April 21, 2020  |  

A chromosome-scale genome assembly of cucumber (Cucumis sativus L.).

Accurate and complete reference genome assemblies are fundamental for biological research. Cucumber is an important vegetable crop and model system for sex determination and vascular biology. Low-coverage Sanger sequences and high-coverage short Illumina sequences have been used to assemble draft cucumber genomes, but the incompleteness and low quality of these genomes limit their use in comparative genomics and genetic research. A high-quality and complete cucumber genome assembly is therefore essential.We assembled single-molecule real-time (SMRT) long reads to generate an improved cucumber reference genome. This version contains 174 contigs with a total length of 226.2 Mb and an N50 of 8.9 Mb, and provides 29.0 Mb more sequence data than previous versions. Using 10X Genomics and high-throughput chromosome conformation capture (Hi-C) data, 89 contigs (~211.0 Mb) were directly linked into 7 pseudo-chromosome sequences. The newly assembled regions show much higher guanine-cytosine or adenine-thymine content than found previously, which is likely to have been inaccessible to Illumina sequencing. The new assembly contains 1,374 full-length long terminal retrotransposons and 1,078 novel genes including 239 tandemly duplicated genes. For example, we found 4 tandemly duplicated tyrosylprotein sulfotransferases, in contrast to the single copy of the gene found previously and in most other plants.This high-quality genome presents novel features of the cucumber genome and will serve as a valuable resource for genetic research in cucumber and plant comparative genomics. © The Author(s) 2019. Published by Oxford University Press.


April 21, 2020  |  

Pseudomolecule-level assembly of the Chinese oil tree yellowhorn (Xanthoceras sorbifolium) genome.

Yellowhorn (Xanthoceras sorbifolium) is a species of the Sapindaceae family native to China and is an oil tree that can withstand cold and drought conditions. A pseudomolecule-level genome assembly for this species will not only contribute to understanding the evolution of its genes and chromosomes but also bring yellowhorn breeding into the genomic era.Here, we generated 15 pseudomolecules of yellowhorn chromosomes, on which 97.04% of scaffolds were anchored, using the combined Illumina HiSeq, Pacific Biosciences Sequel, and Hi-C technologies. The length of the final yellowhorn genome assembly was 504.2 Mb with a contig N50 size of 1.04 Mb and a scaffold N50 size of 32.17 Mb. Genome annotation revealed that 68.67% of the yellowhorn genome was composed of repetitive elements. Gene modelling predicted 24,672 protein-coding genes. By comparing orthologous genes, the divergence time of yellowhorn and its close sister species longan (Dimocarpus longan) was estimated at ~33.07 million years ago. Gene cluster and chromosome synteny analysis demonstrated that the yellowhorn genome shared a conserved genome structure with its ancestor in some chromosomes.This genome assembly represents a high-quality reference genome for yellowhorn. Integrated genome annotations provide a valuable dataset for genetic and molecular research in this species. We did not detect whole-genome duplication in the genome. The yellowhorn genome carries syntenic blocks from ancient chromosomes. These data sources will enable this genome to serve as an initial platform for breeding better yellowhorn cultivars. © The Author(s) 2019. Published by Oxford University Press.


April 21, 2020  |  

The Genome of Cucurbita argyrosperma (Silver-Seed Gourd) Reveals Faster Rates of Protein-Coding Gene and Long Noncoding RNA Turnover and Neofunctionalization within Cucurbita.

Whole-genome duplications are an important source of evolutionary novelties that change the mode and tempo at which genetic elements evolve within a genome. The Cucurbita genus experienced a whole-genome duplication around 30 million years ago, although the evolutionary dynamics of the coding and noncoding genes in this genus have not yet been scrutinized. Here, we analyzed the genomes of four Cucurbita species, including a newly assembled genome of Cucurbita argyrosperma, and compared the gene contents of these species with those of five other members of the Cucurbitaceae family to assess the evolutionary dynamics of protein-coding and long intergenic noncoding RNA (lincRNA) genes after the genome duplication. We report that Cucurbita genomes have a higher protein-coding gene birth-death rate compared with the genomes of the other members of the Cucurbitaceae family. C. argyrosperma gene families associated with pollination and transmembrane transport had significantly faster evolutionary rates. lincRNA families showed high levels of gene turnover throughout the phylogeny, and 67.7% of the lincRNA families in Cucurbita showed evidence of birth from the neofunctionalization of previously existing protein-coding genes. Collectively, our results suggest that the whole-genome duplication in Cucurbita resulted in faster rates of gene family evolution through the neofunctionalization of duplicated genes. Copyright © 2019 The Author. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


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.


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