June 1, 2021  |  

Beyond Contiguity: Evaluating the accuracy of de novo genome assemblies

HiFi reads (>99% accurate, 15-20 kb) from the PacBio Sequel II System consistently provide complete and contiguous genome assemblies. In addition to completeness and contiguity, accuracy is of critical importance, as assembly errors complicate downstream analysis, particularly by disrupting gene frames. Metrics used to assess assembly accuracy include: 1) in-frame gene count, 2) kmer consistency, and 3) concordance to a benchmark, where discordances are interpreted as assembly errors. Genome in a Bottle (GIAB) provides a benchmark for the human genome with estimated accuracy of 99.9999% (Q60). Concordance for human HiFi assemblies exceeds Q50, which provides excellent genomes for downstream analysis, but presents a challenge that any new benchmark must significantly exceed Q50 or the discordance will represent the error rate of the benchmark. To establish benchmarks for Oryza sativa and Drosophila melanogaster, we collected draft references, Illumina short reads, and PacBio HiFi reads. By species, the benchmark was defined as regions of normal coverage that are not within 5 bp of a small variant or 50 bp of a structural variant. For both species, the benchmark regions span around 60% of the genome and HiFi assemblies achieve Q50 accuracy, which is notably more accurate than assemblies with other technologies and meets typical standards for a finished, reference-grade assembly. Here we present a protocol to generate benchmarks for any sample that rival the GIAB benchmark in accuracy. These benchmarks allow the comparison and improvement of genome assemblies and highlight the superior accuracy of assemblies generated with PacBio HiFi reads.


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  |  

Strengths and potential pitfalls of hay-transfer for ecological restoration revealed by RAD-seq analysis in floodplain Arabis species

Achieving high intraspecific genetic diversity is a critical goal in ecological restoration as it increases the adaptive potential and long-term resilience of populations. Thus, we investigated genetic diversity within and between pristine sites in a fossil floodplain and compared it to sites restored by hay-transfer between 1997 and 2014. RAD-seq genotyping revealed that the stenoecious flood-plain species Arabis nemorensis is co-occurring with individuals that, based on ploidy, ITS-sequencing and morphology, probably belong to the close relative Arabis sagittata, which has a documented preference for dry calcareous grasslands but has not been reported in floodplain meadows. We show that hay-transfer maintains genetic diversity for both species. Additionally, in A. sagittata, transfer from multiple genetically isolated pristine sites resulted in restored sites with increased diversity and admixed local genotypes. In A. nemorensis, transfer did not create novel admixture dynamics because genetic diversity between pristine sites was less differentiated. Thus, the effects of hay-transfer on genetic diversity also depend on the genetic makeup of the donor communities of each species, especially when local material is mixed. Our results demonstrate the efficiency of hay-transfer for habitat restoration and emphasize the importance of pre-restoration characterization of micro-geographic patterns of intraspecific diversity of the community to guarantee that restoration practices reach their goal, i.e. maximize the adaptive potential of the entire restored plant community. Overlooking these patterns may alter the balance between species in the community. Additionally, our comparison of summary statistics obtained from de novo and reference-based RAD-seq pipelines shows that the genomic impact of restoration can be reliably monitored in species lacking prior genomic knowledge.


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.


April 21, 2020  |  

Divergent evolution in the genomes of closely related lacertids, Lacerta viridis and L. bilineata, and implications for speciation.

Lacerta viridis and Lacerta bilineata are sister species of European green lizards (eastern and western clades, respectively) that, until recently, were grouped together as the L. viridis complex. Genetic incompatibilities were observed between lacertid populations through crossing experiments, which led to the delineation of two separate species within the L. viridis complex. The population history of these sister species and processes driving divergence are unknown. We constructed the first high-quality de novo genome assemblies for both L. viridis and L. bilineata through Illumina and PacBio sequencing, with annotation support provided from transcriptome sequencing of several tissues. To estimate gene flow between the two species and identify factors involved in reproductive isolation, we studied their evolutionary history, identified genomic rearrangements, detected signatures of selection on non-coding RNA, and on protein-coding genes.Here we show that gene flow was primarily unidirectional from L. bilineata to L. viridis after their split at least 1.15 million years ago. We detected positive selection of the non-coding repertoire; mutations in transcription factors; accumulation of divergence through inversions; selection on genes involved in neural development, reproduction, and behavior, as well as in ultraviolet-response, possibly driven by sexual selection, whose contribution to reproductive isolation between these lacertid species needs to be further evaluated.The combination of short and long sequence reads resulted in one of the most complete lizard genome assemblies. The characterization of a diverse array of genomic features provided valuable insights into the demographic history of divergence among European green lizards, as well as key species differences, some of which are candidates that could have played a role in speciation. In addition, our study generated valuable genomic resources that can be used to address conservation-related issues in lacertids. © The Author(s) 2018. Published by Oxford University Press.


