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author:("lieven, Bart")
1.  The Highly Autoaggregative and Adhesive Phenotype of the Vaginal Lactobacillus plantarum Strain CMPG5300 Is Sortase Dependent 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2013;79(15):4576-4585.
Lactobacilli are important for the maintenance of a healthy ecosystem in the human vagina. Various mechanisms are postulated but so far are poorly substantiated by molecular studies, such as mutant analysis. Bacterial autoaggregation is an interesting phenomenon that can promote adhesion to host cells and displacement of pathogens. In this study, we report on the identification of a human vaginal isolate, Lactobacillus plantarum strain CMPG5300, which shows high autoaggregative and adhesive capacity. To investigate the importance of sortase-dependent proteins (SDPs) in these phenotypes, a gene deletion mutant was constructed for srtA, the gene encoding the housekeeping sortase that covalently anchors these SDPs to the cell surface. This mutant lost the capacity to autoaggregate, showed a decrease in adhesion to vaginal epithelial cells, and lost biofilm-forming capacity under the conditions tested. These results indicate that the housekeeping sortase SrtA of CMPG5300 is a key determinant of the peculiar surface properties of this vaginal Lactobacillus strain.
doi:10.1128/AEM.00926-13
PMCID: PMC3719525  PMID: 23709503
3.  Does Virulence Assessment of Vibrio anguillarum Using Sea Bass (Dicentrarchus labrax) Larvae Correspond with Genotypic and Phenotypic Characterization? 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(8):e70477.
Background
Vibriosis is one of the most ubiquitous fish diseases caused by bacteria belonging to the genus Vibrio such as Vibrio (Listonella) anguillarum. Despite a lot of research efforts, the virulence factors and mechanism of V. anguillarum are still insufficiently known, in part because of the lack of standardized virulence assays.
Methodology/Principal Findings
We investigated and compared the virulence of 15 V. anguillarum strains obtained from different hosts or non-host niches using a standardized gnotobiotic bioassay with European sea bass (Dicentrarchus labrax L.) larvae as model hosts. In addition, to assess potential relationships between virulence and genotypic and phenotypic characteristics, the strains were characterized by random amplified polymorphic DNA (RAPD) and repetitive extragenic palindromic PCR (rep-PCR) analyses, as well as by phenotypic analyses using Biolog’s Phenotype MicroArray™ technology and some virulence factor assays.
Conclusions/Significance
Virulence testing revealed ten virulent and five avirulent strains. While some relation could be established between serotype, genotype and phenotype, no relation was found between virulence and genotypic or phenotypic characteristics, illustrating the complexity of V. anguillarum virulence. Moreover, the standardized gnotobiotic system used in this study has proven its strength as a model to assess and compare the virulence of different V. anguillarum strains in vivo. In this way, the bioassay contributes to the study of mechanisms underlying virulence in V. anguillarum.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0070477
PMCID: PMC3735585  PMID: 23936439
4.  Microbial diversity in the floral nectar of seven Epipactis (Orchidaceae) species 
MicrobiologyOpen  2013;2(4):644-658.
Abstract
Floral nectar of animal-pollinated plants is commonly infested with microorganisms, yet little is known about the microorganisms inhabiting the floral nectar of orchids. In this study, we investigated microbial communities occurring in the floral nectar of seven Epipactis (Orchidaceae) species. Culturable bacteria and yeasts were isolated and identified by partially sequencing the small subunit (SSU) ribosomal RNA (rRNA) gene and the D1/D2 domains of the large subunit (LSU) rRNA gene, respectively. Using three different culture media, we found that bacteria were common inhabitants of the floral nectar of Epipactis. The most widely distributed bacterial operational taxonomic units (OTUs) in nectar of Epipactis were representatives of the family of Enterobacteriaceae, with an unspecified Enterobacteriaceae bacterium as the most common. In contrast to previous studies investigating microbial communities in floral nectar, very few yeast species (mainly of the genus Cryptococcus) were observed, and most of them occurred in very low densities. Total OTU richness (i.e., the number of bacterial and yeast OTUs per orchid species) varied between 4 and 20. Cluster analysis revealed that microbial communities of allogamous species differed from those of autogamous and facultatively autogamous species. This study extends previous efforts to identify microbial communities in floral nectar and indicates that the floral nectar of the orchids investigated mainly contained bacterial communities with moderate phylogenetic diversity.
doi:10.1002/mbo3.103
PMCID: PMC3948608  PMID: 23836678
Bacteria; floral nectar; microbial communities; orchids; yeasts.
5.  Among-Population Variation in Microbial Community Structure in the Floral Nectar of the Bee-Pollinated Forest Herb Pulmonaria officinalis L 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(3):e56917.
Background
Microbial communities in floral nectar have been shown to be characterized by low levels of species diversity, yet little is known about among-plant population variation in microbial community composition.
Methodology/Principal Findings
We investigated the microbial community structure (yeasts and bacteria) in floral nectar of ten fragmented populations of the bee-pollinated forest herb Pulmonaria officinalis. We also explored possible relationships between plant population size and microbial diversity in nectar, and related microbial community composition to the distance separating plant populations. Culturable bacteria and yeasts occurring in the floral nectar of a total of 100 plant individuals were isolated and identified by partially sequencing the 16S rRNA gene and D1/D2 domains of the 26S rRNA gene, respectively. A total of 9 and 11 yeast and 28 and 39 bacterial OTUs was found, taking into account a 3% (OTU0.03) and 1% sequence dissimilarity cut-off (OTU0.01). OTU richness at the plant population level (i.e. the number of OTUs per population) was low for yeasts (mean: 1.7, range: 0–4 OTUs0.01/0.03 per population), whereas on average 6.9 (range: 2–13) OTUs0.03 and 7.9 (range 2–16) OTUs0.01 per population were found for bacteria. Both for yeasts and bacteria, OTU richness was not significantly related to plant population size. Similarity in community composition among populations was low (average Jaccard index: 0.14), and did not decline with increasing distance between populations.
