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See detailMicrobiome reservoirs of antimicrobial resistance
de Nies, Laura UL

Doctoral thesis (2022)

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) presents a global threat to public health due to the inability to comprehensively treat bacterial infections. Emerging resistant bacteria residing within human, animal and ... [more ▼]

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) presents a global threat to public health due to the inability to comprehensively treat bacterial infections. Emerging resistant bacteria residing within human, animal and environmental reservoirs may spread from one to the other, at both local and global levels. Consequently, AMR has the potential to rapidly become pandemic whereby it is no longer constrained by either geographical or human-animal borders. Therefore, to enhance our understanding on the dissemination of AMR we systematically resolved different reservoirs of antimicrobial resistance, leveraging animal, environmental and human samples, to provide a One Health perspective. To identify antimicrobial resistance genes (ARGs) and compare their identity and prevalence across different microbial reservoirs, we developed the PathoFact pipeline which also contextualizes ARG localization on mobile genetic elements (MGEs). This methodology was applied to several metagenomic datasets covering microbiomes of infants, laboratory mice, a wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) and biofilms from glacier-fed streams (GFS). Investigating the infant gut resistome we found that the abundance of ARGs against (semi)-synthetic agents were increased in infants born via caesarian section compared to those born via vaginal delivery. Additionally, we identified mobile genetic elements (MGEs) encoding ARGs such as glycopeptide, diaminopyrimidine and multidrug resistance at an early age. MGEs are often pivotal in the accumulation and dissemination of AMR within a microbial population. Therefore, we assessed the effect of selective pressure on the evolution and consecutive dissemination of AMR within the commensal gut microbiome, utilizing a mouse model. While plasmids and phages were found to contribute to the spread of AMR, we found that integrons represented the primary factors mediating AMR in the antibiotic-treated mice. In addition to the above-described studies, we investigated the environmental resistome, comprising both the urban environment, i.e., the WWTP, and a natural environment, GFS biofilms. Utilizing a multi-omics approach we investigated the WWTP resistome over a 1.5 years timeseries and found that a core group of fifteen AMR categories were always present. Additionally, we found a significant difference in AMR categories encoded on phages versus plasmids indicating that the MGEs contributed differentially to the dissemination of AMR. On the other hand, the GFS biofilms represent pristine environments with limited anthropogenic influences. Therein, we found that eukaryotes, as well as prokaryotes, may serve as AMR reservoirs owing to their potential for encoding ARGs. In addition to our identification of biosynthetic gene clusters encoding antibacterial secondary metabolites, our findings highlight the constant intra- and inter-domain competition and the underlying mechanisms influencing microbial survival in GFS epilithic biofilms. In general, we observed that the overall AMR abundances were highest in human and animal microbial reservoirs whilst environmental reservoirs demonstrated a higher diversity of ARG subtypes. Additionally, we identified human-associated, MGE-derived ARGs in all three components of the One Health triad, indicating possible transmission routes for AMR dissemination. In summary, this work provides a comprehensive assessment of the prevalence of antimicrobial resistance and its dissemination mechanisms in human, animal, and environmental mechanisms. [less ▲]

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See detailFunctional meta-omics provide critical insights into long- and short-read assemblies
Galata, Valentina UL; Busi, Susheel Bhanu UL; Kunath, Benoît UL et al

in Briefings in Bioinformatics (2021)

Real-world evaluations of metagenomic reconstructions are challenged by distinguishing reconstruction artifacts from genes and proteins present in situ. Here, we evaluate short-read-only, long-read-only ... [more ▼]

Real-world evaluations of metagenomic reconstructions are challenged by distinguishing reconstruction artifacts from genes and proteins present in situ. Here, we evaluate short-read-only, long-read-only and hybrid assembly approaches on four different metagenomic samples of varying complexity. We demonstrate how different assembly approaches affect gene and protein inference, which is particularly relevant for downstream functional analyses. For a human gut microbiome sample, we use complementary metatranscriptomic and metaproteomic data to assess the metagenomic data-based protein predictions. Our findings pave the way for critical assessments of metagenomic reconstructions. We propose a reference-independent solution, which exploits the synergistic effects of multi-omic data integration for the in situ study of microbiomes using long-read sequencing data. [less ▲]

