September 22, 2019  |  

The maize W22 genome provides a foundation for functional genomics and transposon biology.

The maize W22 inbred has served as a platform for maize genetics since the mid twentieth century. To streamline maize genome analyses, we have sequenced and de novo assembled a W22 reference genome using short-read sequencing technologies. We show that significant structural heterogeneity exists in comparison to the B73 reference genome at multiple scales, from transposon composition and copy number variation to single-nucleotide polymorphisms. The generation of this reference genome enables accurate placement of thousands of Mutator (Mu) and Dissociation (Ds) transposable element insertions for reverse and forward genetics studies. Annotation of the genome has been achieved using RNA-seq analysis, differential nuclease sensitivity profiling and bisulfite sequencing to map open reading frames, open chromatin sites and DNA methylation profiles, respectively. Collectively, the resources developed here integrate W22 as a community reference genome for functional genomics and provide a foundation for the maize pan-genome.

September 22, 2019  |  

PHASIS: A computational suite for de novo discovery and characterization of phased, siRNA-generating loci and their miRNA triggers

Phased, secondary siRNAs (phasiRNAs) are found widely in plants, from protein-coding transcripts and long, non-coding RNAs; animal piRNAs are also phased. Integrated methods characterizing textquotedblleftPHAStextquotedblright loci are unavailable, and existing methods are quite limited and inefficient in handling large volumes of sequencing data. The PHASIS suite described here provides complete tools for the computational characterization of PHAS loci, with an emphasis on plants, in which these loci are numerous. Benchmarked comparisons demonstrate that PHASIS is sensitive, highly scalable and fast. Importantly, PHASIS eliminates the requirement of a sequenced genome and PARE/degradome data for discovery of phasiRNAs and their miRNA triggers.

September 22, 2019  |  

Plant 24-nt reproductive phasiRNAs from intramolecular duplex mRNAs in diverse monocots.

In grasses, two pathways that generate diverse and numerous 21-nt (premeiotic) and 24-nt (meiotic) phased siRNAs are highly enriched in anthers, the male reproductive organs. These “phasiRNAs” are analogous to mammalian piRNAs, yet their functions and evolutionary origins remain largely unknown. The 24-nt meiotic phasiRNAs have only been described in grasses, wherein their biogenesis is dependent on a specialized Dicer (DCL5). To assess how evolution gave rise to this pathway, we examined reproductive phasiRNA pathways in nongrass monocots: garden asparagus, daylily, and lily. The common ancestors of these species diverged approximately 115-117 million years ago (MYA). We found that premeiotic 21-nt and meiotic 24-nt phasiRNAs were abundant in all three species and displayed spatial localization and temporal dynamics similar to grasses. The miR2275-triggered pathway was also present, yielding 24-nt reproductive phasiRNAs, and thus originated more than 117 MYA. In asparagus, unlike in grasses, these siRNAs are largely derived from inverted repeats (IRs); analyses in lily identified thousands of precursor loci, and many were also predicted to form foldback substrates for Dicer processing. Additionally, reproductive phasiRNAs were present in female reproductive organs and thus may function in both male and female germinal development. These data describe several distinct mechanisms of production for 24-nt meiotic phasiRNAs and provide new insights into the evolution of reproductive phasiRNA pathways in monocots.© 2018 Kakrana et al.; Published by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press.

September 22, 2019  |  

Changes in the genetic requirements for microbial interactions with increasing community complexity.

Microbial community structure and function rely on complex interactions whose underlying molecular mechanisms are poorly understood. To investigate these interactions in a simple microbiome, we introduced E. coli into an experimental community based on a cheese rind and identified the differences in E. coli’s genetic requirements for growth in interactive and non-interactive contexts using Random Barcode Transposon Sequencing (RB-TnSeq) and RNASeq. Genetic requirements varied among pairwise growth conditions and between pairwise and community conditions. Our analysis points to mechanisms by which growth conditions change as a result of increasing community complexity and suggests that growth within a community relies on a combination of pairwise and higher-order interactions. Our work provides a framework for using the model organism E. coli as a readout to investigate microbial interactions regardless of the genetic tractability of members of the studied ecosystem.© 2018, Morin et al.

September 22, 2019  |  

How resurrection plants survive being hung out to dry.

Resurrection plants have the unique ability to survive extreme dehydration (desiccation), lying dormant for months or sometimes years until rehydration is possible. This formidable survival strategy has independently evolved several times across the land plant phylogeny, and several phylogenetically diverse resurrection plant genomes have been sequenced and assembled in an attempt to understand the causal genetic mechanisms. Large-scale comparisons across each of these phylogenetically distant resurrection plant genomes reveals that some conserved molecular signatures may underlie desiccation tolerance (Illing et al., 2005; Zhang and Bartels, 2018), but overall the genes, networks, and regulatory factors that underlie desiccation tolerance remain largely unknown.

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