Insects are the most speciose group of animals, but the phylogenetic relationships of many major lineages remain unresolved. We inferred the phylogeny of insects from 1478 protein-coding genes. Phylogenomic analyses of nucleotide and amino acid sequences, with site-specific nucleotide or domain-specific amino acid substitution models, produced statistically robust and congruent results resolving previously controversial phylogenetic relations hips. We dated the origin of insects to the Early Ordovician [~479 million years ago (Ma)], of insect flight to the Early Devonian (~406 Ma), of major extant lineages to the Mississippian (~345 Ma), and the major diversification of holometabolous insects to the Early Cretaceous. Our phylogenomic study provides a comprehensive reliable scaffold for future comparative analyses of evolutionary innovations among insects.
Emerging methods based on mass spectrometry (MS) can be used in the rapid identification of microorganisms. Thus far, these practical and rapidly evolving methods have mainly been applied to characterize prokaryotes. We applied matrix-assisted laser-desorption-ionization-time-of-flight mass spectrometry MALDI-TOF MS in the analysis of whole cells of 18 N. fowleri isolates belonging to three genotypes. Fourteen originated from the cerebrospinal fluid or brain tissue of primary amoebic meningoencephalitis patients and four originated from water samples of hot springs, rivers, lakes or municipal water supplies. Whole Naegleria trophozoites grown in axenic cultures were washed and mixed with MALDI matrix. Mass spectra were acquired with a 4700 TOF-TOF instrument. MALDI-TOF MS yielded consistent patterns for all isolates examined. Using a combination of novel data processing methods for visual peak comparison, statistical analysis and proteomics database searching we were able to detect several biomarkers that can differentiate all species and isolates studied, along with common biomarkers for all N. fowleri isolates. Naegleria fowleri could be easily separated from other species within the genus Naegleria. A number of peaks detected were tentatively identified. MALDI-TOF MS fingerprinting is a rapid, reproducible, high-throughput alternative method for identifying Naegleria isolates. This method has potential for studying eukaryotic agents.
New sequence data useful for phylogenetic and evolutionary analyses continues to be added to public databases. The construction of multiple sequence alignments and inference of huge phylogenies comprising large taxonomic groups are expensive tasks, both in terms of man hours and computational resources. Therefore, maintaining comprehensive phylogenies, based on representative and up-to-date molecular sequences, is challenging. PUmPER is a framework that can perpetually construct multi-gene alignments (with PHLAWD) and phylogenetic trees (with ExaML or RAxML-Light) for a given NCBI taxonomic group. When sufficient numbers of new gene sequences for the selected taxonomic group have accumulated in GenBank, PUmPER automatically extends the alignment and infers extended phylogenetic trees by using previously inferred smaller trees as starting topologies. Using our framework, large phylogenetic trees can be perpetually updated without human intervention. Importantly, resulting phylogenies are not statistically significantly worse than trees inferred from scratch.
Microsporidia are ubiquitous parasites infecting all animal phyla and we present evidence that supports their zoonotic potential. Fecal samples taken from domestic (cats and dogs), farm (pigs, rabbits and ostriches) and wild animals (foxes) from different provinces of Spain were evaluated for microsporidia infection by light microscopy and PCR. After Microsporidia species identification, E. bieneusi genotypes were additionally studied by sequence analysis of the ITS region. Eighty-five samples out of 159 exhibited structures that were compatible with microsporidia spores by Webe?s stain with 37 of them being confirmed by PCR. Microsporidia species identified included E. bieneusi, E. intestinalis and A. algerae. We report the first diagnosis of E. intestinalis and E. bieneusi in ostriches and A. algerae in pigs. We also provide new information on the molecular characterization of E. bieneusi isolates both in rabbits and ostriches. All of the E. bieneusi genotypes identified belonged to the zoonotic group of genotypes (Group I) including genotypes A (dogs), I (pigs), D (rabbits and foxes) and type IV (ostriches). Our results demonstrate that microsporidia are present in domestic, farm and wild animals in Spain, corroborating their potential role as a source of human infection and environmental contamination.
To quantify known and unknown microorganisms at species-level resolution using shotgun sequencing data, we developed a method that establishes metagenomic operational taxonomic units (mOTUs) based on single-copy phylogenetic marker genes. Applied to 252 human fecal samples, the method revealed that on average 43% of the species abundance and 58% of the richness cannot be captured by current reference genome-based methods. An implementation of the method is available at http://www.bork.embl.de/software/mOTU/.
Microsporidia are ubiquitous fungi with genomes that have undergone a strong reduction to the extreme cases of Encephalitozoon cuniculi and Encephalitozoon intestinalis. Genetic variability within species of the Encephalitozoon genus has been reported, with most of the studies based on the internal transcribed spacer (ITS) of the rDNA. However, in contrast to the picture of E. cuniculi and Encephalitozoon hellem, where different strains have been identified, no genetic variability has yet been observed in E. intestinalis. We have analysed tandem repeats included in putative coding sequences which could be used as polymorphic markers in E. intestinalis. Eight candidate loci (M2, M2A, M3, M5, M7, M7A, M8 and PTP1) were established and 9 E. intestinalis cultured strains from North America, South America and Europe were analysed. M2, M7 and PTP1 nucleotide sequences were identical among the different strains and the GenBank sequence. In contrast, we observed variants in 4 markers (M2A, M3, M7A and M8) which did not correspond to their respective reference sequences. The most noticeable finding was that with the M5 marker two genotypes were defined among the different strains studied, demonstrating genotypic variability of E. intestinalis. Although the diversity described is certainly not high, which can be explained by a lower chance of genetic variability in its minimal genome, we have demonstrated that polymorphisms actually exist in E. intestinalis. Epidemiological studies using this genetic marker should now be conducted to elucidate the genetic variability in E. intestinalis and improve our knowledge of the epidemiology of this microsporidia.
