June 1, 2021  |  

Old school/new school genome sequencing: One step backward — a quantum leap forward.

As the costs for genome sequencing have decreased the number of “genome” sequences have increased at a rapid pace. Unfortunately, the quality and completeness of these so–called “genome” sequences have suffered enormously. We prefer to call such genome assemblies as “gene assembly space” (GAS). We believe it is important to distinguish GAS assemblies from reference genome assemblies (RGAs) as all subsequent research that depends on accurate genome assemblies can be highly compromised if the only assembly available is a GAS assembly.


June 1, 2021  |  

Characterizing the pan-genome of maize with PacBio SMRT Sequencing

Maize is an amazingly diverse crop. A study in 20051 demonstrated that half of the genome sequence and one-third of the gene content between two inbred lines of maize were not shared. This diversity, which is more than two orders of magnitude larger than the diversity found between humans and chimpanzees, highlights the inability of a single reference genome to represent the full pan-genome of maize and all its variants. Here we present and review several efforts to characterize the complete diversity within maize using the highly accurate long reads of PacBio Single Molecule, Real-Time (SMRT) Sequencing. These methods provide a framework for a pan-genomic approach that can be applied to studies of a wide variety of important crop species.


April 21, 2020  |  

Construction and comparison of three reference-quality genome assemblies for soybean.

We report reference-quality genome assemblies and annotations for two accessions of soybean (Glycine max) and one of Glycine soja, the closest wild relative of G. max. The G. max assemblies are for widely used U.S. cultivars: the northern line ‘Williams 82’ (Wm82); and the southern line ‘Lee’. The Wm82 assembly improves the prior published assembly, and the Lee and G. soja assemblies are new for these accessions. Comparisons among the three accessions show generally high structural conservation, but nucleotide difference of 1.7 SNPs/kb between Wm82 and Lee, and 4.7 SNPs/kb between these lines and G. soja. SNP distributions and comparisons with genotypes of the Lee and Wm82 parents highlight patterns of introgressions and haplotype structure. Comparisons against the U.S. germplasm collection shows placement of the sequenced accessions relative to global soybean diversity. Analysis of a pan-gene collection shows generally high conservation, with variation occurring primarily in genomically clustered gene families. We found ~40-42 inversions per chromosome between either Lee or Wm82v4 and G. soja, and ~32 inversions per chromosome between Wm82 and Lee. We also investigated five domestication loci. For each locus, we found two different alleles with functional differences between G. soja and the two domesticated accessions. The genome assemblies for multiple cultivated accessions and for the closest wild ancestor of soybean provides a valuable set of resources for identifying causal variants that underlie traits for soybean’s domestication and improvement, serving as a basis for future research and crop improvement efforts for this important crop species. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.


April 21, 2020  |  

Rapid evolution of a-gliadin gene family revealed by analyzing Gli-2 locus regions of wild emmer wheat.

a-Gliadins are a major group of gluten proteins in wheat flour that contribute to the end-use properties for food processing and contain major immunogenic epitopes that can cause serious health-related issues including celiac disease (CD). a-Gliadins are also the youngest group of gluten proteins and are encoded by a large gene family. The majority of the gene family members evolved independently in the A, B, and D genomes of different wheat species after their separation from a common ancestral species. To gain insights into the origin and evolution of these complex genes, the genomic regions of the Gli-2 loci encoding a-gliadins were characterized from the tetraploid wild emmer, a progenitor of hexaploid bread wheat that contributed the AABB genomes. Genomic sequences of Gli-2 locus regions for the wild emmer A and B genomes were first reconstructed using the genome sequence scaffolds along with optical genome maps. A total of 24 and 16 a-gliadin genes were identified for the A and B genome regions, respectively. a-Gliadin pseudogene frequencies of 86% for the A genome and 69% for the B genome were primarily caused by C to T substitutions in the highly abundant glutamine codons, resulting in the generation of premature stop codons. Comparison with the homologous regions from the hexaploid wheat cv. Chinese Spring indicated considerable sequence divergence of the two A genomes at the genomic level. In comparison, conserved regions between the two B genomes were identified that included a-gliadin pseudogenes containing shared nested TE insertions. Analyses of the genomic organization and phylogenetic tree reconstruction indicate that although orthologous gene pairs derived from speciation were present, large portions of a-gliadin genes were likely derived from differential gene duplications or deletions after the separation of the homologous wheat genomes ~?0.5 MYA. The higher number of full-length intact a-gliadin genes in hexaploid wheat than that in wild emmer suggests that human selection through domestication might have an impact on a-gliadin evolution. Our study provides insights into the rapid and dynamic evolution of genomic regions harboring the a-gliadin genes in wheat.


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  |  

Optimized Cas9 expression systems for highly efficient Arabidopsis genome editing facilitate isolation of complex alleles in a single generation.

