Tangled bank of experimentally evolved Burkholderia biofilms reflects selection during chronic infections

Department of Molecular, Cellular, and Biomedical Sciences, University of New Hampshire, Durham, NH 03824.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (Impact Factor: 9.81). 12/2012; 110(3). DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1207025110
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT How diversity evolves and persists in biofilms is essential for understanding much of microbial life, including the uncertain dynamics of chronic infections. We developed a biofilm model enabling long-term selection for daily adherence to and dispersal from a plastic bead in a test tube. Focusing on a pathogen of the cystic fibrosis lung, Burkholderia cenocepacia, we sequenced clones and metagenomes to unravel the mutations and evolutionary forces responsible for adaptation and diversification of a single biofilm community during 1,050 generations of selection. The mutational patterns revealed recurrent evolution of biofilm specialists from generalist types and multiple adaptive alleles at relatively few loci. Fitness assays also demonstrated strong interference competition among contending mutants that preserved genetic diversity. Metagenomes from five other independently evolved biofilm lineages revealed extraordinary mutational parallelism that outlined common routes of adaptation, a subset of which was found, surprisingly, in a planktonic population. These mutations in turn were surprisingly well represented among mutations that evolved in cystic fibrosis isolates of both Burkholderia and Pseudomonas. These convergent pathways included altered metabolism of cyclic diguanosine monophosphate, polysaccharide production, tricarboxylic acid cycle enzymes, global transcription, and iron scavenging. Evolution in chronic infections therefore may be driven by mutations in relatively few pathways also favored during laboratory selection, creating hope that experimental evolution may illuminate the ecology and selective dynamics of chronic infections and improve treatment strategies.

1 Follower
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Multicellularity is one of the most prevalent evolutionary innovations and nowhere is this more apparent than in the bacterial world, which contains many examples of multicellular organisms in a surprising array of forms. Due to their experimental accessibility and the large and diverse genomic data available, bacteria enable us to probe fundamental aspects of the origins of multicellularity. Here we discuss examples of multicellular behaviors in bacteria, the selective pressures that may have led to their evolution, possible origins and intermediate stages, and whether the ubiquity of apparently convergent multicellular forms argues for its inevitability. Copyright © 2015. Published by Elsevier Ltd.
    Current Opinion in Microbiology 04/2015; 24. DOI:10.1016/j.mib.2014.12.007 · 7.22 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: New mutations leading to structural variation (SV) in genomes-in the form of mobile element insertions, large deletions, gene duplications, and other chromosomal rearrangements-can play a key role in microbial evolution. Yet, SV is considerably more difficult to predict from short-read genome resequencing data than single-nucleotide substitutions and indels (SN), so it is not yet routinely identified in studies that profile population-level genetic diversity over time in evolution experiments. We implemented an algorithm for detecting polymorphic SV as part of the breseq computational pipeline. This procedure examines split-read alignments, in which the two ends of a single sequencing read match disjoint locations in the reference genome, in order to detect structural variants and estimate their frequencies within a sample. We tested our algorithm using simulated Escherichia coli data and then applied it to 500- and 1000-generation population samples from the Lenski E. coli long-term evolution experiment (LTEE). Knowledge of genes that are targets of selection in the LTEE and mutations present in previously analyzed clonal isolates allowed us to evaluate the accuracy of our procedure. Overall, SV accounted for ~25% of the genetic diversity found in these samples. By profiling rare SV, we were able to identify many cases where alternative mutations in key genes transiently competed within a single population. We also found, unexpectedly, that mutations in two genes that rose to prominence at these early time points always went extinct in the long term. Because it is not limited by the base-calling error rate of the sequencing technology, our approach for identifying rare SV in whole-population samples may have a lower detection limit than similar predictions of SNs in these data sets. We anticipate that this functionality of breseq will be useful for providing a more complete picture of genome dynamics during evolution experiments with haploid microorganisms.
    Frontiers in Genetics 01/2014; 5:468. DOI:10.3389/fgene.2014.00468
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Experimental evolution paired with modern sequencing can be a powerful approach to identify the mechanisms by which bacteria adapt to discrete environmental conditions found in nature or during infections. We used this approach to identify mechanisms enabling biofilm specialists of the opportunistic respiratory pathogen Burkholderia cenocepacia to regain planktonic fitness. Seven mutants producing wrinkly (W) small-colony variants by mutations in the wrinkly-spreader operon (wsp) cluster, but with varying duration of biofilm adaptation, served as ancestors of this experiment. Following planktonic growth, each W ancestor produced smooth (S) mutants with distinct fitness effects across planktonic, biofilm, and dispersal-phase environments. The causes of the S phenotype traced to mutations in three gene clusters: wsp, Bcen2424_1436, an uncharacterized two-component transcriptional regulator which appears to be critical for wsp signaling, and a cohort of genes involved in polysaccharide synthesis. The genetic pathway from W to S also associated with evolutionary history in the biofilm environment. W mutants isolated from long-term biofilm selection usually produced S types via secondary wsp mutations, whereas S types evolved from less adapted W ancestors by a wider scope of mutations. These different genetic pathways to suppress the W phenotype suggest that prolonged biofilm adaptation limits routes to subsequent planktonic adaptation, despite common initial mechanisms of biofilm adaptation. More generally, experimental evolution can be used as a nuanced screen for gain-of-function mutations in multiple conditions that illustrate tensions that bacteria may face in changing environments or hosts.
    Frontiers in Genetics 02/2015; 6:18. DOI:10.3389/fgene.2015.00018


Available from
May 22, 2014