April 21, 2020  |  

The Chinese chestnut genome: a reference for species restoration

Forest tree species are increasingly subject to severe mortalities from exotic pests, diseases, and invasive organisms, accelerated by climate change. Forest health issues are threatening multiple species and ecosystem sustainability globally. While sources of resistance may be available in related species, or among surviving trees, introgression of resistance genes into threatened tree species in reasonable time frames requires genome-wide breeding tools. Asian species of chestnut (Castanea spp.) are being employed as donors of disease resistance genes to restore native chestnut species in North America and Europe. To aid in the restoration of threatened chestnut species, we present the assembly of a reference genome with chromosome-scale sequences for Chinese chestnut (C. mollissima), the disease-resistance donor for American chestnut restoration. We also demonstrate the value of the genome as a platform for research and species restoration, including new insights into the evolution of blight resistance in Asian chestnut species, the locations in the genome of ecologically important signatures of selection differentiating American chestnut from Chinese chestnut, the identification of candidate genes for disease resistance, and preliminary comparisons of genome organization with related species.


April 21, 2020  |  

A hybrid de novo assembly of the sea pansy (Renilla muelleri) genome.

More than 3,000 species of octocorals (Cnidaria, Anthozoa) inhabit an expansive range of environments, from shallow tropical seas to the deep-ocean floor. They are important foundation species that create coral “forests,” which provide unique niches and 3-dimensional living space for other organisms. The octocoral genus Renilla inhabits sandy, continental shelves in the subtropical and tropical Atlantic and eastern Pacific Oceans. Renilla is especially interesting because it produces secondary metabolites for defense, exhibits bioluminescence, and produces a luciferase that is widely used in dual-reporter assays in molecular biology. Although several anthozoan genomes are currently available, the majority of these are hexacorals. Here, we present a de novo assembly of an azooxanthellate shallow-water octocoral, Renilla muelleri.We generated a hybrid de novo assembly using MaSuRCA v.3.2.6. The final assembly included 4,825 scaffolds and a haploid genome size of 172 megabases (Mb). A BUSCO assessment found 88% of metazoan orthologs present in the genome. An Augustus ab initio gene prediction found 23,660 genes, of which 66% (15,635) had detectable similarity to annotated genes from the starlet sea anemone, Nematostella vectensis, or to the Uniprot database. Although the R. muelleri genome may be smaller (172 Mb minimum size) than other publicly available coral genomes (256-448 Mb), the R. muelleri genome is similar to other coral genomes in terms of the number of complete metazoan BUSCOs and predicted gene models.The R. muelleri hybrid genome provides a novel resource for researchers to investigate the evolution of genes and gene families within Octocorallia and more widely across Anthozoa. It will be a key resource for future comparative genomics with other corals and for understanding the genomic basis of coral diversity. © The Author(s) 2019. Published by Oxford University Press.


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