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  |  

Long-read sequencing of the coffee bean transcriptome reveals the diversity of full-length transcripts.

Polyploidization contributes to the complexity of gene expression, resulting in numerous related but different transcripts. This study explored the transcriptome diversity and complexity of the tetraploid Arabica coffee (Coffea arabica) bean. Long-read sequencing (LRS) by Pacbio Isoform sequencing (Iso-seq) was used to obtain full-length transcripts without the difficulty and uncertainty of assembly required for reads from short-read technologies. The tetraploid transcriptome was annotated and compared with data from the sub-genome progenitors. Caffeine and sucrose genes were targeted for case analysis. An isoform-level tetraploid coffee bean reference transcriptome with 95 995 distinct transcripts (average 3236 bp) was obtained. A total of 88 715 sequences (92.42%) were annotated with BLASTx against NCBI non-redundant plant proteins, including 34 719 high-quality annotations. Further BLASTn analysis against NCBI non-redundant nucleotide sequences, Coffea canephora coding sequences with UTR, C. arabica ESTs, and Rfam resulted in 1213 sequences without hits, were potential novel genes in coffee. Longer UTRs were captured, especially in the 5?UTRs, facilitating the identification of upstream open reading frames. The LRS also revealed more and longer transcript variants in key caffeine and sucrose metabolism genes from this polyploid genome. Long sequences (>10 kilo base) were poorly annotated. LRS technology shows the limitation of previous studies. It provides an important tool to produce a reference transcriptome including more of the diversity of full-length transcripts to help understand the biology and support the genetic improvement of polyploid species such as coffee.© The Authors 2017. Published by Oxford University Press.


September 22, 2019  |  

Gaining comprehensive biological insight into the transcriptome by performing a broad-spectrum RNA-seq analysis.

RNA-sequencing (RNA-seq) is an essential technique for transcriptome studies, hundreds of analysis tools have been developed since it was debuted. Although recent efforts have attempted to assess the latest available tools, they have not evaluated the analysis workflows comprehensively to unleash the power within RNA-seq. Here we conduct an extensive study analysing a broad spectrum of RNA-seq workflows. Surpassing the expression analysis scope, our work also includes assessment of RNA variant-calling, RNA editing and RNA fusion detection techniques. Specifically, we examine both short- and long-read RNA-seq technologies, 39 analysis tools resulting in ~120 combinations, and ~490 analyses involving 15 samples with a variety of germline, cancer and stem cell data sets. We report the performance and propose a comprehensive RNA-seq analysis protocol, named RNACocktail, along with a computational pipeline achieving high accuracy. Validation on different samples reveals that our proposed protocol could help researchers extract more biologically relevant predictions by broad analysis of the transcriptome.RNA-seq is widely used for transcriptome analysis. Here, the authors analyse a wide spectrum of RNA-seq workflows and present a comprehensive analysis protocol named RNACocktail as well as a computational pipeline leveraging the widely used tools for accurate RNA-seq analysis.


September 22, 2019  |  

Genome and evolution of the shade-requiring medicinal herb Panax ginseng.

Panax ginseng C. A. Meyer, reputed as the king of medicinal herbs, has slow growth, long generation time, low seed production and complicated genome structure that hamper its study. Here, we unveil the genomic architecture of tetraploid P. ginseng by de novo genome assembly, representing 2.98 Gbp with 59 352 annotated genes. Resequencing data indicated that diploid Panax species diverged in association with global warming in Southern Asia, and two North American species evolved via two intercontinental migrations. Two whole genome duplications (WGD) occurred in the family Araliaceae (including Panax) after divergence with the Apiaceae, the more recent one contributing to the ability of P. ginseng to overwinter, enabling it to spread broadly through the Northern Hemisphere. Functional and evolutionary analyses suggest that production of pharmacologically important dammarane-type ginsenosides originated in Panax and are produced largely in shoot tissues and transported to roots; that newly evolved P. ginseng fatty acid desaturases increase freezing tolerance; and that unprecedented retention of chlorophyll a/b binding protein genes enables efficient photosynthesis under low light. A genome-scale metabolic network provides a holistic view of Panax ginsenoside biosynthesis. This study provides valuable resources for improving medicinal values of ginseng either through genomics-assisted breeding or metabolic engineering.© 2018 The Authors. Plant Biotechnology Journal published by Society for Experimental Biology and The Association of Applied Biologists and John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


September 22, 2019  |  

Use of a draft genome of coffee (Coffea arabica) to identify SNPs associated with caffeine content.

