June 1, 2021  |  

Improving the goat long-read assembly with optical mapping and Hi-C scaffolding

Reference genome assemblies provide important context in genetics by standardizing the order of genes and providing a universal set of coordinates for individual nucleotides. Often due to the high complexity of genic regions and higher copy number of genes involved in immune function, immunity-related genes are often misassembled in current reference assemblies. This problem is particularly ubiquitous in the reference genomes of non-model organisms as they often do not receive the years of curation necessary to resolve annotation and assembly errors. In this study, we reassemble a reference genome of the goat (Capra hircus) using modern PacBio technology in tandem with BioNano Genomics Irys optical maps and Lachesis clustering in order to provide a high quality reference assembly without the need for extensive filtering. Initial PacBio assemblies using P5C4 chemistry achieved contig N50’s of 4 Megabases and a BUSCO completion score of 84.0%, which is comparable to several finished model organism reference assemblies. We used BioNano Genomics’ Irys platform to generate 336 scaffolds from this data with a scaffold N50 of 24 megabases and total genome coverage of 98%. Lachesis interaction maps were used with a clustering algorithm to associate Irys scaffolds into the expected 30 chromosome physical maps. Comparisons of the initial hybrid scaffolds generated from the long read contigs and optical map information to a previously generated RH map revealed that the entirety of the Goat autosome 20 physical map was contained within one scaffold. Additionally, the BioNano scaffolding resolved several difficult regions that contained genes related to innate immunity which were problem regions in previous reference genome assemblies.


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  |  

Galacto-oligosaccharides modulate the juvenile gut microbiome and innate immunity to improve broiler chicken performance

Improvements in growth performance and health are key goals in broiler chicken production. Inclusion of prebiotic galacto-oligosaccharides in broiler feed enhanced the growth rate and feed conversion of chickens relative to a calorie-matched control diet. Comparison of the cecal microbiota identified key differences in abundance of Lactobacillus spp. Increased levels of L. johnsonii in GOS-fed juvenile birds at the expense of L. crispatus was linked to improved performance (growth rate and market weight). Investigation of the innate immune responses highlighted increases of ileal and cecal IL-17A gene expression counterposed to a decrease in IL-10 and IL-17F. Quantification of the autochthonous Lactobacillus ssp. revealed a correlation between bird performance and L. johnsonii abundance. Shifts in the cecal populations of key Lactobacillus spp. of juvenile birds primed intestinal innate immunity without harmful pathogen challenge.


April 21, 2020  |  

Complete genome sequence of Bacillus velezensis JT3-1, a microbial germicide isolated from yak feces

Bacillus velezensis JT3-1 is a probiotic strain isolated from feces of the domestic yak (Bos grunniens) in the Gansu province of China. It has strong antagonistic activity against Listeria monocytogenes, Staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli, Salmonella Typhimurium, Mannheimia haemolytica, Staphylococcus hominis, Clostridium perfringens, and Mycoplasma bovis. These properties have made the JT3-1 strain the focus of commercial interest. In this study, we describe the complete genome sequence of JT3-1, with a genome size of 3,929,799 bp, 3761 encoded genes and an average GC content of 46.50%. Whole genome sequencing of Bacillus velezensis JT3-1 will lay a good foundation for elucidation of the mechanisms of its antimicrobial activity, and for its future application.


April 21, 2020  |  

Optimized Cas9 expression systems for highly efficient Arabidopsis genome editing facilitate isolation of complex alleles in a single generation.

Genetic resources for the model plant Arabidopsis comprise mutant lines defective in almost any single gene in reference accession Columbia. However, gene redundancy and/or close linkage often render it extremely laborious or even impossible to isolate a desired line lacking a specific function or set of genes from segregating populations. Therefore, we here evaluated strategies and efficiencies for the inactivation of multiple genes by Cas9-based nucleases and multiplexing. In first attempts, we succeeded in isolating a mutant line carrying a 70 kb deletion, which occurred at a frequency of ~?1.6% in the T2 generation, through PCR-based screening of numerous individuals. However, we failed to isolate a line lacking Lhcb1 genes, which are present in five copies organized at two loci in the Arabidopsis genome. To improve efficiency of our Cas9-based nuclease system, regulatory sequences controlling Cas9 expression levels and timing were systematically compared. Indeed, use of DD45 and RPS5a promoters improved efficiency of our genome editing system by approximately 25-30-fold in comparison to the previous ubiquitin promoter. Using an optimized genome editing system with RPS5a promoter-driven Cas9, putatively quintuple mutant lines lacking detectable amounts of Lhcb1 protein represented approximately 30% of T1 transformants. These results show how improved genome editing systems facilitate the isolation of complex mutant alleles, previously considered impossible to generate, at high frequency even in a single (T1) generation.


