• Assessing the viability of bacterial species in drinking water by combined cellular and molecular analyses.

      Kahlisch, Leila; Henne, Karsten; Gröbe, Lothar; Brettar, Ingrid; Höfle, Manfred G; Department of Vaccinology and Applied Microbiology, Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research, Inhoffenstrasse 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2012-02)
      The question which bacterial species are present in water and if they are viable is essential for drinking water safety but also of general relevance in aquatic ecology. To approach this question we combined propidium iodide/SYTO9 staining ("live/dead staining" indicating membrane integrity), fluorescence-activated cell sorting (FACS) and community fingerprinting for the analysis of a set of tap water samples. Live/dead staining revealed that about half of the bacteria in the tap water had intact membranes. Molecular analysis using 16S rRNA and 16S rRNA gene-based single-strand conformation polymorphism (SSCP) fingerprints and sequencing of drinking water bacteria before and after FACS sorting revealed: (1) the DNA- and RNA-based overall community structure differed substantially, (2) the community retrieved from RNA and DNA reflected different bacterial species, classified as 53 phylotypes (with only two common phylotypes), (3) the percentage of phylotypes with intact membranes or damaged cells were comparable for RNA- and DNA-based analyses, and (4) the retrieved species were primarily of aquatic origin. The pronounced difference between phylotypes obtained from DNA extracts (dominated by Betaproteobacteria, Bacteroidetes, and Actinobacteria) and from RNA extracts (dominated by Alpha-, Beta-, Gammaproteobacteria, Bacteroidetes, and Cyanobacteria) demonstrate the relevance of concomitant RNA and DNA analyses for drinking water studies. Unexpected was that a comparable fraction (about 21%) of phylotypes with membrane-injured cells was observed for DNA- and RNA-based analyses, contradicting the current understanding that RNA-based analyses represent the actively growing fraction of the bacterial community. Overall, we think that this combined approach provides an interesting tool for a concomitant phylogenetic and viability analysis of bacterial species of drinking water.
    • Whole-Genome Enrichment Provides Deep Insights into Vibrio cholerae Metagenome from an African River.

      Vezzulli, L; Grande, C; Tassistro, G; Brettar, I; Höfle, M G; Pereira, R P A; Mushi, D; Pallavicini, A; Vassallo, P; Pruzzo, C; et al. (2016-11-25)
      The detection and typing of Vibrio cholerae in natural aquatic environments encounter major methodological challenges related to the fact that the bacterium is often present in environmental matrices at very low abundance in nonculturable state. This study applied, for the first time to our knowledge, a whole-genome enrichment (WGE) and next-generation sequencing (NGS) approach for direct genotyping and metagenomic analysis of low abundant V. cholerae DNA (<50 genome unit/L) from natural water collected in the Morogoro river (Tanzania). The protocol is based on the use of biotinylated RNA baits for target enrichment of V. cholerae metagenomic DNA via hybridization. An enriched V. cholerae metagenome library was generated and sequenced on an Illumina MiSeq platform. Up to 1.8 × 10(7) bp (4.5× mean read depth) were found to map against V. cholerae reference genome sequences representing an increase of about 2500 times in target DNA coverage compared to theoretical calculations of performance for shotgun metagenomics. Analysis of metagenomic data revealed the presence of several V. cholerae virulence and virulence associated genes in river water including major virulence regions (e.g. CTX prophage and Vibrio pathogenicity island-1) and genetic markers of epidemic strains (e.g. O1-antigen biosynthesis gene cluster) that were not detectable by standard culture and molecular techniques. Overall, besides providing a powerful tool for direct genotyping of V. cholerae in complex environmental matrices, this study provides a 'proof of concept' on the methodological gap that might currently preclude a more comprehensive understanding of toxigenic V. cholerae emergence from natural aquatic environments.