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  1. Abstract

    Environmentally relevant metagenomes and BONCAT-FACS derived translationally active metagenomes from Powder River Basin coal seams were investigated to elucidate potential genes and functional groups involved in hydrocarbon degradation to methane in coal seams with high- and low-sulfate levels. An advanced subsurface environmental sampler allowed the establishment of coal-associated microbial communities under in situ conditions for metagenomic analyses from environmental and translationally active populations. Metagenomic sequencing demonstrated that biosurfactants, aerobic dioxygenases, and anaerobic phenol degradation pathways were present in active populations across the sampled coal seams. In particular, results suggested the importance of anaerobic degradation pathways under high-sulfate conditions with an emphasis on fumarate addition. Under low-sulfate conditions, a mixture of both aerobic and anaerobic pathways was observed but with a predominance of aerobic dioxygenases. The putative low-molecular-weight biosurfactant, lichysein, appeared to play a more important role compared to rhamnolipids. The methods used in this study—subsurface environmental samplers in combination with metagenomic sequencing of both total and translationally active metagenomes—offer a deeper and environmentally relevant perspective on community genetic potential from coal seams poised at different redox conditions broadening the understanding of degradation strategies for subsurface carbon.

  2. Abstract

    Metagenomic studies have revolutionized our understanding of the metabolic potential of uncultured microorganisms in various ecosystems. However, many of these genomic predictions have yet to be experimentally tested, and the functional expression of genomic potential often remains unaddressed. In order to obtain a more thorough understanding of cell physiology, novel techniques capable of testing microbial metabolism under close to in situ conditions must be developed. Here, we provide a benchmark study to demonstrate that bioorthogonal non-canonical amino acid tagging (BONCAT) in combination with fluorescence-activated cell sorting (FACS) and 16S rRNA gene sequencing can be used to identify anabolically active members of a microbial community incubated in the presence of various growth substrates or under changing physicochemical conditions. We applied this approach to a hot spring sediment microbiome from Yellowstone National Park (Wyoming, USA) and identified several microbes that changed their activity levels in response to substrate addition, including uncultured members of the phylaThaumarchaeota,Acidobacteria, andFervidibacteria. Because shifts in activity in response to substrate amendment or headspace changes are indicative of microbial preferences for particular growth conditions, results from this and future BONCAT-FACS studies could inform the development of cultivation media to specifically enrich uncultured microbes. Most importantly, BONCAT-FACS is capablemore »of providing information on the physiology of uncultured organisms at as close to in situ conditions as experimentally possible.

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  3. Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2023
  4. A thermophilic Geobacillus bacterial strain, WSUCF1 contains different carbohydrate-active enzymes (CAZymes) capable of hydrolyzing hemicellulose in lignocellulosic biomass. We used proteomic, genomic, and bioinformatic tools, and genomic data to analyze the relative abundance of cellulolytic, hemicellulolytic, and lignin modifying enzymes present in the secretomes. Results showed that CAZyme profiles of secretomes varied based on the substrate type and complexity, composition, and pretreatment conditions. The enzyme activity of secretomes also changed depending on the substrate used. The secretomes were used in combination with commercial and purified enzymes to carry out saccharification of ammonia fiber expansion (AFEX)-pretreated corn stover and extractive ammonia (EA)-pretreated corn stover. When WSUCF1 bacterial secretome produced at different conditions was combined with a small percentage of commercial enzymes, we observed efficient saccharification of EA-CS, and the results were comparable to using a commercial enzyme cocktail (87% glucan and 70% xylan conversion). It also opens the possibility of producing CAZymes in a biorefinery using inexpensive substrates, such as AFEX-pretreated corn stover and Avicel, and eliminates expensive enzyme processing steps that are used in enzyme manufacturing. Implementing in-house enzyme production is expected to significantly reduce the cost of enzymes and biofuel processing cost.
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available May 25, 2023
  5. Newton, Irene L. (Ed.)
    ABSTRACT Here, we report on eight sediment metagenomes obtained from an alkaline hot spring, with their corresponding metagenome-assembled genomes. Samples had been incubated for 48 h with various substrate amendments in conjunction with the amino acid analog l -homopropargylglycine in a study targeted at identifying anabolicly active uncultured thermophilic archaea and bacteria.
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available April 21, 2023
  6. Particulate methane monooxygenase (pMMO), a membrane-bound enzyme having three subunits (α, β, and γ) and copper-containing centers, is found in most of the methanotrophs that selectively catalyze the oxidation of methane into methanol. Active sites in the pMMO of Methylosinus trichosporium OB3b were determined by docking the modeled structure with ethylbenzene, toluene, 1,3-dibutadiene, and trichloroethylene. The docking energy between the modeled pMMO structure and ethylbenzene, toluene, 1,3-dibutadiene, and trichloroethylene was −5.2, −5.7, −4.2, and −3.8 kcal/mol, respectively, suggesting the existence of more than one active site within the monomeric subunits due to the presence of multiple binding sites within the pMMO monomer. The evaluation of tunnels and cavities of the active sites and the docking results showed that each active site is specific to the radius of the substrate. To increase the catalysis rates of methane in the pMMO of M. trichosporium OB3b, selected amino acid residues interacting at the binding site of ethylbenzene, toluene, 1,3-dibutadiene, and trichloroethylene were mutated. Based on screening the strain energy, docking energy, and physiochemical properties, five mutants were downselected, B:Leu31Ser, B:Phe96Gly, B:Phe92Thr, B:Trp106Ala, and B:Tyr110Phe, which showed the docking energy of −6.3, −6.7, −6.3, −6.5, and −6.5 kcal/mol, respectively, as compared to the wildmore »type (−5.2 kcal/mol) with ethylbenzene. These results suggest that these five mutants would likely increase methane oxidation rates compared to wild-type pMMO.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available April 1, 2023
  7. Free, publicly-accessible full text available March 1, 2023
  8. Free, publicly-accessible full text available February 1, 2023
  9. Copper (Cu) is an essential micronutrient required as a co-factor in the catalytic center of many enzymes. However, excess Cu can generate pleiotropic effects in the microbial cell. In addition, leaching of Cu from pipelines results in elevated Cu concentration in the environment, which is of public health concern. Sulfate-reducing bacteria (SRB) have been demonstrated to grow in toxic levels of Cu. However, reports on Cu toxicity towards SRB have primarily focused on the degree of toxicity and subsequent elimination. Here, Cu(II) stress-related effects on a model SRB, Desulfovibrio alaskensis G20, is reported. Cu(II) stress effects were assessed as alterations in the transcriptome through RNA-Seq at varying Cu(II) concentrations (5 µM and 15 µM). In the pairwise comparison of control vs. 5 µM Cu(II), 61.43% of genes were downregulated, and 38.57% were upregulated. In control vs. 15 µM Cu(II), 49.51% of genes were downregulated, and 50.5% were upregulated. The results indicated that the expression of inorganic ion transporters and translation machinery was massively modulated. Moreover, changes in the expression of critical biological processes such as DNA transcription and signal transduction were observed at high Cu(II) concentrations. These results will help us better understand the Cu(II) stress-response mechanism and provide avenuesmore »for future research.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available February 1, 2023