April 21, 2020  |  

Meiotic sex in Chagas disease parasite Trypanosoma cruzi.

Genetic exchange enables parasites to rapidly transform disease phenotypes and exploit new host populations. Trypanosoma cruzi, the parasitic agent of Chagas disease and a public health concern throughout Latin America, has for decades been presumed to exchange genetic material rarely and without classic meiotic sex. We present compelling evidence from 45 genomes sequenced from southern Ecuador that T. cruzi in fact maintains truly sexual, panmictic groups that can occur alongside others that remain highly clonal after past hybridization events. These groups with divergent reproductive strategies appear genetically isolated despite possible co-occurrence in vectors and hosts. We propose biological explanations for the fine-scale disconnectivity we observe and discuss the epidemiological consequences of flexible reproductive modes. Our study reinvigorates the hunt for the site of genetic exchange in the T. cruzi life cycle, provides tools to define the genetic determinants of parasite virulence, and reforms longstanding theory on clonality in trypanosomatid parasites.


April 21, 2020  |  

Complete Genome Sequence of Sequevar 14M Ralstonia solanacearum Strain HA4-1 Reveals Novel Type III Effectors Acquired Through Horizontal Gene Transfer.

Ralstonia solanacearum, which causes bacterial wilt in a broad range of plants, is considered a “species complex” due to its significant genetic diversity. Recently, we have isolated a new R. solanacearum strain HA4-1 from Hong’an county in Hubei province of China and identified it being phylotype I, sequevar 14M (phylotype I-14M). Interestingly, we found that it can cause various disease symptoms among different potato genotypes and display different pathogenic behavior compared to a phylogenetically related strain, GMI1000. To dissect the pathogenic mechanisms of HA4-1, we sequenced its whole genome by combined sequencing technologies including Illumina HiSeq2000, PacBio RS II, and BAC-end sequencing. Genome assembly results revealed the presence of a conventional chromosome, a megaplasmid as well as a 143 kb plasmid in HA4-1. Comparative genome analysis between HA4-1 and GMI1000 shows high conservation of the general virulence factors such as secretion systems, motility, exopolysaccharides (EPS), and key regulatory factors, but significant variation in the repertoire and structure of type III effectors, which could be the determinants of their differential pathogenesis in certain potato species or genotypes. We have identified two novel type III effectors that were probably acquired through horizontal gene transfer (HGT). These novel R. solanacearum effectors display homology to several YopJ and XopAC family members. We named them as RipBR and RipBS. Notably, the copy of RipBR on the plasmid is a pseudogene, while the other on the megaplasmid is normal. For RipBS, there are three copies located in the megaplasmid and plasmid, respectively. Our results have not only enriched the genome information on R. solanacearum species complex by sequencing the first sequevar 14M strain and the largest plasmid reported in R. solanacearum to date but also revealed the variation in the repertoire of type III effectors. This will greatly contribute to the future studies on the pathogenic evolution, host adaptation, and interaction between R. solanacearum and potato.


April 21, 2020  |  

Prediction of Host-Specific Genes by Pan-Genome Analyses of the Korean Ralstonia solanacearum Species Complex.

The soil-borne pathogenic Ralstonia solanacearum species complex (RSSC) is a group of plant pathogens that is economically destructive worldwide and has a broad host range, including various solanaceae plants, banana, ginger, sesame, and clove. Previously, Korean RSSC strains isolated from samples of potato bacterial wilt were grouped into four pathotypes based on virulence tests against potato, tomato, eggplant, and pepper. In this study, we sequenced the genomes of 25 Korean RSSC strains selected based on these pathotypes. The newly sequenced genomes were analyzed to determine the phylogenetic relationships between the strains with average nucleotide identity values, and structurally compared via multiple genome alignment using Mauve software. To identify candidate genes responsible for the host specificity of the pathotypes, functional genome comparisons were conducted by analyzing pan-genome orthologous group (POG) and type III secretion system effectors (T3es). POG analyses revealed that a total of 128 genes were shared only in tomato-non-pathogenic strains, 8 genes in tomato-pathogenic strains, 5 genes in eggplant-non-pathogenic strains, 7 genes in eggplant-pathogenic strains, 1 gene in pepper-non-pathogenic strains, and 34 genes in pepper-pathogenic strains. When we analyzed T3es, three host-specific effectors were predicted: RipS3 (SKWP3) and RipH3 (HLK3) were found only in tomato-pathogenic strains, and RipAC (PopC) were found only in eggplant-pathogenic strains. Overall, we identified host-specific genes and effectors that may be responsible for virulence functions in RSSC in silico. The expected characters of those genes suggest that the host range of RSSC is determined by the comprehensive actions of various virulence factors, including effectors, secretion systems, and metabolic enzymes.


April 21, 2020  |  

Chromosome-level assembly of the water buffalo genome surpasses human and goat genomes in sequence contiguity.

