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1.  Coinfection of Dermacentor silvarum Olenev (Acari: Ixodidae) by Coxiella-Like, Arsenophonus-Like, and Rickettsia-Like Symbionts 
We report that multiple symbionts coexist in Dermacentor silvarum. Based on 16S rRNA gene sequence analyses, we prove that Coxiella-like and Arsenophonus-like symbionts, with 95.6% and 96.7% sequence similarity to symbionts in the closest taxon, respectively, are novel. Moreover, we also provide evidence that the Coxiella-like symbiont appears to be the primary symbiont.
doi:10.1128/AEM.03575-12
PMCID: PMC3623253  PMID: 23354701
2.  A Fungal Insecticide Engineered for Fast Per Os Killing of Caterpillars Has High Field Efficacy and Safety in Full-Season Control of Cabbage Insect Pests 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2013;79(20):6452-6458.
Fungal insecticides developed from filamentous pathogens of insects are notorious for their slow killing action through cuticle penetration, depressing commercial interest and practical application. Genetic engineering may accelerate their killing action but cause ecological risk. Here we show that a Beauveria bassiana formulation, HV8 (BbHV8), engineered for fast per os killing of caterpillars by an insect midgut-acting toxin (Vip3Aa1) overexpressed in conidia has both high field efficacy and safety in full-season protection of cabbage from the damage of an insect pest complex dominated by Pieris rapae larvae, followed by Plutella xylostella larvae and aphids. In two fields repeatedly sprayed during summer, BbHV8 resulted in overall mean efficacies of killing of 71% and 75%, which were similar or close to the 70% and 83% efficacies achieved by commercially recommended emamectin benzoate but much higher than the 31% and 48% efficacies achieved by the same formulation of the parental wild-type strain (WT). Both BbHV8 and WT sprays exerted no adverse effect on a nontarget spider community during the trials, and the sprays did not influence saprophytic fungi in soil samples taken from the field plots during 4 months after the last spray. Strikingly, BbHV8 and the WT showed low fitness when they were released into the environment because both were decreasingly recovered from the field lacking native B. bassiana strains (undetectable 5 months after the spray), and the recovered isolates became much less tolerant to high temperature and UV-B irradiation. Our results highlight for the first time that a rationally engineered fungal insecticide can compete with a chemical counterpart to combat insect pests at an affordable cost and with low ecological risk.
doi:10.1128/AEM.01594-13
PMCID: PMC3811226  PMID: 23956386
3.  DNA Microarray-Based Identification of Serogroups and Virulence Gene Patterns of Escherichia coli Isolates Associated with Porcine Postweaning Diarrhea and Edema Disease▿ †  
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2007;73(12):4082-4088.
Escherichia coli strains causing postweaning diarrhea (PWD) and edema disease (ED) in pigs are limited to a number of serogroups, with O8, O45, O138, O139, O141, O147, O149, and O157 being the most commonly reported worldwide. In this study, a DNA microarray based on the O-antigen-specific genes of all 8 E. coli serogroups, as well as 11 genes encoding adhesion factors and exotoxins associated with PWD and ED, was developed for the identification of related serogroups and virulence gene patterns. The microarray method was tested against 186 E. coli and Shigella O-serogroup reference strains, 13 E. coli reference strains for virulence markers, 43 E. coli clinical isolates, and 12 strains of other bacterial species and shown to be highly specific with reproducible results. The detection sensitivity was 0.1 ng of genomic DNA or 103 CFU per 0.3 g of porcine feces in mock samples. Seventeen porcine feces samples from local hoggeries were examined using the microarray, and the result for one sample was verified by the conventional serotyping methods. This microarray can be readily used to screen for the presence of PWD- and ED-associated E. coli in porcine feces samples.
doi:10.1128/AEM.01820-06
PMCID: PMC1932722  PMID: 17449692
4.  Abiotic Stress Resistance, a Novel Moonlighting Function of Ribosomal Protein RPL44 in the Halophilic Fungus Aspergillus glaucus 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2014;80(14):4294-4300.