April 21, 2020  |  

Finding Nemo’s Genes: A chromosome-scale reference assembly of the genome of the orange clownfish Amphiprion percula.

The iconic orange clownfish, Amphiprion percula, is a model organism for studying the ecology and evolution of reef fishes, including patterns of population connectivity, sex change, social organization, habitat selection and adaptation to climate change. Notably, the orange clownfish is the only reef fish for which a complete larval dispersal kernel has been established and was the first fish species for which it was demonstrated that antipredator responses of reef fishes could be impaired by ocean acidification. Despite its importance, molecular resources for this species remain scarce and until now it lacked a reference genome assembly. Here, we present a de novo chromosome-scale assembly of the genome of the orange clownfish Amphiprion percula. We utilized single-molecule real-time sequencing technology from Pacific Biosciences to produce an initial polished assembly comprised of 1,414 contigs, with a contig N50 length of 1.86 Mb. Using Hi-C-based chromatin contact maps, 98% of the genome assembly were placed into 24 chromosomes, resulting in a final assembly of 908.8 Mb in length with contig and scaffold N50s of 3.12 and 38.4 Mb, respectively. This makes it one of the most contiguous and complete fish genome assemblies currently available. The genome was annotated with 26,597 protein-coding genes and contains 96% of the core set of conserved actinopterygian orthologs. The availability of this reference genome assembly as a community resource will further strengthen the role of the orange clownfish as a model species for research on the ecology and evolution of reef fishes. © 2018 The Authors. Molecular Ecology Resources Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


April 21, 2020  |  

Antarctic blackfin icefish genome reveals adaptations to extreme environments.

Icefishes (suborder Notothenioidei; family Channichthyidae) are the only vertebrates that lack functional haemoglobin genes and red blood cells. Here, we report a high-quality genome assembly and linkage map for the Antarctic blackfin icefish Chaenocephalus aceratus, highlighting evolved genomic features for its unique physiology. Phylogenomic analysis revealed that Antarctic fish of the teleost suborder Notothenioidei, including icefishes, diverged from the stickleback lineage about 77 million years ago and subsequently evolved cold-adapted phenotypes as the Southern Ocean cooled to sub-zero temperatures. Our results show that genes involved in protection from ice damage, including genes encoding antifreeze glycoprotein and zona pellucida proteins, are highly expanded in the icefish genome. Furthermore, genes that encode enzymes that help to control cellular redox state, including members of the sod3 and nqo1 gene families, are expanded, probably as evolutionary adaptations to the relatively high concentration of oxygen dissolved in cold Antarctic waters. In contrast, some crucial regulators of circadian homeostasis (cry and per genes) are absent from the icefish genome, suggesting compromised control of biological rhythms in the polar light environment. The availability of the icefish genome sequence will accelerate our understanding of adaptation to extreme Antarctic environments.


April 21, 2020  |  

Genome Sequence of Jaltomata Addresses Rapid Reproductive Trait Evolution and Enhances Comparative Genomics in the Hyper-Diverse Solanaceae.

Within the economically important plant family Solanaceae, Jaltomata is a rapidly evolving genus that has extensive diversity in flower size and shape, as well as fruit and nectar color, among its ~80 species. Here, we report the whole-genome sequencing, assembly, and annotation, of one representative species (Jaltomata sinuosa) from this genus. Combining PacBio long reads (25×) and Illumina short reads (148×) achieved an assembly of ~1.45?Gb, spanning ~96% of the estimated genome. Ninety-six percent of curated single-copy orthologs in plants were detected in the assembly, supporting a high level of completeness of the genome. Similar to other Solanaceous species, repetitive elements made up a large fraction (~80%) of the genome, with the most recently active element, Gypsy, expanding across the genome in the last 1-2 Myr. Computational gene prediction, in conjunction with a merged transcriptome data set from 11 tissues, identified 34,725 protein-coding genes. Comparative phylogenetic analyses with six other sequenced Solanaceae species determined that Jaltomata is most likely sister to Solanum, although a large fraction of gene trees supported a conflicting bipartition consistent with substantial introgression between Jaltomata and Capsicum after these species split. We also identified gene family dynamics specific to Jaltomata, including expansion of gene families potentially involved in novel reproductive trait development, and loss of gene families that accompanied the loss of self-incompatibility. This high-quality genome will facilitate studies of phenotypic diversification in this rapidly radiating group and provide a new point of comparison for broader analyses of genomic evolution across the Solanaceae.


