Roy D Welch

Syracuse University, Syracuse, New York, United States

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Publications (25)152 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: When starved, a swarm of millions of Myxococcus xanthus cells coordinate their movement from outward swarming to inward coalescence. The cells then execute a synchronous program of multicellular development, arranging themselves into dome shaped aggregates. Over the course of development, about half of the initial aggregates disappear, while others persist and mature into fruiting bodies. This work seeks to develop a quantitative model for aggregation that accurately simulates which will disappear and which will persist. We analyzed time-lapse movies of M. xanthus development, modeled aggregation using the equations that describe Ostwald ripening of droplets in thin liquid films, and predicted the disappearance and persistence of aggregates with an average accuracy of 85%. We then experimentally validated a prediction that is fundamental to this model by tracking individual fluorescent cells as they moved between aggregates and demonstrating that cell movement towards and away from aggregates correlates with aggregate disappearance. Describing development through this model may limit the number and type of molecular genetic signals needed to complete M. xanthus development, and it provides numerous additional testable predictions.
    Scientific Reports 09/2014; · 5.08 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Information about a gene sometimes can be deduced by examining the impact of its mutation on phenotype. However, the genome-scale utility of the method is limited because, for nearly all model organisms, the majority of mutations result in little or no observable phenotypic impact. The cause of this is often attributed to robustness or redundancy within the genome, but that is only one plausible hypothesis. We examined a standard set of phenotypic traits, and applied statistical methods commonly used in the study of natural variants to an engineered mutant strain collection representing disruptions in 180 of the 192 ABC transporters within the bacterium Myxococcus xanthus. These strains display continuous variation in their phenotypic distributions, with a small number of "outlier" strains at both phenotypic extremes, and the majority within a confidence interval about the mean that always includes wild type. Correlation analysis reveals substantial pleiotropy, indicating that the traits do not represent independent variables. The traits measured in this study co-cluster with expression profiles, thereby demonstrating that these changes in phenotype correspond to changes at the molecular level, and therefore can be indirectly connected to changes in the genome. However, the continuous distributions, the pleiotropy, and the placement of wild type always within the confidence interval all indicate that this standard set of M. xanthus phenotypic assays is measuring a narrow range of partially overlapping traits that do not directly reflect fitness. This is likely a significant cause of the observed small phenotypic impact from mutation, and is unrelated to robustness and redundancy.
    Frontiers in microbiology. 01/2014; 5:352.
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    ABSTRACT: One of the first activities of the Soot program analysis framework is to load the classes for analysis. With the current class loader, more classes are loaded than necessary. The overhead in memory of these classes can make whole-program analysis of large binaries infeasible on systems with limited memory. This paper describes new algorithms and data structures to efficiently load Java Bytecode classes for whole program analysis in Soot. Our method uses a modified version of Rapid Type Analysis (RTA) to determine what classes, methods and fields would be reachable during program execution. This enables us to load significantly less information in memory to enable program analyses. We implemented our approach for loading Java bytecode in the Soot-based Rootbeer compiler. The new class loader loaded a Scene that had 58% to 64% less classes, representing memory savings of 44% to 82%.
