April 21, 2020  |  

Tandem repeats lead to sequence assembly errors and impose multi-level challenges for genome and protein databases.

The widespread occurrence of repetitive stretches of DNA in genomes of organisms across the tree of life imposes fundamental challenges for sequencing, genome assembly, and automated annotation of genes and proteins. This multi-level problem can lead to errors in genome and protein databases that are often not recognized or acknowledged. As a consequence, end users working with sequences with repetitive regions are faced with ‘ready-to-use’ deposited data whose trustworthiness is difficult to determine, let alone to quantify. Here, we provide a review of the problems associated with tandem repeat sequences that originate from different stages during the sequencing-assembly-annotation-deposition workflow, and that may proliferate in public database repositories affecting all downstream analyses. As a case study, we provide examples of the Atlantic cod genome, whose sequencing and assembly were hindered by a particularly high prevalence of tandem repeats. We complement this case study with examples from other species, where mis-annotations and sequencing errors have propagated into protein databases. With this review, we aim to raise the awareness level within the community of database users, and alert scientists working in the underlying workflow of database creation that the data they omit or improperly assemble may well contain important biological information valuable to others. © The Author(s) 2019. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Nucleic Acids Research.


April 21, 2020  |  

De novo genome assembly of the endangered Acer yangbiense, a plant species with extremely small populations endemic to Yunnan Province, China.

Acer yangbiense is a newly described critically endangered endemic maple tree confined to Yangbi County in Yunnan Province in Southwest China. It was included in a programme for rescuing the most threatened species in China, focusing on “plant species with extremely small populations (PSESP)”.We generated 64, 94, and 110 Gb of raw DNA sequences and obtained a chromosome-level genome assembly of A. yangbiense through a combination of Pacific Biosciences Single-molecule Real-time, Illumina HiSeq X, and Hi-C mapping, respectively. The final genome assembly is ~666 Mb, with 13 chromosomes covering ~97% of the genome and scaffold N50 sizes of 45 Mb. Further, BUSCO analysis recovered 95.5% complete BUSCO genes. The total number of repetitive elements account for 68.0% of the A. yangbiense genome. Genome annotation generated 28,320 protein-coding genes, assisted by a combination of prediction and transcriptome sequencing. In addition, a nearly 1:1 orthology ratio of dot plots of longer syntenic blocks revealed a similar evolutionary history between A. yangbiense and grape, indicating that the genome has not undergone a whole-genome duplication event after the core eudicot common hexaploidization.Here, we report a high-quality de novo genome assembly of A. yangbiense, the first genome for the genus Acer and the family Aceraceae. This will provide fundamental conservation genomics resources, as well as representing a new high-quality reference genome for the economically important Acer lineage and the wider order of Sapindales. © The Author(s) 2019. Published by Oxford University Press.


April 21, 2020  |  

Into the Thermus Mobilome: Presence, Diversity and Recent Activities of Insertion Sequences Across Thermus spp.

A high level of transposon-mediated genome rearrangement is a common trait among microorganisms isolated from thermal environments, probably contributing to the extraordinary genomic plasticity and horizontal gene transfer (HGT) observed in these habitats. In this work, active and inactive insertion sequences (ISs) spanning the sequenced members of the genus Thermus were characterized, with special emphasis on three T. thermophilus strains: HB27, HB8, and NAR1. A large number of full ISs and fragments derived from different IS families were found, concentrating within megaplasmids present in most isolates. Potentially active ISs were identified through analysis of transposase integrity, and domestication-related transposition events of ISTth7 were identified in laboratory-adapted HB27 derivatives. Many partial copies of ISs appeared throughout the genome, which may serve as specific targets for homologous recombination contributing to genome rearrangement. Moreover, recruitment of IS1000 32 bp segments as spacers for CRISPR sequence was identified, pointing to the adaptability of these elements in the biology of these thermophiles. Further knowledge about the activity and functional diversity of ISs in this genus may contribute to the generation of engineered transposons as new genetic tools, and enrich our understanding of the outstanding plasticity shown by these thermophiles.


April 21, 2020  |  

Physiological properties and genetic analysis related to exopolysaccharide (EPS) production in the fresh-water unicellular cyanobacterium Aphanothece sacrum (Suizenji Nori).

The clonal strains, phycoerythrin(PE)-rich- and PE-poor strains, of the unicellular, fresh water cyanobacterium Aphanothece sacrum (Suringar) Okada (Suizenji Nori, in Japanese) were isolated from traditional open-air aquafarms in Japan. A. sacrum appeared to be oligotrophic on the basis of its growth characteristics. The optimum temperature for growth was around 20°C. Maximum growth and biomass increase at 20°C was obtained under light intensities between 40 to 80 µmol m-2 s-1 (fluorescent lamps, 12 h light/12 h dark cycles) and between 40 to 120 µmol m-2 s-1 for PE-rich and PE-poor strains, respectively, of A. sacrum . Purified exopolysaccharide (EPS) of A. sacrum has a molecular weight of ca. 104 kDa with five major monosaccharides (glucose, xylose, rhamnose, galactose and mannose; =85 mol%). We also deciphered the whole genome sequence of the two strains of A. sacrum. The putative genes involved in the polymerization, chain length control, and export of EPS would contribute to understand the biosynthetic process of their extremely high molecular weight EPS. The putative genes encoding Wzx-Wzy-Wzz- and Wza-Wzb-Wzc were conserved in the A. sacrum strains FPU1 and FPU3. This result suggests that the Wzy-dependent pathway participates in the EPS production of A. sacrum.