Genetic resources for the model plant Arabidopsis comprise mutant lines defective in almost any single gene in reference accession Columbia. However, gene redundancy and/or close linkage often render it extremely laborious or even impossible to isolate a desired line lacking a specific function or set of genes from segregating populations. Therefore, we here evaluated strategies and efficiencies for the inactivation of multiple genes by Cas9-based nucleases and multiplexing. In first attempts, we succeeded in isolating a mutant line carrying a 70 kb deletion, which occurred at a frequency of ~?1.6% in the T2 generation, through PCR-based screening of numerous individuals. However, we failed to isolate a line lacking Lhcb1 genes, which are present in five copies organized at two loci in the Arabidopsis genome. To improve efficiency of our Cas9-based nuclease system, regulatory sequences controlling Cas9 expression levels and timing were systematically compared. Indeed, use of DD45 and RPS5a promoters improved efficiency of our genome editing system by approximately 25-30-fold in comparison to the previous ubiquitin promoter. Using an optimized genome editing system with RPS5a promoter-driven Cas9, putatively quintuple mutant lines lacking detectable amounts of Lhcb1 protein represented approximately 30% of T1 transformants. These results show how improved genome editing systems facilitate the isolation of complex mutant alleles, previously considered impossible to generate, at high frequency even in a single (T1) generation.


April 21, 2020  |  

Plantibacter flavus, Curtobacterium herbarum, Paenibacillus taichungensis, and Rhizobium selenitireducens Endophytes Provide Host-Specific Growth Promotion of Arabidopsis thaliana, Basil, Lettuce, and Bok Choy Plants.

A collection of bacterial endophytes isolated from stem tissues of plants growing in soils highly contaminated with petroleum hydrocarbons were screened for plant growth-promoting capabilities. Twenty-seven endophytic isolates significantly improved the growth of Arabidopsis thaliana plants in comparison to that of uninoculated control plants. The five most beneficial isolates, one strain each of Curtobacterium herbarum, Paenibacillus taichungensis, and Rhizobium selenitireducens and two strains of Plantibacter flavus were further examined for growth promotion in Arabidopsis, lettuce, basil, and bok choy plants. Host-specific plant growth promotion was observed when plants were inoculated with the five bacterial strains. P. flavus strain M251 increased the total biomass and total root length of Arabidopsis plants by 4.7 and 5.8 times, respectively, over that of control plants and improved lettuce and basil root growth, while P. flavus strain M259 promoted Arabidopsis shoot and root growth, lettuce and basil root growth, and bok choy shoot growth. A genome comparison between P. flavus strains M251 and M259 showed that both genomes contain up to 70 actinobacterial putative plant-associated genes and genes involved in known plant-beneficial pathways, such as those for auxin and cytokinin biosynthesis and 1-aminocyclopropane-1-carboxylate deaminase production. This study provides evidence of direct plant growth promotion by Plantibacter flavusIMPORTANCE The discovery of new plant growth-promoting bacteria is necessary for the continued development of biofertilizers, which are environmentally friendly and cost-efficient alternatives to conventional chemical fertilizers. Biofertilizer effects on plant growth can be inconsistent due to the complexity of plant-microbe interactions, as the same bacteria can be beneficial to the growth of some plant species and neutral or detrimental to others. We examined a set of bacterial endophytes isolated from plants growing in a unique petroleum-contaminated environment to discover plant growth-promoting bacteria. We show that strains of Plantibacter flavus exhibit strain-specific plant growth-promoting effects on four different plant species.Copyright © 2019 American Society for Microbiology.


April 21, 2020  |  

The genomes of pecan and Chinese hickory provide insights into Carya evolution and nut nutrition.

Pecan (Carya illinoinensis) and Chinese hickory (C. cathayensis) are important commercially cultivated nut trees in the genus Carya (Juglandaceae), with high nutritional value and substantial health benefits.We obtained >187.22 and 178.87 gigabases of sequence, and ~288× and 248× genome coverage, to a pecan cultivar (“Pawnee”) and a domesticated Chinese hickory landrace (ZAFU-1), respectively. The total assembly size is 651.31 megabases (Mb) for pecan and 706.43 Mb for Chinese hickory. Two genome duplication events before the divergence from walnut were found in these species. Gene family analysis highlighted key genes in biotic and abiotic tolerance, oil, polyphenols, essential amino acids, and B vitamins. Further analyses of reduced-coverage genome sequences of 16 Carya and 2 Juglans species provide additional phylogenetic perspective on crop wild relatives.Cooperative characterization of these valuable resources provides a window to their evolutionary development and a valuable foundation for future crop improvement. © The Author(s) 2019. Published by Oxford University Press.


April 21, 2020  |  

Draft Genome Sequence of Serratia sp. 1D1416.

This work reports the draft genome of Serratia sp. 1D1416. The assembled genome contains a 5,552,016-bp circular chromosome. The strain was discovered in a mixed culture from a gall isolated from Euonymus japonicas.


April 21, 2020  |  

Gossypium barbadense and Gossypium hirsutum genomes provide insights into the origin and evolution of allotetraploid cotton.

