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Trending Papers in microbiology

Biosensing in Smart Engineered Probiotics
Published: Dec 2019
  • Biosensing probiotics can be used for "smart" expression of therapeutics or sensing of health / other conditions in the host organism
  • These microbes can also be engineered to act as biosensors, with some means of intelligent control, where chemical or environmental cues determine when and where they produce the desired protein.
Submitted by Arye Lipman
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Researchers discover how plants distinguish beneficial from harmful microbes
From Paper: Ligand-recognizing motifs in plant LysM receptors are major determinants of specificity
  • This paper investigated how chitin and nodulation (Nod) factor receptors of Lotus japonicus initiate differential signaling of immunity or root nodule symbiosis
  • Ligand-recognizing motifs in plant LysM receptors are major determinants of specificity.
Submitted by plant biology
A universal trade-off between growth and lag in fluctuating environments
  • There is a trade-off between steady-state growth rate and physiological adaptability in Escherichia coli.
  • A model of sequential flux limitation not only explains the observed trade-off between growth and adaptability, but also allows quantitative predictions regarding the universal occurrence of such tradeoffs, based on the opposing enzyme requirements of glycolysis versus gluconeogenesis.
Submitted by plant biology
Microbiota modulate sympathetic neurons via a gut–brain circuit
Connections between the gut and brain monitor the intestinal tissue and its microbial and dietary content1, regulating both physiological intestinal functions such as nutrient absorption and motility2,3, and brain-wired feeding behaviour2. It is therefore plausible that circuits exist to detect gut microorganisms and relay this information to areas of the central nervous system that, in turn, regulate gut physiology4. Here we characterize the influence of the microbiota on enteric-associated neurons by combining gnotobiotic mouse models with transcriptomics, circuit-tracing methods and functional manipulations. We find that the gut microbiome modulates gut-extrinsic sympathetic neurons: microbiota depletion leads to increased expression of the neuronal transcription factor cFos, and colonization of germ-free mice with bacteria that produce short-chain fatty acids suppresses cFos expression in the gut sympathetic ganglia. Chemogenetic manipulations, translational profiling and anterograde tracing identify a subset of distal intestine-projecting vagal neurons that are positioned to have an afferent role in microbiota-mediated modulation of gut sympathetic neurons. Retrograde polysynaptic neuronal tracing from the intestinal wall identifies brainstem sensory nuclei that are activated during microbial depletion, as well as efferent sympathetic premotor glutamatergic neurons that regulate gastrointestinal transit. These results reveal microbiota-dependent control of gut-extrinsic sympathetic activation through a gut–brain circuit.
Submitted by Will McBurnie
A non-invasive technique to diagnose infections in patients with weak immune systems
From Paper: Next-generation sequencing of microbial cell-free DNA for rapid noninvasive diagnosis of infectious diseases in immunocompromised hosts
  • Pathogen identification by cfDNA NGS demonstrated positive agreement with conventional diagnostic laboratory methods in 7 (70%) cases
  • This study conducted an exploratory study using next-generation sequencing (NGS) for detection of microbial cfDNA in a cohort of ten immunocompromised patients with febrile neutropenia, pneumonia or intra-abdominal infection.
