April 21, 2020  |  

Genome and transcriptome sequencing of the astaxanthin-producing green microalga, Haematococcus pluvialis.

Haematococcus pluvialis is a freshwater species of Chlorophyta, family Haematococcaceae. It is well known for its capacity to synthesize high amounts of astaxanthin, which is a strong antioxidant that has been utilized in aquaculture and cosmetics. To improve astaxanthin yield and to establish genetic resources for H. pluvialis, we performed whole-genome sequencing, assembly, and annotation of this green microalga. A total of 83.1 Gb of raw reads were sequenced. After filtering the raw reads, we subsequently generated a draft assembly with a genome size of 669.0?Mb, a scaffold N50 of 288.6?kb, and predicted 18,545 genes. We also established a robust phylogenetic tree from 14 representative algae species. With additional transcriptome data, we revealed some novel potential genes that are involved in the synthesis, accumulation, and regulation of astaxanthin production. In addition, we generated an isoform-level reference transcriptome set of 18,483 transcripts with high confidence. Alternative splicing analysis demonstrated that intron retention is the most frequent mode. In summary, we report the first draft genome of H. pluvialis. These genomic resources along with transcriptomic data provide a solid foundation for the discovery of the genetic basis for theoretical and commercial astaxanthin enrichment.


April 21, 2020  |  

The complete mitogenome of clam Corbicula fluminea determined using next-generation and PacBio sequencing

Corbicula fluminea is an important aquatic commercial species in China. In this study, we present the complete mitogenome and a phylogenetic analysis of C. fluminea, determined using next-generation and PacBio long read sequencing. The mitogenome of C. fluminea is 17,423bp in size, including 13 protein-coding genes, two ribosomal RNA genes, 22 tRNA genes, and a putative control region, all located on the same strand. The base composition of the entire mitogenome showed a conspicuous AþT bias of 70.5 %. The entire mitogenome data produced in this study provides the genomic resour- ces available for future evolutionary studies.


April 21, 2020  |  

Low-copy nuclear sequence data confirm complex patterns of farina evolution in notholaenid ferns (Pteridaceae).

Notholaenids are an unusual group of ferns that have adapted to, and diversified within, the deserts of Mexico and the southwestern United States. With approximately 40 species, this group is noted for being desiccation-tolerant and having “farina”-powdery exudates of lipophilic flavonoid aglycones-that occur on both the gametophytic and sporophytic phases of their life cycle. The most recent circumscription of notholaenids based on plastid markers surprisingly suggests that several morphological characters, including the expression of farina, are homoplasious. In a striking case of convergence, Notholaena standleyi appears to be distantly related to core Notholaena, with several taxa not before associated with Notholaena nested between them. Such conflicts can be due to morphological homoplasy resulting from adaptive convergence or, alternatively, the plastid phylogeny itself might be misleading, diverging from the true species tree due to incomplete lineage sorting, hybridization, or other factors. In this study, we present a species phylogeny for notholaenid ferns, using four low-copy nuclear loci and concatenated data from three plastid loci. A total of 61 individuals (49 notholaenids and 12 outgroup taxa) were sampled, including 31 out of 37 recognized notholaenid species. The homeologous/allelic nuclear sequences were retrieved using PacBio sequencing and the PURC bioinformatics pipeline. Each dataset was first analyzed individually using maximum likelihood and Bayesian inference, and the species phylogeny was inferred using *BEAST. Although we observed several incongruences between the nuclear and plastid phylogenies, our principal results are broadly congruent with previous inferences based on plastid data. By mapping the presence of farina and their biochemical constitutions on our consensus phylogenetic tree, we confirmed that the characters are indeed homoplastic and have complex evolutionary histories. Hybridization among recognized species of the notholaenid clade appears to be relatively rare compared to that observed in other well-studied fern genera.Copyright © 2019 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


April 21, 2020  |  

Petunia-and Arabidopsis-Specific Root Microbiota Responses to Phosphate Supplementation

