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Department of Plant Pathology and Microbiology
The Robert H. Smith Faculty of Agriculture, Food & Environment
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

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Rehovot 76100 
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2020
Kan, Y. ; Lyu, Q. ; Jiang, N. ; Han, S. ; Li, J. ; Burdman, S. ; Luo, L. iTRAQ-based proteomic analyses of the plant-pathogenic bacterium Acidovorax citrulli during entrance into and resuscitation from the viable but nonculturable state. Journal of Proteomics 2020, 211. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Acidovorax citrulli, the causal agent of bacterial fruit blotch (BFB) disease, infects cucurbit crops including watermelon and melon. This bacterium can enter the viable but nonculturable (VBNC) state following exposure to copper sulfate. Moreover, copper-induced VBNC A. citrulli cells can be resuscitated by EDTA. In this study, isobaric tag for relative and absolute quantification (iTRAQ) was used to compare protein profiles of VBNC cells, resuscitated cells at different stages and log-phase cells of the A. citrulli model strain AAC00-1. A total of 2672 proteins were identified, with 60 being differentially abundant in VBNC cells compared with log-phase cells, and 469 being differentially abundant in resuscitated cells compared with VBNC cells. Proteins involved in the arginine and proline metabolism pathway and degradation of aromatic compounds could be important for the VBNC cells. In the early resuscitation process, proteins associated with carbon metabolism, and degradation of naphthalene and aromatic compounds were significantly enriched, while proteins involved in oxidative phosphorylation, bacterial chemotaxis, ABC transporters and quorum sensing were significantly enriched at the late resuscitation stages. This is the first study reporting thorough protein profile analyses of VBNC and resuscitating cells of a plant-pathogenic bacterium. Biological significance: The VBNC state is a dormant-like condition that was reported to occur in many bacterial species, upon facing a variety of environmental stresses. Acidovorax citrulli is a seed borne pathogenic bacterium that threatens cucurbit production worldwide. Moreover, A. citrulli can enter into the VBNC state after treatment of copper sulfate, thus increasing its survival and dissemination probabilities. This study enriches our understanding of the mechanisms of entrance into and resuscitation from the VBNC state of this important plant-pathogenic bacterium. This knowledge could be exploited in the future to develop novel approaches to interfere with these processes, thus contributing to a more efficient management of this pathogen. In a broader perspective, the knowledge emerging from this study has implications to the general understanding of the VBNC state in bacteria. © 2019 Elsevier B.V.
2019
Bez, C. ; Javvadi, S. G. ; Bertani, I. ; Devescovi, G. ; Guarnaccia, C. ; Studholme, D. J. ; Geller, A. M. ; Levy, A. ; Venturi, V. AzeR, a transcriptional regulator that responds to azelaic acid in Pseudomonas nitroreducens. 2019. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Azelaic acid is a dicarboxylic acid that has recently been shown to play a role in plant-bacteria signalling and also occurs naturally in several cereals. Several bacteria have been reported to be able to utilize azelaic acid as a unique source of carbon and energy, including . In this study, we utilize as a model organism to study bacterial degradation of and response to azelaic acid. We report genetic evidence of azelaic acid degradation and the identification of a transcriptional regulator that responds to azelaic acid in DSM 9128. Three mutants possessing transposons in genes of an acyl-CoA ligase, an acyl-CoA dehydrogenase and an isocitrate lyase display a deficient ability in growing in azelaic acid. Studies on transcriptional regulation of these genes resulted in the identification of an IclR family repressor that we designated as AzeR, which specifically responds to azelaic acid. A bioinformatics survey reveals that AzeR is confined to a few proteobacterial genera that are likely to be able to degrade and utilize azelaic acid as the sole source of carbon and energy.
