June 1, 2021  |  

A comparison of assemblers and strategies for complex, large-genome sequencing with PacBio long reads.

PacBio sequencing holds promise for addressing large-genome complexities, such as long, highly repetitive, low-complexity regions and duplication events that are difficult to resolve with short-read technologies. Several strategies, with varying outcomes, are available for de novo sequencing and assembling of larger genomes. Using a diploid fungal genome, estimated to be ~80 Mb in size, as the basis dataset for comparison, we highlight assembly options when using only PacBio sequencing or a combined strategy leveraging data sets from multiple sequencing technologies. Data generated from SMRT Sequencing was subjected to assembly using different large-genome assemblers, and comparisons of the results will be shown. These include results generated with HGAP, Celera Assembler, MIRA, PBJelly, and other assembly tools currently in development. Improvements observed include a near 50% reduction in the number of contigs coupled with at least a doubling of contig N50 size in genome assemblies incorporating SMRT Sequencing data. We further show how incorporating long reads also highlights new challenges and missed insights of short-read assemblies arising from heterozygosity inherent in multiploid genomes.


June 1, 2021  |  

SMRT Sequencing solutions for plant genomes and transcriptomes

Single Molecule, Real-Time (SMRT) Sequencing provides efficient, streamlined solutions to address new frontiers in plant genomes and transcriptomes. Inherent challenges presented by highly repetitive, low-complexity regions and duplication events are directly addressed with multi- kilobase read lengths exceeding 8.5 kb on average, with many exceeding 20 kb. Differentiating between transcript isoforms that are difficult to resolve with short-read technologies is also now possible. We present solutions available for both reference genome and transcriptome research that best leverage long reads in several plant projects including algae, Arabidopsis, rice, and spinach using only the PacBio platform. Benefits for these applications are further realized with consistent use of size-selection of input sample using the BluePippin™ device from Sage Science. We will share highlights from our genome projects using the latest P5- C3 chemistry to generate high-quality reference genomes with the highest contiguity, contig N50 exceeding 1 Mb, and average base quality of QV50. Additionally, the value of long, intact reads to provide a no-assembly approach to investigate transcript isoforms using our Iso-Seq protocol will be presented for full transcriptome characterization and targeted surveys of genes with complex structures. PacBio provides the most comprehensive assembly with annotation when combining offerings for both genome and transcriptome research efforts. For more focused investigation, PacBio also offers researchers opportunities to easily investigate and survey genes with complex structures.


June 1, 2021  |  

Resolving the ‘dark matter’ in genomes.

Second-generation sequencing has brought about tremendous insights into the genetic underpinnings of biology. However, there are many functionally important and medically relevant regions of genomes that are currently difficult or impossible to sequence, resulting in incomplete and fragmented views of genomes. Two main causes are (i) limitations to read DNA of extreme sequence content (GC-rich or AT-rich regions, low complexity sequence contexts) and (ii) insufficient read lengths which leave various forms of structural variation unresolved and result in mapping ambiguities.


June 1, 2021  |  

Draft genome of horseweed illuminates expansion of gene families that might endow herbicide resistance.

Conyza canadensis (horseweed), a member of the Compositae (Asteraceae) family, was the first broadleaf weed to evolve resistance to glyphosate. Horseweed, one of the most problematic weeds in the world, is a true diploid (2n=2X=18) with the smallest genome of any known agricultural weed (335 Mb). Thus, it is an appropriate candidate to help us understand the genetic and genomic basis of weediness. We undertook a draft de novo genome assembly of horseweed by combining data from multiple sequencing platforms (454 GS-FLX, Illumina HiSeq 2000 and PacBio RS) using various libraries with different insertion sizes (~350 bp, ~600 bp, ~3 kb and ~10 kb) of a Tennessee-accessed, glyphosate-resistant horseweed biotype. From 116.3 Gb (~350× coverage) of data, the genome was assembled into 13,966 scaffolds with N50 =33,561 bp. The assembly covered 92.3% of the genome, including the complete chloroplast genome (~153 kb) and a nearly-complete mitochondrial genome (~450 kb in 120 scaffolds). The nuclear genome is comprised of 44,592 protein-coding genes. Genome re-sequencing of seven additional horseweed biotypes was performed. These sequence data were assembled and used to analyze genome variation. Simple sequence repeat and single nucleotide polymorphisms were surveyed. Genomic patterns were detected that associated with glyphosate-resistant or –susceptible biotypes. The draft genome will be useful to better understand weediness, the evolution of herbicide resistance, and to devise new management strategies. The genome will also be useful as another reference genome in the Compositae. To our knowledge, this paper represents the first published draft genome of an agricultural weed.


June 1, 2021  |  

Resources for advanced bioinformaticians working in plant and animal genomes with SMRT Sequencing.

