April 21, 2020  |  

Biodiversity seen through the perspective of insects: 10 simple rules on methodological choices and experimental design for genomic studies.

Massively parallel DNA sequencing opens up opportunities for bridging multiple temporal and spatial dimensions in biodiversity research, thanks to its efficiency to recover millions of nucleotide polymorphisms. Here, we identify the current status, discuss the main challenges, and look into future perspectives on biodiversity genomics focusing on insects, which arguably constitute the most diverse and ecologically important group among all animals. We suggest 10 simple rules that provide a succinct step-by-step guide and best-practices to anyone interested in biodiversity research through the study of insect genomics. To this end, we review relevant literature on biodiversity and evolutionary research in the field of entomology. Our compilation is targeted at researchers and students who may not yet be specialists in entomology or molecular biology. We foresee that the genomic revolution and its application to the study of non-model insect lineages will represent a major leap to our understanding of insect diversity.


April 21, 2020  |  

Deep repeat resolution-the assembly of the Drosophila Histone Complex.

Though the advent of long-read sequencing technologies has led to a leap in contiguity of de novo genome assemblies, current reference genomes of higher organisms still do not provide unbroken sequences of complete chromosomes. Despite reads in excess of 30 000 base pairs, there are still repetitive structures that cannot be resolved by current state-of-the-art assemblers. The most challenging of these structures are tandemly arrayed repeats, which occur in the genomes of all eukaryotes. Untangling tandem repeat clusters is exceptionally difficult, since the rare differences between repeat copies are obscured by the high error rate of long reads. Solving this problem would constitute a major step towards computing fully assembled genomes. Here, we demonstrate by example of the Drosophila Histone Complex that via machine learning algorithms, it is possible to exploit the underlying distinguishing patterns of single nucleotide variants of repeats from very noisy data to resolve a large and highly conserved repeat cluster. The ideas explored in this paper are a first step towards the automated assembly of complex repeat structures and promise to be applicable to a wide range of eukaryotic genomes. © The Author(s) 2018. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Nucleic Acids Research.


April 21, 2020  |  

Maleness-on-the-Y (MoY) orchestrates male sex determination in major agricultural fruit fly pests.

In insects, rapidly evolving primary sex-determining signals are transduced by a conserved regulatory module controlling sexual differentiation. In the agricultural pest Ceratitis capitata (Mediterranean fruit fly, or Medfly), we identified a Y-linked gene, Maleness-on-the-Y (MoY), encoding a small protein that is necessary and sufficient for male development. Silencing or disruption of MoY in XY embryos causes feminization, whereas overexpression of MoY in XX embryos induces masculinization. Crosses between transformed XY females and XX males give rise to males and females, indicating that a Y chromosome can be transmitted by XY females. MoY is Y-linked and functionally conserved in other species of the Tephritidae family, highlighting its potential to serve as a tool for developing more effective control strategies against these major agricultural insect pests.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 chromosome-level genome assembly of Cydia pomonella provides insights into chemical ecology and insecticide resistance.

The codling moth Cydia pomonella, a major invasive pest of pome fruit, has spread around the globe in the last half century. We generated a chromosome-level scaffold assembly including the Z chromosome and a portion of the W chromosome. This assembly reveals the duplication of an olfactory receptor gene (OR3), which we demonstrate enhances the ability of C. pomonella to exploit kairomones and pheromones in locating both host plants and mates. Genome-wide association studies contrasting insecticide-resistant and susceptible strains identify hundreds of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) potentially associated with insecticide resistance, including three SNPs found in the promoter of CYP6B2. RNAi knockdown of CYP6B2 increases C. pomonella sensitivity to two insecticides, deltamethrin and azinphos methyl. The high-quality genome assembly of C. pomonella informs the genetic basis of its invasiveness, suggesting the codling moth has distinctive capabilities and adaptive potential that may explain its worldwide expansion.


April 21, 2020  |  

A study of the extraordinarily strong and tough silk produced by bagworms.

Global ecological damage has heightened the demand for silk as ‘a structural material made from sustainable resources’. Scientists have earnestly searched for stronger and tougher silks. Bagworm silk might be a promising candidate considering its superior capacity to dangle a heavy weight, summed up by the weights of the larva and its house. However, detailed mechanical and structural studies on bagworm silks have been lacking. Herein, we show the superior potential of the silk produced by Japan’s largest bagworm, Eumeta variegata. This bagworm silk is extraordinarily strong and tough, and its tensile deformation behaviour is quite elastic. The outstanding mechanical property is the result of a highly ordered hierarchical structure, which remains unchanged until fracture. Our findings demonstrate how the hierarchical structure of silk proteins plays an important role in the mechanical property of silk fibres.


