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  1. Buan, Nicole R. (Ed.)
    ABSTRACT Sideroxydans lithotrophicus ES-1 grows autotrophically either by Fe(II) oxidation or by thiosulfate oxidation, in contrast to most other isolates of neutrophilic Fe(II)-oxidizing bacteria (FeOB). This provides a unique opportunity to explore the physiology of a facultative FeOB and constrain the genes specific to Fe(II) oxidation. We compared the growth of S. lithotrophicus ES-1 on Fe(II), thiosulfate, and both substrates together. While initial growth rates were similar, thiosulfate-grown cultures had higher yield with or without Fe(II) present, which may give ES-1 an advantage over obligate FeOB. To investigate the Fe(II) and S oxidation pathways, we conducted transcriptomics experiments, validated with reverse transcription-quantitative PCR (RT-qPCR). We explored the long-term gene expression response at different growth phases (over days to a week) and expression changes during a short-term switch from thiosulfate to Fe(II) (90 min). The dsr and sox sulfur oxidation genes were upregulated in thiosulfate cultures. The Fe(II) oxidase gene cyc2 was among the top expressed genes during both Fe(II) and thiosulfate oxidation, and addition of Fe(II) to thiosulfate-grown cells caused an increase in cyc2 expression. These results support the role of Cyc2 as the Fe(II) oxidase and suggest that ES-1 maintains readiness to oxidize Fe(II), even in the absence ofmore »Fe(II). We used gene expression profiles to further constrain the ES-1 Fe(II) oxidation pathway. Notably, among the most highly upregulated genes during Fe(II) oxidation were genes for alternative complex III, reverse electron transport, and carbon fixation. This implies a direct connection between Fe(II) oxidation and carbon fixation, suggesting that CO 2 is an important electron sink for Fe(II) oxidation. IMPORTANCE Neutrophilic FeOB are increasingly observed in various environments, but knowledge of their ecophysiology and Fe(II) oxidation mechanisms is still relatively limited. Sideroxydans isolates are widely observed in aquifers, wetlands, and sediments, and genome analysis suggests metabolic flexibility contributes to their success. The type strain ES-1 is unusual among neutrophilic FeOB isolates, as it can grow on either Fe(II) or a non-Fe(II) substrate, thiosulfate. Almost all our knowledge of neutrophilic Fe(II) oxidation pathways comes from genome analyses, with some work on metatranscriptomes. This study used culture-based experiments to test the genes specific to Fe(II) oxidation in a facultative FeOB and refine our model of the Fe(II) oxidation pathway. We gained insight into how facultative FeOB like ES-1 connect Fe, S, and C biogeochemical cycling in the environment and suggest a multigene indicator would improve understanding of Fe(II) oxidation activity in environments with facultative FeOB.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available January 25, 2023
  2. Viruses are the most abundant and diverse biological entities on the planet and constitute a significant proportion of Earth’s genetic diversity. Most of this diversity is not represented by isolated viral-host systems and has only been observed through sequencing of viral metagenomes (viromes) from environmental samples. Viromes provide snapshots of viral genetic potential, and a wealth of information on viral community ecology. These data also provide opportunities for exploring the biochemistry of novel viral enzymes. The in vitro biochemical characteristics of novel viral DNA polymerases were explored, testing hypothesized differences in polymerase biochemistry according to protein sequence phylogeny. Forty-eight viral DNA Polymerase I (PolA) proteins from estuarine viromes, hot spring metagenomes, and reference viruses, encompassing a broad representation of currently known diversity, were synthesized, expressed, and purified. Novel functionality was shown in multiple PolAs. Intriguingly, some of the estuarine viral polymerases demonstrated moderate to strong innate DNA strand displacement activity at high enzyme concentration. Strand-displacing polymerases have important technological applications where isothermal reactions are desirable. Bioinformatic investigation of genes neighboring these strand displacing polymerases found associations with SNF2 helicase-associated proteins. The specific function of SNF2 family enzymes is unknown for prokaryotes and viruses. In eukaryotes, SNF2 enzymes have chromatin remodelingmore »functions but do not separate nucleic acid strands. This suggests the strand separation function may be fulfilled by the DNA polymerase for viruses carrying SNF2 helicase-associated proteins. Biochemical data elucidated from this study expands understanding of the biology and ecological behavior of unknown viruses. Moreover, given the numerous biotechnological applications of viral DNA polymerases, novel viral polymerases discovered within viromes may be a rich source of biological material for further in vitro DNA amplification advancements.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available April 21, 2023