Phosphorus (P) is a limiting element for plant growth. Several root microbes, including arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF), have the capacity to improve plant nutrition and their abundance is known to depend on P fertility. However, how complex root-associated bacterial and fungal communities respond to various levels of P supplementation remains ill-defined. Here we investigated the responses of the root-associated bacteria and fungi to varying levels of P supply using 16S rRNA gene and internal transcribed spacer amplicon sequencing. We grew Petunia, which forms symbiosis with AMF, and the nonmycorrhizal model species Arabidopsis as a control in a soil that is limiting in plant-available P and we then supplemented the plants with complete fertilizer solutions that varied only in their phosphate concentrations. We searched for microbes, whose abundances varied by P fertilization, tested whether a core microbiota responding to the P treatments could be identified and asked whether bacterial and fungal co-occurrence patterns change in response to the varying P levels. Root microbiota composition varied substantially in response to the varying P application. A core microbiota was not identified as different bacterial and fungal groups responded to low-P conditions in Arabidopsis and Petunia. Microbes with P-dependent abundance patterns included Mortierellomycotina in Arabidopsis, while in Petunia, they included AMF and their symbiotic endobacteria. Of note, the P-dependent root colonization by AMF was reliably quantified by sequencing. The fact that the root microbiotas of the two plant species responded differently to low-P conditions suggests that plant species specificity would need to be considered for the eventual development of microbial products that improve plant P nutrition.


April 21, 2020  |  

Analysis of the Complete Genome Sequence of a Novel, Pseudorabies Virus Strain Isolated in Southeast Europe.

Pseudorabies virus (PRV) is the causative agent of Aujeszky’s disease giving rise to significant economic losses worldwide. Many countries have implemented national programs for the eradication of this virus. In this study, long-read sequencing was used to determine the nucleotide sequence of the genome of a novel PRV strain (PRV-MdBio) isolated in Serbia.In this study, a novel PRV strain was isolated and characterized. PRV-MdBio was found to exhibit similar growth properties to those of another wild-type PRV, the strain Kaplan. Single-molecule real-time (SMRT) sequencing has revealed that the new strain differs significantly in base composition even from strain Kaplan, to which it otherwise exhibits the highest similarity. We compared the genetic composition of PRV-MdBio to strain Kaplan and the China reference strain Ea and obtained that radical base replacements were the most common point mutations preceding conservative and silent mutations. We also found that the adaptation of PRV to cell culture does not lead to any tendentious genetic alteration in the viral genome.PRV-MdBio is a wild-type virus, which differs in base composition from other PRV strains to a relatively large extent.


April 21, 2020  |  

Improvement of the Pacific bluefin tuna (Thunnus orientalis) reference genome and development of male-specific DNA markers.

The Pacific bluefin tuna, Thunnus orientalis, is a highly migratory species that is widely distributed in the North Pacific Ocean. Like other marine species, T. orientalis has no external sexual dimorphism; thus, identifying sex-specific variants from whole genome sequence data is a useful approach to develop an effective sex identification method. Here, we report an improved draft genome of T. orientalis and male-specific DNA markers. Combining PacBio long reads and Illumina short reads sufficiently improved genome assembly, with a 38-fold increase in scaffold contiguity (to 444 scaffolds) compared to the first published draft genome. Through analysing re-sequence data of 15 males and 16 females, 250 male-specific SNPs were identified from more than 30 million polymorphisms. All male-specific variants were male-heterozygous, suggesting that T. orientalis has a male heterogametic sex-determination system. The largest linkage disequilibrium block (3,174?bp on scaffold_064) contained 51 male-specific variants. PCR primers and a PCR-based sex identification assay were developed using these male-specific variants. The sex of 115 individuals (56 males and 59 females; sex was diagnosed by visual examination of the gonads) was identified with high accuracy using the assay. This easy, accurate, and practical technique facilitates the control of sex ratios in tuna farms. Furthermore, this method could be used to estimate the sex ratio and/or the sex-specific growth rate of natural populations.


