June 1, 2021  |  

Automated, non-hybrid de novo genome assemblies and epigenomes of bacterial pathogens.

Understanding the genetic basis of infectious diseases is critical to enacting effective treatments, and several large-scale sequencing initiatives are underway to collect this information. Sequencing bacterial samples is typically performed by mapping sequence reads against genomes of known reference strains. While such resequencing informs on the spectrum of single-nucleotide differences relative to the chosen reference, it can miss numerous other forms of variation known to influence pathogenicity: structural variations (duplications, inversions), acquisition of mobile elements (phages, plasmids), homonucleotide length variation causing phase variation, and epigenetic marks (methylation, phosphorothioation) that influence gene expression to switch bacteria from non- pathogenic to pathogenic states. Therefore, sequencing methods which provide complete, de novo genome assemblies and epigenomes are necessary to fully characterize infectious disease agents in an unbiased, hypothesis-free manner. Hybrid assembly methods have been described that combine long sequence reads from SMRT DNA Sequencing with short reads (SMRT CCS (circular consensus) or second-generation reads), wherein the short reads are used to error-correct the long reads which are then used for assembly. We have developed a new paradigm for microbial de novo assemblies in which SMRT sequencing reads from a single long insert library are used exclusively to close the genome through a hierarchical genome assembly process, thereby obviating the need for a second sample preparation, sequencing run, and data set. We have applied this method to achieve closed de novo genomes with accuracies exceeding QV50 (>99.999%) for numerous disease outbreak samples, including E. coli, Salmonella, Campylobacter, Listeria, Neisseria, and H. pylori. The kinetic information from the same SMRT Sequencing reads is utilized to determine epigenomes. Approximately 70% of all methyltransferase specificities we have determined to date represent previously unknown bacterial epigenetic signatures. With relatively short sequencing run times and automated analysis pipelines, it is possible to go from an unknown DNA sample to its complete de novo genome and epigenome in about a day.


June 1, 2021  |  

Automated, non-hybrid de novo genome assemblies and epigenomes of bacterial pathogens

Understanding the genetic basis of infectious diseases is critical to enacting effective treatments, and several large-scale sequencing initiatives are underway to collect this information. Sequencing bacterial samples is typically performed by mapping sequence reads against genomes of known reference strains. While such resequencing informs on the spectrum of single nucleotide differences relative to the chosen reference, it can miss numerous other forms of variation known to influence pathogenicity: structural variations (duplications, inversions), acquisition of mobile elements (phages, plasmids), homonucleotide length variation causing phase variation, and epigenetic marks (methylation, phosphorothioation) that influence gene expression to switch bacteria from non-pathogenic to pathogenic states. Therefore, sequencing methods which provide complete, de novo genome assemblies and epigenomes are necessary to fully characterize infectious disease agents in an unbiased, hypothesis-free manner. Hybrid assembly methods have been described that combine long sequence reads from SMRT DNA sequencing with short, high-accuracy reads (SMRT (circular consensus sequencing) CCS or second-generation reads) to generate long, highly accurate reads that are then used for assembly. We have developed a new paradigm for microbial de novo assemblies in which long SMRT sequencing reads (average readlengths >5,000 bases) are used exclusively to close the genome through a hierarchical genome assembly process, thereby obviating the need for a second sample preparation, sequencing run and data set. We have applied this method to achieve closed de novo genomes with accuracies exceeding QV50 (>99.999%) to numerous disease outbreak samples, including E. coli, Salmonella, Campylobacter, Listeria, Neisseria, and H. pylori. The kinetic information from the same SMRT sequencing reads is utilized to determine epigenomes. Approximately 70% of all methyltransferase specificities we have determined to date represent previously unknown bacterial epigenetic signatures. The process has been automated and requires less than 1 day from an unknown DNA sample to its complete de novo genome and epigenome.


June 1, 2021  |  

SMRT Sequencing solutions for investigative studies to understand evolutionary processes.

