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1.  Reconstruction of the lipid metabolism for the microalga Monoraphidium neglectum from its genome sequence reveals characteristics suitable for biofuel production 
BMC Genomics  2013;14:926.
Microalgae are gaining importance as sustainable production hosts in the fields of biotechnology and bioenergy. A robust biomass accumulating strain of the genus Monoraphidium (SAG 48.87) was investigated in this work as a potential feedstock for biofuel production. The genome was sequenced, annotated, and key enzymes for triacylglycerol formation were elucidated.
Monoraphidium neglectum was identified as an oleaginous species with favourable growth characteristics as well as a high potential for crude oil production, based on neutral lipid contents of approximately 21% (dry weight) under nitrogen starvation, composed of predominantly C18:1 and C16:0 fatty acids. Further characterization revealed growth in a relatively wide pH range and salt concentrations of up to 1.0% NaCl, in which the cells exhibited larger structures. This first full genome sequencing of a member of the Selenastraceae revealed a diploid, approximately 68 Mbp genome with a G + C content of 64.7%. The circular chloroplast genome was assembled to a 135,362 bp single contig, containing 67 protein-coding genes. The assembly of the mitochondrial genome resulted in two contigs with an approximate total size of 94 kb, the largest known mitochondrial genome within algae. 16,761 protein-coding genes were assigned to the nuclear genome. Comparison of gene sets with respect to functional categories revealed a higher gene number assigned to the category “carbohydrate metabolic process” and in “fatty acid biosynthetic process” in M. neglectum when compared to Chlamydomonas reinhardtii and Nannochloropsis gaditana, indicating a higher metabolic diversity for applications in carbohydrate conversions of biotechnological relevance.
The genome of M. neglectum, as well as the metabolic reconstruction of crucial lipid pathways, provides new insights into the diversity of the lipid metabolism in microalgae. The results of this work provide a platform to encourage the development of this strain for biotechnological applications and production concepts.
PMCID: PMC3890519  PMID: 24373495
M. neglectum genome; Biofuels; Lipid metabolism; Neutral lipid accumulation
2.  Reassessment of the Listeria monocytogenes pan-genome reveals dynamic integration hotspots and mobile genetic elements as major components of the accessory genome 
BMC Genomics  2013;14:47.
Listeria monocytogenes is an important food-borne pathogen and model organism for host-pathogen interaction, thus representing an invaluable target considering research on the forces governing the evolution of such microbes. The diversity of this species has not been exhaustively explored yet, as previous efforts have focused on analyses of serotypes primarily implicated in human listeriosis. We conducted complete genome sequencing of 11 strains employing 454 GS FLX technology, thereby achieving full coverage of all serotypes including the first complete strains of serotypes 1/2b, 3c, 3b, 4c, 4d, and 4e. These were comparatively analyzed in conjunction with publicly available data and assessed for pathogenicity in the Galleria mellonella insect model.
The species pan-genome of L. monocytogenes is highly stable but open, suggesting an ability to adapt to new niches by generating or including new genetic information. The majority of gene-scale differences represented by the accessory genome resulted from nine hyper variable hotspots, a similar number of different prophages, three transposons (Tn916, Tn554, IS3-like), and two mobilizable islands. Only a subset of strains showed CRISPR/Cas bacteriophage resistance systems of different subtypes, suggesting a supplementary function in maintenance of chromosomal stability. Multiple phylogenetic branches of the genus Listeria imply long common histories of strains of each lineage as revealed by a SNP-based core genome tree highlighting the impact of small mutations for the evolution of species L. monocytogenes. Frequent loss or truncation of genes described to be vital for virulence or pathogenicity was confirmed as a recurring pattern, especially for strains belonging to lineages III and II. New candidate genes implicated in virulence function were predicted based on functional domains and phylogenetic distribution. A comparative analysis of small regulatory RNA candidates supports observations of a differential distribution of trans-encoded RNA, hinting at a diverse range of adaptations and regulatory impact.
