• A probabilistic model to recover individual genomes from metagenomes

      Dröge, Johannes; Schönhuth, Alexander; McHardy, Alice Carolyn; BRICS, Braunschweiger Zentrum für Systembiologie, Rebenring 56,38106 Braunschweig, Germany.; Computational Biology of Infection Research, Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research, Braunschweig, Germany; Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica, Amsterdam, The Netherlands; Computational Biology of Infection Research, Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research, Braunschweig, Germany (2017-05-22)
      Shotgun metagenomics of microbial communities reveal information about strains of relevance for applications in medicine, biotechnology and ecology. Recovering their genomes is a crucial but very challenging step due to the complexity of the underlying biological system and technical factors. Microbial communities are heterogeneous, with oftentimes hundreds of present genomes deriving from different species or strains, all at varying abundances and with different degrees of similarity to each other and reference data. We present a versatile probabilistic model for genome recovery and analysis, which aggregates three types of information that are commonly used for genome recovery from metagenomes. As potential applications we showcase metagenome contig classification, genome sample enrichment and genome bin comparisons. The open source implementation MGLEX is available via the Python Package Index and on GitHub and can be embedded into metagenome analysis workflows and programs.
    • Adaptive Mutations That Occurred during Circulation in Humans of H1N1 Influenza Virus in the 2009 Pandemic Enhance Virulence in Mice.

      Otte, A; Sauter, M; Daxer, M A; McHardy, A C; Klingel, K; Gabriel, G; Helmholtz Centre for infection research, Inhoffenstr. 7, D-38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2015-07)
      During the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic, infection attack rates were particularly high among young individuals who suffered from pneumonia with occasional death. Moreover, previously reported determinants of mammalian adaptation and pathogenicity were not present in 2009 pandemic H1N1 influenza A viruses. Thus, it was proposed that unknown viral factors might have contributed to disease severity in humans. In this study, we performed a comparative analysis of two clinical 2009 pandemic H1N1 strains that belong to the very early and later phases of the pandemic. We identified mutations in the viral hemagglutinin (HA) and the nucleoprotein (NP) that occurred during pandemic progression and mediate increased virulence in mice. Lethal disease outcome correlated with elevated viral replication in the alveolar epithelium, increased proinflammatory cytokine and chemokine responses, pneumonia, and lymphopenia in mice. These findings show that viral mutations that have occurred during pandemic circulation among humans are associated with severe disease in mice.
    • Alterations of miRNAs and miRNA-regulated mRNA expression in GC B cell lymphomas determined by integrative sequencing analysis.

      Hezaveh, Kebria; Kloetgen, Andreas; Bernhart, Stephan H; Mahapatra, Kunal Das; Lenze, Dido; Richter, Julia; Haake, Andrea; Bergmann, Anke K; Brors, Benedikt; Burkhardt, Birgit; et al. (2016-07-06)
      MicroRNAs are well-established players in posttranscriptional gene regulation. However, information on the effects of microRNA deregulation mainly relies on bioinformatic prediction of potential targets, whereas proof of the direct physical microRNAs/target mRNAs interaction is mostly lacking. Within the International Cancer Genome Consortium Project Determining Molecular Mechanisms in Malignant Lymphoma by Sequencing (ICGC MMML-Seq), we performed miRnome sequencing from 16 Burkitt lymphomas, 19 diffuse large B-cell lymphomas, and 21 follicular lymphomas. Twenty-two miRNAs separated Burkitt lymphomas from diffuse large B-cell lymphomas/follicular lymphomas, of which 13 have shown regulation by MYC. Moreover, we show expression of three hitherto unreported microRNAs. Additionally, we detect recurrent mutations of hsa-miR-142 in diffuse large B-cell lymphomas and follicular lymphomas, and editing of the hsa-miR-376 cluster, providing evidence for microRNA editing in lymphomagenesis. To interrogate the direct physical interactions of microRNAs with mRNAs, we performed Argonaute-2 photoactivatable ribonucleoside-enhanced cross-linking and immunoprecipitation experiments. MicroRNAs directly targeted 208 mRNAs in the Burkitt lymphomas and 328 mRNAs in the non-Burkitt lymphoma models. This integrative analysis discovered several regulatory pathways of relevance in lymphomagenesis including Ras, PI3K-Akt and MAPK signaling pathways, also recurrently deregulated in lymphomas by mutations. Our dataset uncovers in detail the mRNA deregulation through microRNAs as a highly relevant mechanism in lymphomagenesis.
    • 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).
    • 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 .
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • '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.
    • "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.
    • Characterisation of a stable laboratory co-culture of acidophilic nanoorganisms.

