June 1, 2021  |  

De novo assembly and preliminary annotation of the Schizocardium californicum genome

Animals in the phylum Hemichordata have provided key understanding of the origins and development of body patterning and nervous system organization. However, efforts to sequence and assemble the genomes of highly heterozygous non-model organisms have proven to be difficult with traditional short read approaches. Long repetitive DNA structures, extensive structural variation between haplotypes in polyploid species, and large genome sizes are limiting factors to achieving highly contiguous genome assemblies. Here we present the highly contiguous de novo assembly and preliminary annotation of an indirect developing hemichordate genome, Schizocardium californicum, using SMRT Sequening long reads.


April 21, 2020  |  

Chromosome-level hybrid de novo genome assemblies as an attainable option for non-model organisms

The emergence of third generation sequencing (3GS; long-reads) is making closer the goal of chromosome-size fragments in de novo genome assemblies. This allows the exploration of new and broader questions on genome evolution for a number of non-model organisms. However, long-read technologies result in higher sequencing error rates and therefore impose an elevated cost of sufficient coverage to achieve high enough quality. In this context, hybrid assemblies, combining short-reads and long-reads provide an alternative efficient and cost-effective approach to generate de novo, chromosome-level genome assemblies. The array of available software programs for hybrid genome assembly, sequence correction and manipulation is constantly being expanded and improved. This makes it difficult for non-experts to find efficient, fast and tractable computational solutions for genome assembly, especially in the case of non-model organisms lacking a reference genome or one from a closely related species. In this study, we review and test the most recent pipelines for hybrid assemblies, comparing the model organism Drosophila melanogaster to a non-model cactophilic Drosophila, D. mojavensis. We show that it is possible to achieve excellent contiguity on this non-model organism using the DBG2OLC pipeline.


April 21, 2020  |  

Comprehensive evaluation of non-hybrid genome assembly tools for third-generation PacBio long-read sequence data.

Long reads obtained from third-generation sequencing platforms can help overcome the long-standing challenge of the de novo assembly of sequences for the genomic analysis of non-model eukaryotic organisms. Numerous long-read-aided de novo assemblies have been published recently, which exhibited superior quality of the assembled genomes in comparison with those achieved using earlier second-generation sequencing technologies. Evaluating assemblies is important in guiding the appropriate choice for specific research needs. In this study, we evaluated 10 long-read assemblers using a variety of metrics on Pacific Biosciences (PacBio) data sets from different taxonomic categories with considerable differences in genome size. The results allowed us to narrow down the list to a few assemblers that can be effectively applied to eukaryotic assembly projects. Moreover, we highlight how best to use limited genomic resources for effectively evaluating the genome assemblies of non-model organisms. © The Author 2017. Published by Oxford University Press.


April 21, 2020  |  

The Impact of cDNA Normalization on Long-Read Sequencing of a Complex Transcriptome

Normalization of cDNA is widely used to improve the coverage of rare transcripts in analysis of transcriptomes employing next-generation sequencing. Recently, long-read technology has been emerging as a powerful tool for sequencing and construction of transcriptomes, especially for complex genomes containing highly similar transcripts and transcript-spliced isoforms. Here, we analyzed the transcriptome of sugarcane, with a highly polyploidy plant genome, by PacBio isoform sequencing (Iso-Seq) of two different cDNA library preparations, with and without a normalization step. The results demonstrated that, while the two libraries included many of the same transcripts, many longer transcripts were removed and many new generally shorter transcripts were detected by normalization. For the same input cDNA and the same data yield, the normalized library recovered more total transcript isoforms, number of predicted gene families and orthologous groups, resulting in a higher representation for the sugarcane transcriptome, compared to the non-normalized library. The non-normalized library, on the other hand, included a wider transcript length range with more longer transcripts above ~1.25 kb, more transcript isoforms per gene family and gene ontology terms per transcript. A large proportion of the unique transcripts comprising ~52% of the normalized library were expressed at a lower level than the unique transcripts from the non-normalized library, across three tissue types tested including leaf, stalk and root. About 83% of the total 5,348 predicted long noncoding transcripts was derived from the normalized library, of which ~80% was derived from the lowly expressed fraction. Functional annotation of the unique transcripts suggested that each library enriched different functional transcript fractions. This demonstrated the complementation of the two approaches in obtaining a complete transcriptome of a complex genome at the sequencing depth used in this study.


September 22, 2019  |  

Robust and effective methodologies for cryopreservation and DNA extraction from anaerobic gut fungi.

