Highly plastic genome of Microcystis aeruginosa PCC 7806, a ubiquitous toxic freshwater cyanobacterium.
ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND:The colonial cyanobacterium Microcystis proliferates in a wide range of freshwater ecosystems and is exposed to changing environmental factors during its life cycle. Microcystis blooms are often toxic, potentially fatal to animals and humans, and may cause environmental problems. There has been little investigation of the genomics of these cyanobacteria. RESULTS:Deciphering the 5,172,804 bp sequence of Microcystis aeruginosa PCC 7806 has revealed the high plasticity of its genome: 11.7% DNA repeats containing more than 1,000 bases, 6.8% putative transposases and 21 putative restriction enzymes. Compared to the genomes of other cyanobacterial lineages, strain PCC 7806 contains a large number of atypical genes that may have been acquired by lateral transfers. Metabolic pathways, such as fermentation and a methionine salvage pathway, have been identified, as have genes for programmed cell death that may be related to the rapid disappearance of Microcystis blooms in nature. Analysis of the PCC 7806 genome also reveals striking novel biosynthetic features that might help to elucidate the ecological impact of secondary metabolites and lead to the discovery of novel metabolites for new biotechnological applications. M. aeruginosa and other large cyanobacterial genomes exhibit a rapid loss of synteny in contrast to other microbial genomes. CONCLUSION:Microcystis aeruginosa PCC 7806 appears to have adopted an evolutionary strategy relying on unusual genome plasticity to adapt to eutrophic freshwater ecosystems, a property shared by another strain of M. aeruginosa (NIES-843). Comparisons of the genomes of PCC 7806 and other cyanobacterial strains indicate that a similar strategy may have also been used by the marine strain Crocosphaera watsonii WH8501 to adapt to other ecological niches, such as oligotrophic open oceans.
Project description:Proliferation of microcystin (MC)-producing Microcystis aeruginosa in brackish waters has been described in several locations and represents a new concern for public and environmental health. While the impact of a sudden salinity increase on M. aeruginosa physiology has been studied, less is known about the mechanisms involved in salt tolerance after acclimation. This study aims to compare the physiological responses of two strains of M. aeruginosa (PCC 7820 and PCC 7806), which were isolated from contrasted environments, to increasing salinities. After acclimation, growth and MC production rates were determined and metabolomic analyses were conducted. For both strains, salinity decreased the biovolume, growth, and MC production rates and induced the accumulation of polyunsaturated lipids identified as monogalactosyldiacylglycerol. The distinct salt tolerances (7.5 and 16.9) obtained between the freshwater (PCC 7820) and the brackish-water (PCC 7806) strains suggested different strategies to cope with the osmotic pressure, as revealed by targeted and untargeted metabolomic analyses. An accumulation of trehalose as the main compatible solute was obtained in the freshwater strain, while sucrose was mainly accumulated in the brackish one. Moreover, distinct levels of glycine betaine and proline accumulation were noted. Altogether, metabolomic analysis illustrated a strain-specific response to salt tolerance, involving compatible solute production.IMPORTANCE Blooms of Microcystis aeruginosa and the production of microcystins are major issues in eutrophic freshwater bodies. Recently, an increasing number of proliferations of M. aeruginosa in brackish water has been documented. The occurrence of both M. aeruginosa and microcystins in coastal areas represents a new threat for human and environmental health. In order to better describe the mechanisms involved in Microcystis sp. proliferation in brackish water, this study used two M. aeruginosa strains isolated from fresh and brackish waters. High salinity reduced the growth rate and microcystin production rate of M. aeruginosa In order to cope with higher salinities, the strains accumulated different cyanobacterial compatible solutes, as well as unsaturated lipids, explaining their distinct salt tolerance.
