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  |  

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.


April 21, 2020  |  

Optimized Cas9 expression systems for highly efficient Arabidopsis genome editing facilitate isolation of complex alleles in a single generation.

Genetic resources for the model plant Arabidopsis comprise mutant lines defective in almost any single gene in reference accession Columbia. However, gene redundancy and/or close linkage often render it extremely laborious or even impossible to isolate a desired line lacking a specific function or set of genes from segregating populations. Therefore, we here evaluated strategies and efficiencies for the inactivation of multiple genes by Cas9-based nucleases and multiplexing. In first attempts, we succeeded in isolating a mutant line carrying a 70 kb deletion, which occurred at a frequency of ~?1.6% in the T2 generation, through PCR-based screening of numerous individuals. However, we failed to isolate a line lacking Lhcb1 genes, which are present in five copies organized at two loci in the Arabidopsis genome. To improve efficiency of our Cas9-based nuclease system, regulatory sequences controlling Cas9 expression levels and timing were systematically compared. Indeed, use of DD45 and RPS5a promoters improved efficiency of our genome editing system by approximately 25-30-fold in comparison to the previous ubiquitin promoter. Using an optimized genome editing system with RPS5a promoter-driven Cas9, putatively quintuple mutant lines lacking detectable amounts of Lhcb1 protein represented approximately 30% of T1 transformants. These results show how improved genome editing systems facilitate the isolation of complex mutant alleles, previously considered impossible to generate, at high frequency even in a single (T1) generation.


April 21, 2020  |  

The genomes of pecan and Chinese hickory provide insights into Carya evolution and nut nutrition.

Pecan (Carya illinoinensis) and Chinese hickory (C. cathayensis) are important commercially cultivated nut trees in the genus Carya (Juglandaceae), with high nutritional value and substantial health benefits.We obtained >187.22 and 178.87 gigabases of sequence, and ~288× and 248× genome coverage, to a pecan cultivar (“Pawnee”) and a domesticated Chinese hickory landrace (ZAFU-1), respectively. The total assembly size is 651.31 megabases (Mb) for pecan and 706.43 Mb for Chinese hickory. Two genome duplication events before the divergence from walnut were found in these species. Gene family analysis highlighted key genes in biotic and abiotic tolerance, oil, polyphenols, essential amino acids, and B vitamins. Further analyses of reduced-coverage genome sequences of 16 Carya and 2 Juglans species provide additional phylogenetic perspective on crop wild relatives.Cooperative characterization of these valuable resources provides a window to their evolutionary development and a valuable foundation for future crop improvement. © The Author(s) 2019. Published by Oxford University Press.


April 21, 2020  |  

A draft nuclear-genome assembly of the acoel flatworm Praesagittifera naikaiensis.

Acoels are primitive bilaterians with very simple soft bodies, in which many organs, including the gut, are not developed. They provide platforms for studying molecular and developmental mechanisms involved in the formation of the basic bilaterian body plan, whole-body regeneration, and symbiosis with photosynthetic microalgae. Because genomic information is essential for future research on acoel biology, we sequenced and assembled the nuclear genome of an acoel, Praesagittifera naikaiensis.To avoid sequence contamination derived from symbiotic microalgae, DNA was extracted from embryos that were free of algae. More than 290x sequencing coverage was achieved using a combination of Illumina (paired-end and mate-pair libraries) and PacBio sequencing. RNA sequencing and Iso-Seq data from embryos, larvae, and adults were also obtained. First, a preliminary ~17-kilobase pair (kb) mitochondrial genome was assembled, which was deleted from the nuclear sequence assembly. As a result, a draft nuclear genome assembly was ~656 Mb in length, with a scaffold N50 of 117 kb and a contig N50 of 57 kb. Although ~70% of the assembled sequences were likely composed of repetitive sequences that include DNA transposons and retrotransposons, the draft genome was estimated to contain 22,143 protein-coding genes, ~99% of which were substantiated by corresponding transcripts. We could not find horizontally transferred microalgal genes in the acoel genome. Benchmarking Universal Single-Copy Orthologs analyses indicated that 77% of the conserved single-copy genes were complete. Pfam domain analyses provided a basic set of gene families for transcription factors and signaling molecules.Our present sequencing and assembly of the P. naikaiensis nuclear genome are comparable to those of other metazoan genomes, providing basic information for future studies of genic and genomic attributes of this animal group. Such studies may shed light on the origins and evolution of simple bilaterians. © The Author(s) 2019. Published by Oxford University Press.


