June 1, 2021  |  

Long-read assembly of the Aedes aegypti Aag2 cell line genome resolves ancient endogenous viral elements

Transmission of arboviruses such as Dengue Virus by Aedes aegypti causes debilitating disease across the globe. Disease in humans can include severe acute symptoms such as hemorrhagic fever and organ failure, but mosquitoes tolerate high titers of virus in a persistent infection. The mechanisms responsible for this viral tolerance are unclear. Recent publications highlighted the integration of genetic material from non-retroviral RNA viruses into the genome of the host during infection that relies upon endogenous retro-transcriptase activity from transposons. These endogenous viral elements (EVEs) found in the genome are predicted to be ancient, and at least some EVEs are under purifying selection, suggesting they are beneficial to the host. To characterize EVE biogenesis in a tractable system, we sequenced the Ae. aegypti cell line, Aag2, to 58-fold coverage and present a de novo assembly of the genome. The assembly contains 1.7 Gb of genomic and 255 Mb of alternative haplotype specific sequence, consisting of contigs with a N50 of 1.4 Mb; a value that, when compared with other assemblies of the Aedes genus, is from 1-3 orders of magnitude longer. The Aag2 genome is highly repetitive (70%), most of which is classified as transposable elements (60%). We identify EVEs in the genome homologous to a range of extant viruses, many of which cluster in these regions of repetitive DNA. The contiguous assembly allows for more comprehensive identification of the transposable elements and EVEs that are most likely to be lost in assemblies lacking the read length of SMRT Sequencing.


June 1, 2021  |  

A high-quality genome assembly of SMRT Sequences reveals long-range haplotype structure in the diploid mosquito Aedes aegypti

Aedes aegypti is a tropical and subtropical mosquito vector for Zika, yellow fever, dengue fever, chikungunya, and other diseases. The outbreak of Zika in the Americas, which can cause microcephaly in the fetus of infected women, adds urgency to the need for a high-quality reference genome in order to better understand the organism’s biology and its role in transmitting human disease. We describe the first diploid assembly of an insect genome, using SMRT sequencing and the open-source assembler FALCON-Unzip. This assembly has high contiguity (contig N50 1.3 Mb), is more complete than previous assemblies (Length 1.45 Gb with 87% BUSCO genes complete), and is high quality (mean base >QV30). Long-range haplotype structure, in some cases encompassing more than 4 Mb of extremely divergent homologous sequence, is resolved using a combination of the FALCON-Unzip assembler, genome annotation, coverage depth, and pairwise nucleotide alignments.


June 1, 2021  |  

A high-quality genome assembly of SMRT sequences reveals long range haplotype structure in the diploid mosquito Aedes aegypti

Aedes aegypti is a tropical and subtropical mosquito vector for Zika, yellow fever, dengue fever, and chikungunya. We describe the first diploid assembly of an insect genome, using SMRT Sequencing and the open-source assembler FALCON-Unzip. This assembly has high contiguity (contig N50 1.3 Mb), is more complete than previous assemblies (Length 1.45 Gb with 87% BUSCO genes complete), and is high quality (mean base >QV30 after polishing). Long-range haplotype structure, in some cases encompassing more than 4 Mb of extremely divergent homologous sequence with dramatic differences in coding sequence content, is resolved using a combination of the FALCON-Unzip assembler, genome annotation, coverage depth, and pairwise nucleotide alignments.


April 21, 2020  |  

Chromosome-level hybrid de novo genome assemblies as an attainable option for non-model organisms

The emergence of third generation sequencing (3GS; long-reads) is making closer the goal of chromosome-size fragments in de novo genome assemblies. This allows the exploration of new and broader questions on genome evolution for a number of non-model organisms. However, long-read technologies result in higher sequencing error rates and therefore impose an elevated cost of sufficient coverage to achieve high enough quality. In this context, hybrid assemblies, combining short-reads and long-reads provide an alternative efficient and cost-effective approach to generate de novo, chromosome-level genome assemblies. The array of available software programs for hybrid genome assembly, sequence correction and manipulation is constantly being expanded and improved. This makes it difficult for non-experts to find efficient, fast and tractable computational solutions for genome assembly, especially in the case of non-model organisms lacking a reference genome or one from a closely related species. In this study, we review and test the most recent pipelines for hybrid assemblies, comparing the model organism Drosophila melanogaster to a non-model cactophilic Drosophila, D. mojavensis. We show that it is possible to achieve excellent contiguity on this non-model organism using the DBG2OLC pipeline.


April 21, 2020  |  

Hi-C guided assemblies reveal conserved regulatory topologies on X and autosomes despite extensive genome shuffling

Genome rearrangements that occur during evolution impose major challenges on regulatory mechanisms that rely on three-dimensional genome architecture. Here, we developed a scaffolding algorithm and generated chromosome-length assemblies from Hi-C data for studying genome topology in three distantly related Drosophila species. We observe extensive genome shuffling between these species with one synteny breakpoint after approximately every six genes. A/B compartments, a set of large gene-dense topologically associating domains (TADs) and spatial contacts between high-affinity sites (HAS) located on the X chromosome are maintained over 40 million years, indicating architectural conservation at various hierarchies. Evolutionary conserved genes cluster in the vicinity of HAS, while HAS locations appear evolutionarily flexible, thus uncoupling functional requirement of dosage compensation from individual positions on the linear X chromosome. Therefore, 3D architecture is preserved even in scenarios of thousands of rearrangements highlighting its relevance for essential processes such as dosage compensation of the X chromosome.


April 21, 2020  |  

Insect genomes: progress and challenges.

In the wake of constant improvements in sequencing technologies, numerous insect genomes have been sequenced. Currently, 1219 insect genome-sequencing projects have been registered with the National Center for Biotechnology Information, including 401 that have genome assemblies and 155 with an official gene set of annotated protein-coding genes. Comparative genomics analysis showed that the expansion or contraction of gene families was associated with well-studied physiological traits such as immune system, metabolic detoxification, parasitism and polyphagy in insects. Here, we summarize the progress of insect genome sequencing, with an emphasis on how this impacts research on pest control. We begin with a brief introduction to the basic concepts of genome assembly, annotation and metrics for evaluating the quality of draft assemblies. We then provide an overview of genome information for numerous insect species, highlighting examples from prominent model organisms, agricultural pests and disease vectors. We also introduce the major insect genome databases. The increasing availability of insect genomic resources is beneficial for developing alternative pest control methods. However, many opportunities remain for developing data-mining tools that make maximal use of the available insect genome resources. Although rapid progress has been achieved, many challenges remain in the field of insect genomics. © 2019 The Royal Entomological Society.


April 21, 2020  |  

Divergent selection following speciation in two ectoparasitic honey bee mites

Multispecies host-parasite evolution is common, but how parasites evolve after speciating remains poorly understood. Shared evolutionary history and physiology may propel species along similar evolutionary trajectories whereas pursuing different strategies can reduce competition. We test these scenarios in the economically important association between honey bees and ectoparasitic mites by sequencing the genomes of the sister mite species Varroa destructor and Varroa jacobsoni. These genomes were closely related, with 99.7% sequence identity. Among the 9,628 orthologous genes, 4.8% showed signs of positive selection in at least one species. Divergent selective trajectories were discovered in conserved chemosensory gene families (IGR, SNMP), and Halloween genes (CYP) involved in moulting and reproduction. However, there was little overlap in these gene sets and associated GO terms, indicating different selective regimes operating on each of the parasites. Based on our findings, we suggest that species-specific strategies may be needed to combat evolving parasite communities.


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