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2018
Bruns, H, Crusemann M, Letzel AC, Alanjary M, McInerney JO, Jensen PR, Schulz S, Moore BS, Ziemert N.  2018.  Function-related replacement of bacterial siderophore pathways. Isme Journal. 12:320-329.   10.1038/ismej.2017.137   AbstractWebsite

Bacterial genomes are rife with orphan biosynthetic gene clusters (BGCs) associated with secondary metabolism of unrealized natural product molecules. Often up to a tenth of the genome is predicted to code for the biosynthesis of diverse metabolites with mostly unknown structures and functions. This phenomenal diversity of BGCs coupled with their high rates of horizontal transfer raise questions about whether they are really active and beneficial, whether they are neutral and confer no advantage, or whether they are carried in genomes because they are parasitic or addictive. We previously reported that Salinispora bacteria broadly use the desferrioxamine family of siderophores for iron acquisition. Herein we describe a new and unrelated group of peptidic siderophores called salinichelins from a restricted number of Salinispora strains in which the desferrioxamine biosynthesis genes have been lost. We have reconstructed the evolutionary history of these two different siderophore families and show that the acquisition and retention of the new salinichelin siderophores co- occurs with the loss of the more ancient desferrioxamine pathway. This identical event occurred at least three times independently during the evolution of the genus. We surmise that certain BGCs may be extraneous because of their functional redundancy and demonstrate that the relative evolutionary pace of natural pathway replacement shows high selective pressure against retention of functionally superfluous gene clusters.

2017
Letzel, AC, Li J, Amos GCA, Millan-Aguinaga N, Ginigini J, Abdelmohsen UR, Gaudencio SP, Ziemert N, Moore BS, Jensen PR.  2017.  Genomic insights into specialized metabolism in the marine actinomycete Salinispora. Environmental Microbiology. 19:3660-3673.   10.1111/1462-2920.13867   AbstractWebsite

Comparative genomics is providing new opportunities to address the diversity and distributions of genes encoding the biosynthesis of specialized metabolites. An analysis of 119 genome sequences representing three closely related species of the marine actinomycete genus Salinispora reveals extraordinary biosynthetic diversity in the form of 176 distinct biosynthetic gene clusters (BGCs) of which only 24 have been linked to their products. Remarkably, more than half of the BGCs were observed in only one or two strains, suggesting they were acquired relatively recently in the evolutionary history of the genus. These acquired gene clusters are concentrated in specific genomic islands, which represent hot spots for BGC acquisition. While most BGCs are stable in terms of their chromosomal position, others migrated to different locations or were exchanged with unrelated gene clusters suggesting a plug and play type model of evolution that provides a mechanism to test the relative fitness effects of specialized metabolites. Transcriptome analyses were used to address the relationships between BGC abundance, chromosomal position and product discovery. The results indicate that recently acquired BGCs can be functional and that complex evolutionary processes shape the micro-diversity of specialized metabolism observed in closely related environmental bacteria.

Millan-Aguinaga, N, Chavarria KL, Ugalde JA, Letzel AC, Rouse GW, Jensen PR.  2017.  Phylogenomic Insight into Salinispora (Bacteria, Actinobacteria) Species Designations. Scientific Reports. 7   10.1038/s41598-017-02845-3   AbstractWebsite

Bacteria represent the most genetically diverse kingdom of life. While great progress has been made in describing this diversity, it remains difficult to identify the phylogenetic and ecological characteristics that delineate groups of bacteria that possess species-like properties. One major challenge associated with species delineations is that not all shared genes have the same evolutionary history, and thus the choice of loci can have a major impact on phylogenetic reconstruction. Sequencing the genomes of large numbers of closely related strains provides new opportunities to distinguish ancestral from acquired alleles and assess the effects of recombination on phylogenetic inference. Here we analyzed the genomes of 119 strains of the marine actinomycete genus Salinispora, which is currently comprised of three named species that share 99% 16S rRNA gene sequence identity. While 63% of the core genome showed evidence of recombination, this had no effect on species-level phylogenomic resolution. Recombination did however blur intra-species relationships and biogeographic resolution. The genome-wide average nucleotide identity provided a new perspective on Salinispora diversity, revealing as many as seven new species. Patterns of orthologous group distributions reveal a genetic basis to delineation the candidate taxa and insight into the levels of genetic cohesion associated with bacterial species.

2016
Jensen, PR.  2016.  Natural products and the gene cluster revolution. Trends in Microbiology. 24:968-977.   10.1016/j.tim.2016.07.006   AbstractWebsite

Genome sequencing has created unprecedented opportunities for natural product discovery and new insight into the diversity and distributions of natural-product biosynthetic gene clusters (BGCs). These gene collectives are highly evolved for horizontal exchange, thus providing immediate opportunities to test the effects of small molecules on fitness. The marine actinomycete genus Salinispora maintains extraordinary levels of BGC diversity and has become a useful model for studies of secondary metabolism. Most Salinispora BGCs are observed infrequently, resulting in high population-level diversity while conforming to constraints associated with maximum genome size. Comparative genomics is providing a mechanism to assess secondary metabolism in the context of evolution and evidence that some products represent ecotype-defining traits while others appear selectively neutral.

