August 19, 2021  |  

Case Study: Pioneering a pan-genome reference collection

At DuPont Pioneer, DNA sequencing is paramount for R&D to reveal the genetic basis for traits of interest in commercial crops such as maize, soybean, sorghum, sunflower, alfalfa, canola, wheat, rice, and others. They cannot afford to wait the years it has historically taken for high-quality reference genomes to be produced. Nor can they rely on a single reference to represent the genetic diversity in its germplasm.


April 21, 2020  |  

The Ptr1 locus of Solanum lycopersicoides confers resistance to race 1 strains of Pseudomonas syringae pv. tomato and to Ralstonia pseudosolanacearum by recognizing the type III effectors AvrRpt2/RipBN.

Race 1 strains of Pseudomonas syringae pv. tomato, which cause bacterial speck disease of tomato, are becoming increasingly common and no simply-inherited genetic resistance to such strains is known. We discovered that a locus in Solanum lycopersicoides, termed Pseudomonas tomato race 1 (Ptr1), confers resistance to race 1 Pst strains by detecting the activity of type III effector AvrRpt2. In Arabidopsis, AvrRpt2 degrades the RIN4 protein thereby activating RPS2-mediated immunity. Using site-directed mutagenesis of AvrRpt2 we found that, like RPS2, activation of Ptr1 requires AvrRpt2 proteolytic activity. Ptr1 also detected the activity of AvrRpt2 homologs from diverse bacteria including one in Ralstonia pseudosolanacearum. The genome sequence of S. lycopersicoides revealed no RPS2 homolog in the Ptr1 region. Ptr1 could play an important role in controlling bacterial speck disease and its future cloning may shed light on an example of convergent evolution for recognition of a widespread type III effector.


April 21, 2020  |  

BjuWRR1, a CC-NB-LRR gene identified in Brassica juncea, confers resistance to white rust caused by Albugo candida.

BjuWRR1, a CNL-type R gene, was identified from an east European gene pool line of Brassica juncea and validated for conferring resistance to white rust by genetic transformation. White rust caused by the oomycete pathogen Albugo candida is a significant disease of crucifer crops including Brassica juncea (mustard), a major oilseed crop of the Indian subcontinent. Earlier, a resistance-conferring locus named AcB1-A5.1 was mapped in an east European gene pool line of B. juncea-Donskaja-IV. This line was tested along with some other lines of B. juncea (AABB), B. rapa (AA) and B. nigra (BB) for resistance to six isolates of A. candida collected from different mustard growing regions of India. Donskaja-IV was found to be completely resistant to all the tested isolates. Sequencing of a BAC spanning the locus AcB1-A5.1 showed the presence of a single CC-NB-LRR protein encoding R gene. The genomic sequence of the putative R gene with its native promoter and terminator was used for the genetic transformation of a susceptible Indian gene pool line Varuna and was found to confer complete resistance to all the isolates. This is the first white rust resistance-conferring gene described from Brassica species and has been named BjuWRR1. Allelic variants of the gene in B. juncea germplasm and orthologues in the Brassicaceae genomes were studied to understand the evolutionary dynamics of the BjuWRR1 gene.


April 21, 2020  |  

De Novo Sequencing and Hybrid Assembly of the Biofuel Crop Jatropha curcas L.: Identification of Quantitative Trait Loci for Geminivirus Resistance.