Petrenko, M. ; Friedman, S. P. ; Fluss, R. ; Pasternak, Z. ; Huppert, A. ; Jurkevitch, E. Spatial heterogeneity stabilizes predator–prey interactions at the microscale while patch connectivity controls their outcome. Environmental Microbiology 2019, n/a. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Summary Natural landscapes are both fragmented and heterogeneous, affecting the distribution of organisms, and their interactions. While predation in homogeneous environments increases the probability of population extinction, fragmentation/heterogeneity promotes coexistence and enhances community stability as shown by experimentation with animals and microorganisms, and supported by theory. Patch connectivity can modulate such effects but how microbial predatory interactions are affected by water-driven connectivity is unknown. In soil, patch habitability by microorganisms, and their connectivity depend upon the water saturation degree (SD). Here, using the obligate bacterial predator Bdellovibrio bacteriovorus, and a Burkholderia prey, we show that soil spatial heterogeneity profoundly affects predatory dynamics, enhancing long-term co-existence of predator and prey in a SD-threshold dependent-manner. However, as patches and connectors cannot be distinguished in these soil matrices, metapopulations cannot be invoked to explain the dynamics of increased persistence. Using a set of experiments combined with statistical and physical models we demonstrate and quantify how under full connectivity, predation is independent of water content but depends on soil microstructure characteristics. In contrast, the SD below which predation is largely impaired corresponds to a threshold below which the water network collapses and water connectivity breaks down, preventing the bacteria to move within the soil matrix.
Mosquito, S. ; Bertani, I. ; Licastro, D. ; Compant, S. ; Myers, M. P. ; Hinarejos, E. ; Levy, A. ; Venturi, V. In Planta Colonization and Role of T6SS in Two Rice Kosakonia Endophytes. Molecular Plant-Microbe Interactions® 2019, MPMI-09-19-0256-R. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Endophytes live inside plants and are often beneficial. Kosakonia is a novel bacterial genus that includes many diazotrophic plant-associated isolates. Plant–bacteria studies on two rice endophytic Kosakonia beneficial strains were performed, including comparative genomics, secretome profiling, in planta tests, and a field release trial. The strains are efficient rhizoplane and root endosphere colonizers and localized in the root cortex. Secretomics revealed 144 putative secreted proteins, including type VI secretory system (T6SS) proteins. A Kosakonia T6SS genomic knock-out mutant showed a significant decrease in rhizoplane and endosphere colonization ability. A field trial using rice seed inoculated with Kosakonia spp. showed no effect on plant growth promotion upon nitrogen stress and microbiome studies revealed that Kosakonia spp. were significantly more present in the inoculated rice. Comparative genomics indicated that several protein domains were enriched in plant-associated Kosakonia spp. This study highlights that Kosakonia is an important, recently classified genus involved in plant–bacteria interaction.
Cohen, O. ; Bar (Kutiel), P. ; Gamliel, A. ; Katan, J. ; Kurzbaum, E. ; Weber, G. ; Schubert, I. ; Riov, J. Rain-based soil solarization for reducing the persistent seed banks of invasive plants in natural ecosystems – Acacia saligna as a model. Pest Management Science 2019, 75, 1933-1941. Publisher's VersionAbstract
