April 21, 2020  |  

Genome assembly provides insights into the genome evolution and flowering regulation of orchardgrass.

Orchardgrass (Dactylis glomerata L.) is an important forage grass for cultivating livestock worldwide. Here, we report an ~1.84-Gb chromosome-scale diploid genome assembly of orchardgrass, with a contig N50 of 0.93 Mb, a scaffold N50 of 6.08 Mb and a super-scaffold N50 of 252.52 Mb, which is the first chromosome-scale assembled genome of a cool-season forage grass. The genome includes 40 088 protein-coding genes, and 69% of the assembled sequences are transposable elements, with long terminal repeats (LTRs) being the most abundant. The LTRretrotransposons may have been activated and expanded in the grass genome in response to environmental changes during the Pleistocene between 0 and 1 million years ago. Phylogenetic analysis reveals that orchardgrass diverged after rice but before three Triticeae species, and evolutionarily conserved chromosomes were detected by analysing ancient chromosome rearrangements in these grass species. We also resequenced the whole genome of 76 orchardgrass accessions and found that germplasm from Northern Europe and East Asia clustered together, likely due to the exchange of plants along the ‘Silk Road’ or other ancient trade routes connecting the East and West. Last, a combined transcriptome, quantitative genetic and bulk segregant analysis provided insights into the genetic network regulating flowering time in orchardgrass and revealed four main candidate genes controlling this trait. This chromosome-scale genome and the online database of orchardgrass developed here will facilitate the discovery of genes controlling agronomically important traits, stimulate genetic improvement of and functional genetic research on orchardgrass and provide comparative genetic resources for other forage grasses. © 2019 The Authors. Plant Biotechnology Journal published by Society for Experimental Biology and The Association of Applied Biologists and John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


April 21, 2020  |  

The Chinese chestnut genome: a reference for species restoration

Forest tree species are increasingly subject to severe mortalities from exotic pests, diseases, and invasive organisms, accelerated by climate change. Forest health issues are threatening multiple species and ecosystem sustainability globally. While sources of resistance may be available in related species, or among surviving trees, introgression of resistance genes into threatened tree species in reasonable time frames requires genome-wide breeding tools. Asian species of chestnut (Castanea spp.) are being employed as donors of disease resistance genes to restore native chestnut species in North America and Europe. To aid in the restoration of threatened chestnut species, we present the assembly of a reference genome with chromosome-scale sequences for Chinese chestnut (C. mollissima), the disease-resistance donor for American chestnut restoration. We also demonstrate the value of the genome as a platform for research and species restoration, including new insights into the evolution of blight resistance in Asian chestnut species, the locations in the genome of ecologically important signatures of selection differentiating American chestnut from Chinese chestnut, the identification of candidate genes for disease resistance, and preliminary comparisons of genome organization with related species.


April 21, 2020  |  

Insect genomes: progress and challenges.

In the wake of constant improvements in sequencing technologies, numerous insect genomes have been sequenced. Currently, 1219 insect genome-sequencing projects have been registered with the National Center for Biotechnology Information, including 401 that have genome assemblies and 155 with an official gene set of annotated protein-coding genes. Comparative genomics analysis showed that the expansion or contraction of gene families was associated with well-studied physiological traits such as immune system, metabolic detoxification, parasitism and polyphagy in insects. Here, we summarize the progress of insect genome sequencing, with an emphasis on how this impacts research on pest control. We begin with a brief introduction to the basic concepts of genome assembly, annotation and metrics for evaluating the quality of draft assemblies. We then provide an overview of genome information for numerous insect species, highlighting examples from prominent model organisms, agricultural pests and disease vectors. We also introduce the major insect genome databases. The increasing availability of insect genomic resources is beneficial for developing alternative pest control methods. However, many opportunities remain for developing data-mining tools that make maximal use of the available insect genome resources. Although rapid progress has been achieved, many challenges remain in the field of insect genomics. © 2019 The Royal Entomological Society.


April 21, 2020  |  

Genome-wide selection footprints and deleterious variations in young Asian allotetraploid rapeseed.