April 21, 2020  |  

Large-scale ruminant genome sequencing provides insights into their evolution and distinct traits.

The ruminants are one of the most successful mammalian lineages, exhibiting morphological and habitat diversity and containing several key livestock species. To better understand their evolution, we generated and analyzed de novo assembled genomes of 44 ruminant species, representing all six Ruminantia families. We used these genomes to create a time-calibrated phylogeny to resolve topological controversies, overcoming the challenges of incomplete lineage sorting. Population dynamic analyses show that population declines commenced between 100,000 and 50,000 years ago, which is concomitant with expansion in human populations. We also reveal genes and regulatory elements that possibly contribute to the evolution of the digestive system, cranial appendages, immune system, metabolism, body size, cursorial locomotion, and dentition of the ruminants. Copyright © 2019 The Authors, some rights reserved; exclusive licensee American Association for the Advancement of Science. No claim to original U.S. Government Works.


April 21, 2020  |  

A Novel Bacteriophage Exclusion (BREX) System Encoded by the pglX Gene in Lactobacillus casei Zhang.

The bacteriophage exclusion (BREX) system is a novel prokaryotic defense system against bacteriophages. To our knowledge, no study has systematically characterized the function of the BREX system in lactic acid bacteria. Lactobacillus casei Zhang is a probiotic bacterium originating from koumiss. By using single-molecule real-time sequencing, we previously identified N6-methyladenine (m6A) signatures in the genome of L. casei Zhang and a putative methyltransferase (MTase), namely, pglX This work further analyzed the genomic locus near the pglX gene and identified it as a component of the BREX system. To decipher the biological role of pglX, an L. casei Zhang pglX mutant (?pglX) was constructed. Interestingly, m6A methylation of the 5′-ACRCAG-3′ motif was eliminated in the ?pglX mutant. The wild-type and mutant strains exhibited no significant difference in morphology or growth performance in de Man-Rogosa-Sharpe (MRS) medium. A significantly higher plasmid acquisition capacity was observed for the ?pglX mutant than for the wild type if the transformed plasmids contained pglX recognition sites (i.e., 5′-ACRCAG-3′). In contrast, no significant difference was observed in plasmid transformation efficiency between the two strains when plasmids lacking pglX recognition sites were tested. Moreover, the ?pglX mutant had a lower capacity to retain the plasmids than the wild type, suggesting a decrease in genetic stability. Since the Rebase database predicted that the L. casei PglX protein was bifunctional, as both an MTase and a restriction endonuclease, the PglX protein was heterologously expressed and purified but failed to show restriction endonuclease activity. Taken together, the results show that the L. casei Zhang pglX gene is a functional adenine MTase that belongs to the BREX system.IMPORTANCELactobacillus casei Zhang is a probiotic that confers beneficial effects on the host, and it is thus increasingly used in the dairy industry. The possession of an effective bacterial immune system that can defend against invasion of phages and exogenous DNA is a desirable feature for industrial bacterial strains. The bacteriophage exclusion (BREX) system is a recently described phage resistance system in prokaryotes. This work confirmed the function of the BREX system in L. casei and that the methyltransferase (pglX) is an indispensable part of the system. Overall, our study characterizes a BREX system component gene in lactic acid bacteria. Copyright © 2019 American Society for Microbiology.


April 21, 2020  |  

Single-Cell Virus Sequencing of Influenza Infections That Trigger Innate Immunity.

Influenza virus-infected cells vary widely in their expression of viral genes and only occasionally activate innate immunity. Here, we develop a new method to assess how the genetic variation in viral populations contributes to this heterogeneity. We do this by determining the transcriptome and full-length sequences of all viral genes in single cells infected with a nominally “pure” stock of influenza virus. Most cells are infected by virions with defects, some of which increase the frequency of innate-immune activation. These immunostimulatory defects are diverse and include mutations that perturb the function of the viral polymerase protein PB1, large internal deletions in viral genes, and failure to express the virus’s interferon antagonist NS1. However, immune activation remains stochastic in cells infected by virions with these defects and occasionally is triggered even by virions that express unmutated copies of all genes. Our work shows that the diverse spectrum of defects in influenza virus populations contributes to-but does not completely explain-the heterogeneity in viral gene expression and immune activation in single infected cells.IMPORTANCE Because influenza virus has a high mutation rate, many cells are infected by mutated virions. But so far, it has been impossible to fully characterize the sequence of the virion infecting any given cell, since conventional techniques such as flow cytometry and single-cell transcriptome sequencing (scRNA-seq) only detect if a protein or transcript is present, not its sequence. Here we develop a new approach that uses long-read PacBio sequencing to determine the sequences of virions infecting single cells. We show that viral genetic variation explains some but not all of the cell-to-cell variability in viral gene expression and innate immune induction. Overall, our study provides the first complete picture of how viral mutations affect the course of infection in single cells.Copyright © 2019 Russell et al.


