• 16S rRNA gene sequencing of mock microbial populations- impact of DNA extraction method, primer choice and sequencing platform

      Fouhy, Fiona; Clooney, Adam G; Stanton, Catherine; Claesson, Marcus J.; Cotter, Paul D.; European Union; Science Foundation Ireland; 603038; SFI/12/RC/2273; SFI/11/PI/1137 (Biomed Central, 24/06/2016)
      Background Next-generation sequencing platforms have revolutionised our ability to investigate the microbiota composition of complex environments, frequently through 16S rRNA gene sequencing of the bacterial component of the community. Numerous factors, including DNA extraction method, primer sequences and sequencing platform employed, can affect the accuracy of the results achieved. The aim of this study was to determine the impact of these three factors on 16S rRNA gene sequencing results, using mock communities and mock community DNA. Results The use of different primer sequences (V4-V5, V1-V2 and V1-V2 degenerate primers) resulted in differences in the genera and species detected. The V4-V5 primers gave the most comparable results across platforms. The three Ion PGM primer sets detected more of the 20 mock community species than the equivalent MiSeq primer sets. Data generated from DNA extracted using the 2 extraction methods were very similar. Conclusions Microbiota compositional data differed depending on the primers and sequencing platform that were used. The results demonstrate the risks in comparing data generated using different sequencing approaches and highlight the merits of choosing a standardised approach for sequencing in situations where a comparison across multiple sequencing runs is required.
    • The altered gut microbiota in adults with cystic fibrosis

      Burke, D.G.; Fouhy, Fiona; Harrison, M. J; Rea, Mary C.; Cotter, Paul D.; O'Sullivan, Orla; Stanton, Catherine; Hill, Cian J; Shanahan, Fergus; Plant, Barry J.; et al. (Biomed Central, 09/03/2017)
      Background Cystic Fibrosis (CF) is an autosomal recessive disease that affects the function of a number of organs, principally the lungs, but also the gastrointestinal tract. The manifestations of cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) dysfunction in the gastrointestinal tract, as well as frequent antibiotic exposure, undoubtedly disrupts the gut microbiota. To analyse the effects of CF and its management on the microbiome, we compared the gut microbiota of 43 individuals with CF during a period of stability, to that of 69 non-CF controls using 454-pyrosequencing of the 16S rRNA gene. The impact of clinical parameters, including antibiotic therapy, on the results was also assessed. Results The CF-associated microbiome had reduced microbial diversity, an increase in Firmicutes and a reduction in Bacteroidetes compared to the non-CF controls. While the greatest number of differences in taxonomic abundances of the intestinal microbiota was observed between individuals with CF and the healthy controls, gut microbiota differences were also reported between people with CF when grouped by clinical parameters including % predicted FEV1 (measure of lung dysfunction) and the number of intravenous (IV) antibiotic courses in the previous 12 months. Notably, CF individuals presenting with severe lung dysfunction (% predicted FEV1 ≤ 40%) had significantly (p < 0.05) reduced gut microbiota diversity relative to those presenting with mild or moderate dysfunction. A significant negative correlation (−0.383, Simpson’s Diversity Index) was also observed between the number of IV antibiotic courses and gut microbiota diversity. Conclusions This is one of the largest single-centre studies on gut microbiota in stable adults with CF and demonstrates the significantly altered gut microbiota, including reduced microbial diversity seen in CF patients compared to healthy controls. The data show the impact that CF and it's management have on gut microbiota, presenting the opportunity to develop CF specific probiotics to minimise microbiota alterations.
    • The altered gut microbiota in adults with cystic fibrosis

      Burke, D.G.; Fouhy, Fiona; Harrison, M. J; Rea, Mary C.; Cotter, Paul D.; O'Sullivan, Orla; Stanton, Catherine; Hill, Cian J; Shanahan, Fergus; Plant, Barry J.; et al. (Biomed Central, 09/03/2017)
      Background Cystic Fibrosis (CF) is an autosomal recessive disease that affects the function of a number of organs, principally the lungs, but also the gastrointestinal tract. The manifestations of cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) dysfunction in the gastrointestinal tract, as well as frequent antibiotic exposure, undoubtedly disrupts the gut microbiota. To analyse the effects of CF and its management on the microbiome, we compared the gut microbiota of 43 individuals with CF during a period of stability, to that of 69 non-CF controls using 454-pyrosequencing of the 16S rRNA gene. The impact of clinical parameters, including antibiotic therapy, on the results was also assessed. Results The CF-associated microbiome had reduced microbial diversity, an increase in Firmicutes and a reduction in Bacteroidetes compared to the non-CF controls. While the greatest number of differences in taxonomic abundances of the intestinal microbiota was observed between individuals with CF and the healthy controls, gut microbiota differences were also reported between people with CF when grouped by clinical parameters including % predicted FEV1 (measure of lung dysfunction) and the number of intravenous (IV) antibiotic courses in the previous 12 months. Notably, CF individuals presenting with severe lung dysfunction (% predicted FEV1 ≤ 40%) had significantly (p < 0.05) reduced gut microbiota diversity relative to those presenting with mild or moderate dysfunction. A significant negative correlation (−0.383, Simpson’s Diversity Index) was also observed between the number of IV antibiotic courses and gut microbiota diversity. Conclusions This is one of the largest single-centre studies on gut microbiota in stable adults with CF and demonstrates the significantly altered gut microbiota, including reduced microbial diversity seen in CF patients compared to healthy controls. The data show the impact that CF and it's management have on gut microbiota, presenting the opportunity to develop CF specific probiotics to minimise microbiota alterations.
    • Atypical Listeria innocua strains possess an intact LIPI-3