Arabica coffee (Coffea arabica) has a small gene pool limiting genetic improvement. Selection for caffeine content within this gene pool would be assisted by identification of the genes controlling this important trait. Sequencing of DNA bulks from 18 genotypes with extreme high- or low-caffeine content from a population of 232 genotypes was used to identify linked polymorphisms. To obtain a reference genome, a whole genome assembly of arabica coffee (variety K7) was achieved by sequencing using short read (Illumina) and long-read (PacBio) technology. Assembly was performed using a range of assembly tools resulting in 76 409 scaffolds with a scaffold N50 of 54 544 bp and a total scaffold length of 1448 Mb. Validation of the genome assembly using different tools showed high completeness of the genome. More than 99% of transcriptome sequences mapped to the C. arabica draft genome, and 89% of BUSCOs were present. The assembled genome annotated using AUGUSTUS yielded 99 829 gene models. Using the draft arabica genome as reference in mapping and variant calling allowed the detection of 1444 nonsynonymous single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) associated with caffeine content. Based on Kyoto Encyclopaedia of Genes and Genomes pathway-based analysis, 65 caffeine-associated SNPs were discovered, among which 11 SNPs were associated with genes encoding enzymes involved in the conversion of substrates, which participate in the caffeine biosynthesis pathways. This analysis demonstrated the complex genetic control of this key trait in coffee.© 2018 The Authors. Plant Biotechnology Journal published by Society for Experimental Biology and The Association of Applied Biologists and John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


September 22, 2019  |  

Multi-platform sequencing approach reveals a novel transcriptome profile in pseudorabies virus.

Third-generation sequencing is an emerging technology that is capable of solving several problems that earlier approaches were not able to, including the identification of transcripts isoforms and overlapping transcripts. In this study, we used long-read sequencing for the analysis of pseudorabies virus (PRV) transcriptome, including Oxford Nanopore Technologies MinION, PacBio RS-II, and Illumina HiScanSQ platforms. We also used data from our previous short-read and long-read sequencing studies for the comparison of the results and in order to confirm the obtained data. Our investigations identified 19 formerly unknown putative protein-coding genes, all of which are 5′ truncated forms of earlier annotated longer PRV genes. Additionally, we detected 19 non-coding RNAs, including 5′ and 3′ truncated transcripts without in-frame ORFs, antisense RNAs, as well as RNA molecules encoded by those parts of the viral genome where no transcription had been detected before. This study has also led to the identification of three complex transcripts and 50 distinct length isoforms, including transcription start and end variants. We also detected 121 novel transcript overlaps, and two transcripts that overlap the replication origins of PRV. Furthermore,in silicoanalysis revealed 145 upstream ORFs, many of which are located on the longer 5′ isoforms of the transcripts.


September 22, 2019  |  

A carnivorous plant genetic map: pitcher/insect-capture QTL on a genetic linkage map of Sarracenia.

The study of carnivorous plants can afford insight into their unique evolutionary adaptations and their interactions with prokaryotic and eukaryotic species. For Sarracenia (pitcher plants), we identified 64 quantitative trait loci (QTL) for insect-capture traits of the pitchers, providing the genetic basis for differences between the pitfall and lobster-trap strategies of insect capture. The linkage map developed here is based upon the F2 of a cross between Sarracenia rosea and Sarracenia psittacina; we mapped 437 single nucleotide polymorphism and simple sequence repeat markers. We measured pitcher traits which differ between S. rosea and S. psittacina, mapping 64 QTL for 17 pitcher traits; there are hot-spot locations where multiple QTL map near each other. There are epistatic interactions in many cases where there are multiple loci for a trait. The QTL map uncovered the genetic basis for the differences between pitfall- and lobster-traps, and the changes that occurred during the divergence of these species. The longevity and clonability of Sarracenia plants make the F2 mapping population a resource for mapping more traits and for phenotype-to-genotype studies.


September 22, 2019  |  

Abiotic stresses modulate landscape of poplar transcriptome via alternative splicing differential intron retention, and isoform ratio switching.

