April 21, 2020  |  

BjuWRR1, a CC-NB-LRR gene identified in Brassica juncea, confers resistance to white rust caused by Albugo candida.

BjuWRR1, a CNL-type R gene, was identified from an east European gene pool line of Brassica juncea and validated for conferring resistance to white rust by genetic transformation. White rust caused by the oomycete pathogen Albugo candida is a significant disease of crucifer crops including Brassica juncea (mustard), a major oilseed crop of the Indian subcontinent. Earlier, a resistance-conferring locus named AcB1-A5.1 was mapped in an east European gene pool line of B. juncea-Donskaja-IV. This line was tested along with some other lines of B. juncea (AABB), B. rapa (AA) and B. nigra (BB) for resistance to six isolates of A. candida collected from different mustard growing regions of India. Donskaja-IV was found to be completely resistant to all the tested isolates. Sequencing of a BAC spanning the locus AcB1-A5.1 showed the presence of a single CC-NB-LRR protein encoding R gene. The genomic sequence of the putative R gene with its native promoter and terminator was used for the genetic transformation of a susceptible Indian gene pool line Varuna and was found to confer complete resistance to all the isolates. This is the first white rust resistance-conferring gene described from Brassica species and has been named BjuWRR1. Allelic variants of the gene in B. juncea germplasm and orthologues in the Brassicaceae genomes were studied to understand the evolutionary dynamics of the BjuWRR1 gene.


April 21, 2020  |  

Strengths and potential pitfalls of hay-transfer for ecological restoration revealed by RAD-seq analysis in floodplain Arabis species

Achieving high intraspecific genetic diversity is a critical goal in ecological restoration as it increases the adaptive potential and long-term resilience of populations. Thus, we investigated genetic diversity within and between pristine sites in a fossil floodplain and compared it to sites restored by hay-transfer between 1997 and 2014. RAD-seq genotyping revealed that the stenoecious flood-plain species Arabis nemorensis is co-occurring with individuals that, based on ploidy, ITS-sequencing and morphology, probably belong to the close relative Arabis sagittata, which has a documented preference for dry calcareous grasslands but has not been reported in floodplain meadows. We show that hay-transfer maintains genetic diversity for both species. Additionally, in A. sagittata, transfer from multiple genetically isolated pristine sites resulted in restored sites with increased diversity and admixed local genotypes. In A. nemorensis, transfer did not create novel admixture dynamics because genetic diversity between pristine sites was less differentiated. Thus, the effects of hay-transfer on genetic diversity also depend on the genetic makeup of the donor communities of each species, especially when local material is mixed. Our results demonstrate the efficiency of hay-transfer for habitat restoration and emphasize the importance of pre-restoration characterization of micro-geographic patterns of intraspecific diversity of the community to guarantee that restoration practices reach their goal, i.e. maximize the adaptive potential of the entire restored plant community. Overlooking these patterns may alter the balance between species in the community. Additionally, our comparison of summary statistics obtained from de novo and reference-based RAD-seq pipelines shows that the genomic impact of restoration can be reliably monitored in species lacking prior genomic knowledge.


April 21, 2020  |  

Evolutionary superscaffolding and chromosome anchoring to improve Anopheles genome assemblies

