June 1, 2021  |  

Genome analysis of a bacterium that causes lameness.

Lameness is a significant problem resulting in millions of dollars in lost revenue annually. In commercial broilers, the most common cause of lameness is bacterial chondronecrosis with osteomyelitis (BCO). We are using a wire flooring model to induce lameness attributable to BCO. We used 16S ribosomal DNA sequencing to determine that Staphylococcus spp. were the main species associated with BCO. Staphylococcus agnetis, which previously had not been isolated from poultry, was the principal species isolated from the majority of the bone lesion samples. Administering S. agnetis in the drinking water to broilers reared on wire flooring increased the incidence of BCO three-fold when compared with broilers drinking tap water (P = 0.001). We found that the minimum effective dose of Staphylococcus agnetis to induce BCO in broilers grown on wire flooring experiment is 105 cfu/ml. We used PacBio and Illumina sequencing to assemble a 2.4 Mbp contig representing the genome and a 34 kbp contig for the largest plasmid of S. agnetis. Annotation of this genome is underway through comparative genomics with other Staphylococcus genomes, and identification of virulence factors. Our goal is to elucidate genetic diversity, toxins, and pathogenicity determinants, for this poorly characterized species. Isolating pathogenic bacterial species, defining their likely route of transmission to broilers, and genomic analyses will contribute substantially to the development of measures for mitigating BCO losses in poultry.


September 22, 2019  |  

Lipoprotein lipase reaches the capillary lumen in chickens despite an apparent absence of GPIHBP1.

In mammals, GPIHBP1 is absolutely essential for transporting lipoprotein lipase (LPL) to the lumen of capillaries, where it hydrolyzes the triglycerides in triglyceride-rich lipoproteins. In all lower vertebrate species (e.g., birds, amphibians, reptiles, fish), a gene for LPL can be found easily, but a gene for GPIHBP1 has never been found. The obvious question is whether the LPL in lower vertebrates is able to reach the capillary lumen. Using purified antibodies against chicken LPL, we showed that LPL is present on capillary endothelial cells of chicken heart and adipose tissue, colocalizing with von Willebrand factor. When the antibodies against chicken LPL were injected intravenously into chickens, they bound to LPL on the luminal surface of capillaries in heart and adipose tissue. LPL was released rapidly from chicken hearts with an infusion of heparin, consistent with LPL being located inside blood vessels. Remarkably, chicken LPL bound in a specific fashion to mammalian GPIHBP1. However, we could not identify a gene for GPIHBP1 in the chicken genome, nor could we identify a transcript for GPIHBP1 in a large chicken RNA-seq data set. We conclude that LPL reaches the capillary lumen in chickens – as it does in mammals – despite an apparent absence of GPIHBP1.


September 22, 2019  |  

Normalized long read RNA sequencing in chicken reveals transcriptome complexity similar to human.

Despite the significance of chicken as a model organism, our understanding of the chicken transcriptome is limited compared to human. This issue is common to all non-human vertebrate annotations due to the difficulty in transcript identification from short read RNAseq data. While previous studies have used single molecule long read sequencing for transcript discovery, they did not perform RNA normalization and 5′-cap selection which may have resulted in lower transcriptome coverage and truncated transcript sequences.We sequenced normalised chicken brain and embryo RNA libraries with Pacific Bioscience Iso-Seq. 5′ cap selection was performed on the embryo library to provide methodological comparison. From these Iso-Seq sequencing projects, we have identified 60 k transcripts and 29 k genes within the chicken transcriptome. Of these, more than 20 k are novel lncRNA transcripts with ~3 k classified as sense exonic overlapping lncRNA, which is a class that is underrepresented in many vertebrate annotations. The relative proportion of alternative transcription events revealed striking similarities between the chicken and human transcriptomes while also providing explanations for previously observed genomic differences.Our results indicate that the chicken transcriptome is similar in complexity compared to human, and provide insights into other vertebrate biology. Our methodology demonstrates the potential of Iso-Seq sequencing to rapidly expand our knowledge of transcriptomics.


September 22, 2019  |  

SuperTranscripts: a data driven reference for analysis and visualisation of transcriptomes.

Numerous methods have been developed to analyse RNA sequencing (RNA-seq) data, but most rely on the availability of a reference genome, making them unsuitable for non-model organisms. Here we present superTranscripts, a substitute for a reference genome, where each gene with multiple transcripts is represented by a single sequence. The Lace software is provided to construct superTranscripts from any set of transcripts, including de novo assemblies. We demonstrate how superTranscripts enable visualisation, variant detection and differential isoform detection in non-model organisms. We further use Lace to combine reference and assembled transcriptomes for chicken and recover hundreds of gaps in the reference genome.


September 22, 2019  |  

Long-read sequencing of chicken transcripts and identification of new transcript isoforms.

