June 1, 2021  |  

Allele-level sequencing and phasing of full-length HLA class I and II genes using SMRT Sequencing technology

The three classes of genes that comprise the MHC gene family are actively involved in determining donor-recipient compatibility for organ transplant, as well as susceptibility to autoimmune diseases via cross-reacting immunization. Specifically, Class I genes HLA-A, -B, -C, and class II genes HLA-DR, -DQ and -DP are considered medically important for genetic analysis to determine histocompatibility. They are highly polymorphic and have thousands of alleles implicated in disease resistance and susceptibility. The importance of full-length HLA gene sequencing for genotyping, detection of null alleles, and phasing is now widely acknowledged. While DNA-sequencing-based HLA genotyping has become routine, only 7% of the HLA genes have been characterized by allele-level sequencing, while 93% are still defined by partial sequences. The gold-standard Sanger sequencing technology is being quickly replaced by second-generation, high- throughput sequencing methods due to its inability to generate unambiguous phased reads from heterozygous alleles. However, although these short, high-throughput, clonal sequencing methods are better at heterozygous allele detection, they are inadequate at generating full-length haploid gene sequences. Thus, full-length gene sequencing from an enhancer-promoter region to a 3’UTR that includes phasing information without the need for imputation still remains a technological challenge. The best way to overcome these challenges is to sequence these genes with a technology that is clonal in nature and has the longest possible read lengths. We have employed Single Molecule Real-Time (SMRT) sequencing technology from Pacific Biosciences for sequencing full-length HLA class I and II genes.

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  |  

Targeted sequencing of genes from soybean using NimbleGen SeqCap EZ and PacBio SMRT Sequencing

Full-length gene capture solutions offer opportunities to screen and characterize structural variations and genetic diversity to understand key traits in plants and animals. Through a combined Roche NimbleGen probe capture and SMRT Sequencing strategy, we demonstrate the capability to resolve complex gene structures often observed in plant defense and developmental genes spanning multiple kilobases. The custom panel includes members of the WRKY plant-defense-signaling family, members of the NB-LRR disease-resistance family, and developmental genes important for flowering. The presence of repetitive structures and low-complexity regions makes short-read sequencing of these genes difficult, yet this approach allows researchers to obtain complete sequences for unambiguous resolution of gene models. This strategy has been applied to genomic DNA samples from soybean coupled with barcoding for multiplexing.

June 1, 2021  |  

A comprehensive study of the sugar pine (Pinus lambertiana) transcriptome implemented through diverse next-generation sequencing approaches

The assembly, annotation, and characterization of the sugar pine (Pinus lambertiana Dougl.) transcriptome represents an opportunity to study the genetic mechanisms underlying resistance to the invasive white pine blister rust (Cronartium ribicola) as well as responses to other abiotic stresses. The assembled transcripts also provide a resource to improve the genome assembly. We selected a diverse set of tissues allowing the first comprehensive evaluation of the sugar pine gene space. We have combined short read sequencing technologies (Illumina MiSeq and HiSeq) with the relatively new Pacific Biosciences Iso-Seq approach. From the 2.5 billion and 1.6 million Illumina and PacBio (46 SMRT cells) reads, 33,720 unigenes were de novo assembled. Comparison of sequencing technologies revealed improved coverage with Illumina HiSeq reads and better splice variant detection with PacBio Iso-Seq reads. The genes identified as unique to each library ranges from 199 transcripts (basket seedling) to 3,482 transcripts (female cones). In total, 10,026 transcripts were shared by all libraries. Genes differentially expressed in response to these provided insight on abiotic and biotic stress responses. To analyze orthologous sequences, we compared the translated sequences against 19 plant species, identifying 7,229 transcripts that clustered uniquely among the conifers. We have generated here a high quality transcriptome from one WPBR susceptible and one WPBR resistant sugar pine individual. Through the comprehensive tissue sampling and the depth of the sequencing achieved, detailed information on disease resistance can be further examined.