BACKGROUND: A large persistent seed bank of invasive plants is a significant obstacle to restoration programs. Soil solarization was demonstrated to be an effective method for reducing the seed bank of Australian acacias. However, use of this method in natural habitats might be limited due to the requirement to moisten the soil by irrigation. This study examined the possibility of replacing irrigation by trapping the soil moisture caused by the most recent rainfall, i.e. rain-based soil solarization (RBS). RESULTS: Exposure of Acacia saligna seeds to 57 °C at 20% soil moisture for 68 h resulted in almost complete loss of seed viability. Similarly, RBS treatment significantly reduced the viability of A. saligna seeds buried at a soil depth of 1–19 cm as well as seed density in the natural seed bank, and almost completely eliminated seedling emergence from natural seed banks of A. saligna and other environmental weeds. CONCLUSION: Our results indicate that RBS is an effective method for reducing the seed bank of invasive plants in natural habitats located in various climate regions characterized by different soil types. This is the first demonstration of a successful application of RBS for soil disinfestation. © 2018 Society of Chemical Industry. © 2018 Society of Chemical Industry
Yoav, S. ; Stern, J. ; Salama-Alber, O. ; Frolow, F. ; Anbar, M. ; Karpol, A. ; Hadar, Y. ; Morag, E. ; Bayer, E. A. Directed evolution of clostridium thermocellum β-glucosidase a towards enhanced thermostability. International Journal of Molecular Sciences 2019, 20. Publisher's VersionAbstract
β-Glucosidases are key enzymes in the process of cellulose utilization. It is the last enzyme in the cellulose hydrolysis chain, which converts cellobiose to glucose. Since cellobiose is known to have a feedback inhibitory effect on a variety of cellulases, β-glucosidase can prevent this inhibition by hydrolyzing cellobiose to non-inhibitory glucose. While the optimal temperature of the Clostridium thermocellum cellulosome is 70 °C, C. thermocellum β-glucosidase A is almost inactive at such high temperatures. Thus, in the current study, a random mutagenesis directed evolutionary approach was conducted to produce a thermostable mutant with Kcat and Km, similar to those of the wild-type enzyme. The resultant mutant contained two mutations, A17S and K268N, but only the former was found to affect thermostability, whereby the inflection temperature (Ti) was increased by 6.4 °C. A17 is located near the central cavity of the native enzyme. Interestingly, multiple alignments revealed that position 17 is relatively conserved, whereby alanine is replaced only by serine. Upon the addition of the thermostable mutant to the C. thermocellum secretome for subsequent hydrolysis of microcrystalline cellulose at 70 °C, a higher soluble glucose yield (243%) was obtained compared to the activity of the secretome supplemented with the wild-type enzyme. © 2019 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.
Tovi, N. ; Frenk, S. ; Hadar, Y. ; Minz, D. Host specificity and spatial distribution preference of three Pseudomonas isolates. Frontiers in Microbiology 2019, 10. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Plant hosts recruit and maintain a distinct root-associated microbiota based on host and bacterium traits. However, past studies disregarded microbial strain-host specificity and spatial micro-heterogeneity of the root compartment. Using genetic manipulation, confocal laser scanning microscopy, real-time quantitative PCR, and genome sequencing we characterized the colonization patterns of three Pseudomonas spp. isolates native to wheat roots, on the micro-scale. Namely, isolates P. fluorescens NT0133, P. stutzeri NT124, and P. stutzeri NT128. All three isolates preferentially colonized wheat over cucumber roots that served as control for host specificity. Furthermore, not only had the isolates strong host specificity but each isolate had a distinct spatial distribution on the root, all within a few millimeters. Isolate P. stutzeri-NT0124 preferentially colonized root tips, whereas P. fluorescens-NT0133 showed a preference for zones distant from the tip. In contrast, isolate P. stutzeri-NT0128 had no preference for a specific niche on the root. While all isolates maintained genetic potential for motility and biofilm formation their phenotype varied significantly and corresponded to their niche preference. These results demonstrate the importance of spatial colonization patterns, governed by both niche and bacterial characteristics which will have great importance in future attempts to manipulate the plant microbiome by constructing synthetic microbial consortia. © 2019 Frontiers Media S.A. All Rights Reserved.
