April 21, 2020  |  

Characterization of a male specific region containing a candidate sex determining gene in Atlantic cod.

The genetic mechanisms determining sex in teleost fishes are highly variable and the master sex determining gene has only been identified in few species. Here we characterize a male-specific region of 9?kb on linkage group 11 in Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua) harboring a single gene named zkY for zinc knuckle on the Y chromosome. Diagnostic PCR test of phenotypically sexed males and females confirm the sex-specific nature of the Y-sequence. We identified twelve highly similar autosomal gene copies of zkY, of which eight code for proteins containing the zinc knuckle motif. 3D modeling suggests that the amino acid changes observed in six copies might influence the putative RNA-binding specificity. Cod zkY and the autosomal proteins zk1 and zk2 possess an identical zinc knuckle structure, but only the Y-specific gene zkY was expressed at high levels in the developing larvae before the onset of sex differentiation. Collectively these data suggest zkY as a candidate master masculinization gene in Atlantic cod. PCR amplification of Y-sequences in Arctic cod (Arctogadus glacialis) and Greenland cod (Gadus macrocephalus ogac) suggests that the male-specific region emerged in codfishes more than 7.5 million years ago.


April 21, 2020  |  

Adaptive Strategies in a Poly-Extreme Environment: Differentiation of Vegetative Cells in Serratia ureilytica and Resistance to Extreme Conditions.

Poly-extreme terrestrial habitats are often used as analogs to extra-terrestrial environments. Understanding the adaptive strategies allowing bacteria to thrive and survive under these conditions could help in our quest for extra-terrestrial planets suitable for life and understanding how life evolved in the harsh early earth conditions. A prime example of such a survival strategy is the modification of vegetative cells into resistant resting structures. These differentiated cells are often observed in response to harsh environmental conditions. The environmental strain (strain Lr5/4) belonging to Serratia ureilytica was isolated from a geothermal spring in Lirima, Atacama Desert, Chile. The Atacama Desert is the driest habitat on Earth and furthermore, due to its high altitude, it is exposed to an increased amount of UV radiation. The geothermal spring from which the strain was isolated is oligotrophic and the temperature of 54°C exceeds mesophilic conditions (15 to 45°C). Although the vegetative cells were tolerant to various environmental insults (desiccation, extreme pH, glycerol), a modified cell type was formed in response to nutrient deprivation, UV radiation and thermal shock. Scanning (SEM) and Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM) analyses of vegetative cells and the modified cell structures were performed. In SEM, a change toward a circular shape with reduced size was observed. These circular cells possessed what appears as extra coating layers under TEM. The resistance of the modified cells was also investigated, they were resistant to wet heat, UV radiation and desiccation, while vegetative cells did not withstand any of those conditions. A phylogenomic analysis was undertaken to investigate the presence of known genes involved in dormancy in other bacterial clades. Genes related to spore-formation in Myxococcus and Firmicutes were found in S. ureilytica Lr5/4 genome; however, these genes were not enough for a full sporulation pathway that resembles either group. Although, the molecular pathway of cell differentiation in S. ureilytica Lr5/4 is not fully defined, the identified genes may contribute to the modified phenotype in the Serratia genus. Here, we show that a modified cell structure can occur as a response to extremity in a species that was previously not known to deploy this strategy. This strategy may be widely spread in bacteria, but only expressed under poly-extreme environmental conditions.


April 21, 2020  |  

Molecular evolutionary trends and feeding ecology diversification in the Hemiptera, anchored by the milkweed bug genome.

The Hemiptera (aphids, cicadas, and true bugs) are a key insect order, with high diversity for feeding ecology and excellent experimental tractability for molecular genetics. Building upon recent sequencing of hemipteran pests such as phloem-feeding aphids and blood-feeding bed bugs, we present the genome sequence and comparative analyses centered on the milkweed bug Oncopeltus fasciatus, a seed feeder of the family Lygaeidae.The 926-Mb Oncopeltus genome is well represented by the current assembly and official gene set. We use our genomic and RNA-seq data not only to characterize the protein-coding gene repertoire and perform isoform-specific RNAi, but also to elucidate patterns of molecular evolution and physiology. We find ongoing, lineage-specific expansion and diversification of repressive C2H2 zinc finger proteins. The discovery of intron gain and turnover specific to the Hemiptera also prompted the evaluation of lineage and genome size as predictors of gene structure evolution. Furthermore, we identify enzymatic gains and losses that correlate with feeding biology, particularly for reductions associated with derived, fluid nutrition feeding.With the milkweed bug, we now have a critical mass of sequenced species for a hemimetabolous insect order and close outgroup to the Holometabola, substantially improving the diversity of insect genomics. We thereby define commonalities among the Hemiptera and delve into how hemipteran genomes reflect distinct feeding ecologies. Given Oncopeltus’s strength as an experimental model, these new sequence resources bolster the foundation for molecular research and highlight technical considerations for the analysis of medium-sized invertebrate genomes.


April 21, 2020  |  

The complexity of the Fragaria x ananassa (octoploid) transcriptome by single-molecule long-read sequencing.