The chicken has long served as an important model organism in many fields, and continues to aid our understanding of animal development. Functional genomics studies aimed at probing the mechanisms that regulate development require high-quality genomes and transcript annotations. The quality of these resources has improved dramatically over the last several years, but many isoforms and genes have yet to be identified. We hope to contribute to the process of improving these resources with the data presented here: a set of long cDNA sequencing reads, and a curated set of new genes and transcript isoforms not currently represented in the most up-to-date genome annotation currently available to the community of researchers who rely on the chicken genome.


September 22, 2019  |  

Accurate characterization of the IFITM locus using MiSeq and PacBio sequencing shows genetic variation in Galliformes.

Interferon inducible transmembrane (IFITM) proteins are effectors of the immune system widely characterized for their role in restricting infection by diverse enveloped and non-enveloped viruses. The chicken IFITM (chIFITM) genes are clustered on chromosome 5 and to date four genes have been annotated, namely chIFITM1, chIFITM3, chIFITM5 and chIFITM10. However, due to poor assembly of this locus in the Gallus Gallus v4 genome, accurate characterization has so far proven problematic. Recently, a new chicken reference genome assembly Gallus Gallus v5 was generated using Sanger, 454, Illumina and PacBio sequencing technologies identifying considerable differences in the chIFITM locus over the previous genome releases.We re-sequenced the locus using both Illumina MiSeq and PacBio RS II sequencing technologies and we mapped RNA-seq data from the European Nucleotide Archive (ENA) to this finalized chIFITM locus. Using SureSelect probes capture probes designed to the finalized chIFITM locus, we sequenced the locus of a different chicken breed, namely a White Leghorn, and a turkey.We confirmed the Gallus Gallus v5 consensus except for two insertions of 5 and 1 base pair within the chIFITM3 and B4GALNT4 genes, respectively, and a single base pair deletion within the B4GALNT4 gene. The pull down revealed a single amino acid substitution of A63V in the CIL domain of IFITM2 compared to Red Jungle fowl and 13, 13 and 11 differences between IFITM1, 2 and 3 of chickens and turkeys, respectively. RNA-seq shows chIFITM2 and chIFITM3 expression in numerous tissue types of different chicken breeds and avian cell lines, while the expression of the putative chIFITM1 is limited to the testis, caecum and ileum tissues.Locus resequencing using these capture probes and RNA-seq based expression analysis will allow the further characterization of genetic diversity within Galliformes.


September 22, 2019  |  

Combination of novel and public RNA-seq datasets to generate an mRNA expression atlas for the domestic chicken.

The domestic chicken (Gallus gallus) is widely used as a model in developmental biology and is also an important livestock species. We describe a novel approach to data integration to generate an mRNA expression atlas for the chicken spanning major tissue types and developmental stages, using a diverse range of publicly-archived RNA-seq datasets and new data derived from immune cells and tissues.Randomly down-sampling RNA-seq datasets to a common depth and quantifying expression against a reference transcriptome using the mRNA quantitation tool Kallisto ensured that disparate datasets explored comparable transcriptomic space. The network analysis tool Graphia was used to extract clusters of co-expressed genes from the resulting expression atlas, many of which were tissue or cell-type restricted, contained transcription factors that have previously been implicated in their regulation, or were otherwise associated with biological processes, such as the cell cycle. The atlas provides a resource for the functional annotation of genes that currently have only a locus ID. We cross-referenced the RNA-seq atlas to a publicly available embryonic Cap Analysis of Gene Expression (CAGE) dataset to infer the developmental time course of organ systems, and to identify a signature of the expansion of tissue macrophage populations during development.Expression profiles obtained from public RNA-seq datasets – despite being generated by different laboratories using different methodologies – can be made comparable to each other. This meta-analytic approach to RNA-seq can be extended with new datasets from novel tissues, and is applicable to any species.


September 22, 2019  |  

Whole genome and transcriptome maps of the entirely black native Korean chicken breed Yeonsan Ogye.

Yeonsan Ogye (YO), an indigenous Korean chicken breed (Gallus gallus domesticus), has entirely black external features and internal organs. In this study, the draft genome of YO was assembled using a hybrid de novo assembly method that takes advantage of high-depth Illumina short reads (376.6X) and low-depth Pacific Biosciences (PacBio) long reads (9.7X).The contig and scaffold NG50s of the hybrid de novo assembly were 362.3 Kbp and 16.8 Mbp, respectively. The completeness (97.6%) of the draft genome (Ogye_1.1) was evaluated with single-copy orthologous genes using Benchmarking Universal Single-Copy Orthologs and found to be comparable to the current chicken reference genome (galGal5; 97.4%; contigs were assembled with high-depth PacBio long reads (50X) and scaffolded with short reads) and superior to other avian genomes (92%-93%; assembled with short read-only or hybrid methods). Compared to galGal4 and galGal5, the draft genome included 551 structural variations including the fibromelanosis (FM) locus duplication, related to hyperpigmentation. To comprehensively reconstruct transcriptome maps, RNA sequencing and reduced representation bisulfite sequencing data were analyzed from 20 tissues, including 4 black tissues (skin, shank, comb, and fascia). The maps included 15,766 protein-coding and 6,900 long noncoding RNA genes, many of which were tissue-specifically expressed and displayed tissue-specific DNA methylation patterns in the promoter regions.We expect that the resulting genome sequence and transcriptome maps will be valuable resources for studying domestic chicken breeds, including black-skinned chickens, as well as for understanding genomic differences between breeds and the evolution of hyperpigmented chickens and functional elements related to hyperpigmentation.


