June 1, 2021  |  

Diploid genome assembly and comprehensive haplotype sequence reconstruction

Outside of the simplest cases (haploid, bacteria, or inbreds), genomic information is not carried in a single reference per individual, but rather has higher ploidy (n=>2) for almost all organisms. The existence of two or more highly related sequences within an individual makes it extremely difficult to build high quality, highly contiguous genome assemblies from short DNA fragments. Based on the earlier work on a polyploidy aware assembler, FALCON ( https://github.com/PacificBiosciences/FALCON) , we developed new algorithms and software (“FALCON-unzip”) for de novo haplotype reconstructions from SMRT Sequencing data. We generate two datasets for developing the algorithms and the prototype software: (1) whole genome sequencing data from a highly repetitive diploid fungal (Clavicorona pyxidata) and (2) whole genome sequencing data from an F1 hybrid from two inbred Arabidopsis strains: Cvi-0 and Col-0. For the fungal genome, we achieved an N50 of 1.53 Mb (of the 1n assembly contigs) of the ~42 Mb 1n genome and an N50 of the haplotigs (haplotype specific contigs) of 872 kb from a 95X read length N50 ~16 kb dataset. We found that ~ 45% of the genome was highly heterozygous and ~55% of the genome was highly homozygous. We developed methods to assess the base-level accuracy and local haplotype phasing accuracy of the assembly with short-read data from the Illumina® platform. For the ArabidopsisF1 hybrid genome, we found that 80% of the genome could be separated into haplotigs. The long range accuracy of phasing haplotigs was evaluated by comparing them to the assemblies from the two inbred parental lines. We show that a more complete view of all haplotypes could provide useful biological insights through improved annotation, characterization of heterozygous variants of all sizes, and resolution of differential allele expression. The current Falcon-Unzip method will lead to understand how to solve more difficult polyploid genome assembly problems and improve the computational efficiency for large genome assemblies. Based on this work, we can develop a pipeline enabling routinely assemble diploid or polyploid genomes as haplotigs, representing a comprehensive view of the genomes that can be studied with the information at hand.


June 1, 2021  |  

Phased human genome assemblies with Single Molecule, Real-Time Sequencing

In recent years, human genomic research has focused on comparing short-read data sets to a single human reference genome. However, it is becoming increasingly clear that significant structural variations present in individual human genomes are missed or ignored by this approach. Additionally, remapping short-read data limits the phasing of variation among individual chromosomes. This reduces the newly sequenced genome to a table of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) with little to no information as to the co-linearity (phasing) of these variants, resulting in a “mosaic” reference representing neither of the parental chromosomes. The variation between the homologous chromosomes is lost in this representation, including allelic variations, structural variations, or even genes present in only one chromosome, leading to lost information regarding allelic-specific gene expression and function. To address these limitations, we have made significant progress integrating haplotype information directly into genome assembly process with long reads. The FALCON-Unzip algorithm leverages a string graph assembly approach to facilitate identification and separation of heterozygosity during the assembly process to produce a highly contiguous assembly with phased haplotypes representing the genome in its diploid state. The outputs of the assembler are pairs of sequences (haplotigs) containing the allelic differences, including SNPs and structural variations, present in the two sets of chromosomes. The development and testing of our de-novo diploid assembler was facilitated and carefully validated using inbred reference model organisms and F1 progeny, which allowed us to ascertain the accuracy and concordance of haplotigs relative to the two inbred parental assemblies. Examination of the results confirmed that our haplotype-resolved assemblies are “Gold Level” reference genomes having a quality similar to that of Sanger-sequencing, BAC-based assembly approaches. We further sequenced and assembled two well-characterized human samples into their respective phased diploid genomes with gap-free contig N50 sizes greater than 23 Mb and haplotig N50 sizes greater than 380 kb. Results of these assemblies and a comparison between the haplotype sets are presented.


June 1, 2021  |  

Best practices for diploid assembly of complex genomes using PacBio: A case study of Cascade Hops

A high quality reference genome is an essential resource for plant and animal breeding and functional and evolutionary studies. The common hop (Humulus lupulus, Cannabaceae) is an economically important crop plant used to flavor and preserve beer. Its genome is large (flow cytometrybased estimates of diploid length >5.4Gb1), highly repetitive, and individual plants display high levels of heterozygosity, which make assembly of an accurate and contiguous reference genome challenging with conventional short-read methods. We present a contig assembly of Cascade Hops using PacBio long reads and the diploid genome assembler, FALCON-Unzip2. The assembly has dramatically improved contiguity and completeness over earlier short-read assemblies. The genome is primarily assembled as haplotypes due to the outbred nature of the organism. We explore patterns of haplotype divergence across the assembly and present strategies to deduplicate haplotypes prior to scaffolding


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