• Genomic variation and strain-specific functional adaptation in the human gut microbiome during early life.

      Vatanen, Tommi; Plichta, Damian R; Somani, Juhi; Münch, Philipp C; Arthur, Timothy D; Hall, Andrew Brantley; Rudolf, Sabine; Oakeley, Edward J; Ke, Xiaobo; Young, Rachel A; et al. (Springer-Nature, 2019-01-01)
      The human gut microbiome matures towards the adult composition during the first years of life and is implicated in early immune development. Here, we investigate the effects of microbial genomic diversity on gut microbiome development using integrated early childhood data sets collected in the DIABIMMUNE study in Finland, Estonia and Russian Karelia. We show that gut microbial diversity is associated with household location and linear growth of children. Single nucleotide polymorphism- and metagenomic assembly-based strain tracking revealed large and highly dynamic microbial pangenomes, especially in the genus Bacteroides, in which we identified evidence of variability deriving from Bacteroides-targeting bacteriophages. Our analyses revealed functional consequences of strain diversity; only 10% of Finnish infants harboured Bifidobacterium longum subsp. infantis, a subspecies specialized in human milk metabolism, whereas Russian infants commonly maintained a probiotic Bifidobacterium bifidum strain in infancy. Groups of bacteria contributing to diverse, characterized metabolic pathways converged to highly subject-specific configurations over the first two years of life. This longitudinal study extends the current view of early gut microbial community assembly based on strain-level genomic variation.
    • Structures and functions linked to genome-wide adaptation of human influenza A viruses.

      Klingen, Thorsten R; Loers, Jens; Stanelle-Bertram, Stephanie; Gabriel, Gülsah; McHardy, Alice C; BRICS, Braunschweiger Zentrum für Systembiologie, Rebenring 56,38106 Braunschweig, Germany. (Springer-Nature, 2019-04-18)
      Human influenza A viruses elicit short-term respiratory infections with considerable mortality and morbidity. While H3N2 viruses circulate for more than 50 years, the recent introduction of pH1N1 viruses presents an excellent opportunity for a comparative analysis of the genome-wide evolutionary forces acting on both subtypes. Here, we inferred patches of sites relevant for adaptation, i.e. being under positive selection, on eleven viral protein structures, from all available data since 1968 and correlated these with known functional properties. Overall, pH1N1 have more patches than H3N2 viruses, especially in the viral polymerase complex, while antigenic evolution is more apparent for H3N2 viruses. In both subtypes, NS1 has the highest patch and patch site frequency, indicating that NS1-mediated viral attenuation of host inflammatory responses is a continuously intensifying process, elevated even in the longtime-circulating subtype H3N2. We confirmed the resistance-causing effects of two pH1N1 changes against oseltamivir in NA activity assays, demonstrating the value of the resource for discovering functionally relevant changes. Our results represent an atlas of protein regions and sites with links to host adaptation, antiviral drug resistance and immune evasion for both subtypes for further study.
    • Evolutionary model for the unequal segregation of high copy plasmids.

      Münch, Karin; Münch, Richard; Biedendieck, Rebekka; Jahn, Dieter; Müller, Johannes; BRICS, Braunschweiger Zentrum für Systembiologie, Rebenring 56,38106 Braunschweig, Germany. (PLOS, 2019-01-01)
      Plasmids are extrachromosomal DNA elements of microorganisms encoding beneficial genetic information. They were thought to be equally distributed to daughter cells during cell division. Here we use mathematical modeling to investigate the evolutionary stability of plasmid segregation for high-copy plasmids—plasmids that are present in up to several hundred copies per cell—carrying antibiotic resistance genes. Evolutionary stable strategies (ESS) are determined by numerical analysis of a plasmid-load structured population model. The theory predicts that the evolutionary stable segregation strategy of a cell depends on the plasmid copy number: For low and medium plasmid load, both daughters receive in average an equal share of plasmids, while in case of high plasmid load, one daughter obtains distinctively and systematically more plasmids. These findings are in good agreement with recent experimental results. We discuss the interpretation and practical consequences.
    • EDEN: evolutionary dynamics within environments.