      Clayton, Evelyn M; Daly, Karen M.; Guinane, Caitriona M.; Hill, Colin; Cotter, Paul D.; Ross, R Paul; Enterprise Ireland; Science Foundation Ireland; 06/IN.1/B98; 10/IN.1/B3027 (Biomed Central, 08/03/2014)
      Background: Listeria monocytogenes is a food-borne pathogen which is the causative agent of listeriosis and can be divided into three evolutionary lineages I, II and III. While all strains possess the well established virulence factors associated with the Listeria pathogenicity island I (LIPI-1), lineage I strains also possess an additional pathogenicity island designated LIPI-3 which encodes listeriolysin S (LLS), a post-translationally modified cytolytic peptide. Up until now, this pathogenicity island has been identified exclusively in a subset of lineage I isolates of the pathogen Listeria monocytogenes. Results: In total 64 L. innocua strains were screened for the presence of LIPI-3. Here we report the identification of an intact LIPI-3 in 11 isolates of L. innocua and the remnants of the cluster in several others. Significantly, we can reveal that placing the L. innocua lls genes under the control of a constitutive promoter results in a haemolytic phenotype, confirming that the cluster is capable of encoding a functional haemolysin. Conclusions: Although the presence of the LIPI-3 gene cluster is confined to lineage I isolates of L. monocytogenes, a corresponding gene cluster or its remnants have been identified in many L. innocua strains.
    • Bi-directional gene set enrichment and canonical correlation analysis identify key diet-sensitive pathways and biomarkers of metabolic syndrome.

      Morine, Melissa J; McMonagle, Jolene; Toomey, Sinead; Reynolds, Clare M; Moloney, Aidan P; Gormley, Isobel C; O Gaora, Peadar; Roche, Helen M.; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; Irish Research Council for Science, Engineering and Technology; et al. (Biomed Central, 2010-10-07)
      Background Currently, a number of bioinformatics methods are available to generate appropriate lists of genes from a microarray experiment. While these lists represent an accurate primary analysis of the data, fewer options exist to contextualise those lists. The development and validation of such methods is crucial to the wider application of microarray technology in the clinical setting. Two key challenges in clinical bioinformatics involve appropriate statistical modelling of dynamic transcriptomic changes, and extraction of clinically relevant meaning from very large datasets. Results Here, we apply an approach to gene set enrichment analysis that allows for detection of bi-directional enrichment within a gene set. Furthermore, we apply canonical correlation analysis and Fisher's exact test, using plasma marker data with known clinical relevance to aid identification of the most important gene and pathway changes in our transcriptomic dataset. After a 28-day dietary intervention with high-CLA beef, a range of plasma markers indicated a marked improvement in the metabolic health of genetically obese mice. Tissue transcriptomic profiles indicated that the effects were most dramatic in liver (1270 genes significantly changed; p < 0.05), followed by muscle (601 genes) and adipose (16 genes). Results from modified GSEA showed that the high-CLA beef diet affected diverse biological processes across the three tissues, and that the majority of pathway changes reached significance only with the bi-directional test. Combining the liver tissue microarray results with plasma marker data revealed 110 CLA-sensitive genes showing strong canonical correlation with one or more plasma markers of metabolic health, and 9 significantly overrepresented pathways among this set; each of these pathways was also significantly changed by the high-CLA diet. Closer inspection of two of these pathways - selenoamino acid metabolism and steroid biosynthesis - illustrated clear diet-sensitive changes in constituent genes, as well as strong correlations between gene expression and plasma markers of metabolic syndrome independent of the dietary effect. Conclusion Bi-directional gene set enrichment analysis more accurately reflects dynamic regulatory behaviour in biochemical pathways, and as such highlighted biologically relevant changes that were not detected using a traditional approach. In such cases where transcriptomic response to treatment is exceptionally large, canonical correlation analysis in conjunction with Fisher's exact test highlights the subset of pathways showing strongest correlation with the clinical markers of interest. In this case, we have identified selenoamino acid metabolism and steroid biosynthesis as key pathways mediating the observed relationship between metabolic health and high-CLA beef. These results indicate that this type of analysis has the potential to generate novel transcriptome-based biomarkers of disease.
    • Bile acids at the cross-roads of gut microbiome–host cardiometabolic interactions

      Ryan, Paul M; Stanton, Catherine; Caplice, Noel M; Science Foundation Ireland; Enterprise Ireland; SFI/12/RC/2273; CF/2013/3030A/B (Biomed Central, 28/12/2017)
      While basic and clinical research over the last several decades has recognized a number of modifiable risk factors associated with cardiometabolic disease progression, additional and alternative biological perspectives may offer novel targets for prevention and treatment of this disease set. There is mounting preclinical and emerging clinical evidence indicating that the mass of metabolically diverse microorganisms which inhabit the human gastrointestinal tract may be implicated in initiation and modulation of cardiovascular and metabolic disease outcomes. The following review will discuss this gut microbiome–host metabolism axis and address newly proposed bile-mediated signaling pathways through which dysregulation of this homeostatic axis may influence host cardiovascular risk. With a central focus on the major nuclear and membrane-bound bile acid receptor ligands, we aim to review the putative impact of microbial bile acid modification on several major phenotypes of metabolic syndrome, from obesity to heart failure. Finally, attempting to synthesize several separate but complementary hypotheses, we will review current directions in preclinical and clinical investigation in this evolving field.
    • Choice of assembly software has a critical impact on virome characterisation