June 1, 2021  |  

Immune regions are no longer incomprehensible with SMRT Sequencing

The complex immune regions of the genome, including MHC and KIR, contain large copy number variants (CNVs), a high density of genes, hyper-polymorphic gene alleles, and conserved extended haplotypes (CEH) with enormous linkage disequilibrium (LDs). This level of complexity and inherent biases of short-read sequencing make it challenging for extracting immune region haplotype information from reference-reliant, shotgun sequencing and GWAS methods. As NGS based genome and exome sequencing and SNP arrays have become a routine for population studies, numerous efforts are being made for developing software to extract and or impute the immune gene information from these datasets. Despite these efforts, the fine mapping of causal variants of immune genes for their well-documented association with cancer, drug-induced hypersensitivity and immune-related diseases, has been slower than expected. This has in many ways limited our understanding of the mechanisms leading to immune disease. In the present work, we demonstrate the advantages of long reads delivered by SMRT Sequencing for assembling complete haplotypes of MHC and KIR gene clusters, as well as calling correct genotypes of genes comprised within them. All the genotype information is detected at allele- level with full phasing information across SNP-poor regions. Genotypes were called correctly from targeted gene amplicons, haplotypes, as well as from a completely assembled 5 Mb contig of the MHC region from a de novo assembly of whole genome shotgun data. De novo analysis pipeline used in all these approaches allowed for reference-free analysis without imputation, a key for interrogation without prior knowledge about ethnic backgrounds. These methods are thus easily adoptable for previously uncharacterized human or non-human species.

June 1, 2021  |  

Characterizing the pan-genome of maize with PacBio SMRT Sequencing

Maize is an amazingly diverse crop. A study in 20051 demonstrated that half of the genome sequence and one-third of the gene content between two inbred lines of maize were not shared. This diversity, which is more than two orders of magnitude larger than the diversity found between humans and chimpanzees, highlights the inability of a single reference genome to represent the full pan-genome of maize and all its variants. Here we present and review several efforts to characterize the complete diversity within maize using the highly accurate long reads of PacBio Single Molecule, Real-Time (SMRT) Sequencing. These methods provide a framework for a pan-genomic approach that can be applied to studies of a wide variety of important crop species.

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.

February 5, 2021  |  

PAG Conference: Dawn of the crop pangenome era

To make improvements to crops like corn, soybeans, and canola, scientists at Corteva are building a compendium of crop genomics resources to provide actionable sequence info for genetic discovery, gene-editing,…

April 21, 2020  |  

De novo assembly of a wild pear (Pyrus betuleafolia) genome.

China is the origin and evolutionary centre of Oriental pears. Pyrus betuleafolia is a wild species native to China and distributed in the northern region, and it is widely used as rootstock. Here, we report the de novo assembly of the genome of P. betuleafolia-Shanxi Duli using an integrated strategy that combines PacBio sequencing, BioNano mapping and chromosome conformation capture (Hi-C) sequencing. The genome assembly size was 532.7 Mb, with a contig N50 of 1.57 Mb. A total of 59 552 protein-coding genes and 247.4 Mb of repetitive sequences were annotated for this genome. The expansion genes in P. betuleafolia were significantly enriched in secondary metabolism, which may account for the organism’s considerable environmental adaptability. An alignment analysis of orthologous genes showed that fruit size, sugar metabolism and transport, and photosynthetic efficiency were positively selected in Oriental pear during domestication. A total of 573 nucleotide-binding site (NBS)-type resistance gene analogues (RGAs) were identified in the P. betuleafolia genome, 150 of which are TIR-NBS-LRR (TNL)-type genes, which represented the greatest number of TNL-type genes among the published Rosaceae genomes and explained the strong disease resistance of this wild species. The study of flavour metabolism-related genes showed that the anthocyanidin reductase (ANR) metabolic pathway affected the astringency of pear fruit and that sorbitol transporter (SOT) transmembrane transport may be the main factor affecting the accumulation of soluble organic matter. This high-quality P. betuleafolia genome provides a valuable resource for the utilization of wild pear in fundamental pear studies and breeding. © 2019 The Authors. Plant Biotechnology Journal published by Society for Experimental Biology and The Association of Applied Biologists and John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

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  |  

Draft genome sequence resource of switchgrass rust pathogen, Puccinia novopanici isolate Ard-01.

