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  • 1
    In: mBio, 2018, Vol.9(6)
    Description: The alphaproteobacterium Agrobacterium tumefaciens is able to infect various eudicots causing crown gall tumor formation. Based on its unique ability of interkingdom gene transfer, Agrobacterium serves as a crucial biotechnological tool for genetic manipulation of plant cells. The presence of hundreds of putative sRNAs in this organism suggests a considerable impact of riboregulation on A. tumefaciens physiology. Here, we characterized the biological function of the sRNA PmaR that controls various processes crucial for growth, motility, and virulence. Among the genes directly targeted by PmaR is ampC coding for a beta-lactamase that confers ampicillin resistance, suggesting that the sRNA is crucial for fitness in the competitive microbial composition of the rhizosphere. ABSTRACT Small regulatory RNAs play an important role in the adaptation to changing conditions. Here, we describe a differentially expressed small regulatory RNA (sRNA) that affects various cellular processes in the plant pathogen Agrobacterium tumefaciens . Using a combination of bioinformatic predictions and comparative proteomics, we identified nine targets, most of which are positively regulated by the sRNA. According to these targets, we named the sRNA PmaR for peptidoglycan biosynthesis, motility, and ampicillin resistance regulator. Agrobacterium spp. are long known to be naturally resistant to high ampicillin concentrations, and we can now explain this phenotype by the positive PmaR-mediated regulation of the beta-lactamase gene ampC . Structure probing revealed a spoon-like structure of the sRNA, with a single-stranded loop that is engaged in target interaction in vivo and in vitro . Several riboregulators have been implicated in antibiotic resistance mechanisms, such as uptake and efflux transporters, but PmaR represents the first example of an sRNA that directly controls the expression of an antibiotic resistance gene.
    Keywords: Research Article ; Molecular Biology And Physiology ; Antibiotic Resistance ; Gene Regulation ; Plant-Microbe Interaction ; Posttranscriptional Control ; Regulatory Rna
    ISSN: 21612129
    E-ISSN: 2150-7511
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  • 2
    In: mBio, 2018, Vol.9(6)
    Description: P. aeruginosa is a soil dwelling bacterium and a plant pathogen, and it also causes life-threatening infections in humans. Thus, P. aeruginosa thrives in diverse environments and over a broad range of temperatures. Some P. aeruginosa strains rely on the CRISPR-Cas adaptive immune system as a phage defense mechanism. Our discovery that low temperatures increase CRISPR adaptation suggests that the rarely occurring but crucial naive adaptation events may take place predominantly under conditions of slow growth, e.g., during the bacterium’s soil dwelling existence and during slow growth in biofilms. ABSTRACT Clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeat (CRISPR)-associated (CRISPR-Cas) systems are adaptive defense systems that protect bacteria and archaea from invading genetic elements. In Pseudomonas aeruginosa , quorum sensing (QS) induces the CRISPR-Cas defense system at high cell density when the risk of bacteriophage infection is high. Here, we show that another cue, temperature, modulates P. aeruginosa CRISPR-Cas. Increased CRISPR adaptation occurs at environmental (i.e., low) temperatures compared to that at body (i.e., high) temperature. This increase is a consequence of the accumulation of CRISPR-Cas complexes, coupled with reduced P. aeruginosa growth rate at the lower temperature, the latter of which provides additional time prior to cell division for CRISPR-Cas to patrol the cell and successfully eliminate and/or acquire immunity to foreign DNA. Analyses of a QS mutant and synthetic QS compounds show that the QS and temperature cues act synergistically. The diversity and level of phage encountered by P. aeruginosa in the environment exceed that in the human body, presumably warranting increased reliance on CRISPR-Cas at environmental temperatures.