      Sutton, Thomas D S; Clooney, Adam G; Ryan, Feargal J; Ross, R Paul; Hill, Colin; Science Foundation Ireland; European Regional Development Fund; Janssen Biotech, Inc.; SFI/12/RC/2273; SFI/14/SP APC/B3032 (Biomed Central, 2019-01-28)
      Background The viral component of microbial communities plays a vital role in driving bacterial diversity, facilitating nutrient turnover and shaping community composition. Despite their importance, the vast majority of viral sequences are poorly annotated and share little or no homology to reference databases. As a result, investigation of the viral metagenome (virome) relies heavily on de novo assembly of short sequencing reads to recover compositional and functional information. Metagenomic assembly is particularly challenging for virome data, often resulting in fragmented assemblies and poor recovery of viral community members. Despite the essential role of assembly in virome analysis and difficulties posed by these data, current assembly comparisons have been limited to subsections of virome studies or bacterial datasets. Design This study presents the most comprehensive virome assembly comparison to date, featuring 16 metagenomic assembly approaches which have featured in human virome studies. Assemblers were assessed using four independent virome datasets, namely, simulated reads, two mock communities, viromes spiked with a known phage and human gut viromes. Results Assembly performance varied significantly across all test datasets, with SPAdes (meta) performing consistently well. Performance of MIRA and VICUNA varied, highlighting the importance of using a range of datasets when comparing assembly programs. It was also found that while some assemblers addressed the challenges of virome data better than others, all assemblers had limitations. Low read coverage and genomic repeats resulted in assemblies with poor genome recovery, high degrees of fragmentation and low-accuracy contigs across all assemblers. These limitations must be considered when setting thresholds for downstream analysis and when drawing conclusions from virome data.
    • Comparative analysis of Faecalibacterium prausnitzii genomes shows a high level of genome plasticity and warrants separation into new species-level taxa

      Fitzgerald, Cormac B; Shkoporov, Andrey N; Sutton, Thomas D S; Chaplin, Andrei V; Velayudhan, Vimalkumar; Ross, R Paul; Hill, Colin; Science Foundation Ireland; European Regional Development Fund; European Regional Development Fund; et al. (Biomed Central, 2018-12-14)
      Background Faecalibacterium prausnitzii is a ubiquitous member of the human gut microbiome, constituting up to 15% of the total bacteria in the human gut. Substantial evidence connects decreased levels of F. prausnitzii with the onset and progression of certain forms of inflammatory bowel disease, which has been attributed to its anti-inflammatory potential. Two phylogroups of F. prausnitzii have been identified, with a decrease in phylogroup I being a more sensitive marker of intestinal inflammation. Much of the genomic and physiological data available to date was collected using phylogroup II strains. Little analysis of F. prausnitzii genomes has been performed so far and genetic differences between phylogroups I and II are poorly understood. Results In this study we sequenced 11 additional F. prausnitzii genomes and performed comparative genomics to investigate intraspecies diversity, functional gene complement and the mobilome of 31 high-quality draft and complete genomes. We reveal a very low level of average nucleotide identity among F. prausnitzii genomes and a high level of genome plasticity. Two genomogroups can be separated based on differences in functional gene complement, albeit that this division does not fully agree with separation based on conserved gene phylogeny, highlighting the importance of horizontal gene transfer in shaping F. prausnitzii genomes. The difference between the two genomogroups is mainly in the complement of genes associated with catabolism of carbohydrates (such as a predicted sialidase gene in genomogroup I) and amino acids, as well as defense mechanisms. Conclusions Based on the combination of ANI of genomic sequences, phylogenetic analysis of core proteomes and functional differences we propose to separate the species F. prausnitzii into two new species level taxa: F. prausnitzii sensu stricto (neotype strain A2–165T = DSM 17677T = JCM 31915T) and F. moorei sp. nov. (type strain ATCC 27768T = NCIMB 13872T).
    • Comparative and functional genomics of the Lactococcus lactis taxon; insights into evolution and niche adaptation

      Kelleher, Philip; Bottacini, Francesca; Mahony, Jennifer; Kilcawley, Kieran N; van Sinderen, Douwe; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Ireland; Science Foundation Ireland; 10/RD/TMFRC/704; 13/IA/1953; 14/TIDA/2287; et al. (Biomed Central, 29/03/2017)
      Background Lactococcus lactis is among the most widely studied lactic acid bacterial species due to its long history of safe use and economic importance to the dairy industry, where it is exploited as a starter culture in cheese production. Results In the current study, we report on the complete sequencing of 16 L. lactis subsp. lactis and L. lactis subsp. cremoris genomes. The chromosomal features of these 16 L. lactis strains in conjunction with 14 completely sequenced, publicly available lactococcal chromosomes were assessed with particular emphasis on discerning the L. lactis subspecies division, evolution and niche adaptation. The deduced pan-genome of L. lactis was found to be closed, indicating that the representative data sets employed for this analysis are sufficient to fully describe the genetic diversity of the taxon. Conclusions Niche adaptation appears to play a significant role in governing the genetic content of each L. lactis subspecies, while (differential) genome decay and redundancy in the dairy niche is also highlighted.
    • Concordance rate between copy number variants detected using either high- or medium-density single nucleotide polymorphism genotype panels and the potential of imputing copy number variants from flanking high density single nucleotide polymorphism haplotypes in cattle