Project description:Microcystins are the most common cyanobacterial toxins found in freshwater lakes and reservoirs throughout the world. They are frequently produced by the unicellular, colonial cyanobacterium Microcystis aeruginosa; however, the role of the peptide for the producing organism is poorly understood. Differences in the cellular aggregation of M. aeruginosa PCC 7806 and a microcystin-deficient Delta mcyB mutant guided the discovery of a surface-exposed protein that shows increased abundance in PCC 7806 mutants deficient in microcystin production compared to the abundance of this protein in the wild type. Mass spectrometric and immunoblot analyses revealed that the protein, designated microcystin-related protein C (MrpC), is posttranslationally glycosylated, suggesting that it may be a potential target of a putative O-glycosyltransferase of the SPINDLY family encoded downstream of the mrpC gene. Immunofluorescence microscopy detected MrpC at the cell surface, suggesting an involvement of the protein in cellular interactions in strain PCC 7806. Further analyses of field samples of Microcystis demonstrated a strain-specific occurrence of MrpC possibly associated with distinct Microcystis colony types. Our results support the implication of microcystin in the colony specificity of and colony formation by Microcystis.
Project description:The evolution of the microcystin toxin gene cluster in phylogenetically distant cyanobacteria has been attributed to recombination, inactivation, and deletion events, although gene transfer may also be involved. Since the microcystin-producing Microcystis aeruginosa PCC 7806 is naturally transformable, we have initiated the characterization of its type IV pilus system, involved in DNA uptake in many bacteria, to provide a physiological focus for the influence of gene transfer in microcystin evolution. The type IV pilus genes pilA, pilB, pilC, and pilT were shown to be expressed in M. aeruginosa PCC 7806. The purified PilT protein yielded a maximal ATPase activity of 37.5 +/- 1.8 nmol P(i) min(-1) mg protein(-1), with a requirement for Mg(2+). Heterologous expression indicated that it could complement the pilT mutant of Pseudomonas aeruginosa, but not that of the cyanobacterium Synechocystis sp. strain PCC 6803, which was unexpected. Differences in two critical residues between the M. aeruginosa PCC 7806 PilT (7806 PilT) and the Synechocystis sp. strain PCC 6803 PilT proteins affected their theoretical structural models, which may explain the nonfunctionality of 7806 PilT in its cyanobacterial counterpart. Screening of the pilT gene in toxic and nontoxic strains of Microcystis was also performed.
Project description:Microcystis aeruginosa is a bloom-forming cyanobacterium found in eutrophic water bodies worldwide. M. aeruginosa blooms usually occur in freshwater; however, they have also been reported to occur in brackish water. Because M. aeruginosa often produces the cyanotoxin microcystin, they are a major concern to public health and environment. Despite this, the ecology, genomic basis, and evolutionary process underlying the M. aeruginosa bloom invasion from fresh to brackish water have been poorly investigated. Hence, in the present study, we have sequenced and characterized genomes of two newly discovered salt-tolerant M. aeruginosa strains obtained from Japanese brackish water lakes (Lakes Shinji and Tofutsu). Both genomes contain a set of genes for the synthesis of osmolyte sucrose (sppA, spsA, and susA), hitherto identified in only one strain (PCC 7806) of M. aeruginosa. Chemical and gene expression analyses confirmed sucrose accumulation induced by salt. A comprehensive genetic survey of >200 strains indicated that sucrose genes are extremely rare in M. aeruginosa. Most surprisingly, comparative genome analyses of the three strains indicated extremely low genetic diversity in the sucrose genes compared with other core genome genes, suggesting very recent acquisitions via horizontal transfer. Invasion of M. aeruginosa blooms into brackish water may be a recent event triggered by anthropogenic eutrophication of brackish water.
