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  |  

Whole Genome Sequencing of the Giant Grouper (Epinephelus lanceolatus) and High-Throughput Screening of Putative Antimicrobial Peptide Genes.

Giant groupers, the largest grouper type in the world, are of economic importance in marine aquaculture for their rapid growth. At the same time, bacterial and viral diseases have become the main threats to the grouper industry. Here, we report a high-quality genome of a giant grouper sequenced by an Illumina HiSeq X-Ten and PacBio Bioscience Sequel platform. A total of 254 putative antimicrobial peptide (AMP) genes were identified, which can be divided into 34 classes according to the annotation of the Antimicrobial Peptides Database (APD3). Their locations in pseudochromosomes were also determined. Thrombin-, lectin-, and scolopendin-derived putative AMPs were the three largest parts. In addition, expressions of putative AMPs were measured by our transcriptome data. Two putative AMP genes (gapdh1 and gapdh2) were involved in glycolysis, which had extremely high expression levels in giant grouper muscle. As it has been reported that AMPs inhibit the growth of a broad spectrum of microbes and participate in regulating innate and adaptive immune responses, genome sequencing of this study provides a comprehensive cataloging of putative AMPs of groupers, supporting antimicrobial research and aquaculture therapy. These genomic resources will be beneficial to further molecular breeding of this economically important fish.


April 21, 2020  |  

The Reference Genome Sequence of Scutellaria baicalensis Provides Insights into the Evolution of Wogonin Biosynthesis.

Scutellaria baicalensis Georgi is important in Chinese traditional medicine where preparations of dried roots, “Huang Qin,” are used for liver and lung complaints and as complementary cancer treatments. We report a high-quality reference genome sequence for S. baicalensis where 93% of the 408.14-Mb genome has been assembled into nine pseudochromosomes with a super-N50 of 33.2 Mb. Comparison of this sequence with those of closely related species in the order Lamiales, Sesamum indicum and Salvia splendens, revealed that a specialized metabolic pathway for the synthesis of 4′-deoxyflavone bioactives evolved in the genus Scutellaria. We found that the gene encoding a specific cinnamate coenzyme A ligase likely obtained its new function following recent mutations, and that four genes encoding enzymes in the 4′-deoxyflavone pathway are present as tandem repeats in the genome of S. baicalensis. Further analyses revealed that gene duplications, segmental duplication, gene amplification, and point mutations coupled to gene neo- and subfunctionalizations were involved in the evolution of 4′-deoxyflavone synthesis in the genus Scutellaria. Our study not only provides significant insight into the evolution of specific flavone biosynthetic pathways in the mint family, Lamiaceae, but also will facilitate the development of tools for enhancing bioactive productivity by metabolic engineering in microbes or by molecular breeding in plants. The reference genome of S. baicalensis is also useful for improving the genome assemblies for other members of the mint family and offers an important foundation for decoding the synthetic pathways of bioactive compounds in medicinal plants.Copyright © 2019 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


April 21, 2020  |  

Gossypium barbadense and Gossypium hirsutum genomes provide insights into the origin and evolution of allotetraploid cotton.

Allotetraploid cotton is an economically important natural-fiber-producing crop worldwide. After polyploidization, Gossypium hirsutum L. evolved to produce a higher fiber yield and to better survive harsh environments than Gossypium barbadense, which produces superior-quality fibers. The global genetic and molecular bases for these interspecies divergences were unknown. Here we report high-quality de novo-assembled genomes for these two cultivated allotetraploid species with pronounced improvement in repetitive-DNA-enriched centromeric regions. Whole-genome comparative analyses revealed that species-specific alterations in gene expression, structural variations and expanded gene families were responsible for speciation and the evolutionary history of these species. These findings help to elucidate the evolution of cotton genomes and their domestication history. The information generated not only should enable breeders to improve fiber quality and resilience to ever-changing environmental conditions but also can be translated to other crops for better understanding of their domestication history and use in improvement.


April 21, 2020  |  

Origin and evolution of the octoploid strawberry genome.