Strawberry (Fragaria x ananassa) is an allopolyploid species with diverse and complex transcripts. The regulatory mechanisms of fruit development and maturation have been extensively studied; however, little is known about the signaling mechanisms that direct this process in octoploid strawberry (Fragaria x ananassa). Here, we used long-read sequencing (LRS) technology and RNA-seq analysis to investigate the diversity and complexity of the polyploid transcriptome and differentially expressed transcripts along four successive fruit developmental stages of cultivated strawberry. We obtained a reference transcriptome with 119,897 unique full-length isoforms, including 2017 new isoforms and 2510 long noncoding RNAs. Based on the genome of the plausible progenitor (Fragaria vesca), 20,229 alternative splicing (AS) events were identified. Using this transcriptome, we found 17,485 differentially expressed transcripts during strawberry fruit development, including 527 transcription factors (TFs) belonging to 41 families. The expression profiles of all members of the auxin, ABA pathway, and anthocyanin biosynthesis gene families were also examined, and many of them were highly expressed at the ripe fruit stage, strongly indicating that the role of those genes is in the regulation of fruit ripening. We produce a high-quality reference transcriptome for octoploid strawberry, including much of the full-length transcript diversity, to help understand the regulatory mechanisms of fruit development and maturation of polyploid species, particularly via elucidation of the biochemical pathways involved in auxin, ABA, and anthocyanin biosynthesis.


April 21, 2020  |  

Comparative genomic and phylogenetic analyses of Populus section Leuce using complete chloroplast genome sequences

Species of Populus section Leuce are distributed throughout most parts of the Northern Hemisphere and have important economic and ecological significance. However, due to frequent hybridization within Leuce, the phylogenetic relationship between species has not been clarified. The chloroplast (cp) genome is characterized by maternal inheritance and relatively conservative mutation rates; thus, it is a powerful tool for building phylogenetic trees. In this study, we used the PacBio SEQUEL software to determine that the cp genome of Populus tomentosa has a length of 156,558 bp including a long single-copy region (84,717 bp), a small single-copy region (16,555 bp), and a pair of inverted repeat regions (27,643 bp). The cp genome contains 131 unique genes, including 37 transfer RNAs, 8 ribosomal RNAs, and 86 protein-coding genes. We compared the cp genomes of seven species of section Leuce and identified five cp DNA markers with >?1% variable sites. Phylogenetic analyses revealed two evolutionary branches for section Leuce. The species with the closest relationship with P. tomenstosa was P. adenopoda, followed by P. alba. These cp genome data will help to determine the cp evolution of section Leuce and further elucidate the origin of P. tomentosa.


April 21, 2020  |  

Full-length transcript sequencing and comparative transcriptomic analysis to evaluate the contribution of osmotic and ionic stress components towards salinity tolerance in the roots of cultivated alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.).

Alfalfa is the most extensively cultivated forage legume. Salinity is a major environmental factor that impacts on alfalfa’s productivity. However, little is known about the molecular mechanisms underlying alfalfa responses to salinity, especially the relative contribution of the two important components of osmotic and ionic stress.In this study, we constructed the first full-length transcriptome database for alfalfa root tips under continuous NaCl and mannitol treatments for 1, 3, 6, 12, and 24?h (three biological replicates for each time points, including the control group) via PacBio Iso-Seq. This resulted in the identification of 52,787 full-length transcripts, with an average length of 2551?bp. Global transcriptional changes in the same 33 stressed samples were then analyzed via BGISEQ-500 RNA-Seq. Totals of 8861 NaCl-regulated and 8016 mannitol-regulated differentially expressed genes (DEGs) were identified. Metabolic analyses revealed that these DEGs overlapped or diverged in the cascades of molecular networks involved in signal perception, signal transduction, transcriptional regulation, and antioxidative defense. Notably, several well characterized signalling pathways, such as CDPK, MAPK, CIPK, and PYL-PP2C-SnRK2, were shown to be involved in osmotic stress, while the SOS core pathway was activated by ionic stress. Moreover, the physiological shifts of catalase and peroxidase activity, glutathione and proline content were in accordance with dynamic transcript profiles of the relevant genes, indicating that antioxidative defense system plays critical roles in response to salinity stress.Overall, our study provides evidence that the response to salinity stress in alfalfa includes both osmotic and ionic components. The key osmotic and ionic stress-related genes are candidates for future studies as potential targets to improve resistance to salinity stress via genetic engineering.


April 21, 2020  |  

The genome of the giant Nomura’s jellyfish sheds light on the early evolution of active predation.

Unique among cnidarians, jellyfish have remarkable morphological and biochemical innovations that allow them to actively hunt in the water column and were some of the first animals to become free-swimming. The class Scyphozoa, or true jellyfish, are characterized by a predominant medusa life-stage consisting of a bell and venomous tentacles used for hunting and defense, as well as using pulsed jet propulsion for mobility. Here, we present the genome of the giant Nomura’s jellyfish (Nemopilema nomurai) to understand the genetic basis of these key innovations.We sequenced the genome and transcriptomes of the bell and tentacles of the giant Nomura’s jellyfish as well as transcriptomes across tissues and developmental stages of the Sanderia malayensis jellyfish. Analyses of the Nemopilema and other cnidarian genomes revealed adaptations associated with swimming, marked by codon bias in muscle contraction and expansion of neurotransmitter genes, along with expanded Myosin type II family and venom domains, possibly contributing to jellyfish mobility and active predation. We also identified gene family expansions of Wnt and posterior Hox genes and discovered the important role of retinoic acid signaling in this ancient lineage of metazoans, which together may be related to the unique jellyfish body plan (medusa formation).Taken together, the Nemopilema jellyfish genome and transcriptomes genetically confirm their unique morphological and physiological traits, which may have contributed to the success of jellyfish as early multi-cellular predators.


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