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  1. Drake, Harold L. (Ed.)
    ABSTRACT The phylogenetic and functional diversities of microbial communities in tropical rainforests and how these differ from those of temperate communities remain poorly described but are directly related to the increased fluxes of greenhouse gases such as nitrous oxide (N 2 O) from the tropics. Toward closing these knowledge gaps, we analyzed replicated shotgun metagenomes representing distinct life zones and an elevation gradient from four locations in the Luquillo Experimental Forest (LEF), Puerto Rico. These soils had a distinct microbial community composition and lower species diversity compared to those of temperate grasslands or agricultural soils. In contrast to the overall distinct community composition, the relative abundances and nucleotide sequences of N 2 O reductases ( nosZ ) were highly similar between tropical forest and temperate soils. However, respiratory NO reductase ( norB ) was 2-fold more abundant in the tropical soils, which might be relatable to their greater N 2 O emissions. Nitrogen fixation ( nifH ) also showed higher relative abundance in rainforest than in temperate soils, i.e., 20% versus 0.1 to 0.3% of bacterial genomes in each soil type harbored the gene, respectively. Finally, unlike temperate soils, LEF soils showed little stratification with depth in the first 0more »to 30 cm, with ∼45% of community composition differences explained solely by location. Collectively, these results advance our understanding of spatial diversity and metabolic repertoire of tropical rainforest soil communities and should facilitate future ecological studies of these ecosystems. IMPORTANCE Tropical rainforests are the largest terrestrial sinks of atmospheric CO 2 and the largest natural source of N 2 O emissions, two greenhouse gases that are critical for the climate. The microbial communities of rainforest soils that directly or indirectly, through affecting plant growth, contribute to these fluxes remain poorly described by cultured-independent methods. To close this knowledge gap, the present study applied shotgun metagenomics to samples selected from three distinct life zones within the Puerto Rico rainforest. The results advance our understanding of microbial community diversity in rainforest soils and should facilitate future studies of natural or manipulated perturbations of these critical ecosystems.« less
  2. Drake, Harold L. (Ed.)
    ABSTRACT Beneficial gut microbes can facilitate insect growth on diverse diets. The omnivorous American cockroach, Periplaneta americana (Insecta: Blattodea), thrives on a diet rich in plant polysaccharides and harbors a species-rich gut microbiota responsive to host diet. Bacteroidetes are among the most abundant taxa in P. americana and other cockroaches, based on cultivation-independent gut community profiling, and these potentially polysaccharolytic bacteria may contribute to host diet processing. Eleven Bacteroidetes isolates were cultivated from P. americana digestive tracts, and phylogenomic analyses suggest that they were new Bacteroides , Dysgonomonas , Paludibacter , and Parabacteroides species distinct from those previously isolated from other insects, humans, and environmental sources. In addition, complete genomes were generated for each isolate, and polysaccharide utilization loci (PULs) and several non-PUL-associated carbohydrate-active enzyme (CAZyme)-coding genes that putatively target starch, pectin, and/or cellulose were annotated in each of the isolate genomes. Type IX secretion system (T9SS)- and CAZyme-coding genes tagged with the corresponding T9SS recognition and export C-terminal domain were observed in some isolates, suggesting that these CAZymes were deployed via non-PUL outer membrane translocons. Additionally, single-substrate growth and enzymatic assays confirmed genomic predictions that a subset of the Bacteroides and Dysgonomonas isolates could degrade starch, pectin, and/or cellulosemore »and grow in the presence of these substrates as a single sugar source. Plant polysaccharides enrich P. americana diets, and many of these gut isolates are well equipped to exploit host dietary inputs and potentially contribute to gut community and host nutrient accessibility. IMPORTANCE Gut microbes are increasingly being recognized as critical contributors to nutrient accessibility in animals. The globally distributed omnivorous American cockroach ( Periplaneta americana ) harbors many bacterial phyla (e.g., Bacteroidetes ) that are abundant in vertebrates. P. americana thrives on a highly diverse plant-enriched diet, making this insect a rich potential source of uncharacterized polysaccharolytic bacteria. We have cultivated, completely sequenced, and functionally characterized several novel Bacteroidetes species that are endemic to the P. americana gut, and many of these isolates can degrade simple and complex polysaccharides. Cultivation and genomic characterization of these Bacteroidetes isolates further enable deeper insight into how these taxa participate in polysaccharide metabolism and, more broadly, how they affect animal health and development.« less