Cultivated strawberry emerged from the hybridization of two wild octoploid species, both descendants from the merger of four diploid progenitor species into a single nucleus more than 1 million years ago. Here we report a near-complete chromosome-scale assembly for cultivated octoploid strawberry (Fragaria?×?ananassa) and uncovered the origin and evolutionary processes that shaped this complex allopolyploid. We identified the extant relatives of each diploid progenitor species and provide support for the North American origin of octoploid strawberry. We examined the dynamics among the four subgenomes in octoploid strawberry and uncovered the presence of a single dominant subgenome with significantly greater gene content, gene expression abundance, and biased exchanges between homoeologous chromosomes, as compared with the other subgenomes. Pathway analysis showed that certain metabolomic and disease-resistance traits are largely controlled by the dominant subgenome. These findings and the reference genome should serve as a powerful platform for future evolutionary studies and enable molecular breeding in strawberry.


April 21, 2020  |  

Genome sequence of Jatropha curcas L., a non-edible biodiesel plant, provides a resource to improve seed-related traits.

Jatropha curcas (physic nut), a non-edible oilseed crop, represents one of the most promising alternative energy sources due to its high seed oil content, rapid growth and adaptability to various environments. We report ~339 Mbp draft whole genome sequence of J. curcas var. Chai Nat using both the PacBio and Illumina sequencing platforms. We identified and categorized differentially expressed genes related to biosynthesis of lipid and toxic compound among four stages of seed development. Triacylglycerol (TAG), the major component of seed storage oil, is mainly synthesized by phospholipid:diacylglycerol acyltransferase in Jatropha, and continuous high expression of homologs of oleosin over seed development contributes to accumulation of high level of oil in kernels by preventing the breakdown of TAG. A physical cluster of genes for diterpenoid biosynthetic enzymes, including casbene synthases highly responsible for a toxic compound, phorbol ester, in seed cake, was syntenically highly conserved between Jatropha and castor bean. Transcriptomic analysis of female and male flowers revealed the up-regulation of a dozen family of TFs in female flower. Additionally, we constructed a robust species tree enabling estimation of divergence times among nine Jatropha species and five commercial crops in Malpighiales order. Our results will help researchers and breeders increase energy efficiency of this important oil seed crop by improving yield and oil content, and eliminating toxic compound in seed cake for animal feed. © 2018 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  |  

Complete chloroplast genome sequence of Carthamus tinctorius L. from PacBio Sequel Platform

Carthamus tinctorius L, also known as safflower, is an important oil crop planted worldwide. The com- plete chloroplast (cp) genome was reported in this study using the PacBio Sequel Platform. The cp genome with a total size of 152,963bp consisted of two inverted repeats (25,128bp) separated by a large single-copy region (84,124bp) and a small single-copy region (18,583bp). Further annotation revealed the cp genome contains 112 genes, including 79 protein-coding genes, 29 tRNA genes, and 4 rRNA genes. The information of the cp genome will be useful for investigation of evolution and molecular breeding of safflower in the future.


April 21, 2020  |  

The developmental dynamics of the Populus stem transcriptome.

The Populus shoot undergoes primary growth (longitudinal growth) followed by secondary growth (radial growth), which produces biomass that is an important source of energy worldwide. We adopted joint PacBio Iso-Seq and RNA-seq analysis to identify differentially expressed transcripts along a developmental gradient from the shoot apex to the fifth internode of Populus Nanlin895. We obtained 87 150 full-length transcripts, including 2081 new isoforms and 62 058 new alternatively spliced isoforms, most of which were produced by intron retention, that were used to update the Populus annotation. Among these novel isoforms, there are 1187 long non-coding RNAs and 356 fusion genes. Using this annotation, we found 15 838 differentially expressed transcripts along the shoot developmental gradient, of which 1216 were transcription factors (TFs). Only a few of these genes were reported previously. The differential expression of these TFs suggests that they may play important roles in primary and secondary growth. AP2, ARF, YABBY and GRF TFs are highly expressed in the apex, whereas NAC, bZIP, PLATZ and HSF TFs are likely to be important for secondary growth. Overall, our findings provide evidence that long-read sequencing can complement short-read sequencing for cataloguing and quantifying eukaryotic transcripts and increase our understanding of the vital and dynamic process of shoot development. © 2018 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  |  

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 role of genomic structural variation in the genetic improvement of polyploid crops

