skip to main content


Search for: All records

Creators/Authors contains: "Stepanauskas, Ramunas"

Note: When clicking on a Digital Object Identifier (DOI) number, you will be taken to an external site maintained by the publisher. Some full text articles may not yet be available without a charge during the embargo (administrative interval).
What is a DOI Number?

Some links on this page may take you to non-federal websites. Their policies may differ from this site.

  1. Abstract

    After decades studying the microbial “deep biosphere” in subseafloor oceanic crust, the growth and life strategies in this anoxic, low energy habitat remain poorly described. Using both single cell genomics and metagenomics, we reveal the life strategies of two distinct lineages of uncultivated Aminicenantia bacteria from the basaltic subseafloor oceanic crust of the eastern flank of the Juan de Fuca Ridge. Both lineages appear adapted to scavenge organic carbon, as each have genetic potential to catabolize amino acids and fatty acids, aligning with previous Aminicenantia reports. Given the organic carbon limitation in this habitat, seawater recharge and necromass may be important carbon sources for heterotrophic microorganisms inhabiting the ocean crust. Both lineages generate ATP via several mechanisms including substrate-level phosphorylation, anaerobic respiration, and electron bifurcation driving an Rnf ion translocation membrane complex. Genomic comparisons suggest these Aminicenantia transfer electrons extracellularly, perhaps to iron or sulfur oxides consistent with mineralogy of this site. One lineage, called JdFR-78, has small genomes that are basal to the Aminicenantia class and potentially use “primordial” siroheme biosynthetic intermediates for heme synthesis, suggesting this lineage retain characteristics of early evolved life. Lineage JdFR-78 contains CRISPR-Cas defenses to evade viruses, while other lineages contain prophage that may help prevent super-infection or no detectable viral defenses. Overall, genomic evidence points to Aminicenantia being well adapted to oceanic crust environments by taking advantage of simple organic molecules and extracellular electron transport.

     
    more » « less
  2. Abstract The ocean–atmosphere exchange of CO 2 largely depends on the balance between marine microbial photosynthesis and respiration. Despite vast taxonomic and metabolic diversity among marine planktonic bacteria and archaea (prokaryoplankton) 1–3 , their respiration usually is measured in bulk and treated as a ‘black box’ in global biogeochemical models 4 ; this limits the mechanistic understanding of the global carbon cycle. Here, using a technology for integrated phenotype analyses and genomic sequencing of individual microbial cells, we show that cell-specific respiration rates differ by more than 1,000× among prokaryoplankton genera. The majority of respiration was found to be performed by minority members of prokaryoplankton (including the Roseobacter cluster), whereas cells of the most prevalent lineages (including Pelagibacter and SAR86) had extremely low respiration rates. The decoupling of respiration rates from abundance among lineages, elevated counts of proteorhodopsin transcripts in Pelagibacter and SAR86 cells and elevated respiration of SAR86 at night indicate that proteorhodopsin-based phototrophy 3,5–7 probably constitutes an important source of energy to prokaryoplankton and may increase growth efficiency. These findings suggest that the dependence of prokaryoplankton on respiration and remineralization of phytoplankton-derived organic carbon into CO 2 for its energy demands and growth may be lower than commonly assumed and variable among lineages. 
    more » « less
  3. 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. 
    more » « less
  4. 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. 
    more » « less
  5. 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 of low biomass systems or at sites where only small sample volumes are available for analysis. 
    more » « less
  6. Abstract

    Candidate bacterial phylum Omnitrophota has not been isolated and is poorly understood. We analysed 72 newly sequenced and 349 existing Omnitrophota genomes representing 6 classes and 276 species, along with Earth Microbiome Project data to evaluate habitat, metabolic traits and lifestyles. We applied fluorescence-activated cell sorting and differential size filtration, and showed that most Omnitrophota are ultra-small (~0.2 μm) cells that are found in water, sediments and soils. Omnitrophota genomes in 6 classes are reduced, but maintain major biosynthetic and energy conservation pathways, including acetogenesis (with or without the Wood-Ljungdahl pathway) and diverse respirations. At least 64% of Omnitrophota genomes encode gene clusters typical of bacterial symbionts, suggesting host-associated lifestyles. We repurposed quantitative stable-isotope probing data from soils dominated by andesite, basalt or granite weathering and identified 3 families with high isotope uptake consistent with obligate bacterial predators. We propose that most Omnitrophota inhabit various ecosystems as predators or parasites.

     
    more » « less
  7. 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.

    Results

    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 8 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.

    Conclusion

    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.

     
    more » « less
  8. 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 across 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. 
    more » « less
  9. 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 in 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. 
    more » « less