June 1, 2021  |  

Improving the reference with a diversity panel of sequence-resolved structural variation

Although the accuracy of the human reference genome is critical for basic and clinical research, structural variants (SVs) have been difficult to assess because data capable of resolving them have been limited. To address potential bias, we sequenced a diversity panel of nine human genomes to high depth using long-read, single-molecule, real-time sequencing data. Systematically identifying and merging SVs =50 bp in length for these nine and one public genome yielded 83,909 sequence-resolved insertions, deletions, and inversions. Among these, 2,839 (2.0 Mbp) are shared among all discovery genomes with an additional 13,349 (6.9 Mbp) present in the majority of humans, indicating minor alleles or errors in the reference, which is partially explained by an enrichment for GC-content and repetitive DNA. Genotyping 83% of these in 290 additional genomes confirms that at least one allele of the most common SVs in unique euchromatin are now sequence-resolved. We observe a 9-fold increase within 5 Mbp of chromosome telomeric ends and correlation with de novo single-nucleotide variant mutations showing that such variation is nonrandomly distributed defining potential hotspots of mutation. We identify SVs affecting coding and noncoding regulatory loci improving annotation and interpretation of functional variation. To illustrate the utility of sequence-resolved SVs in resequencing experiments, we mapped 30 diverse high-coverage Illumina-sequenced samples to GRCh38 with and without contigs containing SV insertions as alternate sequences, and we found these additional sequences recover 6.4% of unmapped reads. For reads mapped within the SV insertion, 25.7% have a better mapping quality, and 18.7% improved by 1,000-fold or more. We reveal 72,964 occurrences of 15,814 unique variants that were not discoverable with the reference sequence alone, and we note that 7% of the insertions contain an SV in at least one sample indicating that there are additional alleles in the population that remain to be discovered. These data provide the framework to construct a canonical human reference and a resource for developing advanced representations capable of capturing allelic diversity. We present a summary of our findings and discuss ideas for revealing variation that was once difficult to ascertain.


February 5, 2021  |  

Movie: The new biology

This documentary film features the wave of cutting-edge technologies that now provide the opportunity to create predictive models of living systems, and gain wisdom about the fundamental nature of life…


February 5, 2021  |  

Video: Sample of an unknown soldier

Research into a bacterial sample from World War I has revealed secrets of the dysentery-causing strain’s success and uncovered the story of the soldier behind the sample.


April 21, 2020  |  

Chlorella vulgaris genome assembly and annotation reveals the molecular basis for metabolic acclimation to high light conditions.

Chlorella vulgaris is a fast-growing fresh-water microalga cultivated at the industrial scale for applications ranging from food to biofuel production. To advance our understanding of its biology and to establish genetics tools for biotechnological manipulation, we sequenced the nuclear and organelle genomes of Chlorella vulgaris 211/11P by combining next generation sequencing and optical mapping of isolated DNA molecules. This hybrid approach allowed to assemble the nuclear genome in 14 pseudo-molecules with an N50 of 2.8 Mb and 98.9% of scaffolded genome. The integration of RNA-seq data obtained at two different irradiances of growth (high light-HL versus low light -LL) enabled to identify 10,724 nuclear genes, coding for 11,082 transcripts. Moreover 121 and 48 genes were respectively found in the chloroplast and mitochondrial genome. Functional annotation and expression analysis of nuclear, chloroplast and mitochondrial genome sequences revealed peculiar features of Chlorella vulgaris. Evidence of horizontal gene transfers from chloroplast to mitochondrial genome was observed. Furthermore, comparative transcriptomic analyses of LL vs HL provide insights into the molecular basis for metabolic rearrangement in HL vs. LL conditions leading to enhanced de novo fatty acid biosynthesis and triacylglycerol accumulation. The occurrence of a cytosolic fatty acid biosynthetic pathway can be predicted and its upregulation upon HL exposure is observed, consistent with increased lipid amount under HL. These data provide a rich genetic resource for future genome editing studies, and potential targets for biotechnological manipulation of Chlorella vulgaris or other microalgae species to improve biomass and lipid productivity.This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.


April 21, 2020  |  

Chromosome-level reference genome of X12, a highly virulent race of the soybean cyst nematode Heterodera glycines.

