September 22, 2019  |  

N6-methyladenine DNA methylation in Japonica and Indica rice genomes and its association with gene expression, plant development, and stress responses.

N6-Methyladenine (6mA) DNA methylation has recently been implicated as a potential new epigenetic marker in eukaryotes, including the dicot model Arabidopsis thaliana. However, the conservation and divergence of 6mA distribution patterns and functions in plants remain elusive. Here we report high-quality 6mA methylomes at single-nucleotide resolution in rice based on substantially improved genome sequences of two rice cultivars, Nipponbare (Nip; Japonica) and 93-11 (Indica). Analysis of 6mA genomic distribution and its association with transcription suggest that 6mA distribution and function is rather conserved between rice and Arabidopsis. We found that 6mA levels are positively correlated with the expression of key stress-related genes, which may be responsible for the difference in stress tolerance between Nip and 93-11. Moreover, we showed that mutations in DDM1 cause defects in plant growth and decreased 6mA level. Our results reveal that 6mA is a conserved DNA modification that is positively associated with gene expression and contributes to key agronomic traits in plants. Copyright © 2018 The Author. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


September 22, 2019  |  

Genome of the small hive beetle (Aethina tumida, Coleoptera: Nitidulidae), a worldwide parasite of social bee colonies, provides insights into detoxification and herbivory.

The small hive beetle (Aethina tumida; ATUMI) is an invasive parasite of bee colonies. ATUMI feeds on both fruits and bee nest products, facilitating its spread and increasing its impact on honey bees and other pollinators. We have sequenced and annotated the ATUMI genome, providing the first genomic resources for this species and for the Nitidulidae, a beetle family that is closely related to the extraordinarily species-rich clade of beetles known as the Phytophaga. ATUMI thus provides a contrasting view as a neighbor for one of the most successful known animal groups.We present a robust genome assembly and a gene set possessing 97.5% of the core proteins known from the holometabolous insects. The ATUMI genome encodes fewer enzymes for plant digestion than the genomes of wood-feeding beetles but nonetheless shows signs of broad metabolic plasticity. Gustatory receptors are few in number compared to other beetles, especially receptors with known sensitivity (in other beetles) to bitter substances. In contrast, several gene families implicated in detoxification of insecticides and adaptation to diverse dietary resources show increased copy numbers. The presence and diversity of homologs involved in detoxification differ substantially from the bee hosts of ATUMI.Our results provide new insights into the genomic basis for local adaption and invasiveness in ATUMI and a blueprint for control strategies that target this pest without harming their honey bee hosts. A minimal set of gustatory receptors is consistent with the observation that, once a host colony is invaded, food resources are predictable. Unique detoxification pathways and pathway members can help identify which treatments might control this species even in the presence of honey bees, which are notoriously sensitive to pesticides.


September 22, 2019  |  

Genetics and genomics of an unusual selfish sex ratio distortion in an insect.

Diverse selfish genetic elements have evolved the ability to manipulate reproduction to increase their transmission, and this can result in highly distorted sex ratios [1]. Indeed, one of the major explanations for why sex determination systems are so dynamic is because they are shaped by ongoing coevolutionary arms races between sex-ratio-distorting elements and the rest of the genome [2]. Here, we use genetic crosses and genome analysis to describe an unusual sex ratio distortion with striking consequences on genome organization in a booklouse species, Liposcelis sp. (Insecta: Psocodea), in which two types of females coexist. Distorter females never produce sons but must mate with males (the sons of nondistorting females) to reproduce [3]. Although they are diploid and express the genes inherited from their fathers in somatic tissues, distorter females only ever transmit genes inherited from their mothers. As a result, distorter females have unusual chimeric genomes, with distorter-restricted chromosomes diverging from their nondistorting counterparts and exhibiting features of a giant non-recombining sex chromosome. The distorter-restricted genome has also acquired a gene from the bacterium Wolbachia, a well-known insect reproductive manipulator; we found that this gene has independently colonized the genomes of two other insect species with unusual reproductive systems, suggesting possible roles in sex ratio distortion in this remarkable genetic system. Copyright © 2018 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


September 22, 2019  |  

Genomic and genetic insights into a cosmopolitan fungus, Paecilomyces variotii (Eurotiales).

Species in the genus Paecilomyces, a member of the fungal order Eurotiales, are ubiquitous in nature and impact a variety of human endeavors. Here, the biology of one common species, Paecilomyces variotii, was explored using genomics and functional genetics. Sequencing the genome of two isolates revealed key genome and gene features in this species. A striking feature of the genome was the two-part nature, featuring large stretches of DNA with normal GC content separated by AT-rich regions, a hallmark of many plant-pathogenic fungal genomes. These AT-rich regions appeared to have been mutated by repeat-induced point (RIP) mutations. We developed methods for genetic transformation of P. variotii, including forward and reverse genetics as well as crossing techniques. Using transformation and crossing, RIP activity was identified, demonstrating for the first time that RIP is an active process within the order Eurotiales. A consequence of RIP is likely reflected by a reduction in numbers of genes within gene families, such as in cell wall degradation, and reflected by growth limitations on P. variotii on diverse carbon sources. Furthermore, using these transformation tools we characterized a conserved protein containing a domain of unknown function (DUF1212) and discovered it is involved in pigmentation.