Brassica napus (AACC, 2n = 38) is an important oilseed crop grown worldwide. However, little is known about the population evolution of this species, the genomic difference between its major genetic groups, such as European and Asian rapeseed, and the impacts of historical large-scale introgression events on this young tetraploid. In this study, we reported the de novo assembly of the genome sequences of an Asian rapeseed (B. napus), Ningyou 7, and its four progenitors and compared these genomes with other available genomic data from diverse European and Asian cultivars. Our results showed that Asian rapeseed originally derived from European rapeseed but subsequently significantly diverged, with rapid genome differentiation after hybridization and intensive local selective breeding. The first historical introgression of B. rapa dramatically broadened the allelic pool but decreased the deleterious variations of Asian rapeseed. The second historical introgression of the double-low traits of European rapeseed (canola) has reshaped Asian rapeseed into two groups (double-low and double-high), accompanied by an increase in genetic load in the double-low group. This study demonstrates distinctive genomic footprints and deleterious SNP (single nucleotide polymorphism) variants for local adaptation by recent intra- and interspecies introgression events and provides novel insights for understanding the rapid genome evolution of a young allopolyploid crop. © 2019 The Authors. Plant Biotechnology Journal published by Society for Experimental Biology and The Association of Applied Biologists and John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


April 21, 2020  |  

Heterologous Expression of Ilicicolin H Biosynthetic Gene Cluster and Production of a New Potent Antifungal Reagent, Ilicicolin J.

Ilicicolin H is a broad-spectrum antifungal agent targeting mitochondrial cytochrome bc1 reductase. Unfortunately, ilicicolin H shows reduced activities in vivo. Here, we report our effort on the identification of ilicicolin H biosynthetic gene cluster (BGC) by genomic sequencing a producing strain, Neonectria sp. DH2, and its heterologous production in Aspergillus nidulans. In addition, a shunt product with similar antifungal activities, ilicicolin J, was uncovered. This effort would provide a base for future combinatorial biosynthesis of ilicicolin H analogues. Bioinformatics analysis suggests that the backbone of ilicicolin H is assembled by a polyketide-nonribosomal peptide synthethase (IliA), and then offloaded with a tetramic acid moiety. Similar to tenellin biosynthesis, the tetramic acid is then converted to pyridone by a putative P450, IliC. The decalin portion is most possibly constructed by a S-adenosyl-l-methionine (SAM)-dependent Diels-Alderase (IliD).


April 21, 2020  |  

A high-quality genome assembly from a single, field-collected spotted lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula) using the PacBio Sequel II system

Background A high-quality reference genome is an essential tool for applied and basic research on arthropods. Long-read sequencing technologies may be used to generate more complete and contiguous genome assemblies than alternate technologies; however, long-read methods have historically had greater input DNA requirements and higher costs than next-generation sequencing, which are barriers to their use on many samples. Here, we present a 2.3 Gb de novo genome assembly of a field-collected adult female spotted lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula) using a single Pacific Biosciences SMRT Cell. The spotted lanternfly is an invasive species recently discovered in the northeastern United States that threatens to damage economically important crop plants in the region. Results The DNA from 1 individual was used to make 1 standard, size-selected library with an average DNA fragment size of ~20 kb. The library was run on 1 Sequel II SMRT Cell 8M, generating a total of 132 Gb of long-read sequences, of which 82 Gb were from unique library molecules, representing ~36× coverage of the genome. The assembly had high contiguity (contig N50 length = 1.5 Mb), completeness, and sequence level accuracy as estimated by conserved gene set analysis (96.8% of conserved genes both complete and without frame shift errors). Furthermore, it was possible to segregate more than half of the diploid genome into the 2 separate haplotypes. The assembly also recovered 2 microbial symbiont genomes known to be associated with L. delicatula, each microbial genome being assembled into a single contig. Conclusions We demonstrate that field-collected arthropods can be used for the rapid generation of high-quality genome assemblies, an attractive approach for projects on emerging invasive species, disease vectors, or conservation efforts of endangered species.


April 21, 2020  |  

A draft nuclear-genome assembly of the acoel flatworm Praesagittifera naikaiensis.