      Rafter, Pierce; Gormley, Isobel C; Parnell, Andrew C; Kearney, John F; Berry, Donagh P; Science Foundation Ireland; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; 14/IA/2576; 16/RC/3835 (Biomed Central, 2020-03-04)
      Background The trading of individual animal genotype information often involves only the exchange of the called genotypes and not necessarily the additional information required to effectively call structural variants. The main aim here was to determine if it is possible to impute copy number variants (CNVs) using the flanking single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) haplotype structure in cattle. While this objective was achieved using high-density genotype panels (i.e., 713,162 SNPs), a secondary objective investigated the concordance of CNVs called with this high-density genotype panel compared to CNVs called from a medium-density panel (i.e., 45,677 SNPs in the present study). This is the first study to compare CNVs called from high-density and medium-density SNP genotypes from the same animals. High (and medium-density) genotypes were available on 991 Holstein-Friesian, 1015 Charolais, and 1394 Limousin bulls. The concordance between CNVs called from the medium-density and high-density genotypes were calculated separately for each animal. A subset of CNVs which were called from the high-density genotypes was selected for imputation. Imputation was carried out separately for each breed using a set of high-density SNPs flanking the midpoint of each CNV. A CNV was deemed to be imputed correctly when the called copy number matched the imputed copy number. Results For 97.0% of CNVs called from the high-density genotypes, the corresponding genomic position on the medium-density of the animal did not contain a called CNV. The average accuracy of imputation for CNV deletions was 0.281, with a standard deviation of 0.286. The average accuracy of imputation of the CNV normal state, i.e. the absence of a CNV, was 0.982 with a standard deviation of 0.022. Two CNV duplications were imputed in the Charolais, a single CNV duplication in the Limousins, and a single CNV duplication in the Holstein-Friesians; in all cases the CNV duplications were incorrectly imputed. Conclusion The vast majority of CNVs called from the high-density genotypes were not detected using the medium-density genotypes. Furthermore, CNVs cannot be accurately predicted from flanking SNP haplotypes, at least based on the imputation algorithms routinely used in cattle, and using the SNPs currently available on the high-density genotype panel.
    • A degenerate PCR-based strategy as a means of identifying homologues of aminoglycoside and ß-lactam resistance genes in the gut microbiota

      Fouhy, Fiona; Ross, R Paul; Fitzgerald, Gerald F; Stanton, Catherine; Cotter, Paul D.; Irish Research Council; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme; Science Foundation Ireland; 11/PI/1137 (Biomed Central, 05/02/2014)
      Background: The potential for the human gut microbiota to serve as a reservoir for antibiotic resistance genes has been the subject of recent discussion. However, this has yet to be investigated using a rapid PCR-based approach. In light of this, here we aim to determine if degenerate PCR primers can detect aminoglycoside and β-lactam resistance genes in the gut microbiota of healthy adults, without the need for an initial culture-based screen for resistant isolates. In doing so, we would determine if the gut microbiota of healthy adults, lacking recent antibiotic exposure, is a reservoir for resistance genes. Results: The strategy employed resulted in the identification of numerous aminoglycoside (acetylation, adenylation and phosphorylation) and β-lactam (including bla OXA, bla TEM, bla SHV and bla CTX-M) resistance gene homologues. On the basis of homology, it would appear that these genes originated from different bacterial taxa, with members of the Enterobacteriaceae being a particularly rich source. The results demonstrate that, even in the absence of recent antibiotic exposure, the human gut microbiota is a considerable reservoir for antibiotic resistance genes. Conclusions: This study has demonstrated that the gut can be a significant source of aminoglycoside and β-lactam resistance genes, even in the absence of recent antibiotic exposure. The results also demonstrate that PCR-based approaches can be successfully applied to detect antibiotic resistance genes in the human gut microbiota, without the need to isolate resistant strains. This approach could also be used to rapidly screen other complex environments for target genes.
    • Distinct actions of the fermented beverage kefir on host behaviour, immunity and microbiome gut-brain modules in the mouse