Ribosomal proteins are highly conserved components of basal cellular organelles, primarily involved in the translation of mRNA leading to protein synthesis. However, certain ribosomal proteins moonlight in the development and differentiation of organisms. In this study, the ribosomal protein L44 (RPL44), associated with salt resistance, was screened from the halophilic fungus Aspergillus glaucus (AgRPL44), and its activity was investigated in Saccharomyces cerevisiae and Nicotiana tabacum. Sequence alignment revealed that AgRPL44 is one of the proteins of the large ribosomal subunit 60S. Expression of AgRPL44 was upregulated via treatment with salt, sorbitol, or heavy metals to demonstrate its response to osmotic stress. A homologous sequence from the model fungus Magnaporthe oryzae, MoRPL44, was cloned and compared with AgRPL44 in a yeast expression system. The results indicated that yeast cells with overexpressed AgRPL44 were more resistant to salt, drought, and heavy metals than were yeast cells expressing MoRPL44 at a similar level of stress. When AgRPL44 was introduced into M. oryzae, the transformants displayed obviously enhanced tolerance to salt and drought, indicating the potential value of AgRPL44 for genetic applications. To verify the value of its application in plants, tobacco was transformed with AgRPL44, and the results were similar. Taken together, we conclude that AgRPL44 supports abiotic stress resistance and may have value for genetic application.
doi:10.1128/AEM.00292-14
PMCID: PMC4068663  PMID: 24814782
5.  High Prevalence of Enterocytozoon bieneusi in Asymptomatic Pigs and Assessment of Zoonotic Risk at the Genotype Level 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2014;80(12):3699-3707.
Enterocytozoon bieneusi is an emerging and clinically significant enteric parasite infecting humans and animals and can cause life-threatening diarrhea in immunocompromised people. Pigs are considered to be one of the main reservoir hosts of E. bieneusi based on their high prevalence rates and zoonotic genotypes in pigs. As an opportunistic pathogen, E. bieneusi infection of pigs can be inapparent, which leads to neglect in detecting this parasite in pigs and assessing the epidemiological role of pigs in the transmission of human microsporidiosis. In the present study, 95 healthy pigs aged 2 or 3 months were randomly selected from three areas in Heilongjiang Province, China. E. bieneusi isolates were identified and genotyped based on the small-subunit (SSU) rRNA and internal transcribed spacer (ITS) regions of the rRNA gene by PCR and sequencing. A high prevalence of E. bieneusi was observed, 83.2% (79/95) at the SSU rRNA locus versus 89.5% (85/95) at the ITS locus. Ten ITS genotypes were obtained, comprising six known genotypes—EbpA (n = 30), D (n = 19), H (n = 18), O (n = 11), CS-1 (n = 1), and LW1 (n = 1)—and four novel genotypes named HLJ-I to HLJ-IV; 70.6% (60/85) of E. bieneusi genotypes were zoonotic (genotypes EbpA, D, and O). The findings of a high prevalence of E. bieneusi in pigs and a large percentage of zoonotic genotypes indicate that pigs may play a role in the transmission of E. bieneusi to humans and may become an important source of water contamination in our investigated areas.
doi:10.1128/AEM.00807-14
PMCID: PMC4054152  PMID: 24727270
6.  Genetic Diversity Analysis Reveals that Geographical Environment Plays a More Important Role than Rice Cultivar in Villosiclava virens Population Selection 
Rice false smut caused by Villosiclava virens is an economically important disease of grains worldwide. The genetic diversity of 153 isolates from six fields located in Wuhan (WH), Yichang Wangjia (YCW), Yichang Yaohe (YCY), Huanggang (HG), Yangxin (YX), and Jingzhou (JZ) in Hubei province of China were phylogenetically analyzed to evaluate the influence of environments and rice cultivars on the V. virens populations. Isolates (43) from Wuhan were from two rice cultivars, Wanxian 98 and Huajing 952, while most of the other isolates from fields YCW, YCY, HG, YX, and JZ originated from different rice cultivars with different genetic backgrounds. Genetic diversity of isolates was analyzed using random amplified polymorphic DNA (RAPD) and single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP). The isolates from the same cultivars in Wuhan tended to group together, indicating that the cultivars had an important impact on the fungal population. The 110 isolates from individual fields tended to cluster according to geographical origin. The values of Nei's gene diversity (H) and Shannon's information index (I) showed that the genetic diversity among isolates was higher between than within geographical populations. Furthermore, mean genetic distance between groups (0.006) was higher than mean genetic distance within groups (0.0048) according to MEGA 5.2. The pairwise population fixation index (FST) values also showed significant genetic differentiation between most populations. Higher genetic similarity of isolates from individual fields but different rice cultivars suggested that the geographical factor played a more important role in the selection of V. virens isolates than rice cultivars. This information could be used to improve the management strategy for rice false smut by adjusting the cultivation measures, such as controlling fertilizer, water, and planting density, in the rice field to change the microenvironment.