Rapid innovation in sequencing technologies and improvement in assembly algorithms have enabled the creation of highly contiguous mammalian genomes. Here we report a chromosome-level assembly of the water buffalo (Bubalus bubalis) genome using single-molecule sequencing and chromatin conformation capture data. PacBio Sequel reads, with a mean length of 11.5?kb, helped to resolve repetitive elements and generate sequence contiguity. All five B. bubalis sub-metacentric chromosomes were correctly scaffolded with centromeres spanned. Although the index animal was partly inbred, 58% of the genome was haplotype-phased by FALCON-Unzip. This new reference genome improves the contig N50 of the previous short-read based buffalo assembly more than a thousand-fold and contains only 383 gaps. It surpasses the human and goat references in sequence contiguity and facilitates the annotation of hard to assemble gene clusters such as the major histocompatibility complex (MHC).


April 21, 2020  |  

Comparative Phylogenomics, a Stepping Stone for Bird Biodiversity Studies

Birds are a group with immense availability of genomic resources, and hundreds of forthcoming genomes at the doorstep. We review recent developments in whole genome sequencing, phylogenomics, and comparative genomics of birds. Short read based genome assemblies are common, largely due to efforts of the Bird 10K genome project (B10K). Chromosome-level assemblies are expected to increase due to improved long-read sequencing. The available genomic data has enabled the reconstruction of the bird tree of life with increasing confidence and resolution, but challenges remain in the early splits of Neoaves due to their explosive diversification after the Cretaceous-Paleogene (K-Pg) event. Continued genomic sampling of the bird tree of life will not just better reflect their evolutionary history but also shine new light onto the organization of phylogenetic signal and conflict across the genome. The comparatively simple architecture of avian genomes makes them a powerful system to study the molecular foundation of bird specific traits. Birds are on the verge of becoming an extremely resourceful system to study biodiversity from the nucleotide up.


April 21, 2020  |  

Comparative Genomic Analyses Reveal Core-Genome-Wide Genes Under Positive Selection and Major Regulatory Hubs in Outlier Strains of Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

Genomic information for outlier strains of Pseudomonas aeruginosa is exiguous when compared with classical strains. We sequenced and constructed the complete genome of an environmental strain CR1 of P. aeruginosa and performed the comparative genomic analysis. It clustered with the outlier group, hence we scaled up the analyses to understand the differences in environmental and clinical outlier strains. We identified eight new regions of genomic plasticity and a plasmid pCR1 with a VirB/D4 complex followed by trimeric auto-transporter that can induce virulence phenotype in the genome of strain CR1. Virulence genotype analysis revealed that strain CR1 lacked hemolytic phospholipase C and D, three genes for LPS biosynthesis and had reduced antibiotic resistance genes when compared with clinical strains. Genes belonging to proteases, bacterial exporters and DNA stabilization were found to be under strong positive selection, thus facilitating pathogenicity and survival of the outliers. The outliers had the complete operon for the production of vibrioferrin, a siderophore present in plant growth promoting bacteria. The competence to acquire multidrug resistance and new virulence factors makes these strains a potential threat. However, we identified major regulatory hubs that can be used as drug targets against both the classical and outlier groups.


April 21, 2020  |  

Comparative genomic and phylogenetic analyses of Populus section Leuce using complete chloroplast genome sequences

Species of Populus section Leuce are distributed throughout most parts of the Northern Hemisphere and have important economic and ecological significance. However, due to frequent hybridization within Leuce, the phylogenetic relationship between species has not been clarified. The chloroplast (cp) genome is characterized by maternal inheritance and relatively conservative mutation rates; thus, it is a powerful tool for building phylogenetic trees. In this study, we used the PacBio SEQUEL software to determine that the cp genome of Populus tomentosa has a length of 156,558 bp including a long single-copy region (84,717 bp), a small single-copy region (16,555 bp), and a pair of inverted repeat regions (27,643 bp). The cp genome contains 131 unique genes, including 37 transfer RNAs, 8 ribosomal RNAs, and 86 protein-coding genes. We compared the cp genomes of seven species of section Leuce and identified five cp DNA markers with >?1% variable sites. Phylogenetic analyses revealed two evolutionary branches for section Leuce. The species with the closest relationship with P. tomenstosa was P. adenopoda, followed by P. alba. These cp genome data will help to determine the cp evolution of section Leuce and further elucidate the origin of P. tomentosa.


April 21, 2020  |  

Origin and recent expansion of an endogenous gammaretroviral lineage in domestic and wild canids.

Vertebrate genomes contain a record of retroviruses that invaded the germlines of ancestral hosts and are passed to offspring as endogenous retroviruses (ERVs). ERVs can impact host function since they contain the necessary sequences for expression within the host. Dogs are an important system for the study of disease and evolution, yet no substantiated reports of infectious retroviruses in dogs exist. Here, we utilized Illumina whole genome sequence data to assess the origin and evolution of a recently active gammaretroviral lineage in domestic and wild canids.We identified numerous recently integrated loci of a canid-specific ERV-Fc sublineage within Canis, including 58 insertions that were absent from the reference assembly. Insertions were found throughout the dog genome including within and near gene models. By comparison of orthologous occupied sites, we characterized element prevalence across 332 genomes including all nine extant canid species, revealing evolutionary patterns of ERV-Fc segregation among species as well as subpopulations.Sequence analysis revealed common disruptive mutations, suggesting a predominant form of ERV-Fc spread by trans complementation of defective proviruses. ERV-Fc activity included multiple circulating variants that infected canid ancestors from the last 20 million to within 1.6 million years, with recent bursts of germline invasion in the sublineage leading to wolves and dogs.


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