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  |  

Microbial diversity in the tick Argas japonicus (Acari: Argasidae) with a focus on Rickettsia pathogens.

The soft tick Argas japonicus mainly infests birds and can cause human dermatitis; however, no pathogen has been identified from this tick species in China. In the present study, the microbiota in A. japonicus collected from an epidemic community was explored, and some putative Rickettsia pathogens were further characterized. The results obtained indicated that bacteria in A. japonicus were mainly ascribed to the phyla Proteobacteria, Firmicutes and Actinobacteria. At the genus level, the male A. japonicus harboured more diverse bacteria than the females and nymphs. The bacteria Alcaligenes, Pseudomonas, Rickettsia and Staphylococcus were common in nymphs and adults. The abundance of bacteria belonging to the Rickettsia genus in females and males was 7.27% and 10.42%, respectively. Furthermore, the 16S rRNA gene of Rickettsia was amplified and sequenced, and phylogenetic analysis revealed that 13 sequences were clustered with the spotted fever group rickettsiae (Rickettsia heilongjiangensis and Rickettsia japonica) and three were clustered with Rickettsia limoniae, which suggested that the characterized Rickettsia in A. japonicus were novel putative pathogens and also that the residents were at considerable risk for infection by tick-borne pathogens. © 2019 The Royal Entomological Society.


April 21, 2020  |  

Evolutionary superscaffolding and chromosome anchoring to improve Anopheles genome assemblies

Background New sequencing technologies have lowered financial barriers to whole genome sequencing, but resulting assemblies are often fragmented and far from textquoteleftfinishedtextquoteright. Updating multi-scaffold drafts to chromosome-level status can be achieved through experimental mapping or re-sequencing efforts. Avoiding the costs associated with such approaches, comparative genomic analysis of gene order conservation (synteny) to predict scaffold neighbours (adjacencies) offers a potentially useful complementary method for improving draft assemblies.Results We employed three gene synteny-based methods applied to 21 Anopheles mosquito assemblies to produce consensus sets of scaffold adjacencies. For subsets of the assemblies we integrated these with additional supporting data to confirm and complement the synteny-based adjacencies: six with physical mapping data that anchor scaffolds to chromosome locations, 13 with paired-end RNA sequencing (RNAseq) data, and three with new assemblies based on re-scaffolding or Pacific Biosciences long-read data. Our combined analyses produced 20 new superscaffolded assemblies with improved contiguities: seven for which assignments of non-anchored scaffolds to chromosome arms span more than 75% of the assemblies, and a further seven with chromosome anchoring including an 88% anchored Anopheles arabiensis assembly and, respectively, 73% and 84% anchored assemblies with comprehensively updated cytogenetic photomaps for Anopheles funestus and Anopheles stephensi.Conclusions Experimental data from probe mapping, RNAseq, or long-read technologies, where available, all contribute to successful upgrading of draft assemblies. Our comparisons show that gene synteny-based computational methods represent a valuable alternative or complementary approach. Our improved Anopheles reference assemblies highlight the utility of applying comparative genomics approaches to improve community genomic resources.ADADSEQAGOAGOUTI-basedAGOUTIannotated genome optimization using transcriptome information toolALNalignment-basedCAMSAcomparative analysis and merging of scaffold assemblies toolDPdynamic programmingFISHfluorescence in situ hybridizationGAGOS-ASMGOS-ASMGene order scaffold assemblerKbpkilobasepairsMbpmegabasepairsOSORTHOSTITCHPacBioPacific BiosciencesPBPacBio-basedPHYphysical-mapping-basedRNAseqRNA sequencingQTLquantitative trait lociSYNsynteny-based.


April 21, 2020  |  

A high-quality genome assembly from a single, field-collected spotted lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula) using the PacBio Sequel II system

Background A high-quality reference genome is an essential tool for applied and basic research on arthropods. Long-read sequencing technologies may be used to generate more complete and contiguous genome assemblies than alternate technologies; however, long-read methods have historically had greater input DNA requirements and higher costs than next-generation sequencing, which are barriers to their use on many samples. Here, we present a 2.3 Gb de novo genome assembly of a field-collected adult female spotted lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula) using a single Pacific Biosciences SMRT Cell. The spotted lanternfly is an invasive species recently discovered in the northeastern United States that threatens to damage economically important crop plants in the region. Results The DNA from 1 individual was used to make 1 standard, size-selected library with an average DNA fragment size of ~20 kb. The library was run on 1 Sequel II SMRT Cell 8M, generating a total of 132 Gb of long-read sequences, of which 82 Gb were from unique library molecules, representing ~36× coverage of the genome. The assembly had high contiguity (contig N50 length = 1.5 Mb), completeness, and sequence level accuracy as estimated by conserved gene set analysis (96.8% of conserved genes both complete and without frame shift errors). Furthermore, it was possible to segregate more than half of the diploid genome into the 2 separate haplotypes. The assembly also recovered 2 microbial symbiont genomes known to be associated with L. delicatula, each microbial genome being assembled into a single contig. Conclusions We demonstrate that field-collected arthropods can be used for the rapid generation of high-quality genome assemblies, an attractive approach for projects on emerging invasive species, disease vectors, or conservation efforts of endangered species.