doi:10.1128/AEM.03936-13
PMCID: PMC3993286  PMID: 24584249
7.  NrdH Redoxin Enhances Resistance to Multiple Oxidative Stresses by Acting as a Peroxidase Cofactor in Corynebacterium glutamicum 
NrdH redoxins are small protein disulfide oxidoreductases behaving like thioredoxins but sharing a high amino acid sequence similarity to glutaredoxins. Although NrdH redoxins are supposed to be another candidate in the antioxidant system, their physiological roles in oxidative stress remain unclear. In this study, we confirmed that the Corynebacterium glutamicum NrdH redoxin catalytically reduces the disulfides in the class Ib ribonucleotide reductases (RNR), insulin and 5,5′-dithiobis-(2-nitrobenzoic acid) (DTNB), by exclusively receiving electrons from thioredoxin reductase. Overexpression of NrdH increased the resistance of C. glutamicum to multiple oxidative stresses by reducing ROS accumulation. Accordingly, elevated expression of the nrdH gene was observed when the C. glutamicum wild-type strain was exposed to oxidative stress conditions. It was discovered that the NrdH-mediated resistance to oxidative stresses was largely dependent on the presence of the thiol peroxidase Prx, as the increased resistance to oxidative stresses mediated by overexpression of NrdH was largely abrogated in the prx mutant. Furthermore, we showed that NrdH facilitated the hydroperoxide reduction activity of Prx by directly targeting and serving as its electron donor. Thus, we present evidence that the NrdH redoxin can protect against the damaging effects of reactive oxygen species (ROS) induced by various exogenous oxidative stresses by acting as a peroxidase cofactor.
doi:10.1128/AEM.03654-13
PMCID: PMC3957609  PMID: 24375145
8.  Analysis of the Transcriptional Regulator GlpR, Promoter Elements, and Posttranscriptional Processing Involved in Fructose-Induced Activation of the Phosphoenolpyruvate-Dependent Sugar Phosphotransferase System in Haloferax mediterranei 
Among all known archaeal strains, the phosphoenolpyruvate-dependent phosphotransferase system (PTS) for fructose utilization is used primarily by haloarchaea, which thrive in hypersaline environments, whereas the molecular details of the regulation of the archaeal PTS under fructose induction remain unclear. In this study, we present a comprehensive examination of the regulatory mechanism of the fructose PTS in the haloarchaeon Haloferax mediterranei. With gene knockout and complementation, microarray analysis, and chromatin immunoprecipitation-quantitative PCR (ChIP-qPCR), we revealed that GlpR is the indispensable activator, which specifically binds to the PTS promoter (PPTS) during fructose induction. Further promoter-scanning mutation indicated that three sites located upstream of the H. mediterranei PPTS, which are conserved in most haloarchaeal PPTSs, are involved in this induction. Interestingly, two PTS transcripts (named T8 and T17) with different lengths of 5′ untranslated region (UTR) were observed, and promoter or 5′ UTR swap experiments indicated that the shorter 5′ UTR was most likely generated from the longer one. Notably, the translation efficiency of the transcript with this shorter 5′ UTR was significantly higher and the ratio of T8 (with the shorter 5′ UTR) to T17 increased during fructose induction, implying that a posttranscriptional mechanism is also involved in PTS activation. With these insights into the molecular regulation of the haloarchaeal PTS, we have proposed a working model for haloarchaea in response to environmental fructose.
doi:10.1128/AEM.03372-13
PMCID: PMC3911062  PMID: 24334671
9.  pH-Dependent Activation of Streptomyces hygroscopicus Transglutaminase Mediated by Intein 
Microbial transglutaminase (MTG) from Streptomyces is naturally secreted as a zymogen (pro-MTG), which is then activated by the removal of its N-terminal proregion by additional proteases. Inteins are protein-intervening sequences that catalyze protein splicing without cofactors. In this study, a pH-dependent Synechocystis sp. strain PCC6803 DnaB mini-intein (SDB) was introduced into pro-MTG to simplify its activation process by controlling pH. The recombinant protein (pro-SDB-MTG) was obtained, and the activation process was determined to take 24 h at pH 7 in vitro. To investigate the effect of the first residue in MTG on the activity and the cleavage time, two variants, pro-SDB-MTG(D1S) and pro-SDB-MTG(ΔD1), were expressed, and the activation time was found to be 6 h and 30 h, respectively. The enzymatic property and secondary structure of the recombinant MTG and two variants were similar to those of the wild type, indicating that the insertion of mini-intein did not affect the function of MTG. This insignificant effect was further illustrated by molecular dynamics simulations. This study revealed a controllable and effective strategy to regulate the activation process of pro-MTG mediated by a mini-intein, and it may have great potential for industrial MTG production.
doi:10.1128/AEM.02820-13
PMCID: PMC3911110  PMID: 24242235
10.  Lysobacter enzymogenes Uses Two Distinct Cell-Cell Signaling Systems for Differential Regulation of Secondary-Metabolite Biosynthesis and Colony Morphology 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2013;79(21):6604-6616.