July 19, 2019  |  

A new chicken genome assembly provides insight into avian genome structure.

The importance of the Gallus gallus (chicken) as a model organism and agricultural animal merits a continuation of sequence assembly improvement efforts. We present a new version of the chicken genome assembly (Gallus_gallus-5.0; GCA_000002315.3), built from combined long single molecule sequencing technology, finished BACs, and improved physical maps. In overall assembled bases, we see a gain of 183 Mb, including 16.4 Mb in placed chromosomes with a corresponding gain in the percentage of intact repeat elements characterized. Of the 1.21 Gb genome, we include three previously missing autosomes, GGA30, 31, and 33, and improve sequence contig length 10-fold over the previous Gallus_gallus-4.0. Despite the significant base representation improvements made, 138 Mb of sequence is not yet located to chromosomes. When annotated for gene content, Gallus_gallus-5.0 shows an increase of 4679 annotated genes (2768 noncoding and 1911 protein-coding) over those in Gallus_gallus-4.0. We also revisited the question of what genes are missing in the avian lineage, as assessed by the highest quality avian genome assembly to date, and found that a large fraction of the original set of missing genes are still absent in sequenced bird species. Finally, our new data support a detailed map of MHC-B, encompassing two segments: one with a highly stable gene copy number and another in which the gene copy number is highly variable. The chicken model has been a critical resource for many other fields of study, and this new reference assembly will substantially further these efforts. Copyright © 2017 Warren et al.


July 19, 2019  |  

Comparative analysis of extended-spectrum-ß-lactamase CTX-M-65-producing Salmonella enterica serovar Infantis isolates from humans, food animals, and retail chickens in the United States.

We sequenced the genomes of ten Salmonella enterica serovar Infantis containing blaCTX-M-65 isolated from chicken, cattle, and human sources collected between 2012 and 2015 in the United States through routine NARMS surveillance and product sampling programs. We also completely assembled the plasmids from four of the isolates. All isolates had a D87Y mutation in the gyrA gene and harbored between 7 and 10 resistance genes (aph (4)-Ia, aac (3)-IVa, aph(3′ )-Ic, blaCTX-M-65, fosA3, floR, dfrA14, sul1, tetA, aadA1) located in two distinct sites of a megaplasmid (~316-323kb) similar to that described in a blaCTX-M-65-positive S. Infantis isolated from a patient in Italy. High-quality single nucleotide polymorphism (hqSNP) analysis revealed that all U.S. isolates were closely related, separated by only 1 to 38 pairwise high quality SNPs, indicating a high likelihood that strains from humans, chicken, and cattle recently evolved from a common ancestor. The U.S. isolates were genetically similar to the blaCTX-M-65-positive S. Infantis isolate from Italy, with a separation of 34 to 47 SNPs. This is the first report of the blaCTX-M-65 gene and the pESI-like megaplasmid from S. Infantis in the United States, and illustrates the importance of applying a global One Health, human and animal perspective to combat antimicrobial resistance. Copyright © 2017 American Society for Microbiology.


July 7, 2019  |  

Genome-wide epigenetic studies in chicken: A review

Over the years, farmed birds have been selected on various performance traits mainly through genetic selection. However, many studies have shown that genetics may not be the sole contributor to phenotypic plasticity. Gene expression programs can be influenced by environmentally induced epigenetic changes that may alter the phenotypes of the developing animals. Recently, high-throughput sequencing techniques became sufficiently affordable thanks to technological advances to study whole epigenetic landscapes in model plants and animals. In birds, a growing number of studies recently took advantage of these techniques to gain insights into the epigenetic mechanisms of gene regulation in processes such as immunity or environmental adaptation. Here, we review the current gain of knowledge on the chicken epigenome made possible by recent advances in high-throughput sequencing techniques by focusing on the two most studied epigenetic modifications, DNA methylation and histone post-translational modifications. We discuss and provide insights about designing and performing analyses to further explore avian epigenomes. A better understanding of the molecular mechanisms underlying the epigenetic regulation of gene expression in relation to bird phenotypes may provide new knowledge and markers that should undoubtedly contribute to a sustainable poultry production.


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