      Münch, Philipp C; Stecher, Bärbel; McHardy, Alice C; BRICS, Braunschweiger Zentrum für Systembiologie, Rebenring 56,38106 Braunschweig, Germany. (Oxford Academic, 2017-10-15)
      Metagenomics revolutionized the field of microbial ecology, giving access to Gb-sized datasets of microbial communities under natural conditions. This enables fine-grained analyses of the functions of community members, studies of their association with phenotypes and environments, as well as of their microevolution and adaptation to changing environmental conditions. However, phylogenetic methods for studying adaptation and evolutionary dynamics are not able to cope with big data. EDEN is the first software for the rapid detection of protein families and regions under positive selection, as well as their associated biological processes, from meta- and pangenome data. It provides an interactive result visualization for detailed comparative analyses. Availability and implementation: EDEN is available as a Docker installation under the GPL 3.0 license, allowing its use on common operating systems, at http://www.github.com/hzi-bifo/eden.
    • Assessing taxonomic metagenome profilers with OPAL.

      Meyer, Fernando; Bremges, Andreas; Belmann, Peter; Janssen, Stefan; McHardy, Alice C; Koslicki, David; BRICS, Braunschweiger Zentrum für Systembiologie, Rebenring 56,38106 Braunschweig, Germany. (BioMedCentral, 2019-03-04)
      The explosive growth in taxonomic metagenome profiling methods over the past years has created a need for systematic comparisons using relevant performance criteria. The Open-community Profiling Assessment tooL (OPAL) implements commonly used performance metrics, including those of the first challenge of the initiative for the Critical Assessment of Metagenome Interpretation (CAMI), together with convenient visualizations. In addition, we perform in-depth performance comparisons with seven profilers on datasets of CAMI and the Human Microbiome Project. OPAL is freely available at https://github.com/CAMI-challenge/OPAL .
    • Modular Traits of the Rhizobiales Root Microbiota and Their Evolutionary Relationship with Symbiotic Rhizobia.

      Garrido-Oter, Ruben; Nakano, Ryohei Thomas; Dombrowski, Nina; Ma, Ka-Wai; McHardy, Alice C; Schulze-Lefert, Paul; BRICS, Braunschweiger Zentrum für Systembiologie, Rebenring 56,38106 Braunschweig, Germany. (Elsevier, 2018-07-11)
      Animal-microbe facultative symbioses play a fundamental role in ecosystem and organismal health. Yet, due to the flexible nature of their association, the selection pressures that act on animals and their facultative symbionts remain elusive. Here we apply experimental evolution to Drosophila melanogaster associated with its growth-promoting symbiont Lactobacillus plantarum, representing a well-established model of facultative symbiosis. We find that the diet of the host, rather than the host itself, is a predominant driving force in the evolution of this symbiosis. Furthermore, we identify a mechanism resulting from the bacterium's adaptation to the diet, which confers growth benefits to the colonized host. Our study reveals that bacterial adaptation to the host's diet may be the foremost step in determining the evolutionary course of a facultative animal-microbe symbiosis.
    • Probabilistic variable-length segmentation of protein sequences for discriminative motif discovery (DiMotif) and sequence embedding (ProtVecX).

      Asgari, Ehsaneddin; McHardy, Alice C; Mofrad, Mohammad R K; BRICS, Braunschweiger Zentrum für Systembiologie, Rebenring 56,38106 Braunschweig, Germany. (Springer Nature, 2019-03-05)
    • CAMISIM: simulating metagenomes and microbial communities.

