April 21, 2020  |  

Improved assembly and variant detection of a haploid human genome using single-molecule, high-fidelity long reads.

The sequence and assembly of human genomes using long-read sequencing technologies has revolutionized our understanding of structural variation and genome organization. We compared the accuracy, continuity, and gene annotation of genome assemblies generated from either high-fidelity (HiFi) or continuous long-read (CLR) datasets from the same complete hydatidiform mole human genome. We find that the HiFi sequence data assemble an additional 10% of duplicated regions and more accurately represent the structure of tandem repeats, as validated with orthogonal analyses. As a result, an additional 5 Mbp of pericentromeric sequences are recovered in the HiFi assembly, resulting in a 2.5-fold increase in the NG50 within 1 Mbp of the centromere (HiFi 480.6 kbp, CLR 191.5 kbp). Additionally, the HiFi genome assembly was generated in significantly less time with fewer computational resources than the CLR assembly. Although the HiFi assembly has significantly improved continuity and accuracy in many complex regions of the genome, it still falls short of the assembly of centromeric DNA and the largest regions of segmental duplication using existing assemblers. Despite these shortcomings, our results suggest that HiFi may be the most effective standalone technology for de novo assembly of human genomes. © 2019 John Wiley & Sons Ltd/University College London.


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  |  

ASA3P: An automatic and scalable pipeline for the assembly, annotation and higher level analysis of closely related bacterial isolates

Whole genome sequencing of bacteria has become daily routine in many fields. Advances in DNA sequencing technologies and continuously dropping costs have resulted in a tremendous increase in the amounts of available sequence data. However, comprehensive in-depth analysis of the resulting data remains an arduous and time consuming task. In order to keep pace with these promising but challenging developments and to transform raw data into valuable information, standardized analyses and scalable software tools are needed. Here, we introduce ASA3P, a fully automatic, locally executable and scalable assembly, annotation and analysis pipeline for bacterial genomes. The pipeline automatically executes necessary data processing steps, i.e. quality clipping and assembly of raw sequencing reads, scaffolding of contigs and annotation of the resulting genome sequences. Furthermore, ASA3P conducts comprehensive genome characterizations and analyses, e.g. taxonomic classification, detection of antibiotic resistance genes and identification of virulence factors. All results are presented via an HTML5 user interface providing aggregated information, interactive visualizations and access to intermediate results in standard bioinformatics file formats. We distribute ASA3P in two versions: a locally executable Docker container for small-to-medium-scale projects and an OpenStack based cloud computing version able to automatically create and manage self-scaling compute clusters. Thus, automatic and standardized analysis of hundreds of bacterial genomes becomes feasible within hours. The software and further information is available at: http://asap.computational.bio.


April 21, 2020  |  

RNA sequencing: the teenage years.

Over the past decade, RNA sequencing (RNA-seq) has become an indispensable tool for transcriptome-wide analysis of differential gene expression and differential splicing of mRNAs. However, as next-generation sequencing technologies have developed, so too has RNA-seq. Now, RNA-seq methods are available for studying many different aspects of RNA biology, including single-cell gene expression, translation (the translatome) and RNA structure (the structurome). Exciting new applications are being explored, such as spatial transcriptomics (spatialomics). Together with new long-read and direct RNA-seq technologies and better computational tools for data analysis, innovations in RNA-seq are contributing to a fuller understanding of RNA biology, from questions such as when and where transcription occurs to the folding and intermolecular interactions that govern RNA function.


April 21, 2020  |  

Genomic analysis of Marinobacter sp. NP-4 and NP-6 isolated from the deep-sea oceanic crust on the western flank of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge

Two Marinobacter sp. NP-4 and NP-6 were isolated from a deep oceanic basaltic crust at North Pond, located at the western flank of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. These two strains are capable of using multiple carbon sources such as acetate, succinate, glucose and sucrose while take oxygen as a primary electron acceptor. The strain NP-4 is also able to grow anaerobically under 20?MPa, with nitrate as the electron acceptor, thus represents a piezotolerant. To explore the metabolic potentials of Marinobacter sp. NP-4 and NP-6, the complete genome of NP-4 and close-to-complete genome of NP-6 were sequenced. The genome of NP-4 contains one chromosome and two plasmids with the size of 4.6?Mb in total, and with average GC content of 57.0%. The genome of NP-6 is 4.5?Mb and consists of 6 scaffolds, with an average GC content of 57.1%. Complete glycolysis, citrate cycle and aromatics compounds degradation pathways are identified in genomes of these two strains, suggesting that they possess a heterotrophic life style. Additionally, one plasmid of NP-4 contains genes for alkane degradation, phosphonate ABC transporter and cation efflux system, enabling NP-4 extra surviving abilities. In total, genomic information of these two strains provide insights into the physiological features and adaptation strategies of Marinobacter spp. in the deep oceanic crust biosphere.


