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August 1, 2019

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…

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August 1, 2019

The importance of genome sequence quality to microbial comparative genomics.

The quality of microbial genome sequences has been a concern ever since the emergence of genome sequencing. The quality of the genome assemblies is dependent on the sequencing technology used and the aims for which the sequence was generated. Novel sequencing and bioinformatics technologies are not intrinsically better than the older technologies, although they are generally more efficient. In this correspondence, the importance for comparative genomics of additional manual assembly efforts over autoassembly and careful annotation is emphasized.

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August 1, 2019

Decoding dragon DNA.

Monitor lizards (genus Varanus) have a number of characteristics that differentiate them from other squamates (snakes and lizards), including their unique cardiovascular systems and metabolism. Now, a paper in Nature Ecology and Evolution reports the genome sequence of the largest extant varanid — the Komodo dragon (Varanus komodoensis) — and describes genomic features that may underlie its distinct physiology.

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August 1, 2019

Sequence and Evolutionary Features for the Alternatively Spliced Exons of Eukaryotic Genes.

Alternative splicing of pre-mRNAs is a crucial mechanism for maintaining protein diversity in eukaryotes without requiring a considerable increase of genes in the number. Due to rapid advances in high-throughput sequencing technologies and computational algorithms, it is anticipated that alternative splicing events will be more intensively studied to address different kinds of biological questions. The occurrences of alternative splicing mean that all exons could be classified to be either constitutively or alternatively spliced depending on whether they are virtually included into all mature mRNAs. From an evolutionary point of view, therefore, the alternatively spliced exons would have been associated with…

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August 1, 2019

Effective approaches to study the plant-root knot nematode interaction.

Plant-parasitic nematodes cause major agricultural losses worldwide. Examining the molecular mechanisms underlying plant-nematode interactions and how plants respond to different invading pathogens is attracting major attention to reduce the expanding gap between agricultural production and the needs of the growing world population. This review summarizes the most recent developments in plant-nematode interactions and the diverse approaches used to improve plant resistance against root knot nematode (RKN). We will emphasize the recent rapid advances in genome sequencing technologies, small interfering RNA techniques (RNAi) and targeted genome editing which are contributing to the significant progress in understanding the plant-nematode interaction mechanisms. Also,…

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July 1, 2019

Genetic Variation, Comparative Genomics, and the Diagnosis of Disease.

The discovery of mutations associated with human genetic dis- ease is an exercise in comparative genomics (see Glossary). Although there are many different strategies and approaches, the central premise is that affected persons harbor a significant excess of pathogenic DNA variants as com- pared with a group of unaffected persons (controls) that is either clinically defined1 or established by surveying large swaths of the general population.2 The more exclu- sive the variant is to the disease, the greater its penetrance, the larger its effect size, and the more relevant it becomes to both disease diagnosis and future therapeutic investigation. The…

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July 1, 2019

Long-Read Sequencing – A Powerful Tool in Viral Transcriptome Research.

Long-read sequencing (LRS) has become increasingly popular due to its strengths in de novo assembly and in resolving complex DNA regions as well as in determining full-length RNA molecules. Two important LRS technologies have been developed during the past few years, including single-molecule, real-time sequencing by Pacific Biosciences, and nanopore sequencing by Oxford Nanopore Technologies. Although current LRS methods produce lower coverage, and are more error prone than short-read sequencing, these methods continue to be superior in identifying transcript isoforms including multispliced RNAs and transcript-length variants as well as overlapping transcripts and alternative polycistronic RNA molecules. Viruses have small, compact…

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July 1, 2019

RNA sequencing: the teenage years.