April 21, 2020  |  

Biodiversity seen through the perspective of insects: 10 simple rules on methodological choices and experimental design for genomic studies.

Massively parallel DNA sequencing opens up opportunities for bridging multiple temporal and spatial dimensions in biodiversity research, thanks to its efficiency to recover millions of nucleotide polymorphisms. Here, we identify the current status, discuss the main challenges, and look into future perspectives on biodiversity genomics focusing on insects, which arguably constitute the most diverse and ecologically important group among all animals. We suggest 10 simple rules that provide a succinct step-by-step guide and best-practices to anyone interested in biodiversity research through the study of insect genomics. To this end, we review relevant literature on biodiversity and evolutionary research in the field of entomology. Our compilation is targeted at researchers and students who may not yet be specialists in entomology or molecular biology. We foresee that the genomic revolution and its application to the study of non-model insect lineages will represent a major leap to our understanding of insect diversity.


April 21, 2020  |  

Mitochondrial genome characterization of Melipona bicolor: Insights from the control region and gene expression data.

The stingless bee Melipona bicolor is the only bee in which true polygyny occurs. Its mitochondrial genome was first sequenced in 2008, but it was incomplete and no information about its transcription was known. We combined short and long reads of M. bicolor DNA with RNASeq data to obtain insights about mitochondrial evolution and gene expression in bees. The complete genome has 15,001?bp, including a control region of 255?bp that contains all conserved structures described in honeybees with the highest AT content reported so far for bees (98.1%), displaying a compact but functional region. Gene expression control is similar to other insects however unusual patterns of expression may suggest the existence of different isoforms for the mitochondrially encoded 12S rRNA. Results reveal unique and shared features of the mitochondrial genome in terms of sequence evolution and gene expression making M. bicolor an interesting model to study mitochondrial genomic evolution. Copyright © 2019 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


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  |  

Structural and functional characterization of an intradiol ring-cleavage dioxygenase from the polyphagous spider mite herbivore Tetranychus urticae Koch.

Genome analyses of the polyphagous spider mite herbivore Tetranychus urticae (two-spotted spider mite) revealed the presence of a set of 17 genes that code for secreted proteins belonging to the “intradiol dioxygenase-like” subgroup. Phylogenetic analyses indicate that this novel enzyme family has been acquired by horizontal gene transfer. In order to better understand the role of these proteins in T. urticae, we have structurally and functionally characterized one paralog (tetur07g02040). It was demonstrated that this protein is indeed an intradiol ring-cleavage dioxygenase, as the enzyme is able to cleave catechol between two hydroxyl-groups using atmospheric dioxygen. The enzyme was characterized functionally and structurally. The active site of the T. urticae enzyme contains an Fe3+ cofactor that is coordinated by two histidine and two tyrosine residues, an arrangement that is similar to those observed in bacterial homologs. However, the active site is significantly more solvent exposed than in bacterial proteins. Moreover, the mite enzyme is monomeric, while almost all structurally characterized bacterial homologs form oligomeric assemblies. Tetur07g02040 is not only the first spider mite dioxygenase that has been characterized at the molecular level, but is also the first structurally characterized intradiol ring-cleavage dioxygenase originating from a eukaryote.Copyright © 2018 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


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  |  

A chromosome-level genome assembly of Cydia pomonella provides insights into chemical ecology and insecticide resistance.

The codling moth Cydia pomonella, a major invasive pest of pome fruit, has spread around the globe in the last half century. We generated a chromosome-level scaffold assembly including the Z chromosome and a portion of the W chromosome. This assembly reveals the duplication of an olfactory receptor gene (OR3), which we demonstrate enhances the ability of C. pomonella to exploit kairomones and pheromones in locating both host plants and mates. Genome-wide association studies contrasting insecticide-resistant and susceptible strains identify hundreds of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) potentially associated with insecticide resistance, including three SNPs found in the promoter of CYP6B2. RNAi knockdown of CYP6B2 increases C. pomonella sensitivity to two insecticides, deltamethrin and azinphos methyl. The high-quality genome assembly of C. pomonella informs the genetic basis of its invasiveness, suggesting the codling moth has distinctive capabilities and adaptive potential that may explain its worldwide expansion.


April 21, 2020  |  

Complete Assembly of the Genome of an Acidovorax citrulli Strain Reveals a Naturally Occurring Plasmid in This Species.

