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Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Development of CRISPR-Cas systems for genome editing and beyond

The development of clustered regularly interspaced short-palindromic repeat (CRISPR)-Cas systems for genome editing has transformed the way life science research is conducted and holds enormous potential for the treatment of disease as well as for many aspects of biotech- nology. Here, I provide a personal perspective on the development of CRISPR-Cas9 for genome editing within the broader context of the field and discuss our work to discover novel Cas effectors and develop them into additional molecular tools. The initial demonstra- tion of Cas9-mediated genome editing launched the development of many other technologies, enabled new lines of biological inquiry, and motivated…

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Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Meiotic sex in Chagas disease parasite Trypanosoma cruzi.

Genetic exchange enables parasites to rapidly transform disease phenotypes and exploit new host populations. Trypanosoma cruzi, the parasitic agent of Chagas disease and a public health concern throughout Latin America, has for decades been presumed to exchange genetic material rarely and without classic meiotic sex. We present compelling evidence from 45 genomes sequenced from southern Ecuador that T. cruzi in fact maintains truly sexual, panmictic groups that can occur alongside others that remain highly clonal after past hybridization events. These groups with divergent reproductive strategies appear genetically isolated despite possible co-occurrence in vectors and hosts. We propose biological explanations for…

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Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Divergent evolutionary trajectories following speciation in two ectoparasitic honey bee mites.

Multispecies host-parasite evolution is common, but how parasites evolve after speciating remains poorly understood. Shared evolutionary history and physiology may propel species along similar evolutionary trajectories whereas pursuing different strategies can reduce competition. We test these scenarios in the economically important association between honey bees and ectoparasitic mites by sequencing the genomes of the sister mite species Varroa destructor and Varroa jacobsoni. These genomes were closely related, with 99.7% sequence identity. Among the 9,628 orthologous genes, 4.8% showed signs of positive selection in at least one species. Divergent selective trajectories were discovered in conserved chemosensory gene families (IGR, SNMP), and…

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Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Long-read sequencing reveals a 4.4 kb tandem repeat region in the mitogenome of Echinococcus granulosus (sensu stricto) genotype G1.

Echinococcus tapeworms cause a severe helminthic zoonosis called echinococcosis. The genus comprises various species and genotypes, of which E. granulosus (sensu stricto) represents a significant global public health and socioeconomic burden. Mitochondrial (mt) genomes have provided useful genetic markers to explore the nature and extent of genetic diversity within Echinococcus and have underpinned phylogenetic and population structure analyses of this genus. Our recent work indicated a sequence gap (>?1 kb) in the mt genomes of E. granulosus genotype G1, which could not be determined by PCR-based Sanger sequencing. The aim of the present study was to define the complete mt genome,…

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Tuesday, April 21, 2020

De novo transcriptome assembly of the cubomedusa Tripedalia cystophora, including the analysis of a set of genes involved in peptidergic neurotransmission.

The phyla Cnidaria, Placozoa, Ctenophora, and Porifera emerged before the split of proto- and deuterostome animals, about 600 million years ago. These early metazoans are interesting, because they can give us important information on the evolution of various tissues and organs, such as eyes and the nervous system. Generally, cnidarians have simple nervous systems, which use neuropeptides for their neurotransmission, but some cnidarian medusae belonging to the class Cubozoa (box jellyfishes) have advanced image-forming eyes, probably associated with a complex innervation. Here, we describe a new transcriptome database from the cubomedusa Tripedalia cystophora.Based on the combined use of the Illumina…

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Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Long-read based de novo assembly of low-complexity metagenome samples results in finished genomes and reveals insights into strain diversity and an active phage system.

Complete and contiguous genome assemblies greatly improve the quality of subsequent systems-wide functional profiling studies and the ability to gain novel biological insights. While a de novo genome assembly of an isolated bacterial strain is in most cases straightforward, more informative data about co-existing bacteria as well as synergistic and antagonistic effects can be obtained from a direct analysis of microbial communities. However, the complexity of metagenomic samples represents a major challenge. While third generation sequencing technologies have been suggested to enable finished metagenome-assembled genomes, to our knowledge, the complete genome assembly of all dominant strains in a microbiome sample…

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Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Progression of the canonical reference malaria parasite genome from 2002-2019.

Here we describe the ways in which the sequence and annotation of the Plasmodium falciparum reference genome has changed since its publication in 2002. As the malaria species responsible for the most deaths worldwide, the richness of annotation and accuracy of the sequence are important resources for the P. falciparum research community as well as the basis for interpreting the genomes of subsequently sequenced species. At the time of publication in 2002 over 60% of predicted genes had unknown functions. As of March 2019, this number has been significantly decreased to 33%. The reduction is due to the inclusion of…

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Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Differential retention of transposable element-derived sequences in outcrossing Arabidopsis genomes.

Transposable elements (TEs) are genomic parasites with major impacts on host genome architecture and host adaptation. A proper evaluation of their evolutionary significance has been hampered by the paucity of short scale phylogenetic comparisons between closely related species. Here, we characterized the dynamics of TE accumulation at the micro-evolutionary scale by comparing two closely related plant species, Arabidopsis lyrata and A. halleri.Joint genome annotation in these two outcrossing species confirmed that both contain two distinct populations of TEs with either ‘recent’ or ‘old’ insertion histories. Identification of rare segregating insertions suggests that diverse TE families contribute to the ongoing dynamics…

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Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Horizontal transfer of a retrotransposon between parasitic nematodes and the common shrew.

As the genomes of more metazoan species are sequenced, reports of horizontal transposon transfers (HTT) have increased. Our understanding of the mechanisms of such events is at an early stage. The close physical relationship between a parasite and its host could facilitate horizontal transfer. To date, two studies have identified horizontal transfer of RTEs, a class of retrotransposable elements, involving parasites: ticks might act as vector for BovB between ruminants and squamates, and AviRTE was transferred between birds and parasitic nematodes.We searched for RTEs shared between nematode and mammalian genomes. Given their physical proximity, it was necessary to detect and…

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Tuesday, April 21, 2020

The golden death bacillus Chryseobacterium nematophagum is a novel matrix digesting pathogen of nematodes.

Nematodes represent important pathogens of humans and farmed animals and cause significant health and economic impacts. The control of nematodes is primarily carried out by applying a limited number of anthelmintic compounds, for which there is now widespread resistance being reported. There is a current unmet need to develop novel control measures including the identification and characterisation of natural pathogens of nematodes.Nematode killing bacilli were isolated from a rotten fruit in association with wild free-living nematodes. These bacteria belong to the Chryseobacterium genus (golden bacteria) and represent a new species named Chryseobacterium nematophagum. These bacilli are oxidase-positive, flexirubin-pigmented, gram-negative rods…

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