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  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available September 1, 2023
  2. Sousa, Filipa L. ; Schleper, Christa M. (Ed.)
    ABSTRACT Life emerged and diversified in the absence of molecular oxygen. The prevailing anoxia and unique sulfur chemistry in the Paleo-, Meso-, and Neoarchean and early Proterozoic eras may have supported microbial communities that differ from those currently thriving on the earth’s surface. Zodletone spring in southwestern Oklahoma represents a unique habitat where spatial sampling could substitute for geological eras namely, from the anoxic, surficial light-exposed sediments simulating a preoxygenated earth to overlaid water column where air exposure simulates oxygen intrusion during the Neoproterozoic era. We document a remarkably diverse microbial community in the anoxic spring sediments, with 340/516 (65.89%) of genomes recovered in a metagenomic survey belonging to 200 bacterial and archaeal families that were either previously undescribed or that exhibit an extremely rare distribution on the current earth. Such diversity is underpinned by the widespread occurrence of sulfite, thiosulfate, tetrathionate, and sulfur reduction and the paucity of sulfate reduction machineries in these taxa. Hence, these processes greatly expand lineages mediating reductive sulfur-cycling processes in the tree of life. An analysis of the overlaying oxygenated water community demonstrated the development of a significantly less diverse community dominated by well-characterized lineages and a prevalence of oxidative sulfur-cycling processes. Such amore »transition from ancient novelty to modern commonality underscores the profound impact of the great oxygenation event on the earth’s surficial anoxic community. It also suggests that novel and rare lineages encountered in current anaerobic habitats could represent taxa that once thrived in an anoxic earth but have failed to adapt to earth’s progressive oxygenation. IMPORTANCE Life on earth evolved in an anoxic setting; however, the identity and fate of microorganisms that thrived in a preoxygenated earth are poorly understood. In Zodletone spring, the prevailing geochemical conditions are remarkably similar to conditions prevailing in surficial earth prior to oxygen buildup in the atmosphere. We identify hundreds of previously unknown microbial lineages in the spring and demonstrate that these lineages possess the metabolic machinery to mediate a wide range of reductive sulfur processes, with the capacity to respire sulfite, thiosulfate, sulfur, and tetrathionate, rather than sulfate, which is a reflection of the differences in sulfur-cycling chemistry in ancient versus modern times. Collectively, such patterns strongly suggest that microbial diversity and sulfur-cycling processes in a preoxygenated earth were drastically different from the currently observed patterns and that the Great Oxygenation Event has precipitated the near extinction of a wide range of oxygen-sensitive lineages and significantly altered the microbial reductive sulfur-cycling community on earth.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available April 26, 2023
  3. Assessing microbial identity, diversity, and community structure could be a valuable tool for monitoring the impact of xenobiotics and anthropogenic inputs in rivers, especially in urban and industrial settings. Here, we characterize the Nile River microbial community in water and sediments in summer and winter at five locations that span its natural flow through the Cairo metropolis. 16S rRNA gene datasets were analyzed to identify the role played by sample type (sediment versus water), season, and location in shaping the community, as well as to predict functional potential of the Nile River microbiome. Microbial communities were mostly influenced by sampling type (sediments versus water), while seasonal effects were only observed in water samples. Spatial differences did not represent a significant factor in shaping the community in either summer or winter seasons. Proteobacteria was the most abundant phylum in both water and sediment samples, with the order Betaproteobacteriales being the abundant one. Chloroflexi and Bacteroidetes were also prevalent in sediment samples, while Cyanobacteria and Actinobacteria were abundant in water samples. The linear discriminative analysis effect size (LEfSe) identified the cyanobacterial genus Cyanobium PCC-6307 as the main variable between summer and winter water. Sequences representing human and animal potential pathogens, as wellmore »as toxin-producing Cyanobacteria, were identified in low abundance within the Nile microbiome. Functionally predicted metabolic pathways predicted the presence of antibiotic biosynthesis, as well as aerobic xenobiotic degradation pathways in the river microbiome.« less
