June 1, 2021  |  

Using whole exome sequencing and bacterial pathogen sequencing to investigate the genetic basis of pulmonary non-tuberculous mycobacterial infections.

Pulmonary non-tuberculous mycobacterial (PNTM) infections occur in patients with chronic lung disease, but also in a distinct group of elderly women without lung defects who share a common body morphology: tall and lean with scoliosis, pectus excavatum, and mitral valve prolapse. In order to characterize the human host susceptibility to PNTM, we performed whole exome sequencing (WES) of 44 individuals in extended families of patients with active PNTM as well as 55 additional unrelated individuals with PNTM. This unique collection of familial cohorts in PNTM represents an important opportunity for a high yield search for genes that regulate mucosal immunity. An average of 58 million 100bp paired-end Illumina reads per exome were generated and mapped to the hg19 reference genome. Following variant detection and classification, we identified 58,422 potentially high-impact SNPs, 97.3% of which were missense mutations. Segregating variants using the family pedigrees as well as comparisons to the unrelated individuals identified multiple potential variants associated with PNTM. Validations of these candidate variants in a larger PNTM cohort are underway. In addition to WES, we sequenced the genomes of 52 mycobacterial isolates, including 9 from these PNTM patients, to integrate host PNTM susceptibility with mycobacterial genotypes and gain insights into the key factors involved in this devastating disease. These genomes were sequenced using a combination of 454, Illumina, and PacBio platforms and assembled using multiple genome assemblers. The resulting genome sequences were used to identify mycobacterial genotypes associated with virulence, invasion, and drug resistance.


June 1, 2021  |  

SMRT Sequencing solutions for large genomes and transcriptomes.

Single Molecule, Real-Time (SMRT) Sequencing holds promise for addressing new frontiers in large genome complexities, such as long, highly repetitive, low-complexity regions and duplication events, and differentiating between transcript isoforms that are difficult to resolve with short-read technologies. We present solutions available for both reference genome improvement (>100 MB) and transcriptome research to best leverage long reads that have exceeded 20 Kb in length. Benefits for these applications are further realized with consistent use of size-selection of input sample using the BluePippin™ device from Sage Science. Highlights from our genome assembly projects using the latest P5-C3 chemistry on model organisms will be shared. Assembly contig N50 have exceeded 6 Mb and we observed longest contig exceeding 12.5 Mb with an 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 Application will be presented.


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  |  

Old school/new school genome sequencing: One step backward — a quantum leap forward.

As the costs for genome sequencing have decreased the number of “genome” sequences have increased at a rapid pace. Unfortunately, the quality and completeness of these so–called “genome” sequences have suffered enormously. We prefer to call such genome assemblies as “gene assembly space” (GAS). We believe it is important to distinguish GAS assemblies from reference genome assemblies (RGAs) as all subsequent research that depends on accurate genome assemblies can be highly compromised if the only assembly available is a GAS assembly.


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  |  

Genome and transcriptome of the refeneration-competent flatworm, Macrostomum lignano

The free-living flatworm, Macrostomum lignano, much like its better known planarian relative, Schmidtea mediterranea, has an impressive regenerative capacity. Following injury, this species has the ability to regenerate almost an entirely new organism. This is attributable to the presence of an abundant somatic stem cell population, the neoblasts. These cells are also essential for the ongoing maintenance of most tissues, as their loss leads to irreversible degeneration of the animal. This set of unique properties makes a subset of flatworms attractive organisms for studying the evolution of pathways involved in tissue self-renewal, cell fate specification, and regeneration. The use of these organisms as models, however, is hampered by the lack of a well-assembled and annotated genome sequences, fundamental to modern genetic and molecular studies. Here we report the genomic sequence of Macrostomum lignano and an accompanying characterization of its transcriptome. The genome structure of M. lignano is remarkably complex, with ~75% of its sequence being comprised of simple repeats and transposon sequences. This has made high quality assembly from Illumina reads alone impossible (N50=222 bp). We therefore generated 130X coverage by long sequencing reads from the PacBio platform to create a substantially improved assembly with an N50 of 64 Kbp. We complemented the reference genome with an assembled and annotated transcriptome, and used both of these datasets in combination to probe gene expression patterns during regeneration, examining pathways important to stem cell function. As a whole, our data will provide a crucial resource for the community for the study not only of invertebrate evolution and phylogeny but also of regeneration and somatic pluripotency.


