June 1, 2021  |  

SMRT Sequencing of the alala genome

Single Molecule Real-Time (SMRT) Sequencing was used to generate long reads for whole genome shotgun sequencing of the genome of the`alala (Hawaiian crow). The ‘alala is endemic to Hawaii, and the only surviving lineage of the crow family, Corvidae, in the Hawaiian Islands. The population declined to less than 20 individuals in the 1990s, and today this charismatic species is extinct in the wild. Currently existing in only two captive breeding facilities, reintroduction of the ‘alala is scheduled to begin in the Fall of 2016. Reintroduction efforts will be assisted by information from the ‘alala genome generated and assembled by SMRT Technology, which will allow detailed analysis of genes associated with immunity, behavior, and learning. Using SMRT Sequencing, we present here best practices for achieving long reads for whole genome shotgun sequencing for complex plant and animal genomes such as the ‘alala genome. With recent advances in SMRTbell library preparation, P6-C4 chemistry and 6-hour movies, the number of useable bases now exceeds 1 Gb per SMRT Cell. Read lengths averaging 10 – 15 kb can be routinely achieved, with the longest reads approaching 70 kb. Furthermore, > 25% of useable bases are in reads greater than 30 kb, advantageous for generating contiguous draft assemblies of contig N50 up to 5 Mb. De novo assemblies of large genomes are now more tractable using SMRT Sequencing as the standalone technology. We also present guidelines for planning out projects for the de novo assembly of large genomes.


June 1, 2021  |  

De novo PacBio long-read assembled avian genomes correct and add to genes important in neuroscience and conservation research

To test the impact of high-quality genome assemblies on biological research, we applied PacBio long-read sequencing in conjunction with the new, diploid-aware FALCON-Unzip assembler to a number of bird species. These included: the zebra finch, for which a consortium-generated, Sanger-based reference exists, to determine how the FALCON-Unzip assembly would compare to the current best references available; Anna’s hummingbird genome, which had been assembled with short-read sequencing methods as part of the Avian Phylogenomics phase I initiative; and two critically endangered bird species (kakapo and ‘alala) of high importance for conservations efforts, whose genomes had not previously been sequenced and assembled.


June 1, 2021  |  

High-quality de novo genome assembly and intra-individual mitochondrial instability in the critically endangered kakapo

The kakapo (Strigops habroptila) is a large, flightless parrot endemic to New Zealand. It is highly endangered with only ~150 individuals remaining, and intensive conservation efforts are underway to save this iconic species from extinction. These include genetic studies to understand critical genes relevant to fertility, adaptation and disease resistance, and genetic diversity across the remaining population for future breeding program decisions. To aid with these efforts, we have generated a high-quality de novo genome assembly using PacBio long-read sequencing. Using the new diploid-aware FALCON-Unzip assembler, the resulting genome of 1.06 Gb has a contig N50 of 5.6 Mb (largest contig 29.3 Mb), >350-times more contiguous compared to a recent short-read assembly of a closely related parrot (kea) species. We highlight the benefits of the higher contiguity and greater completeness of the kakapo genome assembly through examples of fully resolved genes important in wildlife conservation (contrasted with fragmented and incomplete gene resolution in short-read assemblies), in some cases even providing sequence for regions orthologous to gaps of missing sequence in the chicken reference genome. We also highlight the complete resolution of the kakapo mitochondrial genome, fully containing the mitochondrial control region which is missing from the previous dedicated kakapomitochondrial genome NCBI entry. For this region, we observed a marked heterogeneity in the number of tandem repeats in different mtDNAmolecules from a single bird tissue, highlighting the enhanced molecular resolution uniquely afforded by long-read, single-molecule PacBio sequencing.


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.


April 21, 2020  |  

A high-quality genome assembly from a single, field-collected spotted lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula) using the PacBio Sequel II system

