April 21, 2020  |  

A bird’s white-eye view on neosex chromosome evolution

Chromosomal organization is relatively stable among avian species, especially with regards to sex chromosomes. Members of the large Sylvioidea clade however have a pair of neo-sex chromosomes which is unique to this clade and originate from a parallel translocation of a region of the ancestral 4A chromosome on both W and Z chromosomes. Here, we took advantage of this unusual event to study the early stages of sex chromosome evolution. To do so, we sequenced a female (ZW) of two Sylvioidea species, a Zosterops borbonicus and a Z. pallidus. Then, we organized the Z. borbonicus scaffolds along chromosomes and annotated genes. Molecular phylogenetic dating under various methods and calibration sets confidently confirmed the recent diversification of the genus Zosterops (1-3.5 million years ago), thus representing one of the most exceptional rates of diversification among vertebrates. We then combined genomic coverage comparisons of five males and seven females, and homology with the zebra finch genome (Taeniopygia guttata) to identify sex chromosome scaffolds, as well as the candidate chromosome breakpoints for the two translocation events. We observed reduced levels of within-species diversity in both translocated regions and, as expected, even more so on the neoW chromosome. In order to compare the rates of molecular evolution in genomic regions of the autosomal-to-sex transitions, we then estimated the ratios of non-synonymous to synonymous polymorphisms (pN/pS) and substitutions (dN/dS). Based on both ratios, no or little contrast between autosomal and Z genes was observed, thus representing a very different outcome than the higher ratios observed at the neoW genes. In addition, we report significant changes in base composition content for translocated regions on the W and Z chromosomes and a large accumulation of transposable elements (TE) on the newly W region. Our results revealed contrasted signals of molecular evolution changes associated to these autosome-to-sex chromosome transitions, with congruent signals of a W chromosome degeneration yet a surprisingly weak support for a fast-Z effect.


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  |  

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  |  

De novo genome assembly of the endangered Acer yangbiense, a plant species with extremely small populations endemic to Yunnan Province, China.

Acer yangbiense is a newly described critically endangered endemic maple tree confined to Yangbi County in Yunnan Province in Southwest China. It was included in a programme for rescuing the most threatened species in China, focusing on “plant species with extremely small populations (PSESP)”.We generated 64, 94, and 110 Gb of raw DNA sequences and obtained a chromosome-level genome assembly of A. yangbiense through a combination of Pacific Biosciences Single-molecule Real-time, Illumina HiSeq X, and Hi-C mapping, respectively. The final genome assembly is ~666 Mb, with 13 chromosomes covering ~97% of the genome and scaffold N50 sizes of 45 Mb. Further, BUSCO analysis recovered 95.5% complete BUSCO genes. The total number of repetitive elements account for 68.0% of the A. yangbiense genome. Genome annotation generated 28,320 protein-coding genes, assisted by a combination of prediction and transcriptome sequencing. In addition, a nearly 1:1 orthology ratio of dot plots of longer syntenic blocks revealed a similar evolutionary history between A. yangbiense and grape, indicating that the genome has not undergone a whole-genome duplication event after the core eudicot common hexaploidization.Here, we report a high-quality de novo genome assembly of A. yangbiense, the first genome for the genus Acer and the family Aceraceae. This will provide fundamental conservation genomics resources, as well as representing a new high-quality reference genome for the economically important Acer lineage and the wider order of Sapindales. © The Author(s) 2019. Published by Oxford University Press.


April 21, 2020  |  

Chromosome-scale assemblies reveal the structural evolution of African cichlid genomes.

