April 21, 2020  |  

SMRT long reads and Direct Label and Stain optical maps allow the generation of a high-quality genome assembly for the European barn swallow (Hirundo rustica rustica).

The barn swallow (Hirundo rustica) is a migratory bird that has been the focus of a large number of ecological, behavioral, and genetic studies. To facilitate further population genetics and genomic studies, we present a reference genome assembly for the European subspecies (H. r. rustica).As part of the Genome10K effort on generating high-quality vertebrate genomes (Vertebrate Genomes Project), we have assembled a highly contiguous genome assembly using single molecule real-time (SMRT) DNA sequencing and several Bionano optical map technologies. We compared and integrated optical maps derived from both the Nick, Label, Repair, and Stain technology and from the Direct Label and Stain (DLS) technology. As proposed by Bionano, DLS more than doubled the scaffold N50 with respect to the nickase. The dual enzyme hybrid scaffold led to a further marginal increase in scaffold N50 and an overall increase of confidence in the scaffolds. After removal of haplotigs, the final assembly is approximately 1.21 Gbp in size, with a scaffold N50 value of more than 25.95 Mbp.This high-quality genome assembly represents a valuable resource for future studies of population genetics and genomics in the barn swallow and for studies concerning the evolution of avian genomes. It also represents one of the very first genomes assembled by combining SMRT long-read sequencing with the new Bionano DLS technology for scaffolding. The quality of this assembly demonstrates the potential of this methodology to substantially increase the contiguity of genome assemblies.

April 21, 2020  |  

Sequence properties of certain GC rich avian genes, their origins and absence from genome assemblies: case studies.

More and more eukaryotic genomes are sequenced and assembled, most of them presented as a complete model in which missing chromosomal regions are filled by Ns and where a few chromosomes may be lacking. Avian genomes often contain sequences with high GC content, which has been hypothesized to be at the origin of many missing sequences in these genomes. We investigated features of these missing sequences to discover why some may not have been integrated into genomic libraries and/or sequenced.The sequences of five red jungle fowl cDNA models with high GC content were used as queries to search publicly available datasets of Illumina and Pacbio sequencing reads. These were used to reconstruct the leptin, TNFa, MRPL52, PCP2 and PET100 genes, all of which are absent from the red jungle fowl genome model. These gene sequences displayed elevated GC contents, had intron sizes that were sometimes larger than non-avian orthologues, and had non-coding regions that contained numerous tandem and inverted repeat sequences with motifs able to assemble into stable G-quadruplexes and intrastrand dyadic structures. Our results suggest that Illumina technology was unable to sequence the non-coding regions of these genes. On the other hand, PacBio technology was able to sequence these regions, but with dramatically lower efficiency than would typically be expected.High GC content was not the principal reason why numerous GC-rich regions of avian genomes are missing from genome assembly models. Instead, it is the presence of tandem repeats containing motifs capable of assembling into very stable secondary structures that is likely responsible.

April 21, 2020  |  

Improved annotation of the domestic pig genome through integration of Iso-Seq and RNA-seq data.

Our understanding of the pig transcriptome is limited. RNA transcript diversity among nine tissues was assessed using poly(A) selected single-molecule long-read isoform sequencing (Iso-seq) and Illumina RNA sequencing (RNA-seq) from a single White cross-bred pig. Across tissues, a total of 67,746 unique transcripts were observed, including 60.5% predicted protein-coding, 36.2% long non-coding RNA and 3.3% nonsense-mediated decay transcripts. On average, 90% of the splice junctions were supported by RNA-seq within tissue. A large proportion (80%) represented novel transcripts, mostly produced by known protein-coding genes (70%), while 17% corresponded to novel genes. On average, four transcripts per known gene (tpg) were identified; an increase over current EBI (1.9 tpg) and NCBI (2.9 tpg) annotations and closer to the number reported in human genome (4.2 tpg). Our new pig genome annotation extended more than 6000 known gene borders (5′ end extension, 3′ end extension, or both) compared to EBI or NCBI annotations. We validated a large proportion of these extensions by independent pig poly(A) selected 3′-RNA-seq data, or human FANTOM5 Cap Analysis of Gene Expression data. Further, we detected 10,465 novel genes (81% non-coding) not reported in current pig genome annotations. More than 80% of these novel genes had transcripts detected in >?1 tissue. In addition, more than 80% of novel intergenic genes with at least one transcript detected in liver tissue had H3K4me3 or H3K36me3 peaks mapping to their promoter and gene body, respectively, in independent liver chromatin immunoprecipitation data. These validated results show significant improvement over current pig genome annotations.

April 21, 2020  |  

Comparative Phylogenomics, a Stepping Stone for Bird Biodiversity Studies

Birds are a group with immense availability of genomic resources, and hundreds of forthcoming genomes at the doorstep. We review recent developments in whole genome sequencing, phylogenomics, and comparative genomics of birds. Short read based genome assemblies are common, largely due to efforts of the Bird 10K genome project (B10K). Chromosome-level assemblies are expected to increase due to improved long-read sequencing. The available genomic data has enabled the reconstruction of the bird tree of life with increasing confidence and resolution, but challenges remain in the early splits of Neoaves due to their explosive diversification after the Cretaceous-Paleogene (K-Pg) event. Continued genomic sampling of the bird tree of life will not just better reflect their evolutionary history but also shine new light onto the organization of phylogenetic signal and conflict across the genome. The comparatively simple architecture of avian genomes makes them a powerful system to study the molecular foundation of bird specific traits. Birds are on the verge of becoming an extremely resourceful system to study biodiversity from the nucleotide up.

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