Charles G Howes

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

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Publications (6)59.82 Total impact

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    Full-text · Dataset · Nov 2012
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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.
    No preview · Article · Nov 2012 · The ISME Journal
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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.
    Full-text · Article · Sep 2012 · Expert Review of Anti-infective Therapy
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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.
    No preview · Article · Aug 2012 · The ISME Journal
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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.
    Full-text · Article · Apr 2011 · FEMS Microbiology Letters
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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.
    Full-text · Article · Nov 2010 · Journal of microbiological methods
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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.
    Full-text · Article · Oct 2009 · Science