September 22, 2019  |  

A comprehensive analysis of alternative splicing in paleopolyploid maize.

Identifying and characterizing alternative splicing (AS) enables our understanding of the biological role of transcript isoform diversity. This study describes the use of publicly available RNA-Seq data to identify and characterize the global diversity of AS isoforms in maize using the inbred lines B73 and Mo17, and a related species, sorghum. Identification and characterization of AS within maize tissues revealed that genes expressed in seed exhibit the largest differential AS relative to other tissues examined. Additionally, differences in AS between the two genotypes B73 and Mo17 are greatest within genes expressed in seed. We demonstrate that changes in the level of alternatively spliced transcripts (intron retention and exon skipping) do not solely reflect differences in total transcript abundance, and we present evidence that intron retention may act to fine-tune gene expression across seed development stages. Furthermore, we have identified temperature sensitive AS in maize and demonstrate that drought-induced changes in AS involve distinct sets of genes in reproductive and vegetative tissues. Examining our identified AS isoforms within B73 × Mo17 recombinant inbred lines (RILs) identified splicing QTL (sQTL). The 43.3% of cis-sQTL regulated junctions are actually identified as alternatively spliced junctions in our analysis, while 10 Mb windows on each side of 48.2% of trans-sQTLs overlap with splicing related genes. Using sorghum as an out-group enabled direct examination of loss or conservation of AS between homeologous genes representing the two subgenomes of maize. We identify several instances where AS isoforms that are conserved between one maize homeolog and its sorghum ortholog are absent from the second maize homeolog, suggesting that these AS isoforms may have been lost after the maize whole genome duplication event. This comprehensive analysis provides new insights into the complexity of AS in maize.

July 19, 2019  |  

Long-read sequencing uncovers the adaptive topography of a carnivorous plant genome.

Utricularia gibba, the humped bladderwort, is a carnivorous plant that retains a tiny nuclear genome despite at least two rounds of whole genome duplication (WGD) since common ancestry with grapevine and other species. We used a third-generation genome assembly with several complete chromosomes to reconstruct the two most recent lineage-specific ancestral genomes that led to the modern U. gibba genome structure. Patterns of subgenome dominance in the most recent WGD, both architectural and transcriptional, are suggestive of allopolyploidization, which may have generated genomic novelty and led to instantaneous speciation. Syntenic duplicates retained in polyploid blocks are enriched for transcription factor functions, whereas gene copies derived from ongoing tandem duplication events are enriched in metabolic functions potentially important for a carnivorous plant. Among these are tandem arrays of cysteine protease genes with trap-specific expression that evolved within a protein family known to be useful in the digestion of animal prey. Further enriched functions among tandem duplicates (also with trap-enhanced expression) include peptide transport (intercellular movement of broken-down prey proteins), ATPase activities (bladder-trap acidification and transmembrane nutrient transport), hydrolase and chitinase activities (breakdown of prey polysaccharides), and cell-wall dynamic components possibly associated with active bladder movements. Whereas independently polyploid Arabidopsis syntenic gene duplicates are similarly enriched for transcriptional regulatory activities, Arabidopsis tandems are distinct from those of U. gibba, while still metabolic and likely reflecting unique adaptations of that species. Taken together, these findings highlight the special importance of tandem duplications in the adaptive landscapes of a carnivorous plant genome.

July 7, 2019  |  

The Atlantic salmon genome provides insights into rediploidization.

The whole-genome duplication 80 million years ago of the common ancestor of salmonids (salmonid-specific fourth vertebrate whole-genome duplication, Ss4R) provides unique opportunities to learn about the evolutionary fate of a duplicated vertebrate genome in 70 extant lineages. Here we present a high-quality genome assembly for Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar), and show that large genomic reorganizations, coinciding with bursts of transposon-mediated repeat expansions, were crucial for the post-Ss4R rediploidization process. Comparisons of duplicate gene expression patterns across a wide range of tissues with orthologous genes from a pre-Ss4R outgroup unexpectedly demonstrate far more instances of neofunctionalization than subfunctionalization. Surprisingly, we find that genes that were retained as duplicates after the teleost-specific whole-genome duplication 320 million years ago were not more likely to be retained after the Ss4R, and that the duplicate retention was not influenced to a great extent by the nature of the predicted protein interactions of the gene products. Finally, we demonstrate that the Atlantic salmon assembly can serve as a reference sequence for the study of other salmonids for a range of purposes.

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