Conclusions/Significance
We found low similarity in microbial community structure among populations, suggesting that the assembly of nectar microbiota is to a large extent context-dependent. Although the precise factors that affect variation in microbial community structure in floral nectar require further study, our results indicate that both local and regional processes may contribute to among-population variation in microbial community structure in nectar.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0056917
PMCID: PMC3594240  PMID: 23536759
6.  Variation in Mycorrhizal Associations with Tulasnelloid Fungi among Populations of Five Dactylorhiza Species 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(8):e42212.
Background
Orchid species rely on mycorrhizal symbioses with fungi to complete their life cycle. Although there is mounting evidence that orchids can associate with several fungi from different clades or families, less is known about the actual geographic distribution of these fungi and how they are distributed across different orchid species within a genus.
Methodology/Principal Findings
We investigated among-population variation in mycorrhizal associations in five species of the genus Dactylorhiza (D. fuchsii, D. incarnata, D. maculata, D. majalis and D. praetermissa) using culture-independent detection and identification techniques enabling simultaneous detection of multiple fungi in a single individual. Mycorrhizal specificity, determined as the number of fungal operational taxonomic units (OTUs), and phylogenetic diversity of fungi were compared between species, whereas discriminant analysis was used to compare mycorrhizal spectra across populations and species. Based on a 95% cut-off value in internal transcribed spacer (ITS) sequence similarity, a total of ten OTUs was identified belonging to three different clades within the Tulasnellaceae. Most OTUs were found in two or more Dactylorhiza species, and some of them were common and widespread, occurring in more than 50% of all sampled populations. Each orchid species associated with at least five different OTUs, whereas most individuals also associated with two or more fungal OTUs at the same time. Phylogenetic diversity, corrected for species richness, was not significantly different between species, confirming the generality of the observed orchid mycorrhizal associations.
Conclusions/Significance
We found that the investigated species of the genus Dactylorhiza associated with a wide range of fungal OTUs from the Tulasnellaceae, some of which were widespread and common. These findings challenge the idea that orchid rarity is related to mycorrhizal specificity and fungal distribution.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0042212
PMCID: PMC3411701  PMID: 22870305
7.  Mycorrhizal associations and reproductive isolation in three closely related Orchis species 
Annals of Botany  2010;107(3):347-356.
Background and Aims
The maintenance of species boundaries in sympatric populations of closely related species requires some kind of reproductive isolation that limits gene flow among species and/or prevents the production of viable progeny. Because in orchids mycorrhizal fungi are needed for seed germination and subsequent seedling establishment, orchid–mycorrhizal associations may be involved in acting as a post-mating barrier.
Methods
We investigated the strength of post-mating barriers up to the seed germination stage acting between three closely related Orchis species (Orchis anthropophora, O. militaris and O. purpurea) and studied the role of mycorrhizal fungi in hybridization by burying seed packets of pure and hybrid seeds. After retrieval and assessment of seed germination, the fungi associating with protocorms originating from hybrid and pure seeds were determined and compared with those associating with adult individuals using DNA array technology.
Results
Whereas pre-zygotic post-mating barriers were rather weak in most crosses, post-zygotic post-mating barriers were stronger, particularly when O. purpurea was crossed with O. anthropophora. Germination trials in the field showed that seed germination percentages of hybrid seeds were in most cases lower than those originating from pure crosses. In all species pair combinations, total post-mating reproductive isolation was asymmetric. Protocorms associated with a smaller range of fungal symbionts than adult plants, but there was considerable overlap in mycorrhizal associations between protocorms and their respective parents.
Conclusions
Our results suggest that mycorrhizal associations contribute little to reproductive isolation. Pre-mating barriers are probably the main factors determining hybridization rates between the investigated species.
doi:10.1093/aob/mcq248
PMCID: PMC3043927  PMID: 21186239
DNA array; gene flow; hybrid zones; mycorrhizal associations; reproductive barriers; seed germination
8.  Genome-Wide Characterization of ISR Induced in Arabidopsis thaliana by Trichoderma hamatum T382 Against Botrytis cinerea Infection 
In this study, the molecular basis of the induced systemic resistance (ISR) in Arabidopsis thaliana by the biocontrol fungus Trichoderma hamatum T382 against the phytopathogen Botrytis cinerea B05-10 was unraveled by microarray analysis both before (ISR-prime) and after (ISR-boost) additional pathogen inoculation. The observed high numbers of differentially expressed genes allowed us to classify them according to the biological pathways in which they are involved. By focusing on pathways instead of genes, a holistic picture of the mechanisms underlying ISR emerged. In general, a close resemblance is observed between ISR-prime and systemic acquired resistance, the systemic defense response that is triggered in plants upon pathogen infection leading to increased resistance toward secondary infections. Treatment with T. hamatum T382 primes the plant (ISR-prime), resulting in an accelerated activation of the defense response against B. cinerea during ISR-boost and a subsequent moderation of the B. cinerea induced defense response. Microarray results were validated for representative genes by qRT-PCR. The involvement of various defense-related pathways was confirmed by phenotypic analysis of mutants affected in these pathways, thereby proving the validity of our approach. Combined with additional anthocyanin analysis data these results all point to the involvement of the phenylpropanoid pathway in T. hamatum T382-induced ISR.
doi:10.3389/fpls.2012.00108
PMCID: PMC3362084  PMID: 22661981
induced systemic resistance; microarrays; Arabidopsis thaliana; Trichoderma hamatum T382; Botrytis cinerea

Results 1-8 (8)