Jatropha curcas is an important perennial, drought tolerant plant that has been identified as a potential biodiesel crop. We report here the hybrid de novo genome assembly of J. curcas generated using Illumina and PacBio sequencing technologies, and identification of quantitative loci for Jatropha Mosaic Virus (JMV) resistance. In this study, we generated scaffolds of 265.7 Mbp in length, which correspond to 84.8% of the gene space, using Benchmarking Universal Single-Copy Orthologs (BUSCO) analysis. Additionally, 96.4% of predicted protein-coding genes were captured in RNA sequencing data, which reconfirms the accuracy of the assembled genome. The genome was utilized to identify 12,103 dinucleotide simple sequence repeat (SSR) markers, which were exploited in genetic diversity analysis to identify genetically distinct lines. A total of 207 polymorphic SSR markers were employed to construct a genetic linkage map for JMV resistance, using an interspecific F2 mapping population involving susceptible J. curcas and resistant Jatropha integerrima as parents. Quantitative trait locus (QTL) analysis led to the identification of three minor QTLs for JMV resistance, and the same has been validated in an alternate F2 mapping population. These validated QTLs were utilized in marker-assisted breeding for JMV resistance. Comparative genomics of oil-producing genes across selected oil producing species revealed 27 conserved genes and 2986 orthologous protein clusters in Jatropha. This reference genome assembly gives an insight into the understanding of the complex genetic structure of Jatropha, and serves as source for the development of agronomically improved virus-resistant and oil-producing lines.


April 21, 2020  |  

Tissue specific alpha-2-Macroglobulin (A2M) splice isoform diversity in Hilsa shad, Tenualosa ilisha (Hamilton, 1822).

The present study, for the first time, reported twelve A2M isoforms in Tenualosa ilisha, through SMRT sequencing. Hilsa shad, T. ilisha, an anadromous fish, faces environmental stresses and is thus prone to diseases. Here, expression profiles of different A2M isoforms in four tissues were studied in T. ilisha, for the tissue specific diversity of A2M. Large scale high quality full length transcripts (>0.99% accuracy) were obtained from liver, ovary, testes and gill transcriptomes, through Iso-sequencing on PacBio RSII. A total of 12 isoforms, with complete putatative proteins, were detected in three tissues (7 isoforms in liver, 4 in ovary and 1 in testes). Complete structure of A2M mRNA was predicted from these isoforms, containing 4680 bp sequence, 35 exons and 1508 amino acids. With Homo sapiens A2M as reference, six functional domains (A2M_N,A2M_N2, A2M, Thiol-ester_cl, Complement and Receptor domain), along with a bait region, were predicted in A2M consensus protein. A total of 35 splice sites were identified in T. ilisha A2M consensus transcript, with highest frequency (55.7%) of GT-AG splice sites, as compared to that of Homo sapiens. Liver showed longest isoform (X1) consisting of all domains, while smallest (X10) was found in ovary with one Receptor domain. Present study predicted five putative markers (I-212, I-269, A-472, S-567 and Y-906) for EUS disease resistance in A2M protein, which were present in MG2 domains (A2M_N and A2M_N2), by comparing with that of resistant and susceptible/unknown response species. These markers classified fishes into two groups, resistant and susceptible response. Potential markers, predicted in T. ilisha, placed it to be EUS susceptible category. Putative markers reported in A2M protein may serve as molecular markers in diagnosis of EUS disease resistance/susceptibility in fishes and may have a potential for inclusion in the marker panel for pilot studies. Further, challenging studies are required to confirm the role of particular A2M isoforms and markers identified in immune protection against EUS disease.


April 21, 2020  |  

Extreme resistance to Potato virus Y in potato carrying the Rysto gene is mediated by a TIR-NLR immune receptor.

Potato virus Y (PVY) is a major potato (Solanum tuberosum L.) pathogen that causes severe annual crop losses worth billions of dollars worldwide. PVY is transmitted by aphids, and successful control of virus transmission requires the extensive use of environmentally damaging insecticides to reduce vector populations. Rysto , from the wild relative S. stoloniferum, confers extreme resistance (ER) to PVY and related viruses and is a valuable trait that is widely employed in potato resistance breeding programmes. Rysto was previously mapped to a region of potato chromosome XII, but the specific gene has not been identified to date. In this study, we isolated Rysto using resistance gene enrichment sequencing (RenSeq) and PacBio SMRT (Pacific Biosciences single-molecule real-time sequencing). Rysto was found to encode a nucleotide-binding leucine-rich repeat (NLR) protein with an N-terminal TIR domain and was sufficient for PVY perception and ER in transgenic potato plants. Rysto -dependent extreme resistance was temperature-independent and requires EDS1 and NRG1 proteins. Rysto may prove valuable for creating PVY-resistant cultivars of potato and other Solanaceae crops. © 2019 The Authors. Plant Biotechnology Journal published by Society for Experimental Biology and The Association of Applied Biologists and John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


April 21, 2020  |  

A Genetically Tractable, Natural Mouse Model of Cryptosporidiosis Offers Insights into Host Protective Immunity.

