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In JoVE (1)
- Extracting DNA from the Gut Microbes of the Termite (Zootermopsis Angusticollis) and Visualizing Gut Microbes
Other Publications (8)
Articles by Elizabeth Ottesen in JoVE
Extracting DNA from the Gut Microbes of the Termite (Zootermopsis Angusticollis) and Visualizing Gut Microbes
Eric Matson, Elizabeth Ottesen, Jared Leadbetter
Department of Environmental Science and Engineering, California Institute of Technology - Caltech
This video illustrates the technique for extracting DNA from the species of microbes resident in the termite hindgut. The preparation of a wet mount slide, which is useful for visualizing the gut microbial community is also illustrated, and a tour through the species-rich gut environment is given.
Other articles by Elizabeth Ottesen on PubMed
To DGC or Not to DGC: Oxygen Guarding in the Termite Zootermopsis Nevadensis (Isoptera: Termopsidae)
The Journal of Experimental Biology. Dec, 2005 | Pubmed ID: 16326948
The ability of some insects to engage in complex orchestrations of tracheal gas exchange has been well demonstrated, but its evolutionary origin remains obscure. According to a recently proposed hypothesis, insects may employ spiracular control of gas exchange to guard tissues against long-term oxidative damage by using the discontinuous gas-exchange cycle (DGC) to limit internal oxygen partial pressure (PO2). This manuscript describes a different approach to oxygen guarding in the lower termite Zootermopsis nevadensis. These insects do not display a DGC but respond to elevated oxygen concentrations by restricting spiracular area, resulting in a transient decline in CO2 emission. High internal CO2 concentrations are then maintained; restoring normoxia results in a transient reciprocal increase in CO2 emission caused by release of excess endotracheal CO2. These changes in spiracular area reflect active guarding of low internal O2 concentrations and demonstrate that regulation of endotracheal hypoxia takes physiological priority over prevention of CO2 build-up. This adaptation may reflect the need to protect oxygen-sensitive symbionts (or, gut bug guarding). Termites may eschew the DGC because periodic flushing of the tracheal system with air may harm the obligate anaerobes upon which the lower termites depend for survival on their native diet of chewed wood.
Science (New York, N.Y.). Dec, 2006 | Pubmed ID: 17138901
Gene inventory and metagenomic techniques have allowed rapid exploration of bacterial diversity and the potential physiologies present within microbial communities. However, it remains nontrivial to discover the identities of environmental bacteria carrying two or more genes of interest. We have used microfluidic digital polymerase chain reaction (PCR) to amplify and analyze multiple, different genes obtained from single bacterial cells harvested from nature. A gene encoding a key enzyme involved in the mutualistic symbiosis occurring between termites and their gut microbiota was used as an experimental hook to discover the previously unknown ribosomal RNA-based species identity of several symbionts. The ability to systematically identify bacteria carrying a particular gene and to link any two or more genes of interest to single species residing in complex ecosystems opens up new opportunities for research on the environment.
Nature. Nov, 2007 | Pubmed ID: 18033299
From the standpoints of both basic research and biotechnology, there is considerable interest in reaching a clearer understanding of the diversity of biological mechanisms employed during lignocellulose degradation. Globally, termites are an extremely successful group of wood-degrading organisms and are therefore important both for their roles in carbon turnover in the environment and as potential sources of biochemical catalysts for efforts aimed at converting wood into biofuels. Only recently have data supported any direct role for the symbiotic bacteria in the gut of the termite in cellulose and xylan hydrolysis. Here we use a metagenomic analysis of the bacterial community resident in the hindgut paunch of a wood-feeding 'higher' Nasutitermes species (which do not contain cellulose-fermenting protozoa) to show the presence of a large, diverse set of bacterial genes for cellulose and xylan hydrolysis. Many of these genes were expressed in vivo or had cellulase activity in vitro, and further analyses implicate spirochete and fibrobacter species in gut lignocellulose degradation. New insights into other important symbiotic functions including H2 metabolism, CO2-reductive acetogenesis and N2 fixation are also provided by this first system-wide gene analysis of a microbial community specialized towards plant lignocellulose degradation. Our results underscore how complex even a 1-microl environment can be.
Development and Quantitative Analyses of a Universal RRNA-subtraction Protocol for Microbial Metatranscriptomics
The ISME Journal. Jul, 2010 | Pubmed ID: 20220791
Metatranscriptomes generated by pyrosequencing hold significant potential for describing functional processes in complex microbial communities. Meeting this potential requires protocols that maximize mRNA recovery by reducing the relative abundance of ribosomal RNA, as well as systematic comparisons to identify methodological artifacts and test for reproducibility across data sets. Here, we implement a protocol for subtractive hybridization of bacterial rRNA (16S and 23S) that uses sample-specific probes and is applicable across diverse environmental samples. To test this method, rRNA-subtracted and unsubtracted transcriptomes were sequenced (454 FLX technology) from bacterioplankton communities at two depths in the oligotrophic open ocean, yielding 10 data sets representing approximately 350 Mbp. Subtractive hybridization reduced bacterial rRNA transcript abundance by 40-58%, increasing recovery of non-rRNA sequences up to fourfold (from 12% to 20% of total sequences to 40-49%). In testing this method, we established criteria for detecting sequences replicated artificially via pyrosequencing errors and identified such replicates as a significant component (6-39%) of total pyrosequencing reads. Following replicate removal, statistical comparisons of reference genes (identified via BLASTX to NCBI-nr) between technical replicates and between rRNA-subtracted and unsubtracted samples showed low levels of differential transcript abundance (<0.2% of reference genes). However, gene overlap between data sets was remarkably low, with no two data sets (including duplicate runs from the same pyrosequencing library template) sharing greater than 17% of unique reference genes. These results indicate that pyrosequencing captures a small subset of total mRNA diversity and underscores the importance of reliable rRNA subtraction procedures to enhance sequencing coverage across the functional transcript pool.