Soybean cyst nematode (SCN, Heterodera glycines) is a major pest of soybean that is spreading across major soybean production regions worldwide. Increased SCN virulence has recently been observed in both the United States and China. However, no study has reported a genome assembly for H. glycines at the chromosome scale. Herein, the first chromosome-level reference genome of X12, an unusual SCN race with high infection ability, is presented. Using whole-genome shotgun (WGS) sequencing, PacBio sequencing, Illumina paired-end sequencing, 10X Genomics linked reads and high-throughput chromatin conformation capture (Hi-C) genome scaffolding techniques, a 141.01-Mb assembled genome was obtained with scaffold and contig N50 sizes of 16.27 Mb and 330.54 kb, respectively. The assembly showed high integrity and quality, with over 90% of Illumina reads mapped to the genome. The assembly quality was evaluated using Core Eukaryotic Genes Mapping Approach (CEGMA) and Benchmarking Universal Single-Copy Orthologs (BUSCO). A total of 11,882 genes were predicted using De novo, Homolog and RNAseq data generated from eggs, second-stage juveniles (J2), third-stage juveniles (J3) and fourth-stage juveniles (J4) of X12, and 79.0% of homologous sequences were annotated in the genome. These high-quality X12 genome data will provide valuable resources for research in a broad range of areas, including fundamental nematode biology, SCN-plant interactions and coevolution, and also contribute to the development of technology for overall SCN management. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.


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  |  

Genome-wide selection footprints and deleterious variations in young Asian allotetraploid rapeseed.

Brassica napus (AACC, 2n = 38) is an important oilseed crop grown worldwide. However, little is known about the population evolution of this species, the genomic difference between its major genetic groups, such as European and Asian rapeseed, and the impacts of historical large-scale introgression events on this young tetraploid. In this study, we reported the de novo assembly of the genome sequences of an Asian rapeseed (B. napus), Ningyou 7, and its four progenitors and compared these genomes with other available genomic data from diverse European and Asian cultivars. Our results showed that Asian rapeseed originally derived from European rapeseed but subsequently significantly diverged, with rapid genome differentiation after hybridization and intensive local selective breeding. The first historical introgression of B. rapa dramatically broadened the allelic pool but decreased the deleterious variations of Asian rapeseed. The second historical introgression of the double-low traits of European rapeseed (canola) has reshaped Asian rapeseed into two groups (double-low and double-high), accompanied by an increase in genetic load in the double-low group. This study demonstrates distinctive genomic footprints and deleterious SNP (single nucleotide polymorphism) variants for local adaptation by recent intra- and interspecies introgression events and provides novel insights for understanding the rapid genome evolution of a young allopolyploid crop. © 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  |  

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  |  

A microbial factory for defensive kahalalides in a tripartite marine symbiosis.

Chemical defense against predators is widespread in natural ecosystems. Occasionally, taxonomically distant organisms share the same defense chemical. Here, we describe an unusual tripartite marine symbiosis, in which an intracellular bacterial symbiont (“Candidatus Endobryopsis kahalalidefaciens”) uses a diverse array of biosynthetic enzymes to convert simple substrates into a library of complex molecules (the kahalalides) for chemical defense of the host, the alga Bryopsis sp., against predation. The kahalalides are subsequently hijacked by a third partner, the herbivorous mollusk Elysia rufescens, and employed similarly for defense. “Ca E. kahalalidefaciens” has lost many essential traits for free living and acts as a factory for kahalalide production. This interaction between a bacterium, an alga, and an animal highlights the importance of chemical defense in the evolution of complex symbioses.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  |  

Complete Genome Sequence of Hydrocarbon-Degrading Halotolerant Acinetobacter radioresistens DD78, Isolated from the Aconcagua River Mouth in Central Chile.

Acinetobacter radioresistens strain DD78 (= CCUG 69565) is a soil hydrocarbon-degrading and biosurfactant-producing bacterium isolated from chronically crude oil-polluted soil of the Aconcagua River mouth in Chile. The 3.25-Mb A. radioresistens DD78 genome (41.8% GC content) was completely sequenced, with 4 replicons, 2,970 coding sequences, and 77 tRNAs.Copyright © 2019 Macaya et al.


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