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  1. McMahon, Katherine (Ed.)

    This work significantly advances our understanding of biodiversity and microbial interactions in herptile microbiomes, the role that fungi play as a structural and functional members of herptile gut microbiomes, and the chemical functions that structure microbiome phenotypes. We also provide an important observational system of how the gut microbiome represents a unique environment that selects for novel metabolic functions through horizontal gene transfer between fungi and bacteria. Such studies are needed to better understand the complexity of gut microbiomes in nature and will inform conservation strategies for threatened species of herpetofauna.

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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available February 13, 2025
  2. Free, publicly-accessible full text available September 3, 2024
  3. Alspaugh, J. Andrew (Ed.)
    The identification of MRS4 mutations in Clavispora ( Candida ) lusitaniae and Exophiala dermatitidis in individuals with cystic fibrosis (CF) highlights a possible adaptive mechanism for fungi during chronic CF lung infections. The findings of this study suggest that loss of function of the mitochondrial iron transporter Mrs4 can lead to increased activity of iron acquisition mechanisms, which may be advantageous for fungi in iron-restricted environments during chronic infections. This study provides valuable information for researchers working toward a better understanding of the pathogenesis of chronic lung infections and more effective therapies to treat them. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available July 23, 2024
  4. Nowrousian, M (Ed.)
    Abstract Individuals with cystic fibrosis (CF) are susceptible to chronic lung infections that lead to inflammation and irreversible lung damage. While most respiratory infections that occur in CF are caused by bacteria, some are dominated by fungi such as the slow-growing black yeast Exophiala dermatitidis. Here, we analyze isolates of E. dermatitidis cultured from two samples, collected from a single subject 2 years apart. One isolate genome was sequenced using long-read Nanopore technology as an in-population reference to use in comparative single nucleotide polymorphism and insertion–deletion variant analyses of 23 isolates. We then used population genomics and phylo-genomics to compare the isolates to each other as well as the reference genome strain E. dermatitidis NIH/UT8656. Within the CF lung population, three E. dermatitidis clades were detected, each with varying mutation rates. Overall, the isolates were highly similar suggesting that they were recently diverged. All isolates were MAT 1-1, which was consistent with their high relatedness and the absence of evidence for mating or recombination between isolates. Phylogenetic analysis grouped sets of isolates into clades that contained isolates from both early and late time points indicating there are multiple persistent lineages. Functional assessment of variants unique to each clade identified alleles in genes that encode transporters, cytochrome P450 oxidoreductases, iron acquisition, and DNA repair processes. Consistent with the genomic heterogeneity, isolates showed some stable phenotype heterogeneity in melanin production, subtle differences in antifungal minimum inhibitory concentrations, and growth on different substrates. The persistent population heterogeneity identified in lung-derived isolates is an important factor to consider in the study of chronic fungal infections, and the analysis of changes in fungal pathogens over time may provide important insights into the physiology of black yeasts and other slow-growing fungi in vivo. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available June 9, 2024
  5. Free, publicly-accessible full text available May 16, 2024
  6. Rokas, Antonis (Ed.)
    ABSTRACT The genomes of eighteen Fusarium isolates cultured from diseased and healthy citrus trees were sequenced, assembled, and annotated. Isolate species identification was confirmed using single marker (TEF1-alpha) phylogenetic assessment. Studies of the traits and genotypes of plant-associated isolates are important to understanding the fungal contribution to phytobiomes of citrus. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available May 17, 2024
  7. Abstract

    Acarospora socialis, the bright cobblestone lichen, is commonly found in southwestern North America. This charismatic yellow lichen is a species of key ecological significance as it is often a pioneer species in new environments. Despite their ecological importance virtually no research has been conducted on the genomics of A. socialis. To address this, we used long-read sequencing to generate the first high-quality draft genome of A. socialis. Lichen thallus tissue was collected from Pinkham Canyon in Joshua Tree National Park, California and deposited in the UC Riverside herbarium under accession #295874. The de novo assembly of the mycobiont partner of the lichen was generated from Pacific Biosciences HiFi long reads and Dovetail Omni-C chromatin capture data. After removing algal and bacterial contigs, the fungal genome was approximately 31.2 Mb consisting of 38 scaffolds with contig and scaffold N50 of 2.4 Mb. The BUSCO completeness score of the assembled genome was 97.5% using the Ascomycota gene set. Information on the genome of A. socialis is important for California conservation purposes given that this lichen is threatened in some places locally by wildfires due to climate change. This reference genome will be used for understanding the genetic diversity, population genomics, and comparative genomics of A. socialis species. Genomic resources for this species will support population and landscape genomics investigations, exploring the use of A. socialis as a bioindicator species for climate change, and in studies of adaptation by comparing populations that occur across aridity gradients in California.