Abiotic stresses affect plant physiology, development, growth, and alter pre-mRNA splicing. Western poplar is a model woody tree and a potential bioenergy feedstock. To investigate the extent of stress-regulated alternative splicing (AS), we conducted an in-depth survey of leaf, root, and stem xylem transcriptomes under drought, salt, or temperature stress. Analysis of approximately one billion of genome-aligned RNA-Seq reads from tissue- or stress-specific libraries revealed over fifteen millions of novel splice junctions. Transcript models supported by both RNA-Seq and single molecule isoform sequencing (Iso-Seq) data revealed a broad array of novel stress- and/or tissue-specific isoforms. Analysis of Iso-Seq data also resulted in the discovery of 15,087 novel transcribed regions of which 164 show AS. Our findings demonstrate that abiotic stresses profoundly perturb transcript isoform profiles and trigger widespread intron retention (IR) events. Stress treatments often increased or decreased retention of specific introns – a phenomenon described here as differential intron retention (DIR). Many differentially retained introns were regulated in a stress- and/or tissue-specific manner. A subset of transcripts harboring super stress-responsive DIR events showed persisting fluctuations in the degree of IR across all treatments and tissue types. To investigate coordinated dynamics of intron-containing transcripts in the study we quantified absolute copy number of isoforms of two conserved transcription factors (TFs) using Droplet Digital PCR. This case study suggests that stress treatments can be associated with coordinated switches in relative ratios between fully spliced and intron-retaining isoforms and may play a role in adjusting transcriptome to abiotic stresses.


September 22, 2019  |  

Comparative transcriptomic and physiological analyses of Medicago sativa L. indicates that multiple regulatory networks are activated during continuous ABA treatment.

Alfalfa is the most extensively cultivated forage legume worldwide. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying alfalfa responses to exogenous abscisic acid (ABA) are still unknown. In this study, the first global transcriptome profiles of alfalfa roots under ABA treatments for 1, 3 and 12 h (three biological replicates for each time point, including the control group) were constructed using a BGISEQ-500 sequencing platform. A total of 50,742 isoforms with a mean length of 2541 bp were generated, and 4944 differentially expressed isoforms (DEIs) were identified after ABA deposition. Metabolic analyses revealed that these DEIs were involved in plant hormone signal transduction, transcriptional regulation, antioxidative defense and pathogen immunity. Notably, several well characterized hormone signaling pathways, for example, the core ABA signaling pathway, was activated, while salicylic acid, jasmonate and ethylene signaling pathways were mainly suppressed by exogenous ABA. Moreover, the physiological work showed that catalase and peroxidase activity and glutathione and proline content were increased after ABA deposition, which is in accordance with the dynamic transcript profiles of the relevant genes in antioxidative defense system. These results indicate that ABA has the potential to improve abiotic stress tolerance, but that it may negatively regulate pathogen resistance in alfalfa.


September 22, 2019  |  

The gut commensal microbiome of Drosophila melanogaster is modified by the endosymbiont Wolbachia.

Endosymbiotic Wolbachia bacteria and the gut microbiome have independently been shown to affect several aspects of insect biology, including reproduction, development, life span, stem cell activity, and resistance to human pathogens, in insect vectors. This work shows that Wolbachia bacteria, which reside mainly in the fly germline, affect the microbial species present in the fly gut in a lab-reared strain. Drosophila melanogaster hosts two main genera of commensal bacteria-Acetobacter and Lactobacillus. Wolbachia-infected flies have significantly reduced titers of Acetobacter. Sampling of the microbiome of axenic flies fed with equal proportions of both bacteria shows that the presence of Wolbachia bacteria is a significant determinant of the composition of the microbiome throughout fly development. However, this effect is host genotype dependent. To investigate the mechanism of microbiome modulation, the effect of Wolbachia bacteria on Imd and reactive oxygen species pathways, the main regulators of immune response in the fly gut, was measured. The presence of Wolbachia bacteria does not induce significant changes in the expression of the genes for the effector molecules in either pathway. Furthermore, microbiome modulation is not due to direct interaction between Wolbachia bacteria and gut microbes. Confocal analysis shows that Wolbachia bacteria are absent from the gut lumen. These results indicate that the mechanistic basis of the modulation of composition of the microbiome by Wolbachia bacteria is more complex than a direct bacterial interaction or the effect of Wolbachia bacteria on fly immunity. The findings reported here highlight the importance of considering the composition of the gut microbiome and host genetic background during Wolbachia-induced phenotypic studies and when formulating microbe-based disease vector control strategies. IMPORTANCE Wolbachia bacteria are intracellular bacteria present in the microbiome of a large fraction of insects and parasitic nematodes. They can block mosquitos’ ability to transmit several infectious disease-causing pathogens, including Zika, dengue, chikungunya, and West Nile viruses and malaria parasites. Certain extracellular bacteria present in the gut lumen of these insects can also block pathogen transmission. However, our understanding of interactions between Wolbachia and gut bacteria and how they influence each other is limited. Here we show that the presence of Wolbachia strain wMel changes the composition of gut commensal bacteria in the fruit fly. Our findings implicate interactions between bacterial species as a key factor in determining the overall composition of the microbiome and thus reveal new paradigms to consider in the development of disease control strategies.