Single Molecule, Real-Time (SMRT) Sequencing holds promise for addressing new frontiers to understand molecular mechanisms in evolution and gain insight into adaptive strategies. With read lengths exceeding 10 kb, we are able to sequence high-quality, closed microbial genomes with associated plasmids, and investigate large genome complexities, such as long, highly repetitive, low-complexity regions and multiple tandem-duplication events. Improved genome quality, observed at 99.9999% (QV60) consensus accuracy, and significant reduction of gap regions in reference genomes (up to and beyond 50%) allow researchers to better understand coding sequences with high confidence, investigate potential regulatory mechanisms in noncoding regions, and make inferences about evolutionary strategies that are otherwise missed by the coverage biases associated with short- read sequencing technologies. Additional benefits afforded by SMRT Sequencing include the simultaneous capability to detect epigenomic modifications and obtain full-length cDNA transcripts that obsolete the need for assembly. With direct sequencing of DNA in real-time, this has resulted in the identification of numerous base modifications and motifs, which genome-wide profiles have linked to specific methyltransferase activities. Our new offering, the Iso-Seq Application, allows for the accurate differentiation between transcript isoforms that are difficult to resolve with short-read technologies. PacBio reads easily span transcripts such that both 5’/3’ primers for cDNA library generation and the poly-A tail are observed. As such, exon configuration and intron retention events can be analyzed without ambiguity. This technological advance is useful for characterizing transcript diversity and improving gene structure annotations in reference genomes. We review solutions available with SMRT Sequencing, from targeted sequencing efforts to obtaining reference genomes (>100 Mb). This includes strategies for identifying microsatellites and conducting phylogenetic comparisons with targeted gene families. We highlight how to best leverage our long reads that have exceeded 20 kb in length for research investigations, as well as currently available bioinformatics strategies for analysis. Benefits for these applications are further realized with consistent use of size selection of input sample using the BluePippin™ device from Sage Science as demonstrated in our genome improvement projects. Using the latest P5-C3 chemistry on model organisms, these efforts have yielded an observed contig N50 of ~6 Mb, with the longest contig exceeding 12.5 Mb and an average base quality of QV50.


June 1, 2021  |  

Progress Toward a Low Budget Reference Grade Genome Assembly

Reference quality de novo genome assemblies were once solely the domain of large, well-funded genome projects. While next-generation short read technology removed some of the cost barriers, accurate chromosome-scale assembly remains a real challenge. Here we present efforts to de novo assemble the goat (Capra hircus) genome. Through the combination of single-molecule technologies from Pacific Biosciences (sequencing) and BioNano Genomics (optical mapping) coupled with high-throughput chromosome conformation capture sequencing (Hi-C), an inbred San Clemente goat genome has been sequenced and assembled to a high degree of completeness at a relatively modest cost. Starting with 38 million PacBio reads, we integrated the MinHash Alignment Process (MHAP) with the Celera Assembler (CA) to produce an assembly composed of 3110 contigs with a contig N50 size of 4.7 Mb. This assembly was scaffolded with BioNano genome maps derived from a single IrysChip into 333 scaffolds with an N50 of 23.1 Mb including the complete scaffolding of chromosome 20. Finally, cis-chromosome associations were determined by Hi-C, yielding complete reconstruction of all autosomes into single scaffolds with a final N50 of 91.7 Mb. We hope to demonstrate that our methods are not only cost effective, but improve our ability to annotate challenging genomic regions such as highly repetitive immune gene clusters.


June 1, 2021  |  

De novo PacBio long-read assembled avian genomes correct and add to genes important in neuroscience and conservation research

To test the impact of high-quality genome assemblies on biological research, we applied PacBio long-read sequencing in conjunction with the new, diploid-aware FALCON-Unzip assembler to a number of bird species. These included: the zebra finch, for which a consortium-generated, Sanger-based reference exists, to determine how the FALCON-Unzip assembly would compare to the current best references available; Anna’s hummingbird genome, which had been assembled with short-read sequencing methods as part of the Avian Phylogenomics phase I initiative; and two critically endangered bird species (kakapo and ‘alala) of high importance for conservations efforts, whose genomes had not previously been sequenced and assembled.


June 1, 2021  |  

A low DNA input protocol for high-quality PacBio de novo genome assemblies from single invertebrate individuals

A high-quality reference genome is an essential tool for studies of plant and animal genomics. PacBio Single Molecule, Real-Time (SMRT) Sequencing generates long reads with uniform coverage and high consensus accuracy, making it a powerful technology for de novo genome assembly. PacBio is the core technology for many large genome initiatives, however, relatively high DNA input requirements (5 µg for standard library protocol) have placed PacBio out of reach for many projects on small, non-inbred organisms that may have lower DNA content. Here we present high-quality de novo genome assemblies from single invertebrate individuals for two different species: the Anopheles coluzzii mosquito and the Schistosoma mansoni parasitic flatworm. A modified SMRTbell library construction protocol without DNA shearing and size selection was used to generate a SMRTbell library from just 50-100 ng of starting genomic DNA. The libraries were run on the Sequel System with chemistry v3.0 and software v6.0, generating a range of 21-32 Gb of sequence per SMRT Cell with 20 hour movies, and followed by diploid de novo genome assembly with FALCON-Unzip. The resulting assemblies had high contiguity (contig N50s over 3 Mb for both species) and completeness (as determined by conserved BUSCO gene analysis). We were also able to resolve maternal and paternal haplotypes for 1/3 of the genome in both cases. By sequencing and assembling material from a single diploid individual, only two haplotypes are present, simplifying the assembly process compared to samples from multiple pooled individuals. This new low-input approach puts PacBio-based assemblies in reach for small, highly heterozygous organisms that comprise much of the diversity of life. The method presented here can be applied to samples with starting DNA amounts around 100 ng per 250 Mb – 1 Gb genome size.


