The freshwater sponge Ephydatia fluviatilis harbours diverse Pseudomonas species (Gammaproteobacteria, Pseudomonadales) with broad-spectrum antimicrobial activity.
ABSTRACT: Bacteria are believed to play an important role in the fitness and biochemistry of sponges (Porifera). Pseudomonas species (Gammaproteobacteria, Pseudomonadales) are capable of colonizing a broad range of eukaryotic hosts, but knowledge of their diversity and function in freshwater invertebrates is rudimentary. We assessed the diversity, structure and antimicrobial activities of Pseudomonas spp. in the freshwater sponge Ephydatia fluviatilis. Polymerase Chain Reaction--Denaturing Gradient Gel Electrophoresis (PCR-DGGE) fingerprints of the global regulator gene gacA revealed distinct structures between sponge-associated and free-living Pseudomonas communities, unveiling previously unsuspected diversity of these assemblages in freshwater. Community structures varied across E. fluviatilis specimens, yet specific gacA phylotypes could be detected by PCR-DGGE in almost all sponge individuals sampled over two consecutive years. By means of whole-genome fingerprinting, 39 distinct genotypes were found within 90 fluorescent Pseudomonas isolates retrieved from E. fluviatilis. High frequency of in vitro antibacterial (49%), antiprotozoan (35%) and anti-oomycetal (32%) activities was found among these isolates, contrasting less-pronounced basidiomycetal (17%) and ascomycetal (8%) antagonism. Culture extracts of highly predation-resistant isolates rapidly caused complete immobility or lysis of cells of the protozoan Colpoda steinii. Isolates tentatively identified as P. jessenii, P. protegens and P. oryzihabitans showed conspicuous inhibitory traits and correspondence with dominant sponge-associated phylotypes registered by cultivation-independent analysis. Our findings suggest that E. fluviatilis hosts both transient and persistent Pseudomonas symbionts displaying antimicrobial activities of potential ecological and biotechnological value.
Project description:Ephydatia muelleri is a cosmopolitan freshwater demosponge, with potential to become a model system. We have participated in a large collaborative project to sequence the genome (PRJNA579531), methylome, transcriptome for this species, aiming to better understand the biology of this sponge species. In terms of DNA methylation, it presents relatively low methylation levels compared to the methylomes of other sponges (A. queenslandica and S. ciliatum), suggesting quite a lot of varation within the sponge phylum. Overall design: Profiling of cytosine methylation for Ephydatia muelleri.
Project description:Shifts in bacterioplankton community composition along the salinity gradient of the Parker River estuary and Plum Island Sound, in northeastern Massachusetts, were related to residence time and bacterial community doubling time in spring, summer, and fall seasons. Bacterial community composition was characterized with denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) of PCR-amplified 16S ribosomal DNA. Average community doubling time was calculated from bacterial production ([(14)C]leucine incorporation) and bacterial abundance (direct counts). Freshwater and marine populations advected into the estuary represented a large fraction of the bacterioplankton community in all seasons. However, a unique estuarine community formed at intermediate salinities in summer and fall, when average doubling time was much shorter than water residence time, but not in spring, when doubling time was similar to residence time. Sequencing of DNA in DGGE bands demonstrated that most bands represented single phylotypes and that matching bands from different samples represented identical phylotypes. Most river and coastal ocean bacterioplankton were members of common freshwater and marine phylogenetic clusters within the phyla Proteobacteria, Bacteroidetes, and ACTINOBACTERIA: Estuarine bacterioplankton also belonged to these phyla but were related to clones and isolates from several different environments, including marine water columns, freshwater sediments, and soil.
Project description:Multicopy genes, like ribosomal RNA genes (rDNA), are widely used to describe and distinguish individuals. Despite concerted evolution that homogenizes a large number of rDNA gene copies, the presence of different gene variants within a genome has been reported. Characterization of an organism by defining every single variant of tens to thousands of rDNA repeat units present in a eukaryotic genome would be quite unreasonable. Here we provide an alternative approach for the characterization of a set of internal transcribed spacer sequences found within every rDNA repeat unit by implementing direct sequencing methodology. The prominent allelic variants and their relative amounts characterizing an individual can be described by a single sequencing electropherogram of the mixed amplicon containing the variants present within the genome. We propose a method for rational analysis of heterogeneity of multicopy genes by compiling a profile based on quantification of different sequence variants of the internal transcribed spacers of the freshwater sponge Ephydatia fluviatilis as an example. In addition to using conventional substitution analysis, we have developed a mathematical method, the proportion model method, to quantify the relative amounts of allelic variants of different length using data from direct sequencing of the heterogeneous amplicon. This method is based on determining the expected signal intensity values (corresponding to peak heights from the sequencing electropherogram) by sequencing clones from the same or highly similar amplicon and comparing hypothesized combinations against the values obtained by direct sequencing of the heterogeneous amplicon. This method allowed to differentiate between all specimens analysed.