    Proceedings of the 2nd ACM SIGPLAN International Workshop on State Of the Art in Java Program analysis; 06/2013
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    Aaron D Skewes, Roy D Welch
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    ABSTRACT: The arrangement of nucleotides within a bacterial chromosome is influenced by numerous factors. The degeneracy of the third codon within each reading frame allows some flexibility of nucleotide selection; however, the third nucleotide in the triplet of each codon is at least partly determined by the preceding two. This is most evident in organisms with a strong G + C bias, as the degenerate codon must contribute disproportionately to maintaining that bias. Therefore, a correlation exists between the first two nucleotides and the third in all open reading frames. If the arrangement of nucleotides in a bacterial chromosome is represented as a Markov process, we would expect that the correlation would be completely captured by a second-order Markov model and an increase in the order of the model (e.g., third-, fourth-…order) would not capture any additional uncertainty in the process. In this manuscript, we present the results of a comprehensive study of the Markov property that exists in the DNA sequences of 906 bacterial chromosomes. All of the 906 bacterial chromosomes studied exhibit a statistically significant Markov property that extends beyond second-order, and therefore cannot be fully explained by codon usage. An unrooted tree containing all 906 bacterial chromosomes based on their transition probability matrices of third-order shares ∼25% similarity to a tree based on sequence homologies of 16S rRNA sequences. This congruence to the 16S rRNA tree is greater than for trees based on lower-order models (e.g., second-order), and higher-order models result in diminishing improvements in congruence. A nucleotide correlation most likely exists within every bacterial chromosome that extends past three nucleotides. This correlation places significant limits on the number of nucleotide sequences that can represent probable bacterial chromosomes. Transition matrix usage is largely conserved by taxa, indicating that this property is likely inherited, however some important exceptions exist that may indicate the convergent evolution of some bacteria.
    PeerJ. 01/2013; 1:e127.
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    ABSTRACT: Two groups independently sequenced the Agrobacterium tumefaciens C58 genome in 2001. We report here consolidation of these sequences, updated annotation, and additional analysis of the evolutionary history of the linear chromosome, which is apparently limited to the biovar I group of Agrobacterium.
    Applied and Environmental Microbiology 12/2012; · 3.95 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The Clp/Hsp100 proteins are chaperones that play a role in protein degradation and reactivation. In bacteria, they exhibit a high degree of pleiotropy, affecting both individual and multicellular phenotypes. In this article, we present the first characterization of a Clp/Hsp100 homolog in Myxococcus xanthus (MXAN_4832 gene locus). Deletion of MXAN_4832 causes defects in both swarming and aggregation related to cell motility and the production of fibrils, which are an important component of the extracellular matrix of a swarm. The deletion also affects the formation of myxospores during development, causing them to become sensitive to heat. The protein product of MXAN_4832 can act as a chaperone in vitro, providing biochemical evidence in support of our hypothesis that MXAN_4832 is a functional Clp/Hsp100 homolog. There are a total of 12 Clp/Hsp100 homologs in M. xanthus, including MXAN_4832, and, based on its mutational and biochemical characterization, they may well represent an important group.
    Journal of bacteriology 01/2012; 194(7):1689-96. · 3.94 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: When converting a serial program to a parallel program that can run on a Graphics Processing Unit (GPU) the developer must choose what functions will run on the GPU. For each function the developer chooses, he or she needs to manually write code to: (1) serialize state to GPU memory, (2) define the kernel code that the GPU will execute, (3) control the kernel launch and (4) deserialize state back to CPU memory. Rootbeer is a project that allows developers to simply write code in Java and the (de)serialization, kernel code generation and kernel launch is done automatically. This is in contrast to Java language bindings for CUDA or OpenCL where the developer still has to do these things manually. Rootbeer supports all features of the Java Programming Language except dynamic method invocation, reflection and native methods. The features that are supported are: (1) single and multi-dimensional arrays of primitive and reference types, (2) composite objects, (3) instance and static fields, (4) dynamic memory allocation, (5) inner classes, (6) synchronized methods and monitors, (7) strings and (8) exceptions that are thrown or caught on the GPU. Rootbeer is the most full-featured tool to enable GPU computing from within Java to date. Rootbeer is highly tested. We have 21k lines of product code and 6.5k lines of test cases that all pass on both Windows and Linux. We have created 3 performance example applications with results ranging from 3X slow-downs to 100X speed-ups. Rootbeer is free and open-source software licensed under the GNU General Public License version 3 (GPLv3).
