The chicken is the most abundant food animal in the world. However, despite its importance, the chicken gut microbiome remains largely undefined. Here, we exploit culture-independent and culture-dependent approaches to reveal extensive taxonomic diversity within this complex microbial community.
We performed metagenomic sequencing of fifty chicken faecal samples from two breeds and analysed these, alongside all (n = 582) relevant publicly available chicken metagenomes, to cluster over 20 million non-redundant genes and to construct over 5,500 metagenome-assembled bacterial genomes. In addition, we recovered nearly 600 bacteriophage genomes. This represents the most comprehensive view of taxonomic diversity within the chicken gut microbiome to date, encompassing hundreds of novel candidate bacterial genera and species. To provide a stable, clear and memorable nomenclature for novel species, we devised a scalable combinatorial system for the creation of hundreds of well-formed Latin binomials. We cultured and genome-sequenced bacterial isolates from chicken faeces, documenting over forty novel species, together with three species from the genus Escherichia, including the newly named species Escherichia whittamii.
Our metagenomic and culture-based analyses provide new insights into the bacterial, archaeal and bacteriophage components of the chicken gut microbiome. The resulting datasets expand the known diversity of the chicken gut microbiome and provide a key resource for future high-resolution taxonomic and functional studies on the chicken gut microbiome.
Most of the microorganisms responsible for vector-borne diseases (VBD) have hematophagous arthropods as vector/reservoir. Recently, many new species of microorganisms phylogenetically related to agents of VBD were found in a variety of aquatic eukaryotic hosts; in particular, numerous new bacterial species related to the genus Rickettsia (Alphaproteobacteria, Rickettsiales) were discovered in protist ciliates and other unicellular eukaryotes. Although their pathogenicity for humans and terrestrial animals is not known, several indirect indications exist that these bacteria might act as etiological agents of possible VBD of aquatic organisms, with protists as vectors. In the present study, a novel strain of the Rickettsia-Like Organism (RLO) endosymbiont “Candidatus (Ca.) Trichorickettsia mobilis” was identified in the macronucleus of the ciliate Paramecium multimicronucleatum. We performed transfection experiments of this RLO to planarians (Dugesia japonica) per os. Indeed, the latter is a widely used model system for studying bacteria pathogenic to humans and other Metazoa. In transfection experiments, homogenized paramecia were added to food of antibiotic-treated planarians. Treated and non-treated (i.e. control) planarians were investigated at day 1, 3, and 7 after feeding for endosymbiont presence by means of PCR and ultrastructural analyses. Obtained results were fully concordant and suggest that this RLO endosymbiont can be transiently transferred from ciliates to metazoans, being detected up to day 7 in treated planarians’ enterocytes. Our findings might offer insights into the potential role of ciliates or other protists as putative vectors for diseases caused by Rickettsiales or other RLOs and occurring in fish farms or in the wild.
The Rickettsiales-like prokaryote and causative agent of Withering Syndrome (WS)—Candidatus Xenohaliotis californiensis (Ca. Xc)—decimated black abalone populations along the Pacific coast of North America. White abalone—Haliotis sorenseni—are also susceptible to WS and have become nearly extinct in the wild due to overfishing in the 1970s. Candidatus Xenohaliotis californiensis proliferates within epithelial cells of the abalone gastrointestinal tract and causes clinical signs of starvation. In 2012, evidence of a putative bacteriophage associated with Ca. Xc in red abalone—Haliotis rufescens—was described. Recently, histologic examination of animals with Ca. Xc infection in California abalone populations universally appear to have the phage-containing inclusions. In this study, we investigated the current virulence of Ca. Xc in red abalone and white abalone at different environmental temperatures. Using a comparative experimental design, we observed differences over time between the two abalone species in mortality, body condition, and bacterial load by quantitative real time PCR (qPCR). By day 251, all white abalone exposed to the current variant of Ca. Xc held in the warm water (18.5 °C) treatment died, while red abalone exposed to the same conditions had a mortality rate of only 10%, despite a relatively heavy bacterial burden as determined by qPCR of posterior esophagus tissue and histological assessment at the termination of the experiment. These data support the current status of Ca. Xc as less virulent in red abalone, and may provide correlative evidence of a protective phage interaction. However, white abalone appear to remain highly susceptible to this disease. These findings have important implications for implementation of a white abalone recovery program, particularly with respect to the thermal regimes of locations where captively-reared individuals will be outplanted.
“Candidatus Phytoplasma aurantifolia” is associated with witches’ broom disease of lime in Oman and the UAE. A previous study showed that an infection by phytoplasma may not necessarily result in the physical appearance of witches’ broom symptoms in some locations in Oman and the UAE. This study investigated whether phytoplasma strains belonging to “Ca. P. aurantifolia” (based on the 16S rRNA gene analysis) in locations where disease symptoms are expressed are different from phytoplasma in locations where disease symptoms are not expressed. About 21 phytoplasma strains (15 from areas and trees with disease symptoms and six from areas and trees without disease symptoms) were included in the analysis. The study utilized sequences of the imp and SAP11 genes to characterize the 21 strains. Phylogenetic analysis of both genes showed that the 21 strains are similar to each other and to reference strains in GenBank. The study shows that there is a low level of diversity among all phytoplasma strains. In addition, it shows that phytoplasma in places where witches’ broom symptoms are not expressed are similar to phytoplasma in places where disease symptoms are expressed. This may suggest that disease expression is not linked to the presence of different phytoplasma strains, but may be due to other factors such as weather conditions.