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  |  

The bracteatus pineapple genome and domestication of clonally propagated crops.

Domestication of clonally propagated crops such as pineapple from South America was hypothesized to be a ‘one-step operation’. We sequenced the genome of Ananas comosus var. bracteatus CB5 and assembled 513?Mb into 25 chromosomes with 29,412 genes. Comparison of the genomes of CB5, F153 and MD2 elucidated the genomic basis of fiber production, color formation, sugar accumulation and fruit maturation. We also resequenced 89 Ananas genomes. Cultivars ‘Smooth Cayenne’ and ‘Queen’ exhibited ancient and recent admixture, while ‘Singapore Spanish’ supported a one-step operation of domestication. We identified 25 selective sweeps, including a strong sweep containing a pair of tandemly duplicated bromelain inhibitors. Four candidate genes for self-incompatibility were linked in F153, but were not functional in self-compatible CB5. Our findings support the coexistence of sexual recombination and a one-step operation in the domestication of clonally propagated crops. This work guides the exploration of sexual and asexual domestication trajectories in other clonally propagated crops.


April 21, 2020  |  

Evolution of a 72-kb cointegrant, conjugative multiresistance plasmid from early community-associated methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus isolates.

Horizontal transfer of plasmids encoding antimicrobial-resistance and virulence determinants has been instrumental in Staphylococcus aureus evolution, including the emergence of community-associated methicillin-resistant S. aureus (CA-MRSA). In the early 1990s the first CA-MRSA isolated in Western Australia (WA), WA-5, encoded cadmium, tetracycline and penicillin-resistance genes on plasmid pWBG753 (~30 kb). WA-5 and pWBG753 appeared only briefly in WA, however, fusidic-acid-resistance plasmids related to pWBG753 were also present in the first European CA-MRSA at the time. Here we characterized a 72-kb conjugative plasmid pWBG731 present in multiresistant WA-5-like clones from the same period. pWBG731 was a cointegrant formed from pWBG753 and a pWBG749-family conjugative plasmid. pWBG731 carried mupirocin, trimethoprim, cadmium and penicillin-resistance genes. The stepwise evolution of pWBG731 likely occurred through the combined actions of IS257, IS257-dependent miniature inverted-repeat transposable elements (MITEs) and the BinL resolution system of the ß-lactamase transposon Tn552 An evolutionary intermediate ~42-kb non-conjugative plasmid pWBG715, possessed the same resistance genes as pWBG731 but retained an integrated copy of the small tetracycline-resistance plasmid pT181. IS257 likely facilitated replacement of pT181 with conjugation genes on pWBG731, thus enabling autonomous transfer. Like conjugative plasmid pWBG749, pWBG731 also mobilized non-conjugative plasmids carrying oriT mimics. It seems likely that pWBG731 represents the product of multiple recombination events between the WA-5 pWBG753 plasmid and other mobile genetic elements present in indigenous CA-MSSA. The molecular evolution of pWBG731 saliently illustrates how diverse mobile genetic elements can together facilitate rapid accrual and horizontal dissemination of multiresistance in S. aureus CA-MRSA.Copyright © 2019 American Society for Microbiology.


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  |  

Benchmarking Transposable Element Annotation Methods for Creation of a Streamlined, Comprehensive Pipeline

Sequencing technology and assembly algorithms have matured to the point that high-quality de novo assembly is possible for large, repetitive genomes. Current assemblies traverse transposable elements (TEs) and allow for annotation of TEs. There are numerous methods for each class of elements with unknown relative performance metrics. We benchmarked existing programs based on a curated library of rice TEs. Using the most robust programs, we created a comprehensive pipeline called Extensive de-novo TE Annotator (EDTA) that produces a condensed TE library for annotations of structurally intact and fragmented elements. EDTA is open-source and freely available: https://github.com/oushujun/EDTA.List of abbreviationsTETransposable ElementsLTRLong Terminal RepeatLINELong Interspersed Nuclear ElementSINEShort Interspersed Nuclear ElementMITEMiniature Inverted Transposable ElementTIRTerminal Inverted RepeatTSDTarget Site DuplicationTPTrue PositivesFPFalse PositivesTNTrue NegativeFNFalse NegativesGRFGeneric Repeat FinderEDTAExtensive de-novo TE Annotator


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  |  

Lateral transfers of large DNA fragments spread functional genes among grasses.