April 21, 2020  |  

Integrating multiple genomic technologies to investigate an outbreak of carbapenemase-producing Enterobacter hormaechei

Carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE) represent one of the most urgent threats to human health posed by antibiotic resistant bacteria. Enterobacter hormaechei and other members of the Enterobacter cloacae complex are the most commonly encountered Enterobacter spp. within clinical settings, responsible for numerous outbreaks and ultimately poorer patient outcomes. Here we applied three complementary whole genome sequencing (WGS) technologies to characterise a hospital cluster of blaIMP-4 carbapenemase-producing E. hormaechei.In response to a suspected CRE outbreak in 2015 within an Intensive Care Unit (ICU)/Burns Unit in a Brisbane tertiary referral hospital we used Illumina sequencing to determine that all outbreak isolates were sequence type (ST)90 and near-identical at the core genome level. Comparison to publicly available data unequivocally linked all 10 isolates to a 2013 isolate from the same ward, confirming the hospital environment as the most likely original source of infection in the 2015 cases. No clonal relationship was found to IMP-4-producing isolates identified from other local hospitals. However, using Pacific Biosciences long-read sequencing we were able to resolve the complete context of the blaIMP-4 gene, which was found to be on a large IncHI2 plasmid carried by all IMP-4-producing isolates. Continued surveillance of the hospital environment was carried out using Oxford Nanopore long-read sequencing, which was able to rapidly resolve the true relationship of subsequent isolates to the initial outbreak. Shotgun metagenomic sequencing of environmental samples also found evidence of ST90 E. hormaechei and the IncHI2 plasmid within the hospital plumbing.Overall, our strategic application of three WGS technologies provided an in-depth analysis of the outbreak, including the transmission dynamics of a carbapenemase-producing E. hormaechei cluster, identification of possible hospital reservoirs and the full context of blaIMP-4 on a multidrug resistant IncHI2 plasmid that appears to be widely distributed in Australia.


April 21, 2020  |  

Genome data of Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. cubense race 1 and tropical race 4 isolates using long-read sequencing.

Fusarium wilt of banana is caused by the soil-borne fungal pathogen Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. cubense (Foc). We generated two chromosome-level assemblies of Foc race 1 and tropical race 4 strains using single-molecule real-time sequencing. The Foc1 and FocTR4 assemblies had 35 and 29 contigs with contig N50 lengths of 2.08 Mb and 4.28 Mb, respectively. These two new references genomes represent a greater than 100-fold improvement over the contig N50 statistics of the previous short read-based Foc assemblies. The two high-quality assemblies reported here will be a valuable resource for the comparative analysis of Foc races at the pathogenic levels.


April 21, 2020  |  

Insect genomes: progress and challenges.

In the wake of constant improvements in sequencing technologies, numerous insect genomes have been sequenced. Currently, 1219 insect genome-sequencing projects have been registered with the National Center for Biotechnology Information, including 401 that have genome assemblies and 155 with an official gene set of annotated protein-coding genes. Comparative genomics analysis showed that the expansion or contraction of gene families was associated with well-studied physiological traits such as immune system, metabolic detoxification, parasitism and polyphagy in insects. Here, we summarize the progress of insect genome sequencing, with an emphasis on how this impacts research on pest control. We begin with a brief introduction to the basic concepts of genome assembly, annotation and metrics for evaluating the quality of draft assemblies. We then provide an overview of genome information for numerous insect species, highlighting examples from prominent model organisms, agricultural pests and disease vectors. We also introduce the major insect genome databases. The increasing availability of insect genomic resources is beneficial for developing alternative pest control methods. However, many opportunities remain for developing data-mining tools that make maximal use of the available insect genome resources. Although rapid progress has been achieved, many challenges remain in the field of insect genomics. © 2019 The Royal Entomological Society.


