June 1, 2021  |  

Comparative Studies of Mammalian Sex Chromosomes: From Cytogenetics to NGS

It is a common knowledge that sex chromosome mutations are better tolerated and more viable compared to changes in autosomes. This is explained by relatively low gene density in both the X and the Y chromosome and by random X chromosome inactivation in mammalian females buffering the effect of X-aneuploidies. However, it is not well understood why apparently similar sex chromosome abnormalities, such as X-monosomy or certain Y chromosome rearrangements, result in different phenotypic effects in different species. It is thought that this is due to species differences in the organization of the Y chromosome, differences in the set of genes escaping X-inactivation, and the presence of species/lineage specific sex-linked genes with functions in development and reproduction. Current knowledge about the species differences in sex chromosome organization and function is limited, this despite the availability of reference genome assemblies for most domestic species. It appears that sequence assembly of the X chromosome in most species is rather patchy containing multiple gaps and possible misassemblies, being the poorest in the pseudoautosomal region and in regions containing putative lineage-specific sequences. The Y chromosome, on the other hand, is typically not included in the reference genome and is studied separately, whereas complete sequence assembly of the male-specific portion of the Y is not yet available for any domestic species. In this talk I will discuss comparative organization and function of animal sex chromosomes and related phenotypes proceeding from our research in horses.


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  |  

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  |  

Genome assembly and annotation of the Trichoplusia ni Tni-FNL insect cell line enabled by long-read technologies.

Trichoplusiani derived cell lines are commonly used to enable recombinant protein expression via baculovirus infection to generate materials approved for clinical use and in clinical trials. In order to develop systems biology and genome engineering tools to improve protein expression in this host, we performed de novo genome assembly of the Trichoplusiani-derived cell line Tni-FNL.By integration of PacBio single-molecule sequencing, Bionano optical mapping, and 10X Genomics linked-reads data, we have produced a draft genome assembly of Tni-FNL.Our assembly contains 280 scaffolds, with a N50 scaffold size of 2.3 Mb and a total length of 359 Mb. Annotation of the Tni-FNL genome resulted in 14,101 predicted genes and 93.2% of the predicted proteome contained recognizable protein domains. Ortholog searches within the superorder Holometabola provided further evidence of high accuracy and completeness of the Tni-FNL genome assembly.This first draft Tni-FNL genome assembly was enabled by complementary long-read technologies and represents a high-quality, well-annotated genome that provides novel insight into the complexity of this insect cell line and can serve as a reference for future large-scale genome engineering work in this and other similar recombinant protein production hosts.


April 21, 2020  |  

The comparative genomics and complex population history of Papio baboons.

Recent studies suggest that closely related species can accumulate substantial genetic and phenotypic differences despite ongoing gene flow, thus challenging traditional ideas regarding the genetics of speciation. Baboons (genus Papio) are Old World monkeys consisting of six readily distinguishable species. Baboon species hybridize in the wild, and prior data imply a complex history of differentiation and introgression. We produced a reference genome assembly for the olive baboon (Papio anubis) and whole-genome sequence data for all six extant species. We document multiple episodes of admixture and introgression during the radiation of Papio baboons, thus demonstrating their value as a model of complex evolutionary divergence, hybridization, and reticulation. These results help inform our understanding of similar cases, including modern humans, Neanderthals, Denisovans, and other ancient hominins.


April 21, 2020  |  

A chromosome-level sequence assembly reveals the structure of the Arabidopsis thaliana Nd-1 genome and its gene set.

In addition to the BAC-based reference sequence of the accession Columbia-0 from the year 2000, several short read assemblies of THE plant model organism Arabidopsis thaliana were published during the last years. Also, a SMRT-based assembly of Landsberg erecta has been generated that identified translocation and inversion polymorphisms between two genotypes of the species. Here we provide a chromosome-arm level assembly of the A. thaliana accession Niederzenz-1 (AthNd-1_v2c) based on SMRT sequencing data. The best assembly comprises 69 nucleome sequences and displays a contig length of up to 16 Mbp. Compared to an earlier Illumina short read-based NGS assembly (AthNd-1_v1), a 75 fold increase in contiguity was observed for AthNd-1_v2c. To assign contig locations independent from the Col-0 gold standard reference sequence, we used genetic anchoring to generate a de novo assembly. In addition, we assembled the chondrome and plastome sequences. Detailed analyses of AthNd-1_v2c allowed reliable identification of large genomic rearrangements between A. thaliana accessions contributing to differences in the gene sets that distinguish the genotypes. One of the differences detected identified a gene that is lacking from the Col-0 gold standard sequence. This de novo assembly extends the known proportion of the A. thaliana pan-genome.