September 22, 2019  |  

First draft genome for red sea bream of family Sparidae.

Reference genomes for all organisms on earth are now attainable owing to advances in genome sequencing technologies (Goodwin et al., 2016). Generally, species that contribute considerably to the economy or human welfare are sequenced and are considered more important than others. Furthermore, coastal indigenous people mainly depend on marine species for their food sources, which has resulted in the extinction of several marine species (Cisneros-Montemayor et al., 2016). Of these, an extinction risk assessment of marine fishes, mainly for sea breams (Family: Sparidae), has recently been conducted by way of a global extinction risk assessment from the dataset of the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List Process, which mentions that around 25 species are threatened/near-threatened according to their body weight (Comeros-Raynal et al., 2016). Another report clearly showed the benefit of worldwide aquaculture production, which contributed to 47% of total seafood production, and also highlighted the over-fishing of sea breams (FAO, 2018). The Republic of Korea is the fourth largest seafood producer in the world, producing 3.3 million tons in 2015 and exporting seafood worth $1.6 billion in 2016; therefore, aquaculture- associated research is fundamental for Korea. In the present study, the red sea bream (Pagrus major), which belongs to the family Sparidae, which comprises 35 genera, 132 species, and 10 subspecies (de la Herran et al., 2001; NCBI, 2018), was assessed.


September 22, 2019  |  

Genome of Tenualosa ilisha from the river Padma, Bangladesh.

Hilsa shad (Tenualosa ilisha), is a popular fish of Bangladesh belonging to the Clupeidae family. An anadromous species, like the salmon and many other migratory fish, it is a unique species that lives in the sea and travels to freshwater rivers for spawning. During its entire life, Tenualosa ilisha migrates both from sea to freshwater and vice versa.The genome of Tenualosa ilisha collected from the river Padma of Rajshahi, Bangladesh has been sequenced and its de novo hybrid assembly and structural annotations are being reported here. Illumina and PacBio sequencing platforms were used for high depth sequencing and the draft genome assembly was found to be 816 MB with N50 size of 188 kb. MAKER gene annotation tool predicted 31,254 gene models. Benchmarking Universal Single-Copy Orthologs refer 95% completeness of the assembled genome.


September 22, 2019  |  

Sex chromosome evolution via two genes

The origin of sex chromosomes has been hypothesized to involve the linkage of factors with antagonistic effects on male and female function. Garden asparagus (Asparagus officinalis L.) is an ideal species to test this hypothesis, as the X and Y chromosomes are cytologically homomorphic and recently evolved from an ancestral autosome pair in association with a shift from hermaphroditism to dioecy. Mutagenesis screens paired with single-molecule fluorescence in situ hybridization (smFISH) directly implicate Y-specific genes that respectively suppress female organ development and are necessary for male gametophyte development. Comparison of contiguous X and Y chromosome shows that loss of recombination between the genes suppressing female function (SUPPRESSOR OF FEMALE FUNCTION, SOFF) and promoting male function (TAPETAL DEVELOPMENT AND FUNCTION 1, aspTDF1) is due to hemizygosity. We also experimentally demonstrate the function of aspTDF1. These finding provide direct evidence that sex chromosomes can evolve from autosomes via two sex determination genes: a dominant suppressor of femaleness and a promoter of maleness.


September 21, 2019  |  

Assessing genome assembly quality using the LTR Assembly Index (LAI).

Assembling a plant genome is challenging due to the abundance of repetitive sequences, yet no standard is available to evaluate the assembly of repeat space. LTR retrotransposons (LTR-RTs) are the predominant interspersed repeat that is poorly assembled in draft genomes. Here, we propose a reference-free genome metric called LTR Assembly Index (LAI) that evaluates assembly continuity using LTR-RTs. After correcting for LTR-RT amplification dynamics, we show that LAI is independent of genome size, genomic LTR-RT content, and gene space evaluation metrics (i.e., BUSCO and CEGMA). By comparing genomic sequences produced by various sequencing techniques, we reveal the significant gain of assembly continuity by using long-read-based techniques over short-read-based methods. Moreover, LAI can facilitate iterative assembly improvement with assembler selection and identify low-quality genomic regions. To apply LAI, intact LTR-RTs and total LTR-RTs should contribute at least 0.1% and 5% to the genome size, respectively. The LAI program is freely available on GitHub: https://github.com/oushujun/LTR_retriever.


