April 21, 2020  |  

A chromosome-level sequence assembly reveals the structure of the Arabidopsis thaliana Nd-1 genome and its gene set.

In addition to the BAC-based reference sequence of the accession Columbia-0 from the year 2000, several short read assemblies of THE plant model organism Arabidopsis thaliana were published during the last years. Also, a SMRT-based assembly of Landsberg erecta has been generated that identified translocation and inversion polymorphisms between two genotypes of the species. Here we provide a chromosome-arm level assembly of the A. thaliana accession Niederzenz-1 (AthNd-1_v2c) based on SMRT sequencing data. The best assembly comprises 69 nucleome sequences and displays a contig length of up to 16 Mbp. Compared to an earlier Illumina short read-based NGS assembly (AthNd-1_v1), a 75 fold increase in contiguity was observed for AthNd-1_v2c. To assign contig locations independent from the Col-0 gold standard reference sequence, we used genetic anchoring to generate a de novo assembly. In addition, we assembled the chondrome and plastome sequences. Detailed analyses of AthNd-1_v2c allowed reliable identification of large genomic rearrangements between A. thaliana accessions contributing to differences in the gene sets that distinguish the genotypes. One of the differences detected identified a gene that is lacking from the Col-0 gold standard sequence. This de novo assembly extends the known proportion of the A. thaliana pan-genome.

April 21, 2020  |  

Pangenomic Approach To Understanding Microbial Adaptations within a Model Built Environment, the International Space Station, Relative to Human Hosts and Soil.

Understanding underlying mechanisms involved in microbial persistence in the built environment (BE) is essential for strategically mitigating potential health risks. To test the hypothesis that BEs impose selective pressures resulting in characteristic adaptive responses, we performed a pangenomics meta-analysis leveraging 189 genomes (accessed from GenBank) of two epidemiologically important taxa, Bacillus cereus and Staphylococcus aureus, isolated from various origins: the International Space Station (ISS; a model BE), Earth-based BEs, soil, and humans. Our objectives were to (i) identify differences in the pangenomic composition of generalist and host-associated organisms, (ii) characterize genes and functions involved in BE-associated selection, and (iii) identify genomic signatures of ISS-derived strains of potential relevance for astronaut health. The pangenome of B. cereus was more expansive than that of S. aureus, which had a dominant core component. Genomic contents of both taxa significantly correlated with isolate origin, demonstrating an importance for biogeography and potential niche adaptations. ISS/BE-enriched functions were often involved in biosynthesis, catabolism, materials transport, metabolism, and stress response. Multiple origin-enriched functions also overlapped across taxa, suggesting conserved adaptive processes. We further characterized two mobile genetic elements with local neighborhood genes encoding biosynthesis and stress response functions that distinctively associated with B. cereus from the ISS. Although antibiotic resistance genes were present in ISS/BE isolates, they were also common in counterparts elsewhere. Overall, despite differences in microbial lifestyle, some functions appear common to remaining viable in the BE, and those functions are not typically associated with direct impacts on human health. IMPORTANCE The built environment contains a variety of microorganisms, some of which pose critical human health risks (e.g., hospital-acquired infection, antibiotic resistance dissemination). We uncovered a combination of complex biological functions that may play a role in bacterial survival under the presumed selective pressures in a model built environment-the International Space Station-by using an approach to compare pangenomes of bacterial strains from two clinically relevant species (B. cereus and S. aureus) isolated from both built environments and humans. Our findings suggest that the most crucial bacterial functions involved in this potential adaptive response are specific to bacterial lifestyle and do not appear to have direct impacts on human health.

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.

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