April 21, 2020  |  

Intercellular communication is required for trap formation in the nematode-trapping fungus Duddingtonia flagrans.

Nematode-trapping fungi (NTF) are a large and diverse group of fungi, which may switch from a saprotrophic to a predatory lifestyle if nematodes are present. Different fungi have developed different trapping devices, ranging from adhesive cells to constricting rings. After trapping, fungal hyphae penetrate the worm, secrete lytic enzymes and form a hyphal network inside the body. We sequenced the genome of Duddingtonia flagrans, a biotechnologically important NTF used to control nematode populations in fields. The 36.64 Mb genome encodes 9,927 putative proteins, among which are more than 638 predicted secreted proteins. Most secreted proteins are lytic enzymes, but more than 200 were classified as small secreted proteins (< 300 amino acids). 117 putative effector proteins were predicted, suggesting interkingdom communication during the colonization. As a first step to analyze the function of such proteins or other phenomena at the molecular level, we developed a transformation system, established the fluorescent proteins GFP and mCherry, adapted an assay to monitor protein secretion, and established gene-deletion protocols using homologous recombination or CRISPR/Cas9. One putative virulence effector protein, PefB, was transcriptionally induced during the interaction. We show that the mature protein is able to be imported into nuclei in Caenorhabditis elegans cells. In addition, we studied trap formation and show that cell-to-cell communication is required for ring closure. The availability of the genome sequence and the establishment of many molecular tools will open new avenues to studying this biotechnologically relevant nematode-trapping fungus.


April 21, 2020  |  

Complete Genome Sequence of the Wolbachia wAlbB Endosymbiont of Aedes albopictus.

Wolbachia, an alpha-proteobacterium closely related to Rickettsia, is a maternally transmitted, intracellular symbiont of arthropods and nematodes. Aedes albopictus mosquitoes are naturally infected with Wolbachia strains wAlbA and wAlbB. Cell line Aa23 established from Ae. albopictus embryos retains only wAlbB and is a key model to study host-endosymbiont interactions. We have assembled the complete circular genome of wAlbB from the Aa23 cell line using long-read PacBio sequencing at 500× median coverage. The assembled circular chromosome is 1.48 megabases in size, an increase of more than 300 kb over the published draft wAlbB genome. The annotation of the genome identified 1,205 protein coding genes, 34 tRNA, 3 rRNA, 1 tmRNA, and 3 other ncRNA loci. The long reads enabled sequencing over complex repeat regions which are difficult to resolve with short-read sequencing. Thirteen percent of the genome comprised insertion sequence elements distributed throughout the genome, some of which cause pseudogenization. Prophage WO genes encoding some essential components of phage particle assembly are missing, while the remainder are found in five prophage regions/WO-like islands or scattered around the genome. Orthology analysis identified a core proteome of 535 orthogroups across all completed Wolbachia genomes. The majority of proteins could be annotated using Pfam and eggNOG analyses, including ankyrins and components of the Type IV secretion system. KEGG analysis revealed the absence of five genes in wAlbB which are present in other Wolbachia. The availability of a complete circular chromosome from wAlbB will enable further biochemical, molecular, and genetic analyses on this strain and related Wolbachia. © The Author(s) 2019. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution.


April 21, 2020  |  

Do the toll-like receptors and complement systems play equally important roles in freshwater adapted Dolly Varden char (Salvelinus malma)?

