July 19, 2019  |  

Evolution of mosquito preference for humans linked to an odorant receptor.

Female mosquitoes are major vectors of human disease and the most dangerous are those that preferentially bite humans. A ‘domestic’ form of the mosquito Aedes aegypti has evolved to specialize in biting humans and is the main worldwide vector of dengue, yellow fever, and chikungunya viruses. The domestic form coexists with an ancestral, ‘forest’ form that prefers to bite non-human animals and is found along the coast of Kenya. We collected the two forms, established laboratory colonies, and document striking divergence in preference for human versus non-human animal odour. We further show that the evolution of preference for human odour in domestic mosquitoes is tightly linked to increases in the expression and ligand-sensitivity of the odorant receptor AaegOr4, which we found recognizes a compound present at high levels in human odour. Our results provide a rare example of a gene contributing to behavioural evolution and provide insight into how disease-vectoring mosquitoes came to specialize on humans.


July 19, 2019  |  

Radical remodeling of the Y chromosome in a recent radiation of malaria mosquitoes.

Y chromosomes control essential male functions in many species, including sex determination and fertility. However, because of obstacles posed by repeat-rich heterochromatin, knowledge of Y chromosome sequences is limited to a handful of model organisms, constraining our understanding of Y biology across the tree of life. Here, we leverage long single-molecule sequencing to determine the content and structure of the nonrecombining Y chromosome of the primary African malaria mosquito, Anopheles gambiae. We find that the An. gambiae Y consists almost entirely of a few massively amplified, tandemly arrayed repeats, some of which can recombine with similar repeats on the X chromosome. Sex-specific genome resequencing in a recent species radiation, the An. gambiae complex, revealed rapid sequence turnover within An. gambiae and among species. Exploiting 52 sex-specific An. gambiae RNA-Seq datasets representing all developmental stages, we identified a small repertoire of Y-linked genes that lack X gametologs and are not Y-linked in any other species except An. gambiae, with the notable exception of YG2, a candidate male-determining gene. YG2 is the only gene conserved and exclusive to the Y in all species examined, yet sequence similarity to YG2 is not detectable in the genome of a more distant mosquito relative, suggesting rapid evolution of Y chromosome genes in this highly dynamic genus of malaria vectors. The extensive characterization of the An. gambiae Y provides a long-awaited foundation for studying male mosquito biology, and will inform novel mosquito control strategies based on the manipulation of Y chromosomes.


July 7, 2019  |  

Site-specific genetic engineering of the Anopheles gambiae Y chromosome.

Despite its function in sex determination and its role in driving genome evolution, the Y chromosome remains poorly understood in most species. Y chromosomes are gene-poor, repeat-rich and largely heterochromatic and therefore represent a difficult target for genetic engineering. The Y chromosome of the human malaria vector Anopheles gambiae appears to be involved in sex determination although very little is known about both its structure and function. Here, we characterize a transgenic strain of this mosquito species, obtained by transposon-mediated integration of a transgene construct onto the Y chromosome. Using meganuclease-induced homologous repair we introduce a site-specific recombination signal onto the Y chromosome and show that the resulting docking line can be used for secondary integration. To demonstrate its utility, we study the activity of a germ-line-specific promoter when located on the Y chromosome. We also show that Y-linked fluorescent transgenes allow automated sex separation of this important vector species, providing the means to generate large single-sex populations. Our findings will aid studies of sex chromosome function and enable the development of male-exclusive genetic traits for vector control.


July 7, 2019  |  

Genome analysis of a major urban malaria vector mosquito, Anopheles stephensi.