  4. The anaerobic gut fungi (AGF; phylum Neocallimastigomycota ) reside in the alimentary tracts of herbivores. Multiple novel, yet-uncultured AGF taxa have recently been identified in culture-independent diversity surveys. Here, we report on the isolation and characterization of the first representative of the RH5 lineage from faecal samples of a wild blackbuck (Indian Antelope, Antilope cervicapra ) from Sutton County, Texas, USA. The isolates displayed medium sized (2–4 mm) compact circular colonies on agar roll tubes and thin loose biofilm-like growth in liquid medium. Microscopic examination revealed monoflagellated zoospores and polycentric thalli with highly branched nucleated filamentous rhizomycelium, a growth pattern encountered in a minority of described AGF genera so far. The obtained isolates are characterized by formation of spherical vesicles at the hyphal tips from which multiple sporangia formed either directly on the spherical vesicles or at the end of sporangiophores. Phylogenetic analysis using the D1/D2 regions of the large ribosomal subunit (D1/D2 LSU) and the ribosomal internal transcribed spacer 1 (ITS1) revealed sequence similarities of 93.5 and 81.3%, respectively, to the closest cultured relatives ( Orpinomyces joyonii strain D3A (D1/D2 LSU) and Joblinomyces apicalis strain GFH681 (ITS1). Substrate utilization experiments using the type strain (BB-3 T ) demonstrated growth capabilitiesmore »on a wide range of mono-, oligo- and polysaccharides, including glucose, xylose, mannose, fructose, cellobiose, sucrose, maltose, trehalose, lactose, cellulose, xylan, starch and raffinose. We propose accommodating these novel isolates in a new genus and species, for which the name Paucimyces polynucleatus gen. nov., sp. nov. is proposed.« less
  5. Newton, Irene L. (Ed.)
    ABSTRACT We analyzed five metagenome-assembled genomes (MAGs) belonging to the rare, yet-uncultured phylum CSSED10-310 recovered from the anoxic sediments of Zodletone Spring (Oklahoma). Our analysis suggests their potential involvement in sulfite respiration.
  6. Harwood, Caroline S. (Ed.)
    ABSTRACT The recent leveraging of genome-resolved metagenomics has generated an enormous number of genomes from novel uncultured microbial lineages yet left many clades undescribed. Here, we present a global analysis of genomes belonging to Binatota (UBP10), a globally distributed, yet-uncharacterized bacterial phylum. All orders in Binatota encoded the capacity for aerobic methylotrophy using methanol, methylamine, sulfomethanes, and chloromethanes as the substrates. Methylotrophy in Binatota was characterized by order-specific substrate degradation preferences, as well as extensive metabolic versatility, i.e., the utilization of diverse sets of genes, pathways, and combinations to achieve a specific metabolic goal. The genomes also encoded multiple alkane hydroxylases and monooxygenases, potentially enabling growth on a wide range of alkanes and fatty acids. Pigmentation is inferred from a complete pathway for carotenoids (lycopene, β- and γ-carotenes, xanthins, chlorobactenes, and spheroidenes) production. Further, the majority of genes involved in bacteriochlorophyll a , c , and d biosynthesis were identified, although absence of key genes and failure to identify a photosynthetic reaction center preclude proposing phototrophic capacities. Analysis of 16S rRNA databases showed the preferences of Binatota to terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems, hydrocarbon-rich habitats, and sponges, supporting their potential role in mitigating methanol and methane emissions, breakdown of alkanes, andmore »their association with sponges. Our results expand the lists of methylotrophic, aerobic alkane-degrading, and pigment-producing lineages. We also highlight the consistent encountering of incomplete biosynthetic pathways in microbial genomes, a phenomenon necessitating careful assessment when assigning putative functions based on a set-threshold of pathway completion. IMPORTANCE A wide range of microbial lineages remain uncultured, yet little is known regarding their metabolic capacities, physiological preferences, and ecological roles in various ecosystems. We conducted a thorough comparative genomic analysis of 108 genomes belonging to the Binatota (UBP10), a globally distributed, yet-uncharacterized bacterial phylum. We present evidence that members of the order Binatota specialize in methylotrophy and identify an extensive repertoire of genes and pathways mediating the oxidation of multiple one-carbon (C 1 ) compounds in Binatota genomes. The occurrence of multiple alkane hydroxylases and monooxygenases in these genomes was also identified, potentially enabling growth on a wide range of alkanes and fatty acids. Pigmentation is inferred from a complete pathway for carotenoids production. We also report on the presence of incomplete chlorophyll biosynthetic pathways in all genomes and propose several evolutionary-grounded scenarios that could explain such a pattern. Assessment of the ecological distribution patterns of the Binatota indicates preference of its members to terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems characterized by high methane and methanol emissions, as well as multiple hydrocarbon-rich habitats and marine sponges.« less