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See detailPersistence of birth mode-dependent effects on gut microbiome composition, immune system stimulation and antimicrobial resistance during the first year of life
Busi, Susheel Bhanu UL; de Nies, Laura UL; Habier, Janine UL et al

in ISME Communications (2021)

Caesarean section delivery (CSD) disrupts mother-to-neonate transmission of specific microbial strains and functional repertoires as well as linked immune system priming. Here we investigate whether ... [more ▼]

Caesarean section delivery (CSD) disrupts mother-to-neonate transmission of specific microbial strains and functional repertoires as well as linked immune system priming. Here we investigate whether differences in microbiome composition and impacts on host physiology persist at 1 year of age. We perform high-resolution, quantitative metagenomic analyses of the gut microbiomes of infants born by vaginal delivery (VD) or by CSD, from immediately after birth through to 1 year of life. Several microbial populations show distinct enrichments in CSD-born infants at 1 year of age including strains of Bacteroides caccae, Bifidobacterium bifidum and Ruminococcus gnavus, whereas others are present at higher levels in the VD group including Faecalibacterium prausnitizii, Bifidobacterium breve and Bifidobacterium kashiwanohense. The stimulation of healthy donor-derived primary human immune cells with LPS isolated from neonatal stool samples results in higher levels of tumour necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) in the case of CSD extracts over time, compared to extracts from VD infants for which no such changes were observed during the first year of life. Functional analyses of the VD metagenomes at 1 year of age demonstrate a significant increase in the biosynthesis of the natural antibiotics, carbapenem and phenazine. Concurrently, we find antimicrobial resistance (AMR) genes against several classes of antibiotics in both VD and CSD. The abundance of AMR genes against synthetic (including semi-synthetic) agents such as phenicol, pleuromutilin and diaminopyrimidine are increased in CSD children at day 5 after birth. In addition, we find that mobile genetic elements, including phages, encode AMR genes such as glycopeptide, diaminopyrimidine and multidrug resistance genes. Our results demonstrate persistent effects at 1 year of life resulting from birth mode-dependent differences in earliest gut microbiome colonisation. [less ▲]

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See detailPathoFact: a pipeline for the prediction of virulence factors and antimicrobial resistance genes in metagenomic data
de Nies, Laura UL; Lopes, Sara; Busi, Susheel Bhanu UL et al

in Microbiome (2021)

Background Pathogenic microorganisms cause disease by invading, colonizing, and damaging their host. Virulence factors including bacterial toxins contribute to pathogenicity. Additionally, antimicrobial ... [more ▼]

Background Pathogenic microorganisms cause disease by invading, colonizing, and damaging their host. Virulence factors including bacterial toxins contribute to pathogenicity. Additionally, antimicrobial resistance genes allow pathogens to evade otherwise curative treatments. To understand causal relationships between microbiome compositions, functioning, and disease, it is essential to identify virulence factors and antimicrobial resistance genes in situ. At present, there is a clear lack of computational approaches to simultaneously identify these factors in metagenomic datasets. Results Here, we present PathoFact, a tool for the contextualized prediction of virulence factors, bacterial toxins, and antimicrobial resistance genes with high accuracy (0.921, 0.832 and 0.979, respectively) and specificity (0.957, 0.989 and 0.994). We evaluate the performance of PathoFact on simulated metagenomic datasets and perform a comparison to two other general workflows for the analysis of metagenomic data. PathoFact outperforms all existing workflows in predicting virulence factors and toxin genes. It performs comparably to one pipeline regarding the prediction of antimicrobial resistance while outperforming the others. We further demonstrate the performance of PathoFact on three publicly available case-control metagenomic datasets representing an actual infection as well as chronic diseases in which either pathogenic potential or bacterial toxins are hypothesized to play a role. In each case, we identify virulence factors and AMR genes which differentiated between the case and control groups, thereby revealing novel gene associations with the studied diseases. Conclusion PathoFact is an easy-to-use, modular, and reproducible pipeline for the identification of virulence factors, bacterial toxins, and antimicrobial resistance genes in metagenomic data. Additionally, our tool combines the prediction of these pathogenicity factors with the identification of mobile genetic elements. This provides further depth to the analysis by considering the genomic context of the pertinent genes. Furthermore, PathoFact’s modules for virulence factors, toxins, and antimicrobial resistance genes can be applied independently, thereby making it a flexible and versatile tool. PathoFact, its models, and databases are freely available at https://pathofact.lcsb.uni.lu. [less ▲]