Cryptosporidium is a leading cause of diarrheal disease and an important contributor to early childhood mortality, malnutrition, and growth faltering. Older children in high endemicity regions appear resistant to infection, while previously unexposed adults remain susceptible. Experimental studies in humans and animals support the development of disease resistance, but we do not understand the mechanisms that underlie protective immunity to Cryptosporidium. Here, we derive an in vivo model of Cryptosporidium infection in immunocompetent C57BL/6 mice by isolating parasites from naturally infected wild mice. Similar to human cryptosporidiosis, this infection causes intestinal pathology, and interferon-? controls early infection while T cells are critical for clearance. Importantly, mice that controlled a live infection were resistant to secondary challenge and vaccination with attenuated parasites provided protection equal to live infection. Both parasite and host are genetically tractable and this in vivo model will facilitate mechanistic investigation and rational vaccine design.Copyright © 2019 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


April 21, 2020  |  

A Species-Wide Inventory of NLR Genes and Alleles in Arabidopsis thaliana.

Infectious disease is both a major force of selection in nature and a prime cause of yield loss in agriculture. In plants, disease resistance is often conferred by nucleotide-binding leucine-rich repeat (NLR) proteins, intracellular immune receptors that recognize pathogen proteins and their effects on the host. Consistent with extensive balancing and positive selection, NLRs are encoded by one of the most variable gene families in plants, but the true extent of intraspecific NLR diversity has been unclear. Here, we define a nearly complete species-wide pan-NLRome in Arabidopsis thaliana based on sequence enrichment and long-read sequencing. The pan-NLRome largely saturates with approximately 40 well-chosen wild strains, with half of the pan-NLRome being present in most accessions. We chart NLR architectural diversity, identify new architectures, and quantify selective forces that act on specific NLRs and NLR domains. Our study provides a blueprint for defining pan-NLRomes.Copyright © 2019 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


April 21, 2020  |  

Comparative analysis of the chicken IFITM locus by targeted genome sequencing reveals evolution of the locus and positive selection in IFITM1 and IFITM3.

The interferon-induced transmembrane (IFITM) protein family comprises a class of restriction factors widely characterised in humans for their potent antiviral activity. Their biological activity is well documented in several animal species, but their genetic variation and biological mechanism is less well understood, particularly in avian species.Here we report the complete sequence of the domestic chicken Gallus gallus IFITM locus from a wide variety of chicken breeds to examine the detailed pattern of genetic variation of the locus on chromosome 5, including the flanking genes ATHL1 and B4GALNT4. We have generated chIFITM sequences from commercial breeds (supermarket-derived chicken breasts), indigenous chickens from Nigeria (Nsukka) and Ethiopia, European breeds and inbred chicken lines from the Pirbright Institute, totalling of 206 chickens. Through mapping of genetic variants to the latest chIFITM consensus sequence our data reveal that the chIFITM locus does not show structural variation in the locus across the populations analysed, despite spanning diverse breeds from different geographic locations. However, single nucleotide variants (SNVs) in functionally important regions of the proteins within certain groups of chickens were detected, in particular the European breeds and indigenous birds from Ethiopia and Nigeria. In addition, we also found that two out of four SNVs located in the chIFITM1 (Ser36 and Arg77) and chIFITM3 (Val103) proteins were simultaneously under positive selection.Together these data suggest that IFITM genetic variation may contribute to the capacities of different chicken populations to resist virus infection.


April 21, 2020  |  

Linking CRISPR-Cas9 interference in cassava to the evolution of editing-resistant geminiviruses.