Lysobacter enzymogenes is a ubiquitous environmental bacterium that is emerging as a potentially novel biological control agent and a new source of bioactive secondary metabolites, such as the heat-stable antifungal factor (HSAF) and photoprotective polyene pigments. Thus far, the regulatory mechanism(s) for biosynthesis of these bioactive secondary metabolites remains largely unknown in L. enzymogenes. In the present study, the diffusible signal factor (DSF) and diffusible factor (DF)-mediated cell-cell signaling systems were identified for the first time from L. enzymogenes. The results show that both Rpf/DSF and DF signaling systems played critical roles in modulating HSAF biosynthesis in L. enzymogenes. Rpf/DSF signaling and DF signaling played negative and positive effects in polyene pigment production, respectively, with DF playing a more important role in regulating this phenotype. Interestingly, only Rpf/DSF, but not the DF signaling system, regulated colony morphology of L. enzymgenes. Both Rpf/DSF and DF signaling systems were involved in the modulation of expression of genes with diverse functions in L. enzymogenes, and their own regulons exhibited only a few loci that were regulated by both systems. These findings unveil for the first time new roles of the Rpf/DSF and DF signaling systems in secondary metabolite biosynthesis of L. enzymogenes.
doi:10.1128/AEM.01841-13
PMCID: PMC3811492  PMID: 23974132
11.  Broad Distribution of Diverse Anaerobic Ammonium-Oxidizing Bacteria in Chinese Agricultural Soils 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2013;79(19):6167-6172.
Anaerobic ammonium-oxidizing (anammox) bacteria have been detected in many marine and freshwater ecosystems. However, little is known about the distribution, diversity, and abundance of anammox bacteria in terrestrial ecosystems. In this study, anammox bacteria were found to be present in various agricultural soils collected from 32 different locations in China. Phylogenetic analysis of the 16S rRNA genes showed “Candidatus Brocadia,” “Candidatus Kuenenia,” “Candidatus Anammoxoglobus,” and “Candidatus Jettenia” in the collected soils, with “Candidatus Brocadia” being the dominant genus. Quantitative PCR showed that the abundance of anammox bacteria ranged from 6.38 × 104 ± 0.42 × 104 to 3.69 × 106 ± 0.25 × 106 copies per gram of dry weight. Different levels of diversity, composition, and abundance of the anammox bacterial communities were observed, and redundancy analysis indicated that the soil organic content and the distribution of anammox communities were correlated in the soils examined. Furthermore, Pearson correlation analysis showed that the diversity of the anammox bacteria was positively correlated with the soil ammonium content and the organic content, while the anammox bacterial abundance was positively correlated with the soil ammonium content. These results demonstrate the broad distribution of diverse anammox bacteria and its correlation with the soil environmental conditions within an extensive range of Chinese agricultural soils.
doi:10.1128/AEM.00884-13
PMCID: PMC3811364  PMID: 23747706
12.  Development of a DNA Microarray for Molecular Identification of All 46 Salmonella O Serogroups 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2013;79(11):3392-3399.
Salmonella is a major cause of food-borne disease in many countries. Serotype determination of Salmonella is important for disease assessment, infection control, and epidemiological surveillance. In this study, a microarray system that targets the O antigen-specific genes was developed for simultaneously detecting and identifying all 46 Salmonella O serogroups. Of these, 40 serogroups can be confidently identified, and the remaining 6, in three pairs (serogroups O67 and B, E1 and E4, and A and D1), need to be further distinguished from each other using PCR methods or conventional serotyping methods. The microarray was shown to be highly specific when evaluated against 293 Salmonella strains, 186 Shigella strains, representative Escherichia coli strains, and 10 strains of other bacterial species. The assay correctly identified 288 (98%) of the Salmonella strains. The detection sensitivity was determined to be 50 ng genomic DNA per sample. By testing simulated samples in a tomato background, 2 to 8 CFU per gram inoculated could be detected after enrichment. This newly developed microarray assay is the first molecular protocol that can be used for the comprehensive detection and identification of all 46 Salmonella O serogroups. Compared to the traditional serogrouping method, the microarray provides a reliable, high-throughput, and sensitive approach that can be used for rapid identification of multiple Salmonella O serogroups simultaneously.