Cell storage and DNA isolation are essential to developing an expanded suite of microorganisms for biotechnology. However, many features of non-model microbes, such as an anaerobic lifestyle and rigid cell wall, present formidable challenges to creating strain repositories and extracting high quality genomic DNA. Here, we establish accessible, high efficiency, and robust techniques to store lignocellulolytic anaerobic gut fungi long term without specialized equipment. Using glycerol as a cryoprotectant, gut fungal isolates were preserved for a minimum of 23 months at -80 °C. Unlike previously reported approaches, this improved protocol is non-toxic and rapid, with samples surviving twice as long with negligible growth impact. Genomic DNA extraction for these isolates was optimized to yield samples compatible with next generation sequencing platforms (e.g. Illumina, PacBio). Popular DNA isolation kits and precipitation protocols yielded preps that were unsuitable for sequencing due to carbohydrate contaminants from the chitin-rich cell wall and extensive energy reserves of gut fungi. To address this, we identified a proprietary method optimized for hardy plant samples that rapidly yielded DNA fragments in excess of 10 kb with minimal RNA, protein or carbohydrate contamination. Collectively, these techniques serve as fundamental tools to manipulate powerful biomass-degrading gut fungi and improve their accessibility among researchers. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


September 22, 2019  |  

A workflow for studying specialized metabolism in nonmodel eukaryotic organisms

Eukaryotes contain a diverse tapestry of specialized metabolites, many of which are of significant pharmaceutical and industrial importance to humans. Nevertheless, exploration of specialized metabolic pathways underlying specific chemical traits in nonmodel eukaryotic organisms has been technically challenging and historically lagged behind that of the bacterial systems. Recent advances in genomics, metabolomics, phylogenomics, and synthetic biology now enable a new workflow for interrogating unknown specialized metabolic systems in nonmodel eukaryotic hosts with greater efficiency and mechanistic depth. This chapter delineates such workflow by providing a collection of state-of-the-art approaches and tools, ranging from multiomics-guided candidate gene identification to in vitro and in vivo functional and structural characterization of specialized metabolic enzymes. As already demonstrated by several recent studies, this new workflow opens up a gateway into the largely untapped world of natural product biochemistry in eukaryotes. © 2016 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


September 22, 2019  |  

Exploiting single-molecule transcript sequencing for eukaryotic gene prediction.

We develop a method to predict and validate gene models using PacBio single-molecule, real-time (SMRT) cDNA reads. Ninety-eight percent of full-insert SMRT reads span complete open reading frames. Gene model validation using SMRT reads is developed as automated process. Optimized training and prediction settings and mRNA-seq noise reduction of assisting Illumina reads results in increased gene prediction sensitivity and precision. Additionally, we present an improved gene set for sugar beet (Beta vulgaris) and the first genome-wide gene set for spinach (Spinacia oleracea). The workflow and guidelines are a valuable resource to obtain comprehensive gene sets for newly sequenced genomes of non-model eukaryotes.


September 22, 2019  |  

Single-molecule long-read transcriptome dataset of halophyte Halogeton glomeratus.

Soil salinization has become a major challenge for sustainable development of global agriculture. As a result, cultivation of salt-tolerant crop varieties has become a focus of plant breeding. However, development of effective breeding strategies would be significantly enhanced by improving our understanding of salt tolerance mechanisms in plants and identifying genes required for adaptation.


September 22, 2019  |  

Vertebrate genome evolution in the light of fish cytogenomics and rDNAomics.

To understand the cytogenomic evolution of vertebrates, we must first unravel the complex genomes of fishes, which were the first vertebrates to evolve and were ancestors to all other vertebrates. We must not forget the immense time span during which the fish genomes had to evolve. Fish cytogenomics is endowed with unique features which offer irreplaceable insights into the evolution of the vertebrate genome. Due to the general DNA base compositional homogeneity of fish genomes, fish cytogenomics is largely based on mapping DNA repeats that still represent serious obstacles in genome sequencing and assembling, even in model species. Localization of repeats on chromosomes of hundreds of fish species and populations originating from diversified environments have revealed the biological importance of this genomic fraction. Ribosomal genes (rDNA) belong to the most informative repeats and in fish, they are subject to a more relaxed regulation than in higher vertebrates. This can result in formation of a literal ‘rDNAome’ consisting of more than 20,000 copies with their high proportion employed in extra-coding functions. Because rDNA has high rates of transcription and recombination, it contributes to genome diversification and can form reproductive barrier. Our overall knowledge of fish cytogenomics grows rapidly by a continuously increasing number of fish genomes sequenced and by use of novel sequencing methods improving genome assembly. The recently revealed exceptional compositional heterogeneity in an ancient fish lineage (gars) sheds new light on the compositional genome evolution in vertebrates generally. We highlight the power of synergy of cytogenetics and genomics in fish cytogenomics, its potential to understand the complexity of genome evolution in vertebrates, which is also linked to clinical applications and the chromosomal backgrounds of speciation. We also summarize the current knowledge on fish cytogenomics and outline its main future avenues.