Puccinia novopanici is an important biotrophic fungal pathogen that causes rust disease in switchgrass. Lack of genomic resources for P. novopanici has hampered the progress towards developing effective disease resistance against this pathogen. Therefore, we have sequenced the whole genome of P. novopanici and generated a framework to understand pathogenicity mechanisms, identify effectors, repeat element invasion, genome evolution, and comparative genomics among Puccinia species in the future. Long and short read sequences were generated from P. novopanici genomic DNA by PacBio and Illumina technologies, respectively, and assembled a 99.9 megabase (Mb) genome. Transcripts of P. novopanici were predicted from assembled genome using MAKER and were further validated by RNAseq data. The genome sequence information of P. novopanici will be a valuable resource for researchers working on monocot rusts and plant disease resistance in general.

April 21, 2020  |  

Insect genomes: progress and challenges.

In the wake of constant improvements in sequencing technologies, numerous insect genomes have been sequenced. Currently, 1219 insect genome-sequencing projects have been registered with the National Center for Biotechnology Information, including 401 that have genome assemblies and 155 with an official gene set of annotated protein-coding genes. Comparative genomics analysis showed that the expansion or contraction of gene families was associated with well-studied physiological traits such as immune system, metabolic detoxification, parasitism and polyphagy in insects. Here, we summarize the progress of insect genome sequencing, with an emphasis on how this impacts research on pest control. We begin with a brief introduction to the basic concepts of genome assembly, annotation and metrics for evaluating the quality of draft assemblies. We then provide an overview of genome information for numerous insect species, highlighting examples from prominent model organisms, agricultural pests and disease vectors. We also introduce the major insect genome databases. The increasing availability of insect genomic resources is beneficial for developing alternative pest control methods. However, many opportunities remain for developing data-mining tools that make maximal use of the available insect genome resources. Although rapid progress has been achieved, many challenges remain in the field of insect genomics. © 2019 The Royal Entomological Society.

April 21, 2020  |  

Full-length mRNA sequencing and gene expression profiling reveal broad involvement of natural antisense transcript gene pairs in pepper development and response to stresses.

Pepper is an important vegetable with great economic value and unique biological features. In the past few years, significant development has been made towards understanding the huge complex pepper genome; however, pepper functional genomics has not been well studied. To better understand the pepper gene structure and pepper gene regulation, we conducted full-length mRNA sequencing by PacBio sequencing and obtained 57862 high-quality full-length mRNA sequences derived from 18362 previously annotated and 5769 newly detected genes. New gene models were built that combined the full-length mRNA sequences and corrected approximately 500 fragmented gene models from previous annotations. Based on the full-length mRNA, we identified 4114 and 5880 pepper genes forming natural antisense transcript (NAT) genes in-cis and in-trans, respectively. Most of these genes accumulate small RNAs in their overlapping regions. By analyzing these NAT gene expression patterns in our transcriptome data, we identified many NAT pairs responsive to a variety of biological processes in pepper. Pepper formate dehydrogenase 1 (FDH1), which is required for R-gene-mediated disease resistance, may be regulated by nat-siRNAs and participate in a positive feedback loop in salicylic acid biosynthesis during resistance responses. Several cis-NAT pairs and subgroups of trans-NAT genes were responsive to pepper pericarp and placenta development, which may play roles in capsanthin and capsaicin biosynthesis. Using a comparative genomics approach, the evolutionary mechanisms of cis-NATs were investigated, and we found that an increase in intergenic sequences accounted for the loss of most cis-NATs, while transposon insertion contributed to the formation of most new cis-NATs. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

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