    Keywords: Research Article ; Molecular Biology And Physiology ; Crispr ; Phage ; Pseudomonas ; Quorum Sensing ; Growth Rate
    ISSN: 21612129
    E-ISSN: 2150-7511
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  • 3
    Language: English
    In: Frontiers in Microbiology, 2018, Vol.9, p.1929
    Description: Over the last 60 years, soil microbiologists have accumulated a wealth of experimental data showing that the usual bulk, macroscopic parameters used to characterize soils (e.g., granulometry, pH, soil organic matter and biomass contents) provide insufficient information to describe quantitatively the activity of soil microorganisms and some of its outcomes, like the emission of greenhouse gases. Clearly, new, more appropriate macroscopic parameters are needed, which reflect better the spatial heterogeneity of soils at the microscale (i.e., the pore scale). For a long time, spectroscopic and microscopic tools were lacking to quantify processes at that scale, but major technological advances over the last 15 years have made suitable equipment available to researchers. In this context, the objective of the present article is to review progress achieved to date in the significant research program that has ensued. This program can be rationalized as a sequence of steps, namely the quantification and modeling of the physical-, (bio)chemical-, and microbiological properties of soils, the integration of these different perspectives into a unified theory, its upscaling to the macroscopic scale, and, eventually, the development of new approaches to measure macroscopic soil characteristics. At this stage, significant progress has been achieved on the physical front, and to a lesser extent on the (bio)chemical one as well, both in terms of experiments and modeling. In terms of microbial aspects, whereas a lot of work has been devoted to the modeling of bacterial and fungal activity in soils at the pore scale, the appropriateness of model assumptions cannot be readily assessed because relevant experimental data are extremely scarce. For the overall research to move forward, it will be crucial to make sure that research on the microbial components of soil systems does not keep lagging behind the work on the physical and (bio)chemical characteristics. Concerning the subsequent steps in the program, very little integration of the various disciplinary perspectives has occurred so far, and, as a result, researchers have not yet been able to tackle the scaling up to the macroscopic level. Many challenges, some of them daunting, remain on the path ahead.Fortunately, a number of these challenges may be resolved by brand new measuring equipment that will become commercially available in the very near future.
    Keywords: Life Sciences ; X-Ray Computed ; Upscaling ; Biodiversity ; Soil Microbiology ; Tomography ; Single-Cell Genomics ; Nanosims Imaging ; Biology
    ISSN: 1664-302X
    E-ISSN: 1664-302X
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  • 4
    Language: English
    In: BMC Medical Education, 01 June 2018, Vol.18(1), pp.1-10
    Description: Abstract Background The German quality assurance programme for evaluating work capacity is based on peer review that evaluates the quality of medical experts’ reports. Low reliability is thought to be due to systematic differences among peers. For this purpose, we developed a curriculum for a standardized peer-training (SPT). This study investigates, whether the SPT increases the inter-rater reliability of social medical physicians participating in a cross-institutional peer review. Methods Forty physicians from 16 regional German Pension Insurances were subjected to SPT. The three-day training course consist of nine educational objectives recorded in a training manual. The SPT is split into a basic module providing basic information about the peer review and an advanced module for small groups of up to 12 peers training peer review using medical reports. Feasibility was tested by assessing selection, comprehensibility and subjective use of contents delivered, the trainers’ delivery and design of training materials. The effectiveness of SPT was determined by evaluating peer concordance using three anonymised medical reports assessed by each peer. Percentage agreement and Fleiss’ kappa (κm) were calculated. Concordance was compared with review results from a previous unstructured, non-standardized peer-training programme (control condition) performed by 19 peers from 12 German Pension Insurances departments. The control condition focused exclusively on the application of peer review in small groups. No specifically training materials, methods and trainer instructions were used. Results Peer-training was shown to be feasible. The level of subjective confidence in handling the peer review instrument varied between 70 and 90%. Average percentage agreement for the main outcome criterion was 60.2%, resulting in a κm of 0.39. By comparison, the average percentage concordance was 40.2% and the κm was 0.12 for the control condition. Conclusion Concordance with the main criterion was relevant but not significant (p = 0.2) higher for SPT than for the control condition. Fleiss’ kappa coefficient showed that peer concordance was higher for SPT than randomly expected. Nevertheless, a score of 0.39 for the main criterion indicated only fair inter-rater reliability, considerably lower than the conventional standard of 0.7 for adequate reliability.
    Keywords: Training Curriculum ; Peer Review ; Quality Assurance ; Work Capacity Evaluation ; Inter-Rater Reliability ; Medicine
    E-ISSN: 1472-6920
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