      Fritz, Adrian; Hofmann, Peter; Majda, Stephan; Dahms, Eik; Dröge, Johannes; Fiedler, Jessika; Lesker, Till R; Belmann, Peter; DeMaere, Matthew Z; Darling, Aaron E; et al. (BioMedCentral, 2019-02-08)
      Shotgun metagenome data sets of microbial communities are highly diverse, not only due to the natural variation of the underlying biological systems, but also due to differences in laboratory protocols, replicate numbers, and sequencing technologies. Accordingly, to effectively assess the performance of metagenomic analysis software, a wide range of benchmark data sets are required. We describe the CAMISIM microbial community and metagenome simulator. The software can model different microbial abundance profiles, multi-sample time series, and differential abundance studies, includes real and simulated strain-level diversity, and generates second- and third-generation sequencing data from taxonomic profiles or de novo. Gold standards are created for sequence assembly, genome binning, taxonomic binning, and taxonomic profiling. CAMSIM generated the benchmark data sets of the first CAMI challenge. For two simulated multi-sample data sets of the human and mouse gut microbiomes, we observed high functional congruence to the real data. As further applications, we investigated the effect of varying evolutionary genome divergence, sequencing depth, and read error profiles on two popular metagenome assemblers, MEGAHIT, and metaSPAdes, on several thousand small data sets generated with CAMISIM. CAMISIM can simulate a wide variety of microbial communities and metagenome data sets together with standards of truth for method evaluation. All data sets and the software are freely available at https://github.com/CAMI-challenge/CAMISIM.
    • The homeobox transcription factor HB9 induces senescence and blocks differentiation in hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells.

      Ingenhag, Deborah; Reister, Sven; Auer, Franziska; Bhatia, Sanil; Wildenhain, Sarah; Picard, Daniel; Remke, Marc; Hoell, Jessica I; Kloetgen, Andreas; Sohn, Dennis; et al. (Ferrata Storti Foundation, 2019-01-01)
      The homeobox gene
    • MicroPheno: predicting environments and host phenotypes from 16S rRNA gene sequencing using a k-mer based representation of shallow sub-samples.

      Asgari, Ehsaneddin; Garakani, Kiavash; McHardy, Alice C; Mofrad, Mohammad R K; BRICS, Braunschweiger Zentrum für Systembiologie, Rebenring 56,38106 Braunschweig, Germany. (Oxford University Press, 2018-07-01)
      Microbial communities play important roles in the function and maintenance of various biosystems, ranging from the human body to the environment. A major challenge in microbiome research is the classification of microbial communities of different environments or host phenotypes. The most common and cost-effective approach for such studies to date is 16S rRNA gene sequencing. Recent falls in sequencing costs have increased the demand for simple, efficient and accurate methods for rapid detection or diagnosis with proved applications in medicine, agriculture and forensic science. We describe a reference- and alignment-free approach for predicting environments and host phenotypes from 16S rRNA gene sequencing based on k-mer representations that benefits from a bootstrapping framework for investigating the sufficiency of shallow sub-samples. Deep learning methods as well as classical approaches were explored for predicting environments and host phenotypes. A k-mer distribution of shallow sub-samples outperformed Operational Taxonomic Unit (OTU) features in the tasks of body-site identification and Crohn's disease prediction. Aside from being more accurate, using k-mer features in shallow sub-samples allows (i) skipping computationally costly sequence alignments required in OTU-picking and (ii) provided a proof of concept for the sufficiency of shallow and short-length 16S rRNA sequencing for phenotype prediction. In addition, k-mer features predicted representative 16S rRNA gene sequences of 18 ecological environments, and 5 organismal environments with high macro-F1 scores of 0.88 and 0.87. For large datasets, deep learning outperformed classical methods such as Random Forest and Support Vector Machine. The software and datasets are available at https://llp.berkeley.edu/micropheno. Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online.
    • A Fréchet tree distance measure to compare phylogeographic spread paths across trees.