September 22, 2019  |  

SimulaTE: simulating complex landscapes of transposable elements of populations.

Motivation Estimating the abundance of transposable elements (TEs) in populations (or tissues) promises to answer many open research questions. However, progress is hampered by the lack of concordance between different approaches for TE identification and thus potentially unreliable results. Results To address this problem, we developed SimulaTE a tool that generates TE landscapes for populations using a newly developed domain specific language (DSL). The simple syntax of our DSL allows for easily building even complex TE landscapes that have, for example, nested, truncated and highly diverged TE insertions. Reads may be simulated for the populations using different sequencing technologies (PacBio, Illumina paired-ends) and strategies (sequencing individuals and pooled populations). The comparison between the expected (i.e. simulated) and the observed results will guide researchers in finding the most suitable approach for a particular research question. Availability and implementation SimulaTE is implemented in Python and available at https://sourceforge.net/projects/simulates/. Manual https://sourceforge.net/p/simulates/wiki/Home/#manual; Test data and tutorials https://sourceforge.net/p/simulates/wiki/Home/#walkthrough; Validation https://sourceforge.net/p/simulates/wiki/Home/#validation. Contact robert.kofler@vetmeduni.ac.at


September 22, 2019  |  

Intraspecific comparative genomics of isolates of the Norway spruce pathogen (Heterobasidion parviporum) and identification of its potential virulence factors.

Heterobasidion parviporum is an economically most important fungal forest pathogen in northern Europe, causing root and butt rot disease of Norway spruce (Picea abies (L.) Karst.). The mechanisms underlying the pathogenesis and virulence of this species remain elusive. No reference genome to facilitate functional analysis is available for this species.To better understand the virulence factor at both phenotypic and genomic level, we characterized 15 H. parviporum isolates originating from different locations across Finland for virulence, vegetative growth, sporulation and saprotrophic wood decay. Wood decay capability and latitude of fungal origins exerted interactive effects on their virulence and appeared important for H. parviporum virulence. We sequenced the most virulent isolate, the first full genome sequences of H. parviporum as a reference genome, and re-sequenced the remaining 14 H. parviporum isolates. Genome-wide alignments and intrinsic polymorphism analysis showed that these isolates exhibited overall high genomic similarity with an average of at least 96% nucleotide identity when compared to the reference, yet had remarkable intra-specific level of polymorphism with a bias for CpG to TpG mutations. Reads mapping coverage analysis enabled the classification of all predicted genes into five groups and uncovered two genomic regions exclusively present in the reference with putative contribution to its higher virulence. Genes enriched for copy number variations (deletions and duplications) and nucleotide polymorphism were involved in oxidation-reduction processes and encoding domains relevant to transcription factors. Some secreted protein coding genes based on the genome-wide selection pressure, or the presence of variants were proposed as potential virulence candidates.Our study reported on the first reference genome sequence for this Norway spruce pathogen (H. parviporum). Comparative genomics analysis gave insight into the overall genomic variation among this fungal species and also facilitated the identification of several secreted protein coding genes as putative virulence factors for the further functional analysis. We also analyzed and identified phenotypic traits potentially linked to its virulence.


September 22, 2019  |  

Genomic architecture of haddock (Melanogrammus aeglefinus) shows expansions of innate immune genes and short tandem repeats.

Increased availability of genome assemblies for non-model organisms has resulted in invaluable biological and genomic insight into numerous vertebrates, including teleosts. Sequencing of the Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua) genome and the genomes of many of its relatives (Gadiformes) demonstrated a shared loss of the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) II genes 100 million years ago. An improved version of the Atlantic cod genome assembly shows an extreme density of tandem repeats compared to other vertebrate genome assemblies. Highly contiguous assemblies are therefore needed to further investigate the unusual immune system of the Gadiformes, and whether the high density of tandem repeats found in Atlantic cod is a shared trait in this group.Here, we have sequenced and assembled the genome of haddock (Melanogrammus aeglefinus) – a relative of Atlantic cod – using a combination of PacBio and Illumina reads. Comparative analyses reveal that the haddock genome contains an even higher density of tandem repeats outside and within protein coding sequences than Atlantic cod. Further, both species show an elevated number of tandem repeats in genes mainly involved in signal transduction compared to other teleosts. A characterization of the immune gene repertoire demonstrates a substantial expansion of MCHI in Atlantic cod compared to haddock. In contrast, the Toll-like receptors show a similar pattern of gene losses and expansions. For the NOD-like receptors (NLRs), another gene family associated with the innate immune system, we find a large expansion common to all teleosts, with possible lineage-specific expansions in zebrafish, stickleback and the codfishes.The generation of a highly contiguous genome assembly of haddock revealed that the high density of short tandem repeats as well as expanded immune gene families is not unique to Atlantic cod – but possibly a feature common to all, or most, codfishes. A shared expansion of NLR genes in teleosts suggests that the NLRs have a more substantial role in the innate immunity of teleosts than other vertebrates. Moreover, we find that high copy number genes combined with variable genome assembly qualities may impede complete characterization of these genes, i.e. the number of NLRs in different teleost species might be underestimates.