Unlike the normal anadromous lifestyle, Chinese native Dolly Varden char (Salvelinus malma) is locked in land and lives in fresh water lifetime. To explore the effect of freshwater adaption on its immune system, we constructed a pooled cDNA library of hepatopancreas and spleen of Chinese freshwater Dolly Varden char (S. malma). A total of 27,829 unigenes were generated from 31,233 high-quality transcripts and 17,670 complete open reading frames (ORF) were identified. Totally 25,809 unigenes were successfully annotated and it classified more native than adaptive immunity-associated genes, and more genes involved in toll-like receptor signal pathway than those in complement and coagulation cascades (51 vs 3), implying the relative more important role of toll-like receptors than the complement system under bacterial injection for the freshwater Dolly Varden char. These huge different numbers of TLR and complement system identified in freshwater Dolly Varden char probably caused by distinct evolution pressure patterns between fish TLR and complement system, representative by TLR3 and TLR5 as well as C4 and C6, respectively, which were under purifying and positively selecting pressure, respectively. Further seawater adaptation experiment and the comparison study with our library will no doubt be helpful to elucidate the effect of freshwater adaption of Chinese native Dolly Varden char on its immune system.Copyright © 2018 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


April 21, 2020  |  

Potential of TLR-gene diversity in Czech indigenous cattle for resistance breeding as revealed by hybrid sequencing

A production herd of Czech Simmental cattle (Czech Red Pied, CRP), the conserved subpopulation of this breed, and the ancient local breed Czech Red cattle (CR) were screened for diversity in the antibacterial toll-like receptors (TLRs), which are members of the innate immune system. Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) amplicons of TLR1, TLR2, TLR4, TLR5, and TLR6 from pooled DNA samples were sequenced with PacBio technology, with 3–5×?coverage per gene per animal. To increase the reliability of variant detection, the gDNA pools were sequenced in parallel with the Illumina X-ten platform at low coverage (60× per gene). The diversity in conserved CRP and CR was similar to the diversity in conserved and modern CRP, representing 76.4?% and 70.9?% of its variants, respectively. Sixty-eight (54.4?%) polymorphisms in the five TLR genes were shared by the two breeds, whereas 38 (30.4?%) were specific to the production herd of CRP; 4 (3.2?%) were specific to the broad CRP population; 7 (5.6?%) were present in both conserved populations; 5 (4.0?%) were present solely for the conserved CRP; and 3 (2.4?%) were restricted to CR. Consequently, gene pool erosion related to intensive breeding did not occur in Czech Simmental cattle. Similarly, no considerable consequences were found from known bottlenecks in the history of Czech Red cattle. On the other hand, the distinctness of the conserved populations and their potential for resistance breeding were only moderate. This relationship might be transferable to other non-abundant historical cattle breeds that are conserved as genetic resources. The estimates of polymorphism impact using Variant Effect Predictor and SIFT software tools allowed for the identification of candidate single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) for association studies related to infection resistance and targeted breeding. Knowledge of TLR-gene diversity present in Czech Simmental populations may aid in the potential transfer of variant characteristics from other breeds.


April 21, 2020  |  

Genomic variation and strain-specific functional adaptation in the human gut microbiome during early life.

The human gut microbiome matures towards the adult composition during the first years of life and is implicated in early immune development. Here, we investigate the effects of microbial genomic diversity on gut microbiome development using integrated early childhood data sets collected in the DIABIMMUNE study in Finland, Estonia and Russian Karelia. We show that gut microbial diversity is associated with household location and linear growth of children. Single nucleotide polymorphism- and metagenomic assembly-based strain tracking revealed large and highly dynamic microbial pangenomes, especially in the genus Bacteroides, in which we identified evidence of variability deriving from Bacteroides-targeting bacteriophages. Our analyses revealed functional consequences of strain diversity; only 10% of Finnish infants harboured Bifidobacterium longum subsp. infantis, a subspecies specialized in human milk metabolism, whereas Russian infants commonly maintained a probiotic Bifidobacterium bifidum strain in infancy. Groups of bacteria contributing to diverse, characterized metabolic pathways converged to highly subject-specific configurations over the first two years of life. This longitudinal study extends the current view of early gut microbial community assembly based on strain-level genomic variation.


April 21, 2020  |  

Genome sequence and genetic transformation of a widely distributed and cultivated poplar.

Populus alba is widely distributed and cultivated in Europe and Asia. This species has been used for diverse studies. In this study, we assembled a de novo genome sequence of P. alba var. pyramidalis (= P. bolleana) and confirmed its high transformation efficiency and short transformation time by experiments. Through a process of hybrid genome assembly, a total of 464 M of the genome was assembled. Annotation analyses predicted 37 901 protein-coding genes. This genome is highly collinear to that of P. trichocarpa, with most genes having orthologs in the two species. We found a marked expansion of gene families related to histone and the hormone auxin but loss of disease resistance genes in P. alba if compared with the closely related P. trichocarpa. The genome sequence presented here represents a valuable resource for further molecular functional analyses of this species as a new tree model, poplar breeding practices and comparative genomic analyses across different poplars. © 2018 The Authors. Plant Biotechnology Journal published by Society for Experimental Biology and The Association of Applied Biologists and John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


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