A fundamental tenet of multicellular eukaryotic evolution is that vertical inheritance is paramount, with natural selection acting on genetic variants transferred from parents to offspring. This lineal process means that an organism’s adaptive potential can be restricted by its evolutionary history, the amount of standing genetic variation, and its mutation rate. Lateral gene transfer (LGT) theoretically provides a mechanism to bypass many of these limitations, but the evolutionary importance and frequency of this process in multicellular eukaryotes, such as plants, remains debated. We address this issue by assembling a chromosome-level genome for the grass Alloteropsis semialata, a species surmised to exhibit two LGTs, and screen it for other grass-to-grass LGTs using genomic data from 146 other grass species. Through stringent phylogenomic analyses, we discovered 57 additional LGTs in the A. semialata nuclear genome, involving at least nine different donor species. The LGTs are clustered in 23 laterally acquired genomic fragments that are up to 170 kb long and have accumulated during the diversification of Alloteropsis. The majority of the 59 LGTs in A. semialata are expressed, and we show that they have added functions to the recipient genome. Functional LGTs were further detected in the genomes of five other grass species, demonstrating that this process is likely widespread in this globally important group of plants. LGT therefore appears to represent a potent evolutionary force capable of spreading functional genes among distantly related grass species. Copyright © 2019 the Author(s). Published by PNAS.


April 21, 2020  |  

Early Sex-chromosome Evolution in the Diploid Dioecious Plant Mercurialis annua.

Suppressed recombination allows divergence between homologous sex chromosomes and the functionality of their genes. Here, we reveal patterns of the earliest stages of sex-chromosome evolution in the diploid dioecious herb Mercurialis annua on the basis of cytological analysis, de novo genome assembly and annotation, genetic mapping, exome resequencing of natural populations, and transcriptome analysis. The genome assembly contained 34,105 expressed genes, of which 10,076 were assigned to linkage groups. Genetic mapping and exome resequencing of individuals across the species range both identified the largest linkage group, LG1, as the sex chromosome. Although the sex chromosomes of M. annua are karyotypically homomorphic, we estimate that about a third of the Y chromosome has ceased recombining, containing 568 transcripts and spanning 22.3 cM in the corresponding female map. Nevertheless, we found limited evidence for Y-chromosome degeneration in terms of gene loss and pseudogenization, and most X- and Y-linked genes appear to have diverged in the period subsequent to speciation between M. annua and its sister species M. huetii which shares the same sex-determining region. Taken together, our results suggest that the M. annua Y chromosome has at least two evolutionary strata: a small old stratum shared with M. huetii, and a more recent larger stratum that is probably unique to M. annua and that stopped recombining about one million years ago. Patterns of gene expression within the non-recombining region are consistent with the idea that sexually antagonistic selection may have played a role in favoring suppressed recombination.Copyright © 2019, Genetics.


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  |  

Chromosomal-level assembly of the blolsod clam, Scapharca (Anadara) broughtonii, using long sequence reads and Hi-C.

The blood clam, Scapharca (Anadara) broughtonii, is an economically and ecologically important marine bivalve of the family Arcidae. Efforts to study their population genetics, breeding, cultivation, and stock enrichment have been somewhat hindered by the lack of a reference genome. Herein, we report the complete genome sequence of S. broughtonii, a first reference genome of the family Arcidae.A total of 75.79 Gb clean data were generated with the Pacific Biosciences and Oxford Nanopore platforms, which represented approximately 86× coverage of the S. broughtonii genome. De novo assembly of these long reads resulted in an 884.5-Mb genome, with a contig N50 of 1.80 Mb and scaffold N50 of 45.00 Mb. Genome Hi-C scaffolding resulted in 19 chromosomes containing 99.35% of bases in the assembled genome. Genome annotation revealed that nearly half of the genome (46.1%) is composed of repeated sequences, while 24,045 protein-coding genes were predicted and 84.7% of them were annotated.We report here a chromosomal-level assembly of the S. broughtonii genome based on long-read sequencing and Hi-C scaffolding. The genomic data can serve as a reference for the family Arcidae and will provide a valuable resource for the scientific community and aquaculture sector. © The Author(s) 2019. Published by Oxford University Press.


