June 1, 2021  |  

Integrative biology of a fungus: Using PacBio SMRT Sequencing to interrogate the genome, epigenome, and transcriptome of Neurospora crassa.

PacBio SMRT Sequencing has the unique ability to directly detect base modifications in addition to the nucleotide sequence of DNA. Because eukaryotes use base modifications to regulate gene expression, the absence or presence of epigenetic events relative to the location of genes is critical to elucidate the function of the modification. Therefore an integrated approach that combines multiple omic-scale assays is necessary to study complex organisms. Here, we present an integrated analysis of three sequencing experiments: 1) DNA sequencing, 2) base-modification detection, and 3) Iso-seq analysis, in Neurospora crassa, a filamentous fungus that has been used to make many landmark discoveries in biochemistry and genetics. We show that de novo assembly of a new strain yields complete assemblies of entire chromosomes, and additionally contains entire centromeric sequences. Base-modification analyses reveal candidate sites of increased interpulse duration (IPD) ratio, that may signify regions of 5mC, 5hmC, or 6mA base modifications. Iso-seq method provides full-length transcript evidence for comprehensive gene annotation, as well as context to the base-modifications in the newly assembled genome. Projects that integrate multiple genome-wide assays could become common practice for identifying genomic elements and understanding their function in new strains and organisms.


June 1, 2021  |  

Resolving the ‘dark matter’ in genomes.

Second-generation sequencing has brought about tremendous insights into the genetic underpinnings of biology. However, there are many functionally important and medically relevant regions of genomes that are currently difficult or impossible to sequence, resulting in incomplete and fragmented views of genomes. Two main causes are (i) limitations to read DNA of extreme sequence content (GC-rich or AT-rich regions, low complexity sequence contexts) and (ii) insufficient read lengths which leave various forms of structural variation unresolved and result in mapping ambiguities.


June 1, 2021  |  

Complete telomere-to-telomere de novo assembly of the Plasmodium falciparum genome using long-read sequencing

Sequence-based estimation of genetic diversity of Plasmodium falciparum, the most lethal malarial parasite, has proved challenging due to a lack of a complete genomic assembly. The skewed AT-richness (~80.6% (A+T)) of its genome and the lack of technology to assemble highly polymorphic sub-telomeric regions that contain clonally variant, multigene virulence families (i.e. var and rifin) have confounded attempts using short-read NGS technologies. Using single molecule, real-time (SMRT) sequencing, we successfully compiled all 14 nuclear chromosomes of the P. falciparum genome from telomere-to-telomere in single contigs. Specifically, amplification-free sequencing generated reads of average length 12 kb, with =50% of the reads between 15.5 and 50 kb in length. A hierarchical genome assembly process (HGAP), was used to assemble the P. falciparum genome de novo. This assembly accurately resolved centromeres (~90-99% (A+T)) and sub-telomeric regions, and identified large insertions and duplications in the genome that added extra genes to the var and rifin virulence families, along with smaller structural variants such as homopolymer tract expansions. These regions can be used as markers for genetic diversity during comparative genome analyses. Moreover, identifying the polymorphic and repetitive sub-telomeric sequences of parasite populations from endemic areas might inform the link between structural variation and phenotypes such as virulence, drug resistance and disease transmission.


June 1, 2021  |  

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 non-inbred 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.


April 21, 2020  |  

Improved assembly and variant detection of a haploid human genome using single-molecule, high-fidelity long reads.

The sequence and assembly of human genomes using long-read sequencing technologies has revolutionized our understanding of structural variation and genome organization. We compared the accuracy, continuity, and gene annotation of genome assemblies generated from either high-fidelity (HiFi) or continuous long-read (CLR) datasets from the same complete hydatidiform mole human genome. We find that the HiFi sequence data assemble an additional 10% of duplicated regions and more accurately represent the structure of tandem repeats, as validated with orthogonal analyses. As a result, an additional 5 Mbp of pericentromeric sequences are recovered in the HiFi assembly, resulting in a 2.5-fold increase in the NG50 within 1 Mbp of the centromere (HiFi 480.6 kbp, CLR 191.5 kbp). Additionally, the HiFi genome assembly was generated in significantly less time with fewer computational resources than the CLR assembly. Although the HiFi assembly has significantly improved continuity and accuracy in many complex regions of the genome, it still falls short of the assembly of centromeric DNA and the largest regions of segmental duplication using existing assemblers. Despite these shortcomings, our results suggest that HiFi may be the most effective standalone technology for de novo assembly of human genomes. © 2019 John Wiley & Sons Ltd/University College London.