September 22, 2019  |  

Bacterial microbiota composition of fermented fruit and vegetable juices (jiaosu) analyzed by single-molecule, real-time (SMRT) sequencing

Commercially manufactured ‘jiaosu’ (fermented fruit and vegetable juices) have gained popularity in Asia recently. Like other fermented products, they have a high microbial diversity and richness. However, no published study has yet described their microbiota composition. Thus, this work aimed to obtain the full-length 16S rRNA profiles of jiaosu using the PacBio single-molecule, real-time sequencing technology. We described the bacterial microbiota of three jiaosu products purchased from Taiwan and Japan. Bacterial sequences from all three samples distributed across seven different phyla, mainly Proteobacteria, Firmicutes, Actinobacteria, and Bacteroidetes. Forty-three genera were identified (e.g. Ochrobactrum, Lactobacillus, Mycobacterium, and Acinetobacter). Fifty- five species were identified (e.g. Ochrobactrum lupini, Mycobacterium abscessus, Acinetobacter john- sonii, Lactobacillus paracasei, Lactobacillus delbrueckii, and Petrobacter succinatimandens). No patho- gen sequences were identified within the entire dataset. Moreover, only a low proportion of sequences represented common skin microflora and the food hygiene indicator Escherichia/ Shigella, suggesting overall acceptable sanitary conditions during the manufacturing process.


September 22, 2019  |  

Pacbio sequencing of copper-tolerant Xanthomonas citri reveals presence of a chimeric plasmid structure and provides insights into reassortment and shuffling of transcription activator-like effectors among X. citri strains.

Xanthomonas citri, a causal agent of citrus canker, has been a well-studied model system due to recent availability of whole genome sequences of multiple strains from different geographical regions. Major limitations in our understanding of the evolution of pathogenicity factors in X. citri strains sequenced by short-read sequencing methods have been tracking plasmid reshuffling among strains due to inability to accurately assign reads to plasmids, and analyzing repeat regions among strains. X. citri harbors major pathogenicity determinants, including variable DNA-binding repeat region containing Transcription Activator-like Effectors (TALEs) on plasmids. The long-read sequencing method, PacBio, has allowed the ability to obtain complete and accurate sequences of TALEs in xanthomonads. We recently sequenced Xanthomonas citri str. Xc-03-1638-1-1, a copper tolerant A group strain isolated from grapefruit in 2003 from Argentina using PacBio RS II chemistry. We analyzed plasmid profiles, copy number and location of TALEs in complete genome sequences of X. citri strains.We utilized the power of long reads obtained by PacBio sequencing to enable assembly of a complete genome sequence of strain Xc-03-1638-1-1, including sequences of two plasmids, 249 kb (plasmid harboring copper resistance genes) and 99 kb (pathogenicity plasmid containing TALEs). The pathogenicity plasmid in this strain is a hybrid plasmid containing four TALEs. Due to the intriguing nature of this pathogenicity plasmid with Tn3-like transposon association, repetitive elements and multiple putative sites for origins of replication, we might expect alternative structures of this plasmid in nature, illustrating the strong adaptive potential of X. citri strains. Analysis of the pathogenicity plasmid among completely sequenced X. citri strains, coupled with Southern hybridization of the pathogenicity plasmids, revealed clues to rearrangements of plasmids and resulting reshuffling of TALEs among strains.We demonstrate in this study the importance of long-read sequencing for obtaining intact sequences of TALEs and plasmids, as well as for identifying rearrangement events including plasmid reshuffling. Rearrangement events, such as the hybrid plasmid in this case, could be a frequent phenomenon in the evolution of X. citri strains, although so far it is undetected due to the inability to obtain complete plasmid sequences with short-read sequencing methods.


September 22, 2019  |  

Comparative mapping of the ASTRINGENCY locus controlling fruit astringency in hexaploid persimmon (Diospyros kaki Thunb.) with the diploid D. lotus reference genome