  7. Nikel, Pablo Ivan (Ed.)
    ABSTRACT Cultured Myxococcota are predominantly aerobic soil inhabitants, characterized by their highly coordinated predation and cellular differentiation capacities. Little is currently known regarding yet-uncultured Myxococcota from anaerobic, nonsoil habitats. We analyzed genomes representing one novel order (o__JAFGXQ01) and one novel family (f__JAFGIB01) in the Myxococcota from an anoxic freshwater spring (Zodletone Spring) in Oklahoma, USA. Compared to their soil counterparts, anaerobic Myxococcota possess smaller genomes and a smaller number of genes encoding biosynthetic gene clusters (BGCs), peptidases, one- and two-component signal transduction systems, and transcriptional regulators. Detailed analysis of 13 distinct pathways/processes crucial to predation and cellular differentiation revealed severely curtailed machineries, with the notable absence of homologs for key transcription factors (e.g., FruA and MrpC), outer membrane exchange receptor (TraA), and the majority of sporulation-specific and A-motility-specific genes. Further, machine learning approaches based on a set of 634 genes informative of social lifestyle predicted a nonsocial behavior for Zodletone Myxococcota . Metabolically, Zodletone Myxococcota genomes lacked aerobic respiratory capacities but carried genes suggestive of fermentation, dissimilatory nitrite reduction, and dissimilatory sulfate-reduction (in f_JAFGIB01) for energy acquisition. We propose that predation and cellular differentiation represent a niche adaptation strategy that evolved circa 500 million years ago (Mya) in response tomore »the rise of soil as a distinct habitat on Earth. IMPORTANCE The phylum Myxococcota is a phylogenetically coherent bacterial lineage that exhibits unique social traits. Cultured Myxococcota are predominantly aerobic soil-dwelling microorganisms that are capable of predation and fruiting body formation. However, multiple yet-uncultured lineages within the Myxococcota have been encountered in a wide range of nonsoil, predominantly anaerobic habitats, and the metabolic capabilities, physiological preferences, and capacity of social behavior of such lineages remain unclear. Here, we analyzed genomes recovered from a metagenomic analysis of an anoxic freshwater spring in Oklahoma, USA, that represent novel, yet-uncultured, orders and families in the Myxococcota . The genomes appear to lack the characteristic hallmarks for social behavior encountered in Myxococcota genomes and displayed a significantly smaller genome size and a smaller number of genes encoding biosynthetic gene clusters, peptidases, signal transduction systems, and transcriptional regulators. Such perceived lack of social capacity was confirmed through detailed comparative genomic analysis of 13 pathways associated with Myxococcota social behavior, as well as the implementation of machine learning approaches to predict social behavior based on genome composition. Metabolically, these novel Myxococcota are predicted to be strict anaerobes, utilizing fermentation, nitrate reduction, and dissimilarity sulfate reduction for energy acquisition. Our results highlight the broad patterns of metabolic diversity within the yet-uncultured Myxococcota and suggest that the evolution of predation and fruiting body formation in the Myxococcota has occurred in response to soil formation as a distinct habitat on Earth.« less