Project description:Differences in salinity are boundaries that act as barriers for the dispersal of most aquatic organisms. This creates distinctive biota in freshwater and brackish water (mesohaline) environments. To test how saline boundaries influence the diversity and composition of host-associated microbiota, we analyzed the microbiome within the digestive tract of Theodoxus fluviatilis, an organism able to cross the freshwater and mesohaline boundary. Alpha-diversity measures of the microbiome in freshwater and brackish water were not significantly different. However, the composition of the bacterial community within freshwater T. fluviatilis differed significantly compared with mesohaline T. fluviatilis and typical bacteria could be determined for the freshwater and the mesohaline digestive tract microbiome. An artificial increase in salinity surrounding these freshwater snails resulted in a strong change in the bacterial community and typical marine bacteria became more pronounced in the digestive tract microbiome of freshwater T. fluviatilis. However, the composition of the digestive tract microbiome in freshwater snails did not converge to that found within mesohaline snails. Within mesohaline snails, no cardinal change was found after either an increase or decrease in salinity. In all samples, Pseudomonas, Pirellula, Flavobacterium, Limnohabitans, and Acinetobacter were among the most abundant bacteria. These bacterial genera were largely unaffected by changes in environmental conditions. As permanent residents in T. fluviatilis, they may support the digestion of the algal food in the digestive tract. Our results show that freshwater and mesohaline water host-associated microbiomes respond differently to changes in salinity. Therefore, the salinization of coastal freshwater environments due to a rise in sea level can influence the gut microbiome and its functions with currently unknown consequences for, e.g., nutritional physiology of the host.
Project description:The Baltic Sea is one of the largest brackish environments on Earth. Despite extensive knowledge about food web interactions and pelagic ecosystem functioning, information about the bacterial community composition in the Baltic Sea is scarce. We hypothesized that due to the eutrophic low-salinity environment and the long water residence time (>5 years), the bacterioplankton community from the Baltic proper shows a native "brackish" composition influenced by both freshwater and marine phylotypes. The bacterial community composition in surface water (3-m depth) was examined at a single station throughout a full year. Denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) showed that the community composition changed over the year. Further, it indicated that at the four extensive samplings (16S rRNA gene clone libraries and bacterial isolates from low- and high-nutrient agar plates and seawater cultures), different bacterial assemblages associated with different environmental conditions were present. Overall, the sequencing of 26 DGGE bands, 160 clones, 209 plate isolates, and 9 dilution culture isolates showed that the bacterial assemblage in surface waters of the central Baltic Sea was dominated by Bacteroidetes but exhibited a pronounced influence of typical freshwater phylogenetic groups within Actinobacteria, Verrucomicrobia, and Betaproteobacteria and a lack of typical marine taxa. This first comprehensive analysis of bacterial community composition in the central Baltic Sea points to the existence of an autochthonous estuarine community uniquely adapted to the environmental conditions prevailing in this brackish environment.
Project description:Nitrifying biofilters are used in aquaria and aquaculture systems to prevent accumulation of ammonia by promoting rapid conversion to nitrate via nitrite. Ammonia-oxidizing archaea (AOA), as opposed to ammonia-oxidizing bacteria (AOB), were recently identified as the dominant ammonia oxidizers in most freshwater aquaria. This study investigated biofilms from fixed-bed aquarium biofilters to assess the temporal and spatial dynamics of AOA and AOB abundance and diversity. Over a period of four months, ammonia-oxidizing microorganisms from six freshwater and one marine aquarium were investigated at 4-5 time points. Nitrogen balances for three freshwater aquaria showed that active nitrification by aquarium biofilters accounted for ? 81-86% of total nitrogen conversion in the aquaria. Quantitative PCR (qPCR) for bacterial and thaumarchaeal ammonia monooxygenase (amoA) genes demonstrated that AOA were numerically dominant over AOB in all six freshwater aquaria tested, and contributed all detectable amoA genes in three aquarium biofilters. In the marine aquarium, however, AOB outnumbered AOA by three to five orders of magnitude based on amoA gene abundances. A comparison of AOA abundance in three carrier materials (fine sponge, rough sponge and sintered glass or ceramic rings) of two three-media freshwater biofilters revealed preferential growth of AOA on fine sponge. Denaturing gel gradient electrophoresis (DGGE) of thaumarchaeal 16S rRNA genes indicated that community composition within a given biofilter was stable across media types. In addition, DGGE of all aquarium biofilters revealed low AOA diversity, with few bands, which were stable over time. Nonmetric multidimensional scaling (NMDS) based on denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) fingerprints of thaumarchaeal 16S rRNA genes placed freshwater and marine aquaria communities in separate clusters. These results indicate that AOA are the dominant ammonia-oxidizing microorganisms in freshwater aquarium biofilters, and that AOA community composition within a given aquarium is stable over time and across biofilter support material types.
