School of Geography, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences - Research Publications

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    Strainer: software for analysis of population variation in community genomic datasets
    Eppley, JM ; Tyson, GW ; Getz, WM ; Banfield, JF (BMC, 2007-10-17)
    BACKGROUND: Metagenomic analyses of microbial communities that are comprehensive enough to provide multiple samples of most loci in the genomes of the dominant organism types will also reveal patterns of genetic variation within natural populations. New bioinformatic tools will enable visualization and comprehensive analysis of this sequence variation and inference of recent evolutionary and ecological processes. RESULTS: We have developed a software package for analysis and visualization of genetic variation in populations and reconstruction of strain variants from otherwise co-assembled sequences. Sequencing reads can be clustered by matching patterns of single nucleotide polymorphisms to generate predicted gene and protein variant sequences, identify conserved intergenic regulatory sequences, and determine the quantity and distribution of recombination events. CONCLUSION: The Strainer software, a first generation metagenomic bioinformatics tool, facilitates comprehension and analysis of heterogeneity intrinsic in natural communities. The program reveals the degree of clustering among closely related sequence variants and provides a rapid means to generate gene and protein sequences for functional, ecological, and evolutionary analyses.
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    Population genomic analysis of strain variation in Leptospirillum group II bacteria involved in acid mine drainage formation
    Simmons, SL ; DiBartolo, G ; Denef, VJ ; Goltsman, DSA ; Thelen, MP ; Banfield, JF ; Eisen, JA (PUBLIC LIBRARY SCIENCE, 2008-07-01)
    Deeply sampled community genomic (metagenomic) datasets enable comprehensive analysis of heterogeneity in natural microbial populations. In this study, we used sequence data obtained from the dominant member of a low-diversity natural chemoautotrophic microbial community to determine how coexisting closely related individuals differ from each other in terms of gene sequence and gene content, and to uncover evidence of evolutionary processes that occur over short timescales. DNA sequence obtained from an acid mine drainage biofilm was reconstructed, taking into account the effects of strain variation, to generate a nearly complete genome tiling path for a Leptospirillum group II species closely related to L. ferriphilum (sampling depth approximately 20x). The population is dominated by one sequence type, yet we detected evidence for relatively abundant variants (>99.5% sequence identity to the dominant type) at multiple loci, and a few rare variants. Blocks of other Leptospirillum group II types ( approximately 94% sequence identity) have recombined into one or more variants. Variant blocks of both types are more numerous near the origin of replication. Heterogeneity in genetic potential within the population arises from localized variation in gene content, typically focused in integrated plasmid/phage-like regions. Some laterally transferred gene blocks encode physiologically important genes, including quorum-sensing genes of the LuxIR system. Overall, results suggest inter- and intrapopulation genetic exchange involving distinct parental genome types and implicate gain and loss of phage and plasmid genes in recent evolution of this Leptospirillum group II population. Population genetic analyses of single nucleotide polymorphisms indicate variation between closely related strains is not maintained by positive selection, suggesting that these regions do not represent adaptive differences between strains. Thus, the most likely explanation for the observed patterns of polymorphism is divergence of ancestral strains due to geographic isolation, followed by mixing and subsequent recombination.
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    Community-wide analysis of microbial genome sequence signatures
    Dick, GJ ; Andersson, AF ; Baker, BJ ; Simmons, SL ; Yelton, AP ; Banfield, JF (BMC, 2009-01-01)
    BACKGROUND: Analyses of DNA sequences from cultivated microorganisms have revealed genome-wide, taxa-specific nucleotide compositional characteristics, referred to as genome signatures. These signatures have far-reaching implications for understanding genome evolution and potential application in classification of metagenomic sequence fragments. However, little is known regarding the distribution of genome signatures in natural microbial communities or the extent to which environmental factors shape them. RESULTS: We analyzed metagenomic sequence data from two acidophilic biofilm communities, including composite genomes reconstructed for nine archaea, three bacteria, and numerous associated viruses, as well as thousands of unassigned fragments from strain variants and low-abundance organisms. Genome signatures, in the form of tetranucleotide frequencies analyzed by emergent self-organizing maps, segregated sequences from all known populations sharing < 50 to 60% average amino acid identity and revealed previously unknown genomic clusters corresponding to low-abundance organisms and a putative plasmid. Signatures were pervasive genome-wide. Clusters were resolved because intra-genome differences resulting from translational selection or protein adaptation to the intracellular (pH approximately 5) versus extracellular (pH approximately 1) environment were small relative to inter-genome differences. We found that these genome signatures stem from multiple influences but are primarily manifested through codon composition, which we propose is the result of genome-specific mutational biases. CONCLUSIONS: An important conclusion is that shared environmental pressures and interactions among coevolving organisms do not obscure genome signatures in acid mine drainage communities. Thus, genome signatures can be used to assign sequence fragments to populations, an essential prerequisite if metagenomics is to provide ecological and biochemical insights into the functioning of microbial communities.
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    The dynamic genetic repertoire of microbial communities
    Wilmes, P ; Simmons, SL ; Denef, VJ ; Banfield, JF (OXFORD UNIV PRESS, 2009-01-01)
    Community genomic data have revealed multiple levels of variation between and within microbial consortia. This variation includes large-scale differences in gene content between ecosystems as well as within-population sequence heterogeneity. In the present review, we focus specifically on how fine-scale variation within microbial and viral populations is apparent from community genomic data. A major unresolved question is how much of the observed variation is due to neutral vs. adaptive processes. Limited experimental data hint that some of this fine-scale variation may be in part functionally relevant, whereas sequence-based and modeling analyses suggest that much of it may be neutral. While methods for interpreting population genomic data are still in their infancy, we discuss current interpretations of existing datasets in the light of evolutionary processes and models. Finally, we highlight the importance of virus-host dynamics in generating and shaping within-population diversity.