Patin, NV, Duncan KR, Dorrestein PC, Jensen PR.  2016.  Competitive strategies differentiate closely related species of marine actinobacteria. Isme Journal. 10:478-490.   10.1038/ismej.2015.128   AbstractWebsite

Although competition, niche partitioning, and spatial isolation have been used to describe the ecology and evolution of macro-organisms, it is less clear to what extent these principles account for the extraordinary levels of bacterial diversity observed in nature. Ecological interactions among bacteria are particularly challenging to address due to methodological limitations and uncertainties over how to recognize fundamental units of diversity and link them to the functional traits and evolutionary processes that led to their divergence. Here we show that two closely related marine actinomycete species can be differentiated based on competitive strategies. Using a direct challenge assay to investigate inhibitory interactions with members of the bacterial community, we observed a temporal difference in the onset of inhibition. The majority of inhibitory activity exhibited by Salinispora arenicola occurred early in its growth cycle and was linked to antibiotic production. In contrast, most inhibition by Salinispora tropica occurred later in the growth cycle and was more commonly linked to nutrient depletion or other sources. Comparative genomics support these differences, with S. arenicola containing nearly twice the number of secondary metabolite biosynthetic gene clusters as S. tropica, indicating a greater potential for secondary metabolite production. In contrast, S. tropica is enriched in gene clusters associated with the acquisition of growth-limiting nutrients such as iron. Coupled with differences in growth rates, the results reveal that S. arenicola uses interference competition at the expense of growth, whereas S. tropica preferentially employs a strategy of exploitation competition. The results support the ecological divergence of two co-occurring and closely related species of marine bacteria by providing evidence they have evolved fundamentally different strategies to compete in marine sediments.

2014
Wietz, M, Millan-Aguinaga N, Jensen PR.  2014.  CRISPR-Cas systems in the marine actinomycete Salinispora: linkages with phage defense, microdiversity and biogeography. Bmc Genomics. 15   10.1186/1471-2164-15-936   AbstractWebsite

Background: Prokaryotic CRISPR-Cas systems confer resistance to viral infection and thus mediate bacteria-phage interactions. However, the distribution and functional diversity of CRISPRs among environmental bacteria remains largely unknown. Here, comparative genomics of 75 Salinispora strains provided insight into the diversity and distribution of CRISPR-Cas systems in a cosmopolitan marine actinomycete genus. Results: CRISPRs were found in all Salinispora strains, with the majority containing multiple loci and different Cas array subtypes. Of the six subtypes identified, three have not been previously described. A lower prophage frequency in S. arenicola was associated with a higher fraction of spacers matching Salinispora prophages compared to S. tropica, suggesting differing defensive capacities between Salinispora species. The occurrence of related prophages in strains from distant locations, as well as spacers matching those prophages inserted throughout spacer arrays, indicate recurring encounters with widely distributed phages over time. Linkages of CRISPR features with Salinispora microdiversity pointed to subclade-specific contacts with mobile genetic elements (MGEs). This included lineage-specific spacer deletions or insertions, which may reflect weak selective pressures to maintain immunity or distinct temporal interactions with MGEs, respectively. Biogeographic patterns in spacer and prophage distributions support the concept that Salinispora spp. encounter localized MGEs. Moreover, the presence of spacers matching housekeeping genes suggests that CRISPRs may have functions outside of viral defense. Conclusions: This study provides a comprehensive examination of CRISPR-Cas systems in a broadly distributed group of environmental bacteria. The ubiquity and diversity of CRISPRs in Salinispora suggests that CRISPR-mediated interactions with MGEs represent a major force in the ecology and evolution of this cosmopolitan marine actinomycete genus.

2012
Ziemert, N, Jensen PR.  2012.  Phylogenetic approaches to natural product structure prediction. Natural Product Biosynthesis by Microorganisms and Plants, Pt C. 517( Hopwood DA, Ed.).:161-182., San Diego: Elsevier Academic Press Inc   10.1016/8978-0-12-404634-4.00008-5   Abstract

Phylogenetics is the study of the evolutionary relatedness among groups of organisms. Molecular phylogenetics uses sequence data to infer these relationships for both organisms and the genes they maintain. With the large amount of publicly available sequence data, phylogenetic inference has become increasingly important in all fields of biology. In the case of natural product research, phylogenetic relationships are proving to be highly informative in terms of delineating the architecture and function of the genes involved in secondary metabolite biosynthesis. Polyketide synthases and nonribosomal peptide synthetases provide model examples in which individual domain phylogenies display different predictive capacities, resolving features ranging from substrate specificity to structural motifs associated with the final metabolic product. This chapter provides examples in which phylogeny has proven effective in terms of predicting functional or structural aspects of secondary metabolism. The basics of how to build a reliable phylogenetic tree are explained along with information about programs and tools that can be used for this purpose. Furthermore, it introduces the Natural Product Domain Seeker, a recently developed Web tool that employs phylogenetic logic to classify ketosynthase and condensation domains based on established enzyme architecture and biochemical function.

2007
Jensen, PR, Williams PG, Oh DC, Zeigler L, Fenical W.  2007.  Species-specific secondary metabolite production in marine actinomycetes of the genus Salinispora. Applied and Environmental Microbiology. 73:1146-1152.   10.1128/aem.01891-06   AbstractWebsite

Here we report associations between secondary metabolite production and phylogenetically distinct but closely related marine actinomycete species belonging to the genus Salinispora. The pattern emerged in a study that included global collection sites, and it indicates that secondary metabolite production can be a species-specific, phenotypic trait associated with broadly distributed bacterial populations. Associations between actinomycete phylotype and chemotype revealed an effective, diversity-based approach to natural product discovery that contradicts the conventional wisdom that secondary metabolite production is strain specific. The structural diversity of the metabolites observed, coupled with gene probing and phylogenetic analyses, implicates lateral gene transfer as a source of the biosynthetic genes responsible for compound production. These results conform to a model of selection-driven pathway fixation occurring subsequent to gene acquisition and provide a rare example in which demonstrable physiological traits have been correlated to the fine-scale phylogenetic architecture of an environmental bacterial community.