September 13, 2020

Hello from the Sonoran Desert! In today’s digest, you’ll find quite a few exciting reads! In particular, Stepanauskas and collaborators looked at horizontal gene transfer in marine bacterial genomes in a fascinating preprint. They show that marine microorganisms form “gene exchange networks” within which organisms are able to exchange both flexible and core genes, including genes from the rRNA operon! The authors suggest a new definition of microbial species, broader than the current accepted delineation.

Today’s digest also includes few new papers and proceedings presenting novel bioinformatic tools and methods. Among them, Podlevsky and collaborators presents CasCollect, a novel computational tool allowing the assembly and annotation of Cas genes and CRISPR arrays from metagenomic datasets.

Finally, today’s non-biology piece is a very interesting review on the challenge of Big Data in biology: how modern computational frameworks can enable the storage, transfer, access, and analysis of both unstructured and structured massive biological datasets?

Have a great Sunday!

Human vaginal microbiome

Altered vaginal microbiome and relative co-abundance network in pregnant women with penicillin allergy – Li et al. – Allergy , Asthma & Clinical Immunology

Human gut microbiome

Review: Mechanisms underpinning the efficacy of faecal microbiota transplantation in treating gastrointestinal disease – Segal et al. – Therapeutic Advances in Gastroenterology

Animal microbiome

Preprint: Deep-sea mussels from a hybrid zone on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge host genetically indistinguishable symbionts – Uecker et al. – BioRxiV

Metagenomic analysis of viral communities in Baikal sponges – Butina and Bukin – Limnology and Freshwater Biology

Microbial community associated with Baicalian crustacea near gas-oil deepwater discharges – Khalzov et al. – Limnology and freshwater biology

Plant, root, and soil microbiome

Preprint: Investigating the role of root exudates in recruiting Streptomyces bacteria to the Arabidopsis thaliana root microbiome – Worsley et al. – BioRxiV

Water and extremophile microbiome (sea, rivers, lakes, glaciers, permafrost, high-salt)

Preprint: Gene exchange networks define species-like units in marine prokaryotes – Stepanauskas et al. – BioRxiV

Preprint: The effects of seasonal anoxia on the microbial community structure in demosponges in a marine lake (Lough Hyne, Ireland) – Schuster et al. – BioRxiV

Food microbiology

Preprint: Diversity and dynamics of fungi during spontaneous fermentations and association with unique aroma profiles in wine – Liu et al. – BioRxiV

Phages and viruses

Depicting the RNA Virome of Hematophagous Arthropods from Belgrade, Serbia – Stanojevic et al. – Viruses

Preprint: An Unconventional Flavivirus and other RNA Viruses in the Sea Cucumber (Holothuroidea; Echinodermata) Virome – Hewson et al. – preprints


Review: Challenges in gene-oriented approaches for pangenome content discovery – Bonnici et al. – Briefings in Bioinformatics

Conference proceedings: A Data Driven Binning Method to Recover More Nucleotide Sequences of Species in a Metagenome – Vimukti et al. – IEEE

CasCollect: targeted assembly of CRISPR-associated operons from high-throughput sequencing data – Podlevsky et al – NAR Genomics and bioinformatics


book: Metagenomics: Techniques, Applications, Challenges and Opportunities – Singh et al – Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd.

My non-microbiology pick

Review: Big data in biology: The hope and present-day challenges in it Pal et al. – Gene reports

August 23, 2020

Hello from the Sonoran Desert! In today’s digest, you’ll find quite a few exciting papers! For those interested in soil microbiology, you’ll find in today’s digest a very interesting piece on the the biodiversity and ecology of protists in the soils of the McMurdo Dry Valleys (Antarctica). This piece is particularly exciting given that the role and impact of protists in polar regions is largely unknown and understudied.

Curious readers should also take a look at the amazing study by Dunaj and collaborators focusing on spider’s associated microbiome. This piece examines the host-microbe co-evolution of different widow spider species showing a strong congruence of the microbiome beta-diversity and the host phylogeny.