April 21, 2020  |  

The landscape of SNCA transcripts across synucleinopathies: New insights from long reads sequencing analysis

Dysregulation of alpha-synuclein expression has been implicated in the pathogenesis of synucleinopathies, in particular Parkinsontextquoterights Disease (PD) and Dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB). Previous studies have shown that the alternatively spliced isoforms of the SNCA gene are differentially expressed in different parts of the brain for PD and DLB patients. Similarly, SNCA isoforms with skipped exons can have a functional impact on the protein domains. The large intronic region of the SNCA gene was also shown to harbor structural variants that affect transcriptional levels. Here we apply the first study of using long read sequencing with targeted capture of both the gDNA and cDNA of the SNCA gene in brain tissues of PD, DLB, and control samples using the PacBio Sequel system. The targeted full-length cDNA (Iso-Seq) data confirmed complex usage of known alternative start sites and variable 3textquoteright UTR lengths, as well as novel 5textquoteright starts and 3textquoteright ends not previously described. The targeted gDNA data allowed phasing of up to 81% of the ~114kb SNCA region, with the longest phased block excedding 54 kb. We demonstrate that long gDNA and cDNA reads have the potential to reveal long-range information not previously accessible using traditional sequencing methods. This approach has a potential impact in studying disease risk genes such as SNCA, providing new insights into the genetic etiologies, including perturbations to the landscape the gene transcripts, of human complex diseases such as synucleinopathies.


April 21, 2020  |  

Relative Performance of MinION (Oxford Nanopore Technologies) versus Sequel (Pacific Biosciences) Third-Generation Sequencing Instruments in Identification of Agricultural and Forest Fungal Pathogens.

Culture-based molecular identification methods have revolutionized detection of pathogens, yet these methods are slow and may yield inconclusive results from environmental materials. The second-generation sequencing tools have much-improved precision and sensitivity of detection, but these analyses are costly and may take several days to months. Of the third-generation sequencing techniques, the portable MinION device (Oxford Nanopore Technologies) has received much attention because of its small size and possibility of rapid analysis at reasonable cost. Here, we compare the relative performances of two third-generation sequencing instruments, MinION and Sequel (Pacific Biosciences), in identification and diagnostics of fungal and oomycete pathogens from conifer (Pinaceae) needles and potato (Solanum tuberosum) leaves and tubers. We demonstrate that the Sequel instrument is efficient for metabarcoding of complex samples, whereas MinION is not suited for this purpose due to a high error rate and multiple biases. However, we find that MinION can be utilized for rapid and accurate identification of dominant pathogenic organisms and other associated organisms from plant tissues following both amplicon-based and PCR-free metagenomics approaches. Using the metagenomics approach with shortened DNA extraction and incubation times, we performed the entire MinION workflow, from sample preparation through DNA extraction, sequencing, bioinformatics, and interpretation, in 2.5 h. We advocate the use of MinION for rapid diagnostics of pathogens and potentially other organisms, but care needs to be taken to control or account for multiple potential technical biases.IMPORTANCE Microbial pathogens cause enormous losses to agriculture and forestry, but current combined culturing- and molecular identification-based detection methods are too slow for rapid identification and application of countermeasures. Here, we develop new and rapid protocols for Oxford Nanopore MinION-based third-generation diagnostics of plant pathogens that greatly improve the speed of diagnostics. However, due to high error rate and technical biases in MinION, the Pacific BioSciences Sequel platform is more useful for in-depth amplicon-based biodiversity monitoring (metabarcoding) from complex environmental samples.Copyright © 2019 American Society for Microbiology.


April 21, 2020  |  

Plantibacter flavus, Curtobacterium herbarum, Paenibacillus taichungensis, and Rhizobium selenitireducens Endophytes Provide Host-Specific Growth Promotion of Arabidopsis thaliana, Basil, Lettuce, and Bok Choy Plants.