The rapid accumulation of molecular sequence data, driven by novel wet-lab sequencing technologies, poses new challenges for large-scale maximum likelihood-based phylogenetic analyses on trees with more than 30,000 taxa and several genes. The three main computational challenges are: numerical stability, the scalability of search algorithms, and the high memory requirements for computing the likelihood.
Diarrhea is the main health problem caused by human-related microsporidia, and waterborne transmission is one of the main risk factors for intestinal diseases. Recent studies suggest the involvement of water in the epidemiology of human microsporidiosis. However, studies related to the presence of microsporidia in different types of waters from countries where human microsporidiosis has been described are still scarce. Thirty-eight water samples from 8 drinking water treatment plants (DWTPs), 8 wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) and 6 recreational river areas (RRAs) from Galicia (NW Spain) have been analyzed. One hundred liters of water from DWTPs and 50 L of water from WWTPs and RRAs were filtered to recover parasites, using the IDEXX Filta-Max® system. Microsporidian spores were identified by Webers stain and positive samples were analyzed by PCR, using specific primers for Enterocytozoon bieneusi, Encephalitozoon intestinalis, Encephalitozoon cuniculi, and Encephalitozoon hellem. Microsporidia spores were identified by staining protocols in eight samples (21.0%): 2 from DWTPs, 5 from WWTPs, and 1 from an RRA. In the RRA sample, the microsporidia were identified as E. intestinalis. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first report of human-pathogenic microsporidia in water samples from DWTPs, WWTPs and RRAs in Spain. These observations add further evidence to support that new and appropriate control and regulations for drinking, wastewater, and recreational waters should be established to avoid health risks from this pathogen.
Verification in phylogenetics represents an extremely difficult subject. Phylogenetic analysis deals with the reconstruction of evolutionary histories of species, and as long as mankind is not able to travel in time, it will not be possible to verify deep evolutionary histories reconstructed with modern computational methods. Here, we focus on two more tangible issues that are related to verification in phylogenetics (i) the inference of support values on trees that provide some notion about the correctness of the tree within narrow limits and, more importantly; (ii) issues pertaining to program verification, especially with respect to codes that rely heavily on floating-point arithmetics. Program verification represents a largely underestimated problem in computational science that can have fatal effects on scientific conclusions.
Enterocytozoon bieneusi is a microsporidian parasite that infects many vertebrate animals, including humans. The rDNA internal transcribed spacer (ITS) shows a hypervariable sequence; however, so far no clear information has been inferred about strain evolution in this species. We reviewed all the sequences described and performed a phylogenetic study. Four groups of sequences strongly differentiated from each other were detected, although most of the isolates (94%) corresponded to group I. The highly diverse sequences of this group were analyzed using median-joining networks. The host species (humans, pets, swine, cattle, birds, and wild animals) and the continents of origin of the isolates were considered. Central haplotypes in the network were obtained from very diverse hosts and geographical origins. The results show that although E. bieneusi has a broad host specificity, transmission is not completely free: some strains were able to circulate within a given host species and were only occasionally transmitted to another host. Additionally, while not relevant for swine or cattle hosts, geography seems to be a relevant factor for human infection by E. bieneusi.
Over the last few years, it has become much more common to measure concentrations of vitamin D, as its deficiency has been associated with an increasing number of health problems. Recently, a number of new immunoassays for measurement of total 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25OH-D) concentration have been released but their results may not be transferable.
Recent studies suggest the involvement of water in the epidemiology of Cyclospora cayetanensis and some microsporidia. A total of 223 samples from four drinking water treatment plants (DWTPs), seven wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs), and six locations of influence (LI) on four river basins from Madrid, Spain, were analyzed from spring 2008 to winter 2009. Microsporidia were detected in 49% of samples (109/223), Cyclospora spp. were detected in 9% (20/223), and both parasites were found in 5.4% (12/223) of samples. Human-pathogenic microsporidia were detected, including Enterocytozoon bieneusi (C, D, and D-like genotypes), Encephalitozoon intestinalis, Encephalitozoon cuniculi (genotypes I and III), and Anncaliia algerae. C. cayetanensis was identified in 17 of 20 samples. To our knowledge, this is the first study that shows a year-long longitudinal study of C. cayetanensis in drinking water treatment plants. Additionally, data about the presence and molecular characterization of the human-pathogenic microsporidia in drinking water, wastewater, and locations of influence during 1 year in Spain are shown. It is noteworthy that although the DWTPs and WWTPs studied meet European and national regulations on water sanitary quality, both parasites were found in water samples from these plants, supporting the idea that new and appropriate controls and regulations for drinking water, wastewater, and recreational waters should be proposed to avoid health risks from these pathogens.
Microsporidiosis is a life threatening opportunistic infection of AIDS patients. The infection is usually restricted to specific anatomical areas, but could become systemic depending on the involved species. Genital microsporidiosis in female patients is rare.
Microsporidia are obligate intracellular parasites that infect a broad range of vertebrates and invertebrates. They have been increasingly recognized as human pathogens in AIDS patients, mainly associated with a life-threatening chronic diarrhea and systemic disease. However, to date the global epidemiology of human microsporidiosis is poorly understood, and recent data suggest that the incidence of these pathogens is much higher than previously reported and may represent a neglected etiological agent of more common diseases indeed in immunocompetent individuals. To contribute to the knowledge of microsporidia molecular epidemiology in HIV-positive patients in Nigeria, the authors tested stool samples proceeding from patients with and without diarrhea.
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