  3. Free, publicly-accessible full text available February 1, 2023
  4. Abstract

    In principle, iron oxidation can fuel significant primary productivity and nutrient cycling in dark environments such as the deep sea. However, we have an extremely limited understanding of the ecology of iron-based ecosystems, and thus the linkages between iron oxidation, carbon cycling, and nitrate reduction. Here we investigate iron microbial mats from hydrothermal vents at Lōʻihi Seamount, Hawaiʻi, using genome-resolved metagenomics and metatranscriptomics to reconstruct potential microbial roles and interactions. Our results show that the aerobic iron-oxidizing Zetaproteobacteria are the primary producers, concentrated at the oxic mat surface. Their fixed carbon supports heterotrophs deeper in the mat, notably the second most abundant organism,Candidatus Ferristratumsp. (uncultivated gen. nov.) from the uncharacterized DTB120 phylum.Candidatus Ferristratumsp., described using nine high-quality metagenome-assembled genomes with similar distributions of genes, expressed nitrate reduction genesnarGHand the iron oxidation genecyc2in situ and in response to Fe(II) in a shipboard incubation, suggesting it is an anaerobic nitrate-reducing iron oxidizer.Candidatus Ferristratumsp. lacks a full denitrification pathway, relying on Zetaproteobacteria to remove intermediates like nitrite. Thus, at Lōʻihi, anaerobic iron oxidizers coexist with and are dependent on aerobic iron oxidizers. In total, our work shows how key community members work together to connect iron oxidation with carbon and nitrogen cycling,more »thus driving the biogeochemistry of exported fluids.

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  5. ABSTRACT Synechococcus spp. are unicellular cyanobacteria that are globally distributed and are important primary producers in marine coastal environments. Here, we report the complete genome sequence of Synechococcus sp. strain WH 8101 and identify genomic islands that may play a role in virus-host interactions.
  6. Phylogenetic trees are an important analytical tool for evaluating community diversity and evolutionary history. In the case of microorganisms, the decreasing cost of sequencing has enabled researchers to generate ever-larger sequence datasets, which in turn have begun to fill gaps in the evolutionary history of microbial groups. However, phylogenetic analyses of these types of datasets create complex trees that can be challenging to interpret. Scientific inferences made by visual inspection of phylogenetic trees can be simplified and enhanced by customizing various parts of the tree. Yet, manual customization is time-consuming and error prone, and programs designed to assist in batch tree customization often require programming experience or complicated file formats for annotation. Iroki, a user-friendly web interface for tree visualization, addresses these issues by providing automatic customization of large trees based on metadata contained in tab-separated text files. Iroki’s utility for exploring biological and ecological trends in sequencing data was demonstrated through a variety of microbial ecology applications in which trees with hundreds to thousands of leaf nodes were customized according to extensive collections of metadata. The Iroki web application and documentation are available at or through the VIROME portal . Iroki’s source code is released under themore »MIT license and is available at .« less
  7. ABSTRACT Zetaproteobacteria create extensive iron (Fe) oxide mats at marine hydrothermal vents, making them an ideal model for microbial Fe oxidation at circumneutral pH. Comparison of neutrophilic Fe oxidizer isolate genomes has revealed a hypothetical Fe oxidation pathway, featuring a homolog of the Fe oxidase Cyc2 from Acidithiobacillus ferrooxidans . However, Cyc2 function is not well verified in neutrophilic Fe oxidizers, particularly in Fe-oxidizing environments. Toward this, we analyzed genomes and metatranscriptomes of Zetaproteobacteria , using 53 new high-quality metagenome-assembled genomes reconstructed from Fe mats at Mid-Atlantic Ridge, Mariana Backarc, and Loihi Seamount (Hawaii) hydrothermal vents. Phylogenetic analysis demonstrated conservation of Cyc2 sequences among most neutrophilic Fe