June 1, 2021  |  

A high-quality de novo genome assembly from a single mosquito using PacBio sequencing

A high-quality reference genome is an essential tool for studies of plant and animal genomics. PacBio Single Molecule, Real-Time (SMRT) Sequencing generates long reads with uniform coverage and high consensus accuracy, making it a powerful technology for de novo genome assembly. While PacBio is the core technology for many large genome initiatives, relatively high DNA input requirements (3 µg for standard library protocol) have placed PacBio out of reach for many projects on small, non-inbred organisms that may have lower DNA content. Here we present high-quality de novo genome assemblies from single invertebrate individuals for two different species: the Anopheles coluzzii mosquito and the Schistosoma mansoni parasitic flatworm. A modified SMRTbell library construction protocol without DNA shearing and size selection was used to generate a SMRTbell library from just 150 ng of starting genomic DNA. The libraries were run on the Sequel System with chemistry v3.0 and software v6.0, generating a range of 21-32 Gb of sequence per SMRT Cell with 20-hour movies (10-12 Gb for 10-hour movies), and followed by diploid de novo genome assembly with FALCON-Unzip. The resulting assemblies had high contiguity (contig N50s over 3 Mb for both species) and completeness (as determined by conserved BUSCO gene analysis). We were also able to resolve maternal and paternal haplotypes for 1/3 of the genome in both cases. By sequencing and assembling material from a single diploid individual, only two haplotypes are present, simplifying the assembly process compared to samples from multiple pooled individuals. This new low-input approach puts PacBio-based assemblies in reach for small, highly heterozygous organisms that comprise much of the diversity of life. The method presented here can be applied to samples with starting DNA amounts around 150 ng per 250 Mb – 600 Mb genome size.


June 1, 2021  |  

A low DNA input protocol for high-quality PacBio de novo genome assemblies

A high-quality reference genome is an essential tool for studying the genetics of traits and disease, organismal, comparative and conservation biology, and population genomics. PacBio Single Molecule, Real-Time (SMRT) Sequencing generates long reads with uniform coverage and high consensus accuracy, making it a powerful technology for de novo genome assembly. Improvements in throughput and concomitant reductions in cost have made PacBio an attractive core technology for many large genome initiatives. However, relatively high DNA input requirements (3 µg for standard library protocol) have placed PacBio out of reach for many projects on small organisms that may have lower DNA content or on projects with limited input DNA for other reasons. Here we present a modified SMRTbell library construction protocol without DNA shearing or size selection that can be used to generate a SMRTbell library from just 150 ng of starting genomic DNA. Remarkably, the protocol enables high quality de novo assemblies from single invertebrate individuals and is applied to taxonomically diverse samples. By sequencing and assembling material from a single diploid individual, only two haplotypes are present, simplifying the assembly process compared to samples from multiple pooled individuals. The libraries were run on the Sequel System with chemistry v3.0 and software v6.0, generating ~11 Gb of sequence per SMRT Cell with 10 hour movies, and followed by de novo genome assembly with FALCON. The resulting assemblies had high contiguity (contig N50s over 1 Mb) and completeness (as determined by conserved BUSCO gene analysis) when at least 30-fold unique molecular coverage is obtained. This new low-input approach now puts PacBio-based assemblies in reach for small highly heterozygous organisms that comprise much of the diversity of life. The method presented here is scalable and can be applied to samples with starting DNA amounts of 150 ng per 300 Mb genome size.