Finally, in today’s non-microbiology pick, I recommend a preprint, that explored the relationship between the use of jargon and citations in cave research articles. Interestingly the authors suggest that the juse of jargon in title and abstract significantly reduces the number of citations a paper recieves!

Have a great Sunday!

Human vaginal microbiome

Review: The vaginal microbiome of sub-Saharan African women: revealing important gaps in the era of next-generation sequencing – Martina Odogwy et al. – PeerJ

Human gut microbiome

Review: Association or Causation? Exploring the Oral Microbiome and Cancer Links – Teles et al. – Journal of Dental research

Animal microbiome

Learning machine approach reveals microbial signatures of diet and sex in dog – Scarsella et al.- Plos One

Spider phylosymbiosis: divergence of widow spider species and their tissues’ microbiomes – Dunaj et al. – BMC Evolutionary Biology

Plant, root, and soil microbiome

Review: The rhizosphere microbiome: functions, dynamics, and role in plant protection – Rabelo de Faria et al. – Tropical Plant Pathology

Review: The Floral Microbiome: Plant, Pollinator, and Microbial Perspectives – Vannette – Annual review of Ecology, Evolution and systematics

Response of soil microbial communities to natural and managed vegetation restoration in a subtropical karst region – Hu et al. – CATENA

Water and extremophile microbiome

Shotgun metagenomics reveal a diverse assemblage of protists in a model Antarctic soil ecosystem – Thompson et al.- Envirmental Microbiology

Phages and viruses

Evolution of a major virion protein of the giant pandoraviruses from an inactivated bacterial glycoside hydrolase – Krupovic et al. – Virus Evolution


Predicting Host Phenotype Based on Gut Microbiome Using a Convolutional Neural Network Approach – Reiman et al.- Methods in Molecular Biology, vol 2190. Humana, New York, NY.

Database limitations for studying the human gut microbiome – Dias et al. – PeerJ


Review: Microbial High Throughput Phenomics: The Potential of an Irreplaceable Omics – Acin-Albiac et al. – Computational and Structural Biotechnolgy Journal

My non-microbiology pick

Preprint: Specialized terminology limits the reach of new scientific knowledge – Martinez et al. – BioRxiv

July 19, 2020

Hello from the Sonoran Desert! In today’s digest, you’ll find find a lot of very interesting papers! For those interested in host-phages interactions, there is an amazing work from Ping and collaborators looking at phage infections dynamics in migrating bacterial populations. Interestingly, the authors suggests that phages may be able to “hitchhike” with moving bacteria.

To continue with our viral readings, you’ll also find an interesting perspective paper from Kuprovic and collaborators. In this piece, the authors attempt to reconstruct the virome associated to LUCA (Last Universal Cellular Ancestor). Amazingly, their reconstruction shows that a remarkably complex virome would have been associated to LUCA, suggesting an extensive viral evolution antedating LUCA!

Finally, today’s non-microbiology pick is a book, looking at the fascinating Cuatro Ciénegas Basin, located in México, a site that is often described as a real outdoor laboratory for astrobiology. Indeed, the Basin site contains gypsum-rich soil analogous to the Gale Crater in Mars, and the ponds contains extremely oligotrophic waters, which can be used to model ancient oceans chemistry. You’ll explore along the chapters the history, ecology, microbiology and evolution of this amazing site, to unravel the mysteries of this site absolutely unique on the planet.

Have a great Sunday!

Human respiratory microbiome

Review: Insights gained into respiratory infection pathogenesis using lung tissue metabolomics –  Bernatchez and McCall –  PLOS Pathogens

Human gut microbiome

Description and determinants of the faecal resistome and microbiome of farmers and slaughterhouse workers: A metagenome-wide cross-sectional study –  Van Gompel et al. –  Environment International

Review: The influence of the gut microbiome on obesity –  Blanco – Journal of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners

Animal microbiome (for animals in the wild)

Comparative analysis of the gut microbiota of Apis cerana in Yunnan using high-throughput sequencing. –  Luo et al. –  Archives of Microbiology

Plant, root, and soil microbiome

Higher tree diversity increases soil microbial resistance to drought. –  Gillespie et al. –  Communications Biology