Vetvicka, V. ; Gover, G. ; Hayby, H. ; Danay, O. ; Ezov, N. ; Hadar, Y. ; Schwartz, B. Immunomodulating effects exerted by glucans extracted from the king oyster culinary-medicinal mushroom pleurotus eryngii (agaricomycetes) grown in substrates containing various concentrations of olive mill waste. International Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms 2019, 21, 765-781. Publisher's VersionAbstract
We have recently demonstrated that we could enhance glucan content in Pleurotus eryngii following cultivation of the mushrooms on a substrate containing different concentrations of olive mill solid waste (OMSW). These changes are directly related to the content of OMSW in the growing substrate. Using dextran sulfate sodium (DSS)-inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) mice model, we measured the colonic inflammatory response to the different glucan preparations. We found that the histology damaging score (HDS) resulting from DSS treatment reach a value of 11.8 ± 2.3 were efficiently downregulated by treatment with the fungal extracted glucans. Glucans extracted from stalks cultivated at 20% OMSW downregulated to a HDS value of 6.4 ± 0.5 whereas those cultivated at 80% OMSW showed the strongest effects (5.5 ± 0.6). Similar downregulatory effects were obtained for expression of various intestinal cytokines. All tested glucans were equally effective in regulating the number of CD14/CD16 monocytes from 18.2 ± 2.7% for DSS to 6.4 ± 2.0 for DSS + glucans extracted from stalks cultivated at 50% OMSW. We tested the effect of glucans on lipopolysaccharide- induced production of TNF-α, which demonstrated that stalk-derived glucans were more effective than caps-derived glucans. Isolated glucans competed with anti-Dectin-1 and anti-CR3 antibodies, indicating that they contain β-glucans recognized by these receptors. In conclusion, the most effective glucans in ameliorating IBD-associated symptoms induced by DSS treatment in mice were glucan extracts prepared from the stalk of P. eryngii grown at higher concentrations of OMSW. We conclude that these stress-induced growing conditions may be helpful in selecting more effective glucans derived from edible mushrooms. © 2019 by Begell House, Inc.
Feldman, D. ; Kowbel, D. J. ; Cohen, A. ; Glass, N. L. ; Hadar, Y. ; Yarden, O. Identification and manipulation of Neurospora crassa genes involved in sensitivity to furfural. Biotechnology for Biofuels 2019, 12. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Background: Biofuels derived from lignocellulosic biomass are a viable alternative to fossil fuels required for transportation. Following plant biomass pretreatment, the furan derivative furfural is present at concentrations which are inhibitory to yeasts. Detoxification of furfural is thus important for efficient fermentation. Here, we searched for new genetic attributes in the fungus Neurospora crassa that may be linked to furfural tolerance. The fact that furfural is involved in the natural process of sexual spore germination of N. crassa and that this fungus is highly amenable to genetic manipulations makes it a rational candidate for this study. Results: Both hypothesis-based and unbiased (random promotor mutagenesis) approaches were performed to identify N. crassa genes associated with the response to furfural. Changes in the transcriptional profile following exposure to furfural revealed that the affected processes were, overall, similar to those observed in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. N. crassa was more tolerant (by ∼ 30%) to furfural when carboxymethyl cellulose was the main carbon source as opposed to sucrose, indicative of a link between carbohydrate metabolism and furfural tolerance. We also observed increased tolerance in a Δcre-1 mutant (CRE-1 is a key transcription factor that regulates the ability of fungi to utilize non-preferred carbon sources). In addition, analysis of aldehyde dehydrogenase mutants showed that ahd-2 (NCU00378) was involved in tolerance to furfural as well as the predicted membrane transporter NCU05580 (flr-1), a homolog of FLR1 in S. cerevisiae. Further to the rational screening, an unbiased approach revealed additional genes whose inactivation conferred increased tolerance to furfural: (i) NCU02488, which affected the abundance of the non-anchored cell wall protein NCW-1 (NCU05137), and (ii) the zinc finger protein NCU01407. Conclusions: We identified attributes in N. crassa associated with tolerance or degradation of furfural, using complementary research approaches. The manipulation of the genes involved in furan sensitivity can provide a means for improving the production of biofuel producing strains. Similar research approaches can be utilized in N. crassa and other filamentous fungi to identify additional attributes relevant to other furans or toxic chemicals. © 2019 The Author(s).