September 21, 2019  |  

Divergent selection causes whole genome differentiation without physical linkage among the targets in Spodoptera frugiperda (Noctuidae)

The process of speciation involves whole genome differentiation by overcoming gene flow between diverging populations. We have ample knowledge which evolutionary forces may cause genomic differentiation, and several speciation models have been proposed to explain the transition from genetic to genomic differentiation. However, it is still unclear what are critical conditions enabling genomic differentiation in nature. The Fall armyworm, Spodoptera frugiperda, is observed as two sympatric strains that have different host-plant ranges, suggesting the possibility of ecological divergent selection. In our previous study, we observed that these two strains show genetic differentiation across the whole genome with an unprecedentedly low extent, suggesting the possibility that whole genome sequences started to be differentiated between the strains. In this study, we analyzed whole genome sequences from these two strains from Mississippi to identify critical evolutionary factors for genomic differentiation. The genomic Fst is low (0.017) while 91.3% of 10kb windows have Fst greater than 0, suggesting genome-wide differentiation with a low extent. We identified nearly 400 outliers of genetic differentiation between strains, and found that physical linkage among these outliers is not a primary cause of genomic differentiation. Fst is not significantly correlated with gene density, a proxy for the strength of selection, suggesting that a genomic reduction in migration rate dominates the extent of local genetic differentiation. Our analyses reveal that divergent selection alone is sufficient to generate genomic differentiation, and any following diversifying factors may increase the level of genetic differentiation between diverging strains in the process of speciation.


September 21, 2019  |  

Phased diploid genome assembly with single-molecule real-time sequencing.

While genome assembly projects have been successful in many haploid and inbred species, the assembly of noninbred or rearranged heterozygous genomes remains a major challenge. To address this challenge, we introduce the open-source FALCON and FALCON-Unzip algorithms (https://github.com/PacificBiosciences/FALCON/) to assemble long-read sequencing data into highly accurate, contiguous, and correctly phased diploid genomes. We generate new reference sequences for heterozygous samples including an F1 hybrid of Arabidopsis thaliana, the widely cultivated Vitis vinifera cv. Cabernet Sauvignon, and the coral fungus Clavicorona pyxidata, samples that have challenged short-read assembly approaches. The FALCON-based assemblies are substantially more contiguous and complete than alternate short- or long-read approaches. The phased diploid assembly enabled the study of haplotype structure and heterozygosities between homologous chromosomes, including the identification of widespread heterozygous structural variation within coding sequences.


September 21, 2019  |  

The axolotl genome and the evolution of key tissue formation regulators.

Salamanders serve as important tetrapod models for developmental, regeneration and evolutionary studies. An extensive molecular toolkit makes the Mexican axolotl (Ambystoma mexicanum) a key representative salamander for molecular investigations. Here we report the sequencing and assembly of the 32-gigabase-pair axolotl genome using an approach that combined long-read sequencing, optical mapping and development of a new genome assembler (MARVEL). We observed a size expansion of introns and intergenic regions, largely attributable to multiplication of long terminal repeat retroelements. We provide evidence that intron size in developmental genes is under constraint and that species-restricted genes may contribute to limb regeneration. The axolotl genome assembly does not contain the essential developmental gene Pax3. However, mutation of the axolotl Pax3 paralogue Pax7 resulted in an axolotl phenotype that was similar to those seen in Pax3-/- and Pax7-/- mutant mice. The axolotl genome provides a rich biological resource for developmental and evolutionary studies.


September 21, 2019  |  

Population sequencing reveals clonal diversity and ancestral inbreeding in the grapevine cultivar Chardonnay.

Chardonnay is the basis of some of the world’s most iconic wines and its success is underpinned by a historic program of clonal selection. There are numerous clones of Chardonnay available that exhibit differences in key viticultural and oenological traits that have arisen from the accumulation of somatic mutations during centuries of asexual propagation. However, the genetic variation that underlies these differences remains largely unknown. To address this knowledge gap, a high-quality, diploid-phased Chardonnay genome assembly was produced from single-molecule real time sequencing, and combined with re-sequencing data from 15 different Chardonnay clones. There were 1620 markers identified that distinguish the 15 clones. These markers were reliably used for clonal identification of independently sourced genomic material, as well as in identifying a potential genetic basis for some clonal phenotypic differences. The predicted parentage of the Chardonnay haplomes was elucidated by mapping sequence data from the predicted parents of Chardonnay (Gouais blanc and Pinot noir) against the Chardonnay reference genome. This enabled the detection of instances of heterosis, with differentially-expanded gene families being inherited from the parents of Chardonnay. Most surprisingly however, the patterns of nucleotide variation present in the Chardonnay genome indicate that Pinot noir and Gouais blanc share an extremely high degree of kinship that has resulted in the Chardonnay genome displaying characteristics that are indicative of inbreeding.


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