April 21, 2020  |  

Tandem repeats lead to sequence assembly errors and impose multi-level challenges for genome and protein databases.

The widespread occurrence of repetitive stretches of DNA in genomes of organisms across the tree of life imposes fundamental challenges for sequencing, genome assembly, and automated annotation of genes and proteins. This multi-level problem can lead to errors in genome and protein databases that are often not recognized or acknowledged. As a consequence, end users working with sequences with repetitive regions are faced with ‘ready-to-use’ deposited data whose trustworthiness is difficult to determine, let alone to quantify. Here, we provide a review of the problems associated with tandem repeat sequences that originate from different stages during the sequencing-assembly-annotation-deposition workflow, and that may proliferate in public database repositories affecting all downstream analyses. As a case study, we provide examples of the Atlantic cod genome, whose sequencing and assembly were hindered by a particularly high prevalence of tandem repeats. We complement this case study with examples from other species, where mis-annotations and sequencing errors have propagated into protein databases. With this review, we aim to raise the awareness level within the community of database users, and alert scientists working in the underlying workflow of database creation that the data they omit or improperly assemble may well contain important biological information valuable to others. © The Author(s) 2019. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Nucleic Acids Research.


April 21, 2020  |  

The bracteatus pineapple genome and domestication of clonally propagated crops.

Domestication of clonally propagated crops such as pineapple from South America was hypothesized to be a ‘one-step operation’. We sequenced the genome of Ananas comosus var. bracteatus CB5 and assembled 513?Mb into 25 chromosomes with 29,412 genes. Comparison of the genomes of CB5, F153 and MD2 elucidated the genomic basis of fiber production, color formation, sugar accumulation and fruit maturation. We also resequenced 89 Ananas genomes. Cultivars ‘Smooth Cayenne’ and ‘Queen’ exhibited ancient and recent admixture, while ‘Singapore Spanish’ supported a one-step operation of domestication. We identified 25 selective sweeps, including a strong sweep containing a pair of tandemly duplicated bromelain inhibitors. Four candidate genes for self-incompatibility were linked in F153, but were not functional in self-compatible CB5. Our findings support the coexistence of sexual recombination and a one-step operation in the domestication of clonally propagated crops. This work guides the exploration of sexual and asexual domestication trajectories in other clonally propagated crops.


April 21, 2020  |  

Chromosome-length haplotigs for yak and cattle from trio binning assembly of an F1 hybrid

Background Assemblies of diploid genomes are generally unphased, pseudo-haploid representations that do not correctly reconstruct the two parental haplotypes present in the individual sequenced. Instead, the assembly alternates between parental haplotypes and may contain duplications in regions where the parental haplotypes are sufficiently different. Trio binning is an approach to genome assembly that uses short reads from both parents to classify long reads from the offspring according to maternal or paternal haplotype origin, and is thus helped rather than impeded by heterozygosity. Using this approach, it is possible to derive two assemblies from an individual, accurately representing both parental contributions in their entirety with higher continuity and accuracy than is possible with other methods.Results We used trio binning to assemble reference genomes for two species from a single individual using an interspecies cross of yak (Bos grunniens) and cattle (Bos taurus). The high heterozygosity inherent to interspecies hybrids allowed us to confidently assign >99% of long reads from the F1 offspring to parental bins using unique k-mers from parental short reads. Both the maternal (yak) and paternal (cattle) assemblies contain over one third of the acrocentric chromosomes, including the two largest chromosomes, in single haplotigs.Conclusions These haplotigs are the first vertebrate chromosome arms to be assembled gap-free and fully phased, and the first time assemblies for two species have been created from a single individual. Both assemblies are the most continuous currently available for non-model vertebrates.MbmegabaseskbkilobasesMYAmillions of years agoMHCmajor histocompatibility complexSMRTsingle molecule real time


