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  1. Kuo, Chih-Horng (Ed.)
    Laboratory mice are widely studied as models of mammalian biology, including the microbiota. However, much of the taxonomic and functional diversity of the mouse gut microbiome is missed in current metagenomic studies, because genome databases have not achieved a balanced representation of the diverse members of this ecosystem. Towards solving this problem, we used flow cytometry and low-coverage sequencing to capture the genomes of 764 single cells from the stool of three laboratory mice. From these, we generated 298 high-coverage microbial genome assemblies, which we annotated for open reading frames and phylogenetic placement. These genomes increase the gene catalog and phylogenetic breadth of the mouse microbiota, adding 135 novel species with the greatest increase in diversity to the Muribaculaceae and Bacteroidaceae families. This new diversity also improves the read mapping rate, taxonomic classifier performance, and gene detection rate of mouse stool metagenomes. The novel microbial functions revealed through our single-cell genomes highlight previously invisible pathways that may be important for life in the murine gastrointestinal tract.
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available April 13, 2023
  2. Phosphonates are organophosphorus metabolites with a characteristic C-P bond. They are ubiquitous in the marine environment, their degradation broadly supports ecosystem productivity, and they are key components of the marine phosphorus (P) cycle. However, the microbial producers that sustain the large oceanic inventory of phosphonates as well as the physiological and ecological roles of phosphonates are enigmatic. Here, we show that phosphonate synthesis genes are rare but widely distributed among diverse bacteria and archaea, including Prochlorococcus and SAR11, the two major groups of bacteria in the ocean. In addition, we show that Prochlorococcus can allocate over 40% of its total cellular P-quota toward phosphonate production. However, we find no evidence that Prochlorococcus uses phosphonates for surplus P storage, and nearly all producer genomes lack the genes necessary to degrade and assimilate phosphonates. Instead, we postulate that phosphonates are associated with cell-surface glycoproteins, suggesting that phosphonates mediate ecological interactions between the cell and its surrounding environment. Our findings indicate that the oligotrophic surface ocean phosphonate pool is sustained by a relatively small fraction of the bacterioplankton cells allocating a significant portion of their P quotas toward secondary metabolism and away from growth and reproduction.
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available March 15, 2023
  3. Fluids circulating through oceanic crust play important roles in global biogeochemical cycling mediated by their microbial inhabitants, but studying these sites is challenged by sampling logistics and low biomass. Borehole observatories installed at the North Pond study site on the western flank of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge have enabled investigation of the microbial biosphere in cold, oxygenated basaltic oceanic crust. Here we test a methodology that applies redox-sensitive fluorescent molecules for flow cytometric sorting of cells for single cell genomic sequencing from small volumes of low biomass (approximately 10 3 cells ml –1 ) crustal fluid. We compare the resulting genomic data to a recently published paired metagenomic and metatranscriptomic analysis from the same site. Even with low coverage genome sequencing, sorting cells from less than one milliliter of crustal fluid results in similar interpretation of dominant taxa and functional profiles as compared to ‘omics analysis that typically filter orders of magnitude more fluid volume. The diverse community dominated by Gammaproteobacteria, Bacteroidetes, Desulfobacterota, Alphaproteobacteria, and Zetaproteobacteria, had evidence of autotrophy and heterotrophy, a variety of nitrogen and sulfur cycling metabolisms, and motility. Together, results indicate fluorescence activated cell sorting methodology is a powerful addition to the toolbox for the study ofmore »low biomass systems or at sites where only small sample volumes are available for analysis.« less
  4. Abstract With advances in DNA sequencing and miniaturized molecular biology workflows, rapid and affordable sequencing of single-cell genomes has become a reality. Compared to 16S rRNA gene surveys and shotgun metagenomics, large-scale application of single-cell genomics to whole microbial communities provides an integrated snapshot of community composition and function, directly links mobile elements to their hosts, and enables analysis of population heterogeneity of the dominant community members. To that end, we sequenced nearly 500 single-cell genomes from a low diversity hot spring sediment sample from Dewar Creek, British Columbia, and compared this approach to 16S rRNA gene amplicon and shotgun metagenomics applied to the same sample. We found that the broad taxonomic profiles were similar across the three sequencing approaches, though several lineages were missing from the 16S rRNA gene amplicon dataset, likely the result of primer mismatches. At the functional level, we detected a large array of mobile genetic elements present in the single-cell genomes but absent from the corresponding same species metagenome-assembled genomes. Moreover, we performed a single-cell population genomic analysis of the three most abundant community members, revealing differences in population structure based on mutation and recombination profiles. While the average pairwise nucleotide identities were similar acrossmore »the dominant species-level lineages, we observed differences in the extent of recombination between these dominant populations. Most intriguingly, the creek’s Hydrogenobacter sp . population appeared to be so recombinogenic that it more closely resembled a sexual species than a clonally evolving microbe. Together, this work demonstrates that a randomized single-cell approach can be useful for the exploration of previously uncultivated microbes from community composition to population structure.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available May 1, 2023
  5. Abstract Background

    The Spacecraft Assembly Facility (SAF) at the NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory is the primary cleanroom facility used in the construction of some of the planetary protection (PP)-sensitive missions developed by NASA, including the Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover that launched in July 2020. SAF floor samples (n=98) were collected, over a 6-month period in 2016 prior to the construction of the Mars rover subsystems, to better understand the temporal and spatial distribution of bacterial populations (total, viable, cultivable, and spore) in this unique cleanroom.