Effect of land uses on soil microbial community structures among different soil depths in northeastern China. –  Ji et al. –  European Journal of soil Biology

Structural variability and niche differentiation of the rhizosphere and endosphere fungal microbiome of Casuarina equisetifolia at different ages. –  Huang et al. –  Environmental Microbiology

Water and extremophile microbiome (sea, rivers, lakes, glaciers, permafrost, high-salt)

Substrate regulation leads to differential responses of microbial ammonia-oxidizing communities to ocean warming. –  Zheng et al. –  Nature communications

Diversity and dynamics of relevant nanoplanktonic diatoms in the Western English Channel. –  Arsenieff et al.  –  The ISME Journal

Lake characteristics influence how methanogens in littoral sediments respond to terrestrial litter inputs. –  Yakimovich et al. –  The ISME Journal

Built environment (subways, indoor surfaces)

Heavy metal concentrations in Brazilian port areas and their relationships with microorganisms: can pollution in these areas change the microbial community? –  Del Busso Zampieri et al. –  Environmental Monitoring and Assessment

Food microbiology

Material conversion, microbial community composition and metabolic functional succession during green soybean hull composting. –  Zhang et al. –  Bioresource Technology

Phages and viruses

Hitchhiking, collapse, and contingency in phage infections of migrating bacterial populations. –  Ping et al. – The ISME Journal

Review: The LUCA and its complex virome. –  Krupovic et al. –  Nature Review Microbiology

Insights into the dynamics between viruses and their hosts in a hot spring microbial mat. –  Jarett et al. –  ISME Journal


IDMIL: an alignment-free Interpretable Deep Multiple Instance Learning (MIL) for predicting disease from whole-metagenomic data. –  Rahman and Rangwala –  Bioinformatics

My non-microbiology pick

Book: Astrobiology and Cuatro Ciénegas Basin as an Analog of Early Earth. –  Medina-Chávez et al. –  Cuatro Ciénegas Basin: An Endangered Hyperdiverse Oasis. Springer

June 21, 2020

Hello from the Sonoran Desert! In today’s digest, you’ll find two very interesting reviews! Stagaman and collaborators come back on years of Zebra-fish gut microbiome research and explore the insights gleaned from this awesome model animal. On the other hand, François and Pybus review our understanding of avian viromes in both wild and domesticated bird populations, highlighting the current limitations and pitfalls in this research area.

But today’s digest also contains very interesting research papers! Gulino and collaborators are exploring viromes in New York city wastewater systems. This paper is particularly interesting as bacteriophages are typically left out from urban environments microbiomes studies, despite their abundance and importance in ecosystems.

Finally, today’s non-microbiology pick is a review that comes back on how information theory, developped by Claude Shannon in the late 40s, have been used in computational biology. This paper is particularly interesting for readers wanting to learn more about the basics of information theory and how it is applied today in bioinformatics.

Have a great Sunday!

Pregnancy and early life

Review: The microbiome in pediatric oncology – Rotz et al. – Cancer

Human respiratory microbiome

Metagenomic analysis of the lung microbiome in pulmonary tuberculosis – a pilot study – Hu et al. – Emerging Microbes & infections

Human vaginal microbiome

Taxonomic and Functional Differences in Cervical Microbiome Associated with Cervical Cancer Development –Nkufi Tange et al. – Scientific reports

Human gut microbiome

Preprint: The gut microbiome regulates memory function – Noble et al. – BioRxiV

Animal experiments (mouse/rat experiments, chickens/pigs on different diets)

review: Zebrafish microbiome studies make waves – Stagaman et al. – Lab Animal

Built environment (subways, indoor surfaces)

Revealing antimicrobial resistance in stormwater with MinION – Bialasek et al. – Chemosphere

Phages and viruses

Review: Towards an understanding of the avian virome –François et al. – Journal of general Virology

Initial Mapping of the New York City Wastewater Virome –Gulino et al. – mSystems


Higher order Markov models for metagenomic sequence classification – Burks et al. –Bioinformatics