Background Anopheles stephensi is the key vector of malaria throughout the Indian subcontinent and Middle East and an emerging model for molecular and genetic studies of mosquito-parasite interactions. The type form of the species is responsible for the majority of urban malaria transmission across its range.ResultsHere, we report the genome sequence and annotation of the Indian strain of the type form of An. stephensi. The 221 Mb genome assembly represents more than 92% of the entire genome and was produced using a combination of 454, Illumina, and PacBio sequencing. Physical mapping assigned 62% of the genome onto chromosomes, enabling chromosome-based analysis. Comparisons between An. stephensi and An. gambiae reveal that the rate of gene order reshuffling on the X chromosome was three times higher than that on the autosomes. An. stephensi has more heterochromatin in pericentric regions but less repetitive DNA in chromosome arms than An. gambiae. We also identify a number of Y-chromosome contigs and BACs. Interspersed repeats constitute 7.1% of the assembled genome while LTR retrotransposons alone comprise more than 49% of the Y contigs. RNA-seq analyses provide new insights into mosquito innate immunity, development, and sexual dimorphism.ConclusionsThe genome analysis described in this manuscript provides a resource and platform for fundamental and translational research into a major urban malaria vector. Chromosome-based investigations provide unique perspectives on Anopheles chromosome evolution. RNA-seq analysis and studies of immunity genes offer new insights into mosquito biology and mosquito-parasite interactions.


July 7, 2019  |  

Genome scaffolding and annotation for the pathogen vector Ixodes ricinus by ultra-long single molecule sequencing.

Global warming and other ecological changes have facilitated the expansion of Ixodes ricinus tick populations. Ixodes ricinus is the most important carrier of vector-borne pathogens in Europe, transmitting viruses, protozoa and bacteria, in particular Borrelia burgdorferi (sensu lato), the causative agent of Lyme borreliosis, the most prevalent vector-borne disease in humans in the Northern hemisphere. To faster control this disease vector, a better understanding of the I. ricinus tick is necessary. To facilitate such studies, we recently published the first reference genome of this highly prevalent pathogen vector. Here, we further extend these studies by scaffolding and annotating the first reference genome by using ultra-long sequencing reads from third generation single molecule sequencing. In addition, we present the first genome size estimation for I. ricinus ticks and the embryo-derived cell line IRE/CTVM19.235,953 contigs were integrated into 204,904 scaffolds, extending the currently known genome lengths by more than 30% from 393 to 516 Mb and the N50 contig value by 87% from 1643 bp to a N50 scaffold value of 3067 bp. In addition, 25,263 sequences were annotated by comparison to the tick’s North American relative Ixodes scapularis. After (conserved) hypothetical proteins, zinc finger proteins, secreted proteins and P450 coding proteins were the most prevalent protein categories annotated. Interestingly, more than 50% of the amino acid sequences matching the homology threshold had 95-100% identity to the corresponding I. scapularis gene models. The sequence information was complemented by the first genome size estimation for this species. Flow cytometry-based genome size analysis revealed a haploid genome size of 2.65Gb for I. ricinus ticks and 3.80 Gb for the cell line.We present a first draft sequence map of the I. ricinus genome based on a PacBio-Illumina assembly. The I. ricinus genome was shown to be 26% (500 Mb) larger than the genome of its American relative I. scapularis. Based on the genome size of 2.65 Gb we estimated that we covered about 67% of the non-repetitive sequences. Genome annotation will facilitate screening for specific molecular pathways in I. ricinus cells and provides an overview of characteristics and functions.


July 7, 2019  |  

Prevalence and molecular characterization of mcr-1-positive Salmonella strains recovered from clinical specimens in China.

The recently discovered colistin resistance element, mcr-1, adds to the list of antimicrobial resistance genes that rapidly erode the antimicrobial efficacy of not only the commonly used antibiotics but also the last-line agents of carbapenems and colistin. This study investigated the prevalence of the mobile colistin resistance determinant mcr-1 in Salmonella strains recovered from clinical settings in China and the transmission potential of mcr-1-bearing mobile elements harbored by such isolates. The mcr-1 gene was recoverable in 1.4% of clinical isolates tested, with the majority of them belonging to Salmonella enterica serotype Typhimurium. These isolates exhibited diverse pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) profiles and high resistance to antibiotics other than colistin and particularly to cephalosporins. Plasmid analysis showed that mcr-1 was carried on a variety of plasmids with sizes ranging from ~30 to ~250 kb, among which there were conjugative plasmids of ~30 kb, ~60 kb, and ~250 kb and nonconjugative plasmids of ~140 kb, ~180 kb, and ~240 kb. Sequencing of representative mcr-1-carrying plasmids revealed that all conjugative plasmids belonged to the IncX4, IncI2, and IncHI2 types and were highly similar to the corresponding types of plasmids reported previously. Nonconjugative plasmids all belonged to the IncHI2 type, and the nontransferability of these plasmids was attributed to the loss of a region carrying partial or complete tra genes. Our data revealed that, similar to the situation in Escherichia coli, mcr-1 transmission in Salmonella was accelerated by various plasmids, suggesting that transmission of mcr-1-carrying plasmids between different species of Enterobacteriaceae may be a common event. Copyright © 2017 American Society for Microbiology.


