Natural selection underlies apparent stress-induced mutagenesis in a bacteriophage infection model
16047. Publisher's VersionAbstract
The emergence of mutations following growth-limiting conditions underlies bacterial drug resistance, viral escape from the immune system and fundamental evolution-driven events. Intriguingly, whether mutations are induced by growth limitation conditions or are randomly generated during growth and then selected by growth limitation conditions remains an open question1. Here, we show that bacteriophage T7 undergoes apparent stress-induced mutagenesis when selected for improved recognition of its host's receptor. In our unique experimental set-up, the growth limitation condition is physically and temporally separated from mutagenesis: growth limitation occurs while phage DNA is outside the host, and spontaneous mutations occur during phage DNA replication inside the host. We show that the selected beneficial mutations are not pre-existing and that the initial slow phage growth is enabled by the phage particle's low-efficiency DNA injection into the host. Thus, the phage particle allows phage populations to initially extend their host range without mutagenesis by virtue of residual recognition of the host receptor. Mutations appear during non-selective intracellular replication, and the frequency of mutant phages increases by natural selection acting on free phages, which are not capable of mutagenesis.
High-resolution phylogenetic microbial community profiling
, 2020 - 2032. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Over the past decade, high-throughput short-read 16S rRNA gene amplicon sequencing has eclipsed clone-dependent long-read Sanger sequencing for microbial community profiling. The transition to new technologies has provided more quantitative information at the expense of taxonomic resolution with implications for inferring metabolic traits in various ecosystems. We applied single-molecule real-time sequencing for microbial community profiling, generating full-length 16S rRNA gene sequences at high throughput, which we propose to name PhyloTags. We benchmarked and validated this approach using a defined microbial community. When further applied to samples from the water column of meromictic Sakinaw Lake, we show that while community structures at the phylum level are comparable between PhyloTags and Illumina V4 16S rRNA gene sequences (iTags), variance increases with community complexity at greater water depths. PhyloTags moreover allowed less ambiguous classification. Last, a platform-independent comparison of PhyloTags and in silico generated partial 16S rRNA gene sequences demonstrated significant differences in community structure and phylogenetic resolution across multiple taxonomic levels, including a severe underestimation in the abundance of specific microbial genera involved in nitrogen and methane cycling across the Lake’s water column. Thus, PhyloTags provide a reliable adjunct or alternative to cost-effective iTags, enabling more accurate phylogenetic resolution of microbial communities and predictions on their metabolic potential.
Toxin-Antitoxin systems eliminate defective cells and preserve symmetry in Bacillus subtilis biofilms
. Environmental MicrobiologyEnvironmental MicrobiologyEnviron Microbiol 2016
, 5032 - 5047. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Summary Toxin-antitoxin modules are gene pairs encoding a toxin and its antitoxin, and are found on the chromosomes of many bacteria, including pathogens. Here, we characterize the specific contribution of the TxpA and YqcG toxins in elimination of defective cells from developing Bacillus subtilis biofilms. On nutrient limitation, defective cells accumulated in the biofilm breaking its symmetry. Deletion of the toxins resulted in accumulation of morphologically abnormal cells, and interfered with the proper development of the multicellular community. Dual physiological responses are of significance for TxpA and YqcG activation: nitrogen deprivation enhances the transcription of both TxpA and YqcG toxins, and simultaneously sensitizes the biofilm cells to their activity. Furthermore, we demonstrate that while both toxins when overexpressed affect the morphology of the developing biofilm, the toxin TxpA can act to lyse and dissolve pre-established B. subtilis biofilms.