April 21, 2020  |  

Genome sequencing and CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing of an early flowering Mini-Citrus (Fortunella hindsii).

Hongkong kumquat (Fortunella hindsii) is a wild citrus species characterized by dwarf plant height and early flowering. Here, we identified the monoembryonic F. hindsii (designated as ‘Mini-Citrus’) for the first time and constructed its selfing lines. This germplasm constitutes an ideal model for the genetic and functional genomics studies of citrus, which have been severely hindered by the long juvenility and inherent apomixes of citrus. F. hindsii showed a very short juvenile period (~8 months) and stable monoembryonic phenotype under cultivation. We report the first de novo assembled 373.6 Mb genome sequences (Contig-N50 2.2 Mb and Scaffold-N50 5.2 Mb) for F. hindsii. In total, 32 257 protein-coding genes were annotated, 96.9% of which had homologues in other eight Citrinae species. The phylogenomic analysis revealed a close relationship of F. hindsii with cultivated citrus varieties, especially with mandarin. Furthermore, the CRISPR/Cas9 system was demonstrated to be an efficient strategy to generate target mutagenesis on F. hindsii. The modifications of target genes in the CRISPR-modified F. hindsii were predominantly 1-bp insertions or small deletions. This genetic transformation system based on F. hindsii could shorten the whole process from explant to T1 mutant to about 15 months. Overall, due to its short juvenility, monoembryony, close genetic background to cultivated citrus and applicability of CRISPR, F. hindsii shows unprecedented potentials to be used as a model species for citrus research. © 2019 The Authors. Plant Biotechnology Journal published by Society for Experimental Biology and The Association of Applied Biologists and John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


April 21, 2020  |  

Computational aspects underlying genome to phenome analysis in plants.

Recent advances in genomics technologies have greatly accelerated the progress in both fundamental plant science and applied breeding research. Concurrently, high-throughput plant phenotyping is becoming widely adopted in the plant community, promising to alleviate the phenotypic bottleneck. While these technological breakthroughs are significantly accelerating quantitative trait locus (QTL) and causal gene identification, challenges to enable even more sophisticated analyses remain. In particular, care needs to be taken to standardize, describe and conduct experiments robustly while relying on plant physiology expertise. In this article, we review the state of the art regarding genome assembly and the future potential of pangenomics in plant research. We also describe the necessity of standardizing and describing phenotypic studies using the Minimum Information About a Plant Phenotyping Experiment (MIAPPE) standard to enable the reuse and integration of phenotypic data. In addition, we show how deep phenotypic data might yield novel trait-trait correlations and review how to link phenotypic data to genomic data. Finally, we provide perspectives on the golden future of machine learning and their potential in linking phenotypes to genomic features. © 2018 The Authors The Plant Journal published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd and Society for Experimental Biology.


April 21, 2020  |  

A Species-Wide Inventory of NLR Genes and Alleles in Arabidopsis thaliana.

Infectious disease is both a major force of selection in nature and a prime cause of yield loss in agriculture. In plants, disease resistance is often conferred by nucleotide-binding leucine-rich repeat (NLR) proteins, intracellular immune receptors that recognize pathogen proteins and their effects on the host. Consistent with extensive balancing and positive selection, NLRs are encoded by one of the most variable gene families in plants, but the true extent of intraspecific NLR diversity has been unclear. Here, we define a nearly complete species-wide pan-NLRome in Arabidopsis thaliana based on sequence enrichment and long-read sequencing. The pan-NLRome largely saturates with approximately 40 well-chosen wild strains, with half of the pan-NLRome being present in most accessions. We chart NLR architectural diversity, identify new architectures, and quantify selective forces that act on specific NLRs and NLR domains. Our study provides a blueprint for defining pan-NLRomes.Copyright © 2019 The Author(s). Published by 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.


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