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  |  

Centromere-mediated chromosome break drives karyotype evolution in closely related Malassezia species

Intra-chromosomal or inter-chromosomal genomic rearrangements often lead to speciation. Loss or gain of a centromere leads to alterations in chromosome number in closely related species. Thus, centromeres can enable tracing the path of evolution from the ancestral to a derived state. The Malassezia species complex of the phylum Basiodiomycota shows remarkable diversity in chromosome number ranging between six and nine chromosomes. To understand these transitions, we experimentally identified all eight centromeres as binding sites of an evolutionarily conserved outer kinetochore protein Mis12/Mtw1 in M. sympodialis. The 3 to 5 kb centromere regions share an AT-rich, poorly transcribed core region enriched with a 12 bp consensus motif. We also mapped nine such AT-rich centromeres in M. globosa and the related species Malassezia restricta and Malassezia slooffiae. While eight predicted centromeres were found within conserved synteny blocks between these species and M. sympodialis, the remaining centromere in M. globosa (MgCEN2) or its orthologous centromere in M. slooffiae (MslCEN4) and M. restricta (MreCEN8) mapped to a synteny breakpoint compared with M. sympodialis. Taken together, we provide evidence that breakage and loss of a centromere (CEN2) in an ancestral Malassezia species possessing nine chromosomes resulted in fewer chromosomes in M. sympodialis. Strikingly, the predicted centromeres of all closely related Malassezia species map to an AT-rich core on each chromosome that also shows enrichment of the 12 bp sequence motif. We propose that centromeres are fragile AT-rich sites driving karyotype diversity through breakage and inactivation in these and other species.


April 21, 2020  |  

High satellite repeat turnover in great apes studied with short- and long-read technologies.

Satellite repeats are a structural component of centromeres and telomeres, and in some instances their divergence is known to drive speciation. Due to their highly repetitive nature, satellite sequences have been understudied and underrepresented in genome assemblies. To investigate their turnover in great apes, we studied satellite repeats of unit sizes up to 50?bp in human, chimpanzee, bonobo, gorilla, and Sumatran and Bornean orangutans, using unassembled short and long sequencing reads. The density of satellite repeats, as identified from accurate short reads (Illumina), varied greatly among great ape genomes. These were dominated by a handful of abundant repeated motifs, frequently shared among species, which formed two groups: (1) the (AATGG)n repeat (critical for heat shock response) and its derivatives; and (2) subtelomeric 32-mers involved in telomeric metabolism. Using the densities of abundant repeats, individuals could be classified into species. However clustering did not reproduce the accepted species phylogeny, suggesting rapid repeat evolution. Several abundant repeats were enriched in males vs. females; using Y chromosome assemblies or FIuorescent In Situ Hybridization, we validated their location on the Y. Finally, applying a novel computational tool, we identified many satellite repeats completely embedded within long Oxford Nanopore and Pacific Biosciences reads. Such repeats were up to 59?kb in length and consisted of perfect repeats interspersed with other similar sequences. Our results based on sequencing reads generated with three different technologies provide the first detailed characterization of great ape satellite repeats, and open new avenues for exploring their functions. © The Author(s) 2019. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution.


April 21, 2020  |  

Centromeric Satellite DNAs: Hidden Sequence Variation in the Human Population.

The central goal of medical genomics is to understand the inherited basis of sequence variation that underlies human physiology, evolution, and disease. Functional association studies currently ignore millions of bases that span each centromeric region and acrocentric short arm. These regions are enriched in long arrays of tandem repeats, or satellite DNAs, that are known to vary extensively in copy number and repeat structure in the human population. Satellite sequence variation in the human genome is often so large that it is detected cytogenetically, yet due to the lack of a reference assembly and informatics tools to measure this variability, contemporary high-resolution disease association studies are unable to detect causal variants in these regions. Nevertheless, recently uncovered associations between satellite DNA variation and human disease support that these regions present a substantial and biologically important fraction of human sequence variation. Therefore, there is a pressing and unmet need to detect and incorporate this uncharacterized sequence variation into broad studies of human evolution and medical genomics. Here I discuss the current knowledge of satellite DNA variation in the human genome, focusing on centromeric satellites and their potential implications for disease.


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