This study determined commonly occurring hyper variable hotspots and mobile elements as primary effectors of quantitative gene-scale evolution of species L. monocytogenes, while gene decay and SNPs seem to represent major factors influencing long-term evolution. The discovery of common and disparately distributed genes considering lineages, serogroups, serotypes and strains of species L. monocytogenes will assist in diagnostic, phylogenetic and functional research, supported by the comparative genomic GECO-LisDB analysis server (
PMCID: PMC3556495  PMID: 23339658
3.  Unique core genomes of the bacterial family vibrionaceae: insights into niche adaptation and speciation 
BMC Genomics  2012;13:179.
The criteria for defining bacterial species and even the concept of bacterial species itself are under debate, and the discussion is apparently intensifying as more genome sequence data is becoming available. However, it is still unclear how the new advances in genomics should be used most efficiently to address this question. In this study we identify genes that are common to any group of genomes in our dataset, to determine whether genes specific to a particular taxon exist and to investigate their potential role in adaptation of bacteria to their specific niche. These genes were named unique core genes. Additionally, we investigate the existence and importance of unique core genes that are found in isolates of phylogenetically non-coherent groups. These groups of isolates, that share a genetic feature without sharing a closest common ancestor, are termed genophyletic groups.
The bacterial family Vibrionaceae was used as the model, and we compiled and compared genome sequences of 64 different isolates. Using the software orthoMCL we determined clusters of homologous genes among the investigated genome sequences. We used multilocus sequence analysis to build a host phylogeny and mapped the numbers of unique core genes of all distinct groups of isolates onto the tree. The results show that unique core genes are more likely to be found in monophyletic groups of isolates. Genophyletic groups of isolates, in contrast, are less common especially for large groups of isolate. The subsequent annotation of unique core genes that are present in genophyletic groups indicate a high degree of horizontally transferred genes. Finally, the annotation of the unique core genes of Vibrio cholerae revealed genes involved in aerotaxis and biosynthesis of the iron-chelator vibriobactin.
The presented work indicates that genes specific for any taxon inside the bacterial family Vibrionaceae exist. These unique core genes encode conserved metabolic functions that can shed light on the adaptation of a species to its ecological niche. Additionally, our study suggests that unique core genes can be used to aid classification of bacteria and contribute to a bacterial species definition on a genomic level. Furthermore, these genes may be of importance in clinical diagnostics and drug development.
PMCID: PMC3464603  PMID: 22574681
4.  Comparative genomics and transcriptomics of lineages I, II, and III strains of Listeria monocytogenes 
BMC Genomics  2012;13:144.
Listeria monocytogenes is a food-borne pathogen that causes infections with a high-mortality rate and has served as an invaluable model for intracellular parasitism. Here, we report complete genome sequences for two L. monocytogenes strains belonging to serotype 4a (L99) and 4b (CLIP80459), and transcriptomes of representative strains from lineages I, II, and III, thereby permitting in-depth comparison of genome- and transcriptome -based data from three lineages of L. monocytogenes. Lineage III, represented by the 4a L99 genome is known to contain strains less virulent for humans.
The genome analysis of the weakly pathogenic L99 serotype 4a provides extensive evidence of virulence gene decay, including loss of several important surface proteins. The 4b CLIP80459 genome, unlike the previously sequenced 4b F2365 genome harbours an intact inlB invasion gene. These lineage I strains are characterized by the lack of prophage genes, as they share only a single prophage locus with other L. monocytogenes genomes 1/2a EGD-e and 4a L99. Comparative transcriptome analysis during intracellular growth uncovered adaptive expression level differences in lineages I, II and III of Listeria, notable amongst which was a strong intracellular induction of flagellar genes in strain 4a L99 compared to the other lineages. Furthermore, extensive differences between strains are manifest at levels of metabolic flux control and phosphorylated sugar uptake. Intriguingly, prophage gene expression was found to be a hallmark of intracellular gene expression. Deletion mutants in the single shared prophage locus of lineage II strain EGD-e 1/2a, the lma operon, revealed severe attenuation of virulence in a murine infection model.
Comparative genomics and transcriptome analysis of L. monocytogenes strains from three lineages implicate prophage genes in intracellular adaptation and indicate that gene loss and decay may have led to the emergence of attenuated lineages.