African cichlid fishes are well known for their rapid radiations and are a model system for studying evolutionary processes. Here we compare multiple, high-quality, chromosome-scale genome assemblies to elucidate the genetic mechanisms underlying cichlid diversification and study how genome structure evolves in rapidly radiating lineages.We re-anchored our recent assembly of the Nile tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus) genome using a new high-density genetic map. We also developed a new de novo genome assembly of the Lake Malawi cichlid, Metriaclima zebra, using high-coverage Pacific Biosciences sequencing, and anchored contigs to linkage groups (LGs) using 4 different genetic maps. These new anchored assemblies allow the first chromosome-scale comparisons of African cichlid genomes. Large intra-chromosomal structural differences (~2-28 megabase pairs) among species are common, while inter-chromosomal differences are rare (<10 megabase pairs total). Placement of the centromeres within the chromosome-scale assemblies identifies large structural differences that explain many of the karyotype differences among species. Structural differences are also associated with unique patterns of recombination on sex chromosomes. Structural differences on LG9, LG11, and LG20 are associated with reduced recombination, indicative of inversions between the rock- and sand-dwelling clades of Lake Malawi cichlids. M. zebra has a larger number of recent transposable element insertions compared with O. niloticus, suggesting that several transposable element families have a higher rate of insertion in the haplochromine cichlid lineage.This study identifies novel structural variation among East African cichlid genomes and provides a new set of genomic resources to support research on the mechanisms driving cichlid adaptation and speciation. © The Author(s) 2019. Published by Oxford University Press.


April 21, 2020  |  

The Modern View of B Chromosomes Under the Impact of High Scale Omics Analyses.

Supernumerary B chromosomes (Bs) are extra karyotype units in addition to A chromosomes, and are found in some fungi and thousands of animals and plant species. Bs are uniquely characterized due to their non-Mendelian inheritance, and represent one of the best examples of genomic conflict. Over the last decades, their genetic composition, function and evolution have remained an unresolved query, although a few successful attempts have been made to address these phenomena. A classical concept based on cytogenetics and genetics is that Bs are selfish and abundant with DNA repeats and transposons, and in most cases, they do not carry any function. However, recently, the modern quantum development of high scale multi-omics techniques has shifted B research towards a new-born field that we call “B-omics”. We review the recent literature and add novel perspectives to the B research, discussing the role of new technologies to understand the mechanistic perspectives of the molecular evolution and function of Bs. The modern view states that B chromosomes are enriched with genes for many significant biological functions, including but not limited to the interesting set of genes related to cell cycle and chromosome structure. Furthermore, the presence of B chromosomes could favor genomic rearrangements and influence the nuclear environment affecting the function of other chromatin regions. We hypothesize that B chromosomes might play a key function in driving their transmission and maintenance inside the cell, as well as offer an extra genomic compartment for evolution.


April 21, 2020  |  

The Genome of Armadillidium vulgare (Crustacea, Isopoda) Provides Insights into Sex Chromosome Evolution in the Context of Cytoplasmic Sex Determination.

The terrestrial isopod Armadillidium vulgare is an original model to study the evolution of sex determination and symbiosis in animals. Its sex can be determined by ZW sex chromosomes, or by feminizing Wolbachia bacterial endosymbionts. Here, we report the sequence and analysis of the ZW female genome of A. vulgare. A distinguishing feature of the 1.72 gigabase assembly is the abundance of repeats (68% of the genome). We show that the Z and W sex chromosomes are essentially undifferentiated at the molecular level and the W-specific region is extremely small (at most several hundreds of kilobases). Our results suggest that recombination suppression has not spread very far from the sex-determining locus, if at all. This is consistent with A. vulgare possessing evolutionarily young sex chromosomes. We characterized multiple Wolbachia nuclear inserts in the A. vulgare genome, none of which is associated with the W-specific region. We also identified several candidate genes that may be involved in the sex determination or sexual differentiation pathways. The A. vulgare genome serves as a resource for studying the biology and evolution of crustaceans, one of the most speciose and emblematic metazoan groups. © The Author(s) 2019. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution.


April 21, 2020  |  

The red bayberry genome and genetic basis of sex determination.