oxidizers, suggesting a common function. We confirmed the widespread distribution of cyc2 and other model Fe oxidation pathway genes across all represented Zetaproteobacteria lineages. High expression of these genes was observed in diverse Zetaproteobacteria under multiple environmental conditions and in incubations. The putative Fe oxidase gene cyc2 was highly expressed in situ , often as the top expressed gene. The cyc2 gene showed increased expression in Fe(II)-amended incubations, with corresponding increases in carbon fixation and central metabolism gene expression. These results substantiate the Cyc2-based Fe oxidation pathway in neutrophiles and demonstrate its significancemore »in marine Fe-mineralizing environments. IMPORTANCE Iron oxides are important components of our soil, water supplies, and ecosystems, as they sequester nutrients, carbon, and metals. Microorganisms can form iron oxides, but it is unclear whether this is a significant mechanism in the environment. Unlike other major microbial energy metabolisms, there is no marker gene for iron oxidation, hindering our ability to track these microbes. Here, we investigate a promising possible iron oxidation gene, cyc2 , in iron-rich hydrothermal vents, where iron-oxidizing microbes dominate. We pieced together diverse Zetaproteobacteria genomes, compared these genomes, and analyzed expression of cyc2 and other hypothetical iron oxidation genes. We show that cyc2 is widespread among iron oxidizers and is highly expressed and potentially regulated, making it a good marker for the capacity for iron oxidation and potentially a marker for activity. These findings will help us understand and potentially quantify the impacts of neutrophilic iron oxidizers in a wide variety of marine and terrestrial environments.« less
  8. ABSTRACT Viral infection exerts selection pressure on marine microbes, as virus-induced cell lysis causes 20 to 50% of cell mortality, resulting in fluxes of biomass into oceanic dissolved organic matter. Archaeal and bacterial populations can defend against viral infection using the clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeat (CRISPR)-associated (Cas) system, which relies on specific matching between a spacer sequence and a viral gene. If a CRISPR spacer match to any gene within a viral genome is equally effective in preventing lysis, no viral genes should be preferentially matched by CRISPR spacers. However, if there are differences in effectiveness, certain viral genes may demonstrate a greater frequency of CRISPR spacer matches. Indeed, homology search analyses of bacterioplankton CRISPR spacer sequences against virioplankton sequences revealed preferential matching of replication proteins, nucleic acid binding proteins, and viral structural proteins. Positive selection pressure for effective viral defense is one parsimonious explanation for these observations. CRISPR spacers from virioplankton metagenomes preferentially matched methyltransferase and phage integrase genes within virioplankton sequences. These virioplankton CRISPR spacers may assist infected host cells in defending against competing phage. Analyses also revealed that half of the spacer-matched viral genes were unknown, some genes matched several spacers, and some spacers matchedmore »multiple genes, a many-to-many relationship. Thus, CRISPR spacer matching may be an evolutionary algorithm, agnostically identifying those genes under stringent selection pressure for sustaining viral infection and lysis. Investigating this subset of viral genes could reveal those genetic mechanisms essential to virus-host interactions and provide new technologies for optimizing CRISPR defense in beneficial microbes. IMPORTANCE The CRISPR-Cas system is one means by which bacterial and archaeal populations defend against viral infection which causes 20 to 50% of cell mortality in the ocean. We tested the hypothesis that certain viral genes are preferentially targeted for the initial attack of the CRISPR-Cas system on a viral genome. Using CASC, a pipeline for CRISPR spacer discovery, and metagenome data from oceanic microbes and viruses, we found a clear subset of viral genes with high match frequencies to CRISPR spacers. Moreover, we observed a many-to-many relationship of spacers and viral genes. These high-match viral genes were involved in nucleotide metabolism, DNA methylation, and viral structure. It is possible that CRISPR spacer matching is an evolutionary algorithm pointing to those viral genes most important to sustaining infection and lysis. Studying these genes may advance the understanding of virus-host interactions in nature and provide new technologies for leveraging CRISPR-Cas systems in beneficial microbes.« less