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author:("lieven, Bart")
1.  Assessing Genetic Diversity among Brettanomyces Yeasts by DNA Fingerprinting and Whole-Genome Sequencing 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2014;80(14):4398-4413.
Brettanomyces yeasts, with the species Brettanomyces (Dekkera) bruxellensis being the most important one, are generally reported to be spoilage yeasts in the beer and wine industry due to the production of phenolic off flavors. However, B. bruxellensis is also known to be a beneficial contributor in certain fermentation processes, such as the production of certain specialty beers. Nevertheless, despite its economic importance, Brettanomyces yeasts remain poorly understood at the genetic and genomic levels. In this study, the genetic relationship between more than 50 Brettanomyces strains from all presently known species and from several sources was studied using a combination of DNA fingerprinting techniques. This revealed an intriguing correlation between the B. bruxellensis fingerprints and the respective isolation source. To further explore this relationship, we sequenced a (beneficial) beer isolate of B. bruxellensis (VIB X9085; ST05.12/22) and compared its genome sequence with the genome sequences of two wine spoilage strains (AWRI 1499 and CBS 2499). ST05.12/22 was found to be substantially different from both wine strains, especially at the level of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). In addition, there were major differences in the genome structures between the strains investigated, including the presence of large duplications and deletions. Gene content analysis revealed the presence of 20 genes which were present in both wine strains but absent in the beer strain, including many genes involved in carbon and nitrogen metabolism, and vice versa, no genes that were missing in both AWRI 1499 and CBS 2499 were found in ST05.12/22. Together, this study provides tools to discriminate Brettanomyces strains and provides a first glimpse at the genetic diversity and genome plasticity of B. bruxellensis.
PMCID: PMC4068659  PMID: 24814796
2.  Comparison and Validation of Some ITS Primer Pairs Useful for Fungal Metabarcoding Studies 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(6):e97629.
Current metabarcoding studies aiming to characterize microbial communities generally rely on the amplification and sequencing of relatively short DNA regions. For fungi, the internal transcribed spacer (ITS) region in the ribosomal RNA (rRNA) operon has been accepted as the formal fungal barcode. Despite an increasing number of fungal metabarcoding studies, the amplification efficiency of primers is generally not tested prior to their application in metabarcoding studies. Some of the challenges that metabarcoding primers should overcome efficiently are the amplification of target DNA strands in samples rich in non-target DNA and environmental pollutants, such as humic acids, that may have been co-extracted with DNA. In the current study, three selected primer pairs were tested for their suitability as fungal metabarcoding primers. The selected primer pairs include two primer pairs that have been frequently used in fungal metabarcoding studies (ITS1F/ITS2 and ITS3/ITS4) and a primer pair (ITS86F/ITS4) that has been shown to efficiently amplify the ITS2 region of a broad range of fungal taxa in environmental soil samples. The selected primer pairs were evaluated in a 454 amplicon pyrosequencing experiment, real-time PCR (qPCR) experiments and in silico analyses. Results indicate that experimental evaluation of primers provides valuable information that could aid in the selection of suitable primers for fungal metabarcoding studies. Furthermore, we show that the ITS86F/ITS4 primer pair outperforms other primer pairs tested in terms of in silico primer efficiency, PCR efficiency, coverage, number of reads and number of species-level operational taxonomic units (OTUs) obtained. These traits push the ITS86F/ITS4 primer pair forward as highly suitable for studying fungal diversity and community structures using DNA metabarcoding.
PMCID: PMC4059633  PMID: 24933453
3.  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.
PMCID: PMC3719525  PMID: 23709503
5.  Does Virulence Assessment of Vibrio anguillarum Using Sea Bass (Dicentrarchus labrax) Larvae Correspond with Genotypic and Phenotypic Characterization? 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(8):e70477.
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.
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.
PMCID: PMC3735585  PMID: 23936439
6.  Microbial diversity in the floral nectar of seven Epipactis (Orchidaceae) species 
MicrobiologyOpen  2013;2(4):644-658.
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.
PMCID: PMC3948608  PMID: 23836678
Bacteria; floral nectar; microbial communities; orchids; yeasts.
7.  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.
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.
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.
PMCID: PMC3594240  PMID: 23536759
8.  Variation in Mycorrhizal Associations with Tulasnelloid Fungi among Populations of Five Dactylorhiza Species 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(8):e42212.
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.
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.
PMCID: PMC3411701  PMID: 22870305
9.  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.
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.
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.
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.
PMCID: PMC3043927  PMID: 21186239
DNA array; gene flow; hybrid zones; mycorrhizal associations; reproductive barriers; seed germination
10.  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.
PMCID: PMC3362084  PMID: 22661981
induced systemic resistance; microarrays; Arabidopsis thaliana; Trichoderma hamatum T382; Botrytis cinerea

Results 1-10 (10)