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January 1, 2019

Mycobiome diversity: high-throughput sequencing and identification of fungi.

Fungi are major ecological players in both terrestrial and aquatic environments by cycling organic matter and channelling nutrients across trophic levels. High-throughput sequencing (HTS) studies of fungal communities are redrawing the map of the fungal kingdom by hinting at its enormous - and largely uncharted - taxonomic and functional diversity. However, HTS approaches come with a range of pitfalls and potential biases, cautioning against unwary application and interpretation of HTS technologies and results. In this Review, we provide an overview and practical recommendations for aspects of HTS studies ranging from sampling and laboratory practices to data processing and analysis. We…

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January 1, 2019

Applying the latest advances in genomics and phenomics for trait discovery in polyploid wheat.

Improving traits in wheat has historically been challenging due to its large and polyploid genome, limited genetic diversity and in-field phenotyping constraints. However, within recent years many of these barriers have been lowered. The availability of a chromosome-level assembly of the wheat genome now facilitates a step-change in wheat genetics and provides a common platform for resources, including variation data, gene expression data and genetic markers. The development of sequenced mutant populations and gene-editing techniques now enables the rapid assessment of gene function in wheat directly. The ability to alter gene function in a targeted manner will unmask the effects…

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January 1, 2019

The Versatility of SMRT Sequencing.

The adoption of single molecule real-time (SMRT) sequencing [1] is becoming widespread, not only in basic science, but also in more applied areas such as agricultural, environmental, and medical research. SMRT sequencing offers important advantages over current short-read DNA sequencing technologies, including exceptionally long read lengths (20 kb or more), unparalleled consensus accuracy, and the ability to sequence native, non-amplified, DNA molecules. These sequencing characteristics enable creation of highly accurate de novo genome assemblies, characterization of complex structural variation, direct characterization of nucleotide base modifications, full-length RNA isoform sequencing, phasing of genetic variants, low frequency mutation detection, and clonal evolution…

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January 1, 2019

Computational aspects underlying genome to phenome analysis in plants.

Recent advances in genomics technologies have greatly accelerated the progress in both fundamental plant science and applied breeding research. Concurrently, high-throughput plant phenotyping is becoming widely adopted in the plant community, promising to alleviate the phenotypic bottleneck. While these technological breakthroughs are significantly accelerating quantitative trait locus (QTL) and causal gene identification, challenges to enable even more sophisticated analyses remain. In particular, care needs to be taken to standardize, describe and conduct experiments robustly while relying on plant physiology expertise. In this article, we review the state of the art regarding genome assembly and the future potential of pangenomics in…

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January 1, 2019

DNA methylation analysis.

DNA methylation is a process by which methyl groups are added to cytosine or adenine. DNA methylation can change the activity of the DNA molecule without changing the sequence. Methylation of 5-methylcytosine (5mC) is widespread in both eukaryotes and prokaryotes, and it is a very important epigenetic modification event, which can regulate gene activity and influence a number of key processes such as genomic imprinting, cell differentiation, transcriptional regulation, and chromatin remodeling. Profiling DNA methylation across the genome is critical to understanding the influence of methylation in normal biology and diseases including cancer. Recent discoveries of 5-methylcytosine (5mC) oxidation derivatives…

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January 1, 2019

Finding the needle in a haystack: Mapping antifungal drug resistance in fungal pathogen by genomic approaches.

Fungi are ubiquitous on earth and are essential for the maintenance of the global ecological equilibrium. Despite providing benefits to living organisms, they can also target specific hosts and inflict damage. These fungal pathogens are known to affect, for example, plants and mam- mals and thus reduce crop production necessary to sustain food supply and cause mortality in humans and animals. Designing defenses against these fungi is essential for the control of food resources and human health. As far as fungal pathogens are concerned, the principal option has been the use of antifungal agents, also called fungicides when they are…

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December 14, 2018

Glyphosate resistance and EPSPS gene duplication: Convergent evolution in multiple plant species.

One of the increasingly widespread mechanisms of resistance to the herbicide glyphosate is copy number variation (CNV) of the 5-enolpyruvylshikimate-3-phosphate synthase (EPSPS) gene. EPSPS gene duplication has been reported in eight weed species, ranging from 3-5 extra copies to more than 150 extra copies. In the case of Palmer amaranth (Amaranthus palmeri), a section of >300 kb containing EPSPS and many other genes has been replicated and inserted at new loci throughout the genome, resulting in significant increase in total genome size. The replicated sequence contains several classes of mobile genetic elements including helitrons, raising the intriguing possibility of extra-chromosomal…

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December 1, 2018

Genomics, GPCRs and new targets for the control of insect pests and vectors.