July 7, 2019  |  

Complete genome sequence of Amycolatopsis orientalis CPCC200066, the producer of norvancomycin.

Amycolatopsis orientalis CPCC200066 is an actinomycete exploited commercially in China for the production of norvancomycin, an important glycopeptide antibiotic structurally close to the well-known vancomycin. The availability of the complete genome sequence of CPCC200066 would greatly strengthen our understanding of the regulation pattern of norvancomycin biosynthesis and ultimately improve its production, as well as potentiate discoveries of novel bioactive compounds. Here we report the complete genome sequence of A. orientalis CPCC200066, a circular chromosome consisting of 9,490,992bp. Forty putative secondary metabolite biosynthetic gene clusters, including norvancomycin, were predicted, covering 20.3% of the whole genome. To facilitate genetic manipulation of this strain, an efficient transformation system was established by constructing a novel integrative vector pIMBT1, which could be transferred into CPCC200066 by electroporation with high efficiency. FBT1 attB sites were also identified in other known Amycolatopsis genomes, indicating pIMBT1’s prospect to be a novel vector for genus Amycolatopsis. Copyright © 2017 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


July 7, 2019  |  

Improved annotation of the insect vector of citrus greening disease: biocuration by a diverse genomics community.

The Asian citrus psyllid (Diaphorina citri Kuwayama) is the insect vector of the bacterium Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus (CLas), the pathogen associated with citrus Huanglongbing (HLB, citrus greening). HLB threatens citrus production worldwide. Suppression or reduction of the insect vector using chemical insecticides has been the primary method to inhibit the spread of citrus greening disease. Accurate structural and functional annotation of the Asian citrus psyllid genome, as well as a clear understanding of the interactions between the insect and CLas, are required for development of new molecular-based HLB control methods. A draft assembly of the D. citri genome has been generated and annotated with automated pipelines. However, knowledge transfer from well-curated reference genomes such as that of Drosophila melanogaster to newly sequenced ones is challenging due to the complexity and diversity of insect genomes. To identify and improve gene models as potential targets for pest control, we manually curated several gene families with a focus on genes that have key functional roles in D. citri biology and CLas interactions. This community effort produced 530 manually curated gene models across developmental, physiological, RNAi regulatory and immunity-related pathways. As previously shown in the pea aphid, RNAi machinery genes putatively involved in the microRNA pathway have been specifically duplicated. A comprehensive transcriptome enabled us to identify a number of gene families that are either missing or misassembled in the draft genome. In order to develop biocuration as a training experience, we included undergraduate and graduate students from multiple institutions, as well as experienced annotators from the insect genomics research community. The resulting gene set (OGS v1.0) combines both automatically predicted and manually curated gene models.


July 7, 2019  |  

Transcriptional profiling the 150 kb linear megaplasmid of Borrelia turicatae suggests a role in vector colonization and initiating mammalian infection.

Adaptation is key for survival as vector-borne pathogens transmit between the arthropod and vertebrate, and temperature change is an environmental signal inducing alterations in gene expression of tick-borne spirochetes. While plasmids are often associated with adaptation, complex genomes of relapsing fever spirochetes have hindered progress in understanding the mechanisms of vector colonization and transmission. We utilized recent advances in genome sequencing to generate the most complete version of the Borrelia turicatae 150 kb linear megaplasmid (lp150). Additionally, a transcriptional analysis of open reading frames (ORFs) in lp150 was conducted and identified regions that were up-regulated during in vitro cultivation at tick-like growth temperatures (22°C), relative to bacteria grown at 35°C and infected murine blood. Evaluation of the 3′ end of lp150 identified a cluster of ORFs that code for putative surface lipoproteins. With a microbe’s surface proteome serving important roles in pathogenesis, we confirmed the ORFs expression in vitro and in the tick compared to spirochetes infecting murine blood. Transcriptional evaluation of lp150 indicates the plasmid likely has essential roles in vector colonization and/or initiating mammalian infection. These results also provide a much needed transcriptional framework to delineate the molecular mechanisms utilized by relapsing fever spirochetes during their enzootic cycle.


