August 19, 2021  |  

Product Note: Fast, high-resolution DNA sizing with the Agilent Femto Pulse system

The Agilent Femto Pulse system automated pulsed-field CE instrument is a fast, high-resolution benchtop capillary electrophoresis (CE) platform that utilizes pulsed-field electrophoresis to separate high molecular weight DNA fragments. This platform allows important DNA quality checkpoints to be completed in less than 1.5 hours with minimal sample input for de novo large genome sequencing projects and other PacBio applications leveraging multi-kilobase read lengths. The instrument can be used in place of gel-based pulsed-field electrophoresis (PFGE) systems to fully support generation of large-insert SMRTbell libraries with accurate sizing to 165 kb. Alternative DNA sizing instruments cannot accurately resolve large DNA fragments in this range.


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.


June 1, 2021  |  

The resurgence of reference quality genome

Several new 3rd generation long-range DNA sequencing and mapping technologies have recently become available that are starting to create a resurgence in genome sequence quality. Unlike their 2nd generation, shortread counterparts that can resolve a few hundred or a few thousand basepairs, the new technologies can routinely sequence 10,000 bp reads or map across 100,000 bp molecules. The substantially greater lengths are being used to enhance a number of important problems in genomics and medicine, including de novo genome assembly, structural variation detection, and haplotype phasing. Here we discuss the capabilities of the latest technologies, and show how they will improve the “3Cs of Genome Assembly”: the contiguity, completeness, and correctness. We derive this analysis from (1) a metaanalysis of the currently available 3rd generation genome assemblies, (2) a retrospective analysis of the evolution of the reference human genome, and (3) extensive simulations with dozens of species across the tree of life. We also propose a model using support vector regression (SVR) that predicts genome assembly performance using four features: read lengths(L) and coverage values(C) that can be used for evaluating potential technologies along with genome size(G) and repeats(R) that present species specific characteristics. The proposed model significantly improves genome assembly performance prediction by adopting data-driven approach and addressing limitations of the previous hypothesis-driven methodology. Overall, we anticipate these technologies unlock the genomic “dark matter”, and provide many new insights into evolution, agriculture, and human diseases.


June 1, 2021  |  

Progress Toward a Low Budget Reference Grade Genome Assembly

Reference quality de novo genome assemblies were once solely the domain of large, well-funded genome projects. While next-generation short read technology removed some of the cost barriers, accurate chromosome-scale assembly remains a real challenge. Here we present efforts to de novo assemble the goat (Capra hircus) genome. Through the combination of single-molecule technologies from Pacific Biosciences (sequencing) and BioNano Genomics (optical mapping) coupled with high-throughput chromosome conformation capture sequencing (Hi-C), an inbred San Clemente goat genome has been sequenced and assembled to a high degree of completeness at a relatively modest cost. Starting with 38 million PacBio reads, we integrated the MinHash Alignment Process (MHAP) with the Celera Assembler (CA) to produce an assembly composed of 3110 contigs with a contig N50 size of 4.7 Mb. This assembly was scaffolded with BioNano genome maps derived from a single IrysChip into 333 scaffolds with an N50 of 23.1 Mb including the complete scaffolding of chromosome 20. Finally, cis-chromosome associations were determined by Hi-C, yielding complete reconstruction of all autosomes into single scaffolds with a final N50 of 91.7 Mb. We hope to demonstrate that our methods are not only cost effective, but improve our ability to annotate challenging genomic regions such as highly repetitive immune gene clusters.


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  |  

Assessing diversity and clonal variation of Australia’s grapevine germplasm: Curating the FALCON-Unzip Chardonnay de novo genome assembly

Until recently only two genome assemblies were publicly available for grapevine—both Vitis vinifera L. Cv. Pinot Noir (PN). The best available PN genome assembly (Jaillon et al. 2007) is not representative of the genome complexity that is typical of wine-grape cultivars in the field and it is highly fragmented. To assess the genetic complexities of Chardonnay grapevine, assembly of a new de novo reference genome was needed. Here we describe a draft assembly using PacBio SMRT Sequencing data and PacBio’s new phased diploid genome assembler FALCON-Unzip (Chin et al. 2016).


June 1, 2021  |  

Haplotyping of full-length transcript reads from long-read sequencing can reveal allelic imbalances in isoform expression

The Pacific Biosciences Iso-Seq method, which can produce high-quality isoform sequences of 10 kb and longer, has been used to annotate many important plant and animal genomes. Here, we develop an algorithm called IsoPhase that postprocesses Iso-Seq data to retrieve allele specific isoform information. Using simulated data, we show that for both diploid and tetraploid genomes, IsoPhase results in good SNP recovery with low FDR at error rates consistent with CCS reads. We apply IsoPhase to a haplotyperesolved genome assembly and multiple fetal tissue Iso-Seq dataset from a F1 cross of Angus x Brahman cattle subspecies. IsoPhase-called haplotypes were validated by the phased assembly and demonstrate the potential for revealing allelic imbalances in isoform expression.


