September 22, 2019  |  

PacBio metabarcoding of Fungi and other eukaryotes: errors, biases and perspectives.

Second-generation, high-throughput sequencing methods have greatly improved our understanding of the ecology of soil microorganisms, yet the short barcodes (< 500 bp) provide limited taxonomic and phylogenetic information for species discrimination and taxonomic assignment. Here, we utilized the third-generation Pacific Biosciences (PacBio) RSII and Sequel instruments to evaluate the suitability of full-length internal transcribed spacer (ITS) barcodes and longer rRNA gene amplicons for metabarcoding Fungi, Oomycetes and other eukaryotes in soil samples. Metabarcoding revealed multiple errors and biases: Taq polymerase substitution errors and mis-incorporating indels in sequencing homopolymers constitute major errors; sequence length biases occur during PCR, library preparation, loading to the sequencing instrument and quality filtering; primer-template mismatches bias the taxonomic profile when using regular and highly degenerate primers. The RSII and Sequel platforms enable the sequencing of amplicons up to 3000 bp, but the sequence quality remains slightly inferior to Illumina sequencing especially in longer amplicons. The full ITS barcode and flanking rRNA small subunit gene greatly improve taxonomic identification at the species and phylum levels, respectively. We conclude that PacBio sequencing provides a viable alternative for metabarcoding of organisms that are of relatively low diversity, require > 500-bp barcode for reliable identification or when phylogenetic approaches are intended.© 2017 The Authors. New Phytologist © 2017 New Phytologist Trust.


September 22, 2019  |  

A near complete snapshot of the Zea mays seedling transcriptome revealed from ultra-deep sequencing.

RNA-sequencing (RNA-seq) enables in-depth exploration of transcriptomes, but typical sequencing depth often limits its comprehensiveness. In this study, we generated nearly 3 billion RNA-Seq reads, totaling 341 Gb of sequence, from a Zea mays seedling sample. At this depth, a near complete snapshot of the transcriptome was observed consisting of over 90% of the annotated transcripts, including lowly expressed transcription factors. A novel hybrid strategy combining de novo and reference-based assemblies yielded a transcriptome consisting of 126,708 transcripts with 88% of expressed known genes assembled to full-length. We improved current annotations by adding 4,842 previously unannotated transcript variants and many new features, including 212 maize transcripts, 201 genes, 10 genes with undocumented potential roles in seedlings as well as maize lineage specific gene fusion events. We demonstrated the power of deep sequencing for large transcriptome studies by generating a high quality transcriptome, which provides a rich resource for the research community.


September 22, 2019  |  

Molecular characterization of eukaryotic algal communities in the tropical phyllosphere based on real-time sequencing of the 18S rDNA gene.

Foliicolous algae are a common occurrence in tropical forests. They are referable to a few simple morphotypes (unicellular, sarcinoid-like or filamentous), which makes their morphology of limited usefulness for taxonomic studies and species diversity assessments. The relationship between algal community and their host phyllosphere was not clear. In order to obtain a more accurate assessment, we used single molecule real-time sequencing of the 18S rDNA gene to characterize the eukaryotic algal community in an area of South-western China.We annotated 2922 OTUs belonging to five classes, Ulvophyceae, Trebouxiophyceae, Chlorophyceae, Dinophyceae and Eustigmatophyceae. Novel clades formed by large numbers sequences of green algae were detected in the order Trentepohliales (Ulvophyceae) and the Watanabea clade (Trebouxiophyceae), suggesting that these foliicolous communities may be substantially more diverse than so far appreciated and require further research. Species in Trentepohliales, Watanabea clade and Apatococcus clade were detected as the core members in the phyllosphere community studied. Communities from different host trees and sampling sites were not significantly different in terms of OTUs composition. However, the communities of Musa and Ravenala differed from other host plants significantly at the genus level, since they were dominated by Trebouxiophycean epiphytes.The cryptic diversity of eukaryotic algae especially Chlorophytes in tropical phyllosphere is very high. The community structure at species-level has no significant relationship either with host phyllosphere or locations. The core algal community in tropical phyllopshere is consisted of members from Trentepohliales, Watanabea clade and Apatococcus clade. Our study provided a large amount of novel 18S rDNA sequences that will be useful to unravel the cryptic diversity of phyllosphere eukaryotic algae and for comparisons with similar future studies on this type of communities.