Significant advances in bioinformatics tool development have been made to more efficiently leverage and deliver high-quality genome assemblies with PacBio long-read data. Current data throughput of SMRT Sequencing delivers average read lengths ranging from 10-15 kb with the longest reads exceeding 40 kb. This has resulted in consistent demonstration of a minimum 10-fold improvement in genome assemblies with contig N50 in the megabase range compared to assemblies generated using only short- read technologies. This poster highlights recent advances and resources available for advanced bioinformaticians and developers interested in the current state-of-the-art large genome solutions available as open-source code from PacBio and third-party solutions, including HGAP, MHAP, and ECTools. Resources and tools available on GitHub are reviewed, as well as datasets representing major model research organisms made publically available for community evaluation or interested developers.


June 1, 2021  |  

Impact of DNA quality on PacBio RS II read lengths.

Maximizing the read length of next generation sequencing (NGS) facilitates de novo genome assembly. Currently, the PacBio RS II system leads the industry with respect to maximum possible NGS read lengths. Amplicon Express specializes in preparation of high molecular weight, NGS-grade genomic DNA for a variety of applications, including next generation sequencing. This study was performed to evaluate the effects of gDNA quality on PacBio RS II read length.


June 1, 2021  |  

The resurgence of reference quality genome

Several new 3rd generation long-range DNA sequencing and mapping technologies have recently become available that are starting to create a resurgence in genome sequence quality. Unlike their 2nd generation, shortread counterparts that can resolve a few hundred or a few thousand basepairs, the new technologies can routinely sequence 10,000 bp reads or map across 100,000 bp molecules. The substantially greater lengths are being used to enhance a number of important problems in genomics and medicine, including de novo genome assembly, structural variation detection, and haplotype phasing. Here we discuss the capabilities of the latest technologies, and show how they will improve the “3Cs of Genome Assembly”: the contiguity, completeness, and correctness. We derive this analysis from (1) a metaanalysis of the currently available 3rd generation genome assemblies, (2) a retrospective analysis of the evolution of the reference human genome, and (3) extensive simulations with dozens of species across the tree of life. We also propose a model using support vector regression (SVR) that predicts genome assembly performance using four features: read lengths(L) and coverage values(C) that can be used for evaluating potential technologies along with genome size(G) and repeats(R) that present species specific characteristics. The proposed model significantly improves genome assembly performance prediction by adopting data-driven approach and addressing limitations of the previous hypothesis-driven methodology. Overall, we anticipate these technologies unlock the genomic “dark matter”, and provide many new insights into evolution, agriculture, and human diseases.


June 1, 2021  |  

Targeted sequencing and chromosomal haplotype assembly using TLA and SMRT Sequencing

With the increasing availability of whole-genome sequencing, haplotype reconstruction of individual genomes, or haplotype assembly, remains unsolved. Like the de novo genome assembly problem, haplotype assembly is greatly simplified by having more long-range information. The Targeted Locus Amplification (TLA) technology from Cergentis has the unique capability of targeting a specific region of the genome using a single primer pair and yielding ~2 kb DNA circles that are comprised of ~500 bp fragments. Fragments from the same circle come from the same haplotype and follow an exponential decay in distance from the target region, with a span that reaches the multi-megabase range. Here, we apply TLA to the BRCA1 gene on NA12878 and then sequence the resulting 2 kb circles on a PacBio RS II. The multiple fragments per circle were iteratively mapped to hg19 and then haplotype assembled using HAPCUT. We show that the 80 kb length of BRCA1 is represented by a single haplotype block, which was validated against GIAB data. We then explored chromosomal-scale haplotype assembly by combining these data with whole genome shotgun PacBio long reads, and demonstrate haplotype blocks approaching the length of chromosome 17 on which BRCA1 lies. Finally, by performing TLA without the amplification step and size selecting for reads >5 kb to maximize the number of fragments per read, we target whole genome haplotype assembly across all chromosomes.


June 1, 2021  |  

Assessing diversity and clonal variation of Australia’s grapevine germplasm: Curating the FALCON-Unzip Chardonnay de novo genome assembly

Until recently only two genome assemblies were publicly available for grapevine—both Vitis vinifera L. Cv. Pinot Noir (PN). The best available PN genome assembly (Jaillon et al. 2007) is not representative of the genome complexity that is typical of wine-grape cultivars in the field and it is highly fragmented. To assess the genetic complexities of Chardonnay grapevine, assembly of a new de novo reference genome was needed. Here we describe a draft assembly using PacBio SMRT Sequencing data and PacBio’s new phased diploid genome assembler FALCON-Unzip (Chin et al. 2016).