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  8. Introduction Soil microbial communities, including biological soil crust microbiomes, play key roles in water, carbon and nitrogen cycling, biological weathering, and other nutrient releasing processes of desert ecosystems. However, our knowledge of microbial distribution patterns and ecological drivers is still poor, especially so for the Chihuahuan Desert. Methods This project investigated the effects of trampling disturbance on surface soil microbiomes, explored community composition and structure, and related patterns to abiotic and biotic landscape characteristics within the Chihuahuan Desert biome. Composite soil samples were collected in disturbed and undisturbed areas of 15 long-term ecological research plots in the Jornada Basin, New Mexico. Microbial diversity of cross-domain microbial groups (total Bacteria, Cyanobacteria, Archaea, and Fungi) was obtained via DNA amplicon metabarcode sequencing. Sequence data were related to landscape characteristics including vegetation type, landforms, ecological site and state as well as soil properties including gravel content, soil texture, pH, and electrical conductivity. Results Filamentous Cyanobacteria dominated the photoautotrophic community while Proteobacteria and Actinobacteria dominated among the heterotrophic bacteria. Thaumarchaeota were the most abundant Archaea and drought adapted taxa in Dothideomycetes and Agaricomycetes were most abundant fungi in the soil surface microbiomes. Apart from richness within Archaea ( p  = 0.0124), disturbed samples did not differ from undisturbed samples with respect to alpha diversity and community composition ( p  ≥ 0.05), possibly due to a lack of frequent or impactful disturbance. Vegetation type and landform showed differences in richness of Bacteria, Archaea, and Cyanobacteria but not in Fungi. Richness lacked strong relationships with soil variables. Landscape features including parent material, vegetation type, landform type, and ecological sites and states, exhibited stronger influence on relative abundances and microbial community composition than on alpha diversity, especially for Cyanobacteria and Fungi. Soil texture, moisture, pH, electrical conductivity, lichen cover, and perennial plant biomass correlated strongly with microbial community gradients detected in NMDS ordinations. Discussion Our study provides first comprehensive insights into the relationships between landscape characteristics, associated soil properties, and cross-domain soil microbiomes in the Chihuahuan Desert. Our findings will inform land management and restoration efforts and aid in the understanding of processes such as desertification and state transitioning, which represent urgent ecological and economical challenges in drylands around the world. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available June 7, 2024
  9. Abstract Background

    Rock-dwelling microorganisms are key players in ecosystem functioning of Antarctic ice free-areas. Yet, little is known about their diversity and ecology, and further still, viruses in these communities have been largely unexplored despite important roles related to host metabolism and nutrient cycling. To begin to address this, we present a large-scale viral catalog from Antarctic rock microbial communities.


    We performed metagenomic analyses on rocks from across Antarctica representing a broad range of environmental and spatial conditions, and which resulted in a predicted viral catalog comprising > 75,000 viral operational taxonomic units (vOTUS). We found largely undescribed, highly diverse and spatially structured virus communities which had predicted auxiliary metabolic genes (AMGs) with functions indicating that they may be potentially influencing bacterial adaptation and biogeochemistry.


    This catalog lays the foundation for expanding knowledge of virosphere diversity, function, spatial ecology, and dynamics in extreme environments. This work serves as a step towards exploring adaptability of microbial communities in the face of a changing climate.

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  10. Sil, Anita (Ed.)
    Aspergillus fumigatus is a deadly agent of human fungal disease where virulence heterogeneity is thought to be at least partially structured by genetic variation between strains. While population genomic analyses based on reference genome alignments offer valuable insights into how gene variants are distributed across populations, these approaches fail to capture intraspecific variation in genes absent from the reference genome. Pan-genomic analyses based on de novo assemblies offer a promising alternative to reference-based genomics with the potential to address the full genetic repertoire of a species. Here, we evaluate 260 genome sequences of A . fumigatus including 62 newly sequenced strains, using a combination of population genomics, phylogenomics, and pan-genomics. Our results offer a high-resolution assessment of population structure and recombination frequency, phylogenetically structured gene presence–absence variation, evidence for metabolic specificity, and the distribution of putative antifungal resistance genes. Although A . fumigatus disperses primarily via asexual conidia, we identified extraordinarily high levels of recombination with the lowest linkage disequilibrium decay value reported for any fungal species to date. We provide evidence for 3 primary populations of A . fumigatus , with recombination occurring only rarely between populations and often within them. These 3 populations are structured by both gene variation and distinct patterns of gene presence–absence with unique suites of accessory genes present exclusively in each clade. Accessory genes displayed functional enrichment for nitrogen and carbohydrate metabolism suggesting that populations may be stratified by environmental niche specialization. Similarly, the distribution of antifungal resistance genes and resistance alleles were often structured by phylogeny. Altogether, the pan-genome of A . fumigatus represents one of the largest fungal pan-genomes reported to date including many genes unrepresented in the Af293 reference genome. These results highlight the inadequacy of relying on a single-reference genome-based approach for evaluating intraspecific variation and the power of combined genomic approaches to elucidate population structure, genetic diversity, and putative ecological drivers of clinically relevant fungi. 
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