Grinberg, M. ; Orevi, T. ; Kashtan, N. Bacterial surface colonization, preferential attachment and fitness under periodic stress. PLoS Computational Biology 2019, 15. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Early bacterial surface colonization is not a random process wherein cells arbitrarily attach to surfaces and grow; but rather, attachment events, movement and cellular interactions induce non-random spatial organization. We have only begun to understand how the apparent self-organization affects the fitness of the population. A key factor contributing to fitness is the tradeoff between solitary-planktonic and aggregated surface-attached biofilm lifestyles. Though planktonic cells typically grow faster, bacteria in aggregates are more resistant to stress such as desiccation, antibiotics and predation. Here we ask if and to what extent informed surface-attachments improve fitness during early surface colonization under periodic stress conditions. We use an individual-based modeling approach to simulate foraging planktonic cells colonizing a surface under alternating wet-dry cycles. Such cycles are common in the largest terrestrial microbial habitats–soil, roots, and leaf surfaces-that are not constantly saturated with water and experience daily periods of desiccation stress. We compared different surface-attachment strategies, and analyzed the emerging spatio-temporal dynamics of surface colonization and population yield as a measure of fitness. We demonstrate that a simple strategy of preferential attachment (PA), biased to dense sites, carries a large fitness advantage over any random attachment across a broad range of environmental conditions–particularly under periodic stress. © 2019 Grinberg et al.
Grinberg, M. ; Orevi, T. ; Steinberg, S. ; Kashtan, N. Bacterial survival in microscopic surface wetness. eLife 2019, 8. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Plant leaves constitute a huge microbial habitat of global importance. How microorganisms survive the dry daytime on leaves and avoid desiccation is not well understood. There is evidence that microscopic surface wetness in the form of thin films and micrometer-sized droplets, invisible to the naked eye, persists on leaves during daytime due to deliquescence – the absorption of water until dissolution – of hygroscopic aerosols. Here, we study how such microscopic wetness affects cell survival. We show that, on surfaces drying under moderate humidity, stable microdroplets form around bacterial aggregates due to capillary pinning and deliquescence. Notably, droplet-size increases with aggregate-size, and cell survival is higher the larger the droplet. This phenomenon was observed for 13 bacterial species, two of which – Pseudomonas fluorescens and P. putida – were studied in depth. Microdroplet formation around aggregates is likely key to bacterial survival in a variety of unsaturated microbial habitats, including leaf surfaces. © Grinberg et al.
Marano, R. B. M. ; Zolti, A. ; Jurkevitch, E. ; Cytryn, E. Antibiotic resistance and class 1 integron gene dynamics along effluent, reclaimed wastewater irrigated soil, crop continua: elucidating potential risks and ecological constraints. Water Research 2019, 164. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Reuse of municipal wastewater is a growing global trend, but currently there is lack of consensus regarding the potential dissemination of antibiotic resistance elements by treated wastewater irrigation. We tracked intI1, a proxy for anthropogenic pollution, and an assemblage of antibiotic resistance genes associated with mobile elements and/or wastewater (blaGES, blaOXA2, blaOXA10, blaTEM, blaCTX-M-32 and qnrS) in treated wastewater effluents, effluent stabilization reservoirs, and along irrigation water-soil-crop continua in experimental lysimeters and large-scale commercial fields. While several of the targeted antibiotic resistance genes were profuse in effluents, there was almost no correlation between gene abundance in irrigation water and those detected in soil, and no evidence of systematic gene transfer to irrigated soil or crops. In contrast, soil intI1 abundance correlated strongly to irrigation water levels in lysimeters and sandy field soils, but this was not the case for clay-rich soils or for most of the analyzed crops, suggesting that intI1 may not always be a reliable marker for tracking the impact of treated wastewater irrigation. We hypothesize that “ecological boundaries” expedited by biotic and abiotic factors constrain dissemination of antibiotic resistance elements, and assert that a more holistic perception of these factors is crucial for understanding and managing antibiotic resistance dissemination. © 2019 Elsevier Ltd
Cohen, Y. ; Pasternak, Z. ; Johnke, J. ; Abed-Rabbo, A. ; Kushmaro, A. ; Chatzinotas, A. ; Jurkevitch, E. Bacteria and microeukaryotes are differentially segregated in sympatric wastewater microhabitats. Environmental Microbiology 2019, 21, 1757-1770. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Wastewater purification is mostly performed in activated sludge reactors by bacterial and microeukaryotic communities, populating organic flocs and a watery liquor. While there are numerous molecular community studies of the bacterial fraction, those on microeukaryotes are rare. We performed a year-long parallel 16S rRNA gene and 18S rRNA-gene based analysis of the bacterial and of the microeukaryote communities, respectively, of physically separated flocs and particle-free liquor samples from three WWTPs. This uncovered a hitherto unknown large diversity of microeukaryotes largely composed of potential phagotrophs preferentially feeding on either bacteria or other microeukaryotes. We further explored whether colonization of the microhabitats was selective, showing that for both microbial communities, different but often closely taxonomically and functionally related populations exhibiting different dynamic patterns populated the microhabitats. An analysis of their between plants-shared core populations showed the microeukaryotes to be dispersal limited in comparison to bacteria. Finally, a detailed analysis of a weather-caused operational disruption in one of the plants suggested that the absence of populations common to the floc and liquor habitat may negatively affect resilience and stability. © 2019 Society for Applied Microbiology and John Wiley & Sons Ltd.