Preprint: Combinatorial Algorithms for Strain Level Metagenomic Microbial Detection and Quantification –Zhu et al. –BioRxiV

Preprint: Ultra-rapid metagenotyping of the human gut microbiome – Shi et al. – BioRxiV

My non-microbiology pick

Review: Information Theory in Computational Biology: Where We Stand Today – Chanda et al. – Entropy

May 17, 2020

Hello from the Sonoran Desert! It is a sunny Sunday over Tucson, Az! I find that Sundays are the best to explore new ideas and concepts, and I especially love to take the time to read a good opinion piece or parse few review papers. In today’s digest, you’ll find a fascinating review on the Tara Ocean expedition and how it changed our understanding of marine microbial communities. If you’re more interested in the human-associated microbiome, fear not! There is also great pieces on the gut microbiota in athletes and on the interaction of oral and lung microbiome in the context of lung diseases.

If like me, you are a computational biologist thinking about microbiome data all day, you should enjoy reading today’s non microbiology pick, a great perspective paper discussing the FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable) data principle and what are the current hurdles that limit open data reuse.

Have a great Sunday!

Pregnancy and early life

Review: The impact of maternal and early life malnutrition on health: a diet-microbe perspective – Andrew J. Forgie et al. – BMC Medicine

Multi-site human microbiome

Perspective: Microbial Diagnostics for Cancer: A Step Forward but Not Prime Time Yet –  Cynthia L. Sears et al. – Cancer Cell

Human respiratory microbiome

Review: Oral-lung microbiome interactions in lung diseases –  Manoj J. Mammen et al. – Periodontology

Human gut microbiome

Review: The athletic gut microbiota – Alex E. Mohr et al. – Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition

Colorectal cancer occurrence and treatment based on changes in intestinal flora – Huifang Si et al. –  Seminars in cancer Biology

Animal experiments 

Microbial communities modulating brain functioning and behaviors in zebrafish: A mechanistic approach – Larica Mohanta et al. –  Microbial Pathogenesis

Multi-omics reveals that the rumen microbiome and its metabolome together with the host metabolome contribute to individualized dairy cow performance – Ming-Yuan Xue et al. – Microbiome

Preprint: Rumen protozoa shape microbiome composition and metabolic output of fermentation – Ronnie Solomon et al. – bioRxiv

Animal microbiome (for animals in the wild)

Changes in the gut microbiota during Asian particolored bat (Vespertilio sinensis) development – Zhongwei Yin et al. – Microbiology

After the bite: bacterial transmission from grey seals (Halichoerus grypus) to harbour porpoises (Phocoena phocoena) – Maarten J. Gilbert et al. – Royal Society open science

Exploration of the virome of the European brown shrimp (Crangon crangon) – Benigna Van Eynde et al. – Journal of General Virology

Plant, root, and soil microbiome

Opinion: The Role of Rhizosphere Bacteriophages in Plant Health – Akbar Adjie Pratama et al. – Trends in Microbiology

Analyzing bacterial community in pit mud of Yibin Baijiu in China using high throughput sequencing –  Li Chen et al. – PeerJ

Shifts of bacterial community structure and function in long-term soybean monoculture – Fengjuan Pan et al. – Archives of Agronomy and Soil Science

Bacterial Diversity in Peat Soils of Forest Ecosystems and Oil Palm Plantation – N. A. Kusai et al. – Soil Biology

Space Is More Important than Season when Shaping Soil Microbial Communities at a Large Spatial Scale – Kaoping Zhang et al. – mSystems

Effects of cadmium perturbation on the microbial community structure and heavy metal resistome of a tropical agricultural soil – Lateef B. Salam et al. – Bioresources and Bioprocessing

Competition for iron drives phytopathogen control by natural rhizosphere microbiomes – Shaohua Gu et al. – Nature Microbiology

Water and extremophile microbiome (sea, rivers, lakes, glaciers, permafrost, high-salt)

Review: Tara Oceans: towards global ocean ecosystems biology – Shinichi Sunagawa et al. – Nature Reviews Microbiology