Submitted by Patrick Joyce
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A widespread coral-infecting apicomplexan contains a plastid encoding chlorophyll biosynthesis
Waldan Kwong, Javier Campo, Varsha Mathur, Mark Vermeij, Patrick Keeling
Published: Aug 2018
The Apicomplexa are an important group of obligate intracellular parasites that include the causative agents of human diseases like malaria and toxoplasmosis. They evolved from free-living, phototrophic ancestors, and how this transition to parasitism occurred remains an outstanding question. One potential clue lies in coral reefs, where environmental DNA surveys have uncovered several lineages of uncharacterized, basally-branching apicomplexans. Reef-building corals form a well-studied symbiotic relationship with the photosynthetic dinoflagellate Symbiodinium, but identification of other key microbial symbionts of corals has proven elusive. Here, we used community surveys, genomics, and microscopy to identify an apicomplexan lineage, which we name 'corallicola', that was found in high prevalence (>80%) across all major groups of corals. In-situ fluorescence and electron microscopy confirmed that corallicola lives intracellularly within the tissues of the coral gastric cavity, and possesses clear apicomplexan ultrastructural features. We sequenced the plastid genome, which lacked all genes for photosystem proteins, indicating that corallicola harbours a non-photosynthetic plastid (an apicoplast). However, the corallicola plastid differed from all other known apicoplasts because it retains all four genes involved in chlorophyll biosynthesis. Hence, corallicola shares characteristics with both its parasitic and free-living relatives, implicating it as an evolutionary intermediate, and suggesting that a unique ancestral biochemistry likely operated during the transition from phototrophy to parasitism.
Retrieved from biorxiv
Experimental demonstration that screening can enable the environmental recruitment of a defensive microbiome
Innocent, Tabitha, et al
Published: Jul 2018
Many animals and plants recruit beneficial microbes from the environment, enhancing their defence against pathogens. However, we have only a limited understanding of the assembly mechanisms involved. A game-theoretical concept from economics, screening, potentially explains that a host can selectively recruit antibiotic-producing microbes from the environment by fomenting and biasing competition among potential symbionts in such a way that the likely winners are mutualists. The cuticular microbiomes of Acromyrmex leaf-cutting ants inspired one of the first applications of screening theory to mutualisms, and here we use inoculation experiments to test the efficacy of screening in vitro. Using agar infused with antibacterial metabolites from the ants' vertically transmitted Pseudonocardia symbionts, we show that secondary antibiotic-producing bacteria have higher growth rates than do non-producer strains and are more likely to win in direct competition. Our results demonstrate that game-theoretical concepts from economics can provide powerful insight into host-microbiome coevolution.
Retrieved from biorxiv
Antibiotic resistance genes in agriculture and urban influenced watersheds in southwestern British Columbia
Uyaguari-Díaz, Miguel, et al
Published: Feb 2017
Background: The dissemination of antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs) from anthropogenic activities into the environment poses an emerging public health threat. Water constitutes a major vehicle for transport of both biological material and chemical substances. The present study focused on putative antibiotic resistance and integrase genes present in the microbiome of agricultural, urban influenced and protected watersheds in southwestern British Columbia, Canada. A metagenomics approach and high throughput quantitative PCR (HT qPCR) were used to screen for elements of resistance including ARGs and integron-associated integrase genes (intI). Sequencing of bacterial genomic DNA was used to characterize the resistome of microbial communities present in watersheds over a one-year period. Results: Data mining using CARD and Integrall databases enabled the identification of putative antibiotic resistance genes present in watershed samples. Antibiotic resistance genes presence in samples from various watershed locations was low relative to the microbial population (<1 %). Analysis of the metagenomic sequences detected a total of 78 ARGs and intI1 across all watershed locations. The relative abundance and richness of antibiotic resistance genes was found to be highest in agriculture impacted watersheds compared to protected and urban watersheds. Gene copy numbers (GCNs) from a subset of 21 different elements of antibiotic resistance were further estimated using HT qPCR. Most GCNs of ARGs were found to be variable over time. A downstream transport pattern was observed in the impacted watersheds (urban and agricultural) during dry months. Urban and agriculture impacted sites had a higher GCNs of ARGs compared to protected sites. Similar to other reports, this study found a strong association between intI1 and ARGs (e.g., sul1), an association which may be used as a proxy for anthropogenic activities. Chemical analysis of water samples for three major groups of antibiotics was negative. However, the high richness and GCNs of ARGs in impacted sites suggest effects of effluents on microbial communities are occurring even at low concentrations of antimicrobials in the water column. Conclusion: Antibiotic resistance and integrase genes in a year-long metagenomic study showed that ARGs were driven mainly by environmental factors from anthropogenized sites in agriculture and urban watersheds. Environmental factors accounted for almost 40% of the variability observed in watershed locations.
