April 21, 2020  |  

The Chinese chestnut genome: a reference for species restoration

Forest tree species are increasingly subject to severe mortalities from exotic pests, diseases, and invasive organisms, accelerated by climate change. Forest health issues are threatening multiple species and ecosystem sustainability globally. While sources of resistance may be available in related species, or among surviving trees, introgression of resistance genes into threatened tree species in reasonable time frames requires genome-wide breeding tools. Asian species of chestnut (Castanea spp.) are being employed as donors of disease resistance genes to restore native chestnut species in North America and Europe. To aid in the restoration of threatened chestnut species, we present the assembly of a reference genome with chromosome-scale sequences for Chinese chestnut (C. mollissima), the disease-resistance donor for American chestnut restoration. We also demonstrate the value of the genome as a platform for research and species restoration, including new insights into the evolution of blight resistance in Asian chestnut species, the locations in the genome of ecologically important signatures of selection differentiating American chestnut from Chinese chestnut, the identification of candidate genes for disease resistance, and preliminary comparisons of genome organization with related species.

September 22, 2019  |  

Multiscale patterns and drivers of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungal communities in the roots and root-associated soil of a wild perennial herb.

Arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi form diverse communities and are known to influence above-ground community dynamics and biodiversity. However, the multiscale patterns and drivers of AM fungal composition and diversity are still poorly understood. We sequenced DNA markers from roots and root-associated soil from Plantago lanceolata plants collected across multiple spatial scales to allow comparison of AM fungal communities among neighbouring plants, plant subpopulations, nearby plant populations, and regions. We also measured soil nutrients, temperature, humidity, and community composition of neighbouring plants and nonAM root-associated fungi. AM fungal communities were already highly dissimilar among neighbouring plants (c. 30 cm apart), albeit with a high variation in the degree of similarity at this small spatial scale. AM fungal communities were increasingly, and more consistently, dissimilar at larger spatial scales. Spatial structure and environmental drivers explained a similar percentage of the variation, from 7% to 25%. A large fraction of the variation remained unexplained, which may be a result of unmeasured environmental variables, species interactions and stochastic processes. We conclude that AM fungal communities are highly variable among nearby plants. AM fungi may therefore play a major role in maintaining small-scale variation in community dynamics and biodiversity.© 2018 The Authors. New Phytologist © 2018 New Phytologist Trust.

September 22, 2019  |  

A comprehensive approach to expression of L1 loci.

L1 elements represent the only currently active, autonomous retrotransposon in the human genome, and they make major contributions to human genetic instability. The vast majority of the 500 000 L1 elements in the genome are defective, and only a relatively few can contribute to the retrotransposition process. However, there is currently no comprehensive approach to identify the specific loci that are actively transcribed separate from the excess of L1-related sequences that are co-transcribed within genes. We have developed RNA-Seq procedures, as well as a 1200 bp 5? RACE product coupled with PACBio sequencing that can identify the specific L1 loci that contribute most of the L1-related RNA reads. At least 99% of L1-related sequences found in RNA do not arise from the L1 promoter, instead representing pieces of L1 incorporated in other cellular RNAs. In any given cell type a relatively few active L1 loci contribute to the ‘authentic’ L1 transcripts that arise from the L1 promoter, with significantly different loci seen expressed in different tissues.© The Author(s) 2016. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Nucleic Acids Research.

September 22, 2019  |  

Abiotic stresses modulate landscape of poplar transcriptome via alternative splicing differential intron retention, and isoform ratio switching.

Abiotic stresses affect plant physiology, development, growth, and alter pre-mRNA splicing. Western poplar is a model woody tree and a potential bioenergy feedstock. To investigate the extent of stress-regulated alternative splicing (AS), we conducted an in-depth survey of leaf, root, and stem xylem transcriptomes under drought, salt, or temperature stress. Analysis of approximately one billion of genome-aligned RNA-Seq reads from tissue- or stress-specific libraries revealed over fifteen millions of novel splice junctions. Transcript models supported by both RNA-Seq and single molecule isoform sequencing (Iso-Seq) data revealed a broad array of novel stress- and/or tissue-specific isoforms. Analysis of Iso-Seq data also resulted in the discovery of 15,087 novel transcribed regions of which 164 show AS. Our findings demonstrate that abiotic stresses profoundly perturb transcript isoform profiles and trigger widespread intron retention (IR) events. Stress treatments often increased or decreased retention of specific introns – a phenomenon described here as differential intron retention (DIR). Many differentially retained introns were regulated in a stress- and/or tissue-specific manner. A subset of transcripts harboring super stress-responsive DIR events showed persisting fluctuations in the degree of IR across all treatments and tissue types. To investigate coordinated dynamics of intron-containing transcripts in the study we quantified absolute copy number of isoforms of two conserved transcription factors (TFs) using Droplet Digital PCR. This case study suggests that stress treatments can be associated with coordinated switches in relative ratios between fully spliced and intron-retaining isoforms and may play a role in adjusting transcriptome to abiotic stresses.