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See detailMobilome-driven segregation of the resistome in biological wastewater treatment 2021.11.15.468621
de Nies, Laura UL; Busi, Susheel Bhanu UL; Kunath, Benoit Josef et al

E-print/Working paper (2021)

Biological wastewater treatment plants (BWWTP) are considered to be hotspots of evolution and subsequent spread of antimicrobial resistance (AMR). Mobile genetic elements (MGEs) promote the mobilization ... [more ▼]

Biological wastewater treatment plants (BWWTP) are considered to be hotspots of evolution and subsequent spread of antimicrobial resistance (AMR). Mobile genetic elements (MGEs) promote the mobilization and dissemination of antimicrobial resistance genes (ARGs) and are thereby critical mediators of AMR within the BWWTP microbial community. At present, it is unclear whether specific AMR categories are differentially disseminated via bacteriophages (phages) or plasmids. To understand the segregation of AMR in relation to MGEs, we analyzed meta-omic (metagenomic, metatranscriptomic and metaproteomic) data systematically collected over 1.5 years from a BWWTP. Our results showed a core group of fifteen AMR categories which were found across all timepoints. Some of these AMR categories were disseminated exclusively (bacitracin) or primarily (aminoglycoside, MLS, sulfonamide) via plasmids or phages (fosfomycin and peptide), whereas others were disseminated equally by both MGEs. Subsequent expression- and protein-level analyses further demonstrated that aminoglycoside, bacitracin and sulfonamide resistance genes were expressed more by plasmids, in contrast to fosfomycin and peptide AMR expression by phages, thereby validating our genomic findings. Longitudinal assessment further underlined these findings whereby the log2-fold changes of aminoglycoside, bacitracin and sulfonamide resistance genes were increased in plasmids, while fosfomycin and peptide resistance showed similar trends in phages. In the analyzed communities, the dominant taxon Candidatus Microthrix parvicella was a major contributor to several AMR categories whereby its plasmids primarily mediated aminoglycoside resistance. Importantly, we also found AMR associated with ESKAPEE pathogens within the BWWTP, for which MGEs also contributed differentially to the dissemination of ARGs. Collectively our findings pave the way towards understanding the segmentation of AMR within MGEs, thereby shedding new light on resistome populations and their mediators, essential elements that are of immediate relevance to human health.Competing Interest StatementThe authors have declared no competing interest. [less ▲]

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See detailGlacier-fed stream biofilms harbour diverse resistomes and biosynthetic gene clusters 2021.11.18.469141
Busi, Susheel Bhanu UL; de Nies, Laura UL; Pramateftaki, Paraskevi et al

E-print/Working paper (2021)

Background Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a universal phenomenon whose origins lay in natural ecological interactions such as competition within niches, within and between micro- to higher-order ... [more ▼]