      van de Wouw, Marcel; Walsh, Aaron M; Crispie, Fiona; van Leuven, Lucas; Lyte, Joshua M; Boehme, Marcus; Clarke, Gerard; Dinan, Timothy G; Cotter, Paul D; Cryan, John F; et al. (Biomed Central, 2020-05-18)
      Background Mounting evidence suggests a role for the gut microbiota in modulating brain physiology and behaviour, through bi-directional communication, along the gut-brain axis. As such, the gut microbiota represents a potential therapeutic target for influencing centrally mediated events and host behaviour. It is thus notable that the fermented milk beverage kefir has recently been shown to modulate the composition of the gut microbiota in mice. It is unclear whether kefirs have differential effects on microbiota-gut-brain axis and whether they can modulate host behaviour per se. Methods To address this, two distinct kefirs (Fr1 and UK4), or unfermented milk control, were administered to mice that underwent a battery of tests to characterise their behavioural phenotype. In addition, shotgun metagenomic sequencing of ileal, caecal and faecal matter was performed, as was faecal metabolome analysis. Finally, systemic immunity measures and gut serotonin levels were assessed. Statistical analyses were performed by ANOVA followed by Dunnett's post hoc test or Kruskal-Wallis test followed by Mann-Whitney U test. Results Fr1 ameliorated the stress-induced decrease in serotonergic signalling in the colon and reward-seeking behaviour in the saccharin preference test. On the other hand, UK4 decreased repetitive behaviour and ameliorated stress-induced deficits in reward-seeking behaviour. Furthermore, UK4 increased fear-dependent contextual memory, yet decreased milk gavage-induced improvements in long-term spatial learning. In the peripheral immune system, UK4 increased the prevalence of Treg cells and interleukin 10 levels, whereas Fr1 ameliorated the milk gavage stress-induced elevation in neutrophil levels and CXCL1 levels. Analysis of the gut microbiota revealed that both kefirs significantly changed the composition and functional capacity of the host microbiota, where specific bacterial species were changed in a kefir-dependent manner. Furthermore, both kefirs increased the capacity of the gut microbiota to produce GABA, which was linked to an increased prevalence in Lactobacillus reuteri. Conclusions Altogether, these data show that kefir can signal through the microbiota-gut-immune-brain axis and modulate host behaviour. In addition, different kefirs may direct the microbiota toward distinct immunological and behavioural modulatory effects. These results indicate that kefir can positively modulate specific aspects of the microbiota-gut-brain axis and support the broadening of the definition of psychobiotic to include kefir fermented foods. Video abstract.
    • DNA sequence polymorphisms in a panel of eight candidate bovine imprinted genes and their association with performance traits in Irish Holstein-Friesian cattle

      Magee, David A; Sikora, Klaudia M; Berkowicz, Erik W; Berry, Donagh P.; Howard, Dawn J.; Mullen, Michael P.; Evans, R. D.; Spillane, Charles; MacHugh, David E; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; et al. (Biomed Central, 2010-10-13)
      Background: Studies in mice and humans have shown that imprinted genes, whereby expression from one of the two parentally inherited alleles is attenuated or completely silenced, have a major effect on mammalian growth, metabolism and physiology. More recently, investigations in livestock species indicate that genes subject to this type of epigenetic regulation contribute to, or are associated with, several performance traits, most notably muscle mass and fat deposition. In the present study, a candidate gene approach was adopted to assess 17 validated single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and their association with a range of performance traits in 848 progeny-tested Irish Holstein-Friesian artificial insemination sires. These SNPs are located proximal to, or within, the bovine orthologs of eight genes (CALCR, GRB10, PEG3, PHLDA2, RASGRF1, TSPAN32, ZIM2 and ZNF215) that have been shown to be imprinted in cattle or in at least one other mammalian species (i.e. human/mouse/pig/sheep). Results: Heterozygosities for all SNPs analysed ranged from 0.09 to 0.46 and significant deviations from Hardy-Weinberg proportions (P ≤ 0.01) were observed at four loci. Phenotypic associations (P ≤ 0.05) were observed between nine SNPs proximal to, or within, six of the eight analysed genes and a number of performance traits evaluated, including milk protein percentage, somatic cell count, culled cow and progeny carcass weight, angularity, body conditioning score, progeny carcass conformation, body depth, rump angle, rump width, animal stature, calving difficulty, gestation length and calf perinatal mortality. Notably, SNPs within the imprinted paternally expressed gene 3 (PEG3) gene cluster were associated (P ≤ 0.05) with calving, calf performance and fertility traits, while a single SNP in the zinc finger protein 215 gene (ZNF215) was associated with milk protein percentage (P ≤ 0.05), progeny carcass weight (P ≤ 0.05), culled cow carcass weight (P ≤ 0.01), angularity (P ≤ 0.01), body depth (P ≤ 0.01), rump width (P ≤ 0.01) and animal stature (P ≤ 0.01). Conclusions: Of the eight candidate bovine imprinted genes assessed, DNA sequence polymorphisms in six of these genes (CALCR, GRB10, PEG3, RASGRF1, ZIM2 and ZNF215) displayed associations with several of the phenotypes included for analyses. The genotype-phenotype associations detected here are further supported by the biological function of these six genes, each of which plays important roles in mammalian growth, development and physiology. The associations between SNPs within the imprinted PEG3 gene cluster and traits related to calving, calf performance and gestation length suggest that this domain on chromosome 18 may play a role regulating pre-natal growth and development and fertility. SNPs within the bovine ZNF215 gene were associated with bovine growth and body conformation traits and studies in humans have revealed that the human ZNF215 ortholog belongs to the imprinted gene cluster associated with Beckwith-Wiedemann syndrome--a genetic disorder characterised by growth abnormalities. Similarly, the data presented here suggest that the ZNF215 gene may have an important role in regulating bovine growth. Collectively, our results support previous work showing that (candidate) imprinted genes/loci contribute to heritable variation in bovine performance traits and suggest that DNA sequence polymorphisms within these genes/loci represents an important reservoir of genomic markers for future genetic improvement of dairy and beef cattle populations.
    • Effect of dietary restriction and subsequent re-alimentation on the transcriptional profile of hepatic tissue in cattle

