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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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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.
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
Habtom, H. ; Pasternak, Z. ; Matan, O. ; Azulay, C. ; Gafny, R. ; Jurkevitch, E. Applying microbial biogeography in soil forensics. Forensic Science International: Genetics 2019, 38, 195 - 203. Publisher's VersionAbstract
The ubiquity, heterogeneity and transferability of soil makes it useful as evidence in criminal investigations, especially using new methods that survey the microbial DNA it contains. However, to be used effectively and reliably, more needs to be learned about the natural distribution patterns of microbial communities in soil. In this study we examine these patterns in detail, at local to regional scales (2 m–260 km), across an environmental gradient in three different soil types. Geographic location was found to be more important than soil type in determining the microbial community composition: communities from the same site but different soil types, although significantly different from each other, were still much more similar to each other than were communities from the same soil type but from different sites. At a local scale (25–1000 m), distance-decay relationships were observed in all soil types: the farther apart two soil communities were located, even in the same soil type, the more they differed. At regional-scale distances (1–260 km), differences between communities did not increase with increased geographic distance between them, and the dominant factor determining the community profile was the physico-chemical environment, most notably annual precipitation (R2 = 0.69), soil sodium (R2 = 0.49) and soil ammonium (R2 = 0.47) levels. We introduce a likelihood-ratio framework for quantitative evaluation of soil microbial DNA profile evidence in casework. In conclusion, these profiles, along with detailed knowledge of natural soil microbial biogeography, provide valuable forensic information on soil sample comparison and allow the determination of approximate source location on large (hundreds of km) spatial scales. Moreover, at small spatial scales it may enable pinpointing the source location of a sample to within at least 25 m, regardless of soil type and environmental conditions.
Gatica, J. ; Jurkevitch, E. ; Cytryn, E. Comparative Metagenomics and Network Analyses Provide Novel Insights Into the Scope and Distribution of β-Lactamase Homologs in the Environment. Frontiers in Microbiology 2019, 10, 146. Publisher's VersionAbstract
The β-lactams are the largest group of clinically applied antibiotics, and resistance to these is primarily associated with β-lactamases. There is increasing understanding that these enzymes are ubiquitous in natural environments and henceforth, elucidating the global diversity, distribution and mobility of β-lactamase-encoding genes is crucial for holistically understanding resistance to these antibiotics. In this study, we screened 232 shotgun metagenomes from ten different environments against a custom-designed β-lactamase database, and subsequently analyzed β-lactamase homologues with a suite of bioinformatic platforms including cluster and network analyses. Three interrelated β-lactamase clusters encompassed all of the human and bovine feces metagenomes, while β-lactamases from soil, freshwater, glacier, marine and wastewater grouped within a separate “environmental” cluster that displayed high levels of inter-network connectivity. Interestingly, almost no connectivity occurred between the “feces” and “environmental” clusters. We attributed this in part to the divergence in microbial community composition (dominance of Bacteroidetes and Firmicutes vs. Proteobacteria, respectively). The β-lactamase diversity in the “environmental” cluster was significantly higher than in human and bovine feces microbiomes. Several class A, B, C and D β-lactamase homologues (blaCTX-M, blaKPC, blaGES) were ubiquitous in the “environmental” cluster, whereas bovine and human feces metagenomes were dominated by class A (primarily cfxA) β-lactamases. Collectively, this study highlights the ubiquitous presence and broad diversity of β-lactamase gene precursors in non-clinical environments. Furthermore, it suggests that horizontal transfer of β-lactamases to human-associated bacteria may be more plausible from animals than from terrestrial and aquatic microbes, seemingly due to phylogenetic similarities.
Zaada, D. S. Y. ; Ben-Yosef, M. ; Yuval, B. ; Jurkevitch, E. The Host Fruit Amplifies Mutualistic Interactions between  Ceratitis Capitata  Larvae and Associated Bacteria. bioRxiv 2018, 327668. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Background:The Mediterranean fruit fly Ceratitis capitata is a major pest in horticulture. The development of fly larvae is mediated by bacterial decay in the fruit tissue. Despite the importance of bacteria on larval development, very little is known about the interaction between bacteria and larvae in their true ecological context. Understanding their relationship and inter-dependence in the host fruit is important for the development of new pest control interfaces to deal with this pest.Results:We find no negative effects on egg hatch or larval development brought about by the bacterial isolates tested. The various symbionts inhabiting the fly’s digestive system differ in their degree of contribution to the development of fly larvae depending on the given host and their sensitivity to induced inhibition caused by female produced antimicrobial peptides. These differences were observed not only at the genus or species level but also between isolates of the same species. We demonstrate how the microbiota from the mother’s gut supports the development of larvae in the fruit host and show that larvae play a major role in spreading the bacterial contagion in the infected fruit itself. In addition, we present (for the first time) evidence for horizontal transfer of bacteria between larvae of different maternal origin that develop together in the same fruit.Conclusions:Larvae play a major role in the spread and shaping of the microbial population in the fruit. The transfer of bacteria between different individuals developing in the same fruit suggests that the infested fruit serves as a microbial hub for the amplification and spread of bacterial strains between individuals.
