June 1, 2021  |  

Comparative Studies of Mammalian Sex Chromosomes: From Cytogenetics to NGS

It is a common knowledge that sex chromosome mutations are better tolerated and more viable compared to changes in autosomes. This is explained by relatively low gene density in both the X and the Y chromosome and by random X chromosome inactivation in mammalian females buffering the effect of X-aneuploidies. However, it is not well understood why apparently similar sex chromosome abnormalities, such as X-monosomy or certain Y chromosome rearrangements, result in different phenotypic effects in different species. It is thought that this is due to species differences in the organization of the Y chromosome, differences in the set of genes escaping X-inactivation, and the presence of species/lineage specific sex-linked genes with functions in development and reproduction. Current knowledge about the species differences in sex chromosome organization and function is limited, this despite the availability of reference genome assemblies for most domestic species. It appears that sequence assembly of the X chromosome in most species is rather patchy containing multiple gaps and possible misassemblies, being the poorest in the pseudoautosomal region and in regions containing putative lineage-specific sequences. The Y chromosome, on the other hand, is typically not included in the reference genome and is studied separately, whereas complete sequence assembly of the male-specific portion of the Y is not yet available for any domestic species. In this talk I will discuss comparative organization and function of animal sex chromosomes and related phenotypes proceeding from our research in horses.

April 21, 2020  |  

The comparative genomics and complex population history of Papio baboons.

Recent studies suggest that closely related species can accumulate substantial genetic and phenotypic differences despite ongoing gene flow, thus challenging traditional ideas regarding the genetics of speciation. Baboons (genus Papio) are Old World monkeys consisting of six readily distinguishable species. Baboon species hybridize in the wild, and prior data imply a complex history of differentiation and introgression. We produced a reference genome assembly for the olive baboon (Papio anubis) and whole-genome sequence data for all six extant species. We document multiple episodes of admixture and introgression during the radiation of Papio baboons, thus demonstrating their value as a model of complex evolutionary divergence, hybridization, and reticulation. These results help inform our understanding of similar cases, including modern humans, Neanderthals, Denisovans, and other ancient hominins.

April 21, 2020  |  

Finding Nemo’s Genes: A chromosome-scale reference assembly of the genome of the orange clownfish Amphiprion percula.

The iconic orange clownfish, Amphiprion percula, is a model organism for studying the ecology and evolution of reef fishes, including patterns of population connectivity, sex change, social organization, habitat selection and adaptation to climate change. Notably, the orange clownfish is the only reef fish for which a complete larval dispersal kernel has been established and was the first fish species for which it was demonstrated that antipredator responses of reef fishes could be impaired by ocean acidification. Despite its importance, molecular resources for this species remain scarce and until now it lacked a reference genome assembly. Here, we present a de novo chromosome-scale assembly of the genome of the orange clownfish Amphiprion percula. We utilized single-molecule real-time sequencing technology from Pacific Biosciences to produce an initial polished assembly comprised of 1,414 contigs, with a contig N50 length of 1.86 Mb. Using Hi-C-based chromatin contact maps, 98% of the genome assembly were placed into 24 chromosomes, resulting in a final assembly of 908.8 Mb in length with contig and scaffold N50s of 3.12 and 38.4 Mb, respectively. This makes it one of the most contiguous and complete fish genome assemblies currently available. The genome was annotated with 26,597 protein-coding genes and contains 96% of the core set of conserved actinopterygian orthologs. The availability of this reference genome assembly as a community resource will further strengthen the role of the orange clownfish as a model species for research on the ecology and evolution of reef fishes. © 2018 The Authors. Molecular Ecology Resources Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

April 21, 2020  |  

A Species-Wide Inventory of NLR Genes and Alleles in Arabidopsis thaliana.

Infectious disease is both a major force of selection in nature and a prime cause of yield loss in agriculture. In plants, disease resistance is often conferred by nucleotide-binding leucine-rich repeat (NLR) proteins, intracellular immune receptors that recognize pathogen proteins and their effects on the host. Consistent with extensive balancing and positive selection, NLRs are encoded by one of the most variable gene families in plants, but the true extent of intraspecific NLR diversity has been unclear. Here, we define a nearly complete species-wide pan-NLRome in Arabidopsis thaliana based on sequence enrichment and long-read sequencing. The pan-NLRome largely saturates with approximately 40 well-chosen wild strains, with half of the pan-NLRome being present in most accessions. We chart NLR architectural diversity, identify new architectures, and quantify selective forces that act on specific NLRs and NLR domains. Our study provides a blueprint for defining pan-NLRomes.Copyright © 2019 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

April 21, 2020  |  

Metagenomic assembly through the lens of validation: recent advances in assessing and improving the quality of genomes assembled from metagenomes.

Metagenomic samples are snapshots of complex ecosystems at work. They comprise hundreds of known and unknown species, contain multiple strain variants and vary greatly within and across environments. Many microbes found in microbial communities are not easily grown in culture making their DNA sequence our only clue into their evolutionary history and biological function. Metagenomic assembly is a computational process aimed at reconstructing genes and genomes from metagenomic mixtures. Current methods have made significant strides in reconstructing DNA segments comprising operons, tandem gene arrays and syntenic blocks. Shorter, higher-throughput sequencing technologies have become the de facto standard in the field. Sequencers are now able to generate billions of short reads in only a few days. Multiple metagenomic assembly strategies, pipelines and assemblers have appeared in recent years. Owing to the inherent complexity of metagenome assembly, regardless of the assembly algorithm and sequencing method, metagenome assemblies contain errors. Recent developments in assembly validation tools have played a pivotal role in improving metagenomics assemblers. Here, we survey recent progress in the field of metagenomic assembly, provide an overview of key approaches for genomic and metagenomic assembly validation and demonstrate the insights that can be derived from assemblies through the use of assembly validation strategies. We also discuss the potential for impact of long-read technologies in metagenomics. We conclude with a discussion of future challenges and opportunities in the field of metagenomic assembly and validation. © The Author 2017. Published by Oxford University Press.

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