The organisms in aerosol microenvironments, especially densely populated urban areas, are relevant to maintenance of public health and detection of potential epidemic or biothreat agents. To examine aerosolized microorganisms in this environment, we performed sequencing on the material from an urban aerosol surveillance program. Whole metagenome sequencing was applied to DNA extracted from air filters obtained during periods from each of the four seasons. The composition of bacteria, plants, fungi, invertebrates, and viruses demonstrated distinct temporal shifts. Bacillus thuringiensis serovar kurstaki was detected in samples known to be exposed to aerosolized spores, illustrating the potential utility of this approach for identification of intentionally introduced microbial agents. Together, these data demonstrate the temporally dependent metagenomic complexity of urban aerosols and the potential of genomic analytical techniques for biosurveillance and monitoring of threats to public health.
Ancient human remains of paleopathological interest typically contain highly degraded DNA in which pathogenic taxa are often minority components, making sequence-based metagenomic characterization costly. Microarrays may hold a potential solution to these challenges, offering a rapid, affordable, and highly informative snapshot of microbial diversity in complex samples without the lengthy analysis and/or high cost associated with high-throughput sequencing. Their versatility is well established for modern clinical specimens, but they have yet to be applied to ancient remains. Here we report bacterial profiles of archaeological and historical human remains using the Lawrence Livermore Microbial Detection Array (LLMDA). The array successfully identified previously-verified bacterial human pathogens, including Vibrio cholerae (cholera) in a 19th century intestinal specimen and Yersinia pestis ("Black Death" plague) in a medieval tooth, which represented only minute fractions (0.03% and 0.08% alignable high-throughput shotgun sequencing reads) of their respective DNA content. This demonstrates that the LLMDA can identify primary and/or co-infecting bacterial pathogens in ancient samples, thereby serving as a rapid and inexpensive paleopathological screening tool to study health across both space and time.
In 2010, researchers reported that the two US-licensed rotavirus vaccines contained DNA or DNA fragments from porcine circovirus (PCV). Although PCV, a common virus among pigs, is not thought to cause illness in humans, these findings raised several safety concerns. In this study, we sought to determine whether viruses, including PCV, could be detected in ileal tissue samples of children vaccinated with one of the two rotavirus vaccines. A broad spectrum, novel DNA detection technology, the Lawrence Livermore Microbial Detection Array (LLMDA), was utilized, and confirmation of viral pathogens using the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) was conducted. The LLMDA technology was recently used to identify PCV from one rotavirus vaccine. Ileal tissue samples were analyzed from 21 subjects, aged 15-62 months. PCV was not detected in any ileal tissue samples by the LLMDA or PCR. LLMDA identified a human rotavirus A from one of the vaccinated subjects, which is likely due to a recent infection from a wild type rotavirus. LLMDA also identified human parechovirus, a common gastroenteritis viral infection, from two subjects. Additionally, LLMDA detected common gastrointestinal bacterial organisms from the Enterobacteriaceae, Bacteroidaceae, and Streptococcaceae families from several subjects. This study provides a survey of viral and bacterial pathogens from pediatric ileal samples, and may shed light on future studies to identify pathogen associations with pediatric vaccinations.
Microarrays have proven to be useful in rapid detection of many viruses and bacteria. Pathogen detection microarrays have been used to diagnose viral and bacterial infections in clinical samples and to evaluate the safety of biological drug materials. A multiplexed version of the Lawrence Livermore Microbial Detection Array (LLMDA) was developed and evaluated with minimum detectable concentrations for pure unamplified DNA viruses, along with mixtures of viral and bacterial DNA subjected to different whole genome amplification protocols. In addition the performance of the array was tested when hybridization time was reduced from 17 h to 1h. The LLMDA was able to detect unamplified vaccinia virus DNA at a concentration of 14 fM, or 100,000 genome copies in 12 ?L of sample. With amplification, positive identification was made with only 100 genome copies of input material. When tested against human stool samples from patients with acute gastroenteritis, the microarray detected common gastroenteritis viral and bacterial infections such as rotavirus and E. coli. Accurate detection was found but with a 4-fold drop in sensitivity for a 1h compared to a 17 h hybridization. The array detected 2 ng (equivalent concentration of 15.6 fM) of labeled DNA from a virus with 1h hybridization without any amplification, and was able to identify the components of a mixture of viruses and bacteria at species and in some cases strain level resolution. Sensitivity improved by three orders of magnitude with random whole genome amplification prior to hybridization; for instance, the array detected a DNA virus with only 20 fg or 100 genome copies as input. This multiplexed microarray is an efficient tool to analyze clinical and environmental samples for the presence of multiple viral and bacterial pathogens rapidly.