September 22, 2019  |  

Targeted sequencing by gene synteny, a new strategy for polyploid species: sequencing and physical structure of a complex sugarcane region.

Sugarcane exhibits a complex genome mainly due to its aneuploid nature and high ploidy level, and sequencing of its genome poses a great challenge. Closely related species with well-assembled and annotated genomes can be used to help assemble complex genomes. Here, a stable quantitative trait locus (QTL) related to sugar accumulation in sorghum was successfully transferred to the sugarcane genome. Gene sequences related to this QTL were identified in silico from sugarcane transcriptome data, and molecular markers based on these sequences were developed to select bacterial artificial chromosome (BAC) clones from the sugarcane variety SP80-3280. Sixty-eight BAC clones containing at least two gene sequences associated with the sorghum QTL were sequenced using Pacific Biosciences (PacBio) technology. Twenty BAC sequences were found to be related to the syntenic region, of which nine were sufficient to represent this region. The strategy we propose is called “targeted sequencing by gene synteny,” which is a simpler approach to understanding the genome structure of complex genomic regions associated with traits of interest.

September 22, 2019  |  

Somatic hypermutation of T cell receptor a chain contributes to selection in nurse shark thymus.

Since the discovery of the T cell receptor (TcR), immunologists have assigned somatic hypermutation (SHM) as a mechanism employed solely by B cells to diversify their antigen receptors. Remarkably, we found SHM acting in the thymus on a chain locus of shark TcR. SHM in developing shark T cells likely is catalyzed by activation-induced cytidine deaminase (AID) and results in both point and tandem mutations that accumulate non-conservative amino acid replacements within complementarity-determining regions (CDRs). Mutation frequency at TcRa was as high as that seen at B cell receptor loci (BcR) in sharks and mammals, and the mechanism of SHM shares unique characteristics first detected at shark BcR loci. Additionally, fluorescence in situ hybridization showed the strongest AID expression in thymic corticomedullary junction and medulla. We suggest that TcRa utilizes SHM to broaden diversification of the primary aß T cell repertoire in sharks, the first reported use in vertebrates.© 2018, Ott et al.

July 19, 2019  |  

The genome sequence of African rice (Oryza glaberrima) and evidence for independent domestication.

The cultivation of rice in Africa dates back more than 3,000 years. Interestingly, African rice is not of the same origin as Asian rice (Oryza sativa L.) but rather is an entirely different species (i.e., Oryza glaberrima Steud.). Here we present a high-quality assembly and annotation of the O. glaberrima genome and detailed analyses of its evolutionary history of domestication and selection. Population genomics analyses of 20 O. glaberrima and 94 Oryza barthii accessions support the hypothesis that O. glaberrima was domesticated in a single region along the Niger river as opposed to noncentric domestication events across Africa. We detected evidence for artificial selection at a genome-wide scale, as well as with a set of O. glaberrima genes orthologous to O. sativa genes that are known to be associated with domestication, thus indicating convergent yet independent selection of a common set of genes during two geographically and culturally distinct domestication processes.

July 19, 2019  |  

Aluminum tolerance in maize is associated with higher MATE1 gene copy number.

Genome structure variation, including copy number variation and presence/absence variation, comprises a large extent of maize genetic diversity; however, its effect on phenotypes remains largely unexplored. Here, we describe how copy number variation underlies a rare allele that contributes to maize aluminum (Al) tolerance. Al toxicity is the primary limitation for crop production on acid soils, which make up 50% of the world’s potentially arable lands. In a recombinant inbred line mapping population, copy number variation of the Al tolerance gene multidrug and toxic compound extrusion 1 (MATE1) is the basis for the quantitative trait locus of largest effect on phenotypic variation. This expansion in MATE1 copy number is associated with higher MATE1 expression, which in turn results in superior Al tolerance. The three MATE1 copies are identical and are part of a tandem triplication. Only three maize inbred lines carrying the three-copy allele were identified from maize and teosinte diversity panels, indicating that copy number variation for MATE1 is a rare, and quite likely recent, event. These maize lines with higher MATE1 copy number are also Al-tolerant, have high MATE1 expression, and originate from regions of highly acidic soils. Our findings show a role for copy number variation in the adaptation of maize to acidic soils in the tropics and suggest that genome structural changes may be a rapid evolutionary response to new environments.

July 19, 2019  |  

Extensive sequence divergence between the reference genomes of two elite indica rice varieties Zhenshan 97 and Minghui 63.