Geminiviruses cause damaging diseases in several important crop species. However, limited progress has been made in developing crop varieties resistant to these highly diverse DNA viruses. Recently, the bacterial CRISPR/Cas9 system has been transferred to plants to target and confer immunity to geminiviruses. In this study, we use CRISPR-Cas9 interference in the staple food crop cassava with the aim of engineering resistance to African cassava mosaic virus, a member of a widespread and important family (Geminiviridae) of plant-pathogenic DNA viruses.Our results show that the CRISPR system fails to confer effective resistance to the virus during glasshouse inoculations. Further, we find that between 33 and 48% of edited virus genomes evolve a conserved single-nucleotide mutation that confers resistance to CRISPR-Cas9 cleavage. We also find that in the model plant Nicotiana benthamiana the replication of the novel, mutant virus is dependent on the presence of the wild-type virus.Our study highlights the risks associated with CRISPR-Cas9 virus immunity in eukaryotes given that the mutagenic nature of the system generates viral escapes in a short time period. Our in-depth analysis of virus populations also represents a template for future studies analyzing virus escape from anti-viral CRISPR transgenics. This is especially important for informing regulation of such actively mutagenic applications of CRISPR-Cas9 technology in agriculture.


September 22, 2019  |  

Molecular characterization of NBS-LRR genes in the soybean Rsv3 locus reveals several divergent alleles that likely confer resistance to the soybean mosaic virus.

The divergence patterns of NBS – LRR genes in soybean Rsv3 locus were deciphered and several divergent alleles ( NBS_C, NBS_D and Columbia NBS_E ) were identified as the likely functional candidates of Rsv3. The soybean Rsv3 locus, which confers resistance to the soybean mosaic virus (SMV), has been previously mapped to a region containing five nucleotide binding site-leucine-rich repeats (NBS-LRR) genes (referred to as nbs_A-E) in Williams 82. In resistant cultivars, however, the number of NBS-LRR genes in this region and their divergence from susceptible alleles remain unclear. In the present study, we constructed and screened a bacterial artificial chromosome (BAC) library for an Rsv3-possessing cultivar, Zaoshu 18. Sequencing two positive BAC inserts on the Rsv3 locus revealed that Zaoshu 18 possesses the same gene content and order as Williams 82, but two of the NBS-LRR genes, NBS_C and NBS_D, exhibit distinct features that were not observed in the Williams 82 alleles. Obtaining these NBS-LRR genes from eight additional cultivars demonstrated that the NBS_A-D genes diverged into two different alleles: the nbs_A-D alleles were associated with the rsv3-type cultivars, whereas the NBS_A-D alleles were associated with the Rsv3-possessing cultivars. For the NBS_E gene, the cultivar Columbia possesses an allele (NBS_E) that differed from that in Zaoshu 18 and rsv3-type cultivars (nbs_E). Exchanged fragments were further detected on alleles of the NBS_C-E genes, suggesting that recombination is a major force responsible for allele divergence. Also, the LRR domains of the NBS_C-E genes exhibited extremely strong signals of positive selection. Overall, the divergence patterns of the NBS-LRR genes in Rsv3 locus elucidated by this study indicate that not only NBS_C but also NBS_D and Columbia NBS_E are likely functional alleles that confer resistance to SMV.


September 22, 2019  |  

Identification of a leucine-rich repeat receptor-like serine/threonine-protein kinase as a candidate gene for Rvi12 (Vb)-based apple scab resistance

Apple scab caused by Venturia inaequalis is the most important fungal disease of apples (Malus × domestica). Currently, the disease is controlled by up to 15 fungicide applications to the crop per year. Resistant apple cultivars will help promote the sustainable control of scab in commercial orchards. The breakdown of the Rvi6 (Vf) major-gene based resistance, the most used resistance gene in apple breeding, prompted the identification and characterization of new scab resistance genes. By using a large segregating population, the Rvi12 scab resistance gene was previously mapped to a genetic location flanked by molecular markers SNP_23.599 and SNP_24.482. Starting from these markers, utilizing chromosome walking of a Hansen’s baccata #2 (HB2) BAC-library; a single BAC clone spanning the Rvi12 interval was identified. Following Pacific Biosciences (PacBio) RS II sequencing and the use of the hierarchical genome assembly process (HGAP) assembly of the BAC clone sequence, the Rvi12 resistance locus was localized to a 62.3-kb genomic region. Gene prediction and in silico characterization identified a single candidate resistance gene. The gene, named here as Rvi12_Cd5, belongs to the LRR receptor-like serine/threonine-protein kinase family. In silico comparison of the resistance allele from HB2 and the susceptible allele from Golden Delicious (GD) identified the presence of an additional intron in the HB2 allele. Conserved domain analysis identified the presence of four additional LRR motifs in the susceptible allele compared to the resistance allele. The constitutive expression of Rvi12_Cd5 in HB2, together with its structural similarity to known resistance genes, makes it the most likely candidate for Rvi12 scab resistance in apple.