      Reimering, Susanne; Muñoz, Sebastian; McHardy, Alice C; BRICS, Braunschweiger Zentrum für Systembiologie, Rebenring 56,38106 Braunschweig, Germany. (Nature publishing group, 2018-11-19)
      Phylogeographic methods reconstruct the origin and spread of taxa by inferring locations for internal nodes of the phylogenetic tree from sampling locations of genetic sequences. This is commonly applied to study pathogen outbreaks and spread. To evaluate such reconstructions, the inferred spread paths from root to leaf nodes should be compared to other methods or references. Usually, ancestral state reconstructions are evaluated by node-wise comparisons, therefore requiring the same tree topology, which is usually unknown. Here, we present a method for comparing phylogeographies across different trees inferred from the same taxa. We compare paths of locations by calculating discrete Fréchet distances. By correcting the distances by the number of paths going through a node, we define the Fréchet tree distance as a distance measure between phylogeographies. As an application, we compare phylogeographic spread patterns on trees inferred with different methods from hemagglutinin sequences of H5N1 influenza viruses, finding that both tree inference and ancestral reconstruction cause variation in phylogeographic spread that is not directly reflected by topological differences. The method is suitable for comparing phylogeographies inferred with different tree or phylogeographic inference methods to each other or to a known ground truth, thus enabling a quality assessment of such techniques.
    • Tumor Necrosis Factor-Mediated Survival of CD169 Cells Promotes Immune Activation during Vesicular Stomatitis Virus Infection.

      Shinde, Prashant V; Xu, Haifeng C; Maney, Sathish Kumar; Kloetgen, Andreas; Namineni, Sukumar; Zhuang, Yuan; Honke, Nadine; Shaabani, Namir; Bellora, Nicolas; Doerrenberg, Mareike; et al. (2018-02-01)
      Innate immune activation is essential to mount an effective antiviral response and to prime adaptive immunity. Although a crucial role of CD169
    • Genome-guided design of a defined mouse microbiota that confers colonization resistance against Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium.

      Brugiroux, Sandrine; Beutler, Markus; Pfann, Carina; Garzetti, Debora; Ruscheweyh, Hans-Joachim; Ring, Diana; Diehl, Manuel; Herp, Simone; Lötscher, Yvonne; Hussain, Saib; et al. (2016-11-21)
      Protection against enteric infections, also termed colonization resistance, results from mutualistic interactions of the host and its indigenous microbes. The gut microbiota of humans and mice is highly diverse and it is therefore challenging to assign specific properties to its individual members. Here, we have used a collection of murine bacterial strains and a modular design approach to create a minimal bacterial community that, once established in germ-free mice, provided colonization resistance against the human enteric pathogen Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium (S. Tm). Initially, a community of 12 strains, termed Oligo-Mouse-Microbiota (Oligo-MM
    • Seqenv: Linking sequences to environments through text mining

      BRICS, Braunschweiger Zentrum für Systembiologie, Rebenring 56, 38106 Braunschweig, Germany.
      Understanding the distribution of taxa and associated traits across different environments is one of the central questions in microbial ecology. High-throughput sequencing (HTS) studies are presently generating huge volumes of data to address this biogeographical topic. However, these studies are often focused on specific environment types or processes leading to the production of individual, unconnected datasets. The large amounts of legacy sequence data with associated metadata that exist can be harnessed to better place the genetic information found in these surveys into a wider environmental context. Here we introduce a software program, seqenv, to carry out precisely such a task. It automatically performs similarity searches of short sequences against the ``nt'' nucleotide database provided by NCBI and, out of every hit, extracts-if it is available-the textual metadata field. After collecting all the isolation sources from all the search results, we run a text mining algorithm to identify and parse words that are associated with the Environmental Ontology (EnvO) controlled vocabulary. This, in turn, enables us to determine both in which environments individual sequences or taxa have previously been observed and, by weighted summation of those results, to summarize complete samples. We present two demonstrative applications of seqenv to a survey of ammonia oxidizing archaea as well as to a plankton paleome dataset from the Black Sea. These demonstrate the ability of the tool to reveal novel patterns in HTS and its utility in the fields of environmental source tracking, paleontology, and studies of microbial biogeography. To install seqenv, go to: https://github.com/xapple/seqenv. (c) 2016 Sinclair et al
    • AMBER: Assessment of Metagenome BinnERs.