June 1, 2021  |  

High-quality human genomes achieved through HiFi sequence data and FALCON-Unzip assembly

De novo assemblies of human genomes from accurate (85-90%), continuous long reads (CLR) now approach the human reference genome in contiguity, but the assembly base pair accuracy is typically below QV40 (99.99%), an order-of-magnitude lower than the standard for finished references. The base pair errors complicate downstream interpretation, particularly false positive indels that lead to false gene loss through frameshifts. PacBio HiFi sequence data, which are both long (>10 kb) and very accurate (>99.9%) at the individual sequence read level, enable a new paradigm in human genome assembly. Haploid human assemblies using HiFi data achieve similar contiguity to those using CLR data and are highly accurate at the base level1. Furthermore, HiFi assemblies resolve more high-identity sequences such as segmental duplications2. To enable HiFi assembly in diploid human samples, we have extended the FALCON-Unzip assembler to work directly with HiFi reads. Here we present phased human diploid genome assemblies from HiFi sequencing of HG002, HG005, and the Vertebrate Genome Project (VGP) mHomSap1 trio on the PacBio Sequel II System. The HiFi assemblies all exceed the VGP’s quality guidelines, approaching QV50 (99.999%) accuracy. For HG002, 60% of the genome was haplotype-resolved, with phase-block N50 of 143Kbp and phasing accuracy of 99.6%. The overall mean base accuracy of the assembly was QV49.7. In conclusion, HiFi data show great promise towards complete, contiguous, and accurate diploid human assemblies.


June 1, 2021  |  

Beyond Contiguity: Evaluating the accuracy of de novo genome assemblies

HiFi reads (>99% accurate, 15-20 kb) from the PacBio Sequel II System consistently provide complete and contiguous genome assemblies. In addition to completeness and contiguity, accuracy is of critical importance, as assembly errors complicate downstream analysis, particularly by disrupting gene frames. Metrics used to assess assembly accuracy include: 1) in-frame gene count, 2) kmer consistency, and 3) concordance to a benchmark, where discordances are interpreted as assembly errors. Genome in a Bottle (GIAB) provides a benchmark for the human genome with estimated accuracy of 99.9999% (Q60). Concordance for human HiFi assemblies exceeds Q50, which provides excellent genomes for downstream analysis, but presents a challenge that any new benchmark must significantly exceed Q50 or the discordance will represent the error rate of the benchmark. To establish benchmarks for Oryza sativa and Drosophila melanogaster, we collected draft references, Illumina short reads, and PacBio HiFi reads. By species, the benchmark was defined as regions of normal coverage that are not within 5 bp of a small variant or 50 bp of a structural variant. For both species, the benchmark regions span around 60% of the genome and HiFi assemblies achieve Q50 accuracy, which is notably more accurate than assemblies with other technologies and meets typical standards for a finished, reference-grade assembly. Here we present a protocol to generate benchmarks for any sample that rival the GIAB benchmark in accuracy. These benchmarks allow the comparison and improvement of genome assemblies and highlight the superior accuracy of assemblies generated with PacBio HiFi reads.


June 1, 2021  |  

New advances in SMRT Sequencing facilitate multiplexing for de novo and structural variant studies

The latest advancements in Sequel II SMRT Sequencing have increased average read lengths up to 50% compared to Sequel II chemistry 1.0 which allows multiplexing of 2-3 small organisms (<500 Mb) such as insects and worms for producing reference quality assemblies, calling structural variants for up to 2 samples with ~3 Gb genomes, analysis of 48 microbial genomes, and up to 8 communities for metagenomic profiling in a single SMRT Cell 8M. With the improved processivity of the new Sequel II sequencing polymerase, more SMRTbell molecules reach rolling circle mode resulting in longer overall read lengths, thus allowing efficient detection of barcodes (up to 80%) in the SMRTbell templates. Multiplexing of genomes larger than microbial organisms is now achievable. In collaboration with the Wellcome Sanger Institute, we have developed a workflow for multiplexing two individual Anopheles coluzzii using as low as 150 ng genomic DNA per individual. The resulting assemblies had high contiguity (contig N50s over 3 Mb) and completeness (>98% of conserved genes) for both individuals. For microbial multiplexing, we multiplexed 48 microbes with varying complexities and sizes ranging 1.6-8.0 Mb in single SMRT Cell 8M. Using a new end-to-end analysis (Microbial Assembly Analysis, SMRT Link 8.0), assemblies resulted in complete circularized genomes (>200-fold coverage) and efficient detection of >3-200 kb plasmids. Finally, the long read lengths (>90 kb) allows detection of barcodes in large insert SMRTbell templates (>15 kb) thus facilitating multiplex of two human samples in 1 SMRT Cell 8M for detecting SVs, Indels and CNVs. Here, we present results and describe workflows for multiplexing samples for specific applications for SMRT Sequencing.


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