Environmentally induced alterations in the commensal microbiota have been implicated in the increasing prevalence of food allergy. We show here that sensitization to a food allergen is increased in mice that have been treated with antibiotics or are devoid of a commensal microbiota. By selectively colonizing gnotobiotic mice, we demonstrate that the allergy-protective capacity is conferred by a Clostridia-containing microbiota. Microarray analysis of intestinal epithelial cells from gnotobiotic mice revealed a previously unidentified mechanism by which Clostridia regulate innate lymphoid cell function and intestinal epithelial permeability to protect against allergen sensitization. Our findings will inform the development of novel approaches to prevent or treat food allergy based on modulating the composition of the intestinal microbiota.
We reconstructed the complete 2.4?Mb-long genome of a previously uncultivated epsilonproteobacterium, Candidatus Sulfuricurvum sp. RIFRC-1, via assembly of short-read shotgun metagenomic data using a complexity reduction approach. Genome-based comparisons indicate the bacterium is a novel species within the Sulfuricurvum genus, which contains one cultivated representative, S.?kujiense. Divergence between the species appears due in part to extensive genomic rearrangements, gene loss and chromosomal versus plasmid encoding of certain (respiratory) genes by RIFRC-1. Deoxyribonucleic acid for the genome was obtained from terrestrial aquifer sediment, in which RIFRC-1 comprised ??47% of the bacterial community. Genomic evidence suggests RIFRC-1 is a chemolithoautotrophic diazotroph capable of deriving energy for growth by microaerobic or nitrate-/nitric oxide-dependent oxidation of S(0) , sulfide or sulfite or H2 oxidation. Carbon may be fixed via the reductive tricarboxylic acid cycle. Consistent with these physiological attributes, the local aquifer was microoxic with small concentrations of available nitrate, small but elevated concentrations of reduced sulfur and NH4 (+) /NH3 -limited. Additionally, various mechanisms for heavy metal and metalloid tolerance and virulence point to a lifestyle well-adapted for metal(loid)-rich environments and a shared evolutionary past with pathogenic Epsilonproteobacteria. Results expand upon recent findings highlighting the potential importance of sulfur and hydrogen metabolism in the terrestrial subsurface.
Mucosal biopsy is the most common sampling technique used to assess microbial communities associated with the intestinal mucosa. Biopsies disrupt the epithelium and can be associated with complications such as bleeding. Biopsies sample a limited area of the mucosa, which can lead to potential sampling bias. In contrast to the mucosal biopsy, the mucosal brush technique is less invasive and provides greater mucosal coverage, and if it can provide equivalent microbial community data, it would be preferable to mucosal biopsies.
Diet-induced obesity (DIO) is a significant health concern which has been linked to structural and functional changes in the gut microbiota. Exercise (Ex) is effective in preventing obesity, but whether Ex alters the gut microbiota during development with high fat (HF) feeding is unknown.
Gender bias and the role of sex hormones in autoimmune diseases are well established. In specific pathogen-free nonobese diabetic (NOD) mice, females have 1.3-4.4 times higher incidence of type 1 diabetes (T1D). Germ-free (GF) mice lost the gender bias (female-to-male ratio 1.1-1.2). Gut microbiota differed in males and females, a trend reversed by male castration, confirming that androgens influence gut microbiota. Colonization of GF NOD mice with defined microbiota revealed that some, but not all, lineages overrepresented in male mice supported a gender bias in T1D. Although protection of males did not correlate with blood androgen concentration, hormone-supported expansion of selected microbial lineages may work as a positive-feedback mechanism contributing to the sexual dimorphism of autoimmune diseases. Gene-expression analysis suggested pathways involved in protection of males from T1D by microbiota. Our results favor a two-signal model of gender bias, in which hormones and microbes together trigger protective pathways.
This report summarizes the proceedings of the 2(nd) Annual Argonne Soils Workshop held at Argonne National Laboratory October 6-8, 2010. The workshop assembled a diverse group of soil ecologists, microbiologists, molecular biologists, and computational scientists to discuss the challenges and opportunities related to implementation of metagenomics approaches in soil microbial ecology. The overarching theme of the workshop was "designing ecologically meaningful soil metagenomics research", which encouraged presentations on both ecological and computational topics. The workshop fostered valuable cross-discipline communication and delivered the message that soil metagenomics research must be based on an iterative process between biological inquiry and bioinformatics tools.