April 21, 2020  |  

Genetic map-guided genome assembly reveals a virulence-governing minichromosome in the lentil anthracnose pathogen Colletotrichum lentis.

Colletotrichum lentis causes anthracnose, which is a serious disease on lentil and can account for up to 70% crop loss. Two pathogenic races, 0 and 1, have been described in the C. lentis population from lentil. To unravel the genetic control of virulence, an isolate of the virulent race 0 was sequenced at 1481-fold genomic coverage. The 56.10-Mb genome assembly consists of 50 scaffolds with N50 scaffold length of 4.89 Mb. A total of 11 436 protein-coding gene models was predicted in the genome with 237 coding candidate effectors, 43 secondary metabolite biosynthetic enzymes and 229 carbohydrate-active enzymes (CAZymes), suggesting a contraction of the virulence gene repertoire in C. lentis. Scaffolds were assigned to 10 core and two minichromosomes using a population (race 0 × race 1, n = 94 progeny isolates) sequencing-based, high-density (14 312 single nucleotide polymorphisms) genetic map. Composite interval mapping revealed a single quantitative trait locus (QTL), qClVIR-11, located on minichromosome 11, explaining 85% of the variability in virulence of the C. lentis population. The QTL covers a physical distance of 0.84 Mb with 98 genes, including seven candidate effector and two secondary metabolite genes. Taken together, the study provides genetic and physical evidence for the existence of a minichromosome controlling the C. lentis virulence on lentil. © 2018 The Authors. New Phytologist © 2018 New Phytologist Trust.


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  |  

TSD: A Computational Tool To Study the Complex Structural Variants Using PacBio Targeted Sequencing Data.

PacBio sequencing is a powerful approach to study DNA or RNA sequences in a longer scope. It is especially useful in exploring the complex structural variants generated by random integration or multiple rearrangement of endogenous or exogenous sequences. Here, we present a tool, TSD, for complex structural variant discovery using PacBio targeted sequencing data. It allows researchers to identify and visualize the genomic structures of targeted sequences by unlimited splitting, alignment and assembly of long PacBio reads. Application to the sequencing data derived from an HBV integrated human cell line(PLC/PRF/5) indicated that TSD could recover the full profile of HBV integration events, especially for the regions with the complex human-HBV genome integrations and multiple HBV rearrangements. Compared to other long read analysis tools, TSD showed a better performance for detecting complex genomic structural variants. TSD is publicly available at: https://github.com/menggf/tsd. Copyright © 2019 Meng et al.


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  |  

Copy-number variants in clinical genome sequencing: deployment and interpretation for rare and undiagnosed disease.

Current diagnostic testing for genetic disorders involves serial use of specialized assays spanning multiple technologies. In principle, genome sequencing (GS) can detect all genomic pathogenic variant types on a single platform. Here we evaluate copy-number variant (CNV) calling as part of a clinically accredited GS test.We performed analytical validation of CNV calling on 17 reference samples, compared the sensitivity of GS-based variants with those from a clinical microarray, and set a bound on precision using orthogonal technologies. We developed a protocol for family-based analysis of GS-based CNV calls, and deployed this across a clinical cohort of 79 rare and undiagnosed cases.We found that CNV calls from GS are at least as sensitive as those from microarrays, while only creating a modest increase in the number of variants interpreted (~10 CNVs per case). We identified clinically significant CNVs in 15% of the first 79 cases analyzed, all of which were confirmed by an orthogonal approach. The pipeline also enabled discovery of a uniparental disomy (UPD) and a 50% mosaic trisomy 14. Directed analysis of select CNVs enabled breakpoint level resolution of genomic rearrangements and phasing of de novo CNVs.Robust identification of CNVs by GS is possible within a clinical testing environment.


April 21, 2020  |  

A chromosome-level genome assembly of Cydia pomonella provides insights into chemical ecology and insecticide resistance.

The codling moth Cydia pomonella, a major invasive pest of pome fruit, has spread around the globe in the last half century. We generated a chromosome-level scaffold assembly including the Z chromosome and a portion of the W chromosome. This assembly reveals the duplication of an olfactory receptor gene (OR3), which we demonstrate enhances the ability of C. pomonella to exploit kairomones and pheromones in locating both host plants and mates. Genome-wide association studies contrasting insecticide-resistant and susceptible strains identify hundreds of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) potentially associated with insecticide resistance, including three SNPs found in the promoter of CYP6B2. RNAi knockdown of CYP6B2 increases C. pomonella sensitivity to two insecticides, deltamethrin and azinphos methyl. The high-quality genome assembly of C. pomonella informs the genetic basis of its invasiveness, suggesting the codling moth has distinctive capabilities and adaptive potential that may explain its worldwide expansion.


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