Project description:In response to natural or anthropocentric pollutions coupled to global climate changes, microorganisms from aquatic environments can suddenly accumulate on water surface. These dense suspensions, known as blooms, are harmful to ecosystems and significantly degrade the quality of water resources. In order to determine the physico-chemical parameters involved in their formation and quantitatively predict their appearance, we successfully reproduced irreversible cyanobacterial blooms in vitro. By combining chemical, biochemical and hydrodynamic evidences, we identify a mechanism, unrelated to the presence of internal gas vesicles, allowing the sudden collective upward migration in test tubes of several cyanobacterial strains (Microcystis aeruginosa PCC 7005, Microcystis aeruginosa PCC 7806 and Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803). The final state consists in a foamy layer of biomass at the air-liquid interface, in which micro-organisms remain alive for weeks, the medium lying below being almost completely depleted of cyanobacteria. These "laboratory blooms" start with the aggregation of cells at high ionic force in cyanobacterial strains that produce anionic extracellular polymeric substances (EPS). Under appropriate conditions of nutrients and light intensity, the high photosynthetic activity within cell clusters leads the dissolved oxygen (DO) to supersaturate and to nucleate into bubbles. Trapped within the EPS, these bubbles grow until their buoyancy pulls the biomass towards the free surface. By investigating a wide range of spatially homogeneous environmental conditions (illumination, salinity, cell and nutrient concentration) we identify species-dependent thresholds and timescales for bloom formation. We conclude on the relevance of such results for cyanobacterial bloom formation in the environment and we propose an efficient method for biomass harvesting in bioreactors.
Project description:The cyanobacterium Microcystis aeruginosa is known to proliferate in freshwater ecosystems and to produce microcystins. It is now well established that much of the variability of bloom toxicity is due to differences in the relative proportions of microcystin-producing and non-microcystin-producing cells in cyanobacterial populations. In an attempt to elucidate changes in their relative proportions during cyanobacterial blooms, we compared the fitness of the microcystin-producing M. aeruginosa PCC 7806 strain (WT) to that of its non-microcystin-producing mutant (MT). We investigated the effects of two light intensities and of limiting and non-limiting nitrate concentrations on the growth of these strains in monoculture and co-culture experiments. We also monitored various physiological parameters, and microcystin production by the WT strain. In monoculture experiments, no significant difference was found between the growth rates or physiological characteristics of the two strains during the exponential growth phase. In contrast, the MT strain was found to dominate the WT strain in co-culture experiments under favorable growth conditions. Moreover, we also found an increase in the growth rate of the MT strain and in the cellular MC content of the WT strain. Our findings suggest that differences in the fitness of these two strains under optimum growth conditions were attributable to the cost to microcystin-producing cells of producing microcystins, and to the putative existence of cooperation processes involving direct interactions between these strains.
Project description:Microcystins are hepatotoxic, non-ribosomal peptides produced by several genera of freshwater cyanobacteria. Among other enzymic activities, in particular those of peptide synthetases and polyketide synthases, microcystin biosynthesis requires racemases that provide D-aspartate and D-glutamate. Here, we report on the cloning, expression and characterization of an open reading frame, mcyF, that is part of the mcy gene cluster involved in microcystin biosynthesis in the Microcystis aeruginosa strain PCC 7806. Conserved amino acid sequence motifs suggest a function of the McyF protein as an aspartate racemase. Heterologous expression of mcyF in the unicellular cyanobacterium Synechocystis PCC 6803 yielded an active His(6)-tagged protein that was purified to homogeneity by Ni(2+)-nitriloacetate affinity chromatography. The purified recombinant protein racemized in a pyridoxal-5'-phosphate-independent manner L-aspartate, but not L-glutamate. Furthermore, we have identified a putative glutamate racemase gene that is located outside the mcy gene cluster in the M. aeruginosa PCC 7806 genome. Whereas homologues of this glutamate racemase gene are present in all the Microcystis strains examined, mcyF could only be detected in microcystin-producing strains.