Sathyamoorthy, R. ; Maoz, A. ; Pasternak, Z. ; Im, H. ; Huppert, A. ; Kadouri, D. ; Jurkevitch, E. Bacterial predation under changing viscosities. Environmental Microbiology 2019, 21, 2997-3010. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Bdellovibrio and like organisms (BALOs) are largely distributed in soils and in water bodies obligate predators of gram-negative bacteria that can affect bacterial communities. Potential applications of BALOs include biomass reduction, their use against pathogenic bacteria in agriculture, and in medicine as an alternative against antibiotic-resistant pathogens. Such different environments and uses mean that BALOs should be active under a range of viscosities. In this study, the predatory behaviour of two strains of the periplasmic predator B. bacteriovorus and of the epibiotic predator Micavibrio aeruginosavorus was examined in viscous polyvinylpyrrolidone (PVP) solutions at 28 and at 37°C, using fluorescent markers and plate counts to track predator growth and prey decay. We found that at high viscosities, although swimming speed was largely decreased, the three predators reduced prey to levels similar to those of non-viscous suspensions, albeit with short delays. Prey motility and clumping did not affect the outcome. Strikingly, under low initial predator concentrations, predation dynamics were faster with increasing viscosity, an effect that dissipated with increasing predator concentrations. Changes in swimming patterns and in futile predator–predator encounters with viscosity, as revealed by path analysis under changing viscosities, along with possible PVP-mediated crowding effects, may explain the observed phenomena. © 2019 Society for Applied Microbiology and John Wiley & Sons Ltd.
Yuval, B. ; Lahuatte, P. ; Jose, P. A. ; Causton, C. E. ; Jurkevitch, E. ; Kouloussis, N. ; Ben-Yosef, M. Behavioral responses of the invasive fly Philornis downsi to stimuli from bacteria and yeast in the laboratory and the field in the Galapagos Islands. Insects 2019, 10. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Philornis downsi Dodge and Aitken (Diptera: Muscidae) is an avian parasitic fly that has invaded the Galapagos archipelago and exerts an onerous burden on populations of endemic land birds. As part of an ongoing effort to develop tools for the integrated management of this fly, our objective was to determine its long-and short-range responses to bacterial and fungal cues associated with adult P. downsi. We hypothesized that the bacterial and fungal communities would elicit attraction at distance through volatiles, and appetitive responses upon contact. Accordingly, we amplified bacteria from guts of adult field-caught flies and from bird feces, and yeasts from fermenting papaya juice (a known attractant of P. downsi), on selective growth media, and assayed the response of flies to these microbes or their exudates. In the field, we baited traps with bacteria or yeast and monitored adult fly attraction. In the laboratory, we used the proboscis extension response (PER) to determine the sensitivity of males and females to tarsal contact with bacteria or yeast. Long range trapping efforts yielded two female flies over 112 trap-nights (attracted by bacteria from bird feces and from the gut of adult flies). In the laboratory, tarsal contact with stimuli from gut bacteria elicited significantly more responses than did yeast stimuli. We discuss the significance of these findings in context with other studies in the field and identify targets for future work. © 2019 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.
