[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The lone star tick (Amblyomma americanum) is an abundant and aggressive biter of humans, domestic animals, and wildlife in the southeastern-central USA and an important vector of several known and suspected zoonotic bacterial pathogens. However, the biological drivers of bacterial community variation in this tick are still poorly defined. Knowing the community context in which tick-borne bacterial pathogens exist and evolve is required to fully understand the ecology and immunobiology of the ticks and to design effective public health and veterinary interventions. We performed a metagenomic survey of the bacterial communities of questing A. americanum and tested 131 individuals (66 nymphs, 24 males, and 41 females) from five sites in three states. Pyrosequencing was performed with barcoded eubacterial primers targeting variable 16S rRNA gene regions 5-3. The bacterial communities were dominated by Rickettsia (likely R. amblyommii) and an obligate Coxiella symbiont, together accounting for 6.7-100% of sequences per tick. DNAs from Midichloria, Borrelia, Wolbachia, Ehrlichia, Pseudomonas, or unidentified Bacillales, Enterobacteriaceae, or Rhizobiales groups were also detected frequently. Wolbachia and Midichloria significantly co-occurred in Georgia (p<0.00001), but not in other states. The significance of the Midichloria-Wolbachia co-occurrence is unknown. Among ticks collected in Georgia, nymphs differed from adults in both the composition (p = 0.002) and structure (p = 0.002) of their bacterial communities. Adults differed only in their community structure (p = 0.002) with males containing more Rickettsia and females containing more Coxiella. Comparisons among adult ticks collected in New York and North Carolina supported the findings from the Georgia collection despite differences in geography, collection date, and sample handling, implying that the differences detected are consistent attributes. The data also suggest that some members of the bacterial community change during the tick life cycle and that some sex-specific attributes may be detectable in nymphs.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) is an important food-borne pathogen. Here, we report the draft whole-genome sequences of nine STEC strains isolated from clinical cases in the United States. This is the first report of such information for STEC of serotypes O69, H11, O145:H25, O118:H16, O91:H21, O146:H21, O45:H2, O128:H2, and O121:H19.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Microorganisms may colonize needleless connectors (NCs) on intravascular catheters, forming biofilms and predisposing patients to catheter- associated infection (CAI). Standard and silver-coated NCs were collected from catheterized intensive care unit patients to characterize biofilm formation using culture-dependent and culture-independent methods and to investigate association between NC usage and biofilm characteristics. Viable microorganisms were detected by plate count (PC) from 46% of standard and 59% of silver-coated NCs (p=0.11). There were no significant associations (p>0.05, chi-squared test) between catheter type, side of catheter placement, number of catheter lumens, site of catheter placement, or NC duration, and positive NC. There was an association (p=0.04, chi-squared test) between infusion type and positive standard NCs. Viable microorganisms exhibiting intracellular esterase activity were detected on >90% of both NC types (p=0.751), suggesting that a large percentage of organisms were not culturable using the conditions provided in this study. Amplification of the 16S ribosomal RNA gene from selected NCs provided a substantially larger number of operational taxonomic units per NC than PC (26-43 vs 1-4), suggesting that culture-dependent methods may substantially underestimate microbial diversity on NCs. NC bacterial communities were clustered by patient and venous access type and may reflect the composition of the patient's local microbiome but may also contain organisms from the healthcare environment. NCs provide a portal of entry for a wide diversity of opportunistic pathogens to colonize the catheter lumen, forming a biofilm and increasing the potential for CAI, highlighting the importance of catheter maintenance practices to reduce microbial contamination.
Journal of clinical microbiology 12/2013; · 4.23 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: ABSTRACT Prior to the epidemic that emerged in Haiti in October of 2010, cholera had not been documented in this country. After its introduction, a strain of Vibrio cholerae O1 spread rapidly throughout Haiti, where it caused over 600,000 cases of disease and >7,500 deaths in the first two years of the epidemic. We applied whole-genome sequencing to a temporal series of V. cholerae isolates from Haiti to gain insight into the mode and tempo of evolution in this isolated population of V. cholerae O1. Phylogenetic and Bayesian analyses supported the hypothesis that all isolates in the sample set diverged from a common ancestor within a time frame that is consistent with epidemiological observations. A pangenome analysis showed nearly homogeneous genomic content, with no evidence of gene acquisition among Haiti isolates. Nine nearly closed genomes assembled from continuous-long-read data showed evidence of genome rearrangements and supported the observation of no gene acquisition among isolates. Thus, intrinsic mutational processes can account for virtually all of the observed genetic polymorphism, with no demonstrable contribution from horizontal gene transfer (HGT). Consistent with this, the 12 Haiti isolates tested by laboratory HGT assays were severely impaired for transformation, although unlike previously characterized noncompetent V. cholerae isolates, each expressed hapR and possessed a functional quorum-sensing system. Continued monitoring of V. cholerae in Haiti will illuminate the processes influencing the origin and fate of genome variants, which will facilitate interpretation of genetic variation in future epidemics. IMPORTANCE Vibrio cholerae is the cause of substantial morbidity and mortality worldwide, with over three million cases of disease each year. An understanding of the mode and rate of evolutionary change is critical for proper interpretation of genome sequence data and attribution of outbreak sources. The Haiti epidemic provides an unprecedented opportunity to study an isolated, single-source outbreak of Vibrio cholerae O1 over an established time frame. By using multiple approaches to assay genetic variation, we found no evidence that the Haiti strain has acquired any genes by horizontal gene transfer, an observation that led us to discover that it is also poorly transformable. We have found no evidence that environmental strains have played a role in the evolution of the outbreak strain.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Containment strategies for outbreaks of invasive Neisseria meningitidis disease are informed by serogroup assays that characterize the polysaccharide capsule. We sought to uncover the genomic basis of conflicting serogroup assay results for an isolate (M16917) from a patient with acute meningococcal disease. To this end, we characterized the complete genome sequence of the M16917 isolate and performed a variety of comparative sequence analyses against N. meningitidis reference genome sequences of known serogroups. Multilocus sequence typing and whole-genome sequence comparison revealed that M16917 is a member of the ST-11 sequence group, which is most often associated with serogroup C. However, sequence similarity comparisons and phylogenetic analysis showed that the serogroup diagnostic capsule polymerase gene (synD) of M16917 belongs to serogroup B. These results suggest that a capsule-switching event occurred based on homologous recombination at or around the capsule locus of M16917. Detailed analysis of this locus uncovered the locations of recombination breakpoints in the M16917 genome sequence, which led to the introduction of an ∼2-kb serogroup B sequence cassette into the serogroup C genomic background. Since there is no currently available vaccine for serogroup B strains of N. meningitidis, this kind capsule-switching event could have public health relevance as a vaccine escape mutant.