Acoels are primitive bilaterians with very simple soft bodies, in which many organs, including the gut, are not developed. They provide platforms for studying molecular and developmental mechanisms involved in the formation of the basic bilaterian body plan, whole-body regeneration, and symbiosis with photosynthetic microalgae. Because genomic information is essential for future research on acoel biology, we sequenced and assembled the nuclear genome of an acoel, Praesagittifera naikaiensis.To avoid sequence contamination derived from symbiotic microalgae, DNA was extracted from embryos that were free of algae. More than 290x sequencing coverage was achieved using a combination of Illumina (paired-end and mate-pair libraries) and PacBio sequencing. RNA sequencing and Iso-Seq data from embryos, larvae, and adults were also obtained. First, a preliminary ~17-kilobase pair (kb) mitochondrial genome was assembled, which was deleted from the nuclear sequence assembly. As a result, a draft nuclear genome assembly was ~656 Mb in length, with a scaffold N50 of 117 kb and a contig N50 of 57 kb. Although ~70% of the assembled sequences were likely composed of repetitive sequences that include DNA transposons and retrotransposons, the draft genome was estimated to contain 22,143 protein-coding genes, ~99% of which were substantiated by corresponding transcripts. We could not find horizontally transferred microalgal genes in the acoel genome. Benchmarking Universal Single-Copy Orthologs analyses indicated that 77% of the conserved single-copy genes were complete. Pfam domain analyses provided a basic set of gene families for transcription factors and signaling molecules.Our present sequencing and assembly of the P. naikaiensis nuclear genome are comparable to those of other metazoan genomes, providing basic information for future studies of genic and genomic attributes of this animal group. Such studies may shed light on the origins and evolution of simple bilaterians. © The Author(s) 2019. Published by Oxford University Press.


April 21, 2020  |  

A chromosome-level sequence assembly reveals the structure of the Arabidopsis thaliana Nd-1 genome and its gene set.

In addition to the BAC-based reference sequence of the accession Columbia-0 from the year 2000, several short read assemblies of THE plant model organism Arabidopsis thaliana were published during the last years. Also, a SMRT-based assembly of Landsberg erecta has been generated that identified translocation and inversion polymorphisms between two genotypes of the species. Here we provide a chromosome-arm level assembly of the A. thaliana accession Niederzenz-1 (AthNd-1_v2c) based on SMRT sequencing data. The best assembly comprises 69 nucleome sequences and displays a contig length of up to 16 Mbp. Compared to an earlier Illumina short read-based NGS assembly (AthNd-1_v1), a 75 fold increase in contiguity was observed for AthNd-1_v2c. To assign contig locations independent from the Col-0 gold standard reference sequence, we used genetic anchoring to generate a de novo assembly. In addition, we assembled the chondrome and plastome sequences. Detailed analyses of AthNd-1_v2c allowed reliable identification of large genomic rearrangements between A. thaliana accessions contributing to differences in the gene sets that distinguish the genotypes. One of the differences detected identified a gene that is lacking from the Col-0 gold standard sequence. This de novo assembly extends the known proportion of the A. thaliana pan-genome.


April 21, 2020  |  

Liriodendron genome sheds light on angiosperm phylogeny and species-pair differentiation.

The genus Liriodendron belongs to the family Magnoliaceae, which resides within the magnoliids, an early diverging lineage of the Mesangiospermae. However, the phylogenetic relationship of magnoliids with eudicots and monocots has not been conclusively resolved and thus remains to be determined1-6. Liriodendron is a relict lineage from the Tertiary with two distinct species-one East Asian (L. chinense (Hemsley) Sargent) and one eastern North American (L. tulipifera Linn)-identified as a vicariad species pair. However, the genetic divergence and evolutionary trajectories of these species remain to be elucidated at the whole-genome level7. Here, we report the first de novo genome assembly of a plant in the Magnoliaceae, L. chinense. Phylogenetic analyses suggest that magnoliids are sister to the clade consisting of eudicots and monocots, with rapid diversification occurring in the common ancestor of these three lineages. Analyses of population genetic structure indicate that L. chinense has diverged into two lineages-the eastern and western groups-in China. While L. tulipifera in North America is genetically positioned between the two L. chinense groups, it is closer to the eastern group. This result is consistent with phenotypic observations that suggest that the eastern and western groups of China may have diverged long ago, possibly before the intercontinental differentiation between L. chinense and L. tulipifera. Genetic diversity analyses show that L. chinense has tenfold higher genetic diversity than L. tulipifera, suggesting that the complicated regions comprising east-west-orientated mountains and the Yangtze river basin (especially near 30°?N latitude) in East Asia offered more successful refugia than the south-north-orientated mountain valleys in eastern North America during the Quaternary glacial period.