April 21, 2020  |  

Genome-Scale Sequence Disruption Following Biolistic Transformation in Rice and Maize.

Biolistic transformation delivers nucleic acids into plant cells by bombarding the cells with microprojectiles, which are micron-scale, typically gold particles. Despite the wide use of this technique, little is known about its effect on the cell’s genome. We biolistically transformed linear 48-kb phage lambda and two different circular plasmids into rice (Oryza sativa) and maize (Zea mays) and analyzed the results by whole genome sequencing and optical mapping. Although some transgenic events showed simple insertions, others showed extreme genome damage in the form of chromosome truncations, large deletions, partial trisomy, and evidence of chromothripsis and breakage-fusion bridge cycling. Several transgenic events contained megabase-scale arrays of introduced DNA mixed with genomic fragments assembled by nonhomologous or microhomology-mediated joining. Damaged regions of the genome, assayed by the presence of small fragments displaced elsewhere, were often repaired without a trace, presumably by homology-dependent repair (HDR). The results suggest a model whereby successful biolistic transformation relies on a combination of end joining to insert foreign DNA and HDR to repair collateral damage caused by the microprojectiles. The differing levels of genome damage observed among transgenic events may reflect the stage of the cell cycle and the availability of templates for HDR. © 2019 American Society of Plant Biologists. All rights reserved.


April 21, 2020  |  

Genome Sequence of Jaltomata Addresses Rapid Reproductive Trait Evolution and Enhances Comparative Genomics in the Hyper-Diverse Solanaceae.

Within the economically important plant family Solanaceae, Jaltomata is a rapidly evolving genus that has extensive diversity in flower size and shape, as well as fruit and nectar color, among its ~80 species. Here, we report the whole-genome sequencing, assembly, and annotation, of one representative species (Jaltomata sinuosa) from this genus. Combining PacBio long reads (25×) and Illumina short reads (148×) achieved an assembly of ~1.45?Gb, spanning ~96% of the estimated genome. Ninety-six percent of curated single-copy orthologs in plants were detected in the assembly, supporting a high level of completeness of the genome. Similar to other Solanaceous species, repetitive elements made up a large fraction (~80%) of the genome, with the most recently active element, Gypsy, expanding across the genome in the last 1-2 Myr. Computational gene prediction, in conjunction with a merged transcriptome data set from 11 tissues, identified 34,725 protein-coding genes. Comparative phylogenetic analyses with six other sequenced Solanaceae species determined that Jaltomata is most likely sister to Solanum, although a large fraction of gene trees supported a conflicting bipartition consistent with substantial introgression between Jaltomata and Capsicum after these species split. We also identified gene family dynamics specific to Jaltomata, including expansion of gene families potentially involved in novel reproductive trait development, and loss of gene families that accompanied the loss of self-incompatibility. This high-quality genome will facilitate studies of phenotypic diversification in this rapidly radiating group and provide a new point of comparison for broader analyses of genomic evolution across the Solanaceae.


April 21, 2020  |  

Symbiotic organs shaped by distinct modes of genome evolution in cephalopods.