Hexahydro-1,3,5-trinitro-1,3,5-triazine (RDX) is a potential human carcinogen, and its contamination of subsurface environments is a significant threat to public health. This study investigated abiotic and biological degradation of RDX in contaminated aquifer material. Anoxic batch systems were started with and without pre-aeration of aquifer material to distinguish initial biological RDX reduction from abiotic RDX reduction. Aerating the sediment eliminated chemical reductants in the native aquifer sediment, primarily Fe(II) sorbed to mineral surfaces. RDX (50 ?M) was completely reduced and transformed to ring cleavage products when excess concentrations (2mM) of acetate or lactate were provided as the electron donor for aerated sediment. RDX was reduced concurrently with Fe(III) when acetate was provided, while RDX, Fe(III), and sulfate were reduced simultaneously with lactate amendment. Betaproteobacteria were the dominant microorganisms associated with RDX and Fe(III)/sulfate reduction. In particular, Rhodoferax spp. increased from 21% to 35% and from 28% to 60% after biostimulation by acetate and lactate, respectively. Rarefaction analyses demonstrated that microbial diversity decreased in electron-donor-amended systems with active RDX degradation. Although significant amounts of Fe(III) and/or sulfate were reduced after biostimulation, solid-phase reactive minerals such as magnetite or ferrous sulfides were not observed, suggesting that RDX reduction in the aquifer sediment is due to Fe(II) adsorbed to solid surfaces as a result of Fe(III)-reducing microbial activity. These results suggest that both biotic and abiotic processes play an important role in RDX reduction under in situ conditions.
In animals, signaling of Bone Morphogenetic Proteins (BMPs) is essential for dorsoventral (DV) patterning of the embryo, but how BMP signaling evolved with changes in embryonic DV differentiation is largely unclear. Based on the extensive knowledge of BMP signaling in Drosophila melanogaster, the morphological diversity of extraembryonic tissues in different fly species provides a comparative system to address this question. The closest relatives of D. melanogaster with clearly distinct DV differentiation are hover flies (Diptera: Syrphidae). The syrphid Episyrphus balteatus is a commercial bio-agent against aphids and has been established as a model organism for developmental studies and chemical ecology. The dorsal blastoderm of E. balteatus gives rise to two extraembryonic tissues (serosa and amnion), whereas in D. melanogaster, the dorsal blastoderm differentiates into a single extraembryonic epithelium (amnioserosa). Recent studies indicate that several BMP signaling components of D. melanogaster, including the BMP ligand Screw (Scw) and other extracellular regulators, evolved in the dipteran lineage through gene duplication and functional divergence. These findings raise the question of whether the complement of BMP signaling components changed with the origin of the amnioserosa.
Ocular surface (OS) microbiota contributes to infectious and autoimmune diseases of the eye. Comprehensive analysis of microbial diversity at the OS has been impossible because of the limitations of conventional cultivation techniques. This pilot study aimed to explore true diversity of human OS microbiota using DNA sequencing-based detection and identification of bacteria.
Cytoprotective heat shock proteins (Hsps) are critical for intestinal homeostasis and are known to be decreased in inflammatory bowel diseases. Signals responsible for maintenance of Hsp expression are incompletely understood. In this study, we find that Hsp25/27 and Hsp70 protein expressions are differentially regulated along the longitudinal length of the large intestine, being highest in the proximal colon and decreasing to the distal colon. This longitudinal gradient was similar in both conventionally colonized mouse colon as well as biopsies of human proximal and distal colon but was abolished in the colon of germ-free mice, suggesting a role of intestinal microbiota in the Hsp regional expression. Correspondingly, analysis of 16S ribosomal RNA genes of bacteria from each colonic segment indicated increased bacterial richness and diversity in the proximal colon. The mechanism of regulation is transcriptional, as Hsp70 mRNA followed a similar pattern to Hsp70 protein expression. Lysates of mucosa-associated bacteria from the proximal colon stimulated greater Hsp25 and Hsp70 mRNA transcription and subsequent protein expression in intestinal epithelial cells than did lysates from distal colon. In addition, transrectal administration of cecal contents stimulated Hsp25 and Hsp70 expression in the distal colon. Thus host-microbial interactions resulting in differential Hsp expression may have significant implications for the maintenance of intestinal homeostasis and possibly for development of inflammatory diseases of the bowel.