The pressing need for new pest control products with novel modes of action has spawned interest in small molecules and peptides targeting arthropod GPCRs. Genome sequence data and tools for reverse genetics have enabled the prediction and characterization of GPCRs from many invertebrates. We review recent work to identify, characterize and de-orphanize arthropod GPCRs, with a focus on studies that reveal exciting new functional roles for these receptors, including the regulation of metabolic resistance. We explore the potential for insecticides targeting Class A biogenic amine-binding and peptide-binding receptors, and consider the innovation required to generate pest-selective leads for development, within…

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December 1, 2018

How resurrection plants survive being hung out to dry.

Resurrection plants have the unique ability to survive extreme dehydration (desiccation), lying dormant for months or sometimes years until rehydration is possible. This formidable survival strategy has independently evolved several times across the land plant phylogeny, and several phylogenetically diverse resurrection plant genomes have been sequenced and assembled in an attempt to understand the causal genetic mechanisms. Large-scale comparisons across each of these phylogenetically distant resurrection plant genomes reveals that some conserved molecular signatures may underlie desiccation tolerance (Illing et al., 2005; Zhang and Bartels, 2018), but overall the genes, networks, and regulatory factors that underlie desiccation tolerance remain largely…

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December 1, 2018

Hardwood tree genomics: Unlocking woody plant biology.

Woody perennial angiosperms (i.e., hardwood trees) are polyphyletic in origin and occur in most angiosperm orders. Despite their independent origins, hardwoods have shared physiological, anatomical, and life history traits distinct from their herbaceous relatives. New high-throughput DNA sequencing platforms have provided access to numerous woody plant genomes beyond the early reference genomes of Populus and Eucalyptus, references that now include willow and oak, with pecan and chestnut soon to follow. Genomic studies within these diverse and undomesticated species have successfully linked genes to ecological, physiological, and developmental traits directly. Moreover, comparative genomic approaches are providing insights into speciation events while…

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December 1, 2018

T118M Variant of PMP22 Gene Presents with Painful Peripheral Neuropathy and Varying Charcot-Marie-Tooth Features: A Case Series and Review of the Literature.

The clinical effect of T118M variant of the PMP22 gene has been controversial. Several studies have suggested that it may be autosomal recessive, partial loss of function, or a benign variant. Here we report three cases in further support that the T118M variant of the PMP22 gene is a partial loss of function variant. These three unrelated cases were heterozygotes with the T118M variant of the PMP22 gene. All three cases presented with painful peripheral neuropathy and varying degrees of Charcot-Marie-Tooth exam features. Electrophysiological studies revealed polyneuropathy with axonal and demyelinating features in one case, but there were minimal electrophysiological…

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December 1, 2018

Development of New Tools to Detect Colistin-Resistance among Enterobacteriaceae Strains.

The recent discovery of the plasmid-mediated mcr-1 gene conferring resistance to colistin is of clinical concern. The worldwide screening of this resistance mechanism among samples of different origins has highlighted the urgent need to improve the detection of colistin-resistant isolates in clinical microbiology laboratories. Currently, phenotypic methods used to detect colistin resistance are not necessarily suitable as the main characteristic of the mcr genes is the low level of resistance that they confer, close to the clinical breakpoint recommended jointly by the CLSI and EUCAST expert systems (S?=?2?mg/L and R?>?2?mg/L). In this context, susceptibility testing recommendations for polymyxins have evolved…

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November 27, 2018

Rooting for new sources of natural rubber

Global production of natural rubber (NR) depends overwhelmingly on the Pará rubber tree (Hevea brasiliensis), a slow-growing tropical tree that is threatened by low genetic diversity and high susceptibility to fungal blight [1]. Alternative rubber sources have been sought for more than a century, but very few species have been found that produce rubber of comparable quality [2]. One of the brightest candidates, first noticed by breeders in Soviet-era Russia, is Taraxacum kok-saghyz (commonly called TKS). This close relative of the common weedy dandelion has a number of attractive features. As a native of central Asia, TKS can be cultivated…

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November 14, 2018

Identification of DNA base modifications by means of Pacific Biosciences RS Sequencing technology.

Whole phage genomes can be sequenced readily using one or a combination of next generation sequencing (NGS) technologies. One of the most recently developed NGS platforms, the so-called Single-Molecule Real-Time (SMRT) sequencing approach provided by the PacBio RS platform, is particularly useful in providing complete (i.e., un-gapped) genome sequences, but differs from other technologies in that the platform also allows for downstream analysis to identify nucleotides that have been modified by DNA methylation. Here, we describe the methodological approach for the detection of genomic methylation motifs by means of SMRT sequencing.

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November 1, 2018

Understanding explosive diversification through cichlid fish genomics.

Owing to their taxonomic, phenotypic, ecological and behavioural diversity and propensity for explosive diversification, the assemblages of cichlid fish in the East African Great Lakes Victoria, Malawi and Tanganyika are important role models in evolutionary biology. With the release of five reference genomes and many additional genomic resources, as well as the establishment of functional genomic tools, the cichlid system has fully entered the genomic era. The in-depth genomic exploration of the East African cichlid fauna - in combination with the examination of their ecology, morphology and behaviour - permits novel insights into the way organisms diversify.

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