Microbes have been critical drivers of evolutionary innovation in animals. To understand the processes that influence the origin of specialized symbiotic organs, we report the sequencing and analysis of the genome of Euprymna scolopes, a model cephalopod with richly characterized host-microbe interactions. We identified large-scale genomic reorganization shared between E. scolopes and Octopus bimaculoides and posit that this reorganization has contributed to the evolution of cephalopod complexity. To reveal genomic signatures of host-symbiont interactions, we focused on two specialized organs of E. scolopes: the light organ, which harbors a monoculture of Vibrio fischeri, and the accessory nidamental gland (ANG), a reproductive organ containing a bacterial consortium. Our findings suggest that the two symbiotic organs within E. scolopes originated by different evolutionary mechanisms. Transcripts expressed in these microbe-associated tissues displayed their own unique signatures in both coding sequences and the surrounding regulatory regions. Compared with other tissues, the light organ showed an abundance of genes associated with immunity and mediating light, whereas the ANG was enriched in orphan genes known only from E. scolopes Together, these analyses provide evidence for different patterns of genomic evolution of symbiotic organs within a single host. Copyright © 2019 the Author(s). Published by PNAS.


April 21, 2020  |  

Alternative Splicing of the Delta-Opioid Receptor Gene Suggests Existence of New Functional Isoforms.

The delta-opioid receptor (DOPr) participates in mediating the effects of opioid analgesics. However, no selective agonists have entered clinical care despite potential to ameliorate many neurological and psychiatric disorders. In an effort to address the drug development challenges, the functional contribution of receptor isoforms created by alternative splicing of the three-exonic coding gene, OPRD1, has been overlooked. We report that the gene is transcriptionally more diverse than previously demonstrated, producing novel protein isoforms in humans and mice. We provide support for the functional relevance of splice variants through context-dependent expression profiling (tissues, disease model) and conservation of the transcriptional landscape in closely related vertebrates. The conserved alternative transcriptional events have two distinct patterns. First, cassette exon inclusions between exons 1 and 2 interrupt the reading frame, producing truncated receptor fragments comprising only the first transmembrane (TM) domain, despite the lack of exact exon orthologues between distant species. Second, a novel promoter and transcriptional start site upstream of exon 2 produces a transcript of an N-terminally truncated 6TM isoform. However, a fundamental difference in the exonic landscaping as well as translation and translation products poses limits for modelling the human DOPr receptor system in mice.


April 21, 2020  |  

The developmental dynamics of the Populus stem transcriptome.

The Populus shoot undergoes primary growth (longitudinal growth) followed by secondary growth (radial growth), which produces biomass that is an important source of energy worldwide. We adopted joint PacBio Iso-Seq and RNA-seq analysis to identify differentially expressed transcripts along a developmental gradient from the shoot apex to the fifth internode of Populus Nanlin895. We obtained 87 150 full-length transcripts, including 2081 new isoforms and 62 058 new alternatively spliced isoforms, most of which were produced by intron retention, that were used to update the Populus annotation. Among these novel isoforms, there are 1187 long non-coding RNAs and 356 fusion genes. Using this annotation, we found 15 838 differentially expressed transcripts along the shoot developmental gradient, of which 1216 were transcription factors (TFs). Only a few of these genes were reported previously. The differential expression of these TFs suggests that they may play important roles in primary and secondary growth. AP2, ARF, YABBY and GRF TFs are highly expressed in the apex, whereas NAC, bZIP, PLATZ and HSF TFs are likely to be important for secondary growth. Overall, our findings provide evidence that long-read sequencing can complement short-read sequencing for cataloguing and quantifying eukaryotic transcripts and increase our understanding of the vital and dynamic process of shoot development. © 2018 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  |  

Human Migration and the Spread of the Nematode Parasite Wuchereria bancrofti.