Metagenomic analysis of colonic mucosa-associated microbes has been complicated by technical challenges that disrupt or alter community structure and function. In the present study, we determined the feasibility of laser capture microdissection (LCM) of intact regional human colonic mucosa-associated microbes followed by phi29 multiple displacement amplification (MDA) and massively parallel sequencing for metagenomic analysis. Samples were obtained from the healthy human subject without bowel preparation and frozen sections immediately prepared. Regional mucosa-associated microbes were successfully dissected using LCM with minimal contamination by host cells, their DNA extracted and subjected to phi29 MDA with a high fidelity, prior to shotgun sequencing using the GS-FLX DNA sequencer. Metagenomic analysis of approximately 67 million base pairs of DNA sequences from two samples revealed that the metabolic functional profiles in mucosa-associated microbes were as diverse as those reported in feces, specifically the representation of functional genes associated with carbohydrate, protein, and nucleic acid utilization. In summary, these studies demonstrate the feasibility of the approach to study the structure and metagenomic profiles of human intestinal mucosa-associated microbial communities at small spatial scales.
Many colonic mucosal genes that are highly regulated by microbial signals are differentially expressed along the rostral-caudal axis. This would suggest that differences in regional microbiota exist, particularly mucosa-associated microbes that are less likely to be transient. We therefore explored this possibility by examining the bacterial populations associated with the normal proximal and distal colonic mucosa in context of host Toll-like receptors (TLR) expression in C57BL/6J mice housed in specific pathogen-free (SPF) and germ-free (GF) environments. 16S rRNA gene-based terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism (T-RFLP) and clone library analysis revealed significant differences in the community structure and diversity of the mucosa-associated microbiota located in the distal colon compared to proximal colon and stool, the latter two clustering closely. Differential expression of colonic TLR2 and TLR4 along the proximal-distal axis was also found in SPF mice, but not in GF mice, suggesting that enteric microbes are essential in maintaining the regional expression of these TLRs. TLR2 is more highly expressed in proximal colon and decreases in a gradient to distal while TLR4 expression is highest in distal colon and a gradient of decreased expression to proximal colon is observed. After transfaunation in GF mice, both regional colonization of mucosa-associated microbes and expression of TLRs in the mouse colon were reestablished. In addition, exposure of the distal colon to cecal (proximal) microbiota induced TLR2 expression. These results demonstrate that regional colonic mucosa-associated microbiota determine the region-specific expression of TLR2 and TLR4. Conversely, region-specific host assembly rules are essential in determining the structure and function of mucosa-associated microbial populations. We believe this type of host-microbial mutualism is pivotal to the maintenance of intestinal and immune homeostasis.
The metameric organization of the insect body plan is initiated with the activation of gap genes, a set of transcription-factor-encoding genes that are zygotically expressed in broad and partially overlapping domains along the anteroposterior (AP) axis of the early embryo. The spatial pattern of gap gene expression domains along the AP axis is generally conserved, but the maternal genes that regulate their expression are not. Building on the comprehensive knowledge of maternal gap gene activation in Drosophila, we used loss- and gain-of-function experiments in the hover fly Episyrphus balteatus (Syrphidae) to address the question of how the maternal regulation of gap genes evolved. We find that, in Episyrphus, a highly diverged bicoid ortholog is solely responsible for the AP polarity of the embryo. Episyrphus bicoid represses anterior zygotic expression of caudal and activates the anterior and central gap genes orthodenticle, hunchback and Krüppel. In bicoid-deficient Episyrphus embryos, nanos is insufficient to generate morphological asymmetry along the AP axis. Furthermore, we find that torso transiently regulates anterior repression of caudal and is required for the activation of orthodenticle, whereas all posterior gap gene domains of knirps, giant, hunchback, tailless and huckebein depend on caudal. We conclude that all maternal coordinate genes have altered their specific functions during the radiation of higher flies (Cyclorrhapha).
Mussels are conspicuous and often abundant members of rocky shores and may constitute an important site for the nitrogen cycle due to their feeding and excretion activities. We used shotgun metagenomics of the microbial community associated with the surface of mussels (Mytilus californianus) on Tatoosh Island in Washington state to test whether there is a nitrogen-based microbial assemblage associated with mussels. Analyses of both tidepool mussels and those on emergent benches revealed a diverse community of Bacteria and Archaea with approximately 31 million bp from 6 mussels in each habitat. Using MG-RAST, between 22.5-25.6% were identifiable using the SEED non-redundant database for proteins. Of those fragments that were identifiable through MG-RAST, the composition was dominated by Cyanobacteria and Alpha- and Gamma-proteobacteria. Microbial composition was highly similar between the tidepool and emergent bench mussels, suggesting similar functions across these different microhabitats. One percent of the proteins identified in each sample were related to nitrogen cycling. When normalized to protein discovery rate, the high diversity and abundance of enzymes related to the nitrogen cycle in mussel-associated microbes is as great or greater than that described for other marine metagenomes. In some instances, the nitrogen-utilizing profile of this assemblage was more concordant with soil metagenomes in the Midwestern U.S. than for open ocean system. Carbon fixation and Calvin cycle enzymes further represented 0.65 and 1.26% of all proteins and their abundance was comparable to a number of open ocean marine metagenomes. In sum, the diversity and abundance of nitrogen and carbon cycle related enzymes in the microbes occupying the shells of Mytilus californianus suggest these mussels provide a node for microbial populations and thus biogeochemical processes.