April 21, 2020  |  

Wild relatives of maize

Crop domestication changed the course of human evolution, and domestication of maize (Zea mays L. subspecies mays), today the world’s most important crop, enabled civilizations to flourish and has played a major role in shaping the world we know today. Archaeological and ethnobotanical research help us understand the development of the cultures and the movements of the peoples who carried maize to new areas where it continued to adapt. Ancient remains of maize cobs and kernels have been found in the place of domestication, the Balsas River Valley (~9,000 years before present era), and the cultivation center, the Tehuacan Valley (~5,000 years before present era), and have been used to study the process of domestication. Paleogenomic data showed that some of the genes controlling the stem and inflorescence architecture were comparable to modern maize, while other genes controlling ear shattering and starch biosynthesis retain high levels of variability, similar to those found in the wild relative teosinte. These results indicate that the domestication process was both gradual and complex, where different genetic loci were selected at different points in time, and that the transformation of teosinte to maize was completed in the last 5,000 years. Mesoamerican native cultures domesticated teosinte and developed maize from a 6 cm long, popping-kernel ear to what we now recognize as modern maize with its wide variety in ear size, kernel texture, color, size, and adequacy for diverse uses and also invented nixtamalization, a process key to maximizing its nutrition. Used directly for human and animal consumption, processed food products, bioenergy, and many cultural applications, it is now grown on six of the world’s seven continents. The study of its evolution and domestication from the wild grass teosinte helps us understand the nature of genetic diversity of maize and its wild relatives and gene expression. Genetic barriers to direct use of teosinte or Tripsacum in maize breeding have challenged our ability to identify valuable genes and traits, let alone incorporate them into elite, modern varieties. Genomic information and newer genetic technologies will facilitate the use of wild relatives in crop improvement; hence it is more important than ever to ensure their conservation and availability, fundamental to future food security. In situ conservation efforts dedicated to preserving remnant populations of wild relatives in Mexico are key to safeguarding the genetic diversity of maize and its genepool, as well as enabling these species to continue to adapt to dynamic climate and environmental changes. Genebank ex situ efforts are crucial to securely maintain collected wild relative resources and to provide them for gene discovery and other research efforts.


April 21, 2020  |  

Genome analysis and genetic transformation of a water surface-floating microalga Chlorococcum sp. FFG039.

Microalgal harvesting and dewatering are the main bottlenecks that need to be overcome to tap the potential of microalgae for production of valuable compounds. Water surface-floating microalgae form robust biofilms, float on the water surface along with gas bubbles entrapped under the biofilms, and have great potential to overcome these bottlenecks. However, little is known about the molecular mechanisms involved in the water surface-floating phenotype. In the present study, we analysed the genome sequence of a water surface-floating microalga Chlorococcum sp. FFG039, with a next generation sequencing technique to elucidate the underlying mechanisms. Comparative genomics study with Chlorococcum sp. FFG039 and other non-floating green microalgae revealed some of the unique gene families belonging to this floating microalga, which may be involved in biofilm formation. Furthermore, genetic transformation of this microalga was achieved with an electroporation method. The genome information and transformation techniques presented in this study will be useful to obtain molecular insights into the water surface-floating phenotype of Chlorococcum sp. FFG039.


April 21, 2020  |  

Meiotic sex in Chagas disease parasite Trypanosoma cruzi.

Genetic exchange enables parasites to rapidly transform disease phenotypes and exploit new host populations. Trypanosoma cruzi, the parasitic agent of Chagas disease and a public health concern throughout Latin America, has for decades been presumed to exchange genetic material rarely and without classic meiotic sex. We present compelling evidence from 45 genomes sequenced from southern Ecuador that T. cruzi in fact maintains truly sexual, panmictic groups that can occur alongside others that remain highly clonal after past hybridization events. These groups with divergent reproductive strategies appear genetically isolated despite possible co-occurrence in vectors and hosts. We propose biological explanations for the fine-scale disconnectivity we observe and discuss the epidemiological consequences of flexible reproductive modes. Our study reinvigorates the hunt for the site of genetic exchange in the T. cruzi life cycle, provides tools to define the genetic determinants of parasite virulence, and reforms longstanding theory on clonality in trypanosomatid parasites.


April 21, 2020  |  

Genome Features and Secondary Metabolites Biosynthetic Potential of the Class Ktedonobacteria.

The prevalence of antibiotic resistance and the decrease in novel antibiotic discovery in recent years necessitates the identification of potentially novel microbial resources to produce natural products. Ktedonobacteria, a class of deeply branched bacterial lineage in the ancient phylum Chloroflexi, are ubiquitous in terrestrial environments and characterized by their large genome size and complex life cycle. These characteristics indicate Ktedonobacteria as a potential active producer of bioactive compounds. In this study, we observed the existence of a putative “megaplasmid,” multiple copies of ribosomal RNA operons, and high ratio of hypothetical proteins with unknown functions in the class Ktedonobacteria. Furthermore, a total of 104 antiSMASH-predicted putative biosynthetic gene clusters (BGCs) for secondary metabolites with high novelty and diversity were identified in nine Ktedonobacteria genomes. Our investigation of domain composition and organization of the non-ribosomal peptide synthetase and polyketide synthase BGCs further supports the concept that class Ktedonobacteria may produce compounds structurally different from known natural products. Furthermore, screening of bioactive compounds from representative Ktedonobacteria strains resulted in the identification of broad antimicrobial activities against both Gram-positive and Gram-negative tested bacterial strains. Based on these findings, we propose the ancient, ubiquitous, and spore-forming Ktedonobacteria as a versatile and promising microbial resource for natural product discovery.