Background New sequencing technologies have lowered financial barriers to whole genome sequencing, but resulting assemblies are often fragmented and far from textquoteleftfinishedtextquoteright. Updating multi-scaffold drafts to chromosome-level status can be achieved through experimental mapping or re-sequencing efforts. Avoiding the costs associated with such approaches, comparative genomic analysis of gene order conservation (synteny) to predict scaffold neighbours (adjacencies) offers a potentially useful complementary method for improving draft assemblies.Results We employed three gene synteny-based methods applied to 21 Anopheles mosquito assemblies to produce consensus sets of scaffold adjacencies. For subsets of the assemblies we integrated these with additional supporting data to confirm and complement the synteny-based adjacencies: six with physical mapping data that anchor scaffolds to chromosome locations, 13 with paired-end RNA sequencing (RNAseq) data, and three with new assemblies based on re-scaffolding or Pacific Biosciences long-read data. Our combined analyses produced 20 new superscaffolded assemblies with improved contiguities: seven for which assignments of non-anchored scaffolds to chromosome arms span more than 75% of the assemblies, and a further seven with chromosome anchoring including an 88% anchored Anopheles arabiensis assembly and, respectively, 73% and 84% anchored assemblies with comprehensively updated cytogenetic photomaps for Anopheles funestus and Anopheles stephensi.Conclusions Experimental data from probe mapping, RNAseq, or long-read technologies, where available, all contribute to successful upgrading of draft assemblies. Our comparisons show that gene synteny-based computational methods represent a valuable alternative or complementary approach. Our improved Anopheles reference assemblies highlight the utility of applying comparative genomics approaches to improve community genomic resources.ADADSEQAGOAGOUTI-basedAGOUTIannotated genome optimization using transcriptome information toolALNalignment-basedCAMSAcomparative analysis and merging of scaffold assemblies toolDPdynamic programmingFISHfluorescence in situ hybridizationGAGOS-ASMGOS-ASMGene order scaffold assemblerKbpkilobasepairsMbpmegabasepairsOSORTHOSTITCHPacBioPacific BiosciencesPBPacBio-basedPHYphysical-mapping-basedRNAseqRNA sequencingQTLquantitative trait lociSYNsynteny-based.


April 21, 2020  |  

Early Sex-chromosome Evolution in the Diploid Dioecious Plant Mercurialis annua.

Suppressed recombination allows divergence between homologous sex chromosomes and the functionality of their genes. Here, we reveal patterns of the earliest stages of sex-chromosome evolution in the diploid dioecious herb Mercurialis annua on the basis of cytological analysis, de novo genome assembly and annotation, genetic mapping, exome resequencing of natural populations, and transcriptome analysis. The genome assembly contained 34,105 expressed genes, of which 10,076 were assigned to linkage groups. Genetic mapping and exome resequencing of individuals across the species range both identified the largest linkage group, LG1, as the sex chromosome. Although the sex chromosomes of M. annua are karyotypically homomorphic, we estimate that about a third of the Y chromosome has ceased recombining, containing 568 transcripts and spanning 22.3 cM in the corresponding female map. Nevertheless, we found limited evidence for Y-chromosome degeneration in terms of gene loss and pseudogenization, and most X- and Y-linked genes appear to have diverged in the period subsequent to speciation between M. annua and its sister species M. huetii which shares the same sex-determining region. Taken together, our results suggest that the M. annua Y chromosome has at least two evolutionary strata: a small old stratum shared with M. huetii, and a more recent larger stratum that is probably unique to M. annua and that stopped recombining about one million years ago. Patterns of gene expression within the non-recombining region are consistent with the idea that sexually antagonistic selection may have played a role in favoring suppressed recombination.Copyright © 2019, Genetics.


April 21, 2020  |  

Pseudomolecule-level assembly of the Chinese oil tree yellowhorn (Xanthoceras sorbifolium) genome.

Yellowhorn (Xanthoceras sorbifolium) is a species of the Sapindaceae family native to China and is an oil tree that can withstand cold and drought conditions. A pseudomolecule-level genome assembly for this species will not only contribute to understanding the evolution of its genes and chromosomes but also bring yellowhorn breeding into the genomic era.Here, we generated 15 pseudomolecules of yellowhorn chromosomes, on which 97.04% of scaffolds were anchored, using the combined Illumina HiSeq, Pacific Biosciences Sequel, and Hi-C technologies. The length of the final yellowhorn genome assembly was 504.2 Mb with a contig N50 size of 1.04 Mb and a scaffold N50 size of 32.17 Mb. Genome annotation revealed that 68.67% of the yellowhorn genome was composed of repetitive elements. Gene modelling predicted 24,672 protein-coding genes. By comparing orthologous genes, the divergence time of yellowhorn and its close sister species longan (Dimocarpus longan) was estimated at ~33.07 million years ago. Gene cluster and chromosome synteny analysis demonstrated that the yellowhorn genome shared a conserved genome structure with its ancestor in some chromosomes.This genome assembly represents a high-quality reference genome for yellowhorn. Integrated genome annotations provide a valuable dataset for genetic and molecular research in this species. We did not detect whole-genome duplication in the genome. The yellowhorn genome carries syntenic blocks from ancient chromosomes. These data sources will enable this genome to serve as an initial platform for breeding better yellowhorn cultivars. © The Author(s) 2019. Published by Oxford University Press.