Project description:Massive blooms of cyanobacteria frequently occur with microcystin (MC) production. Cyanobacteria are exposed to copper stresses such as copper algaecides which are often used to remove cyanobacterial blooms. However, copper increased the MC production of cyanobacteria, and the underlying mechanism remains unclear. The present study investigated the relationship between copper exposure (0.5 and 3 µM) and MC synthesis in Microcystis aeruginosa PCC 7806. The study concluded that the content of intracellular MCs increased by nearly two times both in 0.5 and 3 µM copper. High-throughput RNA sequencing (RNA-seq) provided evidence that copper mainly attacked Fe-S clusters, with evidence of changes in iron, sulfur, iron uptake regulators (fur), glutaredoxins and dehydratase genes. The transcription of numbers of genes implicated in iron uptake, MC synthesis and furA was also evaluated with quantitative real-time PCR (qRT-PCR). In these three Cu treatment groups, the amount of MCs increased as copper elevated. As the expression of mcyD gene was directly regulated by FurA and copper ions affected the expression of the FurA-related genes, we believed that MC synthesis genes were controlled by copper. This study has made a further understanding of the mechanism of the increase in MC synthesis of M. aeruginosa PCC 7806 treated with copper-based algaecides. We aimed to understand the mechanism of copper ion influencing the synthesis of MCs.
Project description:Rising CO2 concentrations may have large effects on aquatic microorganisms. In this study, we investigated how elevated pCO2 affects the harmful freshwater cyanobacterium Microcystis aeruginosa. This species is capable of producing dense blooms and hepatotoxins called microcystins. Strain PCC 7806 was cultured in chemostats that were shifted from low to high pCO2 conditions. This resulted in a transition from a C-limited to a light-limited steady state, with a ~2.7-fold increase of the cyanobacterial biomass and ~2.5-fold more microcystin per cell. Cells increased their chlorophyll a and phycocyanin content, and raised their PSI/PSII ratio at high pCO2. Surprisingly, cells had a lower dry weight and contained less carbohydrates, which might be an adaptation to improve the buoyancy of Microcystis when light becomes more limiting at high pCO2. Only 234 of the 4691 genes responded to elevated pCO2. For instance, expression of the carboxysome, RuBisCO, photosystem and C metabolism genes did not change significantly, and only a few N assimilation genes were expressed differently. The lack of large-scale changes in the transcriptome could suit a buoyant species that lives in eutrophic lakes with strong CO2 fluctuations very well. However, we found major responses in inorganic carbon uptake. At low pCO2, cells were mainly dependent on bicarbonate uptake, whereas at high pCO2 gene expression of the bicarbonate uptake systems was down-regulated and cells shifted to CO2 and low-affinity bicarbonate uptake. These results show that the need for high-affinity bicarbonate uptake systems ceases at elevated CO2. Moreover, the combination of an increased cyanobacterial abundance, improved buoyancy, and higher toxin content per cell indicates that rising atmospheric CO2 levels may increase the problems associated with the harmful cyanobacterium Microcystis in eutrophic lakes.
Project description:Comparative analysis of related biosynthetic gene clusters can provide new insights into the versatility of these pathways and allow the discovery of new natural products. The freshwater cyanobacterium Microcystis aeruginosa NIES298 produces the cytotoxic peptide microcyclamide. Here, we provide evidence that the cyclic hexapeptide is formed by a ribosomal pathway through the activity of a set of processing enzymes closely resembling those recently shown to be involved in patellamide biosynthesis in cyanobacterial symbionts of ascidians. Besides two subtilisin-type proteases and a heterocyclization enzyme, the gene cluster discovered in strain NIES298 encodes six further open reading frames, two of them without similarity to enzymes encoded by the patellamide gene cluster. Analyses of genomic data of a second cyanobacterial strain, M. aeruginosa PCC 7806, guided the discovery and structural elucidation of two novel peptides of the microcyclamide family. The identification of the microcyclamide biosynthetic genes provided an avenue by which to study the regulation of peptide synthesis at the transcriptional level. The precursor genes were strongly and constitutively expressed throughout the growth phase, excluding the autoinduction of these peptides, as has been observed for several peptide pheromone families in bacteria.