doi:10.1128/AEM.00225-13
PMCID: PMC3648052  PMID: 23524674
13.  HbzF Catalyzes Direct Hydrolysis of Maleylpyruvate in the Gentisate Pathway of Pseudomonas alcaligenes NCIMB 9867 
HbzF from Pseudomonas alcaligenes NCIMB 9867 was purified to homogeneity as a His-tagged protein and likely a dimer by SDS-PAGE and gel filtration. This protein was demonstrated to be a novel maleylpyruvate hydrolase, catalyzing direct hydrolysis of maleylpyruvate to maleate and pyruvate, and belongs to the fumarylacetoacetate hydrolase superfamily. This study reveals the genetic determinate for the direct maleylpyruvate hydrolysis in the gentisate pathway, complementary to the well-studied maleylpyruvate isomerization route.
doi:10.1128/AEM.02931-12
PMCID: PMC3568541  PMID: 23204427
14.  Wide Distribution and Genetic Diversity of “Candidatus Neoehrlichia mikurensis” in Rodents from China 
“Candidatus Neoehrlichia mikurensis” was detected by PCR in 4.0% (34/841) of the rodents tested in this study. The 34 rodents represented nine species from seven regions of China. Phylogenetic analyses based on the partial groEL and nearly entire 16S rRNA gene sequences of the agent revealed genetic diversity, which was correlated with its geographic origins.
doi:10.1128/AEM.02917-12
PMCID: PMC3568564  PMID: 23183973
15.  Correlation between Composition of the Bacterial Community and Concentration of Volatile Fatty Acids in the Rumen during the Transition Period and Ketosis in Dairy Cows 
The transition period is a severe challenge to dairy cows. Glucose supply cannot meet demand and body fat is mobilized, potentially leading to negative energy balance (NEB), ketosis, or fatty liver. Propionate produces glucose by gluconeogenesis, which depends heavily on the number and species of microbes. In the present study, we analyzed the rumen microbiome composition of cows in the transition period, cows with ketosis, and nonperinatal cows by terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism (TRFLP) analysis of 16S rRNA genes and quantitative PCR. TRFLP analysis indicated that the quantity of Veillonellaceae organisms was reduced and that of Streptococcaceae organisms was increased in rumen samples from the transition period and ketosis groups, with the number of Lactobacillaceae organisms increased after calving. Quantitative PCR data suggested that the numbers of the main propionate-producing microbes, Megasphaera elsdenii and Selenomonas ruminantium, were decreased, while numbers of the main lactate-producing bacterium, Streptococcus bovis, were increased in the rumen of cows from the transition period and ketosis groups, with the number of Lactobacillus sp. organisms increased after calving. Volatile fatty acid (VFA) and glucose concentrations were decreased, but the lactic acid concentration was increased, in rumen samples from the transition period and ketosis groups. Our results indicate that the VFA concentration is significantly related to the numbers of Selenomonas ruminantium and Megasphaera elsdenii organisms in the rumen.
doi:10.1128/AEM.07545-11
PMCID: PMC3302620  PMID: 22267666
16.  Development of a Markerless Gene Replacement System for Acidithiobacillus ferrooxidans and Construction of a pfkB Mutant 
The extremely acidophilic, chemolithoautotrophic Acidithiobacillus ferrooxidans is an important bioleaching bacterium of great value in the metallurgical industry and environmental protection. In this report, a mutagenesis system based on the homing endonuclease I-SceI was developed to produce targeted, unmarked gene deletions in the strain A. ferrooxidans ATCC 23270. A targeted phosphofructokinase (PFK) gene (pfkB) mutant of A. ferrooxidans ATCC 23270 was constructed by homologous recombination and identified by PCR with specific primers as well as Southern blot analysis. This potential pfkB gene (AFE_1807) was also characterized by expression in PFK-deficient Escherichia coli cells, and heteroexpression of the PFKB protein demonstrated that it had functional PFK activity, though it was significantly lower (about 800-fold) than that of phosphofructokinase-2 (PFK-B) expressed by the pfkB gene from E. coli K-12. The function of the potential PFKB protein in A. ferrooxidans was demonstrated by comparing the properties of the pfkB mutant with those of the wild type. The pfkB mutant strain displayed a relatively reduced growth capacity in S0 medium (0.5% [wt/vol] elemental sulfur in 9K basal salts solution adjusted to pH 3.0 with H2SO4), but the mutation did not completely prevent A. ferrooxidans from assimilating exogenous glucose. The transcriptional analysis of some related genes in central carbohydrate metabolism in the wild-type and mutant strains with or without supplementation of glucose was carried out by quantitative reverse transcription-PCR. This report suggests that the markerless mutagenesis strategy could serve as a model for functional studies of other genes of interest from A. ferrooxidans and multiple mutations could be made in a single A. ferrooxidans strain.