Morella rubra, red bayberry, is an economically important fruit tree in south China. Here, we assembled the first high-quality genome for both a female and a male individual of red bayberry. The genome size was 313-Mb, and 90% sequences were assembled into eight pseudo chromosome molecules, with 32 493 predicted genes. By whole-genome comparison between the female and male and association analysis with sequences of bulked and individual DNA samples from female and male, a 59-Kb region determining female was identified and located on distal end of pseudochromosome 8, which contains abundant transposable element and seven putative genes, four of them are related to sex floral development. This 59-Kb female-specific region was likely to be derived from duplication and rearrangement of paralogous genes and retained non-recombinant in the female-specific region. Sex-specific molecular markers developed from candidate genes co-segregated with sex in a genetically diverse female and male germplasm. We propose sex determination follow the ZW model of female heterogamety. The genome sequence of red bayberry provides a valuable resource for plant sex chromosome evolution and also provides important insights for molecular biology, genetics and modern breeding in Myricaceae family. © 2018 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  |  

A reference genome for pea provides insight into legume genome evolution.

We report the first annotated chromosome-level reference genome assembly for pea, Gregor Mendel’s original genetic model. Phylogenetics and paleogenomics show genomic rearrangements across legumes and suggest a major role for repetitive elements in pea genome evolution. Compared to other sequenced Leguminosae genomes, the pea genome shows intense gene dynamics, most likely associated with genome size expansion when the Fabeae diverged from its sister tribes. During Pisum evolution, translocation and transposition differentially occurred across lineages. This reference sequence will accelerate our understanding of the molecular basis of agronomically important traits and support crop improvement.


April 21, 2020  |  

The role of genomic structural variation in the genetic improvement of polyploid crops

Many of our major crop species are polyploids, containing more than one genome or set of chromosomes. Polyploid crops present unique challenges, including difficulties in genome assembly, in discriminating between multiple gene and sequence copies, and in genetic mapping, hindering use of genomic data for genetics and breeding. Polyploid genomes may also be more prone to containing structural variation, such as loss of gene copies or sequences (presence–absence variation) and the presence of genes or sequences in multiple copies (copy-number variation). Although the two main types of genomic structural variation commonly identified are presence–absence variation and copy-number variation, we propose that homeologous exchanges constitute a third major form of genomic structural variation in polyploids. Homeologous exchanges involve the replacement of one genomic segment by a similar copy from another genome or ancestrally duplicated region, and are known to be extremely common in polyploids. Detecting all kinds of genomic structural variation is challenging, but recent advances such as optical mapping and long-read sequencing offer potential strategies to help identify structural variants even in complex polyploid genomes. All three major types of genomic structural variation (presence–absence, copy-number, and homeologous exchange) are now known to influence phenotypes in crop plants, with examples of flowering time, frost tolerance, and adaptive and agronomic traits. In this review, we summarize the challenges of genome analysis in polyploid crops, describe the various types of genomic structural variation and the genomics technologies and data that can be used to detect them, and collate information produced to date related to the impact of genomic structural variation on crop phenotypes. We highlight the importance of genomic structural variation for the future genetic improvement of polyploid crops.


April 21, 2020  |  

Genome of the Komodo dragon reveals adaptations in the cardiovascular and chemosensory systems of monitor lizards.

Monitor lizards are unique among ectothermic reptiles in that they have high aerobic capacity and distinctive cardiovascular physiology resembling that of endothermic mammals. Here, we sequence the genome of the Komodo dragon Varanus komodoensis, the largest extant monitor lizard, and generate a high-resolution de novo chromosome-assigned genome assembly for V. komodoensis using a hybrid approach of long-range sequencing and single-molecule optical mapping. Comparing the genome of V. komodoensis with those of related species, we find evidence of positive selection in pathways related to energy metabolism, cardiovascular homoeostasis, and haemostasis. We also show species-specific expansions of a chemoreceptor gene family related to pheromone and kairomone sensing in V. komodoensis and other lizard lineages. Together, these evolutionary signatures of adaptation reveal the genetic underpinnings of the unique Komodo dragon sensory and cardiovascular systems, and suggest that selective pressure altered haemostasis genes to help Komodo dragons evade the anticoagulant effects of their own saliva. The Komodo dragon genome is an important resource for understanding the biology of monitor lizards and reptiles worldwide.


April 21, 2020  |  

Chromosome-level genome assembly of Triplophysa tibetana, a fish adapted to the harsh high-altitude environment of the Tibetan Plateau.