April 21, 2020  |  

Interspecies association mapping links reduced CG to TG substitution rates to the loss of gene-body methylation.

Comparative genomics can unravel the genetic basis of species differences; however, successful reports on quantitative traits are still scarce. Here we present genome assemblies of 31 so-far unassembled Brassicaceae plant species and combine them with 16 previously published assemblies to establish the Brassicaceae Diversity Panel. Using a new interspecies association strategy for quantitative traits, we found a so-far unknown association between the unexpectedly high variation in CG to TG substitution rates in genes and the absence of CHROMOMETHYLASE3 (CMT3) orthologues. Low substitution rates were associated with the loss of CMT3, while species with conserved CMT3 orthologues showed high substitution rates. Species without CMT3 also lacked gene-body methylation (gbM), suggesting an evolutionary trade-off between the unknown function of gbM and low substitution rates in Brassicaceae, possibly due to low mutability of non-methylated cytosines.


April 21, 2020  |  

Genome of Crucihimalaya himalaica, a close relative of Arabidopsis, shows ecological adaptation to high altitude.

Crucihimalaya himalaica, a close relative of Arabidopsis and Capsella, grows on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau (QTP) about 4,000 m above sea level and represents an attractive model system for studying speciation and ecological adaptation in extreme environments. We assembled a draft genome sequence of 234.72 Mb encoding 27,019 genes and investigated its origin and adaptive evolutionary mechanisms. Phylogenomic analyses based on 4,586 single-copy genes revealed that C. himalaica is most closely related to Capsella (estimated divergence 8.8 to 12.2 Mya), whereas both species form a sister clade to Arabidopsis thaliana and Arabidopsis lyrata, from which they diverged between 12.7 and 17.2 Mya. LTR retrotransposons in C. himalaica proliferated shortly after the dramatic uplift and climatic change of the Himalayas from the Late Pliocene to Pleistocene. Compared with closely related species, C. himalaica showed significant contraction and pseudogenization in gene families associated with disease resistance and also significant expansion in gene families associated with ubiquitin-mediated proteolysis and DNA repair. We identified hundreds of genes involved in DNA repair, ubiquitin-mediated proteolysis, and reproductive processes with signs of positive selection. Gene families showing dramatic changes in size and genes showing signs of positive selection are likely candidates for C. himalaica’s adaptation to intense radiation, low temperature, and pathogen-depauperate environments in the QTP. Loss of function at the S-locus, the reason for the transition to self-fertilization of C. himalaica, might have enabled its QTP occupation. Overall, the genome sequence of C. himalaica provides insights into the mechanisms of plant adaptation to extreme environments.Copyright © 2019 the Author(s). Published by PNAS.


April 21, 2020  |  

The Genome of Cucurbita argyrosperma (Silver-Seed Gourd) Reveals Faster Rates of Protein-Coding Gene and Long Noncoding RNA Turnover and Neofunctionalization within Cucurbita.

Whole-genome duplications are an important source of evolutionary novelties that change the mode and tempo at which genetic elements evolve within a genome. The Cucurbita genus experienced a whole-genome duplication around 30 million years ago, although the evolutionary dynamics of the coding and noncoding genes in this genus have not yet been scrutinized. Here, we analyzed the genomes of four Cucurbita species, including a newly assembled genome of Cucurbita argyrosperma, and compared the gene contents of these species with those of five other members of the Cucurbitaceae family to assess the evolutionary dynamics of protein-coding and long intergenic noncoding RNA (lincRNA) genes after the genome duplication. We report that Cucurbita genomes have a higher protein-coding gene birth-death rate compared with the genomes of the other members of the Cucurbitaceae family. C. argyrosperma gene families associated with pollination and transmembrane transport had significantly faster evolutionary rates. lincRNA families showed high levels of gene turnover throughout the phylogeny, and 67.7% of the lincRNA families in Cucurbita showed evidence of birth from the neofunctionalization of previously existing protein-coding genes. Collectively, our results suggest that the whole-genome duplication in Cucurbita resulted in faster rates of gene family evolution through the neofunctionalization of duplicated genes. Copyright © 2019 The Author. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


April 21, 2020  |  

Genome Sequence of Jaltomata Addresses Rapid Reproductive Trait Evolution and Enhances Comparative Genomics in the Hyper-Diverse Solanaceae.

