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Rapid detection of genetic engineering, structural variation, and antimicrobial resistance markers in bacterial biothreat pathogens by nanopore sequencing

Publication

Date: 18th September 2019 | Source: Scientific Reports

Authors: Amy S. Gargis, Blake Cherney, Andrew B. Conley, Heather P. McLaughlin, David Sue .

Widespread release of Bacillus anthracis (anthrax) or Yersinia pestis (plague) would prompt a public health emergency. During an exposure event, high-quality whole genome sequencing (WGS) can identify genetic engineering, including the introduction of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) genes. Here, we developed rapid WGS laboratory and bioinformatics workflows using a long-read nanopore sequencer (MinION) for Y. pestis (6.5 h) and B. anthracis (8.5 h) and sequenced strains with different AMR profiles. Both salt-precipitation and silica-membrane extracted DNA were suitable for MinION WGS using both rapid and field library preparation methods. In replicate experiments, nanopore quality metrics were defined for genome assembly and mutation analysis. AMR markers were correctly detected and >99% coverage of chromosomes and plasmids was achieved using 100,000 raw sequencing reads. While chromosomes and large and small plasmids were accurately assembled, including novel multimeric forms of the Y. pestis virulence plasmid, pPCP1, MinION reads were error-prone, particularly in homopolymer regions. MinION sequencing holds promise as a practical, front-line strategy for on-site pathogen characterization to speed the public health response during a biothreat emergency.

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