• 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.
    • High levels of gene flow and genetic diversity in Irish populations of Salix caprea L. inferred from chloroplast and nuclear SSR markers

      Perdereau, Aude C; Kelleher, Colin T; Douglas, Gerry C.; Hodkinson, Trevor R (Biomed Central, 2014-08-07)
      Background: Salix caprea is a cold-tolerant pioneer species that is ecologically important in Europe and western and central Asia. However, little data is available on its population genetic structure and molecular ecology. We describe the levels of geographic population genetic structure in natural Irish populations of S. caprea and determine the extent of gene flow and sexual reproduction using both chloroplast and nuclear simple sequence repeats (SSRs). Results: A total of 183 individuals from 21 semi-natural woodlands were collected and genotyped. Gene diversity across populations was high for the chloroplast SSRs (HT = 0.21-0.58) and 79 different haplotypes were discovered, among them 48% were unique to a single individual. Genetic differentiation of populations was found to be between moderate and high (mean GST = 0.38). For the nuclear SSRs, GST was low at 0.07 and observed heterozygosity across populations was high (HO = 0.32-0.51); only 9.8% of the genotypes discovered were present in two or more individuals. For both types of markers, AMOVA showed that most of the variation was within populations. Minor geographic pattern was confirmed by a Bayesian clustering analysis. Gene flow via pollen was found to be approximately 7 times more important than via seeds. Conclusions: The data are consistent with outbreeding and indicate that there are no significant barriers for gene flow within Ireland over large geographic distances. Both pollen-mediated and seed-mediated gene flow were found to be high, with some of the populations being more than 200 km apart from each other. These findings could simply be due to human intervention through seed trade or accidental transportation of both seeds and pollen. These results are of value to breeders wishing to exploit natural genetic variation and foresters having to choose planting material.
    • High levels of gene flow and genetic diversity in Irish populations of Salix caprea L. inferred from chloroplast and nuclear SSR markers

      Perdereau, Aude C; Kelleher, Colin T; Douglas, Gerry C.; Hodkinson, Trevor R (Biomed Central, 2014-08-07)
      Background Salix caprea is a cold-tolerant pioneer species that is ecologically important in Europe and western and central Asia. However, little data is available on its population genetic structure and molecular ecology. We describe the levels of geographic population genetic structure in natural Irish populations of S. caprea and determine the extent of gene flow and sexual reproduction using both chloroplast and nuclear simple sequence repeats (SSRs). Results A total of 183 individuals from 21 semi-natural woodlands were collected and genotyped. Gene diversity across populations was high for the chloroplast SSRs (H T  = 0.21-0.58) and 79 different haplotypes were discovered, among them 48% were unique to a single individual. Genetic differentiation of populations was found to be between moderate and high (mean G ST  = 0.38). For the nuclear SSRs, G ST was low at 0.07 and observed heterozygosity across populations was high (H O  = 0.32-0.51); only 9.8% of the genotypes discovered were present in two or more individuals. For both types of markers, AMOVA showed that most of the variation was within populations. Minor geographic pattern was confirmed by a Bayesian clustering analysis. Gene flow via pollen was found to be approximately 7 times more important than via seeds. Conclusions The data are consistent with outbreeding and indicate that there are no significant barriers for gene flow within Ireland over large geographic distances. Both pollen-mediated and seed-mediated gene flow were found to be high, with some of the populations being more than 200 km apart from each other. These findings could simply be due to human intervention through seed trade or accidental transportation of both seeds and pollen. These results are of value to breeders wishing to exploit natural genetic variation and foresters having to choose planting material.