doi:10.1128/AEM.07230-11
PMCID: PMC3298148  PMID: 22210219
17.  Identification of the Haloarchaeal Phasin (PhaP) That Functions in Polyhydroxyalkanoate Accumulation and Granule Formation in Haloferax mediterranei 
The polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA) granule-associated proteins (PGAPs) are important for PHA synthesis and granule formation, but currently little is known about the haloarchaeal PGAPs. This study focused on the identification and functional analysis of the PGAPs in the haloarchaeon Haloferax mediterranei. These PGAPs were visualized with two-dimensional gel electrophoresis (2-DE) and identified by matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization–tandem time of flight mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF/TOF MS). The most abundant protein on the granules was identified as a hypothetical protein, designated PhaP. A genome-wide analysis revealed that the phaP gene is located upstream of the previously identified phaEC genes. Through an integrative approach of gene knockout/complementation and fermentation analyses, we demonstrated that this PhaP is involved in PHA accumulation. The ΔphaP mutant was defective in both PHA biosynthesis and cell growth compared to the wild-type strain. Additionally, transmission electron microscopy results indicated that the number of PHA granules in the ΔphaP mutant cells was significantly lower, and in most of the ΔphaP cells only a single large granule was observed. These results demonstrated that the H. mediterranei PhaP was the predominant structure protein (phasin) on the PHA granules involved in PHA accumulation and granule formation. In addition, BLASTp and phylogenetic results indicate that this type of PhaP is exclusively conserved in haloarchaea, implying that it is a representative of the haloarchaeal type PHA phasin.
doi:10.1128/AEM.07114-11
PMCID: PMC3298179  PMID: 22247127
18.  Vanillin Catabolism in Rhodococcus jostii RHA1 
Genes encoding vanillin dehydrogenase (vdh) and vanillate O-demethylase (vanAB) were identified in Rhodococcus jostii RHA1 using gene disruption and enzyme activities. During growth on vanillin or vanillate, vanA was highly upregulated while vdh was not. This study contributes to our understanding of lignin degradation by RHA1 and other actinomycetes.
doi:10.1128/AEM.06876-11
PMCID: PMC3255756  PMID: 22057861
19.  GeoChip-Based Analysis of the Functional Gene Diversity and Metabolic Potential of Microbial Communities in Acid Mine Drainage▿ †  
Acid mine drainage (AMD) is an extreme environment, usually with low pH and high concentrations of metals. Although the phylogenetic diversity of AMD microbial communities has been examined extensively, little is known about their functional gene diversity and metabolic potential. In this study, a comprehensive functional gene array (GeoChip 2.0) was used to analyze the functional diversity, composition, structure, and metabolic potential of AMD microbial communities from three copper mines in China. GeoChip data indicated that these microbial communities were functionally diverse as measured by the number of genes detected, gene overlapping, unique genes, and various diversity indices. Almost all key functional gene categories targeted by GeoChip 2.0 were detected in the AMD microbial communities, including carbon fixation, carbon degradation, methane generation, nitrogen fixation, nitrification, denitrification, ammonification, nitrogen reduction, sulfur metabolism, metal resistance, and organic contaminant degradation, which suggested that the functional gene diversity was higher than was previously thought. Mantel test results indicated that AMD microbial communities are shaped largely by surrounding environmental factors (e.g., S, Mg, and Cu). Functional genes (e.g., narG and norB) and several key functional processes (e.g., methane generation, ammonification, denitrification, sulfite reduction, and organic contaminant degradation) were significantly (P < 0.10) correlated with environmental variables. This study presents an overview of functional gene diversity and the structure of AMD microbial communities and also provides insights into our understanding of metabolic potential in AMD ecosystems.