September 22, 2019  |  

Gene duplication and evolution dynamics in the homeologous regions harboring multiple prolamin and resistance gene families in hexaploid wheat.

Improving end-use quality and disease resistance are important goals in wheat breeding. The genetic loci controlling these traits are highly complex, consisting of large families of prolamin and resistance genes with members present in all three homeologous A, B, and D genomes in hexaploid bread wheat. Here, orthologous regions harboring both prolamin and resistance gene loci were reconstructed and compared to understand gene duplication and evolution in different wheat genomes. Comparison of the two orthologous D regions from the hexaploid wheat Chinese Spring and the diploid progenitor Aegilops tauschii revealed their considerable difference due to the presence of five large structural variations with sizes ranging from 100 kb to 2 Mb. As a result, 44% of the Ae. tauschii and 71% of the Chinese Spring sequences in the analyzed regions, including 79 genes, are not shared. Gene rearrangement events, including differential gene duplication and deletion in the A, B, and D regions, have resulted in considerable erosion of gene collinearity in the analyzed regions, suggesting rapid evolution of prolamin and resistance gene families after the separation of the three wheat genomes. We hypothesize that this fast evolution is attributed to the co-evolution of the two gene families dispersed within a high recombination region. The identification of a full set of prolamin genes facilitated transcriptome profiling and revealed that the A genome contributes the least to prolamin expression because of its smaller number of expressed intact genes and their low expression levels, while the B and D genomes contribute similarly.


September 22, 2019  |  

Pm21 from Haynaldia villosa encodes a CC-NBS-LRR protein conferring powdery mildew resistance in wheat.

Wheat powdery mildew, caused by Blumeria graminis f. sp. tritici (Bgt), is a destructive disease of wheat throughout the world. One of the most important environmental-friendly and economical methods to reduce wheat loss caused by Bgt is to develop highly resistant varieties (Kuraparthy et al., 2007). Pm21 from the wild species Haynaldia villosa (also known as Dasypyrum villosum) confers high resistance to Bgt in wheat throughout all growth stages. It has now become one of the most highly effective genetic loci introgressed into wheat from wild species, and the commercial varieties harboring Pm21 have been widely used in wheat production with more than 4 million hectares in China.


September 22, 2019  |  

Sequencing of Panax notoginseng genome reveals genes involved in disease resistance and ginsenoside biosynthesis

Background: Panax notoginseng is a traditional Chinese herb with high medicinal and economic value. There has been considerable research on the pharmacological activities of ginsenosides contained in Panax spp.; however, very little is known about the ginsenoside biosynthetic pathway. Results: We reported the first de novo genome of 2.36 Gb of sequences from P. notoginseng with 35,451 protein-encoding genes. Compared to other plants, we found notable gene family contraction of disease-resistance genes in P. notoginseng, but notable expansion for several ATP-binding cassette (ABC) transporter subfamilies, such as the Gpdr subfamily, indicating that ABCs might be an additional mechanism for the plant to cope with biotic stress. Combining eight transcriptomes of roots and aerial parts, we identified several key genes, their transcription factor binding sites and all their family members involved in the synthesis pathway of ginsenosides in P. notoginseng, including dammarenediol synthase, CYP716 and UGT71. Conclusions: The complete genome analysis of P. notoginseng, the first in genus Panax, will serve as an important reference sequence for improving breeding and cultivation of this important nutraceutical and medicinal but vulnerable plant species.


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