The relationships between biogeochemical processes and microbial functions in rice (Oryza sativa) paddies have been the focus of a large number of studies. A mechanistic understanding of methane–nitrogen (CH4–N) cycle interactions is a key unresolved issue in research on rice paddies. This minireview is an opinion paper for highlighting the mechanisms underlying the interactions between biogeochemical processes and plant-associated microbes based on recent metagenomic, metaproteomic, and isotope analyses. A rice symbiotic gene, relevant to rhizobial nodulation and mycorrhization in plants, likely accommodates diazotrophic methanotrophs or the associated bacterial community in root tissues under low-N fertilizer management, which may permit rice plants to acquire N via N2 fixation. The amount of N fixed in rice roots was previously estimated to be approximately 12% of plant N based on measurements of 15N natural abundance in a paddy field experiment. Community analyses also indicate that methanotroph populations in rice roots are susceptible to environmental conditions such as the microclimate of rice paddies. Therefore, CH4 oxidation by methanotrophs is a driving force in shaping bacterial communities in rice roots grown in CH4-rich environments. Based on these findings, we propose a hypothesis with unanswered questions to describe the interplay between rice plants, root microbiomes, and their biogeochemical functions (CH4 oxidation and N2 fixation).
Frankia Sp+ strains maintain their ability to sporulate in symbiosis with actinorhizal plants, producing abundant sporangia inside host plant cells, in contrast to Sp− strains, which are unable to perform in-planta sporulation. We herein examined the role of in-planta sporulation in Frankia infectivity and competitiveness for root infection. Fifteen strains belonging to different Sp+ and Sp− phylogenetic lineages were inoculated on seedlings of Alnus glutinosa (Ag) and A. incana (Ai). Strain competitiveness was investigated by performing Sp−/Sp+ co-inoculations. Plant inoculations were standardized using crushed nodules obtained under laboratory-controlled conditions (same plant species, age, and environmental factors). Specific oligonucleotide primers were developed to identify Frankia Sp+ and/or Sp− strains in the resulting nodules. Single inoculation experiments showed that (i) infectivity by Sp+ strains was significantly greater than that by Sp− strains, (ii) genetically divergent Sp+ strains exhibited different infective abilities, and (iii) Sp+ and Sp− strains showed different host preferences according to the origin (host species) of the inocula. Co-inoculations of Sp+ and Sp− strains revealed the greater competitiveness of Sp+ strains (98.3 to 100% of Sp+ nodules, with up to 15.6% nodules containing both Sp+ and Sp− strains). The results of the present study highlight differences in Sp+/Sp− strain ecological behaviors and provide new insights to strengthen the obligate symbiont hypothesis for Sp+ strains.
Forest management activities, such as tree thinning, alter forest ecology, including key components of forest ecosystems, including fungal communities. In the present study, we investigate the effects of forest thinning intensity on the populations and structures of fungal soil communities in the Cryptomeria japonica forests of central Taiwan as well as the dynamics of soil fungi communities in these forests after a thinning disturbance. Although the populations of soil fungi significantly increased in the first 6 months after thinning, these increases had subsided by 9 months. This pulse was attributed to a transient increase in the populations of rapid colonizers. A multiple regression analysis positively correlated fungal populations with organic matter content and cellulase activity. Thinning initially provided large amounts of fresh leaves and roots as nutrient-rich substrates for soil fungi. Denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) profiles indicated that soil fungal communities significantly differed among plots with 0% (control), 25%, and 50% tree thinning in the first 21 months post-thinning, with no significant differences being observed after 21 months. The fungal communities of these forest soils also changed with the seasons, and an interactive relationship was detected between seasons and treatments. Seasonal variations in fungal communities were the most pronounced after 50% tree thinning. The results of the present study demonstrate that the soil fungi of Taiwanese C. japonica forests are very sensitive to thinning disturbances, but recover stability after a relatively short period of time.
In order to assess the physiological responses of bradyrhizobia and competition for the nodulation of soybean at different temperatures, we investigated the expression of the nodC gene at 20, 25, and 30°C and the abilities of bacteria to nodulate soybean in microcosms at day/night cultivation temperatures of 23/18°C, 28/23°C, and 33/28°C for 16/8 h. We tested five Bradyrhizobium USDA strains: B. diazoefficiens USDA 110T and 122, B. japonicum USDA 123, and B. elkanii USDA 31 and 76T. The expression of nodC was up-regulated by increasing culture temperatures in USDA 110T, 122, 31, and 76T, but was down-regulated in USDA 123. The proportions of USDA 110T and 122 within the community were the greatest at 28/23°C. The population of USDA 31 increased, whereas that of USDA 123 decreased with increasing cultivation temperatures. On the other hand, infection by USDA 76T was not detected, and low numbers of USDA 76T nodules confirmed its poor nodulation ability. These results indicate that the competitiveness of and infection by USDA 110T, 122, 123, and 31 for soybean nodulation depend on cultivation temperatures, and suggest that the temperature dependence of nodC expression affects the bradyrhizobial community structure.
