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Title: Strain Structure and Dynamics Revealed by Targeted Deep Sequencing of the Honey Bee Gut Microbiome
ABSTRACT Host-associated microbiomes can be critical for the health and proper development of animals and plants. The answers to many fundamental questions regarding the modes of acquisition and microevolution of microbiome communities remain to be established. Deciphering strain-level dynamics is essential to fully understand how microbial communities evolve, but the forces shaping the strain-level dynamics of microbial communities remain largely unexplored, mostly because of methodological issues and cost. Here, we used targeted strain-level deep sequencing to uncover the strain dynamics within a host-associated microbial community using the honey bee gut microbiome as a model system. Our results revealed that amplicon sequencing of conserved protein-coding gene regions using species-specific primers is a cost-effective and accurate method for exploring strain-level diversity. In fact, using this method we were able to confirm strain-level results that have been obtained from whole-genome shotgun sequencing of the honey bee gut microbiome but with a much higher resolution. Importantly, our deep sequencing approach allowed us to explore the impact of low-frequency strains (i.e., cryptic strains) on microbiome dynamics. Results show that cryptic strain diversity is not responsible for the observed variations in microbiome composition across bees. Altogether, the findings revealed new fundamental insights regarding strain dynamics of more » host-associated microbiomes. IMPORTANCE The factors driving fine-scale composition and dynamics of gut microbial communities are poorly understood. In this study, we used metagenomic amplicon deep sequencing to decipher the strain dynamics of two key members of the honey bee gut microbiome. Using this high-throughput and cost-effective approach, we were able to confirm results from previous large-scale whole-genome shotgun (WGS) metagenomic sequencing studies while also gaining additional insights into the community dynamics of two core members of the honey bee gut microbiome. Moreover, we were able to show that cryptic strains are not responsible for the observed variations in microbiome composition across bees. « less
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Campbell, Barbara J.
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National Science Foundation
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