Akami, M. ; Andongma, A. A. ; Zhengzhong, C. ; Nan, J. ; Khaeso, K. ; Jurkevitch, E. ; Niu, C. - Y. ; Yuval, B. Intestinal bacteria modulate the foraging behavior of the oriental fruit fly Bactrocera dorsalis (Diptera: Tephritidae). PLoS ONE 2019, 14. Publisher's VersionAbstract
The gut microbiome of insects directly or indirectly affects the metabolism, immune status, sensory perception and feeding behavior of its host. Here, we examine the hypothesis that in the oriental fruit fly (Bactrocera dorsalis, Diptera: Tephritidae), the presence or absence of gut symbionts affects foraging behavior and nutrient ingestion. We offered protein-starved flies, symbiotic or aposymbiotic, a choice between diets containing all amino acids or only the non-essential ones. The different diets were presented in a foraging arena as drops that varied in their size and density, creating an imbalanced foraging environment. Suppressing the microbiome resulted in significant changes of the foraging behavior of both male and female flies. Aposymbiotic flies responded faster to the diets offered in experimental arenas, spent more time feeding, ingested more drops of food, and were constrained to feed on time-consuming patches (containing small drops of food), when these offered the full complement of amino acids. We discuss these results in the context of previous studies on the effect of the gut microbiome on host behavior, and suggest that these be extended to the life history dimension. © 2019 Akami et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
Pasternak, Z. ; Luchibia, A. O. ; Matan, O. ; Dawson, L. ; Gafny, R. ; Shpitzen, M. ; Avraham, S. ; Jurkevitch, E. Mitigating temporal mismatches in forensic soil microbial profiles. Australian Journal of Forensic Sciences 2019, 51, 685-694. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Forensic implementation of soil bacterial DNA profiling is limited by the potential for temporal mismatch of DNA profiles, e.g. after storage or seasonal changes. We compared profiles of samples retrieved at one location over 14 years after air-drying, freeze-drying and –80 °C freezing storage. Sample mismatch in freeze-dried and air-dried samples was significant after two years and continued to increase yearly, whereas profiles after –80 °C freezing remained unchanged for many years. In an attempt to mitigate inter-seasonal temporal mismatches, e.g. when months pass between crime and seizure of evidence, soils sampled in winter and summer were exposed to artificial ‘summer’ and ‘winter’ conditions, respectively, and their DNA profiles were compared. Differences were small between soil types, larger between seasons and largest between ‘natural’ and ‘artificial’ seasons. Understanding sources of temporal variations is critical for storage of forensics samples and for developing mitigation procedures that could help overcome these time-induced limitations. © 2018, © 2018 Australian Academy of Forensic Sciences.