April 21, 2020  |  

Epidemiologic and genomic insights on mcr-1-harbouring Salmonella from diarrhoeal outpatients in Shanghai, China, 2006-2016.

Colistin resistance mediated by mcr-1-harbouring plasmids is an emerging threat in Enterobacteriaceae, like Salmonella. Based on its major contribution to the diarrhoea burden, the epidemic state and threat of mcr-1-harbouring Salmonella in community-acquired infections should be estimated.This retrospective study analysed the mcr-1 gene incidence in Salmonella strains collected from a surveillance on diarrhoeal outpatients in Shanghai Municipality, China, 2006-2016. Molecular characteristics of the mcr-1-positive strains and their plasmids were determined by genome sequencing. The transfer abilities of these plasmids were measured with various conjugation strains, species, and serotypes.Among the 12,053 Salmonella isolates, 37 mcr-1-harbouring strains, in which 35 were serovar Typhimurium, were detected first in 2012 and with increasing frequency after 2015. Most patients infected with mcr-1-harbouring strains were aged <5?years. All strains, including fluoroquinolone-resistant and/or extended-spectrum ß-lactamase-producing strains, were multi-drug resistant. S. Typhimurium had higher mcr-1 plasmid acquisition ability compared with other common serovars. Phylogeny based on the genomes combined with complete plasmid sequences revealed some clusters, suggesting the presence of mcr-1-harbouring Salmonella outbreaks in the community. Most mcr-1-positive strains were clustered together with the pork strains, strongly suggesting pork consumption as a main infection source.The mcr-1-harbouring Salmonella prevalence in community-acquired diarrhoea displays a rapid increase trend, and the ESBL-mcr-1-harbouring Salmonella poses a threat for children. These findings highlight the necessary and significance of prohibiting colistin use in animals and continuous monitoring of mcr-1-harbouring Salmonella.Copyright © 2019. Published by Elsevier B.V.


April 21, 2020  |  

Real time monitoring of Aeromonas salmonicida evolution in response to successive antibiotic therapies in a commercial fish farm.

Our ability to predict evolutionary trajectories of pathogens in response to antibiotic pressure is one of the promising leverage to fight against the present antibiotic resistance worldwide crisis. Yet, few studies tackled this question in situ at the outbreak level, due to the difficulty to link a given pathogenic clone evolution with its precise antibiotic exposure over time. In this study, we monitored the real-time evolution of an Aeromonas salmonicida clone in response to successive antibiotic and vaccine therapies in a commercial fish farm. The clone was responsible for a four-year outbreak of furunculosis within a Recirculating Aquaculture System Salmo salar farm in China, and we reconstructed the precise tempo of mobile genetic elements (MGEs) acquisition events during this period. The resistance profile provided by the acquired MGEs closely mirrored the antibiotics used to treat the outbreak, and we evidenced that two subclonal groups developed similar resistances although unrelated MGE acquisitions. Finally, we also demonstrated the efficiency of vaccination in outbreak management and its positive effect on antibiotic resistance prevalence. Our study provides unprecedented knowledge critical to understand evolutionary trajectories of resistant pathogens outside the laboratory. © 2019 Society for Applied Microbiology and John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


April 21, 2020  |  

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 a deeper examination of natural CRISPR-Cas systems, including the discovery of new types of CRISPR-Cas systems. These new discoveries in turn spurred further technological developments. I review these exciting discoveries and technologies as well as provide an overview of the broad array of applications of these technologies in basic research and in the improvement of human health. It is clear that we are only just beginning to unravel the potential within microbial diversity, and it is quite likely that we will continue to discover other exciting phenomena, some of which it may be possible to repurpose as molecular technologies. The transformation of mysterious natural phenomena to powerful tools, however, takes a collective effort to discover, characterize, and engineer them, and it has been a privilege to join the numerous researchers who have contributed to this transformation of CRISPR-Cas systems.