PMCID: PMC3464598  PMID: 22530965
Listeria monocytogenes; Lineage; Comparative genomics; Gene decay; Comparative transcriptomics; Flagella; Prophage; Monocin; Isogenic deletion mutants; Murine infection
5.  Construction and evaluation of a whole genome microarray of Chlamydomonas reinhardtii 
BMC Genomics  2011;12:579.
Chlamydomonas reinhardtii is widely accepted as a model organism regarding photosynthesis, circadian rhythm, cell mobility, phototaxis, and biotechnology. The complete annotation of the genome allows transcriptomic studies, however a new microarray platform was needed. Based on the completed annotation of Chlamydomonas reinhardtii a new microarray on an Agilent platform was designed using an extended JGI 3.1 genome data set which included 15000 transcript models.
In total 44000 probes were determined (3 independent probes per transcript model) covering 93% of the transcriptome. Alignment studies with the recently published AUGUSTUS 10.2 annotation confirmed 11000 transcript models resulting in a very good coverage of 70% of the transcriptome (17000). Following the estimation of 10000 predicted genes in Chlamydomonas reinhardtii our new microarray, nevertheless, covers the expected genome by 90-95%.
To demonstrate the capabilities of the new microarray, we analyzed transcript levels for cultures grown under nitrogen as well as sulfate limitation, and compared the results with recently published microarray and RNA-seq data. We could thereby confirm previous results derived from data on nutrient-starvation induced gene expression of a group of genes related to protein transport and adaptation of the metabolism as well as genes related to efficient light harvesting, light energy distribution and photosynthetic electron transport.
PMCID: PMC3235179  PMID: 22118351
6.  The complete genome sequence of Corynebacterium pseudotuberculosis FRC41 isolated from a 12-year-old girl with necrotizing lymphadenitis reveals insights into gene-regulatory networks contributing to virulence 
BMC Genomics  2010;11:728.
Corynebacterium pseudotuberculosis is generally regarded as an important animal pathogen that rarely infects humans. Clinical strains are occasionally recovered from human cases of lymphadenitis, such as C. pseudotuberculosis FRC41 that was isolated from the inguinal lymph node of a 12-year-old girl with necrotizing lymphadenitis. To detect potential virulence factors and corresponding gene-regulatory networks in this human isolate, the genome sequence of C. pseudotuberculosis FCR41 was determined by pyrosequencing and functionally annotated.
Sequencing and assembly of the C. pseudotuberculosis FRC41 genome yielded a circular chromosome with a size of 2,337,913 bp and a mean G+C content of 52.2%. Specific gene sets associated with iron and zinc homeostasis were detected among the 2,110 predicted protein-coding regions and integrated into a gene-regulatory network that is linked with both the central metabolism and the oxidative stress response of FRC41. Two gene clusters encode proteins involved in the sortase-mediated polymerization of adhesive pili that can probably mediate the adherence to host tissue to facilitate additional ligand-receptor interactions and the delivery of virulence factors. The prominent virulence factors phospholipase D (Pld) and corynebacterial protease CP40 are encoded in the genome of this human isolate. The genome annotation revealed additional serine proteases, neuraminidase H, nitric oxide reductase, an invasion-associated protein, and acyl-CoA carboxylase subunits involved in mycolic acid biosynthesis as potential virulence factors. The cAMP-sensing transcription regulator GlxR plays a key role in controlling the expression of several genes contributing to virulence.
The functional data deduced from the genome sequencing and the extended knowledge of virulence factors indicate that the human isolate C. pseudotuberculosis FRC41 is equipped with a distinct gene set promoting its survival under unfavorable environmental conditions encountered in the mammalian host.
PMCID: PMC3022926  PMID: 21192786
7.  Sequencing, annotation, and comparative genome analysis of the gerbil-adapted Helicobacter pylori strain B8 
BMC Genomics  2010;11:335.
The Mongolian gerbils are a good model to mimic the Helicobacter pylori-associated pathogenesis of the human stomach. In the current study the gerbil-adapted strain B8 was completely sequenced, annotated and compared to previous genomes, including the 73 supercontigs of the parental strain B128.