June 1, 2021  |  

Characterizing the pan-genome of maize with PacBio SMRT Sequencing

Maize is an amazingly diverse crop. A study in 20051 demonstrated that half of the genome sequence and one-third of the gene content between two inbred lines of maize were not shared. This diversity, which is more than two orders of magnitude larger than the diversity found between humans and chimpanzees, highlights the inability of a single reference genome to represent the full pan-genome of maize and all its variants. Here we present and review several efforts to characterize the complete diversity within maize using the highly accurate long reads of PacBio Single Molecule, Real-Time (SMRT) Sequencing. These methods provide a framework for a pan-genomic approach that can be applied to studies of a wide variety of important crop species.


June 1, 2021  |  

A low DNA input protocol for high-quality PacBio de novo genome assemblies from single invertebrate individuals

A high-quality reference genome is an essential tool for studies of plant and animal genomics. PacBio Single Molecule, Real-Time (SMRT) Sequencing generates long reads with uniform coverage and high consensus accuracy, making it a powerful technology for de novo genome assembly. PacBio is the core technology for many large genome initiatives, however, relatively high DNA input requirements (5 µg for standard library protocol) have placed PacBio out of reach for many projects on small, non-inbred organisms that may have lower DNA content. Here we present high-quality de novo genome assemblies from single invertebrate individuals for two different species: the Anopheles coluzzii mosquito and the Schistosoma mansoni parasitic flatworm. A modified SMRTbell library construction protocol without DNA shearing and size selection was used to generate a SMRTbell library from just 50-100 ng of starting genomic DNA. The libraries were run on the Sequel System with chemistry v3.0 and software v6.0, generating a range of 21-32 Gb of sequence per SMRT Cell with 20 hour movies, and followed by diploid de novo genome assembly with FALCON-Unzip. The resulting assemblies had high contiguity (contig N50s over 3 Mb for both species) and completeness (as determined by conserved BUSCO gene analysis). We were also able to resolve maternal and paternal haplotypes for 1/3 of the genome in both cases. By sequencing and assembling material from a single diploid individual, only two haplotypes are present, simplifying the assembly process compared to samples from multiple pooled individuals. This new low-input approach puts PacBio-based assemblies in reach for small, highly heterozygous organisms that comprise much of the diversity of life. The method presented here can be applied to samples with starting DNA amounts around 100 ng per 250 Mb – 1 Gb genome size.


June 1, 2021  |  

Streamlines SMRTbell library generation using addition-only, single tube strategy for all library types reduces time to results

We have streamlined the SMRTbell library generation protocols with improved workflows to deliver seamless end-to-end solutions from sample to analysis. A key improvement is the development of a single-tube reaction strategy that shortened hands-on time needed to generate each SMRTbell library, reduced time-consuming AM Pure purification steps, and minimized sample-handling induced gDNA damage to improve the integrity of long-insert SMRTbell templates for sequencing. The improved protocols support all large-insert genomic libraries, multiplexed microbial genomes, and amplicon sequencing. These advances enable completion of library preparation in less than a day (approximately 4 hours) and opens opportunities for automated library preparation for large-scale projects. Here we share data summarizing performance of the new SMRTbell Express Template Kit 2.0 representing our solutions for 10 kb and >50 kb large-insert genomic libraries, complete microbial genome assemblies, and high-throughput amplicon sequencing. The improved throughput of the Sequel System with read lengths up to 30 kb and high consensus accuracy (> 99.999% accuracy) makes sequencing with high-quality results increasingly assessible to the community.


June 1, 2021  |  

A low DNA input protocol for high-quality PacBio de novo genome assemblies

A high-quality reference genome is an essential tool for studying the genetics of traits and disease, organismal, comparative and conservation biology, and population genomics. PacBio Single Molecule, Real-Time (SMRT) Sequencing generates long reads with uniform coverage and high consensus accuracy, making it a powerful technology for de novo genome assembly. Improvements in throughput and concomitant reductions in cost have made PacBio an attractive core technology for many large genome initiatives. However, relatively high DNA input requirements (3 µg for standard library protocol) have placed PacBio out of reach for many projects on small organisms that may have lower DNA content or on projects with limited input DNA for other reasons. Here we present a modified SMRTbell library construction protocol without DNA shearing or size selection that can be used to generate a SMRTbell library from just 150 ng of starting genomic DNA. Remarkably, the protocol enables high quality de novo assemblies from single invertebrate individuals and is applied to taxonomically diverse samples. By sequencing and assembling material from a single diploid individual, only two haplotypes are present, simplifying the assembly process compared to samples from multiple pooled individuals. The libraries were run on the Sequel System with chemistry v3.0 and software v6.0, generating ~11 Gb of sequence per SMRT Cell with 10 hour movies, and followed by de novo genome assembly with FALCON. The resulting assemblies had high contiguity (contig N50s over 1 Mb) and completeness (as determined by conserved BUSCO gene analysis) when at least 30-fold unique molecular coverage is obtained. This new low-input approach now puts PacBio-based assemblies in reach for small highly heterozygous organisms that comprise much of the diversity of life. The method presented here is scalable and can be applied to samples with starting DNA amounts of 150 ng per 300 Mb genome size.


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