Jose, P. A. ; Ben-Yosef, M. ; Jurkevitch, E. ; Yuval, B. Symbiotic bacteria affect oviposition behavior in the olive fruit fly Bactrocera oleae. Journal of Insect Physiology 2019, 117. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Microbial associations are widespread across the insects. In the olive fruit fly Bactrocera oleae (Diptera: Tephritidae), vertically transmitted gut symbionts contribute to larval development inside the olive host, and to adult nutrition. Nevertheless, their effect on behavioural decisions of adults is unknown. In this study, we show that symbiotic bacteria affect oviposition behaviour in B. oleae. We studied the effect of different fruits as hosts and different gut-bacteria as gut-symbionts on oviposition attempts and fly development in B. oleae. Untreated flies that had native gut-symbionts attempted oviposition significantly more times than axenic flies as well as flies treated with medfly-associated Pantoea or Klebsiella bacteria. Axenic flies provided with a diet containing the homogenized gut of symbiotic flies recovered the same number of oviposition attempts as their symbiotic counterparts. As for as the different hosts, green olives (unripe) and grapes were preferred while black olives (ripe) elicited the least number of oviposition attempts, with an interactive effect of host and bacterial treatments. It appears that both the host attributes and the native gut-symbionts drive oviposition preference towards green olives in B. oleae. Moreover, both bacterial treatments and hosts significantly affected the development of B. oleae larvae. Though grapes elicited as many oviposition attempts as green olives, they yielded no pupae. Taken together, our results suggest that the intimate association between B. oleae and their gut-microbes, extends beyond nutritional support to behaviour. © 2019 Elsevier Ltd
Amso, Z. ; Hayouka, Z. Antimicrobial random peptide cocktails: A new approach to fight pathogenic bacteria. Chemical Communications 2019, 55, 2007-2014. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Antibiotic resistance in bacteria has become a serious threat to public health, and therefore there is an urgent need to develop new classes of antimicrobial agents. Nowadays, natural antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) and their synthetic derivatives are considered as promising alternatives to traditional antibiotics. The broad molecular diversity of AMPs, in terms of sequences and structures, suggests that their activity does not depend on specific features of amino acid sequence or peptide conformation. We therefore selected two common properties of AMPs, (high percentage of hydrophobic and cationic amino acids), to develop a novel approach to synthesize random antimicrobial peptide mixtures (RPMs). Instead of incorporating a single amino acid at each coupling step, a mixture of hydrophobic and cationic amino acids in a defined proportion is coupled. This results in a mixture that contains up to 2 n sequences, where n is the number of the coupling step, of random peptides with a defined composition, stereochemistry, and controlled chain length. We have discovered that RPMs of hydrophobic and cationic α-amino acids, such as phenylalanine and lysine, display strong and broad antimicrobial activity towards Gram-negative, Gram-positive, clinically isolated antibiotic resistant "superbugs", and several plant pathogenic bacteria. This review summarizes our efforts to explore the mode of action of RPMs and their potential as bioactive agents for multiple applications, including the prevention of biofilm formation and degradation of mature biofilm (related to human health), reduction of disease severity in plant bacterial disease models (related to crop protection), and inhibition of bacterial growth in milk (related to food preservation). All our findings illustrate the effectiveness of RPMs and their great potential for various applications. © 2019 The Royal Society of Chemistry.
Yehuda, A. ; Slamti, L. ; Malach, E. ; Lereclus, D. ; Hayouka, Z. Elucidating the hot spot residues of quorum sensing peptidic autoinducer papr by multiple amino acid replacements. Frontiers in Microbiology 2019, 10. Publisher's VersionAbstract
The quorum sensing (QS) system of Bacillus cereus, an opportunistic human pathogen, utilizes the autoinducing PapR peptide signal that mediates the activation of the pleiotropic virulence regulator PlcR. A set of synthetic 7-mer PapR-derived peptides (PapR7; ADLPFEF) have been shown to inhibit efficiently the PlcR regulon activity and the production of virulence factors, reflected by a loss in hemolytic activity without affecting bacterial growth. Interestingly, these first potent synthetic inhibitors involved D-amino acid or alanine replacements of three amino acids; proline, glutamic acid, and phenylalanine of the heptapeptide PapR. To better understand the role of these three positions in PlcR activity, we report herein the second generation design, synthesis, and characterization of PapR7-derived combinations, alternate double and triple alanine and D-amino acids replacement at these positions. Our findings generate a new set of non-native PapR7-derived peptides that inhibit the PlcR regulon activity and the production of virulence factors. Using the amino acids substitution strategy, we revealed the role of proline and glutamic acid on PlcR regulon activation. Moreover, we demonstrated that the D-Glutamic acid substitution was crucial for the design of stronger PlcR antagonists. These peptides represent potent synthetic inhibitors of B. cereus QS and constitute new and readily accessible chemical tools for the study of the PlcR system. Our method might be applied to other quorum sensing systems to design new anti-virulence agents. © 2019 Yehuda, Slamti, Malach, Lereclus and Hayouka.