doi:10.1128/AEM.01798-10
PMCID: PMC3028740  PMID: 21097602
20.  Isolation and Characterization of Shigella flexneri G3, Capable of Effective Cellulosic Saccharification under Mesophilic Conditions ▿ †  
A novel Shigella strain (Shigella flexneri G3) showing high cellulolytic activity under mesophilic, anaerobic conditions was isolated and characterized. The bacterium is Gram negative, short rod shaped, and nonmotile and displays effective production of glucose, cellobiose, and other oligosaccharides from cellulose (Avicel PH-101) under optimal conditions (40°C and pH 6.5). Approximately 75% of the cellulose was hydrolyzed in modified ATCC 1191 medium containing 0.3% cellulose, and the oligosaccharide production yield and specific production rate reached 375 mg g Avicel−1 and 6.25 mg g Avicel−1 h−1, respectively, after a 60-hour incubation. To our knowledge, this represents the highest oligosaccharide yield and specific rate from cellulose for mesophilic bacterial monocultures reported so far. The results demonstrate that S. flexneri G3 is capable of rapid conversion of cellulose to oligosaccharides, with potential biofuel applications under mesophilic conditions.
doi:10.1128/AEM.01230-10
PMCID: PMC3020557  PMID: 21097577
21.  Assessing the Potential of an Induced-Mutation Strategy for Avermectin Overproducers▿ § 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2010;76(13):4583-4586.
Mutant libraries of avermectin-producing Streptomyces avermitilis strains were constructed by different mutagenesis strategies. A metric was applied to assess the mutation spectrum by calculating the distribution of average phenotypic distance of each population. The results showed for the first time that a microgravity environment could introduce larger phenotype distribution and diversity than UV and N-methyl-N-nitro-N-nitrosoguanidine (NTG) could.
doi:10.1128/AEM.01682-09
PMCID: PMC2897423  PMID: 20453119
22.  Abundance of Novel and Diverse tfdA-Like Genes, Encoding Putative Phenoxyalkanoic Acid Herbicide-Degrading Dioxygenases, in Soil▿ †  
Phenoxyalkanoic acid (PAA) herbicides are widely used in agriculture. Biotic degradation of such herbicides occurs in soils and is initiated by α-ketoglutarate- and Fe2+-dependent dioxygenases encoded by tfdA-like genes (i.e., tfdA and tfdAα). Novel primers and quantitative kinetic PCR (qPCR) assays were developed to analyze the diversity and abundance of tfdA-like genes in soil. Five primer sets targeting tfdA-like genes were designed and evaluated. Primer sets 3 to 5 specifically amplified tfdA-like genes from soil, and a total of 437 sequences were retrieved. Coverages of gene libraries were 62 to 100%, up to 122 genotypes were detected, and up to 389 genotypes were predicted to occur in the gene libraries as indicated by the richness estimator Chao1. Phylogenetic analysis of in silico-translated tfdA-like genes indicated that soil tfdA-like genes were related to those of group 2 and 3 Bradyrhizobium spp., Sphingomonas spp., and uncultured soil bacteria. Soil-derived tfdA-like genes were assigned to 11 clusters, 4 of which were composed of novel sequences from this study, indicating that soil harbors novel and diverse tfdA-like genes. Correlation analysis of 16S rRNA and tfdA-like gene similarity indicated that any two bacteria with D > 20% of group 2 tfdA-like gene-derived protein sequences belong to different species. Thus, data indicate that the soil analyzed harbors at least 48 novel bacterial species containing group 2 tfdA-like genes. Novel qPCR assays were established to quantify such new tfdA-like genes. Copy numbers of tfdA-like genes were 1.0 × 106 to 65 × 106 per gram (dry weight) soil in four different soils, indicating that hitherto-unknown, diverse tfdA-like genes are abundant in soils.
doi:10.1128/AEM.01727-09
PMCID: PMC2798625  PMID: 19880651
23.  Corynebacterium glutamicum Contains 3-Deoxy-d-Arabino-Heptulosonate 7-Phosphate Synthases That Display Novel Biochemical Features ▿† 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2008;74(17):5497-5503.
3-Deoxy-d-arabino-heptulosonate 7-phosphate (DAHP) synthase (EC 2.5.1.54) catalyzes the first step of the shikimate pathway that finally leads to the biosynthesis of aromatic amino acids phenylalanine (Phe), tryptophan (Trp), and tyrosine (Tyr). In Corynebacterium glutamicum ATCC 13032, two chromosomal genes, NCgl0950 (aroF) and NCgl2098 (aroG), were located that encode two putative DAHP synthases. The deletion of NCgl2098 resulted in the loss of the ability of C. glutamicum RES167 (a restriction-deficient strain derived from C. glutamicum ATCC 13032) to grow in mineral medium; however, the deletion of NCgl0950 did not result in any observable phenotypic alteration. Analysis of DAHP synthase activities in the wild type and mutants of C. glutamicum RES167 indicated that NCgl2098, rather than NCgl0950, was involved in the biosynthesis of aromatic amino acids. Cloning and expression in Escherichia coli showed that both NCgl0950 and NCgl2098 encoded active DAHP synthases. Both the NCgl0950 and NCgl2098 DAHP synthases were purified from recombinant E. coli cells and characterized. The NCgl0950 DAHP synthase was sensitive to feedback inhibition by Tyr and, to a much lesser extent, by Phe and Trp. The NCgl2098 DAHP synthase was slightly sensitive to feedback inhibition by Trp, but not sensitive to Tyr and Phe, findings that were in contrast to the properties of previously known DAHP synthases from C. glutamicum subsp. flavum. Both Co2+ and Mn2+ significantly stimulated the NCgl0950 DAHP synthase's activity, whereas Mn2+ was much more stimulatory than Co2+ to the NCgl2098 DAHP synthase's activity.