June 1, 2021  |  

MaSuRCA Mega-Reads Assembly Technique for haplotype resolved genome assembly of hybrid PacBio and Illumina Data

The developments in DNA sequencing technology over the past several years have enabled large number of scientists to obtain sequences for the genomes of their interest at a fairly low cost. Illumina Sequencing was the dominant whole genome sequencing technology over the past few years due to its low cost. The Illumina reads are short (up to 300bp) and thus most of those draft genomes produced from Illumina data are very fragmented which limits their usability in practical scenarios. Longer reads are needed for more contiguous genomes. Recently Pacbio sequencing made significant advances in developing cost-effective long-read (>10000bp) sequencing technology and their data, although several times more expensive than Illumina, can be used to produce high quality genomes. Pacbio data can be used for de novo assembly, however due to its high error rate high coverage of the genome is required this raising the cost barrier. A solution for cost-effective genomes is to combine Pacbio and Illumina data leveraging the low error rates of the short Illumina reads and the length of the Pacbio reads. We have developed MaSuRCA mega-reads assembler for efficient assembly of hybrid data sets and we demonstrate that it performs well compared to the other published hybrid techniques. Another important benefit of the long reads is their ability to link the haplotype differences. The mega-reads approach corrects each Pacbio read independently and thus haplotype differences are preserved. Thus, leveraging the accuracy of the Illumina data and the length of the Pacbio reads, MaSuRCA mega-reads can produce haplotype-resolved genome assemblies, where each contig has sequence from a single haplotype. We present preliminary results on haplotype-resolved genome assemblies of faux (proof-of-concept) and real data.


June 1, 2021  |  

Structural variant detection with low-coverage PacBio sequencing

Structural variants (genomic differences =50 base pairs) contribute to the evolution of organisms traits and human disease. Most structural variants (SVs) are too small to detect with array comparative genomic hybridization but too large to reliably discover with short-read DNA sequencing. Recent studies in human genomes show that PacBio SMRT Sequencing sensitively detects structural variants.


June 1, 2021  |  

Beyond Contiguity: Evaluating the accuracy of de novo genome assemblies

HiFi reads (>99% accurate, 15-20 kb) from the PacBio Sequel II System consistently provide complete and contiguous genome assemblies. In addition to completeness and contiguity, accuracy is of critical importance, as assembly errors complicate downstream analysis, particularly by disrupting gene frames. Metrics used to assess assembly accuracy include: 1) in-frame gene count, 2) kmer consistency, and 3) concordance to a benchmark, where discordances are interpreted as assembly errors. Genome in a Bottle (GIAB) provides a benchmark for the human genome with estimated accuracy of 99.9999% (Q60). Concordance for human HiFi assemblies exceeds Q50, which provides excellent genomes for downstream analysis, but presents a challenge that any new benchmark must significantly exceed Q50 or the discordance will represent the error rate of the benchmark. To establish benchmarks for Oryza sativa and Drosophila melanogaster, we collected draft references, Illumina short reads, and PacBio HiFi reads. By species, the benchmark was defined as regions of normal coverage that are not within 5 bp of a small variant or 50 bp of a structural variant. For both species, the benchmark regions span around 60% of the genome and HiFi assemblies achieve Q50 accuracy, which is notably more accurate than assemblies with other technologies and meets typical standards for a finished, reference-grade assembly. Here we present a protocol to generate benchmarks for any sample that rival the GIAB benchmark in accuracy. These benchmarks allow the comparison and improvement of genome assemblies and highlight the superior accuracy of assemblies generated with PacBio HiFi reads.


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