Diverse microbial life has been detected in the cold desert soils of Antarctica once thought to be barren. Here, we provide metagenomic, biogeochemical, and culture-based evidence that Antarctic soil microorganisms are phylogenetically and functionally distinct from those in other soils and adopt various metabolic and ecological strategies. The most abundant community members are metabolically versatile aerobes that use ubiquitous atmospheric trace gases to potentially meet energy, carbon, and, through metabolic water production, hydration needs. Lineages capable of harvesting solar energy, oxidizing edaphic inorganic substrates, or adopting symbiotic lifestyles were also identified. Altogether, these findings provide insights into microbial adaptation to extreme water and energy limitation and will inform ongoing efforts to conserve the unique biodiversity on this continent.
The olive fruit fly, specialized to become monophagous during several life stages, remains the most important olive tree pest with high direct production losses, but also affecting the quality, composition, and inherent properties of the olives. Thought to have originated in Africa is nowadays present wherever olive groves are grown. The olive fruit fly evolved to harbor a vertically transmitted and obligate bacterial symbiont -Candidatus Erwinia dacicola- leading thus to a tight evolutionary history between olive tree, fruit fly and obligate, vertical transmitted symbiotic bacterium. Considering this linkage, the genetic diversity (at a 16S fragment) of this obligate symbiont was added in the understanding of the distribution pattern of the holobiont at nine locations throughout four countries in the Mediterranean Basin. This was complemented with mitochondrial (four mtDNA fragments) and nuclear (ten microsatellites) data of the host. We focused on the previously established Iberian cluster for the B. oleae structure and hypothesised that the Tunisian samples would fall into a differentiated cluster. From the host point of view, we were unable to confirm this hypothesis. Looking at the symbiont, however, two new 16S haplotypes were found exclusively in the populations from Tunisia. This finding is discussed in the frame of host-symbiont specificity and transmission mode. To understand olive fruit fly population diversity and dispersion, the dynamics of the symbiont also needs to be taken into consideration, as it enables the fly to, so efficiently and uniquely, exploit the olive fruit resource.
AbstractInterspecies hydrogen transfer (IHT) and direct interspecies electron transfer (DIET) are two syntrophy models for methanogenesis. Their relative importance in methanogenic environments is still unclear. Our recent discovery of a novel species Candidatus Geobacter eutrophica with the genetic potential of IHT and DIET may serve as a model species to address this knowledge gap. To experimentally demonstrate its DIET ability, we performed electrochemical enrichment of Ca. G. eutrophica-dominating communities under 0 and 0.4 V vs. Ag/AgCl based on the presumption that DIET and extracellular electron transfer (EET) share similar metabolic pathways. After three batches of enrichment, Geobacter OTU650, which was phylogenetically close to Ca. G. eutrophica, was outcompeted in the control but remained abundant and active under electrochemical stimulation, indicating Ca. G. eutrophica’s EET ability. The high-quality draft genome further showed high phylogenomic similarity with Ca. G. eutrophica, and the genes encoding outer membrane cytochromes and enzymes for hydrogen metabolism were actively expressed. A Bayesian network was trained with the genes encoding enzymes for alcohol metabolism, hydrogen metabolism, EET, and methanogenesis from dominant fermentative bacteria, Geobacter, and Methanobacterium. Methane production could not be accurately predicted when the genes for IHT were in silico knocked out, inferring its more important role in methanogenesis. The genomics-enabled machine learning modeling approach can provide predictive insights into the importance of IHT and DIET.
“Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus” (CLas) and Spiroplasma citri are phloem-limited bacteria that infect citrus and are transmitted by insect vectors. S. citri causes citrus stubborn disease (CSD) and is vectored by the beet leafhopper in California. CLas is associated with the devastating citrus disease, Huanglongbing (HLB), and is vectored by the Asian citrus psyllid. CLas is a regulatory pathogen spreading in citrus on residential properties in southern California and is an imminent threat to spread to commercial citrus plantings. CSD is endemic in California and has symptoms in citrus that can be easily confused with HLB. Therefore, the objective of this study was to develop a multiplex qPCR and duplex droplet digital PCR (ddPCR) assay for simultaneous detection of CLas and S. citri to be used where both pathogens can co-exist. The multiplex qPCR assay was designed to detect multicopy genes of CLas—RNR (5 copies) and S. citri–SPV1 ORF1 (13 copies), respectively, and citrus cytochrome oxidase (COX) as internal positive control. Absolute quantitation of these pathogens was achieved by duplex ddPCR as a supplement for marginal qPCR results. Duplex ddPCR allowed higher sensitivity than qPCR for detection of CLas and S. citri. ddPCR showed higher tolerance to inhibitors and yielded highly reproducible results. The multiplex qPCR assay has the benefit of testing both pathogens at reduced cost and can serve to augment the official regulatory protocol for CLas detection in California. Moreover, the ddPCR provided unambiguous absolute detection of CLas and S. citri at very low concentrations without any standards for pathogen titer.