The human disease lymphatic filariasis causes the debilitating effects of elephantiasis and hydrocele. Lymphatic filariasis currently affects the lives of 90 million people in 52 countries. There are three nematodes that cause lymphatic filariasis, Brugia malayi, Brugia timori, and Wuchereria bancrofti, but 90% of all cases of lymphatic filariasis are caused solely by W. bancrofti (Wb). Here we use population genomics to reconstruct the probable route and timing of migration of Wb strains that currently infect Africa, Haiti, and Papua New Guinea (PNG). We used selective whole genome amplification to sequence 42 whole genomes of single Wb worms from populations in Haiti, Mali, Kenya, and PNG. Our results are consistent with a hypothesis of an Island Southeast Asia or East Asian origin of Wb. Our demographic models support divergence times that correlate with the migration of human populations. We hypothesize that PNG was infected at two separate times, first by the Melanesians and later by the migrating Austronesians. The migrating Austronesians also likely introduced Wb to Madagascar where later migrations spread it to continental Africa. From Africa, Wb spread to the New World during the transatlantic slave trade. Genome scans identified 17 genes that were highly differentiated among Wb populations. Among these are genes associated with human immune suppression, insecticide sensitivity, and proposed drug targets. Identifying the distribution of genetic diversity in Wb populations and selection forces acting on the genome will build a foundation to test future hypotheses and help predict response to current eradication efforts. © The Author(s) 2019. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail: journals.permissions@oup.com.


April 21, 2020  |  

Maleness-on-the-Y (MoY) orchestrates male sex determination in major agricultural fruit fly pests.

In insects, rapidly evolving primary sex-determining signals are transduced by a conserved regulatory module controlling sexual differentiation. In the agricultural pest Ceratitis capitata (Mediterranean fruit fly, or Medfly), we identified a Y-linked gene, Maleness-on-the-Y (MoY), encoding a small protein that is necessary and sufficient for male development. Silencing or disruption of MoY in XY embryos causes feminization, whereas overexpression of MoY in XX embryos induces masculinization. Crosses between transformed XY females and XX males give rise to males and females, indicating that a Y chromosome can be transmitted by XY females. MoY is Y-linked and functionally conserved in other species of the Tephritidae family, highlighting its potential to serve as a tool for developing more effective control strategies against these major agricultural insect pests.Copyright © 2019 The Authors, some rights reserved; exclusive licensee American Association for the Advancement of Science. No claim to original U.S. Government Works.


April 21, 2020  |  

Development of CRISPR-Cas systems for genome editing and beyond

The development of clustered regularly interspaced short-palindromic repeat (CRISPR)-Cas systems for genome editing has transformed the way life science research is conducted and holds enormous potential for the treatment of disease as well as for many aspects of biotech- nology. Here, I provide a personal perspective on the development of CRISPR-Cas9 for genome editing within the broader context of the field and discuss our work to discover novel Cas effectors and develop them into additional molecular tools. The initial demonstra- tion of Cas9-mediated genome editing launched the development of many other technologies, enabled new lines of biological inquiry, and motivated a deeper examination of natural CRISPR-Cas systems, including the discovery of new types of CRISPR-Cas systems. These new discoveries in turn spurred further technological developments. I review these exciting discoveries and technologies as well as provide an overview of the broad array of applications of these technologies in basic research and in the improvement of human health. It is clear that we are only just beginning to unravel the potential within microbial diversity, and it is quite likely that we will continue to discover other exciting phenomena, some of which it may be possible to repurpose as molecular technologies. The transformation of mysterious natural phenomena to powerful tools, however, takes a collective effort to discover, characterize, and engineer them, and it has been a privilege to join the numerous researchers who have contributed to this transformation of CRISPR-Cas systems.


April 21, 2020  |  

Extensive intraspecific gene order and gene structural variations in upland cotton cultivars.

Multiple cotton genomes (diploid and tetraploid) have been assembled. However, genomic variations between cultivars of allotetraploid upland cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L.), the most widely planted cotton species in the world, remain unexplored. Here, we use single-molecule long read and Hi-C sequencing technologies to assemble genomes of the two upland cotton cultivars TM-1 and zhongmiansuo24 (ZM24). Comparisons among TM-1 and ZM24 assemblies and the genomes of the diploid ancestors reveal a large amount of genetic variations. Among them, the top three longest structural variations are located on chromosome A08 of the tetraploid upland cotton, which account for ~30% total length of this chromosome. Haplotype analyses of the mapping population derived from these two cultivars and the germplasm panel show suppressed recombination rates in this region. This study provides additional genomic resources for the community, and the identified genetic variations, especially the reduced meiotic recombination on chromosome A08, will help future breeding.


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