April 21, 2020  |  

Divergent evolutionary trajectories following speciation in two ectoparasitic honey bee mites.

Multispecies host-parasite evolution is common, but how parasites evolve after speciating remains poorly understood. Shared evolutionary history and physiology may propel species along similar evolutionary trajectories whereas pursuing different strategies can reduce competition. We test these scenarios in the economically important association between honey bees and ectoparasitic mites by sequencing the genomes of the sister mite species Varroa destructor and Varroa jacobsoni. These genomes were closely related, with 99.7% sequence identity. Among the 9,628 orthologous genes, 4.8% showed signs of positive selection in at least one species. Divergent selective trajectories were discovered in conserved chemosensory gene families (IGR, SNMP), and Halloween genes (CYP) involved in moulting and reproduction. However, there was little overlap in these gene sets and associated GO terms, indicating different selective regimes operating on each of the parasites. Based on our findings, we suggest that species-specific strategies may be needed to combat evolving parasite communities. © The Author(s) 2019.


April 21, 2020  |  

A high-quality de novo genome assembly from a single mosquito using PacBio sequencing

A high-quality reference genome is a fundamental resource for functional genetics, comparative genomics, and population genomics, and is increasingly important for conservation biology. PacBio Single Molecule, Real-Time (SMRT) sequencing generates long reads with uniform coverage and high consensus accuracy, making it a powerful technology for de novo genome assembly. Improvements in throughput and concomitant reductions in cost have made PacBio an attractive core technology for many large genome initiatives, however, relatively high DNA input requirements (~5 µg for standard library protocol) have placed PacBio out of reach for many projects on small organisms that have lower DNA content, or on projects with limited input DNA for other reasons. Here we present a high-quality de novo genome assembly from a single Anopheles coluzzii mosquito. A modified SMRTbell library construction protocol without DNA shearing and size selection was used to generate a SMRTbell library from just 100 ng of starting genomic DNA. The sample was run on the Sequel System with chemistry 3.0 and software v6.0, generating, on average, 25 Gb of sequence per SMRT Cell with 20 h movies, followed by diploid de novo genome assembly with FALCON-Unzip. The resulting curated assembly had high contiguity (contig N50 3.5 Mb) and completeness (more than 98% of conserved genes were present and full-length). In addition, this single-insect assembly now places 667 (>90%) of formerly unplaced genes into their appropriate chromosomal contexts in the AgamP4 PEST reference. We were also able to resolve maternal and paternal haplotypes for over 1/3 of the genome. By sequencing and assembling material from a single diploid individual, only two haplotypes were present, simplifying the assembly process compared to samples from multiple pooled individuals. The method presented here can be applied to samples with starting DNA amounts as low as 100 ng per 1 Gb genome size. This new low-input approach puts PacBio-based assemblies in reach for small highly heterozygous organisms that comprise much of the diversity of life.


October 23, 2019  |  

Identification and expression analysis of chemosensory genes in the citrus fruit fly Bactrocera (Tetradacus) minax

The citrus fruit fly Bactrocera (Tetradacus) minax is a major and devastating agricultural pest in Asian subtropical countries. Previous studies have shown that B. minax interacts with hosts via an efficient chemosensory system. However, knowledge regarding the molecular components of the B. minax chemosensory system has not yet been well established. Herein, based on our newly generated whole-genome dataset for B. minax and by comparison with the characterized genomes of 6 other fruit fly species, we identified, for the first time, a total of 25 putative odorant-binding receptors (OBPs), 4 single-copy chemosensory proteins (CSPs) and 53 candidate odorant receptors (ORs). To further survey the expression of these candidate genes, the transcriptomes from three developmental stages (larvae, pupae and adults) of B. minax and Bactrocera dorsalis were analyzed. We found that 1) at the adult developmental stage, there were 14 highly expressed OBPs (FPKM>100) in B. dorsalis and 7 highly expressed OBPs in B. minax; 2) the expression of CSP3 and CSP4 in adult B. dorsalis was higher than that in B. minax; and 3) most of the OR genes exhibited low expression at the three developmental stages in both species. This study on the identification of the chemosensory system of B. minax not only enriches the existing research on insect olfactory receptors but also provides new targets for preventative control and ecological regulation of B. minax in the future.