    High Performance Computing and Communication & 2012 IEEE 9th International Conference on Embedded Software and Systems (HPCC-ICESS), 2012 IEEE 14th International Conference on; 01/2012
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    ABSTRACT: Xanthusbase (http://www.xanthusbase.org), a model organism database for the bacterium Myxococcus xanthus, functions as a collaborative information repository based on Wikipedia principles. It was created more than 5 years ago to serve as a cost-effective reference database for M. xanthus researchers, an education tool for undergraduate students to learn about genome annotation, and a means for the community of researchers to collaboratively improve their organism's annotation. We have achieved several goals and are seeking creative solutions to ongoing challenges. Along the way we have made several important improvements to Xanthusbase related to stability, security and usability. Most importantly, we have designed and implemented an installer that enables other microbial model organism communities to use it as a MOD. This version, called Openmods, has already been used to create Xenorhabdusbase (http://xenorhabdusbase.bact.wisc.edu), Caulobacterbase (http://caulobacterbase.bsd.uchicago.edu) and soon Bdellovibriobase.
    Nucleic Acids Research 11/2011; 40(Database issue):D1288-94. · 8.81 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Under starvation conditions, a swarm of Myxococcus xanthus cells will undergo development, a multicellular process culminating in the formation of many aggregates called fruiting bodies, each of which contains up to 100,000 spores. The mechanics of symmetry breaking and the self-organization of cells into fruiting bodies is an active area of research. Here we use microcinematography and automated image processing to quantify several transient features of developmental dynamics. An analysis of experimental data indicates that aggregation reaches its steady state in a highly nonmonotonic fashion. The number of aggregates rapidly peaks at a value 2- to 3-fold higher than the final value and then decreases before reaching a steady state. The time dependence of aggregate size is also nonmonotonic, but to a lesser extent: average aggregate size increases from the onset of aggregation to between 10 and 15 h and then gradually decreases thereafter. During this process, the distribution of aggregates transitions from a nearly random state early in development to a more ordered state later in development. A comparison of experimental results to a mathematical model based on the traffic jam hypothesis indicates that the model fails to reproduce these dynamic features of aggregation, even though it accurately describes its final outcome. The dynamic features of M. xanthus aggregation uncovered in this study impose severe constraints on its underlying mechanisms.
    Journal of bacteriology 07/2011; 193(19):5164-70. · 3.94 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Members of the genus Xenorhabdus are entomopathogenic bacteria that associate with nematodes. The nematode-bacteria pair infects and kills insects, with both partners contributing to insect pathogenesis and the bacteria providing nutrition to the nematode from available insect-derived nutrients. The nematode provides the bacteria with protection from predators, access to nutrients, and a mechanism of dispersal. Members of the bacterial genus Photorhabdus also associate with nematodes to kill insects, and both genera of bacteria provide similar services to their different nematode hosts through unique physiological and metabolic mechanisms. We posited that these differences would be reflected in their respective genomes. To test this, we sequenced to completion the genomes of Xenorhabdus nematophila ATCC 19061 and Xenorhabdus bovienii SS-2004. As expected, both Xenorhabdus genomes encode many anti-insecticidal compounds, commensurate with their entomopathogenic lifestyle. Despite the similarities in lifestyle between Xenorhabdus and Photorhabdus bacteria, a comparative analysis of the Xenorhabdus, Photorhabdus luminescens, and P. asymbiotica genomes suggests genomic divergence. These findings indicate that evolutionary changes shaped by symbiotic interactions can follow different routes to achieve similar end points.
    PLoS ONE 01/2011; 6(11):e27909. · 3.53 Impact Factor
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    Rion G Taylor, Roy D Welch
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    ABSTRACT: A swarm of the delta-proteobacterium Myxococcus xanthus contains millions of cells that act as a collective, coordinating movement through a series of signals to create complex, dynamic patterns as a response to environmental cues. These patterns are self-organizing and emergent; they cannot be predicted by observing the behavior of the individual cells. Using a time-lapse microcinematography tracking assay, we identified a distinct emergent pattern in M. xanthus called chemotaxis, defined as the directed movement of a swarm up a nutrient gradient toward its source. In order to efficiently characterize chemotaxis via time-lapse microcinematography, we developed a highly modifiable plate complex (Figure 1) and constructed a cluster of 8 microscopes (Figure 2), each capable of capturing time-lapse videos. The assay is rigorous enough to allow consistent replication of quantifiable data, and the resulting videos allow us to observe and track subtle changes in swarm behavior. Once captured, the videos are transferred to an analysis/storage computer with enough memory to process and store thousands of videos. The flexibility of this setup has proven useful to several members of the M. xanthus community.