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  |  

De novo genome sequencing and secretome analysis of Tilletia indica inciting Karnal bunt of wheat provides pathogenesis-related genes.

Tilletia indica is an internationally quarantined fungal pathogen causing Karnal bunt of wheat. The present study carried out that the whole genome of T. indica was sequenced and identified transposable elements, pathogenicity-related genes using a comparative genomics approach. The T. indica genome assembly size of 33.7 MB was generated using Illumina and Pac Bio platforms with GC content of 55.0%. A total of 1737 scaffolds were obtained with N50 of 58,667 bp. The ab initio gene prediction was performed using Ustilago maydis as the reference species. A total number of 10,113 genes were predicted with an average gene size of 1945 bp out of which functionally annotated genes were 7262. A total number of 3216 protein-coding genes were assigned in different categories. Out of a total number of 1877 transposable elements, gypsy had the highest count (573). Total 5772 simple sequence repeats were identified in the genome assembly, and the most abundant simple sequence repeat type was trinucleotide having 42% of total SSRs. The comparative genome analysis suggested 3751 proteins of T. indica had orthologs in five fungi, whereas 126 proteins were unique to T. indica. Secretome analysis revealed the presence of 1014 secretory proteins and few carbohydrate-active enzymes in the genome. Some putative candidate pathogenicity-related genes were identified in the genome. The whole genome of T. indica will provide a window to understand the pathogenesis mechanism, fungal life cycle, survival of teliospores, and novel strategies for management of Karnal bunt disease of wheat.


April 21, 2020  |  

Assignment of virus and antimicrobial resistance genes to microbial hosts in a complex microbial community by combined long-read assembly and proximity ligation.

We describe a method that adds long-read sequencing to a mix of technologies used to assemble a highly complex cattle rumen microbial community, and provide a comparison to short read-based methods. Long-read alignments and Hi-C linkage between contigs support the identification of 188 novel virus-host associations and the determination of phage life cycle states in the rumen microbial community. The long-read assembly also identifies 94 antimicrobial resistance genes, compared to only seven alleles in the short-read assembly. We demonstrate novel techniques that work synergistically to improve characterization of biological features in a highly complex rumen microbial community.


April 21, 2020  |  

Adaptive Strategies in a Poly-Extreme Environment: Differentiation of Vegetative Cells in Serratia ureilytica and Resistance to Extreme Conditions.

Poly-extreme terrestrial habitats are often used as analogs to extra-terrestrial environments. Understanding the adaptive strategies allowing bacteria to thrive and survive under these conditions could help in our quest for extra-terrestrial planets suitable for life and understanding how life evolved in the harsh early earth conditions. A prime example of such a survival strategy is the modification of vegetative cells into resistant resting structures. These differentiated cells are often observed in response to harsh environmental conditions. The environmental strain (strain Lr5/4) belonging to Serratia ureilytica was isolated from a geothermal spring in Lirima, Atacama Desert, Chile. The Atacama Desert is the driest habitat on Earth and furthermore, due to its high altitude, it is exposed to an increased amount of UV radiation. The geothermal spring from which the strain was isolated is oligotrophic and the temperature of 54°C exceeds mesophilic conditions (15 to 45°C). Although the vegetative cells were tolerant to various environmental insults (desiccation, extreme pH, glycerol), a modified cell type was formed in response to nutrient deprivation, UV radiation and thermal shock. Scanning (SEM) and Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM) analyses of vegetative cells and the modified cell structures were performed. In SEM, a change toward a circular shape with reduced size was observed. These circular cells possessed what appears as extra coating layers under TEM. The resistance of the modified cells was also investigated, they were resistant to wet heat, UV radiation and desiccation, while vegetative cells did not withstand any of those conditions. A phylogenomic analysis was undertaken to investigate the presence of known genes involved in dormancy in other bacterial clades. Genes related to spore-formation in Myxococcus and Firmicutes were found in S. ureilytica Lr5/4 genome; however, these genes were not enough for a full sporulation pathway that resembles either group. Although, the molecular pathway of cell differentiation in S. ureilytica Lr5/4 is not fully defined, the identified genes may contribute to the modified phenotype in the Serratia genus. Here, we show that a modified cell structure can occur as a response to extremity in a species that was previously not known to deploy this strategy. This strategy may be widely spread in bacteria, but only expressed under poly-extreme environmental conditions.


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