Many of our major crop species are polyploids, containing more than one genome or set of chromosomes. Polyploid crops present unique challenges, including difficulties in genome assembly, in discriminating between multiple gene and sequence copies, and in genetic mapping, hindering use of genomic data for genetics and breeding. Polyploid genomes may also be more prone to containing structural variation, such as loss of gene copies or sequences (presence–absence variation) and the presence of genes or sequences in multiple copies (copy-number variation). Although the two main types of genomic structural variation commonly identified are presence–absence variation and copy-number variation, we propose that homeologous exchanges constitute a third major form of genomic structural variation in polyploids. Homeologous exchanges involve the replacement of one genomic segment by a similar copy from another genome or ancestrally duplicated region, and are known to be extremely common in polyploids. Detecting all kinds of genomic structural variation is challenging, but recent advances such as optical mapping and long-read sequencing offer potential strategies to help identify structural variants even in complex polyploid genomes. All three major types of genomic structural variation (presence–absence, copy-number, and homeologous exchange) are now known to influence phenotypes in crop plants, with examples of flowering time, frost tolerance, and adaptive and agronomic traits. In this review, we summarize the challenges of genome analysis in polyploid crops, describe the various types of genomic structural variation and the genomics technologies and data that can be used to detect them, and collate information produced to date related to the impact of genomic structural variation on crop phenotypes. We highlight the importance of genomic structural variation for the future genetic improvement of polyploid crops.


April 21, 2020  |  

Comprehensive identification of the full-length transcripts and alternative splicing related to the secondary metabolism pathways in the tea plant (Camellia sinensis).

Flavonoids, theanine and caffeine are the main secondary metabolites of the tea plant (Camellia sinensis), which account for the tea’s unique flavor quality and health benefits. The biosynthesis pathways of these metabolites have been extensively studied at the transcriptional level, but the regulatory mechanisms are still unclear. In this study, to explore the transcriptome diversity and complexity of tea plant, PacBio Iso-Seq and RNA-seq analysis were combined to obtain full-length transcripts and to profile the changes in gene expression during the leaf development. A total of 1,388,066 reads of insert (ROI) were generated with an average length of 1,762?bp, and more than 54% (755,716) of the ROIs were full-length non-chimeric (FLNC) reads. The Benchmarking Universal Single-Copy Orthologue (BUSCO) completeness was 92.7%. A total of 93,883 non-redundant transcripts were obtained, and 87,395 (93.1%) were new alternatively spliced isoforms. Meanwhile, 7,650 differential expression transcripts (DETs) were identified. A total of 28,980 alternative splicing (AS) events were predicted, including 1,297 differential AS (DAS) events. The transcript isoforms of the key genes involved in the flavonoid, theanine and caffeine biosynthesis pathways were characterized. Additionally, 5,777 fusion transcripts and 9,052 long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) were also predicted. Our results revealed that AS potentially plays a crucial role in the regulation of the secondary metabolism of the tea plant. These findings enhanced our understanding of the complexity of the secondary metabolic regulation of tea plants and provided a basis for the subsequent exploration of the regulatory mechanisms of flavonoid, theanine and caffeine biosynthesis in tea plants.


April 21, 2020  |  

Hybrid sequencing of the Gynostemma pentaphyllum transcriptome provides new insights into gypenoside biosynthesis.

Gypenosides are a group of triterpene saponins from Gynostemma pentaphyllum that are the same as or very similar to ginsenosides from the Panax species. Several enzymes involved in ginsenoside biosynthesis have been characterized, which provide important clues for elucidating the gypenoside biosynthetic pathway. We suppose that gypenosides and ginsenosides may have a similar biosynthetic mechanism and that the corresponding enzymes in the two pathways may have considerable similarity in their sequences. To further understand gypenoside biosynthesis, we sequenced the G. pentaphyllum transcriptome with a hybrid sequencing-based strategy and then determined the candidate genes involved in this pathway using phylogenetic tree construction and gene expression analysis.Following the PacBio standard analysis pipeline, 66,046 polished consensus sequences were obtained, while Illumina data were assembled into 140,601 unigenes with Trinity software. Then, these output sequences from the two analytical routes were merged. After removing redundant data with CD-HIT software, a total of 140,157 final unigenes were obtained. After functional annotation, five 2,3-oxidosqualene cyclase genes, 145 cytochrome P450 genes and 254 UDP-glycosyltransferase genes were selected for the screening of genes involved in gypenoside biosynthesis. Using phylogenetic analysis, several genes were divided into the same subfamilies or closely related evolutionary branches with characterized enzymes involved in ginsenoside biosynthesis. Using real-time PCR technology, their expression patterns were investigated in different tissues and at different times after methyl jasmonate induction. Since the genes in the same biosynthetic pathway are generally coexpressed, we speculated that GpOSC1, GpCYP89, and GpUGT35 were the leading candidates for gypenoside biosynthesis. In addition, six GpWRKYs and one GpbHLH might play a possible role in regulating gypenoside biosynthesis.We developed a hybrid sequencing strategy to obtain longer length transcriptomes with increased accuracy, which will greatly contribute to downstream gene screening and characterization, thus improving our ability to elucidate secondary metabolite biosynthetic pathways. With this strategy, we found several candidate genes that may be involved in gypenoside biosynthesis, which laid an important foundation for the elucidation of this biosynthetic pathway, thus greatly contributing to further research in metabolic regulation, synthetic biology and molecular breeding in this species.