April 21, 2020  |  

Genomic Plasticity Mediated by Transposable Elements in the Plant Pathogenic Fungus Colletotrichum higginsianum.

Phytopathogen genomes are under constant pressure to change, as pathogens are locked in an evolutionary arms race with their hosts, where pathogens evolve effector genes to manipulate their hosts, whereas the hosts evolve immune components to recognize the products of these genes. Colletotrichum higginsianum (Ch), a fungal pathogen with no known sexual morph, infects Brassicaceae plants including Arabidopsis thaliana. Previous studies revealed that Ch differs in its virulence toward various Arabidopsis thaliana ecotypes, indicating the existence of coevolutionary selective pressures. However, between-strain genomic variations in Ch have not been studied. Here, we sequenced and assembled the genome of a Ch strain, resulting in a highly contiguous genome assembly, which was compared with the chromosome-level genome assembly of another strain to identify genomic variations between strains. We found that the two closely related strains vary in terms of large-scale rearrangements, the existence of strain-specific regions, and effector candidate gene sets and that these variations are frequently associated with transposable elements (TEs). Ch has a compartmentalized genome consisting of gene-sparse, TE-dense regions with more effector candidate genes and gene-dense, TE-sparse regions harboring conserved genes. Additionally, analysis of the conservation patterns and syntenic regions of effector candidate genes indicated that the two strains vary in their effector candidate gene sets because of de novo evolution, horizontal gene transfer, or gene loss after divergence. Our results reveal mechanisms for generating genomic diversity in this asexual pathogen, which are important for understanding its adaption to hosts. © The Author(s) 2019. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution.


April 21, 2020  |  

Genetic basis for the establishment of endosymbiosis in Paramecium.

The single-celled ciliate Paramecium bursaria is an indispensable model for investigating endosymbiosis between protists and green-algal symbionts. To elucidate the mechanism of this type of endosymbiosis, we combined PacBio and Illumina sequencing to assemble a high-quality and near-complete macronuclear genome of P. bursaria. The genomic characteristics and phylogenetic analyses indicate that P. bursaria is the basal clade of the Paramecium genus. Through comparative genomic analyses with its close relatives, we found that P. bursaria encodes more genes related to nitrogen metabolism and mineral absorption, but encodes fewer genes involved in oxygen binding and N-glycan biosynthesis. A comparison of the transcriptomic profiles between P. bursaria with and without endosymbiotic Chlorella showed differential expression of a wide range of metabolic genes. We selected 32 most differentially expressed genes to perform RNA interference experiment in P. bursaria, and found that P. bursaria can regulate the abundance of their symbionts through glutamine supply. This study provides novel insights into Paramecium evolution and will extend our knowledge of the molecular mechanism for the induction of endosymbiosis between P. bursaria and green algae.


April 21, 2020  |  

Evolution and Diversification of Kiwifruit Mitogenomes through Extensive Whole-Genome Rearrangement and Mosaic Loss of Intergenic Sequences in a Highly Variable Region.

Angiosperm mitochondrial genomes (mitogenomes) are notable for their extreme diversity in both size and structure. However, our current understanding of this diversity is limited, and the underlying mechanism contributing to this diversity remains unclear. Here, we completely assembled and compared the mitogenomes of three kiwifruit (Actinidia) species, which represent an early divergent lineage in asterids. We found conserved gene content and fewer genomic repeats, particularly large repeats (>1?kb), in the three mitogenomes. However, sequence transfers such as intracellular events are variable and dynamic, in which both ancestral shared and recently species-specific events as well as complicated transfers of two plastid-derived sequences into the nucleus through the mitogenomic bridge were detected. We identified extensive whole-genome rearrangements among kiwifruit mitogenomes and found a highly variable V region in which fragmentation and frequent mosaic loss of intergenic sequences occurred, resulting in greatly interspecific variations. One example is the fragmentation of the V region into two regions, V1 and V2, giving rise to the two mitochondrial chromosomes of Actinidia chinensis. Finally, we compared the kiwifruit mitogenomes with those of other asterids to characterize their overall mitogenomic diversity, which identified frequent gain/loss of genes/introns across lineages. In addition to repeat-mediated recombination and import-driven hypothesis of genome size expansion reported in previous studies, our results highlight a pattern of dynamic structural variation in plant mitogenomes through global genomic rearrangements and species-specific fragmentation and mosaic loss of intergenic sequences in highly variable regions on the basis of a relatively large ancestral mitogenome. © The Author(s) 2019. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution.


April 21, 2020  |  

Divergent evolutionary trajectories following speciation in two ectoparasitic honey bee mites.

Multispecies host-parasite evolution is common, but how parasites evolve after speciating remains poorly understood. Shared evolutionary history and physiology may propel species along similar evolutionary trajectories whereas pursuing different strategies can reduce competition. We test these scenarios in the economically important association between honey bees and ectoparasitic mites by sequencing the genomes of the sister mite species Varroa destructor and Varroa jacobsoni. These genomes were closely related, with 99.7% sequence identity. Among the 9,628 orthologous genes, 4.8% showed signs of positive selection in at least one species. Divergent selective trajectories were discovered in conserved chemosensory gene families (IGR, SNMP), and Halloween genes (CYP) involved in moulting and reproduction. However, there was little overlap in these gene sets and associated GO terms, indicating different selective regimes operating on each of the parasites. Based on our findings, we suggest that species-specific strategies may be needed to combat evolving parasite communities. © The Author(s) 2019.


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