A collection of bacterial endophytes isolated from stem tissues of plants growing in soils highly contaminated with petroleum hydrocarbons were screened for plant growth-promoting capabilities. Twenty-seven endophytic isolates significantly improved the growth of Arabidopsis thaliana plants in comparison to that of uninoculated control plants. The five most beneficial isolates, one strain each of Curtobacterium herbarum, Paenibacillus taichungensis, and Rhizobium selenitireducens and two strains of Plantibacter flavus were further examined for growth promotion in Arabidopsis, lettuce, basil, and bok choy plants. Host-specific plant growth promotion was observed when plants were inoculated with the five bacterial strains. P. flavus strain M251 increased the total biomass and total root length of Arabidopsis plants by 4.7 and 5.8 times, respectively, over that of control plants and improved lettuce and basil root growth, while P. flavus strain M259 promoted Arabidopsis shoot and root growth, lettuce and basil root growth, and bok choy shoot growth. A genome comparison between P. flavus strains M251 and M259 showed that both genomes contain up to 70 actinobacterial putative plant-associated genes and genes involved in known plant-beneficial pathways, such as those for auxin and cytokinin biosynthesis and 1-aminocyclopropane-1-carboxylate deaminase production. This study provides evidence of direct plant growth promotion by Plantibacter flavusIMPORTANCE The discovery of new plant growth-promoting bacteria is necessary for the continued development of biofertilizers, which are environmentally friendly and cost-efficient alternatives to conventional chemical fertilizers. Biofertilizer effects on plant growth can be inconsistent due to the complexity of plant-microbe interactions, as the same bacteria can be beneficial to the growth of some plant species and neutral or detrimental to others. We examined a set of bacterial endophytes isolated from plants growing in a unique petroleum-contaminated environment to discover plant growth-promoting bacteria. We show that strains of Plantibacter flavus exhibit strain-specific plant growth-promoting effects on four different plant species.Copyright © 2019 American Society for Microbiology.


April 21, 2020  |  

A chromosomal-level genome assembly for the insect vector for Chagas disease, Triatoma rubrofasciata.

Triatoma rubrofasciata is a widespread pathogen vector for Chagas disease, an illness that affects approximately 7 million people worldwide. Despite its importance to human health, its evolutionary origin has not been conclusively determined. A reference genome for T. rubrofasciata is not yet available.We have sequenced the genome of a female individual with T. rubrofasciatausing a single molecular DNA sequencing technology (i.e., PacBio Sequel platform) and have successfully reconstructed a whole-genome (680-Mb) assembly that covers 90% of the nuclear genome (757 Mb). Through Hi-C analysis, we have reconstructed full-length chromosomes of this female individual that has 13 unique chromosomes (2n = 24 = 22 + X1 + X2) with a contig N50 of 2.72 Mb and a scaffold N50 of 50.7 Mb. This genome has achieved a high base-level accuracy of 99.99%. This platinum-grade genome assembly has 12,691 annotated protein-coding genes. More than 95.1% of BUSCO genes were single-copy completed, indicating a high level of completeness of the genome.The platinum-grade genome assembly and its annotation provide valuable information for future in-depth comparative genomics studies, including sexual determination analysis in T. rubrofasciata and the pathogenesis of Chagas disease. © The Author(s) 2019. Published by Oxford University Press.


April 21, 2020  |  

Combining Viral Genetics and Statistical Modeling to Improve HIV-1 Time-of-infection Estimation towards Enhanced Vaccine Efficacy Assessment.

Knowledge of the time of HIV-1 infection and the multiplicity of viruses that establish HIV-1 infection is crucial for the in-depth analysis of clinical prevention efficacy trial outcomes. Better estimation methods would improve the ability to characterize immunological and genetic sequence correlates of efficacy within preventive efficacy trials of HIV-1 vaccines and monoclonal antibodies. We developed new methods for infection timing and multiplicity estimation using maximum likelihood estimators that shift and scale (calibrate) estimates by fitting true infection times and founder virus multiplicities to a linear regression model with independent variables defined by data on HIV-1 sequences, viral load, diagnostics, and sequence alignment statistics. Using Poisson models of measured mutation counts and phylogenetic trees, we analyzed longitudinal HIV-1 sequence data together with diagnostic and viral load data from the RV217 and CAPRISA 002 acute HIV-1 infection cohort studies. We used leave-one-out cross validation to evaluate the prediction error of these calibrated estimators versus that of existing estimators and found that both infection time and founder multiplicity can be estimated with improved accuracy and precision by calibration. Calibration considerably improved all estimators of time since HIV-1 infection, in terms of reducing bias to near zero and reducing root mean squared error (RMSE) to 5-10 days for sequences collected 1-2 months after infection. The calibration of multiplicity assessments yielded strong improvements with accurate predictions (ROC-AUC above 0.85) in all cases. These results have not yet been validated on external data, and the best-fitting models are likely to be less robust than simpler models to variation in sequencing conditions. For all evaluated models, these results demonstrate the value of calibration for improved estimation of founder multiplicity and of time since HIV-1 infection.


