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  |  

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 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  |  

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 sequence.

Since the advent of Next-Generation Sequencing (NGS), the cost of de novo genome sequencing and assembly have dropped precipitately, which has spurred interest in genome sequencing overall. Unfortunately the contiguity of the NGS assembled sequences, as well as the accuracy of these assemblies have suffered. Additionally, most NGS de novo assemblies leave large portions of genomes unresolved, and repetitive regions are often collapsed. When compared to the reference quality genome sequences produced before the NGS era, the new sequences are highly fragmented and often prove to be difficult to properly annotate. In some cases the contiguous portions are smaller than the average gene size making the sequence not nearly as useful for biologists as the earlier reference quality genomes including of Human, Mouse, C. elegans, or Drosophila. Recently, new 3rd generation sequencing technologies, long-range molecular techniques, and new informatics tools have facilitated a return to high quality assembly. We will discuss the capabilities of the technologies and assess their impact on assembly projects across the tree of life from small microbial and fungal genomes through large plant and animal genomes. Beyond improvements to contiguity, we will focus on the additional biological insights that can be made with better assemblies, including more complete analysis genes in their flanking regulatory context, in-depth studies of transposable elements and other complex gene families, and long-range synteny analysis of entire chromosomes. We will also discuss the need for new algorithms for representing and analyzing collections of many complete genomes at once.


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  |  

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  |  

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  |  

Reconstruction of the spinach coding genome using full-length transcriptome without a reference genome

For highly complex and large genomes, a well-annotated genome may be computationally challenging and costly, yet the study of alternative splicing events and gene annotations usually rely on the existence of a genome. Long-read sequencing technology provides new opportunities to sequence full-length cDNAs, avoiding computational challenges that short read transcript assembly brings. The use of single molecule, real-time sequencing from PacBio to sequence transcriptomes (the Iso-Seq method), which produces de novo, high-quality, full-length transcripts, has revealed an astonishing amount of alternative splicing in eukaryotic species. With the Iso-Seq method, it is now possible to reconstruct the transcribed regions of the genome using just the transcripts themselves. We present Cogent, a tool for finding gene families and reconstructing the coding genome in the absence of a high-quality reference genome. Cogent uses k-mer similarities to first partition the transcripts into different gene families. Then, for each gene family, the transcripts are used to build a splice graph. Cogent identifies bubbles resulting from sequencing errors, minor variants, and exon skipping events, and attempts to resolve each splice graph down to the minimal set of reconstructed contigs. We apply Cogent to the Iso-Seq data for spinach, Spinacia oleracea, for which there is also a PacBio-based draft genome to validate the reconstruction. The Iso-Seq dataset consists of 68,263 fulllength, Quiver-polished transcript sequences ranging from 528 bp to 6 kbp long (mean: 2.1 kbp). Using the genome mapping as ground truth, we found that 95% (8045/8446) of the Cogent gene families found corresponded to a single genomic loci. For families that contained multiple loci, they were often homologous genes that would be categorized as belonging to the same gene family. Coding genome reconstruction was then performed individually for each gene family. A total of 86% (7283/8446) of the gene families were resolved to a single contig by Cogent, and was validated to be also a single contig in the genome. In 59 cases, Cogent reconstructed a single contig, however the contig corresponded to 2 or more loci in the genome, suggesting possible scaffolding opportunities. In 24 cases, the transcripts had no hits to the genome, though Pfam and BLAST searches of the transcripts show that they were indeed coding, suggesting that the genome is missing certain coding portions. Given the high quality of the spinach genome, we were not surprised to find that Cogent only minorly improved the genome space. However the ability of Cogent to accurately identify gene families and reconstruct the coding genome in a de novo fashion shows that it will be extremely powerful when applied to datasets for which there is no or low-quality reference genome.


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).


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