Within the economically important plant family Solanaceae, Jaltomata is a rapidly evolving genus that has extensive diversity in flower size and shape, as well as fruit and nectar color, among its ~80 species. Here, we report the whole-genome sequencing, assembly, and annotation, of one representative species (Jaltomata sinuosa) from this genus. Combining PacBio long reads (25×) and Illumina short reads (148×) achieved an assembly of ~1.45?Gb, spanning ~96% of the estimated genome. Ninety-six percent of curated single-copy orthologs in plants were detected in the assembly, supporting a high level of completeness of the genome. Similar to other Solanaceous species, repetitive elements made up a large fraction (~80%) of the genome, with the most recently active element, Gypsy, expanding across the genome in the last 1-2 Myr. Computational gene prediction, in conjunction with a merged transcriptome data set from 11 tissues, identified 34,725 protein-coding genes. Comparative phylogenetic analyses with six other sequenced Solanaceae species determined that Jaltomata is most likely sister to Solanum, although a large fraction of gene trees supported a conflicting bipartition consistent with substantial introgression between Jaltomata and Capsicum after these species split. We also identified gene family dynamics specific to Jaltomata, including expansion of gene families potentially involved in novel reproductive trait development, and loss of gene families that accompanied the loss of self-incompatibility. This high-quality genome will facilitate studies of phenotypic diversification in this rapidly radiating group and provide a new point of comparison for broader analyses of genomic evolution across the Solanaceae.


April 21, 2020  |  

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 plant research. We also describe the necessity of standardizing and describing phenotypic studies using the Minimum Information About a Plant Phenotyping Experiment (MIAPPE) standard to enable the reuse and integration of phenotypic data. In addition, we show how deep phenotypic data might yield novel trait-trait correlations and review how to link phenotypic data to genomic data. Finally, we provide perspectives on the golden future of machine learning and their potential in linking phenotypes to genomic features. © 2018 The Authors The Plant Journal published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd and Society for Experimental Biology.


April 21, 2020  |  

Genomic Plasticity Mediated by Transposable Elements in the Plant Pathogenic Fungus Colletotrichum higginsianum.

Phytopathogen genomes are under constant pressure to change, as pathogens are locked in an evolutionary arms race with their hosts, where pathogens evolve effector genes to manipulate their hosts, whereas the hosts evolve immune components to recognize the products of these genes. Colletotrichum higginsianum (Ch), a fungal pathogen with no known sexual morph, infects Brassicaceae plants including Arabidopsis thaliana. Previous studies revealed that Ch differs in its virulence toward various Arabidopsis thaliana ecotypes, indicating the existence of coevolutionary selective pressures. However, between-strain genomic variations in Ch have not been studied. Here, we sequenced and assembled the genome of a Ch strain, resulting in a highly contiguous genome assembly, which was compared with the chromosome-level genome assembly of another strain to identify genomic variations between strains. We found that the two closely related strains vary in terms of large-scale rearrangements, the existence of strain-specific regions, and effector candidate gene sets and that these variations are frequently associated with transposable elements (TEs). Ch has a compartmentalized genome consisting of gene-sparse, TE-dense regions with more effector candidate genes and gene-dense, TE-sparse regions harboring conserved genes. Additionally, analysis of the conservation patterns and syntenic regions of effector candidate genes indicated that the two strains vary in their effector candidate gene sets because of de novo evolution, horizontal gene transfer, or gene loss after divergence. Our results reveal mechanisms for generating genomic diversity in this asexual pathogen, which are important for understanding its adaption to hosts. © The Author(s) 2019. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution.