Asian cultivated rice consists of two subspecies: Oryza sativa subsp. indica and O. sativa subsp. japonica Despite the fact that indica rice accounts for over 70% of total rice production worldwide and is genetically much more diverse, a high-quality reference genome for indica rice has yet to be published. We conducted map-based sequencing of two indica rice lines, Zhenshan 97 (ZS97) and Minghui 63 (MH63), which represent the two major varietal groups of the indica subspecies and are the parents of an elite Chinese hybrid. The genome sequences were assembled into 237 (ZS97) and 181 (MH63) contigs, with an accuracy >99.99%, and covered 90.6% and 93.2% of their estimated genome sizes. Comparative analyses of these two indica genomes uncovered surprising structural differences, especially with respect to inversions, translocations, presence/absence variations, and segmental duplications. Approximately 42% of nontransposable element related genes were identical between the two genomes. Transcriptome analysis of three tissues showed that 1,059-2,217 more genes were expressed in the hybrid than in the parents and that the expressed genes in the hybrid were much more diverse due to their divergence between the parental genomes. The public availability of two high-quality reference genomes for the indica subspecies of rice will have large-ranging implications for plant biology and crop genetic improvement.

July 19, 2019  |  

Genomic variation in 3,010 diverse accessions of Asian cultivated rice.

Here we analyse genetic variation, population structure and diversity among 3,010 diverse Asian cultivated rice (Oryza sativa L.) genomes from the 3,000 Rice Genomes Project. Our results are consistent with the five major groups previously recognized, but also suggest several unreported subpopulations that correlate with geographic location. We identified 29 million single nucleotide polymorphisms, 2.4 million small indels and over 90,000 structural variations that contribute to within- and between-population variation. Using pan-genome analyses, we identified more than 10,000 novel full-length protein-coding genes and a high number of presence-absence variations. The complex patterns of introgression observed in domestication genes are consistent with multiple independent rice domestication events. The public availability of data from the 3,000 Rice Genomes Project provides a resource for rice genomics research and breeding.

July 7, 2019  |  

Leafy spurge genomics: A model perennial weed to investigate development, stress responses, and invasiveness

Leafy spurge is wild flower native to Europe that has become an invasive perennial weed in the northern great plains of the USA and Canada. Leafy spurge primarily infests range and recreation lands and costs US land managers millions dollars annually. In its invaded range, leafy spurge can form vast monocultures that significantly impact native flora and fauna and has been attributed to reduced populations of endangered species such as the prairie fringed orchid. Leafy spurge has remarkable plasticity and can persist under environmental extremes—primarily due to the formation of hundreds of underground adventitious buds that can form on its extensive and deep root system. We have developed genomics-based tools to assist our investigations related to vegetative production from these underground buds, as well as its responses to stress, and the potential mechanisms leading to the invasiveness of leafy spurge. Towards these ends, we have utilized Sanger-based sequencing to develop EST-databases from leafy spurge and cassava (a related species) transcriptomes, and developed textasciitilde23,000 element cDNA microarrays representing all of the unigenes identified in these databases. Additionally, numerous cDNA libraries and genomic libraries have been developed including bacterial artificial chromosome libraries useful for identifying and characterizing promoters of differentially expressed genes. Finally, to enhance our ability to identify promoter sequences and transcription factors involved in vegetative production, stress responses, and invasiveness, we have incorporated next generation sequencing approaches to fully sequence the leafy spurge genome. Using global transcriptome profiles, next generation sequencing, bioinformatics programs has provided insights into molecular mechanisms and regulatory pathways that make leafy spurge a particularly invasive and difficult weed to control.

July 7, 2019  |  

The nuclear genome of Rhazya stricta and the evolution of alkaloid diversity in a medically relevant clade of Apocynaceae.

Alkaloid accumulation in plants is activated in response to stress, is limited in distribution and specific alkaloid repertoires are variable across taxa. Rauvolfioideae (Apocynaceae, Gentianales) represents a major center of structural expansion in the monoterpenoid indole alkaloids (MIAs) yielding thousands of unique molecules including highly valuable chemotherapeutics. The paucity of genome-level data for Apocynaceae precludes a deeper understanding of MIA pathway evolution hindering the elucidation of remaining pathway enzymes and the improvement of MIA availability in planta or in vitro. We sequenced the nuclear genome of Rhazya stricta (Apocynaceae, Rauvolfioideae) and present this high quality assembly in comparison with that of coffee (Rubiaceae, Coffea canephora, Gentianales) and others to investigate the evolution of genome-scale features. The annotated Rhazya genome was used to develop the community resource, RhaCyc, a metabolic pathway database. Gene family trees were constructed to identify homologs of MIA pathway genes and to examine their evolutionary history. We found that, unlike Coffea, the Rhazya lineage has experienced many structural rearrangements. Gene tree analyses suggest recent, lineage-specific expansion and diversification among homologs encoding MIA pathway genes in Gentianales and provide candidate sequences with the potential to close gaps in characterized pathways and support prospecting for new MIA production avenues.

July 7, 2019  |  

Complete genome sequence of a novel mutant strain of Vibrio parahaemolyticus from Pacific White Shrimp (Penaeus vannamei).

The acute hepatopancreatic necrosis disease (AHPND) of Penaeus vannamei shrimp is caused by Vibrio parahaemolyticus carrying toxin genes, pirA and pirB We report the complete genome sequence of the novel V. parahaemolyticus strain R14, which did not display AHPND symptoms in P. vannamei despite containing the binary toxin genes. Copyright © 2018 Kanrar and Dhar.

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