant differences were also recorded for the dominant genera Phenylobacter, Bacillus, Kribbella, Streptomyces, Agromyces, and Defluviicoccus. In addition, soil bacterial community structure showed significant differences between beech and spruce forest soils. The relative abundances of bacterial groups at different taxonomic levels correlated with soil pH, but little or no relationships to management type and other soil properties were found.
Soil bacterial community composition and diversity of the six analyzed management types showed significant differences between the land use types grassland and forest. Furthermore, bacterial community structure was largely driven by tree species and soil pH.
PMCID: PMC3040199  PMID: 21359220
9.  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
10.  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
11.  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

Results 1-11 (11)