doi:10.1128/AEM.00262-08
PMCID: PMC2546626  PMID: 18621870
24.  Nucleotide Sequence of Plasmid pCNB1 from Comamonas Strain CNB-1 Reveals Novel Genetic Organization and Evolution for 4-Chloronitrobenzene Degradation▿  
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2007;73(14):4477-4483.
The nucleotide sequence of a new plasmid pCNB1 from Comamonas sp. strain CNB-1 that degrades 4-chloronitrobenzene (4CNB) was determined. pCNB1 belongs to the IncP-1β group and is 91,181 bp in length. A total of 95 open reading frames appear to be involved in (i) the replication, maintenance, and transfer of pCNB1; (ii) resistance to arsenate and chromate; and (iii) the degradation of 4CNB. The 4CNB degradative genes and arsenate resistance genes were located on an extraordinarily large transposon (44.5 kb), proposed as TnCNB1. TnCNB1 was flanked by two IS1071 elements and represents a new member of the composite I transposon family. The 4CNB degradative genes within TnCNB1 were separated by various truncated genes and genetic homologs from other DNA molecules. Genes for chromate resistance were located on another transposon that was similar to the Tn21 transposon of the class II replicative family that is frequently responsible for the mobilization of mercury resistance genes. Resistance to arsenate and chromate were experimentally confirmed, and transcriptions of arsenate and chromate resistance genes were demonstrated by reverse transcription-PCR. These results described a new member of the IncP-1β plasmid family, and the findings suggest that gene deletion and acquisition as well as genetic rearrangement of DNA molecules happened during the evolution of the 4CNB degradation pathway on pCNB1.
doi:10.1128/AEM.00616-07
PMCID: PMC1932830  PMID: 17526790
25.  Novel Partial Reductive Pathway for 4-Chloronitrobenzene and Nitrobenzene Degradation in Comamonas sp. Strain CNB-1 
Comamonas sp. strain CNB-1 grows on 4-chloronitrobenzene (4-CNB) and nitrobenzene as sole carbon and nitrogen sources. In this study, two genetic segments, cnbB-orf2-cnbA and cnbR-orf1-cnbCaCbDEFGHI, located on a newly isolated plasmid, pCNB1 (ca. 89 kb), and involved in 4-CNB/nitrobenzene degradation, were characterized. Seven genes (cnbA, cnbB, cnbCa, cnbCb, cnbD, cnbG, and cnbH) were cloned and functionally expressed in recombinant Escherichia coli, and they were identified as encoding 4-CNB nitroreductase (CnbA), 1-hydroxylaminobenzene mutase (CnbB), 2-aminophenol 1,6-dioxygenase (CnbCab), 2-amino-5-chloromuconic semialdehyde dehydrogenase (CnbD), 2-hydroxy-5-chloromuconic acid (2H5CM) tautomerase, and 2-amino-5-chloromuconic acid (2A5CM) deaminase (CnbH). In particular, the 2A5CM deaminase showed significant identities (31 to 38%) to subunit A of Asp-tRNAAsn/Glu-tRNAGln amidotransferase and not to the previously identified deaminases for nitroaromatic compound degradation. Genetic cloning and expression of cnbH in Escherichia coli revealed that CnbH catalyzed the conversion of 2A5CM into 2H5CM and ammonium. Four other genes (cnbR, cnbE, cnbF, and cnbI) were tentatively identified according to their high sequence identities to other functionally identified genes. It was proposed that CnbH might represent a novel type of deaminase and be involved in a novel partial reductive pathway for chloronitrobenzene or nitrobenzene degradation.
doi:10.1128/AEM.72.3.1759-1765.2006
PMCID: PMC1393224  PMID: 16517619

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