Segev, E. ; Pasternak, Z. ; Ben Sasson, T. ; Jurkevitch, E. ; Gonen, M. Automatic identification of optimal marker genes for phenotypic and taxonomic groups of microorganisms. PLOS ONE 2018, 13, e0195537 -. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Finding optimal markers for microorganisms important in the medical, agricultural, environmental or ecological fields is of great importance. Thousands of complete microbial genomes now available allow us, for the first time, to exhaustively identify marker proteins for groups of microbial organisms. In this work, we model the biological task as the well-known mathematical “hitting set” problem, solving it based on both greedy and randomized approximation algorithms. We identify unique markers for 17 phenotypic and taxonomic microbial groups, including proteins related to the nitrite reductase enzyme as markers for the non-anammox nitrifying bacteria group, and two transcription regulation proteins, nusG and yhiF, as markers for the Archaea and Escherichia/Shigella taxonomic groups, respectively. Additionally, we identify marker proteins for three subtypes of pathogenic E. coli, which previously had no known optimal markers. Practically, depending on the completeness of the database this algorithm can be used for identification of marker genes for any microbial group, these marker genes may be prime candidates for the understanding of the genetic basis of the group's phenotype or to help discover novel functions which are uniquely shared among a group of microbes. We show that our method is both theoretically and practically efficient, while establishing an upper bound on its time complexity and approximation ratio; thus, it promises to remain efficient and permit the identification of marker proteins that are specific to phenotypic or taxonomic groups, even as more and more bacterial genomes are being sequenced.
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 SciencesAustralian Journal of Forensic Sciences 2018, 1 - 10. Publisher's VersionAbstract
ABSTRACTForensic 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.
Kaplan, E. ; Marano, R. B. M. ; Jurkevitch, E. ; Cytryn, E. Enhanced Bacterial Fitness Under Residual Fluoroquinolone Concentrations Is Associated With Increased Gene Expression in Wastewater-Derived qnr Plasmid-Harboring Strains. Frontiers in microbiology 2018, 9 1176 - 1176. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Plasmids harboring qnr genes confer resistance to low fluoroquinolone concentrations. These genes are of significant clinical, evolutionary and environmental importance, since they are widely distributed in a diverse array of natural and clinical environments. We previously extracted and sequenced a large (∼185 Kbp) qnrB-harboring plasmid, and several small (∼8 Kbp) qnrS-harboring plasmids, from Klebsiella pneumoniae isolates from municipal wastewater biosolids, and hypothesized that these plasmids provide host bacteria a selective advantage in wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) that often contain residual concentrations of fluoroquinolones. The objectives of this study were therefore to determine the effect of residual fluoroquinolone concentrations on the growth kinetics of qnr plasmid-harboring bacteria; and on the copy number of qnr plasmids and expression of qnr genes. Electrotransformants harboring either one of the two types of plasmids could grow at ciprofloxacin concentrations exceeding 0.5 μg ml(-1), but growth was significantly decreased at concentrations higher than 0.1 μg ml(-1). In contrast, plasmid-free strains failed to grow even at 0.05 μg ml(-1). No differences were observed in plasmid copy number under the tested ciprofloxacin concentrations, but qnr expression increased incrementally from 0 to 0.4 μg ml(-1), suggesting that the transcription of this gene is regulated by antibiotic concentration. This study reveals that wastewater-derived qnr plasmids confer a selective advantage in the presence of residual fluoroquinolone concentrations and provides a mechanistic explanation for this phenomenon.
