September 22, 2019  |  

De novo assembly of the Pasteuria penetrans genome reveals high plasticity, host dependency, and BclA-like collagens.

Pasteuria penetrans is a gram-positive endospore forming bacterial parasite of Meloidogyne spp. the most economically damaging genus of plant parasitic nematodes globally. The obligate antagonistic nature of P. penetrans makes it an attractive candidate biological control agent. However, deployment of P. penetrans for this purpose is inhibited by a lack of understanding of its metabolism and the molecular mechanics underpinning parasitism of the host, in particular the initial attachment of the endospore to the nematode cuticle. Several attempts to assemble the genomes of species within this genus have been unsuccessful. Primarily this is due to the obligate parasitic nature of the bacterium which makes obtaining genomic DNA of sufficient quantity and quality which is free from contamination challenging. Taking advantage of recent developments in whole genome amplification, long read sequencing platforms, and assembly algorithms, we have developed a protocol to generate large quantities of high molecular weight genomic DNA from a small number of purified endospores. We demonstrate this method via genomic assembly of P. penetrans. This assembly reveals a reduced genome of 2.64Mbp estimated to represent 86% of the complete sequence; its reduced metabolism reflects widespread reliance on the host and possibly associated organisms. Additionally, apparent expansion of transposases and prediction of partial competence pathways suggest a high degree of genomic plasticity. Phylogenetic analysis places our sequence within the Bacilli, and most closely related to Thermoactinomyces species. Seventeen predicted BclA-like proteins are identified which may be involved in the determination of attachment specificity. This resource may be used to develop in vitro culture methods and to investigate the genetic and molecular basis of attachment specificity.

September 21, 2019  |  

Whole genome sequence of the soybean aphid, Aphis glycines.

Aphids are emerging as model organisms for both basic and applied research. Of the 5,000 estimated species, only three aphids have published whole genome sequences: the pea aphid Acyrthosiphon pisum, the Russian wheat aphid, Diuraphis noxia, and the green peach aphid, Myzus persicae. We present the whole genome sequence of a fourth aphid, the soybean aphid (Aphis glycines), which is an extreme specialist and an important invasive pest of soybean (Glycine max). The availability of genomic resources is important to establish effective and sustainable pest control, as well as to expand our understanding of aphid evolution. We generated a 302.9 Mbp draft genome assembly for Ap. glycines using a hybrid sequencing approach. This assembly shows high completeness with 19,182 predicted genes, 92% of known Ap. glycines transcripts mapping to contigs, and substantial continuity with a scaffold N50 of 174,505 bp. The assembly represents 95.5% of the predicted genome size of 317.1 Mbp based on flow cytometry. Ap. glycines contains the smallest known aphid genome to date, based on updated genome sizes for 19 aphid species. The repetitive DNA content of the Ap. glycines genome assembly (81.6 Mbp or 26.94% of the 302.9 Mbp assembly) shows a reduction in the number of classified transposable elements compared to Ac. pisum, and likely contributes to the small estimated genome size. We include comparative analyses of gene families related to host-specificity (cytochrome P450’s and effectors), which may be important in Ap. glycines evolution. This Ap. glycines draft genome sequence will provide a resource for the study of aphid genome evolution, their interaction with host plants, and candidate genes for novel insect control methods. Copyright © 2017 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

September 21, 2019  |  

Retrotransposons are the major contributors to the expansion of the Drosophila ananassae Muller F element.

The discordance between genome size and the complexity of eukaryotes can partly be attributed to differences in repeat density. The Muller F element (~5.2 Mb) is the smallest chromosome in Drosophila melanogaster, but it is substantially larger (>18.7 Mb) in D. ananassae To identify the major contributors to the expansion of the F element and to assess their impact, we improved the genome sequence and annotated the genes in a 1.4-Mb region of the D. ananassae F element, and a 1.7-Mb region from the D element for comparison. We find that transposons (particularly LTR and LINE retrotransposons) are major contributors to this expansion (78.6%), while Wolbachia sequences integrated into the D. ananassae genome are minor contributors (0.02%). Both D. melanogaster and D. ananassae F-element genes exhibit distinct characteristics compared to D-element genes (e.g., larger coding spans, larger introns, more coding exons, and lower codon bias), but these differences are exaggerated in D. ananassae Compared to D. melanogaster, the codon bias observed in D. ananassae F-element genes can primarily be attributed to mutational biases instead of selection. The 5′ ends of F-element genes in both species are enriched in dimethylation of lysine 4 on histone 3 (H3K4me2), while the coding spans are enriched in H3K9me2. Despite differences in repeat density and gene characteristics, D. ananassae F-element genes show a similar range of expression levels compared to genes in euchromatic domains. This study improves our understanding of how transposons can affect genome size and how genes can function within highly repetitive domains. Copyright © 2017 Leung et al.

September 21, 2019  |  

Chromulinavorax destructans, a pathogenic TM6 bacterium with an unusual replication strategy targeting protist mitochondrion

Most of the diversity of microbial life is not available in culture, and as such we lack even a fundamental understanding of the biological diversity of several branches on the tree of life. One branch that is highly underrepresented is the candidate phylum TM6, also known as the Dependentiae. Their biology is known only from reduced genomes recovered from metagenomes around the world and two isolates infecting amoebae, all suggest that they live highly host-associated lifestyles as parasites or symbionts. Chromulinavorax destructans is an isolate from the TM6/Dependentiae that infects and lyses the abundant heterotrophic flagellate, Spumella elongata. Chromulinavorax destructans is characterized by a high degree of reduction and specialization for infection, so much so it was discovered in a screen for giant viruses. Its 1.2 Mb genome shows no metabolic potential and C. destructans instead relies on extensive transporter system to import nutrients, and even energy in the form of ATP from the host. Accordingly, it replicates in a viral-like fashion, while extensively reorganizing and expanding the host mitochondrion. 44% of proteins contain signal sequences for secretion, which includes many proteins of unknown function as well as 98 copies of ankyrin-repeat domain proteins, known effectors of host modulation, suggesting the presence of an extensive host-manipulation apparatus.

September 21, 2019  |  

A Sequel to Sanger: amplicon sequencing that scales.

Although high-throughput sequencers (HTS) have largely displaced their Sanger counterparts, the short read lengths and high error rates of most platforms constrain their utility for amplicon sequencing. The present study tests the capacity of single molecule, real-time (SMRT) sequencing implemented on the SEQUEL platform to overcome these limitations, employing 658 bp amplicons of the mitochondrial cytochrome c oxidase I gene as a model system.By examining templates from more than 5000 species and 20,000 specimens, the performance of SMRT sequencing was tested with amplicons showing wide variation in GC composition and varied sequence attributes. SMRT and Sanger sequences were very similar, but SMRT sequencing provided more complete coverage, especially for amplicons with homopolymer tracts. Because it can characterize amplicon pools from 10,000 DNA extracts in a single run, the SEQUEL can reduce greatly reduce sequencing costs in comparison to first (Sanger) and second generation platforms (Illumina, Ion).SMRT analysis generates high-fidelity sequences from amplicons with varying GC content and is resilient to homopolymer tracts. Analytical costs are low, substantially less than those for first or second generation sequencers. When implemented on the SEQUEL platform, SMRT analysis enables massive amplicon characterization because each instrument can recover sequences from more than 5 million DNA extracts a year.

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