Triplophysa is an endemic fish genus of the Tibetan Plateau in China. Triplophysa tibetana, which lives at a recorded altitude of ~4,000 m and plays an important role in the highland aquatic ecosystem, serves as an excellent model for investigating high-altitude environmental adaptation. However, evolutionary and conservation studies of T. tibetana have been limited by scarce genomic resources for the genus Triplophysa. In the present study, we applied PacBio sequencing and the Hi-C technique to assemble the T. tibetana genome. A 652-Mb genome with 1,325 contigs with an N50 length of 3.1 Mb was obtained. The 1,137 contigs were further assembled into 25 chromosomes, representing 98.7% and 80.47% of all contigs at the base and sequence number level, respectively. Approximately 260 Mb of sequence, accounting for ~39.8% of the genome, was identified as repetitive elements. DNA transposons (16.3%), long interspersed nuclear elements (12.4%) and long terminal repeats (11.0%) were the most repetitive types. In total, 24,372 protein-coding genes were predicted in the genome, and ~95% of the genes were functionally annotated via a search in public databases. Using whole genome sequence information, we found that T. tibetana diverged from its common ancestor with Danio rerio ~121.4 million years ago. The high-quality genome assembled in this work not only provides a valuable genomic resource for future population and conservation studies of T. tibetana, but it also lays a solid foundation for further investigation into the mechanisms of environmental adaptation of endemic fishes in the Tibetan Plateau. © 2019 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


April 21, 2020  |  

Improvement of the Pacific bluefin tuna (Thunnus orientalis) reference genome and development of male-specific DNA markers.

The Pacific bluefin tuna, Thunnus orientalis, is a highly migratory species that is widely distributed in the North Pacific Ocean. Like other marine species, T. orientalis has no external sexual dimorphism; thus, identifying sex-specific variants from whole genome sequence data is a useful approach to develop an effective sex identification method. Here, we report an improved draft genome of T. orientalis and male-specific DNA markers. Combining PacBio long reads and Illumina short reads sufficiently improved genome assembly, with a 38-fold increase in scaffold contiguity (to 444 scaffolds) compared to the first published draft genome. Through analysing re-sequence data of 15 males and 16 females, 250 male-specific SNPs were identified from more than 30 million polymorphisms. All male-specific variants were male-heterozygous, suggesting that T. orientalis has a male heterogametic sex-determination system. The largest linkage disequilibrium block (3,174?bp on scaffold_064) contained 51 male-specific variants. PCR primers and a PCR-based sex identification assay were developed using these male-specific variants. The sex of 115 individuals (56 males and 59 females; sex was diagnosed by visual examination of the gonads) was identified with high accuracy using the assay. This easy, accurate, and practical technique facilitates the control of sex ratios in tuna farms. Furthermore, this method could be used to estimate the sex ratio and/or the sex-specific growth rate of natural populations.


April 21, 2020  |  

Chromosome assembly of Collichthys lucidus, a fish of Sciaenidae with a multiple sex chromosome system.

Collichthys lucidus (C. lucidus) is a commercially important marine fish species distributed in coastal regions of East Asia with the X1X1X2X2/X1X2Y multiple sex chromosome system. The karyotype for female C. lucidus is 2n?=?48, while 2n?=?47 for male ones. Therefore, C. lucidus is also an excellent model to investigate teleost sex-determination and sex chromosome evolution. We reported the first chromosome genome assembly of C. lucidus using Illumina short-read, PacBio long-read sequencing and Hi-C technology. An 877?Mb genome was obtained with a contig and scaffold N50 of 1.1?Mb and 35.9?Mb, respectively. More than 97% BUSCOs genes were identified in the C. lucidus genome and 28,602 genes were annotated. We identified potential sex-determination genes along chromosomes and found that the chromosome 1 might be involved in the formation of Y specific metacentric chromosome. The first C. lucidus chromosome-level reference genome lays a solid foundation for the following population genetics study, functional gene mapping of important economic traits, sex-determination and sex chromosome evolution studies for Sciaenidae and teleosts.


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