Project description:BACKGROUND: The marine sponge Tethya wilhelma and the freshwater sponge Ephydatia muelleri are emerging model organisms to study evolution, gene regulation, development, and physiology in non-bilaterian animal systems. Thus far, functional methods (i.e., loss or gain of function) for these organisms have not been available. RESULTS: We show that soaking developing freshwater sponges in double-stranded RNA and/or feeding marine and freshwater sponges bacteria expressing double-stranded RNA can lead to RNA interference and reduction of targeted transcript levels. These methods, first utilized in C. elegans, have been adapted for the development and feeding style of easily cultured marine and freshwater poriferans. We demonstrate phenotypic changes result from 'knocking down' expression of the actin gene. CONCLUSION: This technique provides an easy, efficient loss-of-function manipulation for developmental and gene regulatory studies in these important non-bilaterian animals.
Project description:The main objective of this study was to assess the abundance and diversity of chitin-degrading microbial communities in ten terrestrial and aquatic habitats in order to provide guidance to the subsequent exploration of such environments for novel chitinolytic enzymes. A combined protocol which encompassed (1) classical overall enzymatic assays, (2) chiA gene abundance measurement by qPCR, (3) chiA gene pyrosequencing, and (4) chiA gene-based PCR-DGGE was used. The chiA gene pyrosequencing is unprecedented, as it is the first massive parallel sequencing of this gene. The data obtained showed the existence across habitats of core bacterial communities responsible for chitin assimilation irrespective of ecosystem origin. Conversely, there were habitat-specific differences. In addition, a suite of sequences were obtained that are as yet unregistered in the chitinase database. In terms of chiA gene abundance and diversity, typical low-abundance/diversity versus high-abundance/diversity habitats was distinguished. From the combined data, we selected chitin-amended agricultural soil, the rhizosphere of the Arctic plant Oxyria digyna and the freshwater sponge Ephydatia fluviatilis as the most promising habitats for subsequent bioexploration. Thus, the screening strategy used is proposed as a guide for further metagenomics-based exploration of the selected habitats.
Project description:Pseudomonas species are frequent inhabitants of freshwater environments and colonizers of water supply networks via bioadhesion and biofilm formation. P. aeruginosa is the species most commonly associated with human disease, causing a wide variety of infections with links to its presence in freshwater systems. Though several other Pseudomonas species are of ecological and public health importance, little knowledge exists regarding environmental abundances of these species. In the present study, an Illumina-based next-generation sequencing (NGS) approach using Pseudomonas-specific primers targeting the 16S rRNA gene was evaluated and applied to a set of freshwater samples from different environments including a cooling tower sampled monthly during 2 years. Our approach showed high in situ specificity and accuracy. NGS read counts revealed a precise quantification of P. aeruginosa and a good correlation with the absolute number of Pseudomonas genome copies in a validated genus-specific qPCR assay, demonstrating the ability of the NGS approach to determine both relative and absolute abundances of Pseudomonas species and P. aeruginosa. The characterization of Pseudomonas communities in cooling tower water allowed us to identify 43 phylotypes, with P. aeruginosa being the most abundant. A shift existed within each year from a community dominated by phylotypes belonging to P. fluorescens and P. oleovorans phylogenetic groups to a community where P. aeruginosa was highly abundant. Co-occurrence was observed between P. aeruginosa and other phylotypes of P. aeruginosa group as well as the potentially pathogenic species P. stutzeri, but not with phylotypes of the P. fluorescens group, indicating the need to further investigate the metabolic networks and ecological traits of Pseudomonas species. This study demonstrates the potential of deep sequencing as a valuable tool in environmental diagnostics and surveillance of health-related pathogens in freshwater environments.
Project description:Symbiotic relationships between microbes and plants are common and well studied in terrestrial ecosystems, but little is known about such relationships in aquatic environments. We compared the phylogenetic diversities of leaf- and root-attached bacteria from four species of aquatic angiosperms using denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) and DNA sequencing of PCR-amplified 16S rRNA genes. Plants were collected from three beds in Chesapeake Bay at sites characterized as freshwater (Vallisneria americana), brackish (Potomogeton perfoliatus and Stuckenia pectinata), and marine (Zostera marina). DGGE analyses showed that bacterial communities were very similar for replicate samples of leaves from canopy-forming plants S. pectinata and P. perfoliatus and less similar for replicate samples of leaves from meadow-forming plants Z. marina and V. americana and of roots of all species. In contrast, bacterial communities differed greatly among plant species and between leaves and roots. DNA sequencing identified 154 bacterial phylotypes, most of which were restricted to single plant species. However, 12 phylotypes were found on more than one plant species, and several of these phylotypes were abundant in clone libraries and represented the darkest bands in DGGE banding patterns. Root-attached phylotypes included relatives of sulfur-oxidizing Gammaproteobacteria and sulfate-reducing Deltaproteobacteria. Leaf-attached phylotypes included relatives of polymer-degrading Bacteroidetes and phototrophic Alphaproteobacteria. Also, leaves and roots of three plant species hosted relatives of methylotrophic Betaproteobacteria belonging to the family Methylophilaceae. These results suggest that aquatic angiosperms host specialized communities of bacteria on their surfaces, including several broadly distributed and potentially mutualistic bacterial populations.