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  1. Newton, Irene L. (Ed.)
    ABSTRACT Here, we present virMine 2.0, the next generation of the virMine software tool. virMine 2.0 uses an exclusion technique to remove nonviral data from sequencing reads and scores the remaining data based on relatedness to viral elements, eliminating the sole dependency on homology identification. 
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  2. null (Ed.)
    Polyomaviruses are abundant in the human body. The polyomaviruses JC virus (JCPyV) and BK virus (BKPyV) are common viruses in the human urinary tract. Prior studies have estimated that JCPyV infects between 20 and 80% of adults and that BKPyV infects between 65 and 90% of individuals by age 10. However, these two viruses encode for the same six genes and share 75% nucleotide sequence identity across their genomes. While prior urinary virome studies have repeatedly reported the presence of JCPyV, we were interested in seeing how JCPyV prevalence compares to BKPyV. We retrieved all publicly available shotgun metagenomic sequencing reads from urinary microbiome and virome studies (n = 165). While one third of the data sets produced hits to JCPyV, upon further investigation were we able to determine that the majority of these were in fact BKPyV. This distinction was made by specifically mining for JCPyV and BKPyV and considering uniform coverage across the genome. This approach provides confidence in taxon calls, even between closely related viruses with significant sequence similarity. 
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  3. null (Ed.)
    Staphylococci can cause a wide array of infections that can be life threatening. These infections become more deadly when the isolates are antibiotic resistant and thus harder to treat. Many resistance determinants are plasmid-mediated; however, staphylococcal plasmids have not yet been fully characterized. In particular, plasmids and their contributions to antibiotic resistance have not been investigated within the Arab states, where antibiotic use is not universally regulated. Here, we characterized the putative plasmid content among 56 Staphylococcus aureus and 10 Staphylococcus haemolyticus clinical isolates from Alexandria, Egypt. Putative plasmid sequences were detected in over half of our collection. In total, we identified 72 putative plasmid sequences in 27 S. aureus and 1 S. haemolyticus isolates. While these isolates typically carried one or two plasmids, we identified one isolate— S. aureus AA53—with 11 putative plasmids. The plasmid sequences most frequently encoded a Rep_1, RepL, or PriCT_1 type replication protein. As expected, antibiotic resistance genes were widespread among the identified plasmid sequences. Related plasmids were identified amongst our clinical isolates; homologous plasmids present in multiple isolates clustered into 11 groups based upon sequence similarity. Plasmids from the same cluster often shared antibiotic resistance genes, including blaZ , which is associated with β-lactam resistance. Our analyses suggest that plasmids are a key factor in the pathology and epidemiology of S. aureus in Egypt. A better characterization of plasmids and the role they contribute to the success of Staphylococci as pathogens will guide the design of effective control strategies to limit their spread. 
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  4. Background A pangenome is the collection of all genes found in a set of related genomes. For microbes, these genomes are often different strains of the same species, and the pangenome offers a means to compare gene content variation with differences in phenotypes, ecology, and phylogenetic relatedness. Though most frequently applied to bacteria, there is growing interest in adapting pangenome analysis to bacteriophages. However, working with phage genomes presents new challenges. First, most phage families are under-sampled, and homologous genes in related viruses can be difficult to identify. Second, homing endonucleases and intron-like sequences may be present, resulting in fragmented gene calls. Each of these issues can reduce the accuracy of standard pangenome analysis tools. Methods We developed an R pipeline called Rephine.r that takes as input the gene clusters produced by an initial pangenomics workflow. Rephine.r then proceeds in two primary steps. First, it identifies three common causes of fragmented gene calls: (1) indels creating early stop codons and new start codons; (2) interruption by a selfish genetic element; and (3) splitting at the ends of the reported genome. Fragmented genes are then fused to create new sequence alignments. In tandem, Rephine.r searches for distant homologs separated into different gene families using Hidden Markov Models. Significant hits are used to merge families into larger clusters. A final round of fragment identification is then run, and results may be used to infer single-copy core genomes and phylogenetic trees. Results We applied Rephine.r to three well-studied phage groups: the Tevenvirinae (e.g., T4), the Studiervirinae (e.g., T7), and the Pbunaviruses (e.g., PB1). In each case, Rephine.r recovered additional members of the single-copy core genome and increased the overall bootstrap support of the phylogeny. The Rephine.r pipeline is provided through GitHub ( ) as a single script for automated analysis and with utility functions to assist in building single-copy core genomes and predicting the sources of fragmented genes. 
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  5. null (Ed.)