Makarovsky, D. ; Fadeev, L. ; Salam, B. B. ; Zelinger, E. ; Matan, O. ; Inbar, J. ; Jurkevitch, E. ; Gozin, M. ; Burdman, S. Silver Nanoparticles Complexed with Bovine Submaxillary Mucin Possess Strong Antibacterial Activity and Protect against Seedling Infection. Appl Environ Microbiol 2018, 84.Abstract
A simple method for the synthesis of nanoparticles (NPs) of silver (Ag) in a matrix of bovine submaxillary mucin (BSM) was reported previously by some of the authors of this study. Based on mucin characteristics such as long-lasting stability, water solubility, and surfactant and adhesive characteristics, we hypothesized that these compounds, named BSM-Ag NPs, may possess favorable properties as potent antimicrobial agents. The goal of this study was to assess whether BSM-Ag NPs possess antibacterial activity, focusing on important plant-pathogenic bacterial strains representing both Gram-negative ( and ) and Gram-positive () genera. Growth inhibition and bactericidal assays, as well as electron microscopic observations, demonstrate that BSM-Ag NPs, at relatively low concentrations of silver, exert strong antimicrobial effects. Moreover, we show that treatment of melon seeds with BSM-Ag NPs effectively prevents seed-to-seedling transmission of , one of the most threatening pathogens of cucurbit production worldwide. Overall, our findings demonstrate strong antimicrobial activity of BSM-Ag NPs and their potential application for reducing the spread and establishment of devastating bacterial plant diseases in agriculture. Bacterial plant diseases challenge agricultural production, and the means available to manage them are limited. Importantly, many plant-pathogenic bacteria have the ability to colonize seeds, and seed-to-seedling transmission is a critical route by which bacterial plant diseases spread to new regions and countries. The significance of our study resides in the following aspects: (i) the simplicity of the method of BSM-Ag NP synthesis, (ii) the advantageous chemical properties of BSM-Ag NPs, (iii) the strong antibacterial activity of BSM-Ag NPs at relatively low concentrations of silver, and (iv) the fact that, in contrast to most studies on the effects of metal NPs on plant pathogens, the proof of concept for the novel compound is supported by assays. Application of this technology is not limited to agriculture; BSM-Ag NPs potentially could be exploited as a potent antimicrobial agent in a wide range of industrial areas, including medicine, veterinary medicine, cosmetics, textiles, and household products.
Habtom, H. ; Demanèche, S. ; Dawson, L. ; Azulay, C. ; Matan, O. ; Robe, P. ; Gafny, R. ; Simonet, P. ; Jurkevitch, E. ; Pasternak, Z. Soil characterisation by bacterial community analysis for forensic applications: A quantitative comparison of environmental technologies. Forensic Sci Int Genet 2017, 26, 21-29.Abstract
The ubiquity and transferability of soil makes it a resource for the forensic investigator, as it can provide a link between agents and scenes. However, the information contained in soils, such as chemical compounds, physical particles or biological entities, is seldom used in forensic investigations; due mainly to the associated costs, lack of available expertise, and the lack of soil databases. The microbial DNA in soil is relatively easy to access and analyse, having thus the potential to provide a powerful means for discriminating soil samples or linking them to a common origin. We compared the effectiveness and reliability of multiple methods and genes for bacterial characterisation in the differentiation of soil samples: ribosomal intergenic spacer analysis (RISA), terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism (TRFLP) of the rpoB gene, and five methods using the 16S rRNA gene: phylogenetic microarrays, TRFLP, and high throughput sequencing with Roche 454, Illumina MiSeq and IonTorrent PGM platforms. All these methods were also compared to long-chain hydrocarbons (n-alkanes) and fatty alcohol profiling of the same soil samples. RISA, 16S TRFLP and MiSeq performed best, reliably and significantly discriminating between adjacent, similar soil types. As TRFLP employs the same capillary electrophoresis equipment and procedures used to analyse human DNA, it is readily available for use in most forensic laboratories. TRFLP was optimized for forensic usage in five parameters: choice of primer pair, fluorescent tagging, concentrating DNA after digestion, number of PCR amplifications per sample and number of capillary electrophoresis runs per PCR amplification. This study shows that molecular microbial ecology methodologies are robust in discriminating between soil samples, illustrating their potential usage as an evaluative forensic tool.
Dattner, I. ; Miller, E. ; Petrenko, M. ; Kadouri, D. E. ; Jurkevitch, E. ; Huppert, A. Modelling and parameter inference of predator&\#x2013;prey dynamics in heterogeneous environments using the direct integral approach. Journal of The Royal Society Interface 2017, 14, 20160525. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Most bacterial habitats are topographically complex in the micro scale. Important examples include the gastrointestinal and tracheal tracts, and the soil. Although there are myriad theoretical studies that explore the role of spatial structures on antagonistic interactions (predation, competition) among animals, there are many fewer experimental studies that have explored, validated and quantified their predictions. In this study, we experimentally monitored the temporal dynamic of the predatory bacterium Bdellovibrio bacteriovorus, and its prey, the bacterium Burkholderia stabilis in a structured habitat consisting of sand under various regimes of wetness. We constructed a dynamic model, and estimated its parameters by further developing the direct integral method, a novel estimation procedure that exploits the separability of the states and parameters in the model. We also verified that one of our parameter estimates was consistent with its known, directly measured value from the literature. The ability of the model to fit the data combined with realistic parameter estimates indicate that bacterial predation in the sand can be described by a relatively simple model, and stress the importance of prey refuge on predation dynamics in heterogeneous environments.