April 21, 2020  |  

De novo genome assembly of the endangered Acer yangbiense, a plant species with extremely small populations endemic to Yunnan Province, China.

Acer yangbiense is a newly described critically endangered endemic maple tree confined to Yangbi County in Yunnan Province in Southwest China. It was included in a programme for rescuing the most threatened species in China, focusing on “plant species with extremely small populations (PSESP)”.We generated 64, 94, and 110 Gb of raw DNA sequences and obtained a chromosome-level genome assembly of A. yangbiense through a combination of Pacific Biosciences Single-molecule Real-time, Illumina HiSeq X, and Hi-C mapping, respectively. The final genome assembly is ~666 Mb, with 13 chromosomes covering ~97% of the genome and scaffold N50 sizes of 45 Mb. Further, BUSCO analysis recovered 95.5% complete BUSCO genes. The total number of repetitive elements account for 68.0% of the A. yangbiense genome. Genome annotation generated 28,320 protein-coding genes, assisted by a combination of prediction and transcriptome sequencing. In addition, a nearly 1:1 orthology ratio of dot plots of longer syntenic blocks revealed a similar evolutionary history between A. yangbiense and grape, indicating that the genome has not undergone a whole-genome duplication event after the core eudicot common hexaploidization.Here, we report a high-quality de novo genome assembly of A. yangbiense, the first genome for the genus Acer and the family Aceraceae. This will provide fundamental conservation genomics resources, as well as representing a new high-quality reference genome for the economically important Acer lineage and the wider order of Sapindales. © The Author(s) 2019. Published by Oxford University Press.


April 21, 2020  |  

Pseudomolecule-level assembly of the Chinese oil tree yellowhorn (Xanthoceras sorbifolium) genome.

Yellowhorn (Xanthoceras sorbifolium) is a species of the Sapindaceae family native to China and is an oil tree that can withstand cold and drought conditions. A pseudomolecule-level genome assembly for this species will not only contribute to understanding the evolution of its genes and chromosomes but also bring yellowhorn breeding into the genomic era.Here, we generated 15 pseudomolecules of yellowhorn chromosomes, on which 97.04% of scaffolds were anchored, using the combined Illumina HiSeq, Pacific Biosciences Sequel, and Hi-C technologies. The length of the final yellowhorn genome assembly was 504.2 Mb with a contig N50 size of 1.04 Mb and a scaffold N50 size of 32.17 Mb. Genome annotation revealed that 68.67% of the yellowhorn genome was composed of repetitive elements. Gene modelling predicted 24,672 protein-coding genes. By comparing orthologous genes, the divergence time of yellowhorn and its close sister species longan (Dimocarpus longan) was estimated at ~33.07 million years ago. Gene cluster and chromosome synteny analysis demonstrated that the yellowhorn genome shared a conserved genome structure with its ancestor in some chromosomes.This genome assembly represents a high-quality reference genome for yellowhorn. Integrated genome annotations provide a valuable dataset for genetic and molecular research in this species. We did not detect whole-genome duplication in the genome. The yellowhorn genome carries syntenic blocks from ancient chromosomes. These data sources will enable this genome to serve as an initial platform for breeding better yellowhorn cultivars. © The Author(s) 2019. Published by Oxford University Press.


April 21, 2020  |  

The genomes of pecan and Chinese hickory provide insights into Carya evolution and nut nutrition.