April 21, 2020  |  

Smut infection of perennial hosts: the genome and the transcriptome of the Brassicaceae smut fungus Thecaphora thlaspeos reveal functionally conserved and novel effectors.

Biotrophic fungal plant pathogens can balance their virulence and form intricate relationships with their hosts. Sometimes, this leads to systemic host colonization over long time scales without macroscopic symptoms. However, how plant-pathogenic endophytes manage to establish their sustained systemic infection remains largely unknown. Here, we present a genomic and transcriptomic analysis of Thecaphora thlaspeos. This relative of the well studied grass smut Ustilago maydis is the only smut fungus adapted to Brassicaceae hosts. Its ability to overwinter with perennial hosts and its systemic plant infection including roots are unique characteristics among smut fungi. The T. thlaspeos genome was assembled to the chromosome level. It is a typical smut genome in terms of size and genome characteristics. In silico prediction of candidate effector genes revealed common smut effector proteins and unique members. For three candidates, we have functionally demonstrated effector activity. One of these, TtTue1, suggests a potential link to cold acclimation. On the plant side, we found evidence for a typical immune response as it is present in other infection systems, despite the absence of any macroscopic symptoms during infection. Our findings suggest that T. thlaspeos distinctly balances its virulence during biotrophic growth ultimately allowing for long-lived infection of its perennial hosts. © 2019 The Authors. New Phytologist © 2019 New Phytologist Trust.


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  |  

Petunia-and Arabidopsis-Specific Root Microbiota Responses to Phosphate Supplementation

Phosphorus (P) is a limiting element for plant growth. Several root microbes, including arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF), have the capacity to improve plant nutrition and their abundance is known to depend on P fertility. However, how complex root-associated bacterial and fungal communities respond to various levels of P supplementation remains ill-defined. Here we investigated the responses of the root-associated bacteria and fungi to varying levels of P supply using 16S rRNA gene and internal transcribed spacer amplicon sequencing. We grew Petunia, which forms symbiosis with AMF, and the nonmycorrhizal model species Arabidopsis as a control in a soil that is limiting in plant-available P and we then supplemented the plants with complete fertilizer solutions that varied only in their phosphate concentrations. We searched for microbes, whose abundances varied by P fertilization, tested whether a core microbiota responding to the P treatments could be identified and asked whether bacterial and fungal co-occurrence patterns change in response to the varying P levels. Root microbiota composition varied substantially in response to the varying P application. A core microbiota was not identified as different bacterial and fungal groups responded to low-P conditions in Arabidopsis and Petunia. Microbes with P-dependent abundance patterns included Mortierellomycotina in Arabidopsis, while in Petunia, they included AMF and their symbiotic endobacteria. Of note, the P-dependent root colonization by AMF was reliably quantified by sequencing. The fact that the root microbiotas of the two plant species responded differently to low-P conditions suggests that plant species specificity would need to be considered for the eventual development of microbial products that improve plant P nutrition.


April 21, 2020  |  

Mitochondrial genome and transcriptome analysis of five alloplasmic male-sterile lines in Brassica juncea.

Alloplasmic lines, in which the nuclear genome is combined with wild cytoplasm, are often characterized by cytoplasmic male sterility (CMS), regardless of whether it was derived from sexual or somatic hybridization with wild relatives. In this study, we sequenced and analyzed the mitochondrial genomes of five such alloplasmic lines in Brassica juncea.The assembled and annotated mitochondrial genomes of the five alloplasmic lines were found to have virtually identical gene contents. They preserved most of the ancestral mitochondrial segments, and the same candidate male sterility gene (orf108) was found harbored in mitotype-specific sequences. We also detected promiscuous sequences of chloroplast origin that were conserved among plants of the Brassicaceae, and found the RNA editing profiles to vary across the five mitochondrial genomes.On the basis of our characterization of the genetic nature of five alloplasmic mitochondrial genomes, we speculated that the putative candidate male sterility gene orf108 may not be responsible for the CMS observed in Brassica oxyrrhina and Diplotaxis catholica. Furthermore, we propose the potential coincidence of CMS in alloplasmic lines. Our findings lay the foundation for further elucidation of male sterility gene.


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