The complete genome of H. pylori B8 was manually curated gene by gene, to assign as much function as possible. It consists of a circular chromosome of 1,673,997 bp and of a small plasmid of 6,032 bp carrying nine putative genes. The chromosome contains 1,711 coding sequences, 293 of which are strain-specific, coding mainly for hypothetical proteins, and a large plasticity zone containing a putative type-IV-secretion system and coding sequences with unknown function. The cag-pathogenicity island is rearranged such that the cagA-gene is located 13,730 bp downstream of the inverted gene cluster cagB-cag1. Directly adjacent to the cagA-gene, there are four hypothetical genes and one variable gene with a different codon usage compared to the rest of the H. pylori B8-genome. This indicates that these coding sequences might be acquired via horizontal gene transfer.
The genome comparison of strain B8 to its parental strain B128 delivers 425 unique B8-proteins. Due to the fact that strain B128 was not fully sequenced and only automatically annotated, only 12 of these proteins are definitive singletons that might have been acquired during the gerbil-adaptation process of strain B128.
Our sequence data and its analysis provide new insight into the high genetic diversity of H. pylori-strains. We have shown that the gerbil-adapted strain B8 has the potential to build, possibly by a high rate of mutation and recombination, a dynamic pool of genetic variants (e.g. fragmented genes and repetitive regions) required for the adaptation-processes. We hypothesize that these variants are essential for the colonization and persistence of strain B8 in the gerbil stomach during in ammation.
PMCID: PMC3091624  PMID: 20507619
8.  Comparative gene expression in toxic versus non-toxic strains of the marine dinoflagellate Alexandrium minutum 
BMC Genomics  2010;11:248.
The dinoflagellate Alexandrium minutum typically produces paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP) toxins, which are known only from cyanobacteria and dinoflagellates. While a PSP toxin gene cluster has recently been characterized in cyanobacteria, the genetic background of PSP toxin production in dinoflagellates remains elusive.
We constructed and analysed an expressed sequence tag (EST) library of A. minutum, which contained 15,703 read sequences yielding a total of 4,320 unique expressed clusters. Of these clusters, 72% combined the forward-and reverse reads of at least one bacterial clone. This sequence resource was then used to construct an oligonucleotide microarray. We analysed the expression of all clusters in three different strains. While the cyanobacterial PSP toxin genes were not found among the A. minutum sequences, 192 genes were differentially expressed between toxic and non-toxic strains.
Based on this study and on the lack of identified PSP synthesis genes in the two existent Alexandrium tamarense EST libraries, we propose that the PSP toxin genes in dinoflagellates might be more different from their cyanobacterial counterparts than would be expected in the case of a recent gene transfer. As a starting point to identify possible PSP toxin-associated genes in dinoflagellates without relying on a priori sequence information, the sequences only present in mRNA pools of the toxic strain can be seen as putative candidates involved in toxin synthesis and regulation, or acclimation to intracellular PSP toxins.
PMCID: PMC2874808  PMID: 20403159
9.  Complete genome sequence and lifestyle of black-pigmented Corynebacterium aurimucosum ATCC 700975 (formerly C. nigricans CN-1) isolated from a vaginal swab of a woman with spontaneous abortion 
BMC Genomics  2010;11:91.
Corynebacterium aurimucosum is a slightly yellowish, non-lipophilic, facultative anaerobic member of the genus Corynebacterium and predominantly isolated from human clinical specimens. Unusual black-pigmented variants of C. aurimucosum (originally named as C. nigricans) continue to be recovered from the female urogenital tract and they are associated with complications during pregnancy. C. aurimucosum ATCC 700975 (C. nigricans CN-1) was originally isolated from a vaginal swab of a 34-year-old woman who experienced a spontaneous abortion during month six of pregnancy. For a better understanding of the physiology and lifestyle of this potential urogenital pathogen, the complete genome sequence of C. aurimucosum ATCC 700975 was determined.
Sequencing and assembly of the C. aurimucosum ATCC 700975 genome yielded a circular chromosome of 2,790,189 bp in size and the 29,037-bp plasmid pET44827. Specific gene sets associated with the central metabolism of C. aurimucosum apparently provide enhanced metabolic flexibility and adaptability in aerobic, anaerobic and low-pH environments, including gene clusters for the uptake and degradation of aromatic amines, L-histidine and L-tartrate as well as a gene region for the formation of selenocysteine and its incorporation into formate dehydrogenase. Plasmid pET44827 codes for a non-ribosomal peptide synthetase that plays the pivotal role in the synthesis of the characteristic black pigment of C. aurimucosum ATCC 700975.
