April 21, 2020  |  

Transcriptional initiation of a small RNA, not R-loop stability, dictates the frequency of pilin antigenic variation in Neisseria gonorrhoeae.

Neisseria gonorrhoeae, the sole causative agent of gonorrhea, constitutively undergoes diversification of the Type IV pilus. Gene conversion occurs between one of the several donor silent copies located in distinct loci and the recipient pilE gene, encoding the major pilin subunit of the pilus. A guanine quadruplex (G4) DNA structure and a cis-acting sRNA (G4-sRNA) are located upstream of the pilE gene and both are required for pilin antigenic variation (Av). We show that the reduced sRNA transcription lowers pilin Av frequencies. Extended transcriptional elongation is not required for Av, since limiting the transcript to 32 nt allows for normal Av frequencies. Using chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) assays, we show that cellular G4s are less abundant when sRNA transcription is lower. In addition, using ChIP, we demonstrate that the G4-sRNA forms a stable RNA:DNA hybrid (R-loop) with its template strand. However, modulating R-loop levels by controlling RNase HI expression does not alter G4 abundance quantified through ChIP. Since pilin Av frequencies were not altered when modulating R-loop levels by controlling RNase HI expression, we conclude that transcription of the sRNA is necessary, but stable R-loops are not required to promote pilin Av. © 2019 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


April 21, 2020  |  

Variant Phasing and Haplotypic Expression from Single-molecule Long-read Sequencing in Maize

Haplotype phasing of genetic variants is important for interpretation of the maize genome, population genetic analysis, and functional genomic analysis of allelic activity. Accordingly, accurate methods for phasing full-length isoforms are essential for functional genomics study. In this study, we performed an isoform-level phasing study in maize, using two inbred lines and their reciprocal crosses, based on single-molecule full-length cDNA sequencing. To phase and analyze full-length transcripts between hybrids and parents, we developed a tool called IsoPhase. Using this tool, we validated the majority of SNPs called against matching short read data and identified cases of allele-specific, gene-level, and isoform-level expression. Our results revealed that maize parental and hybrid lines exhibit different splicing activities. After phasing 6,847 genes in two reciprocal hybrids using embryo, endosperm and root tissues, we annotated the SNPs and identified large-effect genes. In addition, based on single-molecule sequencing, we identified parent-of-origin isoforms in maize hybrids, different novel isoforms between maize parent and hybrid lines, and imprinted genes from different tissues. Finally, we characterized variation in cis- and trans-regulatory effects. Our study provides measures of haplotypic expression that could increase power and accuracy in studies of allelic expression.


April 21, 2020  |  

Extended haplotype phasing of de novo genome assemblies with FALCON-Phase

Haplotype-resolved genome assemblies are important for understanding how combinations of variants impact phenotypes. These assemblies can be created in various ways, such as use of tissues that contain single-haplotype (haploid) genomes, or by co-sequencing of parental genomes, but these approaches can be impractical in many situations. We present FALCON-Phase, which integrates long-read sequencing data and ultra-long-range Hi-C chromatin interaction data of a diploid individual to create high-quality, phased diploid genome assemblies. The method was evaluated by application to three datasets, including human, cattle, and zebra finch, for which high-quality, fully haplotype resolved assemblies were available for benchmarking. Phasing algorithm accuracy was affected by heterozygosity of the individual sequenced, with higher accuracy for cattle and zebra finch (>97%) compared to human (82%). In addition, scaffolding with the same Hi-C chromatin contact data resulted in phased chromosome-scale scaffolds.


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  |  

The genomes of pecan and Chinese hickory provide insights into Carya evolution and nut nutrition.

Pecan (Carya illinoinensis) and Chinese hickory (C. cathayensis) are important commercially cultivated nut trees in the genus Carya (Juglandaceae), with high nutritional value and substantial health benefits.We obtained >187.22 and 178.87 gigabases of sequence, and ~288× and 248× genome coverage, to a pecan cultivar (“Pawnee”) and a domesticated Chinese hickory landrace (ZAFU-1), respectively. The total assembly size is 651.31 megabases (Mb) for pecan and 706.43 Mb for Chinese hickory. Two genome duplication events before the divergence from walnut were found in these species. Gene family analysis highlighted key genes in biotic and abiotic tolerance, oil, polyphenols, essential amino acids, and B vitamins. Further analyses of reduced-coverage genome sequences of 16 Carya and 2 Juglans species provide additional phylogenetic perspective on crop wild relatives.Cooperative characterization of these valuable resources provides a window to their evolutionary development and a valuable foundation for future crop improvement. © The Author(s) 2019. Published by Oxford University Press.


April 21, 2020  |  

Pacbio Sequencing Reveals Identical Organelle Genomes between American Cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon Ait.) and a Wild Relative.