      Keogh, Kate; Kenny, David A.; Cormican, Paul; Kelly, Alan K; Waters, Sinead M.; Science Foundation Ireland; 09/RFP/GEN2447 (Biomed Central, 2016-03-17)
      Background Compensatory growth (CG) is an accelerated growth phenomenon observed in animals upon re-alimentation following a period of dietary restriction. It is typically utilised in livestock systems to reduce feed costs during periods of reduced feed availability. The biochemical mechanisms controlling this phenomenon, however, are yet to be elucidated. This study aimed to uncover the molecular mechanisms regulating the hepatic expression of CG in cattle, utilising RNAseq. RNAseq was performed on hepatic tissue of bulls following 125 days of dietary restriction (RES) and again following 55 days of subsequent re-alimentation during which the animals exhibited significant CG. The data were compared with those of control animals offered the same diet on an ad libitum basis throughout (ADLIB). Elucidation of the molecular control of CG may yield critical information on genes and pathways which could be targeted as putative molecular biomarkers for the selection of animals with improved CG potential. Results Following a period of differential feeding, body-weight and liver weight were 161 and 4 kg higher, respectively, for ADLIB compared with RES animals. At this time RNAseq analysis of liver tissue revealed 1352 significantly differentially expressed genes (DEG) between the two treatments. DEGs indicated down-regulation of processes including nutrient transport, cell division and proliferation in RES. In addition, protein synthesis genes were up-regulated in RES following a period of restricted feeding. The subsequent 55 days of ad libitum feeding for both groups resulted in the body-weight difference reduced to 84 kg, with no difference in liver weight between treatment groups. At the end of 55 days of unrestricted feeding, 49 genes were differentially expressed between animals undergoing CG and their continuously fed counterparts. In particular, hepatic expression of cell proliferation and growth genes were greater in animals undergoing CG. Conclusions Greater expression of cell cycle and cell proliferation genes during CG was associated with a 100 % recovery of liver weight during re-alimentation. Additionally, an apparent up-regulation in capacity for cellular protein synthesis during restricted feeding may contribute to and sustain CG during re-alimentation. DEGs identified are potential candidate genes for the identification of biomarkers for CG, which may be incorporated into future breeding programmes.
    • Effect of supplementation with n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids and/or β-glucans on performance, feeding behaviour and immune status of Holstein Friesian bull calves during the pre- and post-weaning periods

      McDonnell, Ruairi P; O'Doherty, John V.; Earley, Bernadette; Clarke, Anne Marie; Kenny, David A.; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; Science Foundation Ireland; 14/IA/2548 (Biomed Central, 2019-01-29)
      Background Previous research in both calves and other species has suggested n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) and β-glucans may have positive effects on immune function. This experiment measured performance, behaviour, metabolite and immunological responses to pre-weaning supplementation of dairy bull calves with n-3 PUFA in the form of fish oil and β-glucans derived from seaweed extract. 44 Holstein Friesian bull calves, aged 13.7 ± 2.5 d and weighing 48.0 ± 5.8 kg were artificially reared using an electronic feeding system. Each calf was offered 5 L (120 g/L) per day of milk replacer (MR) and assigned to one of four treatments included in the MR, (1) Control (CON); (2) 40 g n-3 PUFA per day (FO); (3) 1 g β-glucans per day (GL) and (4) 40 g n-3 PUFA per day & 1 g/d β-glucans (FOGL) in a 2 × 2 factorial design. Milk replacer and concentrate was offered from d 0–62 (pre-weaning), while concentrate provision continued for a further 31 d post-weaning period. Individual daily feed intake and feeding behaviour was recorded throughout, while bodyweight and blood analyte data were collected at regular intervals. Results Overall mean concentrate DMI from d 0–93 was 1.39, 1.27, 1.00 and 0.72 kg/d for CON, FO, GL and FOGL calves, respectively (SEM = 0.037; P < 0.0001). Calves supplemented with GL were significantly lighter (P < 0.0001) at both weaning (d 62) and turnout to pasture (d 93) than un-supplemented calves, with a similar effect (P < 0.0001) evident for calves receiving FO compared to un-supplemented contemporaries. Supplementation with GL reduced the number of unrewarded visits where milk was not consumed (P < 0.0001) while supplementation with FO increased mean drinking speed (P < 0.0001). Supplementation with GL resulted in greater concentrations of haptoglobin (P = 0.034), greater serum osmolality (P = 0.021) and lower lymphocyte levels (P = 0.027). In addition, cells from GL supplemented calves exhibited a lower response than un-supplemented contemporaries to both Phytohaemagglutinin A stimulated IFN-γ (P = 0.019) and Concanavalin A stimulated IFN-γ (P = 0.012) following in vitro challenges. Conclusions Pre-weaning supplementation of bull calves with either n-3 PUFA or β-glucan resulted in reduced voluntary feed intake of concentrate and consequently poorer pre-weaning calf performance. There was no evidence for any beneficial effect of either supplementation strategy on calves’ immune responses.
    • The efficacy of thuricin CD, tigecycline, vancomycin, teicoplanin, rifampicin and nitazoxanide, independently and in paired combinations against Clostridium difficile biofilms and planktonic cells