Knowledge of the distribution and diversity of RNA viruses is still limited in spite of their possible environmental and epidemiological impacts because RNA virus-specific metagenomic methods have not yet been developed. We herein constructed an effective metagenomic method for RNA viruses by targeting long double-stranded (ds)RNA in cellular organisms, which is a hallmark of infection, or the replication of dsRNA and single-stranded (ss)RNA viruses, except for retroviruses. This novel dsRNA targeting metagenomic method is characterized by an extremely high recovery rate of viral RNA sequences, the retrieval of terminal sequences, and uniform read coverage, which has not previously been reported in other metagenomic methods targeting RNA viruses. This method revealed a previously unidentified viral RNA diversity of more than 20 complete RNA viral genomes including dsRNA and ssRNA viruses associated with an environmental diatom colony. Our approach will be a powerful tool for cataloging RNA viruses associated with organisms of interest.
The impact of arsenite (As[III]) on the bacterial community structure and diversity in soil was determined by incubating soil slurries with 50, 500, and 5,000 μM As(III). As(III) was oxidized to arsenate (As[V]), and the microbial contribution to As(III) oxidation was 70–100%. PCR-denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis revealed that soil bacterial diversity decreased in the presence of As(III). Bacteria closely related to the family Bacillaceae were predominant in slurry spiked with 5,000 μM As(III). The population size of culturable As(III)-resistant bacteria was 37-fold higher in this slurry than in unspiked slurry (p < 0.01), indicating that high levels of As(III) stimulate the emergence of As(III)-resistant bacteria. As(III)-resistant bacteria isolated from slurry spiked with 5,000 μM As(III) were mainly affiliated with the genus Bacillus; however, no strains showed As(III)-oxidizing capacity. An As(III)-oxidizing bacterial community analysis based on As(III) oxidase gene (aioA) sequences demonstrated that diversity was the lowest in slurry spiked with 5,000 μM As(III). The deduced AioA sequences affiliated with Alphaproteobacteria accounted for 91–93% of all sequences in this slurry, among which those closely related to Bosea spp. were predominant (48–86%). These results suggest that exposure to high levels of As(III) has a significant impact on the composition and diversity of the soil bacterial community, including the As(III)-oxidizing bacterial community. Certain As(III)-oxidizing bacteria with strong As(III) resistance may be enriched under high As(III) levels, while more sensitive As(III) oxidizers are eliminated under these conditions.
We herein designed novel PCR primers for universal detection of the pepA gene, which encodes the representative leucine aminopeptidase gene, and investigated the genetic characteristics and diversity of pepA genes in sediments of hypereutrophic Lake Kasumigaura, Japan. Most of the amino acid sequences deduced from the obtained clones (369 out of 370) were related to PepA-like protein sequences in the M17 family of proteins. The developed primers broadly detected pepA-like clones associated with diverse bacterial phyla—Alpha-, Beta-, Gamma-, and Deltaproteobacteria, Acidobacteria, Actinobacteria, Aquificae, Chlamydiae, Chloroflexi, Cyanobacteria, Firmicutes, Nitrospirae, Planctomycetes, and Spirochetes as well as the archaeal phylum Thaumarchaeota, indicating that prokaryotes in aquatic environments possessing leucine aminopeptidase are more diverse than previously reported. Moreover, prokaryotes related to the obtained pepA-like clones appeared to be r- and K-strategists, which was in contrast to our previous findings showing that the neutral metalloprotease gene clones obtained were related to the r-strategist genus Bacillus. Our results suggest that an unprecedented diversity of prokaryotes with a combination of different proteases participate in sedimentary proteolysis.
