Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 106(10) , 3976-81 (Mar 10 2009)
Determining how an organism responds to its environment by altering gene expression is key to understanding its ecology. Here, we used RNA-seq to comprehensively and quantitatively assess the transcriptional response of the bacterial opportunistic cystic fibrosis (CF) pathogen and endemic soil dweller, Burkholderia cenocepacia, in conditions mimicking these 2 environments. By sequencing 762 million bases of cDNA from 2 closely related B. cenocepacia strains (one isolated from a CF patient and one from soil), we identified a number of potential virulence factors expressed under CF-like conditions, whereas genes whose protein products are involved in nitrogen scavenging and 2-component sensing were among those induced under soil-like conditions. Interestingly, 13 new putative noncoding RNAs were discovered using this technique, 12 of which are preferentially induced in the soil environment, suggesting that ncRNAs play an important role in survival in the soil. In addition, we detected a surprisingly large number of regulatory differences between the 2 strains, which may represent specific adaptations to the niches from which each strain was isolated, despite their high degree of DNA sequence similarity. Compared with the CF strain, the soil strain shows a stronger global gene expression response to its environment, which is consistent with the need for a more dynamic reaction to the heterogeneous conditions of soil.