Aster Yellows phytoplasma (AYp; ‘Candidatus Phytoplasma asteris’) is an obligate bacterial pathogen that is the causative agent of multiple diseases in herbaceous plants. While this phytoplasma has been examined in depth for its disease characteristics, knowledge about the spatial and temporal dynamics of pathogen spread is lacking. The phytoplasma is found in plant’s phloem and is vectored by leafhoppers (Cicadellidae: Hemiptera), including the aster leafhopper, Macrosteles quadrilineatus Forbes. The aster leafhopper is a migratory insect pest that overwinters in the southern United States, and historical data suggest these insects migrate from southern overwintering locations to northern latitudes annually, transmitting and driving phytoplasma infection rates as they migrate. A more in-depth understanding of the spatial, temporal and genetic determinants of Aster Yellows disease progress will lead to better integrated pest management strategies for Aster Yellows disease control. Carrot, Daucus carota L., plots were established at two planting densities in central Wisconsin and monitored during the 2018 growing season for Aster Yellows disease progression. Symptomatic carrots were sampled and assayed for the presence of the Aster Yellows phytoplasma. Aster Yellows disease progression was determined to be significantly associated with calendar date, crop density, location within the field, and phytoplasma subgroup.
AbstractA recent survey in Germany revealed the wide presence of ‘Candidatus Phytoplasma ulmi’ in native elm stands. Accessions were studied for their genetic variability and phylogenetic relationship based on the conserved groEL and the variable imp gene. While the groEL sequences revealed a high intraspecific homology of more than 99%, the homology of the imp gene dropped to 71% between distantly related sequences. Twenty-nine groEL and 74 imp genotypes were distinguished based on polymorphic sites. Phylogenetic analysis of the groEL gene clustered all ‘Ca. P. ulmi’ strains and separated them from related phytoplasmas of the 16SrV group. The inferred phylogeny of the imp gene resulted in a different tree topology and separated the ‘Ca. P. ulmi’ genotypes into two clusters, one closely related to the flavescence dorée phytoplasma strain FD-D (16SrV-D), the other affiliated with the flavescence dorée phytoplasma strains FD-C and FD70 and the alder yellows phytoplasma (16SrV-C). In both phylograms, ‘Ca. P. ulmi’ genotypes from Scots elm trees formed a coherent cluster, while genotypes from European white elms and field elms grouped less strictly. The regional distribution pattern was congruent for some of the groEL and imp genotypes, but a strict linkage for all genotypes was not apparent.
AbstractTaxonomy is the science of defining and naming groups of biological organisms based on shared characteristics and, more recently, on evolutionary relationships. With the birth of novel genomics/bioinformatics techniques and the increasing interest in microbiome studies, a further advance of taxonomic discipline appears not only possible but highly desirable. The present work proposes a new approach to modern taxonomy, consisting in the inclusion of novel descriptors in the organism characterization: (1) the presence of associated microorganisms (e.g.: symbionts, microbiome), (2) the mitochondrial genome of the host, (3) the symbiont genome. This approach aims to provide a deeper comprehension of the evolutionary/ecological dimensions of organisms since their very first description. Particularly interesting, are those complexes formed by the host plus associated microorganisms, that in the present study we refer to as “holobionts”. We illustrate this approach through the description of the ciliateEuplotes vanleeuwenhoekisp. nov. and its bacterial endosymbiont “CandidatusPinguicoccus supinus” gen. nov., sp. nov. The endosymbiont possesses an extremely reduced genome (~ 163 kbp); intriguingly, this suggests a high integration between host and symbiont.