    Corynebacterium phoceense is a Gram-positive species previously isolated from human urine. Although other species from the same genus have been associated with urinary tract infections, C. phoceense is currently believed to be a non-pathogenic member of the urogenital microbiota. Prior to our study, only two isolates were described in the literature, and very little is known about the species. Here, we describe C. phoceense UFMG-H7, the first strain of this species isolated from the urine of healthy cattle. The genome for this isolate was produced and compared to the two other publicly available C. phoceense as well as other Corynebacterium genome assemblies. Our in-depth genomic analysis identified four additional publicly available genome assemblies that are representatives of the species, also isolated from the human urogenital tract. Although none of the strains have been associated with symptoms or disease, numerous genes associated with virulence factors are encoded. In contrast to related Corynebacterium species and Corynebacterium species from the bovine vaginal tract, all C. phoceense strains examined code for the SpaD-type pili suggesting adherence is essential for its persistence within the urinary tract. As the other C. phoceense strains analysed were isolated from the human urogenital tract, our results suggest that this species may be specific to this niche. 
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  6. Rao, Krishna (Ed.)
    ABSTRACT Gardnerella is a frequent member of the urogenital microbiota. Given the association between Gardnerella vaginalis and bacterial vaginosis (BV), significant efforts have been focused on characterizing this species in the vaginal microbiota. However, Gardnerella also is a frequent member of the urinary microbiota. In an effort to characterize the bacterial species of the urinary microbiota, we present here 10 genomes of urinary Gardnerella isolates from women with and without lower urinary tract symptoms. These genomes complement those of 22 urinary Gardnerella strains previously isolated and sequenced by our team. We included these genomes in a comparative genome analysis of all publicly available Gardnerella genomes, which include 33 urinary isolates, 78 vaginal isolates, and 2 other isolates. While once this genus was thought to consist of a single species, recent comparative genome analyses have revealed 3 new species and an additional 9 groups within Gardnerella . Based upon our analysis, we suggest a new group for the species. We also find that distinction between these Gardnerella species/groups is possible only when considering the core or whole-genome sequence, as neither the sialidase nor vaginolysin genes are sufficient for distinguishing between species/groups despite their clinical importance. In contrast to the vaginal microbiota, we found that only five Gardnerella species/groups have been detected within the lower urinary tract. Although we found no association between a particular Gardnerella species/group(s) and urinary symptoms, further sequencing of urinary Gardnerella isolates is needed for both comprehensive taxonomic characterization and etiological classification of Gardnerella in the urinary tract. IMPORTANCE Prior research into the bacterium Gardnerella vaginalis has largely focused on its association with bacterial vaginosis (BV). However, G. vaginalis is also frequently found within the urinary microbiota of women with and without lower urinary tract symptoms as well as individuals with chronic kidney disease, interstitial cystitis, and BV. This prompted our investigation into Gardnerella from the urinary microbiota and all publicly available Gardnerella genomes from the urogenital tract. Our work suggests that while some Gardnerella species can survive in both the urinary tract and vagina, others likely cannot. This study provides the foundation for future studies of Gardnerella within the urinary tract and its possible contribution to lower urinary tract symptoms. 
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  7. null (Ed.)
    Staphylococcus aureus infections are of growing concern given the increased incidence of antibiotic resistant strains. Egypt, like several other countries, has seen alarming increases in methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA) infections. This species can rapidly acquire genes associated with resistance, as well as virulence factors, through mobile genetic elements, including phages. Recently, we sequenced 56 S. aureus genomes from Alexandria Main University Hospital in Alexandria, Egypt, complementing 17 S. aureus genomes publicly available from other sites in Egypt. In the current study, we found that the majority (73.6%) of these strains contain intact prophages, including Biseptimaviruses, Phietaviruses, and Triaviruses. Further investigation of these prophages revealed evidence of horizontal exchange of the integrase for two of the prophages. These Egyptian S. aureus prophages are predicted to encode numerous virulence factors, including genes associated with immune evasion and toxins, including the Panton–Valentine leukocidin (PVL)-associated genes lukF-PV/lukS-PV. Thus, prophages are likely to be a major contributor to the virulence of S. aureus strains in circulation in Egypt. 
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  8. null (Ed.)
    Abstract Filamentous phages establish chronic infections in their bacterial hosts, and new phages are secreted by infected bacteria for multiple generations, typically without causing host death. Often, these viruses integrate in their host’s genome by co-opting the host’s XerCD recombinase system. In several cases, these viruses also encode genes that increase bacterial virulence in plants and animals. Here, we describe a new filamentous phage, UPϕ901, which we originally found integrated in a clinical isolate of Escherichia coli from urine. UPϕ901 and closely related phages can be found in published genomes of over 200 other bacteria, including strains of Citrobacter koseri, Salmonella enterica, Yersinia enterocolitica, and Klebsiella pneumoniae. Its closest relatives are consistently found in urine or in the blood and feces of patients with urinary tract infections. More distant relatives can be found in isolates from other environments, including sewage, water, soil, and contaminated food. Each of these phages, which we collectively call ‘UPϕ viruses’, also harbors two or more novel genes of unknown function. 
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  9. Ling, Zongxin (Ed.)