Allotetraploid cotton is an economically important natural-fiber-producing crop worldwide. After polyploidization, Gossypium hirsutum L. evolved to produce a higher fiber yield and to better survive harsh environments than Gossypium barbadense, which produces superior-quality fibers. The global genetic and molecular bases for these interspecies divergences were unknown. Here we report high-quality de novo-assembled genomes for these two cultivated allotetraploid species with pronounced improvement in repetitive-DNA-enriched centromeric regions. Whole-genome comparative analyses revealed that species-specific alterations in gene expression, structural variations and expanded gene families were responsible for speciation and the evolutionary history of these species. These findings help to elucidate the evolution of cotton genomes and their domestication history. The information generated not only should enable breeders to improve fiber quality and resilience to ever-changing environmental conditions but also can be translated to other crops for better understanding of their domestication history and use in improvement.


April 21, 2020  |  

Nodule bacteria from the cultured legume Phaseolus dumosus (belonging to the Phaseolus vulgaris cross-inoculation group) with common tropici phenotypic characteristics and symbiovar but distinctive phylogenomic position and chromid.

Phaseolus dumosus is an endemic species from mountain tops in Mexico that was found in traditional agriculture areas in Veracruz, Mexico. P. dumosus plants were identified by ITS sequences and their nodules were collected from agricultural fields or from trap plant experiments in the laboratory. Bacteria from P. dumosus nodules were identified as belonging to the phaseoli-etli-leguminosarum (PEL) or to the tropici group by 16S rRNA gene sequences. We obtained complete closed genomes from two P. dumosus isolates CCGE531 and CCGE532 that were phylogenetically placed within the tropici group but with a distinctive phylogenomic position and low average nucleotide identity (ANI). CCGE531 and CCGE532 had common phenotypic characteristics with tropici type B rhizobial symbionts. Genome synteny analysis and ANI showed that P. dumosus isolates had different chromids and our analysis suggests that chromids have independently evolved in different lineages of the Rhizobium genus. Finally, we considered that P. dumosus and Phaseolus vulgaris plants belong to the same cross-inoculation group since they have conserved symbiotic affinites for rhizobia.Copyright © 2018 Elsevier GmbH. All rights reserved.


April 21, 2020  |  

Midrib Sucrose Accumulation and Sugar Transporter Gene Expression in YCS-Affected Sugarcane Leaves

Sucrose accumulation and decreased photosynthesis are early symptoms of yellow canopy syndrome (YCS) in sugarcane (Saccharum spp.), and precede the visual yellowing of the leaves. To investigate broad-scale gene expression changes during YCS-onset, transcriptome analyses coupled to metabolome analyses were performed. Across leaf tissues, the greatest number of differentially expressed genes related to the chloroplast, and the metabolic processes relating to nitrogen and carbohydrates. Five genes represented 90% of the TPM (Transcripts Per Million) associated with the downregulation of transcription during YCS-onset, which included PSII D1 (PsbA). This differential expression was consistent with a feedback regulatory effect upon photosynthesis. Broad-scale gene expression analyses did not reveal a cause for leaf sugar accumulation during YCS-onset. Interestingly, the midrib showed the greatest accumulation of sugars, followed by symptomatic lamina. To investigate if phloem loading/reloading may be compromised on a gene expression level – to lead to leaf sucrose accumulation – sucrose transport-related proteins of SWEETs, Sucrose Transporters (SUTs), H+-ATPases and H+-pyrophosphatases (H+-PPases) were characterised from a sugarcane transcriptome and expression analysed. Two clusters of Type I H+-PPases, with one upregulated and the other downregulated, were evident. Although less pronounced, a similar pattern of change was observed for the H+-ATPases. The disaccharide transporting SWEETs were downregulated after visual symptoms were present, and a monosaccharide transporting SWEET upregulated preceding, as well as after, symptom development. SUT gene expression was the least responsive to YCS development. The results are consistent with a reduction of photoassimilate movement through the phloem leading to sucrose build-up in the leaf.


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  |  

A physical and genetic map of Cannabis sativa identifies extensive rearrangements at the THC/CBD acid synthase loci.

Cannabis sativa is widely cultivated for medicinal, food, industrial, and recreational use, but much remains unknown regarding its genetics, including the molecular determinants of cannabinoid content. Here, we describe a combined physical and genetic map derived from a cross between the drug-type strain Purple Kush and the hemp variety “Finola.” The map reveals that cannabinoid biosynthesis genes are generally unlinked but that aromatic prenyltransferase (AP), which produces the substrate for THCA and CBDA synthases (THCAS and CBDAS), is tightly linked to a known marker for total cannabinoid content. We further identify the gene encoding CBCA synthase (CBCAS) and characterize its catalytic activity, providing insight into how cannabinoid diversity arises in cannabis. THCAS and CBDAS (which determine the drug vs. hemp chemotype) are contained within large (>250 kb) retrotransposon-rich regions that are highly nonhomologous between drug- and hemp-type alleles and are furthermore embedded within ~40 Mb of minimally recombining repetitive DNA. The chromosome structures are similar to those in grains such as wheat, with recombination focused in gene-rich, repeat-depleted regions near chromosome ends. The physical and genetic map should facilitate further dissection of genetic and molecular mechanisms in this commercially and medically important plant. © 2019 Laverty et al.; Published by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press.


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.


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