Vascular plants are commonly colonized by endophytic actinobacteria. However, very little is known about the relationship between these microorganisms and cacao fruits. In order to determine the physiological and taxonomic relationships between the members of this community, actinobacteria were isolated from cacao fruits and seeds. Among the 49 isolates recovered, 11 morphologically distinct isolates were selected for further characterization. Sequencing of the 16S rRNA gene allowed the partition of the selected isolates into three phylogenetic clades. Most of the selected endophytic isolates belonged to the Streptomyces violaceusniger clade. Physiological characterization was carried out and a similarity index was used to cluster the isolates. However, clustering based on physiological properties did not match phylogenetic lineages. Isolates were also characterized for traits commonly associated with plant growth-promoting bacteria, including antibiosis and auxin biosynthesis. All isolates exhibited resistance to geldanamycin, whereas only two isolates were shown to produce this antibiotic. Endophytes were inoculated on radish seedlings and most isolates were found to possess plant growth-promoting abilities. These endophytic actinobacteria inhibited the growth of various plant pathogenic fungi and/or bacteria. The present study showed that S. violaceusniger clade members represent a significant part of the actinobacterial community living as endophytes in cacao fruits and seeds. While several members of this clade are known to be geldanamycin producers and efficient biocontrol agents of plant diseases, we herein established the endophytic lifestyle of some of these microorganisms, demonstrating their potential as plant health agents.
We herein investigated the mechanisms underlying the contact leaching process in pyrite bioleaching by Acidithiobacillus ferrooxidans using scanning transmission X-ray microscopy (STXM)-based C and Fe near edge X-ray absorption fine structure (NEXAFS) analyses. The C NEXAFS analysis directly showed that attached A. ferrooxidans produces polysaccharide-abundant extracellular polymeric substances (EPS) at the cell-pyrite interface. Furthermore, by combining the C and Fe NEXAFS results, we detected significant amounts of Fe(II), in addition to Fe(III), in the interfacial EPS at the cell-pyrite interface. A probable explanation for the Fe(II) in detected EPS is the leaching of Fe(II) from the pyrite. The detection of Fe(II) also indicates that Fe(III) resulting from pyrite oxidation may effectively function as an oxidizing agent for pyrite at the cell-pyrite interface. Thus, our results imply that a key role of Fe(III) in EPS, in addition to its previously described role in the electrostatic attachment of the cell to pyrite, is enhancing pyrite dissolution.
Under paddy field conditions, biological sulfur oxidation occurs in the oxidized surface soil layer and rhizosphere, in which oxygen leaks from the aerenchyma system of rice plants. In the present study, we examined community shifts in sulfur-oxidizing bacteria associated with the oxidized surface soil layer and rice roots under different sulfur fertilization conditions based on the 16S ribosomal RNA (rRNA) gene in order to explore the existence of oligotrophic sulfur-oxidizing bacteria in the paddy rice ecosystem. Rice plants were grown in pots with no fertilization (control) or CaCO3 or CaSO4 fertilization. A principal-coordinates analysis (PCoA) showed that CaSO4 fertilization markedly affected bacterial communities associated with rice roots and soil, whereas no significant differences were observed in plant growth among the fertilizer treatments examined. In rice roots, the relative abundance of Acidobacteria, Alphaproteobacteria, Gammaproteobacteria, and TM7 was significantly higher in CaSO4-fertilized pots than in control pots. Alphaproteobacteria, Bradyrhizobiaceae, and Methylocystaceae members were significantly more abundant in CaSO4-fertilized roots than in control roots. On the other hand, the abundance of Actinobacteria and Proteobacteria was lower in CaSO4-fertilized soil than in control soil. These results indicate that the bacteria associated with rice roots and soil responded to the sulfur amendment, suggesting that more diverse bacteria are involved in sulfur oxidation in the rice paddy ecosystem than previously considered.
The hydrogen uptake (Hup) system of Bradyrhizobium diazoefficiens recycles the H2 released by nitrogenase in soybean nodule symbiosis, and is responsible for H2-dependent chemolithoautotrophic growth. The strain USDA110 has two hup gene clusters located outside (locus I) and inside (locus II) a symbiosis island. Bacterial growth under H2-dependent chemolithoautotrophic conditions was markedly weaker and H2 production by soybean nodules was markedly stronger for the mutant of hup locus I (ΔhupS1L1) than for the mutant of hup locus II (ΔhupS2L2). These results indicate that locus I is primarily responsible for Hup activity.
Leptospirosis is an emerging disease around the globe. South Andaman Island is an endemic region for leptospirosis. We herein compared the prevalence of leptospires in urban and rural areas of South Andaman Island. The PCR detection and isolation of Leptospira revealed that pathogenic leptospires were prevalent in sewage water and household drainage water in urban areas and in paddy fields, vegetable field water, and stream water in rural areas. These results demonstrate that intermediates are ubiquitously present in the environment and may be responsible for asymptomatic infections, and also provide an insight into disease ecology.