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  1. Mapping of short metagenomic (or metatranscriptomic) read data to reference isolate or single-cell genomes or metagenome-assembled genomes (MAGs) to assess microbial population relative abundance and/or structure represents an essential task of many studies across environmental and clinical settings. The filtering for the quality of the read match and assessment of read mapping results are frequently performed without visual aids or with the assistance of visualizations produced through ad-hoc, in-house approaches. Here, we introduce RecruitPlotEasy, a fully automated, user-friendly pipeline for these purposes that integrates statistical approaches to quantify intra-population sequence and gene-content diversity and identify co-occurring relative populations in the sample. Hence, RecruitPlotEasy should also greatly facilitate population genetics studies. RecruitPlotEasy is implemented in Python and R languages and is freely available open source software under the Artistic License 2.0 from https://github.com/KGerhardt/RecruitPlotEasy .
  2. Abstract Background High-throughput sequencing has increased the number of available microbial genomes recovered from isolates, single cells, and metagenomes. Accordingly, fast and comprehensive functional gene annotation pipelines are needed to analyze and compare these genomes. Although several approaches exist for genome annotation, these are typically not designed for easy incorporation into analysis pipelines, do not combine results from different annotation databases or offer easy-to-use summaries of metabolic reconstructions, and typically require large amounts of computing power for high-throughput analysis not available to the average user. Results Here, we introduce MicrobeAnnotator, a fully automated, easy-to-use pipeline for the comprehensive functional annotation of microbial genomes that combines results from several reference protein databases and returns the matching annotations together with key metadata such as the interlinked identifiers of matching reference proteins from multiple databases [KEGG Orthology (KO), Enzyme Commission (E.C.), Gene Ontology (GO), Pfam, and InterPro]. Further, the functional annotations are summarized into Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes (KEGG) modules as part of a graphical output (heatmap) that allows the user to quickly detect differences among (multiple) query genomes and cluster the genomes based on their metabolic similarity. MicrobeAnnotator is implemented in Python 3 and is freely available under an open-sourcemore »Artistic License 2.0 from https://github.com/cruizperez/MicrobeAnnotator . Conclusions We demonstrated the capabilities of MicrobeAnnotator by annotating 100 Escherichia coli and 78 environmental Candidate Phyla Radiation (CPR) bacterial genomes and comparing the results to those of other popular tools. We showed that the use of multiple annotation databases allows MicrobeAnnotator to recover more annotations per genome compared to faster tools that use reduced databases and is computationally efficient for use in personal computers. The output of MicrobeAnnotator can be easily incorporated into other analysis pipelines while the results of other annotation tools can be seemingly incorporated into MicrobeAnnotator to generate summary plots.« less
  3. Gralnick, Jeffrey A. (Ed.)
    ABSTRACT The use of enterococci as a fecal indicator bacterial group for public health risk assessment has been brought into question by recent studies showing that “naturalized” populations of Enterococcus faecalis exist in the extraenteric environment. The extent to which these naturalized E. faecalis organisms can confound water quality monitoring is unclear. To determine if strains isolated from different habitats display different survival strategies and responses, we compared the decay patterns of three E. faecalis isolates from the natural environment (environmental strains) against three human gut isolates (enteric strains) in laboratory mesocosms that simulate an oligotrophic, aerobic freshwater environment. Our results showed similar overall decay rates between enteric and environmental isolates based on viable plate and quantitative PCR (qPCR) counts. However, the enteric isolates exhibited a spike in copy number ratios of 16S rRNA gene transcripts to 16S rRNA gene DNA copies (rRNA:rDNA ratios) between days 1 and 3 of the mesocosm incubations that was not observed in environmental isolates, which could indicate a different stress response. Nevertheless, there was no strong evidence of differential gene expression between environmental and enteric isolates related to habitat adaptation in the accompanying mesocosm metatranscriptomes. Overall, our results provide novel information on how rRNAmore »levels may vary over different growth conditions (e.g., standard lab versus oligotrophic) for this important indicator bacteria. We also observed some evidence for habitat adaptation in E. faecalis ; however, this adaptation may not be substantial or consistent enough for integration in water quality monitoring. IMPORTANCE Enterococci are commonly used worldwide to monitor environmental fecal contamination and public health risk for waterborne diseases. However, closely related enterococci strains adapted to living in the extraenteric environment may represent a lower public health risk and confound water quality estimates. We developed an rRNA:rDNA viability assay for E. faecalis (a predominant species within this fecal group) and tested it against both enteric and environmental isolates in freshwater mesocosms to assess whether this approach can serve as a more sensitive water quality monitoring tool. We were unable to reliably distinguish the different isolate types using this assay under the conditions tested; thus, environmental strains should continue to be counted during routine water monitoring. However, this assay could be useful for distinguishing more recent (i.e., higher-risk) fecal pollution because rRNA levels significantly decreased after 1 week in all isolates.« less
  4. Abstract Gallium nitride (GaN) has emerged as one of the most attractive base materials for next-generation high-power and high-frequency electronic devices. Recent efforts have focused on realizing vertical power device structures such as in situ oxide, GaN interlayer based vertical trench metal–oxide–semiconductor field-effect transistors (OG-FETs). Unfortunately, the higher-power density of GaN electronics inevitably leads to considerable device self-heating which impacts device performance and reliability. Halide vapor-phase epitaxy (HVPE) is currently the most common approach for manufacturing commercial GaN substrates used to build vertical GaN transistors. Vertical device structures consist of GaN layers of diverse doping levels. Hence, it is of crucial importance to measure and understand how the dopant type (Si, Fe, and Mg), doping level, and crystal quality alter the thermal conductivity of HVPE-grown bulk GaN. In this work, a steady-state thermoreflectance (SSTR) technique was used to measure the thermal conductivity of HVPE-grown GaN substrates employing different doping schemes and levels. Structural and electrical characterization methods including X-ray diffraction (XRD), secondary-ion mass spectrometry (SIMS), Raman spectroscopy, and Hall-effect measurements were used to determine and compare the GaN crystal quality, dislocation density, doping level, and carrier concentration. Using this comprehensive suite of characterization methods, the interrelation among structural/electrical parameters andmore »the thermal conductivity of bulk GaN substrates was investigated. While doping is evidenced to reduce the GaN thermal conductivity, the highest thermal conductivity (201 W/mK) is observed in a heavily Si-doped (1–5.00 × 1018 cm−3) substrate with the highest crystalline quality. This suggests that phonon-dislocation scattering dominates over phonon-impurity scattering in the tested HVPE-grown bulk GaN substrates. The results provide useful information for designing thermal management solutions for vertical GaN power electronic devices.« less