      Meyer, Fernando; Hofmann, Peter; Belmann, Peter; Garrido-Oter, Ruben; Fritz, Adrian; Sczyrba, Alexander; McHardy, Alice C; BRICS, Braunschweiger Zentrum für Systembiologie, Rebenring 56, 38106 Braunschweig, Germany. (2018-06-08)
      Reconstructing the genomes of microbial community members is key to the interpretation of shotgun metagenome samples. Genome binning programs deconvolute reads or assembled contigs of such samples into individual bins, but assessing their quality is difficult due to the lack of evaluation software and standardized metrics. We present AMBER, an evaluation package for the comparative assessment of genome reconstructions from metagenome benchmark data sets. It calculates the performance metrics and comparative visualizations used in the first benchmarking challenge of the Initiative for the Critical Assessment of Metagenome Interpretation (CAMI). As an application, we show the outputs of AMBER for eleven different binning programs on two CAMI benchmark data sets. AMBER is implemented in Python and available under the Apache 2.0 license on GitHub (https://github.com/CAMI-challenge/AMBER).
    • Bioinformatics Meets Virology: The European Virus Bioinformatics Center's Second Annual Meeting.

      Ibrahim, Bashar; Arkhipova, Ksenia; Andeweg, Arno C; Posada-Céspedes, Susana; Enault, François; Gruber, Arthur; Koonin, Eugene V; Kupczok, Anne; Lemey, Philippe; McHardy, Alice C; et al. (2018-05-14)
      The Second Annual Meeting of the European Virus Bioinformatics Center (EVBC), held in Utrecht, Netherlands, focused on computational approaches in virology, with topics including (but not limited to) virus discovery, diagnostics, (meta-)genomics, modeling, epidemiology, molecular structure, evolution, and viral ecology. The goals of the Second Annual Meeting were threefold: (i) to bring together virologists and bioinformaticians from across the academic, industrial, professional, and training sectors to share best practice; (ii) to provide a meaningful and interactive scientific environment to promote discussion and collaboration between students, postdoctoral fellows, and both new and established investigators; (iii) to inspire and suggest new research directions and questions. Approximately 120 researchers from around the world attended the Second Annual Meeting of the EVBC this year, including 15 renowned international speakers. This report presents an overview of new developments and novel research findings that emerged during the meeting.
    • "Candidatus Paraporphyromonas polyenzymogenes" encodes multi-modular cellulases linked to the type IX secretion system.

      Naas, A E; Solden, L M; Norbeck, A D; Brewer, H; Hagen, L H; Heggenes, I M; McHardy, A C; Mackie, R I; Paša-Tolić, L; Arntzen, M Ø; et al. (2018-03-01)
      In nature, obligate herbivorous ruminants have a close symbiotic relationship with their gastrointestinal microbiome, which proficiently deconstructs plant biomass. Despite decades of research, lignocellulose degradation in the rumen has thus far been attributed to a limited number of culturable microorganisms. Here, we combine meta-omics and enzymology to identify and describe a novel Bacteroidetes family ("Candidatus MH11") composed entirely of uncultivated strains that are predominant in ruminants and only distantly related to previously characterized taxa.
    • 'Candidatus Adiutrix intracellularis', an endosymbiont of termite gut flagellates, is the first representative of a deep-branching clade of Deltaproteobacteria and a putative homoacetogen.

      Ikeda-Ohtsubo, Wakako; Strassert, Jürgen F H; Köhler, Tim; Mikaelyan, Aram; Gregor, Ivan; McHardy, Alice C; Tringe, Susannah Green; Hugenholtz, Phil; Radek, Renate; Brune, Andreas; et al. (2016-09)
      Termite gut flagellates are typically colonized by specific bacterial symbionts. Here we describe the phylogeny, ultrastructure and subcellular location of 'Candidatus Adiutrix intracellularis', an intracellular symbiont of Trichonympha collaris in the termite Zootermopsis nevadensis. It represents a novel, deep-branching clade of uncultured Deltaproteobacteria widely distributed in intestinal tracts of termites and cockroaches. Fluorescence in situ hybridization and transmission electron microscopy localized the endosymbiont near hydrogenosomes in the posterior part and near the ectosymbiont 'Candidatus Desulfovibrio trichonymphae' in the anterior part of the host cell. The draft genome of 'Ca. Adiutrix intracellularis' obtained from a metagenomic library revealed the presence of a complete gene set encoding the Wood-Ljungdahl pathway, including two homologs of fdhF encoding hydrogenase-linked formate dehydrogenases (FDHH ) and all other components of the recently described hydrogen-dependent carbon dioxide reductase (HDCR) complex, which substantiates previous claims that the symbiont is capable of reductive acetogenesis from CO2 and H2 . The close phylogenetic relationship between the HDCR components and their homologs in homoacetogenic Firmicutes and Spirochaetes suggests that the deltaproteobacterium acquired the capacity for homoacetogenesis via lateral gene transfer. The presence of genes for nitrogen fixation and the biosynthesis of amino acids and cofactors indicate the nutritional nature of the symbiosis.
    • Sweep Dynamics (SD) plots: Computational identification of selective sweeps to monitor the adaptation of influenza A viruses.

