CRISPR (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats)-Cas (CRISPR-associated) systems in bacteria and archaea employ CRISPR RNAs to specifically recognize the complementary DNA of foreign invaders, leading to sequence-specific cleavage or degradation of the target DNA. Recent work has shown that the accidental or intentional targeting of the bacterial genome is cytotoxic and can lead to cell death. Here, we have demonstrated that genome targeting with CRISPR-Cas systems can be employed for the sequence-specific and titratable removal of individual bacterial strains and species. Using the type I-E CRISPR-Cas system in Escherichia coli as a model, we found that this effect could be elicited using native or imported systems and was similarly potent regardless of the genomic location, strand, or transcriptional activity of the target sequence. Furthermore, the specificity of targeting with CRISPR RNAs could readily distinguish between even highly similar strains in pure or mixed cultures. Finally, varying the collection of delivered CRISPR RNAs could quantitatively control the relative number of individual strains within a mixed culture. Critically, the observed selectivity and programmability of bacterial removal would be virtually impossible with traditional antibiotics, bacteriophages, selectable markers, or tailored growth conditions. Once delivery challenges are addressed, we envision that this approach could offer a novel means to quantitatively control the composition of environmental and industrial microbial consortia and may open new avenues for the development of “smart” antibiotics that circumvent multidrug resistance and differentiate between pathogenic and beneficial microorganisms.
Genome duplication with hybridization, or allopolyploidization, occurs commonly in plants, and is considered to be a strong force for generating new species. However, genome-wide quantification of homeolog expression ratios was technically hindered because of the high homology between homeologous gene pairs. To quantify the homeolog expression ratio using RNA-seq obtained from polyploids, a new method named HomeoRoq was developed, in which the genomic origin of sequencing reads was estimated using mismatches between the read and each parental genome. To verify this method, we first assembled the two diploid parental genomes of Arabidopsis halleri subsp. gemmifera andArabidopsis lyrata subsp. petraea (Arabidopsis petraea subsp. umbrosa), then generated a synthetic allotetraploid, mimicking the natural allopolyploid Arabidopsis kamchatica. The quantified ratios corresponded well to those obtained by Pyrosequencing. We found that the ratios of homeologs before and after cold stress treatment were highly correlated (r = 0.870). This highlights the presence of nonstochastic polyploid gene regulation despite previous research identifying stochastic variation in expression. Moreover, our new statistical test incorporating overdispersion identified 226 homeologs (1.11% of 20 369 expressed homeologs) with significant ratio changes, many of which were related to stress responses. HomeoRoq would contribute to the study of the genes responsible for polyploid-specific environmental responses.
Instead of taking prescription pills to treat their ailments, patients may one day opt for genetic 'surgery' — using an innovative gene-editing technology to snip out harmful mutations and swap in healthy DNA. The system, called CRISPR (Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats), has exploded in popularity in the past year, with genetic engineers, neuroscientists and even plant biologists viewing it as a highly efficient and precise research tool. Now, the gene-editing system has spun out a biotechnology company that is attracting attention from investors as well.
The popular MAKER annotation pipeline has been extended and optimised to allow the annotation of plant species:
Sequencing diverse plant species of evolutionary, agricultural, and medicinal interest is becoming routine for even small groups; genome annotation and analysis is much less so. The MAKER-P pipeline is designed to make the annotation of novel plant genomes tractable for small groups with limited bioinformatics experience and resources, and faster and more transparent for large groups with more experience and resources. The MAKER-P pipeline generates species-specific repeat libraries, as well as structural annotations of protein coding genes, non-coding RNAs, and pseudogenes.
Genetic control of branching is a primary determinant of yield, regulating seed number and harvesting ability, yet little is known about the molecular networks that shape grain-bearing inflorescences of cereal crops. Here, we used the maize (Zea mays) inflorescence to investigate gene networks that modulate determinacy, specifically the decision to allow branch growth. We characterized developmental transitions by associating spatiotemporal expression profiles with morphological changes resulting from genetic perturbations that disrupt steps in a pathway controlling branching. Developmental dynamics of genes targeted in vivo by the transcription factor RAMOSA1, a key regulator of determinacy, revealed potential mechanisms for repressing branches in distinct stem cell populations, including interactions with KNOTTED1, a master regulator of stem cell maintenance. Our results uncover discrete developmental modules that function in determining grass-specific morphology and provide a basis for targeted crop improvement and translation to other cereal crops with comparable inflorescence architectures.
This webinar is the second in a two part series on high throughput field phenotyping. This presentation describes how to handle data generated by a field-based sensor array. The video was recorded live as a webinar October 31, 2013.