April 21, 2020  |  

Dynamics of Resistance Plasmids in Extended-Spectrum-ß-Lactamase-Producing Enterobacteriaceae during Postinfection Colonization.

Extended-spectrum ß-lactamase-producing Enterobacteriaceae (EPE) are a major cause of bloodstream infections, and the colonization rate of EPE in the gut microbiota of individuals lacking prior hospitalization or comorbidities is increasing. In this study, we performed an in-depth investigation of the temporal dynamics of EPE and their plasmids during one year by collecting fecal samples from three patients initially seeking medical care for urinary tract infections. In two of the patients, the same strain that caused the urinary tract infection (UTI) was found at all consecutive samplings from the gut microbiota, and no other EPEs were detected, while in the third patient the UTI strain was only found in the initial UTI sample. Instead, this patient presented a complex situation where a mixed microbiota of different EPE strain types, including three different E. coli ST131 variants, as well as different bacterial species, was identified over the course of the study. Different plasmid dynamics were displayed in each of the patients, including the spread of plasmids between different strain types over time and the transposition of blaCTX-M-15 from the chromosome to a plasmid, followed by subsequent loss through homologous recombination. Small cryptic plasmids were found in all isolates from all patients, and they appear to move frequently between different strains in the microbiota. In conclusion, we could demonstrate an extensive variation of EPE strain types, plasmid composition, rearrangements, and horizontal gene transfer of genetic material illustrating the high dynamics nature and interactive environment of the gut microbiota during post-UTI carriage.Copyright © 2019 American Society for Microbiology.


April 21, 2020  |  

Detection of VIM-1-Producing Enterobacter cloacae and Salmonella enterica Serovars Infantis and Goldcoast at a Breeding Pig Farm in Germany in 2017 and Their Molecular Relationship to Former VIM-1-Producing S. Infantis Isolates in German Livestock Production.

In 2011, VIM-1-producing Salmonella enterica serovar Infantis and Escherichia coli were isolated for the first time in four German livestock farms. In 2015/2016, highly related isolates were identified in German pig production. This raised the issue of potential reservoirs for these isolates, the relation of their mobile genetic elements, and potential links between the different affected farms/facilities. In a piglet-producing farm suspicious for being linked to some blaVIM-1 findings in Germany, fecal and environmental samples were examined for the presence of carbapenemase-producing Enterobacteriaceae and Salmonella spp. Newly discovered isolates were subjected to Illumina whole-genome sequencing (WGS) and S1 pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) hybridization experiments. WGS data of these isolates were compared with those for the previously isolated VIM-1-producing Salmonella Infantis isolates from pigs and poultry. Among 103 samples, one Salmonella Goldcoast isolate, one Salmonella Infantis isolate, and one Enterobacter cloacae isolate carrying the blaVIM-1 gene were detected. Comparative WGS analysis revealed that the blaVIM-1 gene was part of a particular Tn21-like transposable element in all isolates. It was located on IncHI2 (ST1) plasmids of ~290 to 300?kb with a backbone highly similar (98 to 100%) to that of reference pSE15-SA01028. SNP analysis revealed a close relationship of all VIM-1-positive S Infantis isolates described since 2011. The findings of this study demonstrate that the occurrence of the blaVIM-1 gene in German livestock is restricted neither to a certain bacterial species nor to a certain Salmonella serovar but is linked to a particular Tn21-like transposable element located on transferable pSE15-SA01028-like IncHI2 (ST1) plasmids, being present in all of the investigated isolates from 2011 to 2017.IMPORTANCE Carbapenems are considered one of few remaining treatment options against multidrug-resistant Gram-negative pathogens in human clinical settings. The occurrence of carbapenemase-producing Enterobacteriaceae in livestock and food is a major public health concern. Particularly the occurrence of VIM-1-producing Salmonella Infantis in livestock farms is worrisome, as this zoonotic pathogen is one of the main causes for human salmonellosis in Europe. Investigations on the epidemiology of those carbapenemase-producing isolates and associated mobile genetic elements through an in-depth molecular characterization are indispensable to understand the transmission of carbapenemase-producing Enterobacteriaceae along the food chain and between different populations to develop strategies to prevent their further spread.Copyright © 2019 Roschanski et al.


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