Metagenomic studies characterize both the composition and diversity of uncultured viral and microbial communities. BLAST-based comparisons have typically been used for such analyses; however, sampling biases, high percentages of unknown sequences, and the use of arbitrary thresholds to find significant similarities can decrease the accuracy and validity of estimates. Here, we present Genome relative Abundance and Average Size (GAAS), a complete software package that provides improved estimates of community composition and average genome length for metagenomes in both textual and graphical formats. GAAS implements a novel methodology to control for sampling bias via length normalization, to adjust for multiple BLAST similarities by similarity weighting, and to select significant similarities using relative alignment lengths. In benchmark tests, the GAAS method was robust to both high percentages of unknown sequences and to variations in metagenomic sequence read lengths. Re-analysis of the Sargasso Sea virome using GAAS indicated that standard methodologies for metagenomic analysis may dramatically underestimate the abundance and importance of organisms with small genomes in environmental systems. Using GAAS, we conducted a meta-analysis of microbial and viral average genome lengths in over 150 metagenomes from four biomes to determine whether genome lengths vary consistently between and within biomes, and between microbial and viral communities from the same environment. Significant differences between biomes and within aquatic sub-biomes (oceans, hypersaline systems, freshwater, and microbialites) suggested that average genome length is a fundamental property of environments driven by factors at the sub-biome level. The behavior of paired viral and microbial metagenomes from the same environment indicated that microbial and viral average genome sizes are independent of each other, but indicative of community responses to stressors and environmental conditions.
The small intestine is an important site of infection for many enteric bacterial pathogens, and murine models, including the streptomycin-treated mouse model of infection, are frequently used to study these infections. The environment of the mouse small intestine and the microbiota with which enteric pathogens are likely to interact, however, have not been well described. Therefore, we compared the microbiota and the concentrations of short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) present in the ileum and cecum of streptomycin-treated mice and untreated controls. We found that the microbiota in the ileum of untreated mice differed greatly from that of the cecum of the same mice, primarily among families of the phylum Firmicutes. Upon treatment with streptomycin, substantial changes in the microbial composition occurred, with a marked loss of population complexity. Characterization of the metabolic products of the microbiota, the SCFAs, showed that formate was present in the ileum but low or not detectable in the cecum while butyrate was present in the cecum but not the ileum. Treatment with streptomycin altered the SCFAs in the cecum, significantly decreasing the concentration of acetate, propionate, and butyrate. In this work, we also characterized the pathology of Salmonella infection in the ileum. Infection of streptomycin-treated mice with Salmonella was characterized by a significant increase in the relative and absolute levels of the pathogen and was associated with more severe ileal inflammation and pathology. Together these results provide a better understanding of the ileal environment in the mouse and the changes that occur upon streptomycin treatment.
Ruminococcus flavefaciens is a predominant cellulolytic rumen bacterium, which forms a multi-enzyme cellulosome complex that could play an integral role in the ability of this bacterium to degrade plant cell wall polysaccharides. Identifying the major enzyme types involved in plant cell wall degradation is essential for gaining a better understanding of the cellulolytic capabilities of this organism as well as highlighting potential enzymes for application in improvement of livestock nutrition and for conversion of cellulosic biomass to liquid fuels.
Neonatal necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) is an inflammatory intestinal disorder affecting preterm infants. Intestinal bacteria have an important function; however no causative pathogen has been identified. The purpose of this study was to determine if there are differences in microbial patterns that may be critical to the development of this disease. Fecal samples from 20 preterm infants, 10 with NEC and 10 matched controls (including 4 twin pairs) were obtained from patients in a single site level III neonatal intensive care unit. Bacterial DNA from individual fecal samples was PCR-amplified and subjected to terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism analysis and library sequencing of the 16S rRNA gene to characterize diversity and structure of the enteric microbiota. The distribution of samples from NEC patients distinctly clustered separately from controls. Intestinal bacterial colonization in all preterm infants was notable for low diversity. Patients with NEC had even less diversity, an increase in abundance of Gammaproteobacteria, a decrease in other bacteria species, and had received a higher mean number of previous days of antibiotics. Our results suggest that NEC is associated with severe lack of microbiota diversity that may accentuate the impact of single dominant microorganisms favored by empiric and widespread use of antibiotics.