September 22, 2019  |  

The genome of an underwater architect, the caddisfly Stenopsyche tienmushanensis Hwang (Insecta: Trichoptera).

Caddisflies (Insecta: Trichoptera) are a highly adapted freshwater group of insects split from a common ancestor with Lepidoptera. They are the most diverse (>16,000 species) of the strictly aquatic insect orders and are widely employed as bio-indicators in water quality assessment and monitoring. Among the numerous adaptations to aquatic habitats, caddisfly larvae use silk and materials from the environment (e.g., stones, sticks, leaf matter) to build composite structures such as fixed retreats and portable cases. Understanding how caddisflies have adapted to aquatic habitats will help explain the evolution and subsequent diversification of the group.We sequenced a retreat-builder caddisfly Stenopsyche tienmushanensis Hwang and assembled a high-quality genome from both Illumina and Pacific Biosciences (PacBio) sequencing. In total, 601.2 M Illumina reads (90.2 Gb) and 16.9 M PacBio subreads (89.0 Gb) were generated. The 451.5 Mb assembled genome has a contig N50 of 1.29 M, has a longest contig of 4.76 Mb, and covers 97.65% of the 1,658 insect single-copy genes as assessed by Benchmarking Universal Single-Copy Orthologs. The genome comprises 36.76% repetitive elements. A total of 14,672 predicted protein-coding genes were identified. The genome revealed gene expansions in specific groups of the cytochrome P450 family and olfactory binding proteins, suggesting potential genomic features associated with pollutant tolerance and mate finding. In addition, the complete gene complex of the highly repetitive H-fibroin, the major protein component of caddisfly larval silk, was assembled.We report the draft genome of Stenopsyche tienmushanensis, the highest-quality caddisfly genome so far. The genome information will be an important resource for the study of caddisflies and may shed light on the evolution of aquatic insects.


September 22, 2019  |  

Differential expression analysis of olfactory genes based on a combination of sequencing platforms and behavioral investigations in Aphidius gifuensis.

Aphidius gifuensis Ashmead is a dominant endoparasitoid of aphids, such as Myzus persicae and Sitobion avenae, and plays an important role in controlling aphids in various habitats, including tobacco plants and wheat in China. A. gifuensis has been successfully applied for the biological control of aphids, especially M. persicae, in green houses and fields in China. The corresponding parasites, as well as its mate-searching behaviors, are subjects of considerable interest. Previous A. gifuensis transcriptome studies have relied on short-read next-generation sequencing (NGS), and the vast majority of the resulting isotigs do not represent full-length cDNA. Here, we employed a combination of NGS and single-molecule real-time (SMRT) sequencing of virgin females (VFs), mated females (MFs), virgin males (VMs), and mated males (MMs) to comprehensively study the A. gifuensis transcriptome. Behavioral responses to the aphid alarm pheromone (E-ß-farnesene, EBF) as well as to A. gifuensis of the opposite sex were also studied. VMs were found to be attracted by female wasps and MFs were repelled by male wasps, whereas MMs and VFs did not respond to the opposite sex. In addition, VFs, MFs, and MMs were attracted by EBF, while VMs did not respond. According to these results, we performed a personalized differential gene expression analysis of olfactory gene sets (66 odorant receptors, 25 inotropic receptors, 16 odorant-binding proteins, and 12 chemosensory proteins) in virgin and mated A. gifuensis of both sexes, and identified 13 candidate genes whose expression levels were highly consistent with behavioral test results, suggesting potential functions for these genes in pheromone perception.


September 22, 2019  |  

The industrial melanism mutation in British peppered moths is a transposable element.

Discovering the mutational events that fuel adaptation to environmental change remains an important challenge for evolutionary biology. The classroom example of a visible evolutionary response is industrial melanism in the peppered moth (Biston betularia): the replacement, during the Industrial Revolution, of the common pale typica form by a previously unknown black (carbonaria) form, driven by the interaction between bird predation and coal pollution. The carbonaria locus has been coarsely localized to a 200-kilobase region, but the specific identity and nature of the sequence difference controlling the carbonaria-typica polymorphism, and the gene it influences, are unknown. Here we show that the mutation event giving rise to industrial melanism in Britain was the insertion of a large, tandemly repeated, transposable element into the first intron of the gene cortex. Statistical inference based on the distribution of recombined carbonaria haplotypes indicates that this transposition event occurred around 1819, consistent with the historical record. We have begun to dissect the mode of action of the carbonaria transposable element by showing that it increases the abundance of a cortex transcript, the protein product of which plays an important role in cell-cycle regulation, during early wing disc development. Our findings fill a substantial knowledge gap in the iconic example of microevolutionary change, adding a further layer of insight into the mechanism of adaptation in response to natural selection. The discovery that the mutation itself is a transposable element will stimulate further debate about the importance of ‘jumping genes’ as a source of major phenotypic novelty.