Diversity of Formyltetrahydrofolate Synthetases in the Guts of the Wood-feeding Cockroach Cryptocercus Punctulatus and the Omnivorous Cockroach Periplaneta Americana
Applied and Environmental Microbiology. Jul, 2010 | Pubmed ID: 20495046
We examined the diversity of a marker gene for homoacetogens in two cockroach gut microbial communities. Formyltetrahydrofolate synthetase (FTHFS or fhs) libraries prepared from a wood-feeding cockroach, Cryptocercus punctulatus, were dominated by sequences that affiliated with termite gut treponemes. No spirochete-like sequences were recovered from the omnivorous roach Periplaneta americana, which was dominated by Firmicutes-like sequences.
Formyltetrahydrofolate Synthetase Gene Diversity in the Guts of Higher Termites with Different Diets and Lifestyles
Applied and Environmental Microbiology. May, 2011 | Pubmed ID: 21441328
In this study, we examine gene diversity for formyl-tetrahydrofolate synthetase (FTHFS), a key enzyme in homoacetogenesis, recovered from the gut microbiota of six species of higher termites. The "higher" termites (family Termitidae), which represent the majority of extant termite species and genera, engage in a broader diversity of feeding and nesting styles than the "lower" termites. Previous studies of termite gut homoacetogenesis have focused on wood-feeding lower termites, from which the preponderance of FTHFS sequences recovered were related to those from acetogenic treponemes. While sequences belonging to this group were present in the guts of all six higher termites examined, treponeme-like FTHFS sequences represented the majority of recovered sequences in only two species (a wood-feeding Nasutitermes sp. and a palm-feeding Microcerotermes sp.). The remaining four termite species analyzed (a Gnathamitermes sp. and two Amitermes spp. that were recovered from subterranean nests with indeterminate feeding strategies and a litter-feeding Rhynchotermes sp.) yielded novel FTHFS clades not observed in lower termites. These termites yielded two distinct clusters of probable purinolytic Firmicutes and a large group of potential homoacetogens related to sequences previously recovered from the guts of omnivorous cockroaches. These findings suggest that the gut environments of different higher termite species may select for different groups of homoacetogens, with some species hosting treponeme-dominated homoacetogen populations similar to those of wood-feeding, lower termites while others host Firmicutes-dominated communities more similar to those of omnivorous cockroaches.
The ISME Journal. Dec, 2011 | Pubmed ID: 21716310
Planktonic microbial activity and community structure is dynamic, and can change dramatically on time scales of hours to days. Yet for logistical reasons, this temporal scale is typically under-sampled in the marine environment. In order to facilitate higher-resolution, long-term observation of microbial diversity and activity, we developed a protocol for automated collection and fixation of marine microbes using the Environmental Sample Processor (ESP) platform. The protocol applies a preservative (RNALater) to cells collected on filters, for long-term storage and preservation of total cellular RNA. Microbial samples preserved using this protocol yielded high-quality RNA after 30 days of storage at room temperature, or onboard the ESP at in situ temperatures. Pyrosequencing of complementary DNA libraries generated from ESP-collected and preserved samples yielded transcript abundance profiles nearly indistinguishable from those derived from conventionally treated replicate samples. To demonstrate the utility of the method, we used a moored ESP to remotely and autonomously collect Monterey Bay seawater for metatranscriptomic analysis. Community RNA was extracted and pyrosequenced from samples collected at four time points over the course of a single day. In all four samples, the oxygenic photoautotrophs were predominantly eukaryotic, while the bacterial community was dominated by Polaribacter-like Flavobacteria and a Rhodobacterales bacterium sharing high similarity with Rhodobacterales sp. HTCC2255. However, each time point was associated with distinct species abundance and gene transcript profiles. These laboratory and field tests confirmed that autonomous collection and preservation is a feasible and useful approach for characterizing the expressed genes and environmental responses of marine microbial communities.
Science (New York, N.Y.). Jul, 2011 | Pubmed ID: 21719670
Viruses may very well be the most abundant biological entities on the planet. Yet neither metagenomic studies nor classical phage isolation techniques have shed much light on the identity of the hosts of most viruses. We used a microfluidic digital polymerase chain reaction (PCR) approach to physically link single bacterial cells harvested from a natural environment with a viral marker gene. When we implemented this technique on the microbial community residing in the termite hindgut, we found genus-wide infection patterns displaying remarkable intragenus selectivity. Viral marker allelic diversity revealed restricted mixing of alleles between hosts, indicating limited lateral gene transfer of these alleles despite host proximity. Our approach does not require culturing hosts or viruses and provides a method for examining virus-bacterium interactions in many environments.