April 21, 2020  |  

Reconstruction of the full-length transcriptome atlas using PacBio Iso-Seq provides insight into the alternative splicing in Gossypium australe.

Gossypium australe F. Mueller (2n?=?2x?=?26, G2 genome) possesses valuable characteristics. For example, the delayed gland morphogenesis trait causes cottonseed protein and oil to be edible while retaining resistance to biotic stress. However, the lack of gene sequences and their alternative splicing (AS) in G. australe remain unclear, hindering to explore species-specific biological morphogenesis.Here, we report the first sequencing of the full-length transcriptome of the Australian wild cotton species, G. australe, using Pacific Biosciences single-molecule long-read isoform sequencing (Iso-Seq) from the pooled cDNA of ten tissues to identify transcript loci and splice isoforms. We reconstructed the G. australe full-length transcriptome and identified 25,246 genes, 86 pre-miRNAs and 1468 lncRNAs. Most genes (12,832, 50.83%) exhibited two or more isoforms, suggesting a high degree of transcriptome complexity in G. australe. A total of 31,448 AS events in five major types were found among the 9944 gene loci. Among these five major types, intron retention was the most frequent, accounting for 68.85% of AS events. 29,718 polyadenylation sites were detected from 14,536 genes, 7900 of which have alternative polyadenylation sites (APA). In addition, based on our AS events annotations, RNA-Seq short reads from germinating seeds showed that differential expression of these events occurred during seed germination. Ten AS events that were randomly selected were further confirmed by RT-PCR amplification in leaf and germinating seeds.The reconstructed gene sequences and their AS in G. australe would provide information for exploring beneficial characteristics in G. australe.


April 21, 2020  |  

Iso-Seq analysis of the Taxus cuspidata transcriptome reveals the complexity of Taxol biosynthesis.

Taxus cuspidata is well known worldwide for its ability to produce Taxol, one of the top-selling natural anticancer drugs. However, current Taxol production cannot match the increasing needs of the market, and novel strategies should be considered to increase the supply of Taxol. Since the biosynthetic mechanism of Taxol remains largely unknown, elucidating this pathway in detail will be very helpful in exploring alternative methods for Taxol production.Here, we sequenced Taxus cuspidata transcriptomes with next-generation sequencing (NGS) and third-generation sequencing (TGS) platforms. After correction with Illumina reads and removal of redundant reads, more than 180,000 nonredundant transcripts were generated from the raw Iso-Seq data. Using Cogent software and an alignment-based method, we identified a total of 139 cytochrome P450s (CYP450s), 31 BAHD acyltransferases (ACTs) and 1940 transcription factors (TFs). Based on phylogenetic and coexpression analysis, we identified 9 CYP450s and 7 BAHD ACTs as potential lead candidates for Taxol biosynthesis and 6 TFs that are possibly involved in the regulation of this process. Using coexpression analysis of genes known to be involved in Taxol biosynthesis, we elucidated the stem biosynthetic pathway. In addition, we analyzed the expression patterns of 12 characterized genes in the Taxol pathway and speculated that the isoprene precursors for Taxol biosynthesis were mainly synthesized via the MEP pathway. In addition, we found and confirmed that the alternative splicing patterns of some genes varied in different tissues, which may be an important tissue-specific method of posttranscriptional regulation.A strategy was developed to generate corrected full-length or nearly full-length transcripts without assembly to ensure sequence accuracy, thus greatly improving the reliability of coexpression and phylogenetic analysis and greatly facilitating gene cloning and characterization. This strategy was successfully utilized to elucidate the Taxol biosynthetic pathway, which will greatly contribute to the goals of improving the Taxol content in Taxus spp. using molecular breeding or plant management strategies and synthesizing Taxol in microorganisms using synthetic biological technology.


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