    Journal of Visualized Experiments 01/2010;
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    ABSTRACT: The family Rhizobiaceae contains plant-associated bacteria with critical roles in ecology and agriculture. Within this family, many Rhizobium and Sinorhizobium strains are nitrogen-fixing plant mutualists, while many strains designated as Agrobacterium are plant pathogens. These contrasting lifestyles are primarily dependent on the transmissible plasmids each strain harbors. Members of the Rhizobiaceae also have diverse genome architectures that include single chromosomes, multiple chromosomes, and plasmids of various sizes. Agrobacterium strains have been divided into three biovars, based on physiological and biochemical properties. The genome of a biovar I strain, A. tumefaciens C58, has been previously sequenced. In this study, the genomes of the biovar II strain A. radiobacter K84, a commercially available biological control strain that inhibits certain pathogenic agrobacteria, and the biovar III strain A. vitis S4, a narrow-host-range strain that infects grapes and invokes a hypersensitive response on nonhost plants, were fully sequenced and annotated. Comparison with other sequenced members of the Alphaproteobacteria provides new data on the evolution of multipartite bacterial genomes. Primary chromosomes show extensive conservation of both gene content and order. In contrast, secondary chromosomes share smaller percentages of genes, and conserved gene order is restricted to short blocks. We propose that secondary chromosomes originated from an ancestral plasmid to which genes have been transferred from a progenitor primary chromosome. Similar patterns are observed in select Beta- and Gammaproteobacteria species. Together, these results define the evolution of chromosome architecture and gene content among the Rhizobiaceae and support a generalized mechanism for second-chromosome formation among bacteria.
    Journal of bacteriology 03/2009; 191(8):2501-11. · 3.94 Impact Factor
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    Rion G Taylor, Roy D Welch
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    ABSTRACT: We have characterized and quantified a form of bacterial chemotaxis that manifests only as an emergent property by measuring symmetry breaking in a swarm of Myxococcus xanthus exposed to a two-dimensional nutrient gradient from within an agar substrate. M. xanthus chemotaxis requires cell-cell contact and coordinated motility, as individual motile cells exhibit only nonvectorial movement in the presence of a nutrient gradient. Genes that specifically affect M. xanthus chemotaxis include at least 10 of the 53 that express enhancer binding proteins of the NtrC-like class, an indication that this behavior is controlled through transcription, most likely by a complex signal transduction network.
    Journal of bacteriology 09/2008; 190(20):6811-6. · 3.94 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Microcinematography was used to examine fruiting body development of Myxococcus xanthus. Wild-type cells progress through three distinct phases: a quiescent phase with some motility but little aggregation (0 to 8 h), a period of vigorous motility leading to raised fruiting bodies (8 to 16 h), and a period of maturation during which sporulation is initiated (16 to 48 h). Fruiting bodies are extended vertically in a series of tiers, each involving the addition of a cell monolayer on top of the uppermost layer. A pilA (MXAN_5783) mutant produced less extracellular matrix material and thus allowed closer examination of tiered aggregate formation. A csgA (MXAN_1294) mutant exhibited no quiescent phase, aberrant aggregation in phase 2, and disintegration of the fruiting bodies in the third phase.
    Journal of bacteriology 01/2008; 189(24):9126-30. · 3.94 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The genus Sorangium synthesizes approximately half of the secondary metabolites isolated from myxobacteria, including the anti-cancer metabolite epothilone. We report the complete genome sequence of the model Sorangium strain S. cellulosum So ce56, which produces several natural products and has morphological and physiological properties typical of the genus. The circular genome, comprising 13,033,779 base pairs, is the largest bacterial genome sequenced to date. No global synteny with the genome of Myxococcus xanthus is apparent, revealing an unanticipated level of divergence between these myxobacteria. A large percentage of the genome is devoted to regulation, particularly post-translational phosphorylation, which probably supports the strain's complex, social lifestyle. This regulatory network includes the highest number of eukaryotic protein kinase-like kinases discovered in any organism. Seventeen secondary metabolite loci are encoded in the genome, as well as many enzymes with potential utility in industry.