Retrieved from biorxiv
Near-complete Lokiarchaeota genomes from complex environmental samples using long and short read metagenomic analyses
Caceres, Eva, et al
Published: Dec 2019
Asgard archaea is a recently proposed superphylum currently comprised of five recognised phyla: Lokiarchaeota, Thorarchaeota, Odinarchaeota, Heimdallarchaeota and Helarchaeota. Members of this group have been identified based on culture-independent approaches with several metagenome-assembled genomes (MAGs) reconstructed to date. However, most of these genomes consist of several relatively small contigs, and, until recently, no complete Asgard archaea genome is yet available. Large scale phylogenetic analyses suggest that Asgard archaea represent the closest archaeal relatives of eukaryotes. In addition, members of this superphylum encode proteins that were originally thought to be specific to eukaryotes, including components of the trafficking machinery, cytoskeleton and endosomal sorting complexes required for transport (ESCRT). Yet, these findings have been questioned on the basis that the genome sequences that underpin them were assembled from metagenomic data, and could have been subjected to contamination and other assembly artefacts. Even though several lines of evidence indicate that the previously reported findings were not affected by these issues, having access to high-quality and preferentially fully closed Asgard archaea genomes is needed to definitively close this debate. Current long-read sequencing technologies such as Oxford Nanopore allow the generation of long reads in a high-throughput manner making them suitable for their use in metagenomics. Although the use of long reads is still limited in this field, recent analyses have shown that it is feasible to obtain complete or near-complete genomes of abundant members of mock communities and metagenomes of various level of complexity. Here, we show that long read metagenomics can be successfully applied to obtain near-complete genomes of low-abundant members of complex communities from sediment samples. We were able to reconstruct six MAGs from different Lokiarchaeota lineages that show high completeness and low fragmentation, with one of them being a near-complete genome only consisting of three contigs. Our analyses confirm that the eukaryote-like features previously associated with Lokiarchaeota are not the result of contamination or assembly artefacts, and can indeed be found in the newly reconstructed genomes.
Retrieved from biorxiv
Genome-Wide Fitness Analyses of the Foodborne Pathogen Campylobacter jejuni in In Vitro and In Vivo Models
Vries, Stefan, et al
Published: Nov 2016
Infection by Campylobacter is recognised as the most common cause of foodborne bacterial illness worldwide. Faecal contamination of meat, especially chicken, during processing represents a key route of transmission to humans. There is currently no licenced vaccine and no Campylobacter-resistant chickens. In addition, preventative measures aimed at reducing environmental contamination and exposure of chickens to Campylobacter jejuni (biosecurity) have been ineffective. There is much interest in the factors/mechanisms that drive C. jejuni colonisation and infection of animals, and survival in the environment. It is anticipated that understanding these mechanisms will guide the development of effective intervention strategies to reduce the burden of C. jejuni infection. Here we present a comprehensive analysis of C. jejuni fitness during growth and survival within and outside hosts. A comparative analysis of transposon (Tn) gene inactivation libraries in three C. jejuni strains by Tn-seq demonstrated that a large proportion, 331 genes, of the C. jejuni genome is dedicated to (in vitro) growth. An extensive Tn library in C. jejuni M1cam (~10,000 mutants) was screened for the colonisation of commercial broiler chickens, survival in houseflies and under nutrient-rich and -poor conditions at low temperature, and infection of human gut epithelial cells. We report C. jejuni factors essential throughout its life cycle and we have identified genes that fulfil important roles across multiple conditions, including maf3, fliW, fliD, pflB and capM, as well as novel genes uniquely implicated in survival outside hosts. Taking a comprehensive screening approach has confirmed previous studies, that the flagella are central to the ability of C. jejuni to interact with its hosts. Future efforts should focus on how to exploit this knowledge to effectively control infections caused by C. jejuni.
Retrieved from biorxiv
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