April 21, 2020  |  

Meiotic sex in Chagas disease parasite Trypanosoma cruzi.

Genetic exchange enables parasites to rapidly transform disease phenotypes and exploit new host populations. Trypanosoma cruzi, the parasitic agent of Chagas disease and a public health concern throughout Latin America, has for decades been presumed to exchange genetic material rarely and without classic meiotic sex. We present compelling evidence from 45 genomes sequenced from southern Ecuador that T. cruzi in fact maintains truly sexual, panmictic groups that can occur alongside others that remain highly clonal after past hybridization events. These groups with divergent reproductive strategies appear genetically isolated despite possible co-occurrence in vectors and hosts. We propose biological explanations for the fine-scale disconnectivity we observe and discuss the epidemiological consequences of flexible reproductive modes. Our study reinvigorates the hunt for the site of genetic exchange in the T. cruzi life cycle, provides tools to define the genetic determinants of parasite virulence, and reforms longstanding theory on clonality in trypanosomatid parasites.


April 21, 2020  |  

Extensive intraspecific gene order and gene structural variations in upland cotton cultivars.

Multiple cotton genomes (diploid and tetraploid) have been assembled. However, genomic variations between cultivars of allotetraploid upland cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L.), the most widely planted cotton species in the world, remain unexplored. Here, we use single-molecule long read and Hi-C sequencing technologies to assemble genomes of the two upland cotton cultivars TM-1 and zhongmiansuo24 (ZM24). Comparisons among TM-1 and ZM24 assemblies and the genomes of the diploid ancestors reveal a large amount of genetic variations. Among them, the top three longest structural variations are located on chromosome A08 of the tetraploid upland cotton, which account for ~30% total length of this chromosome. Haplotype analyses of the mapping population derived from these two cultivars and the germplasm panel show suppressed recombination rates in this region. This study provides additional genomic resources for the community, and the identified genetic variations, especially the reduced meiotic recombination on chromosome A08, will help future breeding.


April 21, 2020  |  

The wild sweetpotato (Ipomoea trifida) genome provides insights into storage root development.

Sweetpotato (Ipomoea batatas (L.) Lam.) is the seventh most important crop in the world and is mainly cultivated for its underground storage root (SR). The genetic studies of this species have been hindered by a lack of high-quality reference sequence due to its complex genome structure. Diploid Ipomoea trifida is the closest relative and putative progenitor of sweetpotato, which is considered a model species for sweetpotato, including genetic, cytological, and physiological analyses.Here, we generated the chromosome-scale genome sequence of SR-forming diploid I. trifida var. Y22 with high heterozygosity (2.20%). Although the chromosome-based synteny analysis revealed that the I. trifida shared conserved karyotype with Ipomoea nil after the separation, I. trifida had a much smaller genome than I. nil due to more efficient eliminations of LTR-retrotransposons and lack of species-specific amplification bursts of LTR-RTs. A comparison with four non-SR-forming species showed that the evolution of the beta-amylase gene family may be related to SR formation. We further investigated the relationship of the key gene BMY11 (with identity 47.12% to beta-amylase 1) with this important agronomic trait by both gene expression profiling and quantitative trait locus (QTL) mapping. And combining SR morphology and structure, gene expression profiling and qPCR results, we deduced that the products of the activity of BMY11 in splitting starch granules and be recycled to synthesize larger granules, contributing to starch accumulation and SR swelling. Moreover, we found the expression pattern of BMY11, sporamin proteins and the key genes involved in carbohydrate metabolism and stele lignification were similar to that of sweetpotato during the SR development.We constructed the high-quality genome reference of the highly heterozygous I. trifida through a combined approach and this genome enables a better resolution of the genomics feature and genome evolutions of this species. Sweetpotato SR development genes can be identified in I. trifida and these genes perform similar functions and patterns, showed that the diploid I. trifida var. Y22 with typical SR could be considered an ideal model for the studies of sweetpotato SR development.


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