September 22, 2019  |  

A microbial clock provides an accurate estimate of the postmortem interval in a mouse model system.

Establishing the time since death is critical in every death investigation, yet existing techniques are susceptible to a range of errors and biases. For example, forensic entomology is widely used to assess the postmortem interval (PMI), but errors can range from days to months. Microbes may provide a novel method for estimating PMI that avoids many of these limitations. Here we show that postmortem microbial community changes are dramatic, measurable, and repeatable in a mouse model system, allowing PMI to be estimated within approximately 3 days over 48 days. Our results provide a detailed understanding of bacterial and microbial eukaryotic ecology within a decomposing corpse system and suggest that microbial community data can be developed into a forensic tool for estimating PMI. DOI:http://dx.doi.org/10.7554/eLife.01104.001.


September 22, 2019  |  

Evolution of selective-sequencing approaches for virus discovery and virome analysis.

Recent advances in sequencing technologies have transformed the field of virus discovery and virome analysis. Once mostly confined to the traditional Sanger sequencing based individual virus discovery, is now entirely replaced by high throughput sequencing (HTS) based virus metagenomics that can be used to characterize the nature and composition of entire viromes. To better harness the potential of HTS for the study of viromes, sample preparation methodologies use different approaches to exclude amplification of non-viral components that can overshadow low-titer viruses. These virus-sequence enrichment approaches mostly focus on the sample preparation methods, like enzymatic digestion of non-viral nucleic acids and size exclusion of non-viral constituents by column filtration, ultrafiltration or density gradient centrifugation. However, recently a new approach of virus-sequence enrichment called virome-capture sequencing, focused on the amplification or HTS library preparation stage, was developed to increase the ability of virome characterization. This new approach has the potential to further transform the field of virus discovery and virome analysis, but its technical complexity and sequence-dependence warrants further improvements. In this review we discuss the different methods, their applications and evolution, for selective sequencing based virome analysis and also propose refinements needed to harness the full potential of HTS for virome analysis. Copyright © 2017 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


September 22, 2019  |  

Molecular genetic diversity and characterization of conjugation genes in the fish parasite Ichthyophthirius multifiliis.

Ichthyophthirius multifiliis is the etiologic agent of “white spot”, a commercially important disease of freshwater fish. As a parasitic ciliate, I. multifiliis infects numerous host species across a broad geographic range. Although Ichthyophthirius outbreaks are difficult to control, recent sequencing of the I. multifiliis genome has revealed a number of potential metabolic pathways for therapeutic intervention, along with likely vaccine targets for disease prevention. Nonetheless, major gaps exist in our understanding of both the life cycle and population structure of I. multifiliis in the wild. For example, conjugation has never been described in this species, and it is unclear whether I. multifiliis undergoes sexual reproduction, despite the presence of a germline micronucleus. In addition, no good methods exist to distinguish strains, leaving phylogenetic relationships between geographic isolates completely unresolved. Here, we compared nucleotide sequences of SSUrDNA, mitochondrial NADH dehydrogenase subunit I and cox-1 genes, and 14 somatic SNP sites from nine I. multifiliis isolates obtained from four different states in the US since 1995. The mitochondrial sequences effectively distinguished the isolates from one another and divided them into at least two genetically distinct groups. Furthermore, none of the nine isolates shared the same composition of the 14 somatic SNP sites, suggesting that I. multifiliis undergoes sexual reproduction at some point in its life cycle. Finally, compared to the well-studied free-living ciliates Tetrahymena thermophila and Paramecium tetraurelia, I. multifiliis has lost 38% and 29%, respectively, of 16 experimentally confirmed conjugation-related genes, indicating that mechanistic differences in sexual reproduction are likely to exist between I. multifiliis and other ciliate species. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


September 22, 2019  |  

Computational identification of novel genes: current and future perspectives.

While it has long been thought that all genomic novelties are derived from the existing material, many genes lacking homology to known genes were found in recent genome projects. Some of these novel genes were proposed to have evolved de novo, ie, out of noncoding sequences, whereas some have been shown to follow a duplication and divergence process. Their discovery called for an extension of the historical hypotheses about gene origination. Besides the theoretical breakthrough, increasing evidence accumulated that novel genes play important roles in evolutionary processes, including adaptation and speciation events. Different techniques are available to identify genes and classify them as novel. Their classification as novel is usually based on their similarity to known genes, or lack thereof, detected by comparative genomics or against databases. Computational approaches are further prime methods that can be based on existing models or leveraging biological evidences from experiments. Identification of novel genes remains however a challenging task. With the constant software and technologies updates, no gold standard, and no available benchmark, evaluation and characterization of genomic novelty is a vibrant field. In this review, the classical and state-of-the-art tools for gene prediction are introduced. The current methods for novel gene detection are presented; the methodological strategies and their limits are discussed along with perspective approaches for further studies.