Acidovorax citrulli is the causal agent of bacterial fruit blotch (BFB), a serious threat to cucurbit crop production worldwide. Based on genetic and phenotypic properties, A. citrulli strains are divided into two major groups: group I strains have been generally isolated from melon and other non-watermelon cucurbits, while group II strains are closely associated with watermelon. In a previous study, we reported the genome of the group I model strain, M6. At that time, the M6 genome was sequenced by MiSeq Illumina technology, with reads assembled into 139 contigs. Here, we report the assembly of the M6 genome following sequencing with PacBio technology. This approach not only allowed full assembly of the M6 genome, but it also revealed the occurrence of a ~53 kb plasmid. The M6 plasmid, named pACM6, was further confirmed by plasmid extraction, Southern-blot analysis of restricted fragments and obtention of M6-derivative cured strains. pACM6 occurs at low copy numbers (average of ~4.1 ± 1.3 chromosome equivalents) in A. citrulli M6 and contains 63 open reading frames (ORFs), most of which (55.6%) encoding hypothetical proteins. The plasmid contains several genes encoding type IV secretion components, and typical plasmid-borne genes involved in plasmid maintenance, replication and transfer. The plasmid also carries an operon encoding homologs of a Fic-VbhA toxin-antitoxin (TA) module. Transcriptome data from A. citrulli M6 revealed that, under the tested conditions, the genes encoding the components of this TA system are among the highest expressed genes in pACM6. Whether this TA module plays a role in pACM6 maintenance is still to be determined. Leaf infiltration and seed transmission assays revealed that, under tested conditions, the loss of pACM6 did not affect the virulence of A. citrulli M6. We also show that pACM6 or similar plasmids are present in several group I strains, but absent in all tested group II strains of A. citrulli.


April 21, 2020  |  

A hybrid de novo genome assembly of the honeybee, Apis mellifera, with chromosome-length scaffolds.

The ability to generate long sequencing reads and access long-range linkage information is revolutionizing the quality and completeness of genome assemblies. Here we use a hybrid approach that combines data from four genome sequencing and mapping technologies to generate a new genome assembly of the honeybee Apis mellifera. We first generated contigs based on PacBio sequencing libraries, which were then merged with linked-read 10x Chromium data followed by scaffolding using a BioNano optical genome map and a Hi-C chromatin interaction map, complemented by a genetic linkage map.Each of the assembly steps reduced the number of gaps and incorporated a substantial amount of additional sequence into scaffolds. The new assembly (Amel_HAv3) is significantly more contiguous and complete than the previous one (Amel_4.5), based mainly on Sanger sequencing reads. N50 of contigs is 120-fold higher (5.381 Mbp compared to 0.053 Mbp) and we anchor >?98% of the sequence to chromosomes. All of the 16 chromosomes are represented as single scaffolds with an average of three sequence gaps per chromosome. The improvements are largely due to the inclusion of repetitive sequence that was unplaced in previous assemblies. In particular, our assembly is highly contiguous across centromeres and telomeres and includes hundreds of AvaI and AluI repeats associated with these features.The improved assembly will be of utility for refining gene models, studying genome function, mapping functional genetic variation, identification of structural variants, and comparative genomics.


April 21, 2020  |  

Molecular evolutionary trends and feeding ecology diversification in the Hemiptera, anchored by the milkweed bug genome.

The Hemiptera (aphids, cicadas, and true bugs) are a key insect order, with high diversity for feeding ecology and excellent experimental tractability for molecular genetics. Building upon recent sequencing of hemipteran pests such as phloem-feeding aphids and blood-feeding bed bugs, we present the genome sequence and comparative analyses centered on the milkweed bug Oncopeltus fasciatus, a seed feeder of the family Lygaeidae.The 926-Mb Oncopeltus genome is well represented by the current assembly and official gene set. We use our genomic and RNA-seq data not only to characterize the protein-coding gene repertoire and perform isoform-specific RNAi, but also to elucidate patterns of molecular evolution and physiology. We find ongoing, lineage-specific expansion and diversification of repressive C2H2 zinc finger proteins. The discovery of intron gain and turnover specific to the Hemiptera also prompted the evaluation of lineage and genome size as predictors of gene structure evolution. Furthermore, we identify enzymatic gains and losses that correlate with feeding biology, particularly for reductions associated with derived, fluid nutrition feeding.With the milkweed bug, we now have a critical mass of sequenced species for a hemimetabolous insect order and close outgroup to the Holometabola, substantially improving the diversity of insect genomics. We thereby define commonalities among the Hemiptera and delve into how hemipteran genomes reflect distinct feeding ecologies. Given Oncopeltus’s strength as an experimental model, these new sequence resources bolster the foundation for molecular research and highlight technical considerations for the analysis of medium-sized invertebrate genomes.


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