We spend the majority of our lives indoors where we are constantly exposed to bacteria residing on surfaces. However, the diversity of these surface-associated communities is largely unknown. We explored the biogeographical patterns exhibited by bacteria across ten surfaces within each of twelve public restrooms. Using high-throughput barcoded pyrosequencing of the 16 S rRNA gene, we identified 19 bacterial phyla across all surfaces. Most sequences belonged to four phyla: Actinobacteria, Bacteriodetes, Firmicutes and Proteobacteria. The communities clustered into three general categories: those found on surfaces associated with toilets, those on the restroom floor, and those found on surfaces routinely touched with hands. On toilet surfaces, gut-associated taxa were more prevalent, suggesting fecal contamination of these surfaces. Floor surfaces were the most diverse of all communities and contained several taxa commonly found in soils. Skin-associated bacteria, especially the Propionibacteriaceae, dominated surfaces routinely touched with our hands. Certain taxa were more common in female than in male restrooms as vagina-associated Lactobacillaceae were widely distributed in female restrooms, likely from urine contamination. Use of the SourceTracker algorithm confirmed many of our taxonomic observations as human skin was the primary source of bacteria on restroom surfaces. Overall, these results demonstrate that restroom surfaces host relatively diverse microbial communities dominated by human-associated bacteria with clear linkages between communities on or in different body sites and those communities found on restroom surfaces. More generally, this work is relevant to the public health field as we show that human-associated microbes are commonly found on restroom surfaces suggesting that bacterial pathogens could readily be transmitted between individuals by the touching of surfaces. Furthermore, we demonstrate that we can use high-throughput analyses of bacterial communities to determine sources of bacteria on indoor surfaces, an approach which could be used to track pathogen transmission and test the efficacy of hygiene practices.
We have optimized and extended the widely used annotation engine MAKER in order to better support plant genome annotation efforts. New features include better parallelization for large repeat-rich plant genomes, noncoding RNA annotation capabilities, and support for pseudogene identification. We have benchmarked the resulting software tool kit, MAKER-P, using the Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana) and maize (Zea mays) genomes. Here, we demonstrate the ability of the MAKER-P tool kit to automatically update, extend, and revise the Arabidopsis annotations in light of newly available data and to annotate pseudogenes and noncoding RNAs absent from The Arabidopsis Informatics Resource 10 build. Our results demonstrate that MAKER-P can be used to manage and improve the annotations of even Arabidopsis, perhaps the best-annotated plant genome. We have also installed and benchmarked MAKER-P on the Texas Advanced Computing Center. We show that this public resource can de novo annotate the entire Arabidopsis and maize genomes in less than 3 h and produce annotations of comparable quality to those of the current The Arabidopsis Information Resource 10 and maize V2 annotation builds.
PLOS Biology is an open-access, peer-reviewed journal that features works of exceptional significance in all areas of biological science, from molecules to ecosystems, including works at the interface with other disciplines.
Customized DNA-binding domains made using transcription activator-like effector (TALE) repeats are rapidly growing in importance as widely applicable research tools. TALE nucleases (TALENs), composed of an engineered array of TALE repeats fused to the FokI nuclease domain, have been used successfully for directed genome editing in various organisms and cell types. TALE transcription factors (TALE-TFs), consisting of engineered TALE repeat arrays linked to a transcriptional regulatory domain, have been used to up- or downregulate expression of endogenous genes in human cells and plants. This unit describes a detailed protocol for the recently described fast ligation-based automatable solid-phase high-throughput (FLASH) assembly method. FLASH enables automated high-throughput construction of engineered TALE repeats using an automated liquid handling robot or manually using a multichannel pipet. Using the automated approach, a single researcher can construct up to 96 DNA fragments encoding TALE repeat arrays of various lengths in a single day, and then clone these to construct sequence-verified TALEN or TALE-TF expression plasmids in a week or less. Plasmids required for FLASH are available by request from the Joung lab (http://eGenome.org). This unit also describes improvements to the Zinc Finger and TALE Targeter (ZiFiT Targeter) web server (http://ZiFiT.partners.org) that facilitate the design and construction of FLASH TALE repeat arrays in high throughput.
Knowledge of the exact distribution of meiotic crossovers (COs) and gene conversions (GCs) is essential for understanding many aspects of population genetics and evolution, from haplotype structure and long-distance genetic linkage to the generation of new allelic variants of genes. To this end, we resequenced the four products of 13 meiotic tetrads along with 10 doubled haploids derived from Arabidopsis thaliana hybrids. GC detection through short reads has previously been confounded by genomic rearrangements. Rigid filtering for misaligned reads allowed GC identification at high accuracy and revealed an ∼80-kb transposition, which undergoes copy-number changes mediated by meiotic recombination. Non-crossover associated GCs were extremely rare most likely due to their short average length of ∼25–50 bp, which is significantly shorter than the length of CO-associated GCs. Overall, recombination preferentially targeted non-methylated nucleosome-free regions at gene promoters, which showed significant enrichment of two sequence motifs.
The bacterial endophytic microbiome promotes plant growth and health and beneficial effects are in many cases mediated and characterized by metabolic interactions. Recent advances have been made in regard to metabolite production by plant microsymbionts showing that they may produce a range of different types of metabolites. These substances play a role in defense and competition, but may also be needed for specific interaction and communication with the plant host. Furthermore, few examples of bilateral metabolite production are known and endophytes may modulate plant metabolite synthesis as well. We have just started to understand such metabolic interactions between plants and endophytes, however, further research is needed to more efficiently make use of beneficial plant-microbe interactions and to reduce pathogen infestation as well as to reveal novel bioactive substances of commercial interest.
In a claim sharply challenged as overhyped, University of Washington scientists say they have discovered a second code hiding within DNA that could change how we read the instructions contained in DNA that help us make sense of health and disease.
Saber Miresmailli, Murray B. Isman. • Chemical defense is not the only type of defense that plants use for protection. • Botanical pesticides are not directly comparable to synthetic pesticides. • L....