Background Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a universal phenomenon whose origins lay in natural ecological interactions such as competition within niches, within and between micro- to higher-order organisms. However, the ecological and evolutionary processes shaping AMR need to be better understood in view of better antimicrobial stewardship. Resolving antibiotic biosynthetic pathways, including biosynthetic gene clusters (BGCs), and corresponding antimicrobial resistance genes (ARGs) may therefore help in understanding the inherent mechanisms. However, to study these phenomena, it is crucial to examine the origins of AMR in pristine environments with limited anthropogenic influences. In this context, epilithic biofilms residing in glacier-fed streams (GFSs) are an excellent model system to study diverse, intra- and inter-domain, ecological crosstalk.Results We assessed the resistomes of epilithic biofilms from GFSs across the Southern Alps (New Zealand) and the Caucasus (Russia) and observed that both bacteria and eukaryotes encoded twenty-nine distinct AMR categories. Of these, beta-lactam, aminoglycoside, and multidrug resistance were both abundant and taxonomically distributed in most of the bacterial and eukaryotic phyla. AMR-encoding phyla included Bacteroidota and Proteobacteria among the bacteria, alongside Ochrophyta (algae) among the eukaryotes. Additionally, BGCs involved in the production of antibacterial compounds were identified across all phyla in the epilithic biofilms. Furthermore, we found that several bacterial genera (Flavobacterium, Polaromonas, etc.) including representatives of the superphylum Patescibacteria encode both ARGs and BGCs within close proximity of each other, thereby demonstrating their capacity to simultaneously influence and compete within the microbial community.Conclusions Our findings highlight the presence and abundance of AMR in epilithic biofilms within GFSs. Additionally, we identify their role in the complex intra- and inter-domain competition and the underlying mechanisms influencing microbial survival in GFS epilithic biofilms. We demonstrate that eukaryotes may serve as AMR reservoirs owing to their potential for encoding ARGs. We also find that the taxonomic affiliation of the AMR and the BGCs are congruent. Importantly, our findings allow for understanding how naturally occurring BGCs and AMR contribute to the epilithic biofilms mode of life in GFSs. Importantly, these observations may be generalizable and potentially extended to other environments which may be more or less impacted by human activity.Competing Interest StatementThe authors have declared no competing interest.AMRAntimicrobial resistanceARGsAntimicrobial resistance gene(s)BGCBiosynthetic gene clustersCACaucasusCPRCandidate Phyla radiationGFSsGlacier-fed stream(s)GLGlacierIRS-RSisoleucyl-tRNA synthetase - high resistanceIMPIntegrate Meta-Omics PipelineKEGGKyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and GenomesMAGsMetagenome-assembled genome(s)NRPSNon-ribosomal peptide synthetasesPKSPolyketide synthases (type I and type II)RiPPsPost-translationally modified peptide(s)SASouthern Alps [less ▲]

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See detailGenomic and metabolic adaptations of biofilms to ecological windows of opportunities in glacier-fed streams 2021.10.07.463499
Busi, Susheel Bhanu UL; Bourquin, Massimo; Fodelianakis, Stilianos et al

E-print/Working paper (2021)

Microorganisms dominate life in cryospheric ecosystems. In glacier-fed streams (GFSs), ecological windows of opportunities allow complex microbial biofilms to develop and transiently form the basis of the ... [more ▼]

Microorganisms dominate life in cryospheric ecosystems. In glacier-fed streams (GFSs), ecological windows of opportunities allow complex microbial biofilms to develop and transiently form the basis of the food web, thereby controlling key ecosystem processes. Here, using high-resolution metagenomics, we unravel strategies that allow biofilms to seize this opportunity in an ecosystem otherwise characterized by harsh environmental conditions. We found a diverse microbiome spanning the entire tree of life and including a rich virome. Various and co-existing energy acquisition pathways point to diverse niches and the simultaneous exploitation of available resources, likely fostering the establishment of complex biofilms in GFSs during windows of opportunity. The wide occurrence of rhodopsins across metagenome-assembled genomes (MAGs), besides chlorophyll, highlights the role of solar energy capture in these biofilms. Concomitantly, internal carbon and nutrient cycling between photoautotrophs and heterotrophs may help overcome constraints imposed by the high oligotrophy in GFSs. MAGs also revealed mechanisms potentially protecting bacteria against low temperatures and high UV-radiation. The selective pressure of the GFS environment is further highlighted by the phylogenomic analysis, differentiating the representatives of the genus Polaromonas, an important component of the GFS microbiome, from those found in other ecosystems. Our findings reveal key genomic underpinnings of adaptive traits that contribute to the success of complex biofilms to exploit environmental opportunities in GFSs, now rapidly changing owing to global warming.Competing Interest StatementThe authors have declared no competing interest. [less ▲]

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