      Krause, Susanne; Bremges, Andreas; Münch, Philipp C; McHardy, Alice C; Gescher, Johannes; Helmholtz Centre for infection research, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2017-06-12)
      This study describes the laboratory cultivation of ARMAN (Archaeal Richmond Mine Acidophilic Nanoorganisms). After 2.5 years of successive transfers in an anoxic medium containing ferric sulfate as an electron acceptor, a consortium was attained that is comprised of two members of the order Thermoplasmatales, a member of a proposed ARMAN group, as well as a fungus. The 16S rRNA identity of one archaeon is only 91.6% compared to the most closely related isolate Thermogymnomonas acidicola. Hence, this organism is the first member of a new genus. The enrichment culture is dominated by this microorganism and the ARMAN. The third archaeon in the community seems to be present in minor quantities and has a 100% 16S rRNA identity to the recently isolated Cuniculiplasma divulgatum. The enriched ARMAN species is most probably incapable of sugar metabolism because the key genes for sugar catabolism and anabolism could not be identified in the metagenome. Metatranscriptomic analysis suggests that the TCA cycle funneled with amino acids is the main metabolic pathway used by the archaea of the community. Microscopic analysis revealed that growth of the ARMAN is supported by the formation of cell aggregates. These might enable feeding of the ARMAN by or on other community members.
    • Computational prediction of vaccine strains for human influenza A (H3N2) viruses.

      Steinbrück, L; Klingen, T R; McHardy, A C; Helmholtz Centre for infection research, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2014-10)
      Human influenza A viruses are rapidly evolving pathogens that cause substantial morbidity and mortality in seasonal epidemics around the globe. To ensure continued protection, the strains used for the production of the seasonal influenza vaccine have to be regularly updated, which involves data collection and analysis by numerous experts worldwide. Computer-guided analysis is becoming increasingly important in this problem due to the vast amounts of generated data. We here describe a computational method for selecting a suitable strain for production of the human influenza A virus vaccine. It interprets available antigenic and genomic sequence data based on measures of antigenic novelty and rate of propagation of the viral strains throughout the population. For viral isolates sampled between 2002 and 2007, we used this method to predict the antigenic evolution of the H3N2 viruses in retrospective testing scenarios. When seasons were scored as true or false predictions, our method returned six true positives, three false negatives, eight true negatives, and one false positive, or 78% accuracy overall. In comparison to the recommendations by the WHO, we identified the correct antigenic variant once at the same time and twice one season ahead. Even though it cannot be ruled out that practical reasons such as lack of a sufficiently well-growing candidate strain may in some cases have prevented recommendation of the best-matching strain by the WHO, our computational decision procedure allows quantitative interpretation of the growing amounts of data and may help to match the vaccine better to predominating strains in seasonal influenza epidemics. Importance: Human influenza A viruses continuously change antigenically to circumvent the immune protection evoked by vaccination or previously circulating viral strains. To maintain vaccine protection and thereby reduce the mortality and morbidity caused by infections, regular updates of the vaccine strains are required. We have developed a data-driven framework for vaccine strain prediction which facilitates the computational analysis of genetic and antigenic data and does not rely on explicit evolutionary models. Our computational decision procedure generated good matches of the vaccine strain to the circulating predominant strain for most seasons and could be used to support the expert-guided prediction made by the WHO; it thus may allow an increase in vaccine efficacy.
    • Coupling of diversification and pH adaptation during the evolution of terrestrial Thaumarchaeota.

      Gubry-Rangin, Cécile; Kratsch, Christina; Williams, Tom A; McHardy, Alice C; Embley, T Martin; Prosser, James I; Macqueen, Daniel J; Institute of Biological and Environmental Sciences, University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen AB24 2TZ, United Kingdom (2015-07-28)
      The Thaumarchaeota is an abundant and ubiquitous phylum of archaea that plays a major role in the global nitrogen cycle. Previous analyses of the ammonia monooxygenase gene amoA suggest that pH is an important driver of niche specialization in these organisms. Although the ecological distribution and ecophysiology of extant Thaumarchaeota have been studied extensively, the evolutionary rise of these prokaryotes to ecological dominance in many habitats remains poorly understood. To characterize processes leading to their diversification, we investigated coevolutionary relationships between amoA, a conserved marker gene for Thaumarchaeota, and soil characteristics, by using deep sequencing and comprehensive environmental data in Bayesian comparative phylogenetics. These analyses reveal a large and rapid increase in diversification rates during early thaumarchaeotal evolution; this finding was verified by independent analyses of 16S rRNA. Our findings suggest that the entire Thaumarchaeota diversification regime was strikingly coupled to pH adaptation but less clearly correlated with several other tested environmental factors. Interestingly, the early radiation event coincided with a period of pH adaptation that enabled the terrestrial Thaumarchaeota ancestor to initially move from neutral to more acidic and alkaline conditions. In contrast to classic evolutionary models, whereby niches become rapidly filled after adaptive radiation, global diversification rates have remained stably high in Thaumarchaeota during the past 400-700 million years, suggesting an ongoing high rate of niche formation or switching for these microbes. Our study highlights the enduring importance of environmental adaptation during thaumarchaeotal evolution and, to our knowledge, is the first to link evolutionary diversification to environmental adaptation in a prokaryotic phylum.
    • Determination of antigenicity-altering patches on the major surface protein of human influenza A/H3N2 viruses.