September 22, 2019  |  

A comprehensive fungi-specific 18S rRNA gene sequence primer toolkit suited for diverse research issues and sequencing platforms.

Several fungi-specific primers target the 18S rRNA gene sequence, one of the prominent markers for fungal classification. The design of most primers goes back to the last decades. Since then, the number of sequences in public databases increased leading to the discovery of new fungal groups and changes in fungal taxonomy. However, no reevaluation of primers was carried out and relevant information on most primers is missing. With this study, we aimed to develop an 18S rRNA gene sequence primer toolkit allowing an easy selection of the best primer pair appropriate for different sequencing platforms, research aims (biodiversity assessment versus isolate classification) and target groups.We performed an intensive literature research, reshuffled existing primers into new pairs, designed new Illumina-primers, and annealing blocking oligonucleotides. A final number of 439 primer pairs were subjected to in silico PCRs. Best primer pairs were selected and experimentally tested. The most promising primer pair with a small amplicon size, nu-SSU-1333-5’/nu-SSU-1647-3′ (FF390/FR-1), was successful in describing fungal communities by Illumina sequencing. Results were confirmed by a simultaneous metagenomics and eukaryote-specific primer approach. Co-amplification occurred in all sample types but was effectively reduced by blocking oligonucleotides.The compiled data revealed the presence of an enormous diversity of fungal 18S rRNA gene primer pairs in terms of fungal coverage, phylum spectrum and co-amplification. Therefore, the primer pair has to be carefully selected to fulfill the requirements of the individual research projects. The presented primer toolkit offers comprehensive lists of 164 primers, 439 primer combinations, 4 blocking oligonucleotides, and top primer pairs holding all relevant information including primer’s characteristics and performance to facilitate primer pair selection.


September 22, 2019  |  

wtf genes are prolific dual poison-antidote meiotic drivers.

Meiotic drivers are selfish genes that bias their transmission into gametes, defying Mendelian inheritance. Despite the significant impact of these genomic parasites on evolution and infertility, few meiotic drive loci have been identified or mechanistically characterized. Here, we demonstrate a complex landscape of meiotic drive genes on chromosome 3 of the fission yeasts Schizosaccharomyces kambucha and S. pombe. We identify S. kambucha wtf4 as one of these genes that acts to kill gametes (known as spores in yeast) that do not inherit the gene from heterozygotes. wtf4 utilizes dual, overlapping transcripts to encode both a gamete-killing poison and an antidote to the poison. To enact drive, all gametes are poisoned, whereas only those that inherit wtf4 are rescued by the antidote. Our work suggests that the wtf multigene family proliferated due to meiotic drive and highlights the power of selfish genes to shape genomes, even while imposing tremendous costs to fertility.


September 22, 2019  |  

A workflow for studying specialized metabolism in nonmodel eukaryotic organisms

Eukaryotes contain a diverse tapestry of specialized metabolites, many of which are of significant pharmaceutical and industrial importance to humans. Nevertheless, exploration of specialized metabolic pathways underlying specific chemical traits in nonmodel eukaryotic organisms has been technically challenging and historically lagged behind that of the bacterial systems. Recent advances in genomics, metabolomics, phylogenomics, and synthetic biology now enable a new workflow for interrogating unknown specialized metabolic systems in nonmodel eukaryotic hosts with greater efficiency and mechanistic depth. This chapter delineates such workflow by providing a collection of state-of-the-art approaches and tools, ranging from multiomics-guided candidate gene identification to in vitro and in vivo functional and structural characterization of specialized metabolic enzymes. As already demonstrated by several recent studies, this new workflow opens up a gateway into the largely untapped world of natural product biochemistry in eukaryotes. © 2016 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


September 22, 2019  |  

Exploiting single-molecule transcript sequencing for eukaryotic gene prediction.