Microarrays to characterize single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) provide a cost-effective and rapid method (under 24h) to genotype microbes as an alternative to sequencing. We developed a pipeline for SNP discovery and microarray design that scales to 100s of microbial genomes. Here we tested various SNP probe design strategies against 8 sequenced isolates of Bacillus anthracis to compare sequence and microarray data. The best strategy allowed probe length to vary within 32-40 bp to equalize hybridization free energy. This strategy resulted in a call rate of 99.52% and concordance rate of 99.86% for finished genomes. Other probe design strategies averaged substantially lower call rates (94.65-96.41%) and slightly lower concordance rates (99.64-99.80%). These rates were lower for draft than finished genomes, consistent with higher incidence of sequencing errors and gaps. Highly accurate SNP calls were possible in complex soil and blood backgrounds down to 1000 copies, and moderately accurate SNP calls down to 100 spiked copies. The closest genome to the spiked strain was correctly identified at only 10 spiked copies. Discrepancies between sequence and array data did not alter the SNP-based phylogeny, regardless of the probe design strategy, indicating that SNP arrays can accurately place unsequenced isolates on a phylogeny.
Bacillus anthracis is the potentially lethal etiologic agent of anthrax disease, and is a significant concern in the realm of biodefense. One of the cornerstones of an effective biodefense strategy is the ability to detect infectious agents with a high degree of sensitivity and specificity in the context of a complex sample background. The nature of the B. anthracis genome, however, renders specific detection difficult, due to close homology with B. cereus and B. thuringiensis. We therefore elected to determine the efficacy of next-generation sequencing analysis and microarrays for detection of B. anthracis in an environmental background. We applied next-generation sequencing to titrated genome copy numbers of B. anthracis in the presence of background nucleic acid extracted from aerosol and soil samples. We found next-generation sequencing to be capable of detecting as few as 10 genomic equivalents of B. anthracis DNA per nanogram of background nucleic acid. Detection was accomplished by mapping reads to either a defined subset of reference genomes or to the full GenBank database. Moreover, sequence data obtained from B. anthracis could be reliably distinguished from sequence data mapping to either B. cereus or B. thuringiensis. We also demonstrated the efficacy of a microbial census microarray in detecting B. anthracis in the same samples, representing a cost-effective and high-throughput approach, complementary to next-generation sequencing. Our results, in combination with the capacity of sequencing for providing insights into the genomic characteristics of complex and novel organisms, suggest that these platforms should be considered important components of a biosurveillance strategy.
CONFERENCE PROCEEDING Proceedings of the PDA/FDA Adventitious Viruses in Biologics: Detection and Mitigation Strategies Workshop in Bethesda, MD, USA; December 1-3, 2010 Guest Editors: Arifa Khan (Bethesda, MD), Patricia Hughes (Bethesda, MD) and Michael Wiebe (San Francisco, CA) We designed the Lawrence Livermore Microbial Detection Array (LLMDA), which contains 388,000 DNA probes. This array can detect any sequenced viruses or bacteria within 24 h. In addition, the oligonucleotide probes were selected to enable detection of novel, divergent species with homology to sequenced organisms. We recently used this array to identify an adventitious virus from a vaccine product. We have also used this array to detect viral and bacterial infections from various human clinical samples. Broad-spectrum microbial detection microarrays are efficient and cost-effective tools to rapidly screen cell bank samples, raw materials, vaccine samples, and clinical samples to ensure drug, food, and health safety in the United States and worldwide.
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