July 7, 2019  |  

Large-scale mitogenomics enables insights into Schizophora (Diptera) radiation and population diversity.

True flies are insects of the order Diptera and encompass one of the most diverse groups of animals on Earth. Within dipterans, Schizophora represents a recent radiation of insects that was used as a model to develop a pipeline for generating complete mitogenomes using various sequencing platforms and strategies. 91 mitogenomes from 32 different species were sequenced and assembled with high fidelity, using amplicon, whole genome shotgun or single molecule sequencing approaches. Based on the novel mitogenomes, we estimate the origin of Schizophora within the Cretaceous-Paleogene (K-Pg) boundary, about 68.3?Ma. Detailed analyses of the blowfly family (Calliphoridae) place its origin at 22?Ma, concomitant with the radiation of grazing mammals. The emergence of ectoparasitism within calliphorids was dated 6.95?Ma for the screwworm fly and 2.3?Ma for the Australian sheep blowfly. Varying population histories were observed for the blowfly Chrysomya megacephala and the housefly Musca domestica samples in our dataset. Whereas blowflies (n?=?50) appear to have undergone selective sweeps and/or severe bottlenecks in the New World, houseflies (n?=?14) display variation among populations from different zoogeographical zones and low levels of gene flow. The reported high-throughput mitogenomics approach for insects enables new insights into schizophoran diversity and population history of flies.


July 7, 2019  |  

Horizontal gene acquisitions, mobile element proliferation, and genome decay in the host-restricted plant pathogen Erwinia tracheiphila.

Modern industrial agriculture depends on high-density cultivation of genetically similar crop plants, creating favorable conditions for the emergence of novel pathogens with increased fitness in managed compared with ecologically intact settings. Here, we present the genome sequence of six strains of the cucurbit bacterial wilt pathogen Erwinia tracheiphila (Enterobacteriaceae) isolated from infected squash plants in New York, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, and Michigan. These genomes exhibit a high proportion of recent horizontal gene acquisitions, invasion and remarkable amplification of mobile genetic elements, and pseudogenization of approximately 20% of the coding sequences. These genome attributes indicate that E. tracheiphila recently emerged as a host-restricted pathogen. Furthermore, chromosomal rearrangements associated with phage and transposable element proliferation contribute to substantial differences in gene content and genetic architecture between the six E. tracheiphila strains and other Erwinia species. Together, these data lead us to hypothesize that E. tracheiphila has undergone recent evolution through both genome decay (pseudogenization) and genome expansion (horizontal gene transfer and mobile element amplification). Despite evidence of dramatic genomic changes, the six strains are genetically monomorphic, suggesting a recent population bottleneck and emergence into E. tracheiphila’s current ecological niche. © The Author 2016. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution.


July 7, 2019  |  

Complete genome sequence of the larvicidal bacterium Lysinibacillus sphaericus strain OT4b.25.

Lysinibacillus sphaericus OT4b.25 is a native Colombian strain isolated from coleopteran larvae in an oak forest near Bogotá D.C.; this strain has shown high levels of pathogenic activity against Culex quinquefasciatus larvae in laboratory assays compared to that of other members of the same species. Using Pacific Biosciences sequencing technology, we propose a chromosomal contig of 4,665,775 bp that, according to comparative analysis, is highly similar to that of reference strain L. sphaericus C3-41. Copyright © 2016 Rey et al.


July 7, 2019  |  

Complete genome sequence of Lysinibacillus sphaericus WHO reference strain 2362.

Lysinibacillus sphaericus is a species that contains strains widely used in the biological control of mosquitoes. Here, we present the complete 4.67-Mb genome of the WHO entomopathogenic reference strain L. sphaericus 2362, which is probably one of the most commercialized and studied strains. Genes coding for mosquitocidal toxin proteins were detected. Copyright © 2016 Hernández-Santana et al.


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