    Nature Biotechnology 12/2007; 25(11):1281-9. · 32.44 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Automated DNA sequencing technology is so rapid that analysis has become the rate-limiting step. Hundreds of prokaryotic genome sequences are publicly available, with new genomes uploaded at the rate of approximately 20 per month. As a result, this growing body of genome sequences will include microorganisms not previously identified, isolated, or observed. We hypothesize that evolutionary pressure exerted by an ecological niche selects for a similar genetic repertoire in those prokaryotes that occupy the same niche, and that this is due to both vertical and horizontal transmission. To test this, we have developed a novel method to classify prokaryotes, by calculating their Pfam protein domain distributions and clustering them with all other sequenced prokaryotic species. Clusters of organisms are visualized in two dimensions as 'mountains' on a topological map. When compared to a phylogenetic map constructed using 16S rRNA, this map more accurately clusters prokaryotes according to functional and environmental attributes. We demonstrate the ability of this map, which we term a "niche map", to cluster according to ecological niche both quantitatively and qualitatively, and propose that this method be used to associate uncharacterized prokaryotes with their ecological niche as a means of predicting their functional role directly from their genome sequence.
    PLoS ONE 02/2007; 2(8):e743. · 3.53 Impact Factor
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    Biotechnology & genetic engineering reviews 02/2007; 24:213-42. · 1.31 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: xanthusBase (http://www.xanthusbase.org) is the official model organism database (MOD) for the social bacterium Myxococcus xanthus. In many respects, M.xanthus represents the pioneer model organism (MO) for studying the genetic, biochemical, and mechanistic basis of prokaryotic multicellularity, a topic that has garnered considerable attention due to the significance of biofilms in both basic and applied microbiology research. To facilitate its utility, the design of xanthusBase incorporates open-source software, leveraging the cumulative experience made available through the Generic Model Organism Database (GMOD) project, MediaWiki (http://www.mediawiki.org), and dictyBase (http://www.dictybase.org), to create a MOD that is both highly useful and easily navigable. In addition, we have incorporated a unique Wikipedia-style curation model which exploits the internet's inherent interactivity, thus enabling M.xanthus and other myxobacterial researchers to contribute directly toward the ongoing genome annotation.
    Nucleic Acids Research 02/2007; 35(Database issue):D422-6. · 8.81 Impact Factor
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    Journal of Bacteriology 01/2007; 188(23):7999-8004. · 3.19 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Accurate determination of functional interactions among proteins at the genome level remains a challenge for genomic research. Here we introduce a genome-scale approach to functional protein annotation--phylogenomic mapping--that requires only sequence data, can be applied equally well to both finished and unfinished genomes, and can be extended beyond single genomes to annotate multiple genomes simultaneously. We have developed and applied it to more than 200 sequenced bacterial genomes. Proteins with similar evolutionary histories were grouped together, placed on a three dimensional map and visualized as a topographical landscape. The resulting phylogenomic maps display thousands of proteins clustered in mountains on the basis of coinheritance, a strong indicator of shared function. In addition to systematic computational validation, we have experimentally confirmed the ability of phylogenomic maps to predict both mutant phenotype and gene function in the delta proteobacterium Myxococcus xanthus.
    Nature Biotechnology 07/2005; 23(6):691-8. · 32.44 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

583 Citations
152.00 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 2007–2014
    • Syracuse University
      • • Department of Biology
      • • Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
      Syracuse, New York, United States
  • 2011
    • Rice University
      • Department of Bioengineering
      Houston, TX, United States
  • 2002–2007
    • Stanford University
      • • Department of Developmental Biology
      • • Department of Biochemistry
      Palo Alto, California, United States