      Mathur, Harsh; Rea, Mary C.; Cotter, Paul D.; Hill, Colin; Ross, R Paul; Science Foundation Ireland; SFI/12/RC/2273 (Biomed Central, 02/06/2016)
      Background Thuricin CD is a two-component antimicrobial, belonging to the recently designated sactibiotic subclass of bacteriocins. The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of thuricin CD, as well as the antibiotics, tigecycline, vancomycin, teicoplanin, rifampicin and nitazoxanide when used independently and when combined at low concentrations on the viability of Clostridium difficile 20291 R027, TL178 R002, Liv022 R106, DPC6350 and VPI10463 biofilms and planktonic cells. Results On the basis of XTT (2,3-bis[2-methyloxy-4-nitro-5-sulphophenyl]-2H-tetrazolium-5-carboxanilide)-menadione biofilm viability assays, we found that thuricin CD was effective against biofilms of R027, Liv022 R106 and DPC6350 when used independently while nitazoxanide and rifampicin were also potent against biofilms of R027 and DPC6350, when applied on their own. Tigecycline was found to be effective against R027 and DPC6350 biofilms, whereas teicoplanin and vancomycin when used independently were only effective against DPC6350 biofilms. The efficacies of the antibiotics rifampicin, tigecycline, vancomycin and teicoplanin against C. difficile 20291 R027 biofilms were significantly potentiated when combined with thuricin CD, indicating effective antimicrobial combinations with this sactibiotic against R027 biofilms. However, the potency of nitazoxanide against R027 biofilms was significantly diminished when combined with thuricin CD, indicating an ineffective combination with this sactibiotic against R027 biofilms. Paired combinations of thuricin CD along with these five antibiotics were effective at diminishing the viability of DPC6350 biofilms. However, such combinations were largely ineffective against biofilms of TL178 R002, Liv022 R106 and VPI10463. Conclusions To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study to highlight the activity of a sactibiotic bacteriocin against biofilms and the first to reveal the potency of the antibiotics tigecycline, teicoplanin and nitazoxanide against C. difficile biofilms. On the basis of this study, it is apparent that different strains of C. difficile possess varying abilities to form biofilms and that the sensitivities of these biofilms to different antimicrobials and antimicrobial combinations are strain-dependent. Since the formation of relatively strong biofilms by certain C. difficile strains may contribute to increased cases of antibiotic resistance and recurrence and relapse of C. difficile infection, the findings presented in this study could provide alternative strategies to target this pathogen.
    • Examination of the molecular control of ruminal epithelial function in response to dietary restriction and subsequent compensatory growth in cattle

      O'Shea, Emma; Waters, Sinead M.; Keogh, Kate; Kelly, Alan K; Kenny, David A.; Science Foundation Ireland; 09/RFP/GEN2447 (2016-09-15)
      Background The objective of this study was to investigate the effect of dietary restriction and subsequent compensatory growth on the relative expression of genes involved in volatile fatty acid transport, metabolism and cell proliferation in ruminal epithelial tissue of beef cattle. Sixty Holstein Friesian bulls (mean liveweight 370 ± 35 kg; mean age 479 ± 15 d) were assigned to one of two groups: (i) restricted feed allowance (RES; n = 30) for 125 d (Period 1) followed by ad libitum access to feed for 55 d (Period 2) or (ii) ad libitum access to feed throughout (ADLIB; n = 30). Target growth rate for RES was 0.6 kg/d during Period 1. At the end of each dietary period, 15 animals from each treatment group were slaughtered and ruminal epithelial tissue and liquid digesta harvested from the ventral sac of the rumen. Real-time qPCR was used to quantify mRNA transcripts of 26 genes associated with ruminal epithelial function. Volatile fatty acid analysis of rumen fluid from individual animals was conducted using gas chromatography. Results Diet × period interactions were evident for genes involved in ketogenesis (BDH2, P = 0.017), pyruvate metabolism (LDHa, P = 0.048; PDHA1, P = 0.015) and cellular transport and structure (DSG1, P = 0.019; CACT, P = 0.027). Ruminal concentrations of propionic acid (P = 0.018) and n-valeric acid (P = 0.029) were lower in RES animals, compared with ADLIB, throughout the experiment. There was also a strong tendency (P = 0.064) toward a diet × period interaction for n-butyric with higher concentrations in RES animals, compared with ADLIB, during Period 1. Conclusions These data suggest that following nutrient restriction, the structural integrity of the rumen wall is compromised and there is upregulation of genes involved in the production of ketone bodies and breakdown of pyruvate for cellular energy. These results provide an insight into the potential molecular mechanisms regulating ruminal epithelial absorptive metabolism and growth following nutrient restriction and subsequent compensatory growth.
    • Gene-trait matching across the Bifidobacterium longum pan-genome reveals considerable diversity in carbohydrate catabolism among human infant strains