Shifts in microbial communities are implicated in the pathogenesis of a number of gastrointestinal diseases, but we have limited understanding of the mechanisms that lead to altered community structures. One difficulty with studying these mechanisms in human subjects is the inherent baseline variability of the microbiota in different individuals. In an effort to overcome this baseline variability, we employed a mouse model to control the host genotype, diet, and other possible influences on the microbiota. This allowed us to determine whether the indigenous microbiota in such mice had a stable baseline community structure and whether this community exhibited a consistent response following antibiotic administration. We employed a tag-sequencing strategy targeting the V6 hypervariable region of the bacterial small-subunit (16S) rRNA combined with massively parallel sequencing to determine the community structure of the gut microbiota. Inbred mice in a controlled environment harbored a reproducible baseline community that was significantly impacted by antibiotic administration. The ability of the gut microbial community to recover to baseline following the cessation of antibiotic administration differed according to the antibiotic regimen administered. Severe antibiotic pressure resulted in reproducible, long-lasting alterations in the gut microbial community, including a decrease in overall diversity. The finding of stereotypic responses of the indigenous microbiota to ecologic stress suggests that a better understanding of the factors that govern community structure could lead to strategies for the intentional manipulation of this ecosystem so as to preserve or restore a healthy microbiota.
The complex microbiome of the rumen functions as an effective system for the conversion of plant cell wall biomass to microbial protein, short chain fatty acids, and gases. As such, it provides a unique genetic resource for plant cell wall degrading microbial enzymes that could be used in the production of biofuels. The rumen and gastrointestinal tract harbor a dense and complex microbiome. To gain a greater understanding of the ecology and metabolic potential of this microbiome, we used comparative metagenomics (phylotype analysis and SEED subsystems-based annotations) to examine randomly sampled pyrosequence data from 3 fiber-adherent microbiomes and 1 pooled liquid sample (a mixture of the liquid microbiome fractions from the same bovine rumens). Even though the 3 animals were fed the same diet, the community structure, predicted phylotype, and metabolic potentials in the rumen were markedly different with respect to nutrient utilization. A comparison of the glycoside hydrolase and cellulosome functional genes revealed that in the rumen microbiome, initial colonization of fiber appears to be by organisms possessing enzymes that attack the easily available side chains of complex plant polysaccharides and not the more recalcitrant main chains, especially cellulose. Furthermore, when compared with the termite hindgut microbiome, there are fundamental differences in the glycoside hydrolase content that appear to be diet driven for either the bovine rumen (forages and legumes) or the termite hindgut (wood).
The composite human microbiome of Western populations has probably changed over the past century, brought on by new environmental triggers that often have a negative impact on human health. Here we show that consumption of a diet high in saturated (milk-derived) fat, but not polyunsaturated (safflower oil) fat, changes the conditions for microbial assemblage and promotes the expansion of a low-abundance, sulphite-reducing pathobiont, Bilophila wadsworthia. This was associated with a pro-inflammatory T helper type 1 (T(H)1) immune response and increased incidence of colitis in genetically susceptible Il10(?/?), but not wild-type mice. These effects are mediated by milk-derived-fat-promoted taurine conjugation of hepatic bile acids, which increases the availability of organic sulphur used by sulphite-reducing microorganisms like B. wadsworthia. When mice were fed a low-fat diet supplemented with taurocholic acid, but not with glycocholic acid, for example, a bloom of B. wadsworthia and development of colitis were observed in Il10(?/?) mice. Together these data show that dietary fats, by promoting changes in host bile acid composition, can markedly alter conditions for gut microbial assemblage, resulting in dysbiosis that can perturb immune homeostasis. The data provide a plausible mechanistic basis by which Western-type diets high in certain saturated fats might increase the prevalence of complex immune-mediated diseases like inflammatory bowel disease in genetically susceptible hosts.
Past studies of the human intestinal microbiota are potentially confounded by the common practice of using bowel-cleansing preparations. We examined if colonic lavage changes the natural state of enteric mucosal-adherent microbes in healthy human subjects.
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