We develop a method to predict and validate gene models using PacBio single-molecule, real-time (SMRT) cDNA reads. Ninety-eight percent of full-insert SMRT reads span complete open reading frames. Gene model validation using SMRT reads is developed as automated process. Optimized training and prediction settings and mRNA-seq noise reduction of assisting Illumina reads results in increased gene prediction sensitivity and precision. Additionally, we present an improved gene set for sugar beet (Beta vulgaris) and the first genome-wide gene set for spinach (Spinacia oleracea). The workflow and guidelines are a valuable resource to obtain comprehensive gene sets for newly sequenced genomes of non-model eukaryotes.


September 22, 2019  |  

Single molecule real-time (SMRT) sequencing comes of age: applications and utilities for medical diagnostics.

Short read massive parallel sequencing has emerged as a standard diagnostic tool in the medical setting. However, short read technologies have inherent limitations such as GC bias, difficulties mapping to repetitive elements, trouble discriminating paralogous sequences, and difficulties in phasing alleles. Long read single molecule sequencers resolve these obstacles. Moreover, they offer higher consensus accuracies and can detect epigenetic modifications from native DNA. The first commercially available long read single molecule platform was the RS system based on PacBio’s single molecule real-time (SMRT) sequencing technology, which has since evolved into their RSII and Sequel systems. Here we capsulize how SMRT sequencing is revolutionizing constitutional, reproductive, cancer, microbial and viral genetic testing.© The Author(s) 2018. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Nucleic Acids Research.


September 22, 2019  |  

Widespread polycistronic transcripts in fungi revealed by single-molecule mRNA sequencing.

Genes in prokaryotic genomes are often arranged into clusters and co-transcribed into polycistronic RNAs. Isolated examples of polycistronic RNAs were also reported in some higher eukaryotes but their presence was generally considered rare. Here we developed a long-read sequencing strategy to identify polycistronic transcripts in several mushroom forming fungal species including Plicaturopsis crispa, Phanerochaete chrysosporium, Trametes versicolor, and Gloeophyllum trabeum. We found genome-wide prevalence of polycistronic transcription in these Agaricomycetes, involving up to 8% of the transcribed genes. Unlike polycistronic mRNAs in prokaryotes, these co-transcribed genes are also independently transcribed. We show that polycistronic transcription may interfere with expression of the downstream tandem gene. Further comparative genomic analysis indicates that polycistronic transcription is conserved among a wide range of mushroom forming fungi. In summary, our study revealed, for the first time, the genome prevalence of polycistronic transcription in a phylogenetic range of higher fungi. Furthermore, we systematically show that our long-read sequencing approach and combined bioinformatics pipeline is a generic powerful tool for precise characterization of complex transcriptomes that enables identification of mRNA isoforms not recovered via short-read assembly.


September 22, 2019  |  

Long-read based assembly and annotation of a Drosophila simulans genome

Long-read sequencing technologies enable high-quality, contiguous genome assemblies. Here we used SMRT sequencing to assemble the genome of a Drosophila simulans strain originating from Madagascar, the ancestral range of the species. We generated 8 Gb of raw data (~50x coverage) with a mean read length of 6,410 bp, a NR50 of 9,125 bp and the longest subread at 49 kb. We benchmarked six different assemblers and merged the best two assemblies from Canu and Falcon. Our final assembly was 127.41 Mb with a N50 of 5.38 Mb and 305 contigs. We anchored more than 4 Mb of novel sequence to the major chromosome arms, and significantly improved the assembly of peri-centromeric and telomeric regions. Finally, we performed full-length transcript sequencing and used this data in conjunction with short-read RNAseq data to annotate 13,422 genes in the genome, improving the annotation in regions with complex, nested gene structures.


September 22, 2019  |  

Defining cell identity with single cell omics.

Cells are a fundamental unit of life, and the ability to study the phenotypes and behaviors of individual cells is crucial to understanding the workings of complex biological systems. Cell phenotypes (epigenomic, transcriptomic, proteomic, and metabolomic) exhibit dramatic heterogeneity between and within the different cell types and states underlying cellular functional diversity. Cell genotypes can also display heterogeneity throughout an organism, in the form of somatic genetic variation-most notably in the emergence and evolution of tumors. Recent technical advances in single-cell isolation and the development of omics approaches sensitive enough to reveal these aspects of cell identity have enabled a revolution in the study of multicellular systems. In this review, we discuss the technologies available to resolve the genomes, epigenomes, transcriptomes, proteomes, and metabolomes of single cells from a wide variety of living systems.© 2018 The Authors. Proteomics Published by WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim.


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