Pecan (Carya illinoinensis) and Chinese hickory (C. cathayensis) are important commercially cultivated nut trees in the genus Carya (Juglandaceae), with high nutritional value and substantial health benefits.We obtained >187.22 and 178.87 gigabases of sequence, and ~288× and 248× genome coverage, to a pecan cultivar (“Pawnee”) and a domesticated Chinese hickory landrace (ZAFU-1), respectively. The total assembly size is 651.31 megabases (Mb) for pecan and 706.43 Mb for Chinese hickory. Two genome duplication events before the divergence from walnut were found in these species. Gene family analysis highlighted key genes in biotic and abiotic tolerance, oil, polyphenols, essential amino acids, and B vitamins. Further analyses of reduced-coverage genome sequences of 16 Carya and 2 Juglans species provide additional phylogenetic perspective on crop wild relatives.Cooperative characterization of these valuable resources provides a window to their evolutionary development and a valuable foundation for future crop improvement. © The Author(s) 2019. Published by Oxford University Press.


April 21, 2020  |  

A draft nuclear-genome assembly of the acoel flatworm Praesagittifera naikaiensis.

Acoels are primitive bilaterians with very simple soft bodies, in which many organs, including the gut, are not developed. They provide platforms for studying molecular and developmental mechanisms involved in the formation of the basic bilaterian body plan, whole-body regeneration, and symbiosis with photosynthetic microalgae. Because genomic information is essential for future research on acoel biology, we sequenced and assembled the nuclear genome of an acoel, Praesagittifera naikaiensis.To avoid sequence contamination derived from symbiotic microalgae, DNA was extracted from embryos that were free of algae. More than 290x sequencing coverage was achieved using a combination of Illumina (paired-end and mate-pair libraries) and PacBio sequencing. RNA sequencing and Iso-Seq data from embryos, larvae, and adults were also obtained. First, a preliminary ~17-kilobase pair (kb) mitochondrial genome was assembled, which was deleted from the nuclear sequence assembly. As a result, a draft nuclear genome assembly was ~656 Mb in length, with a scaffold N50 of 117 kb and a contig N50 of 57 kb. Although ~70% of the assembled sequences were likely composed of repetitive sequences that include DNA transposons and retrotransposons, the draft genome was estimated to contain 22,143 protein-coding genes, ~99% of which were substantiated by corresponding transcripts. We could not find horizontally transferred microalgal genes in the acoel genome. Benchmarking Universal Single-Copy Orthologs analyses indicated that 77% of the conserved single-copy genes were complete. Pfam domain analyses provided a basic set of gene families for transcription factors and signaling molecules.Our present sequencing and assembly of the P. naikaiensis nuclear genome are comparable to those of other metazoan genomes, providing basic information for future studies of genic and genomic attributes of this animal group. Such studies may shed light on the origins and evolution of simple bilaterians. © The Author(s) 2019. Published by Oxford University Press.


April 21, 2020  |  

The Modern View of B Chromosomes Under the Impact of High Scale Omics Analyses.

Supernumerary B chromosomes (Bs) are extra karyotype units in addition to A chromosomes, and are found in some fungi and thousands of animals and plant species. Bs are uniquely characterized due to their non-Mendelian inheritance, and represent one of the best examples of genomic conflict. Over the last decades, their genetic composition, function and evolution have remained an unresolved query, although a few successful attempts have been made to address these phenomena. A classical concept based on cytogenetics and genetics is that Bs are selfish and abundant with DNA repeats and transposons, and in most cases, they do not carry any function. However, recently, the modern quantum development of high scale multi-omics techniques has shifted B research towards a new-born field that we call “B-omics”. We review the recent literature and add novel perspectives to the B research, discussing the role of new technologies to understand the mechanistic perspectives of the molecular evolution and function of Bs. The modern view states that B chromosomes are enriched with genes for many significant biological functions, including but not limited to the interesting set of genes related to cell cycle and chromosome structure. Furthermore, the presence of B chromosomes could favor genomic rearrangements and influence the nuclear environment affecting the function of other chromatin regions. We hypothesize that B chromosomes might play a key function in driving their transmission and maintenance inside the cell, as well as offer an extra genomic compartment for evolution.


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