The data obtained by the genome project suggest that C. aurimucosum could be both a resident of the human gut and possibly a pathogen in the female genital tract causing complications during pregnancy. Since hitherto all black-pigmented C. aurimucosum strains have been recovered from female genital source, biosynthesis of the pigment is apparently required for colonization by protecting the bacterial cells against the high hydrogen peroxide concentration in the vaginal environment. The location of the corresponding genes on plasmid pET44827 explains why black-pigmented (formerly C. nigricans) and non-pigmented C. aurimucosum strains were isolated from clinical specimens.
PMCID: PMC2830990  PMID: 20137072
10.  Complete genome sequence of the fire blight pathogen Erwinia pyrifoliae DSM 12163T and comparative genomic insights into plant pathogenicity 
BMC Genomics  2010;11:2.
Erwinia pyrifoliae is a newly described necrotrophic pathogen, which causes fire blight on Asian (Nashi) pear and is geographically restricted to Eastern Asia. Relatively little is known about its genetics compared to the closely related main fire blight pathogen E. amylovora.
The genome of the type strain of E. pyrifoliae strain DSM 12163T, was sequenced using both 454 and Solexa pyrosequencing and annotated. The genome contains a circular chromosome of 4.026 Mb and four small plasmids. Based on their respective role in virulence in E. amylovora or related organisms, we identified several putative virulence factors, including type III and type VI secretion systems and their effectors, flagellar genes, sorbitol metabolism, iron uptake determinants, and quorum-sensing components. A deletion in the rpoS gene covering the most conserved region of the protein was identified which may contribute to the difference in virulence/host-range compared to E. amylovora. Comparative genomics with the pome fruit epiphyte Erwinia tasmaniensis Et1/99 showed that both species are overall highly similar, although specific differences were identified, for example the presence of some phage gene-containing regions and a high number of putative genomic islands containing transposases in the E. pyrifoliae DSM 12163T genome.
The E. pyrifoliae genome is an important addition to the published genome of E. tasmaniensis and the unfinished genome of E. amylovora providing a foundation for re-sequencing additional strains that may shed light on the evolution of the host-range and virulence/pathogenicity of this important group of plant-associated bacteria.
PMCID: PMC2827408  PMID: 20047678
11.  The missing link: Bordetella petrii is endowed with both the metabolic versatility of environmental bacteria and virulence traits of pathogenic Bordetellae 
BMC Genomics  2008;9:449.
Bordetella petrii is the only environmental species hitherto found among the otherwise host-restricted and pathogenic members of the genus Bordetella. Phylogenetically, it connects the pathogenic Bordetellae and environmental bacteria of the genera Achromobacter and Alcaligenes, which are opportunistic pathogens. B. petrii strains have been isolated from very different environmental niches, including river sediment, polluted soil, marine sponges and a grass root. Recently, clinical isolates associated with bone degenerative disease or cystic fibrosis have also been described.
In this manuscript we present the results of the analysis of the completely annotated genome sequence of the B. petrii strain DSMZ12804. B. petrii has a mosaic genome of 5,287,950 bp harboring numerous mobile genetic elements, including seven large genomic islands. Four of them are highly related to the clc element of Pseudomonas knackmussii B13, which encodes genes involved in the degradation of aromatics. Though being an environmental isolate, the sequenced B. petrii strain also encodes proteins related to virulence factors of the pathogenic Bordetellae, including the filamentous hemagglutinin, which is a major colonization factor of B. pertussis, and the master virulence regulator BvgAS. However, it lacks all known toxins of the pathogenic Bordetellae.
The genomic analysis suggests that B. petrii represents an evolutionary link between free-living environmental bacteria and the host-restricted obligate pathogenic Bordetellae. Its remarkable metabolic versatility may enable B. petrii to thrive in very different ecological niches.
PMCID: PMC2572626  PMID: 18826580

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