September 22, 2019  |  

A transposable element annotation pipeline and expression analysis reveal potentially active elements in the microalga Tisochrysis lutea.

Transposable elements (TEs) are mobile DNA sequences known as drivers of genome evolution. Their impacts have been widely studied in animals, plants and insects, but little is known about them in microalgae. In a previous study, we compared the genetic polymorphisms between strains of the haptophyte microalga Tisochrysis lutea and suggested the involvement of active autonomous TEs in their genome evolution.To identify potentially autonomous TEs, we designed a pipeline named PiRATE (Pipeline to Retrieve and Annotate Transposable Elements, download: https://doi.org/10.17882/51795 ), and conducted an accurate TE annotation on a new genome assembly of T. lutea. PiRATE is composed of detection, classification and annotation steps. Its detection step combines multiple, existing analysis packages representing all major approaches for TE detection and its classification step was optimized for microalgal genomes. The efficiency of the detection and classification steps was evaluated with data on the model species Arabidopsis thaliana. PiRATE detected 81% of the TE families of A. thaliana and correctly classified 75% of them. We applied PiRATE to T. lutea genomic data and established that its genome contains 15.89% Class I and 4.95% Class II TEs. In these, 3.79 and 17.05% correspond to potentially autonomous and non-autonomous TEs, respectively. Annotation data was combined with transcriptomic and proteomic data to identify potentially active autonomous TEs. We identified 17 expressed TE families and, among these, a TIR/Mariner and a TIR/hAT family were able to synthesize their transposase. Both these TE families were among the three highest expressed genes in a previous transcriptomic study and are composed of highly similar copies throughout the genome of T. lutea. This sum of evidence reveals that both these TE families could be capable of transposing or triggering the transposition of potential related MITE elements.This manuscript provides an example of a de novo transposable element annotation of a non-model organism characterized by a fragmented genome assembly and belonging to a poorly studied phylum at genomic level. Integration of multi-omics data enabled the discovery of potential mobile TEs and opens the way for new discoveries on the role of these repeated elements in genomic evolution of microalgae.


September 22, 2019  |  

Out in the cold: Identification of genomic regions associated with cold tolerance in the biocontrol fungus Clonostachys rosea through genome-wide association mapping.

There is an increasing importance for using biocontrol agents in combating plant diseases sustainably and in the long term. As large scale genomic sequencing becomes economically viable, the impact of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) on biocontrol-associated phenotypes can be easily studied across entire genomes of fungal populations. Here, we improved a previously reported genome assembly of the biocontrol fungus Clonostachys rosea strain IK726 using the PacBio sequencing platform, which resulted in a total genome size of 70.7 Mbp and 21,246 predicted genes. We further performed whole-genome re-sequencing of 52 additional C. rosea strains isolated globally using Illumina sequencing technology, in order to perform genome-wide association studies in conditions relevant for biocontrol activity. One such condition is the ability to grow at lower temperatures commonly encountered in cryic or frigid soils in temperate regions, as these will be prevalent for protecting growing crops in temperate climates. Growth rates at 10°C on potato dextrose agar of the 53 sequenced strains of C. rosea were measured and ranged between 0.066 and 0.413 mm/day. Performing a genome wide association study, a total of 1,478 SNP markers were significantly associated with the trait and located in 227 scaffolds, within or close to (< 1000 bp distance) 265 different genes. The predicted gene products included several chaperone proteins, membrane transporters, lipases, and proteins involved in chitin metabolism with possible roles in cold tolerance. The data reported in this study provides a foundation for future investigations into the genetic basis for cold tolerance in fungi, with important implications for biocontrol.


July 19, 2019  |  

Microsatellite marker discovery using single molecule real-time circular consensus sequencing on the Pacific Biosciences RS.

Microsatellite sequences are important markers for population genetics studies. In the past, the development of adequate microsatellite primers has been cumbersome. However with the advent of next-generation sequencing technologies, marker identification in genomes of non-model species has been greatly simplified. Here we describe microsatellite discovery on a Pacific Biosciences single molecule real-time sequencer. For the Greater White-fronted Goose (Anser albifrons), we identified 316 microsatellite loci in a single genome shotgun sequencing experiment. We found that the capability of handling large insert sizes and high quality circular consensus sequences provides an advantage over short read technologies for primer design. Combined with a straightforward amplification-free library preparation, PacBio sequencing is an economically viable alternative for microsatellite discovery and subsequent PCR primer design.


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