    Cleanroom samples were examined for total (living and dead) and viable (living only) microbial populations using molecular approaches and cultured isolates employing the traditional NASA standard spore assay (NSA), which predominantly isolated spores. The 130 NSA isolates were represented by 16 bacterial genera, of which 97% were identified as spore-formers via Sanger sequencing. The most spatially abundant isolate wasBacillus subtilis, and the most temporally abundant spore-former wasVirgibacillus panthothenticus. The 16S rRNA gene-targeted amplicon sequencing detected 51 additional genera not found in the NSA method. The amplicon sequencing of the samples treated with propidium monoazide (PMA), which would differentiate between viable and dead organisms, revealed a total of 54 genera: 46 viable non-spore forming genera and 8more »viable spore forming genera in these samples. The microbial diversity generated by the amplicon sequencing corresponded to ~86% non-spore-formers and ~14% spore-formers. The most common spatially distributed genera wereSphinigobium,Geobacillus, andBacilluswhereas temporally distributed common genera wereAcinetobacter,Geobacilllus, andBacillus. Single-cell genomics detected 6 genera in the sample analyzed, with the most prominent beingAcinetobacter.


    This study clearly established that detecting spores via NSA does not provide a complete assessment for the cleanliness of spacecraft-associated environments since it failed to detect several PP-relevant genera that were only recovered via molecular methods. This highlights the importance of a methodological paradigm shift to appropriately monitor bioburden in cleanrooms for not only the aeronautical industry but also for pharmaceutical, medical industries, etc., and the need to employ molecular sequencing to complement traditional culture-based assays.

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  6. Hydrogenotrophic methanogens are ubiquitous chemoautotrophic archaea inhabiting globally distributed deep-sea hydrothermal vent ecosystems and associated subseafloor niches within the rocky subseafloor, yet little is known about how they adapt and diversify in these habitats. To determine genomic variation and selection pressure within methanogenic populations at vents, we examined five Methanothermococcus single cell amplified genomes (SAGs) in conjunction with 15 metagenomes and 10 metatranscriptomes from venting fluids at two geochemically distinct hydrothermal vent fields on the Mid-Cayman Rise in the Caribbean Sea. We observed that some Methanothermococcus lineages and their transcripts were more abundant than others in individual vent sites, indicating differential fitness among lineages. The relative abundances of lineages represented by SAGs in each of the samples matched phylogenetic relationships based on single-copy universal genes, and genes related to nitrogen fixation and the CRISPR/Cas immune system were among those differentiating the clades. Lineages possessing these genes were less abundant than those missing that genomic region. Overall, patterns in nucleotide variation indicated that the population dynamics of Methanothermococcus were not governed by clonal expansions or selective sweeps, at least in the habitats and sampling times included in this study. Together, our results show that although specific lineages of Methanothermococcus co-exist inmore »these habitats, some outcompete others, and possession of accessory metabolic functions does not necessarily provide a fitness advantage in these habitats in all conditions. This work highlights the power of combining single-cell, metagenomic, and metatranscriptomic datasets to determine how evolution shapes microbial abundance and diversity in hydrothermal vent ecosystems.« less
  7. 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
  8. Abstract Metagenome assembled genomes (MAGs) and single amplified genomes (SAGs) affiliated with two distinct Methanobacterium lineages were recovered from subsurface fracture waters of the Samail Ophiolite, Sultanate of Oman. Lineage Type I was abundant in waters with circumneutral pH, whereas lineage Type II was abundant in hydrogen rich, hyperalkaline waters. Type I encoded proteins to couple hydrogen oxidation to CO 2 reduction, typical of hydrogenotrophic methanogens. Surprisingly, Type II, which branched from the Type I lineage, lacked homologs of two key oxidative [NiFe]-hydrogenases. These functions were presumably replaced by formate dehydrogenases that oxidize formate to yield reductant and cytoplasmic CO 2 via a pathway that was unique among characterized Methanobacteria, allowing cells to overcome CO 2 /oxidant limitation in high pH waters. This prediction was supported by microcosm-based radiotracer experiments that showed significant biological methane generation from formate, but not bicarbonate, in waters where the Type II lineage was detected in highest relative abundance. Phylogenetic analyses and variability in gene content suggested that recent and ongoing diversification of the Type II lineage was enabled by gene transfer, loss, and transposition. These data indicate that selection imposed by CO 2 /oxidant availability drove recent methanogen diversification into hyperalkaline waters that aremore »heavily impacted by serpentinization.« less
  9. Marine picocyanobacteria of the genus Prochlorococcus are the most abundant photosynthetic organisms in the modern ocean, where they exert a profound influence on elemental cycling and energy flow. The use of transmembrane chlorophyll complexes instead of phycobilisomes as light-harvesting antennae is considered a defining attribute of Prochlorococcus . Its ecology and evolution are understood in terms of light, temperature, and nutrients. Here, we report single-cell genomic information on previously uncharacterized phylogenetic lineages of this genus from nutrient-rich anoxic waters of the eastern tropical North and South Pacific Ocean. The most basal lineages exhibit optical and genotypic properties of phycobilisome-containing cyanobacteria, indicating that the characteristic light-harvesting antenna of the group is not an ancestral attribute. Additionally, we found that all the indigenous lineages analyzed encode genes for pigment biosynthesis under oxygen-limited conditions, a trait shared with other freshwater and coastal marine cyanobacteria. Our findings thus suggest that Prochlorococcus diverged from other cyanobacteria under low-oxygen conditions before transitioning from phycobilisomes to transmembrane chlorophyll complexes and may have contributed to the oxidation of the ancient ocean.