      Klingen, Thorsten R; Reimering, Susanne; Loers, Jens; Mooren, Kyra; Klawonn, Frank; Krey, Thomas; Gabriel, Gülsah; McHardy, Alice Carolyn; BRICS, Braunschweiger Zentrum für Systembiologie, Rebenring 56, 38106 Braunschweig, Germany. (2018-01-10)
      Monitoring changes in influenza A virus genomes is crucial to understand its rapid evolution and adaptation to changing conditions e.g. establishment within novel host species. Selective sweeps represent a rapid mode of adaptation and are typically observed in human influenza A viruses. We describe Sweep Dynamics (SD) plots, a computational method combining phylogenetic algorithms with statistical techniques to characterize the molecular adaptation of rapidly evolving viruses from longitudinal sequence data. SD plots facilitate the identification of selective sweeps, the time periods in which these occurred and associated changes providing a selective advantage to the virus. We studied the past genome-wide adaptation of the 2009 pandemic H1N1 influenza A (pH1N1) and seasonal H3N2 influenza A (sH3N2) viruses. The pH1N1 influenza virus showed simultaneous amino acid changes in various proteins, particularly in seasons of high pH1N1 activity. Partially, these changes resulted in functional alterations facilitating sustained human-to-human transmission. In the evolution of sH3N2 influenza viruses, we detected changes characterizing vaccine strains, which were occasionally revealed in selective sweeps one season prior to the WHO recommendation. Taken together, SD plots allow monitoring and characterizing the adaptive evolution of influenza A viruses by identifying selective sweeps and their associated signatures. - - all data is published on GitHub: https://github.com/hzi-bifo/SDplots/tree/v1.0.0
    • Reconstructing metabolic pathways of a member of the genus Pelotomaculum suggesting its potential to oxidize benzene to carbon dioxide with direct reduction of sulfate.

      Dong, Xiyang; Dröge, Johannes; von Toerne, Christine; Marozava, Sviatlana; McHardy, Alice C; Meckenstock, Rainer U; BRICS, Braunschweiger Zentrum für Systembiologie, Rebenring 56, 38106 Braunschweig, Germany. (2017)
      The enrichment culture BPL is able to degrade benzene with sulfate as electron acceptor and is dominated by an organism of the genus Pelotomaculum. Members of Pelotomaculum are usually known to be fermenters, undergoing syntrophy with anaerobic respiring microorganisms or methanogens. By using a metagenomic approach, we reconstructed a high-quality genome (∼2.97 Mbp, 99% completeness) for Pelotomaculum candidate BPL. The proteogenomic data suggested that (1) anaerobic benzene degradation was activated by a yet unknown mechanism for conversion of benzene to benzoyl-CoA; (2) the central benzoyl-CoA degradation pathway involved reductive dearomatization by a class II benzoyl-CoA reductase followed by hydrolytic ring cleavage and modified β-oxidation; (3) the oxidative acetyl-CoA pathway was utilized for complete oxidation to CO2. Interestingly, the genome of Pelotomaculum candidate BPL has all the genes for a complete sulfate reduction pathway including a similar electron transfer mechanism for dissimilatory sulfate reduction as in other Gram-positive sulfate-reducing bacteria. The proteome analysis revealed that the essential enzymes for sulfate reduction were all formed during growth with benzene. Thus, our data indicated that, besides its potential to anaerobically degrade benzene, Pelotomaculum candidate BPL is the first member of the genus that can perform sulfate reduction.