June 1, 2021  |  

High-quality de novo genome assembly and intra-individual mitochondrial instability in the critically endangered kakapo

The kakapo (Strigops habroptila) is a large, flightless parrot endemic to New Zealand. It is highly endangered with only ~150 individuals remaining, and intensive conservation efforts are underway to save this iconic species from extinction. These include genetic studies to understand critical genes relevant to fertility, adaptation and disease resistance, and genetic diversity across the remaining population for future breeding program decisions. To aid with these efforts, we have generated a high-quality de novo genome assembly using PacBio long-read sequencing. Using the new diploid-aware FALCON-Unzip assembler, the resulting genome of 1.06 Gb has a contig N50 of 5.6 Mb (largest contig 29.3 Mb), >350-times more contiguous compared to a recent short-read assembly of a closely related parrot (kea) species. We highlight the benefits of the higher contiguity and greater completeness of the kakapo genome assembly through examples of fully resolved genes important in wildlife conservation (contrasted with fragmented and incomplete gene resolution in short-read assemblies), in some cases even providing sequence for regions orthologous to gaps of missing sequence in the chicken reference genome. We also highlight the complete resolution of the kakapo mitochondrial genome, fully containing the mitochondrial control region which is missing from the previous dedicated kakapomitochondrial genome NCBI entry. For this region, we observed a marked heterogeneity in the number of tandem repeats in different mtDNAmolecules from a single bird tissue, highlighting the enhanced molecular resolution uniquely afforded by long-read, single-molecule PacBio sequencing.


June 1, 2021  |  

FALCON-Phase integrates PacBio and HiC data for de novo assembly, scaffolding and phasing of a diploid Puerto Rican genome (HG00733)

Haplotype-resolved genomes are important for understanding how combinations of variants impact phenotypes. The study of disease, quantitative traits, forensics, and organ donor matching are aided by phased genomes. Phase is commonly resolved using familial data, population-based imputation, or by isolating and sequencing single haplotypes using fosmids, BACs, or haploid tissues. Because these methods can be prohibitively expensive, or samples may not be available, alternative approaches are required. de novo genome assembly with PacBio Single Molecule, Real-Time (SMRT) data produces highly contiguous, accurate assemblies. For non-inbred samples, including humans, the separate resolution of haplotypes results in higher base accuracy and more contiguous assembled sequences. Two primary methods exist for phased diploid genome assembly. The first, TrioCanu requires Illumina data from parents and PacBio data from the offspring. The long reads from the child are partitioned into maternal and paternal bins using parent-specific sequences; the separate PacBio read bins are then assembled, generating two fully phased genomes. An alternative approach (FALCON-Unzip) does not require parental information and separates PacBio reads, during genome assembly, using heterozygous SNPs. The length of haplotype phase blocks in FALCON-Unzip is limited by the magnitude and distribution of heterozygosity, the length of sequence reads, and read coverage. Because of this, FALCON-Unzip contigs typically contain haplotype-switch errors between phase blocks, resulting in primary contig of mixed parental origin. We developed FALCON-Phase, which integrates Hi-C data downstream of FALCON-Unzip to resolve phase switches along contigs. We applied the method to a human (Puerto Rican, HG00733) and non-human genome assemblies and evaluated accuracy using samples with trio data. In a cattle genome, we observe >96% accuracy in phasing when compared to TrioCanu assemblies as well as parental SNPs. For a high-quality PacBio assembly (>90-fold Sequel coverage) of a Puerto Rican individual we scaffolded the FALCON-Phase contigs, and re-phased the contigs creating a de novo scaffolded, phased diploid assembly with chromosome-scale contiguity.


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  |  

Every species can be a model: Reference-quality PacBio genomes from single insects

A high-quality reference genome is an essential resource for primary and applied research across the tree of life. Genome projects for small-bodied, non-model organisms such as insects face several unique challenges including limited DNA input quantities, high heterozygosity, and difficulty of culturing or inbreeding in the lab. Recent progress in PacBio library preparation protocols, sequencing throughput, and read accuracy address these challenges. We present several case studies including the Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta), Monarch Butterfly (Danaus plexippus), and Anopheles malaria mosquitoes that highlight the benefits of sequencing single individuals for de novo genome assembly projects, and the ease at which these projects can be conducted by individual research labs. Sampled individuals may originate from lab colonies of interest to the research community or be sourced from the wild to better capture natural variation in a focal population. Where genomic DNA quantities are limited, the PacBio Low DNA Input Protocol requires ~100 ng of input DNA. Low DNA input samples with 500 Mb genome size or less can be multiplexed on a single SMRT Cell 8M on the Sequel II System. For samples with more abundant DNA quantity, size-selected libraries may be constructed to maximize sequencing yield. Both low DNA input and size-selected libraries can be used to generate HiFi reads, whose quality is Q20 or above (1% error or less) and lengths range from 10 – 25 kb. With HiFi reads, de novo assembly computation is greatly simplified relative to long read methods due to smaller sequence file sizes and more rapid analysis, resulting in highly accurate, contiguous, complete, and haplotype-resolved assemblies.


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