Review: Microbial genomics amidst the Arctic crisis – Arwyn Edwards et al. – Microbial genomics

Exceptional but vulnerable microbial diversity in coral reef animal surface microbiomes – Marlène Chiarello et al. – Proceedings of the royal society biological sciences


A powerful microbial group association test based on the higher criticism analysis for sparse microbial association signals – Hyunwook Koh et al. – Microbiome

Review: A practical guide to amplicon and metagenomic analysis of microbiome data – Yong-Xin Liu et al. – Protein Cell

TAMA: improved metagenomic sequence classification through meta-analysis – Mikang Sim et al. – BMC Bioinformatics

nf-rnaSeqMetagen: A nextflow metagenomics pipeline for identifying and characterizing microbial sequences from RNA-seq data – Phelelani T. Mpangase et al. – Medicine in Microecology

My non-microbiology pick

Perspective: FAIR Data Sharing: The Roles of Common Data Elements and Harmonization – R.D.Kush et al. – Journal of Biomedical Informatics

April 19, 2020

Hello from the Sonoran Desert! It is a lovely morning here in Tucson, Az. I am excited to send my first contribution to Microbiome Digest! There is a lot of diversity in today’s digest, but if microbes thriving in all kinds of strange, extreme conditions are your area of interest, you’ll be interested in the book compiling the latest studies on extremophiles. Each chapter focuses on a particular environment, ranging from deserts to deep-sea hydrothermal vents, and explores the mechanisms allowing microbes to survive these incredible conditions.

If like me, you are a computational biology enthusiast and a machine learning addict, you should enjoy reading the last entry, a short perspective paper examining how machine learning algorithms can help predict antibiotic resistance!

Have a great Sunday!

General microbiology

Preprint: Interspecies interactions in bacterial colonies are determined by physiological traits and the environment – Booth – BioRxiv

Human gut and mouth microbiome

Bacterial colonization reprograms the neonatal gut metabolome – Bittinger – Nature microbiology

Salivary Factors that Maintain the Normal Oral Commensal Microflora – Carpenter – Journal of dental research

Preprint: Metagenomic Next-Generation Sequencing of Rectal Swabs for the Surveillance of Antimicrobial Resistant Organisms on the Illumina Miseq and Oxford MinION Platforms – Yee – bioRxiv

Animal microbiome

Preprint: Mortality of native and invasive ladybirds co-infected by ectoparasitic and entomopathogenic fungi – Haelewaters – bioRxiv

Built environment

Preprint: The Microbes Found in the Honey of New York City Beehives – Weiss – BioRxiv

Correlation between autochthonous microbial communities and key odorants during the fermentation of red pepper (Capsicum annuum L.) – Xu – Food Microbiology

Water and extremophile microbiome

Book: Microbial Versatility in Varied Environments: Microbes in Sensitive Environments – collective – Springer Nature

The seasonal variation of microbial communities in drinking water sources in Shanghai – Guo – Journal of Cleaner Production

Plant, root and soil microbiome

LDPE microplastics significantly alter the temporal turnover of soil microbial communities –  Wang – Science of the total environment

High abundance of Ralstonia solanacearum changed tomato rhizosphere microbiome and metabolome – Wen – BMC Plant Biology

Phages and viruses

Preprint : First evidence of virus-like particles in the bacterial symbionts of Bryozoa – Vishnyakov – BioRxiv

Microbial community development on model particles in the deep sulfidic waters of the Black Sea – Suominen – Environmental microbiology

The stepwise assembly of the neonatal virome is modulated by breastfeeding – Liang – Nature


Preprint: Bayesian classification, anomaly detection, and survival analysis using network inputs with application to the microbiome – Josephs – arXiv


Preprint: Expanding the diversity of bacterioplankton isolates and modeling isolation efficacy with large scale dilution-to-extinction cultivation – Henson – bioRxiv

Catalyzing rapid discovery of gold-precipitating bacterial lineages with university students – Riley – PeerJ

COVID-19 and career

Science-ing from home – Powell – Nature

My non-microbiology pick

Perspective: Lean, mean, learning machines – Wheeler – Nature review microbiology