Jurkevitch, E. ; Jacquet, S. [Bdellovibrio and like organisms: outstanding predators!]. Med Sci (Paris) 2017, 33, 519-527.Abstract
Obligate predatory bacteria, i.e. bacteria requiring a Gram negative prey cell in order to complete their cell cycle, belong to the polyphyletic group referred to as the Bdellovibrio And Like Organisms (BALO). Predatory interactions between bacteria are complex, yet their dynamics and impact on bacterial communities in the environment are becoming better understood. BALO have unique life cycles: they grow epibiotically with the predator remaining attached to the prey's envelope, dividing in a binary manner or periplasmically, i.e. by penetrating the prey's periplasm to generate a number of progeny cells. The periplasmic life cycle includes unique gene and protein patterns and unique signaling features. These ecological and cellular features, along with applications of the BALO in the medical, agricultural and environmental fields are surveyed.
Ben-Yosef, M. ; Zaada, D. S. Y. ; Dudaniec, R. Y. ; Pasternak, Z. ; Jurkevitch, E. ; Smith, R. J. ; Causton, C. E. ; Lincango, M. P. ; Tobe, S. S. ; Mitchell, J. G. ; et al. Host-specific associations affect the microbiome of Philornis downsi, an introduced parasite to the Galápagos Islands. Mol Ecol 2017, 26, 4644-4656.Abstract
The composition and diversity of bacteria forming the microbiome of parasitic organisms have implications for differential host pathogenicity and host-parasite co-evolutionary interactions. The microbiome of pathogens can therefore have consequences that are relevant for managing disease prevalence and impact on affected hosts. Here, we investigate the microbiome of an invasive parasitic fly Philornis downsi, recently introduced to the Galápagos Islands, where it poses extinction threat to Darwin's finches and other land birds. Larvae infest nests of Darwin's finches and consume blood and tissue of developing nestlings, and have severe mortality impacts. Using 16s rRNA sequencing data, we characterize the bacterial microbiota associated with P. downsi adults and larvae sourced from four finch host species, inhabiting two islands and representing two ecologically distinct groups. We show that larval and adult microbiomes are dominated by the phyla Proteobacteria and Firmicutes, which significantly differ between life stages in their distributions. Additionally, bacterial community structure significantly differed between larvae retrieved from strictly insectivorous warbler finches (Certhidea olivacea) and those parasitizing hosts with broader dietary preferences (ground and tree finches, Geospiza and Camarhynchus spp., respectively). Finally, we found no spatial effects on the larval microbiome, as larvae feeding on the same host (ground finches) harboured similar microbiomes across islands. Our results suggest that the microbiome of P. downsi changes during its development, according to dietary composition or nutritional needs, and is significantly affected by host-related factors during the larval stage. Unravelling the ecological significance of bacteria for this parasite will contribute to the development of novel, effective control strategies.
Johnke, J. ; Baron, M. ; de Leeuw, M. ; Kushmaro, A. ; Jurkevitch, E. ; Harms, H. ; Chatzinotas, A. A Generalist Protist Predator Enables Coexistence in Multitrophic Predator-Prey Systems Containing a Phage and the Bacterial Predator Bdellovibrio. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution 2017, 5 124. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Complex ecosystems harbor multiple predators and prey species whose direct and indirect interactions are under study. In particular, the combined effects of predator diversity and resource preference on prey removal are not known. To understand the effect of interspecies interactions, combinations of micro-predators—i.e., protists (generalists), predatory bacteria (semi-specialists), and phages (specialists)—and bacterial prey were tracked over a 72-h period in miniature membrane bioreactors. While specialist predators alone drove their preferred prey to extinction, the inclusion of a generalist resulted in uniform losses among prey species. Most importantly, presence of a generalist predator enabled coexistence of all predators and prey. As the generalist predator also negatively affected the other predators, we suggest that resource partitioning between predators and the constant availability of resources for bacterial growth due to protist predation stabilizes the system and keeps its diversity high. The appearance of resistant prey strains and subsequent evolution of specialist predators unable to infect the ancestral prey implies that multitrophic communities are able to persist and stabilize themselves. Interestingly, the appearance of BALOs and phages unable to infect their prey was only observed for the BALO or phage in the absence of additional predators or prey species indicating that competition between predators might influence coevolutionary dynamics.