Over the past decade, RNA sequencing (RNA-seq) has become an indispensable tool for transcriptome-wide analysis of differential gene expression and differential splicing of mRNAs. However, as next-generation sequencing technologies have developed, so too has RNA-seq. Now, RNA-seq methods are available for studying many different aspects of RNA biology, including single-cell gene expression, translation (the translatome) and RNA structure (the structurome). Exciting new applications are being explored, such as spatial transcriptomics (spatialomics). Together with new long-read and direct RNA-seq technologies and better computational tools for data analysis, innovations in RNA-seq are contributing to a fuller understanding of RNA biology, from questions…

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July 1, 2019

Comparative Phylogenomics, a Stepping Stone for Bird Biodiversity Studies

Birds are a group with immense availability of genomic resources, and hundreds of forthcoming genomes at the doorstep. We review recent developments in whole genome sequencing, phylogenomics, and comparative genomics of birds. Short read based genome assemblies are common, largely due to efforts of the Bird 10K genome project (B10K). Chromosome-level assemblies are expected to increase due to improved long-read sequencing. The available genomic data has enabled the reconstruction of the bird tree of life with increasing confidence and resolution, but challenges remain in the early splits of Neoaves due to their explosive diversification after the Cretaceous-Paleogene (K-Pg) event. Continued…

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July 1, 2019

How Genomics Is Changing What We Know About the Evolution and Genome of Bordetella pertussis.

The evolution of Bordetella pertussis from a common ancestor similar to Bordetella bronchiseptica has occurred through large-scale gene loss, inactivation and rearrangements, largely driven by the spread of insertion sequence element repeats throughout the genome. B. pertussis is widely considered to be monomorphic, and recent evolution of the B. pertussis genome appears to, at least in part, be driven by vaccine-based selection. Given the recent global resurgence of whooping cough despite the wide-spread use of vaccination, a more thorough understanding of B. pertussis genomics could be highly informative. In this chapter we discuss the evolution of B. pertussis, including how…

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July 1, 2019

Generating amplicon reads for microbial community assessment with next-generation sequencing.

Marker gene amplicon sequencing is often preferred over whole genome sequencing for microbial community characterization, due to its lower cost while still enabling assessment of uncultivable organisms. This technique involves many experimental steps, each of which can be a source of errors and bias. We present an up-to-date overview of the whole experimental pipeline, from sampling to sequencing reads, and give information allowing for informed choices at each step of both planning and execution of a microbial community assessment study. When applicable, we also suggest ways of avoiding inherent pitfalls in amplicon sequencing.© 2019 The Society for Applied Microbiology.

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June 1, 2019

Current advances in HIV vaccine preclinical studies using Macaque models.

The macaque simian or simian/human immunodeficiency virus (SIV/SHIV) challenge model has been widely used to inform and guide human vaccine trials. Substantial advances have been made recently in the application of repeated-low-dose challenge (RLD) approach to assess SIV/SHIV vaccine efficacies (VE). Some candidate HIV vaccines have shown protective effects in preclinical studies using the macaque SIV/SHIV model but the model's true predictive value for screening potential HIV vaccine candidates needs to be evaluated further. Here, we review key parameters used in the RLD approach and discuss their relevance for evaluating VE to improve preclinical studies of candidate HIV vaccines.Crown Copyright…

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June 1, 2019

Genome and transcriptome analyses of Leishmania spp.: opening Pandora’s box.

In the last 30 years, significant advances in genetic manipulation tools along with complete genome and transcriptome sequencing have advanced our understanding of the biology of Leishmania parasites and their interplay with the sand fly and mammalian hosts. High-throughput sequencing in association with CRISPR/Cas9 have prepared the ground for significant advances. Given the richness of the progress made over the last decade, in this article, we focused on the most recent contributions of genome-wide and transcriptome analyses of Leishmania spp., which permit the comparison of life cycle stages, the evaluation of different strains and species in their natural niches and…

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June 1, 2019

Development of CRISPR-Cas systems for genome editing and beyond

The development of clustered regularly interspaced short-palindromic repeat (CRISPR)-Cas systems for genome editing has transformed the way life science research is conducted and holds enormous potential for the treatment of disease as well as for many aspects of biotech- nology. Here, I provide a personal perspective on the development of CRISPR-Cas9 for genome editing within the broader context of the field and discuss our work to discover novel Cas effectors and develop them into additional molecular tools. The initial demonstra- tion of Cas9-mediated genome editing launched the development of many other technologies, enabled new lines of biological inquiry, and motivated…

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