Persimmon (Diospyros kaki) is a tree crop species that originated in East Asia, consists mainly of hexaploid individuals (2n = 6x = 90) with some nonaploid individuals. One of the unique characteristics of persimmon is the continuous accumulation of proanthocyanidins (PAs) in its fruit until the middle of fruit development, resulting in a strong astringent taste even at commercial fruit maturity. Among persimmon cultivars, pollination-constant and non-astringent (PCNA) types cease PA accumulation in early fruit development and become non-astringent at commercial maturity. PCNA is an allelic trait to non-PCNA and is controlled by a single locus called the ASTRINGENCY (AST) locus. Previous segregation analyses indicated that the AST locus shows hexasomic inheritance; a recessive allele, ast, at this locus confers PCNA. Here, we report a shuttle mapping approach to delimit the AST locus region in the hexaploid persimmon genome by using D. lotus, a diploid relative of D. kaki, as a reference. A D. lotus F1 population of 333 individuals and 296 D. kaki siblings segregating for the PCNA trait were used to map the AST region using haplotype-specific markers covering the AST region. This indicated that the AST locus is syntenic to an approximately 915-kb region of the D. lotus genome. In this 915-kb region, we found several candidates for AST that were revealed from the fruit transcriptome of a population segregating for the PCNA trait. These results could provide important clues for the isolation of AST in hexaploid persimmon.


September 22, 2019  |  

The genome sequence of the commercially cultivated mushroom Agrocybe aegerita reveals a conserved repertoire of fruiting-related genes and a versatile suite of biopolymer-degrading enzymes.

Agrocybe aegerita is an agaricomycete fungus with typical mushroom features, which is commercially cultivated for its culinary use. In nature, it is a saprotrophic or facultative pathogenic fungus causing a white-rot of hardwood in forests of warm and mild climate. The ease of cultivation and fructification on solidified media as well as its archetypal mushroom fruit body morphology render A. aegerita a well-suited model for investigating mushroom developmental biology.Here, the genome of the species is reported and analysed with respect to carbohydrate active genes and genes known to play a role during fruit body formation. In terms of fruit body development, our analyses revealed a conserved repertoire of fruiting-related genes, which corresponds well to the archetypal fruit body morphology of this mushroom. For some genes involved in fruit body formation, paralogisation was observed, but not all fruit body maturation-associated genes known from other agaricomycetes seem to be conserved in the genome sequence of A. aegerita. In terms of lytic enzymes, our analyses suggest a versatile arsenal of biopolymer-degrading enzymes that likely account for the flexible life style of this species. Regarding the amount of genes encoding CAZymes relevant for lignin degradation, A. aegerita shows more similarity to white-rot fungi than to litter decomposers, including 18 genes coding for unspecific peroxygenases and three dye-decolourising peroxidase genes expanding its lignocellulolytic machinery.The genome resource will be useful for developing strategies towards genetic manipulation of A. aegerita, which will subsequently allow functional genetics approaches to elucidate fundamentals of fruiting and vegetative growth including lignocellulolysis.


September 22, 2019  |  

Insights on a founder effect: the case of Xylella fastidiosa in the Salento area of Apulia, Italy

Xylella fastidiosa causing disease on different plant species has been reported in several European countries, since 2013. Based on multilocus sequence typing (MLST) results, there is evidence of repeated introductions of the pathogen in Spain and France. In contrast, in the Salento area of Apulia (Puglia) in Southern Italy, the existence of a unique Apulian MLST genotype of X. fastidiosa, causing the olive quick decline syndrome (OQDS; also referred to as “CoDiRO” or “ST53”) was proven, and this was tentatively ascribed to X. fastidiosa subsp. pauca. In order to acquire information on intra population diversity European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has strongly called for the characterization of X. fastidiosa isolates from Apulia to produce the necessary data to better understand strain diversity and evolution. In this work, for the first time the existence of sub-variants within a set of 14 “ST53” isolates of X. fastidiosa collected from different locations was searched using DNA typing methods targeting the whole pathogen genome. Invariably, VNTR, RAPD and rep-PCR (ERIC and BOX motifs) analyses indicated that all tested isolates possessed the same genomic fingerprint, supporting the existence of predominant epidemiological strain in Apulia. To further explore the degree of clonality within this population, two isolates from two different Salento areas (Taviano and Ugento) were completely sequenced using PacBio SMRT technology. The whole genome map and sequence comparisons revealed that both isolates are nearly identical, showing less than 0.001% nucleotide diversity. However, the complete and circularized Salento-1 and Salento-2 genome sequences were different, in genome and plasmid size, from the reference strain 9a5c of X. fastidiosa subsp. pauca (from citrus), and showed a PCR-proved large genome inversion of about 1.7 Mb. Genome-wide indices ANIm and dDDH indicated that the three isolates of X. fastidiosa from Salento (Apulia, Italy), namely Salento-1, Salento-2, and De Donno, whose complete genome sequence has been recently released, share a very recent common ancestor. This highlights the importance of continuous and extensive monitoring of molecular variation of this invasive pathogen to understand evolution of adaptive traits, and the necessity for adoption of all possible measures to reduce the risk of new introductions that may augment pathogen diversity.


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