Charles G Howes

University of British Columbia - Vancouver, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

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Publications (8)66.88 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Marine Group A (MGA) is a candidate phylum of Bacteria that is ubiquitous and abundant in the ocean. Despite being prevalent, the structural and functional properties of MGA populations remain poorly constrained. Here, we quantified MGA diversity and population structure in relation to nutrients and O(2) concentrations in the oxygen minimum zone (OMZ) of the Northeast subarctic Pacific Ocean using a combination of catalyzed reporter deposition fluorescence in situ hybridization (CARD-FISH) and 16S small subunit ribosomal RNA (16S rRNA) gene sequencing (clone libraries and 454-pyrotags). Estimates of MGA abundance as a proportion of total bacteria were similar across all three methods although estimates based on CARD-FISH were consistently lower in the OMZ (5.6%±1.9%) than estimates based on 16S rRNA gene clone libraries (11.0%±3.9%) or pyrotags (9.9%±1.8%). Five previously defined MGA subgroups were recovered in 16S rRNA gene clone libraries and five novel subgroups were defined (HF770D10, P262000D03, P41300E03, P262000N21 and A714018). Rarefaction analysis of pyrotag data indicated that the ultimate richness of MGA was very nearly sampled. Spearman's rank analysis of MGA abundances by CARD-FISH and O(2) concentrations resulted in significant correlation. Analyzed in more detail by 16S rRNA pyrotag sequencing, MGA operational taxonomic units affiliated with subgroups Arctic95A-2 and A714018 comprised 0.3-2.4% of total bacterial sequences and displayed strong correlations with decreasing O(2) concentration. This study is the first comprehensive description of MGA diversity using complementary techniques. These results provide a phylogenetic framework for interpreting future studies on ecotype selection among MGA subgroups, and suggest a potentially important role for MGA in the ecology and biogeochemistry of OMZs.The ISME Journal advance online publication, 15 November 2012; doi:10.1038/ismej.2012.108.
    The ISME Journal 11/2012; · 8.95 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Current tuberculosis treatment regimens are notoriously limited, lengthy and becoming increasingly ineffective due to the emergence of drug-resistant mutant strains of Mycobacterium tuberculosis. The intrinsic resistance of M. tuberculosis to the majority of available drugs relies both on the impermeability of its cell envelope, and its ability to activate specific genes and physiological states. WhiB7 is a transcriptional regulatory protein underlying this adaptive process. Transcription of the whiB7 gene is upregulated in response to a variety of antibiotics having different structures and targets, as well as in response to metabolic signals. The whiB7 regulon activates various systems of intrinsic drug resistance involving antibiotic export, antibiotic inactivation (by chemical modifications of the drug or its target) and significant changes to thiol redox balance. Drugs have been identified that inactivate resistance determinants in the whiB7 regulon, thereby potentiating the activities of diverse antibiotics against M. tuberculosis.
    Expert Review of Anticancer Therapy 09/2012; 10(9):1037-47. · 3.22 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Forest ecosystems have integral roles in climate stability, biodiversity and economic development. Soil stewardship is essential for sustainable forest management. Organic matter (OM) removal and soil compaction are key disturbances associated with forest harvesting, but their impacts on forest ecosystems are not well understood. Because microbiological processes regulate soil ecology and biogeochemistry, microbial community structure might serve as indicator of forest ecosystem status, revealing changes in nutrient and energy flow patterns before they have irreversible effects on long-term soil productivity. We applied massively parallel pyrosequencing of over 4.6 million ribosomal marker sequences to assess the impact of OM removal and soil compaction on bacterial and fungal communities in a field experiment replicated at six forest sites in British Columbia, Canada. More than a decade after harvesting, diversity and structure of soil bacterial and fungal communities remained significantly altered by harvesting disturbances, with individual taxonomic groups responding differentially to varied levels of the disturbances. Plant symbionts, like ectomycorrhizal fungi, and saprobic taxa, such as ascomycetes and actinomycetes, were among the most sensitive to harvesting disturbances. Given their significant ecological roles in forest development, the fate of these taxa might be critical for sustainability of forest ecosystems. Although abundant bacterial populations were ubiquitous, abundant fungal populations often revealed a patchy distribution, consistent with their higher sensitivity to the examined soil disturbances. These results establish a comprehensive inventory of bacterial and fungal community composition in northern coniferous forests and demonstrate the long-term response of their structure to key disturbances associated with forest harvesting.
