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  1. Abstract Background

    Advances in microbiome science are being driven in large part due to our ability to study and infer microbial ecology from genomes reconstructed from mixed microbial communities using metagenomics and single-cell genomics. Such omics-based techniques allow us to read genomic blueprints of microorganisms, decipher their functional capacities and activities, and reconstruct their roles in biogeochemical processes. Currently available tools for analyses of genomic data can annotate and depict metabolic functions to some extent; however, no standardized approaches are currently available for the comprehensive characterization of metabolic predictions, metabolite exchanges, microbial interactions, and microbial contributions to biogeochemical cycling.

    Results

    We present METABOLIC (METabolic And BiogeOchemistry anaLyses In miCrobes), a scalable software to advance microbial ecology and biogeochemistry studies using genomes at the resolution of individual organisms and/or microbial communities. The genome-scale workflow includes annotation of microbial genomes, motif validation of biochemically validated conserved protein residues, metabolic pathway analyses, and calculation of contributions to individual biogeochemical transformations and cycles. The community-scale workflow supplements genome-scale analyses with determination of genome abundance in the microbiome, potential microbial metabolic handoffs and metabolite exchange, reconstruction of functional networks, and determination of microbial contributions to biogeochemical cycles. METABOLIC can take input genomes from isolates, metagenome-assembled genomes, ormore »single-cell genomes. Results are presented in the form of tables for metabolism and a variety of visualizations including biogeochemical cycling potential, representation of sequential metabolic transformations, community-scale microbial functional networks using a newly defined metric “MW-score” (metabolic weight score), and metabolic Sankey diagrams. METABOLIC takes ~ 3 h with 40 CPU threads to process ~ 100 genomes and corresponding metagenomic reads within which the most compute-demanding part of hmmsearch takes ~ 45 min, while it takes ~ 5 h to complete hmmsearch for ~ 3600 genomes. Tests of accuracy, robustness, and consistency suggest METABOLIC provides better performance compared to other software and online servers. To highlight the utility and versatility of METABOLIC, we demonstrate its capabilities on diverse metagenomic datasets from the marine subsurface, terrestrial subsurface, meadow soil, deep sea, freshwater lakes, wastewater, and the human gut.

    Conclusion

    METABOLIC enables the consistent and reproducible study of microbial community ecology and biogeochemistry using a foundation of genome-informed microbial metabolism, and will advance the integration of uncultivated organisms into metabolic and biogeochemical models. METABOLIC is written in Perl and R and is freely available under GPLv3 athttps://github.com/AnantharamanLab/METABOLIC.

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  2. Abstract Background Lagoons are common along coastlines worldwide and are important for biogeochemical element cycling, coastal biodiversity, coastal erosion protection and blue carbon sequestration. These ecosystems are frequently disturbed by weather, tides, and human activities. Here, we investigated a shallow lagoon in New England. The brackish ecosystem releases hydrogen sulfide particularly upon physical disturbance, causing blooms of anoxygenic sulfur-oxidizing phototrophs. To study the habitat, microbial community structure, assembly and function we carried out in situ experiments investigating the bloom dynamics over time. Results Phototrophic microbial mats and permanently or seasonally stratified water columns commonly contain multiple phototrophic lineages that coexist based on their light, oxygen and nutrient preferences. We describe similar coexistence patterns and ecological niches in estuarine planktonic blooms of phototrophs. The water column showed steep gradients of oxygen, pH, sulfate, sulfide, and salinity. The upper part of the bloom was dominated by aerobic phototrophic Cyanobacteria , the middle and lower parts by anoxygenic purple sulfur bacteria ( Chromatiales ) and green sulfur bacteria ( Chlorobiales ), respectively. We show stable coexistence of phototrophic lineages from five bacterial phyla and present metagenome-assembled genomes (MAGs) of two uncultured Chlorobaculum and Prosthecochloris species. In addition to genes involved in sulfur oxidation andmore »photopigment biosynthesis the MAGs contained complete operons encoding for terminal oxidases. The metagenomes also contained numerous contigs affiliating with Microviridae viruses, potentially affecting Chlorobi . Our data suggest a short sulfur cycle within the bloom in which elemental sulfur produced by sulfide-oxidizing phototrophs is most likely reduced back to sulfide by Desulfuromonas sp . Conclusions The release of sulfide creates a habitat selecting for anoxygenic sulfur-oxidizing phototrophs, which in turn create a niche for sulfur reducers. Strong syntrophism between these guilds apparently drives a short sulfur cycle that may explain the rapid development of the bloom. The fast growth and high biomass yield of Chlorobi -affiliated organisms implies that the studied lineages of green sulfur bacteria can thrive in hypoxic habitats. This oxygen tolerance is corroborated by oxidases found in MAGs of uncultured Chlorobi . The findings improve our understanding of the ecology and ecophysiology of anoxygenic phototrophs and their impact on the coupled biogeochemical cycles of sulfur and carbon.« less