Background A high-quality reference genome is an essential tool for applied and basic research on arthropods. Long-read sequencing technologies may be used to generate more complete and contiguous genome assemblies than alternate technologies; however, long-read methods have historically had greater input DNA requirements and higher costs than next-generation sequencing, which are barriers to their use on many samples. Here, we present a 2.3 Gb de novo genome assembly of a field-collected adult female spotted lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula) using a single Pacific Biosciences SMRT Cell. The spotted lanternfly is an invasive species recently discovered in the northeastern United States that threatens to damage economically important crop plants in the region. Results The DNA from 1 individual was used to make 1 standard, size-selected library with an average DNA fragment size of ~20 kb. The library was run on 1 Sequel II SMRT Cell 8M, generating a total of 132 Gb of long-read sequences, of which 82 Gb were from unique library molecules, representing ~36× coverage of the genome. The assembly had high contiguity (contig N50 length = 1.5 Mb), completeness, and sequence level accuracy as estimated by conserved gene set analysis (96.8% of conserved genes both complete and without frame shift errors). Furthermore, it was possible to segregate more than half of the diploid genome into the 2 separate haplotypes. The assembly also recovered 2 microbial symbiont genomes known to be associated with L. delicatula, each microbial genome being assembled into a single contig. Conclusions We demonstrate that field-collected arthropods can be used for the rapid generation of high-quality genome assemblies, an attractive approach for projects on emerging invasive species, disease vectors, or conservation efforts of endangered species.


April 21, 2020  |  

Biodiversity seen through the perspective of insects: 10 simple rules on methodological choices and experimental design for genomic studies.

Massively parallel DNA sequencing opens up opportunities for bridging multiple temporal and spatial dimensions in biodiversity research, thanks to its efficiency to recover millions of nucleotide polymorphisms. Here, we identify the current status, discuss the main challenges, and look into future perspectives on biodiversity genomics focusing on insects, which arguably constitute the most diverse and ecologically important group among all animals. We suggest 10 simple rules that provide a succinct step-by-step guide and best-practices to anyone interested in biodiversity research through the study of insect genomics. To this end, we review relevant literature on biodiversity and evolutionary research in the field of entomology. Our compilation is targeted at researchers and students who may not yet be specialists in entomology or molecular biology. We foresee that the genomic revolution and its application to the study of non-model insect lineages will represent a major leap to our understanding of insect diversity.


April 21, 2020  |  

Potential of TLR-gene diversity in Czech indigenous cattle for resistance breeding as revealed by hybrid sequencing

A production herd of Czech Simmental cattle (Czech Red Pied, CRP), the conserved subpopulation of this breed, and the ancient local breed Czech Red cattle (CR) were screened for diversity in the antibacterial toll-like receptors (TLRs), which are members of the innate immune system. Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) amplicons of TLR1, TLR2, TLR4, TLR5, and TLR6 from pooled DNA samples were sequenced with PacBio technology, with 3–5×?coverage per gene per animal. To increase the reliability of variant detection, the gDNA pools were sequenced in parallel with the Illumina X-ten platform at low coverage (60× per gene). The diversity in conserved CRP and CR was similar to the diversity in conserved and modern CRP, representing 76.4?% and 70.9?% of its variants, respectively. Sixty-eight (54.4?%) polymorphisms in the five TLR genes were shared by the two breeds, whereas 38 (30.4?%) were specific to the production herd of CRP; 4 (3.2?%) were specific to the broad CRP population; 7 (5.6?%) were present in both conserved populations; 5 (4.0?%) were present solely for the conserved CRP; and 3 (2.4?%) were restricted to CR. Consequently, gene pool erosion related to intensive breeding did not occur in Czech Simmental cattle. Similarly, no considerable consequences were found from known bottlenecks in the history of Czech Red cattle. On the other hand, the distinctness of the conserved populations and their potential for resistance breeding were only moderate. This relationship might be transferable to other non-abundant historical cattle breeds that are conserved as genetic resources. The estimates of polymorphism impact using Variant Effect Predictor and SIFT software tools allowed for the identification of candidate single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) for association studies related to infection resistance and targeted breeding. Knowledge of TLR-gene diversity present in Czech Simmental populations may aid in the potential transfer of variant characteristics from other breeds.


April 21, 2020  |  

Chloroplast genome of Dalbergia cochinchinensis (Fabaceae), a rare and Endangered rosewood species in Southeast Asia

Dalbergia cochinchinensis is an tree species in Southeast Asia, its wood and wood products are incred- ibly valuable and are also of important medicinal value. In this study, its chloroplast genome was char- acterized using next generation Illumina pair-end and Pacbio sequencing dataset. The whole genome was 156,576bp in length and contains a pair of 25,682bp inverted repeat regions, which were sepa- rated by a large single copy region and a small single copy region of 85,886 and 19,326bp in length, respectively. The cp genome contained 111 genes, including 77 protein-coding genes, 30 tRNAs and 4 rRNAs. A neighbor-joining phylogenetic analysis suggested D. cochinchinensis, which belonged to Dalbergieae, Fabaceae.


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