Journal of bacteriology 08/2012; 194(20):5649-56. · 2.69 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Advances in DNA sequencing technology have improved our ability to characterize most genomic diversity. However, accurate resolution of large structural events is challenging because of the short read lengths of second-generation technologies. Third-generation sequencing technologies, which can yield longer multikilobase reads, have the potential to address limitations associated with genome assembly. Here we combine sequencing data from second- and third-generation DNA sequencing technologies to assemble the two-chromosome genome of a recent Haitian cholera outbreak strain into two nearly finished contigs at >99.9% accuracy. Complex regions with clinically relevant structure were completely resolved. In separate control assemblies on experimental and simulated data for the canonical N16961 cholera reference strain, we obtained 14 scaffolds of greater than 1 kb for the experimental data and 8 scaffolds of greater than 1 kb for the simulated data, which allowed us to correct several errors in contigs assembled from the short-read data alone. This work provides a blueprint for the next generation of rapid microbial identification and full-genome assembly.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We used next generation sequencing to detect the bacterium "Candidatus Midichloria mitochondrii" for the first time in lone star ticks (Amblyomma americanum) from the eastern United States. 177 individuals and 11 tick pools from seven sites in four states were tested by pyrosequencing with barcoded 16S rRNA gene eubacterial primers targeting variable regions 5-3. Average infection prevalence was 0.15 across all surveyed populations (range 0-0.29) and only the site with the smallest sample size (n = 5) was negative. Three genotypes differing by 2.6-4.1 % in a 271 bp region of 16S rRNA gene were identified. Two variants co-occurred in sites in North Carolina and New York, but were not observed in the same tick at those sites. The third genotype was found only in Georgia. Phylogenetic analysis of this fragment indicated that the three variants are more closely related to "Candidatus Midichloria mitochondrii" genotypes from other tick species than to each other. This variation suggests that multiple independent introductions occurred in A. americanum which may provide insight into bacterial spread within its ecosystem and parasitism on this tick. Whether the presence of this bacterium affects acquisition or maintenance of other pathogens and symbionts in A. americanum or the survival, biology and evolution of the tick itself is unknown.
Experimental and Applied Acarology 06/2012; 58(3):291-300. · 1.82 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Influenza A virus reservoirs in animals have provided novel genetic elements leading to the emergence of global pandemics in humans. Most influenza A viruses circulate in waterfowl, but those that infect mammalian hosts are thought to pose the greatest risk for zoonotic spread to humans and the generation of pandemic or panzootic viruses. We have identified an influenza A virus from little yellow-shouldered bats captured at two locations in Guatemala. It is significantly divergent from known influenza A viruses. The HA of the bat virus was estimated to have diverged at roughly the same time as the known subtypes of HA and was designated as H17. The neuraminidase (NA) gene is highly divergent from all known influenza NAs, and the internal genes from the bat virus diverged from those of known influenza A viruses before the estimated divergence of the known influenza A internal gene lineages. Attempts to propagate this virus in cell cultures and chicken embryos were unsuccessful, suggesting distinct requirements compared with known influenza viruses. Despite its divergence from known influenza A viruses, the bat virus is compatible for genetic exchange with human influenza viruses in human cells, suggesting the potential capability for reassortment and contributions to new pandemic or panzootic influenza A viruses.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 02/2012; 109(11):4269-74. · 9.81 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Cholera was absent from the island of Hispaniola at least a century before an outbreak that began in Haiti in the fall of 2010. Pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) analysis of clinical isolates from the Haiti outbreak and recent global travelers returning to the United States showed indistinguishable PFGE fingerprints. To better explore the genetic ancestry of the Haiti outbreak strain, we acquired 23 whole-genome Vibrio cholerae sequences: 9 isolates obtained in Haiti or the Dominican Republic, 12 PFGE pattern-matched isolates linked to Asia or Africa, and 2 nonmatched outliers from the Western Hemisphere. Phylogenies for whole-genome sequences and core genome single-nucleotide polymorphisms showed that the Haiti outbreak strain is genetically related to strains originating in India and Cameroon. However, because no identical genetic match was found among sequenced contemporary isolates, a definitive genetic origin for the outbreak in Haiti remains speculative.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We report the first whole-genome sequences for five strains, two carried and three pathogenic, of the emerging pathogen Haemophilus haemolyticus. Preliminary analyses indicate that these genome sequences encode markers that distinguish H. haemolyticus from its closest Haemophilus relatives and provide clues to the identity of its virulence factors.
Journal of bacteriology 10/2011; 193(20):5879-80. · 2.69 Impact Factor