September 22, 2019  |  

Long-read based assembly and annotation of a Drosophila simulans genome

Long-read sequencing technologies enable high-quality, contiguous genome assemblies. Here we used SMRT sequencing to assemble the genome of a Drosophila simulans strain originating from Madagascar, the ancestral range of the species. We generated 8 Gb of raw data (~50x coverage) with a mean read length of 6,410 bp, a NR50 of 9,125 bp and the longest subread at 49 kb. We benchmarked six different assemblers and merged the best two assemblies from Canu and Falcon. Our final assembly was 127.41 Mb with a N50 of 5.38 Mb and 305 contigs. We anchored more than 4 Mb of novel sequence to the major chromosome arms, and significantly improved the assembly of peri-centromeric and telomeric regions. Finally, we performed full-length transcript sequencing and used this data in conjunction with short-read RNAseq data to annotate 13,422 genes in the genome, improving the annotation in regions with complex, nested gene structures.


September 22, 2019  |  

Comprehensive transcriptome analysis of Sarcophaga peregrina, a forensically important fly species.

Sarcophaga peregrina (flesh fly) is a frequently found fly species in Palaearctic, Oriental, and Australasian regions that can be used to estimate minimal postmortem intervals important for forensic investigations. Despite its forensic importance, the genome information of S. peregrina has not been fully described. Therefore, we generated a comprehensive gene expression dataset using RNA sequencing and carried out de novo assembly to characterize the S. peregrina transcriptome. We obtained precise sequence information for RNA transcripts using two different methods. Based on primary sequence information, we identified sets of assembled unigenes and predicted coding sequences. Functional annotation of the aligned unigenes was performed using the UniProt, Gene Ontology, and Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes databases. As a result, 26,580,352 and 83,221 raw reads were obtained using the Illumina MiSeq and Pacbio RS II Iso-Seq sequencing applications, respectively. From these reads, 55,730 contigs were successfully annotated. The present study provides the resulting genome information of S. peregrina, which is valuable for forensic applications.


September 22, 2019  |  

Draft genome assembly of the poultry red mite, Dermanyssus gallinae.

The poultry red mite, Dermanyssus gallinae, is a major worldwide concern in the egg-laying industry. Here, we report the first draft genome assembly and gene prediction of Dermanyssus gallinae, based on combined PacBio and MinION long-read de novo sequencing. The ~959-Mb genome is predicted to encode 14,608 protein-coding genes.


September 22, 2019  |  

Contemporary evolution of a Lepidopteran species, Heliothis virescens, in response to modern agricultural practices.

Adaptation to human-induced environmental change has the potential to profoundly influence the genomic architecture of affected species. This is particularly true in agricultural ecosystems, where anthropogenic selection pressure is strong. Heliothis virescens primarily feeds on cotton in its larval stages, and US populations have been declining since the widespread planting of transgenic cotton, which endogenously expresses proteins derived from Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt). No physiological adaptation to Bt toxin has been found in the field, so adaptation in this altered environment could involve (i) shifts in host plant selection mechanisms to avoid cotton, (ii) changes in detoxification mechanisms required for cotton-feeding vs. feeding on other hosts or (iii) loss of resistance to previously used management practices including insecticides. Here, we begin to address whether such changes occurred in H. virescens populations between 1997 and 2012, as Bt-cotton cultivation spread through the agricultural landscape. For our study, we produced an H. virescens genome assembly and used this in concert with a ddRAD-seq-enabled genome scan to identify loci with significant allele frequency changes over the 15-year period. Genetic changes at a previously described H. virescens insecticide target of selection were detectable in our genome scan and increased our confidence in this methodology. Additional loci were also detected as being under selection, and we quantified the selection strength required to elicit observed allele frequency changes at each locus. Potential contributions of genes near loci under selection to adaptive phenotypes in the H. virescens cotton system are discussed.© 2017 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


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