      Arboleya, Silvia; Bottacini, Francesca; O'Connell-Motherway, Mary; Ryan, C. Anthony; Ross, R Paul; van Sinderen, Douwe; Stanton, Catherine; Science Foundation Ireland; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Ireland; SFI/12/RC/2273; et al. (Biomed Central, 08/01/2018)
      Background Bifidobacterium longum is a common member of the human gut microbiota and is frequently present at high numbers in the gut microbiota of humans throughout life, thus indicative of a close symbiotic host-microbe relationship. Different mechanisms may be responsible for the high competitiveness of this taxon in its human host to allow stable establishment in the complex and dynamic intestinal microbiota environment. The objective of this study was to assess the genetic and metabolic diversity in a set of 20 B. longum strains, most of which had previously been isolated from infants, by performing whole genome sequencing and comparative analysis, and to analyse their carbohydrate utilization abilities using a gene-trait matching approach. Results We analysed their pan-genome and their phylogenetic relatedness. All strains clustered in the B. longum ssp. longum phylogenetic subgroup, except for one individual strain which was found to cluster in the B. longum ssp. suis phylogenetic group. The examined strains exhibit genomic diversity, while they also varied in their sugar utilization profiles. This allowed us to perform a gene-trait matching exercise enabling the identification of five gene clusters involved in the utilization of xylo-oligosaccharides, arabinan, arabinoxylan, galactan and fucosyllactose, the latter of which is an abundant human milk oligosaccharide (HMO). Conclusions The results showed high diversity in terms of genes and predicted glycosyl-hydrolases, as well as the ability to metabolize a large range of sugars. Moreover, we corroborate the capability of B. longum ssp. longum to metabolise HMOs. Ultimately, their intraspecific genomic diversity and the ability to consume a wide assortment of carbohydrates, ranging from plant-derived carbohydrates to HMOs, may provide an explanation for the competitive advantage and persistence of B. longum in the human gut microbiome.
    • Gene-trait matching across the Bifidobacterium longum pan-genome reveals considerable diversity in carbohydrate catabolism among human infant strains

      Arboleya, Silvia; Bottacini, Francesca; O'Connell-Motherway, Mary; Ryan, C. Anthony; Ross, R Paul; van Sinderen, Douwe; Stanton, Catherine; Science Foundation Ireland; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Ireland; SFI/12/RC/2273; et al. (Biomed Central, 08/01/2018)
      Background Bifidobacterium longum is a common member of the human gut microbiota and is frequently present at high numbers in the gut microbiota of humans throughout life, thus indicative of a close symbiotic host-microbe relationship. Different mechanisms may be responsible for the high competitiveness of this taxon in its human host to allow stable establishment in the complex and dynamic intestinal microbiota environment. The objective of this study was to assess the genetic and metabolic diversity in a set of 20 B. longum strains, most of which had previously been isolated from infants, by performing whole genome sequencing and comparative analysis, and to analyse their carbohydrate utilization abilities using a gene-trait matching approach. Results We analysed their pan-genome and their phylogenetic relatedness. All strains clustered in the B. longum ssp. longum phylogenetic subgroup, except for one individual strain which was found to cluster in the B. longum ssp. suis phylogenetic group. The examined strains exhibit genomic diversity, while they also varied in their sugar utilization profiles. This allowed us to perform a gene-trait matching exercise enabling the identification of five gene clusters involved in the utilization of xylo-oligosaccharides, arabinan, arabinoxylan, galactan and fucosyllactose, the latter of which is an abundant human milk oligosaccharide (HMO). Conclusions The results showed high diversity in terms of genes and predicted glycosyl-hydrolases, as well as the ability to metabolize a large range of sugars. Moreover, we corroborate the capability of B. longum ssp. longum to metabolise HMOs. Ultimately, their intraspecific genomic diversity and the ability to consume a wide assortment of carbohydrates, ranging from plant-derived carbohydrates to HMOs, may provide an explanation for the competitive advantage and persistence of B. longum in the human gut microbiome.
    • Gene-trait matching across the Bifidobacterium longum pan-genome reveals considerable diversity in carbohydrate catabolism among human infant strains

      Arboleya, Silvia; Bottacini, Francesca; O'Connell-Motherway, Mary; Ryan, C. Anthony; Ross, R Paul; van Sinderen, Douwe; Stanton, Catherine; Science Foundation Ireland; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Ireland; SFI/12/RC/2273; et al. (Biomed Central, 08/01/2018)
      Background Bifidobacterium longum is a common member of the human gut microbiota and is frequently present at high numbers in the gut microbiota of humans throughout life, thus indicative of a close symbiotic host-microbe relationship. Different mechanisms may be responsible for the high competitiveness of this taxon in its human host to allow stable establishment in the complex and dynamic intestinal microbiota environment. The objective of this study was to assess the genetic and metabolic diversity in a set of 20 B. longum strains, most of which had previously been isolated from infants, by performing whole genome sequencing and comparative analysis, and to analyse their carbohydrate utilization abilities using a gene-trait matching approach. Results We analysed their pan-genome and their phylogenetic relatedness. All strains clustered in the B. longum ssp. longum phylogenetic subgroup, except for one individual strain which was found to cluster in the B. longum ssp. suis phylogenetic group. The examined strains exhibit genomic diversity, while they also varied in their sugar utilization profiles. This allowed us to perform a gene-trait matching exercise enabling the identification of five gene clusters involved in the utilization of xylo-oligosaccharides, arabinan, arabinoxylan, galactan and fucosyllactose, the latter of which is an abundant human milk oligosaccharide (HMO). Conclusions The results showed high diversity in terms of genes and predicted glycosyl-hydrolases, as well as the ability to metabolize a large range of sugars. Moreover, we corroborate the capability of B. longum ssp. longum to metabolise HMOs. Ultimately, their intraspecific genomic diversity and the ability to consume a wide assortment of carbohydrates, ranging from plant-derived carbohydrates to HMOs, may provide an explanation for the competitive advantage and persistence of B. longum in the human gut microbiome.