      Kratsch, Christina; Klingen, Thorsten R; Mümken, Linda; Steinbrück, Lars; McHardy, Alice Carolyn; BRICS, Braunschweiger Zentrum für Systembiologie, Rebenring 56, 38106 Braunschweig, Germany. (2016-01)
      Human influenza viruses are rapidly evolving RNA viruses that cause short-term respiratory infections with substantial morbidity and mortality in annual epidemics. Uncovering the general principles of viral coevolution with human hosts is important for pathogen surveillance and vaccine design. Protein regions are an appropriate model for the interactions between two macromolecules, but the currently used epitope definition for the major antigen of influenza viruses, namely hemagglutinin, is very broad. Here, we combined genetic, evolutionary, antigenic, and structural information to determine the most relevant regions of the hemagglutinin of human influenza A/H3N2 viruses for interaction with human immunoglobulins. We estimated the antigenic weights of amino acid changes at individual sites from hemagglutination inhibition data using antigenic tree inference followed by spatial clustering of antigenicity-altering protein sites on the protein structure. This approach determined six relevant areas (patches) for antigenic variation that had a key role in the past antigenic evolution of the viruses. Previous transitions between successive predominating antigenic types of H3N2 viruses always included amino acid changes in either the first or second antigenic patch. Interestingly, there was only partial overlap between the antigenic patches and the patches under strong positive selection. Therefore, besides alterations of antigenicity, other interactions with the host may shape the evolution of human influenza A/H3N2 viruses.
    • 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.
    • Evolution of 2009 H1N1 influenza viruses during the pandemic correlates with increased viral pathogenicity and transmissibility in the ferret model.

      Otte, Anna; Marriott, Anthony C; Dreier, Carola; Dove, Brian; Mooren, Kyra; Klingen, Thorsten R; Sauter, Martina; Thompson, Katy-Anne; Bennett, Allan; Klingel, Karin; et al. (2016)
      There is increasing evidence that 2009 pandemic H1N1 influenza viruses have evolved after pandemic onset giving rise to severe epidemics in subsequent waves. However, it still remains unclear which viral determinants might have contributed to disease severity after pandemic initiation. Here, we show that distinct mutations in the 2009 pandemic H1N1 virus genome have occurred with increased frequency after pandemic declaration. Among those, a mutation in the viral hemagglutinin was identified that increases 2009 pandemic H1N1 virus binding to human-like α2,6-linked sialic acids. Moreover, these mutations conferred increased viral replication in the respiratory tract and elevated respiratory droplet transmission between ferrets. Thus, our data show that 2009 H1N1 influenza viruses have evolved after pandemic onset giving rise to novel virus variants that enhance viral replicative fitness and respiratory droplet transmission in a mammalian animal model. These findings might help to improve surveillance efforts to assess the pandemic risk by emerging influenza viruses.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • From Genomes to Phenotypes: Traitar, the Microbial Trait Analyzer.

      Weimann, Aaron; Mooren, Kyra; Frank, Jeremy; Pope, Phillip B; Bremges, Andreas; McHardy, Alice C; BRICS, Braunschweiger Zentrum für Systembiologie, Rebenring 56, 38106 Braunschweig, Germany. (2017-01-31)
      The number of sequenced genomes is growing exponentially, profoundly shifting the bottleneck from data generation to genome interpretation. Traits are often used to characterize and distinguish bacteria and are likely a driving factor in microbial community composition, yet little is known about the traits of most microbes. We describe Traitar, the microbial trait analyzer, which is a fully automated software package for deriving phenotypes from a genome sequence. Traitar provides phenotype classifiers to predict 67 traits related to the use of various substrates as carbon and energy sources, oxygen requirement, morphology, antibiotic susceptibility, proteolysis, and enzymatic activities. Furthermore, it suggests protein families associated with the presence of particular phenotypes. Our method uses L1-regularized L2-loss support vector machines for phenotype assignments based on phyletic patterns of protein families and their evolutionary histories across a diverse set of microbial species. We demonstrate reliable phenotype assignment for Traitar to bacterial genomes from 572 species of eight phyla, also based on incomplete single-cell genomes and simulated draft genomes. We also showcase its application in metagenomics by verifying and complementing a manual metabolic reconstruction of two novel Clostridiales species based on draft genomes recovered from commercial biogas reactors. Traitar is available at https://github.com/hzi-bifo/traitar. IMPORTANCE Bacteria are ubiquitous in our ecosystem and have a major impact on human health, e.g., by supporting digestion in the human gut. Bacterial communities can also aid in biotechnological processes such as wastewater treatment or decontamination of polluted soils. Diverse bacteria contribute with their unique capabilities to the functioning of such ecosystems, but lab experiments to investigate those capabilities are labor-intensive. Major advances in sequencing techniques open up the opportunity to study bacteria by their genome sequences. For this purpose, we have developed Traitar, software that predicts traits of bacteria on the basis of their genomes. It is applicable to studies with tens or hundreds of bacterial genomes. Traitar may help researchers in microbiology to pinpoint the traits of interest, reducing the amount of wet lab work required.
    • 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
    • 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.