April 21, 2020  |  

Recompleting the Caenorhabditis elegans genome.

Caenorhabditis elegans was the first multicellular eukaryotic genome sequenced to apparent completion. Although this assembly employed a standard C. elegans strain (N2), it used sequence data from several laboratories, with DNA propagated in bacteria and yeast. Thus, the N2 assembly has many differences from any C. elegans available today. To provide a more accurate C. elegans genome, we performed long-read assembly of VC2010, a modern strain derived from N2. Our VC2010 assembly has 99.98% identity to N2 but with an additional 1.8 Mb including tandem repeat expansions and genome duplications. For 116 structural discrepancies between N2 and VC2010, 97 structures matching VC2010 (84%) were also found in two outgroup strains, implying deficiencies in N2. Over 98% of N2 genes encoded unchanged products in VC2010; moreover, we predicted =53 new genes in VC2010. The recompleted genome of C. elegans should be a valuable resource for genetics, genomics, and systems biology. © 2019 Yoshimura et al.; Published by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press.


July 19, 2019  |  

Reduction in chromosome mobility accompanies nuclear organization during early embryogenesis in Caenorhabditis elegans.

In differentiated cells, chromosomes are packed inside the cell nucleus in an organised fashion. In contrast, little is known about how chromosomes are packed in undifferentiated cells and how nuclear organization changes during development. To assess changes in nuclear organization during the earliest stages of development, we quantified the mobility of a pair of homologous chromosomal loci in the interphase nuclei of Caenorhabditis elegans embryos. The distribution of distances between homologous loci was consistent with a random distribution up to the 8-cell stage but not at later stages. The mobility of the loci was significantly reduced from the 2-cell to the 48-cell stage. Nuclear foci corresponding to epigenetic marks as well as heterochromatin and the nucleolus also appeared around the 8-cell stage. We propose that the earliest global transformation in nuclear organization occurs at the 8-cell stage during C. elegans embryogenesis.


July 19, 2019  |  

Single-molecule sequencing reveals the chromosome-scale genomic architecture of the nematode model organism Pristionchus pacificus.

The nematode Pristionchus pacificus is an established model for integrative evolutionary biology and comparative studies with Caenorhabditis elegans. While an existing genome draft facilitated the identification of several genes controlling various developmental processes, its high degree of fragmentation complicated virtually all genomic analyses. Here, we present a de novo genome assembly from single-molecule, long-read sequencing data consisting of 135 P. pacificus contigs. When combined with a genetic linkage map, 99% of the assembly could be ordered and oriented into six chromosomes. This allowed us to robustly characterize chromosomal patterns of gene density, repeat content, nucleotide diversity, linkage disequilibrium, and macrosynteny in P. pacificus. Despite widespread conservation of synteny between P. pacificus and C. elegans, we identified one major translocation from an autosome to the sex chromosome in the lineage leading to C. elegans. This highlights the potential of the chromosome-scale assembly for future genomic studies of P. pacificus. Copyright © 2017 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


July 7, 2019  |  

HISEA: HIerarchical SEed Aligner for PacBio data.

The next generation sequencing (NGS) techniques have been around for over a decade. Many of their fundamental applications rely on the ability to compute good genome assemblies. As the technology evolves, the assembly algorithms and tools have to continuously adjust and improve. The currently dominant technology of Illumina produces reads that are too short to bridge many repeats, setting limits on what can be successfully assembled. The emerging SMRT (Single Molecule, Real-Time) sequencing technique from Pacific Biosciences produces uniform coverage and long reads of length up to sixty thousand base pairs, enabling significantly better genome assemblies. However, SMRT reads are much more expensive and have a much higher error rate than Illumina’s – around 10-15% – mostly due to indels. New algorithms are very much needed to take advantage of the long reads while mitigating the effect of high error rate and lowering the required coverage.An essential step in assembling SMRT data is the detection of alignments, or overlaps, between reads. High error rate and very long reads make this a much more challenging problem than for Illumina data. We present a new pairwise read aligner, or overlapper, HISEA (Hierarchical SEed Aligner) for SMRT sequencing data. HISEA uses a novel two-step k-mer search, employing consistent clustering, k-mer filtering, and read alignment extension.We compare HISEA against several state-of-the-art programs – BLASR, DALIGNER, GraphMap, MHAP, and Minimap – on real datasets from five organisms. We compare their sensitivity, precision, specificity, F1-score, as well as time and memory usage. We also introduce a new, more precise, evaluation method. Finally, we compare the two leading programs, MHAP and HISEA, for their genome assembly performance in the Canu pipeline.Our algorithm has the best alignment detection sensitivity among all programs for SMRT data, significantly higher than the current best. The currently best assembler for SMRT data is the Canu program which uses the MHAP aligner in its pipeline. We have incorporated our new HISEA aligner in the Canu pipeline and benchmarked it against the best pipeline for multiple datasets at two relevant coverage levels: 30x and 50x. Our assemblies are better than those using MHAP for both coverage levels. Moreover, Canu+HISEA assemblies for 30x coverage are comparable with Canu+MHAP assemblies for 50x coverage, while being faster and cheaper.The HISEA algorithm produces alignments with highest sensitivity compared with the current state-of-the-art algorithms. Integrated in the Canu pipeline, currently the best for assembling PacBio data, it produces better assemblies than Canu+MHAP.


July 7, 2019  |  

Mitochondrial genomes of two diplectanids (Platyhelminthes: Monogenea) expose paraphyly of the order Dactylogyridea and extensive tRNA gene rearrangements.

Recent mitochondrial phylogenomics studies have reported a sister-group relationship of the orders Capsalidea and Dactylogyridea, which is inconsistent with previous morphology- and molecular-based phylogenies. As Dactylogyridea mitochondrial genomes (mitogenomes) are currently represented by only one family, to improve the phylogenetic resolution, we sequenced and characterized two dactylogyridean parasites, Lamellodiscus spari and Lepidotrema longipenis, belonging to a non-represented family Diplectanidae.The L. longipenis mitogenome (15,433 bp) contains the standard 36 flatworm mitochondrial genes (atp8 is absent), whereas we failed to detect trnS1, trnC and trnG in L. spari (14,614 bp). Both mitogenomes exhibit unique gene orders (among the Monogenea), with a number of tRNA rearrangements. Both long non-coding regions contain a number of different (partially overlapping) repeat sequences. Intriguingly, these include putative tRNA pseudogenes in a tandem array (17 trnV pseudogenes in L. longipenis, 13 trnY pseudogenes in L. spari). Combined nucleotide diversity, non-synonymous/synonymous substitutions ratio and average sequence identity analyses consistently showed that nad2, nad5 and nad4 were the most variable PCGs, whereas cox1, cox2 and cytb were the most conserved. Phylogenomic analysis showed that the newly sequenced species of the family Diplectanidae formed a sister-group with the Dactylogyridae + Capsalidae clade. Thus Dactylogyridea (represented by the Diplectanidae and Dactylogyridae) was rendered paraphyletic (with high statistical support) by the nested Capsalidea (represented by the Capsalidae) clade.Our results show that nad2, nad5 and nad4 (fast-evolving) would be better candidates than cox1 (slow-evolving) for species identification and population genetics studies in the Diplectanidae. The unique gene order pattern further suggests discontinuous evolution of mitogenomic gene order arrangement in the Class Monogenea. This first report of paraphyly of the Dactylogyridea highlights the need to generate more molecular data for monogenean parasites, in order to be able to clarify their relationships using large datasets, as single-gene markers appear to provide a phylogenetic resolution which is too low for the task.


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