    The ISME Journal 08/2012; · 8.95 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Reverse complementary DNA sequences – sequences that are inadvertently given backwards with all purines and pyrimidines transposed – can affect sequence analysis detrimentally unless taken into account. We present an open-source, high-throughput software tool –v-revcomp (http://www.cmde.science.ubc.ca/mohn/software.html) – to detect and reorient reverse complementary entries of the small-subunit rRNA (16S) gene from sequencing datasets, particularly from environmental sources. The software supports sequence lengths ranging from full length down to the short reads that are characteristic of next-generation sequencing technologies. We evaluated the reliability of v-revcomp by screening all 406 781 16S sequences deposited in release 102 of the curated SILVA database and demonstrated that the tool has a detection accuracy of virtually 100%. We subsequently used v-revcomp to analyse 1 171 646 16S sequences deposited in the International Nucleotide Sequence Databases and found that about 1% of these user-submitted sequences were reverse complementary. In addition, a nontrivial proportion of the entries were otherwise anomalous, including reverse complementary chimeras, sequences associated with wrong taxa, nonribosomal genes, sequences of poor quality or otherwise erroneous sequences without a reasonable match to any other entry in the database. Thus, v-revcomp is highly efficient in detecting and reorienting reverse complementary 16S sequences of almost any length and can be used to detect various sequence anomalies.
    FEMS Microbiology Letters 04/2011; 319(2):140 - 145. · 2.72 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: V-Xtractor (http://www.cmde.science.ubc.ca/mohn/software.html) uses Hidden Markov Models to locate, verify, and extract defined hypervariable sequence segments (V1-V9) from bacterial, archaeal, and fungal small-subunit rRNA sequences. With a detection efficiency of 99.6% and low susceptibility to false-positives, this tool refines data reliability and facilitates subsequent analysis in community assays.
    Journal of microbiological methods 11/2010; 83(2):250-3. · 2.43 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Oxygen minimum zones, also known as oceanic "dead zones," are widespread oceanographic features currently expanding because of global warming. Although inhospitable to metazoan life, they support a cryptic microbiota whose metabolic activities affect nutrient and trace gas cycling within the global ocean. Here, we report metagenomic analyses of a ubiquitous and abundant but uncultivated oxygen minimum zone microbe (SUP05) related to chemoautotrophic gill symbionts of deep-sea clams and mussels. The SUP05 metagenome harbors a versatile repertoire of genes mediating autotrophic carbon assimilation, sulfur oxidation, and nitrate respiration responsive to a wide range of water-column redox states. Our analysis provides a genomic foundation for understanding the ecological and biogeochemical role of pelagic SUP05 in oxygen-deficient oceanic waters and its potential sensitivity to environmental changes.
    Science 10/2009; 326(5952):578-82. · 31.48 Impact Factor
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    Charles G Howes, Leonard J Foster
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    ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: Technological advances in mass spectrometry and other detection methods are leading to larger and larger proteomics datasets. However, when papers describing such information are published the enormous volume of data can typically only be provided as supplementary data in a tabular form through the journal website. Several journals in the proteomics field, together with the Human Proteome Organization's (HUPO) Proteomics Standards Initiative and institutions such as the Institute for Systems Biology are working towards standardizing the reporting of proteomics data, but just defining standards is only a means towards an end for sharing data. Data repositories such as ProteomeCommons.org and the Open Proteomics Database allow for public access to proteomics data but provide little, if any, interpretation. RESULTS & CONCLUSION: Here we describe PrestOMIC, an open source application for storing mass spectrometry-based proteomic data in a relational database and for providing a user-friendly, searchable and customizable browser interface to share one's data with the scientific community. The underlying database and all associated applications are built on other existing open source tools, allowing PrestOMIC to be modified as the data standards evolve. We then use PrestOMIC to present a recently published dataset from our group through our website.
    Proteome Science 01/2007; 5:8. · 1.88 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The honeybee, Apis mellifera, is an invaluable partner in agriculture around the world both for its production of honey and, more importantly, for its role in pollination. Honeybees are largely unexplored at the molecular level despite a long and distinguished career as a model organism for understanding social behavior. Like other eusocial insects, honeybees can be divided into several castes: the queen (fertile female), workers (sterile females), and drones (males). Each caste has different energetic and metabolic requirements, and each differs in its susceptibility to pathogens, many of which have evolved to take advantage of the close social network inside a colony. Hemolymph, arthropods' equivalent to blood, distributes nutrients throughout the bee, and the immune components contained within it form one of the primary lines of defense against invading microorganisms. In this study we have applied qualitative and quantitative proteomics to gain a better understanding of honeybee hemolymph and how it varies among the castes and during development. We found large differences in hemolymph protein composition, especially between larval and adult stage bees and between male and female castes but even between adult workers and queens. We also provide experimental evidence for the expression of several unannotated honeybee genes and for the detection of biomarkers of a viral infection. Our data provide an initial molecular picture of honeybee hemolymph, to a greater depth than previous studies in other insects, and will pave the way for future biochemical studies of innate immunity in this animal.
    Molecular &amp Cellular Proteomics 01/2007; 5(12):2252-62. · 7.25 Impact Factor