Breeding efforts in the American cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon Ait.), a North American perennial fruit crop of great importance, have been hampered by the limited genetic and phenotypic variability observed among cultivars and experimental materials. Most of the cultivars commercially used by cranberry growers today were derived from a few wild accessions bred in the 1950s. In different crops, wild germplasm has been used as an important genetic resource to incorporate novel traits and increase the phenotypic diversity of breeding materials. Vaccinium microcarpum (Turcz. ex Rupr.) Schmalh. and V. oxycoccos L., two closely related species, may be cross-compatible with the American cranberry, and could be useful to improve fruit quality such as phytochemical content. Furthermore, given their northern distribution, they could also help develop cold hardy cultivars. Although these species have previously been analyzed in diversity studies, genomic characterization and comparative studies are still lacking. In this study, we sequenced and assembled the organelle genomes of the cultivated American cranberry and its wild relative, V. microcarpum. PacBio sequencing technology allowed us to assemble both mitochondrial and plastid genomes at very high coverage and in a single circular scaffold. A comparative analysis revealed that the mitochondrial genome sequences were identical between both species and that the plastids presented only two synonymous single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). Moreover, the Illumina resequencing of additional accessions of V. microcarpum and V. oxycoccos revealed high genetic variation in both species. Based on these results, we provided a hypothesis involving the extension and dynamics of the last glaciation period in North America, and how this could have shaped the distribution and dispersal of V. microcarpum. Finally, we provided important data regarding the polyploid origin of V. oxycoccos.


April 21, 2020  |  

Parallels between natural selection in the cold-adapted crop-wild relative Tripsacum dactyloides and artificial selection in temperate adapted maize.

Artificial selection has produced varieties of domesticated maize that thrive in temperate climates around the world. However, the direct progenitor of maize, teosinte, is indigenous only to a relatively small range of tropical and subtropical latitudes and grows poorly or not at all outside of this region. Tripsacum, a sister genus to maize and teosinte, is naturally endemic to the majority of areas in the western hemisphere where maize is cultivated. A full-length reference transcriptome for Tripsacum dactyloides generated using long-read Iso-Seq data was used to characterize independent adaptation to temperate climates in this clade. Genes related to phospholipid biosynthesis, a critical component of cold acclimation in other cold-adapted plant lineages, were enriched among those genes experiencing more rapid rates of protein sequence evolution in T. dactyloides. In contrast with previous studies of parallel selection, we find that there is a significant overlap between the genes that were targets of artificial selection during the adaptation of maize to temperate climates and those that were targets of natural selection in temperate-adapted T. dactyloides. Genes related to growth, development, response to stimulus, signaling, and organelles were enriched in the set of genes identified as both targets of natural and artificial selection. © 2019 The Authors The Plant Journal © 2019 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


April 21, 2020  |  

Long-read sequence and assembly of segmental duplications.

We have developed a computational method based on polyploid phasing of long sequence reads to resolve collapsed regions of segmental duplications within genome assemblies. Segmental Duplication Assembler (SDA; https://github.com/mvollger/SDA ) constructs graphs in which paralogous sequence variants define the nodes and long-read sequences provide attraction and repulsion edges, enabling the partition and assembly of long reads corresponding to distinct paralogs. We apply it to single-molecule, real-time sequence data from three human genomes and recover 33-79 megabase pairs (Mb) of duplications in which approximately half of the loci are diverged (<99.8%) compared to the reference genome. We show that the corresponding sequence is highly accurate (>99.9%) and that the diverged sequence corresponds to copy-number-variable paralogs that are absent from the human reference genome. Our method can be applied to other complex genomes to resolve the last gene-rich gaps, improve duplicate gene annotation, and better understand copy-number-variant genetic diversity at the base-pair level.


April 21, 2020  |  

The genome sequence of segmental allotetraploid peanut Arachis hypogaea.

Like many other crops, the cultivated peanut (Arachis hypogaea L.) is of hybrid origin and has a polyploid genome that contains essentially complete sets of chromosomes from two ancestral species. Here we report the genome sequence of peanut and show that after its polyploid origin, the genome has evolved through mobile-element activity, deletions and by the flow of genetic information between corresponding ancestral chromosomes (that is, homeologous recombination). Uniformity of patterns of homeologous recombination at the ends of chromosomes favors a single origin for cultivated peanut and its wild counterpart A. monticola. However, through much of the genome, homeologous recombination has created diversity. Using new polyploid hybrids made from the ancestral species, we show how this can generate phenotypic changes such as spontaneous changes in the color of the flowers. We suggest that diversity generated by these genetic mechanisms helped to favor the domestication of the polyploid A. hypogaea over other diploid Arachis species cultivated by humans.


April 21, 2020  |  

The genome of cultivated peanut provides insight into legume karyotypes, polyploid evolution and crop domestication.

High oil and protein content make tetraploid peanut a leading oil and food legume. Here we report a high-quality peanut genome sequence, comprising 2.54?Gb with 20 pseudomolecules and 83,709 protein-coding gene models. We characterize gene functional groups implicated in seed size evolution, seed oil content, disease resistance and symbiotic nitrogen fixation. The peanut B subgenome has more genes and general expression dominance, temporally associated with long-terminal-repeat expansion in the A subgenome that also raises questions about the A-genome progenitor. The polyploid genome provided insights into the evolution of Arachis hypogaea and other legume chromosomes. Resequencing of 52 accessions suggests that independent domestications formed peanut ecotypes. Whereas 0.42-0.47 million years ago (Ma) polyploidy constrained genetic variation, the peanut genome sequence aids mapping and candidate-gene discovery for traits such as seed size and color, foliar disease resistance and others, also providing a cornerstone for functional genomics and peanut improvement.


April 21, 2020  |  

Assembly of allele-aware, chromosomal-scale autopolyploid genomes based on Hi-C data.

Construction of chromosome-level assembly is a vital step in achieving the goal of a ‘Platinum’ genome, but it remains a major challenge to assemble and anchor sequences to chromosomes in autopolyploid or highly heterozygous genomes. High-throughput chromosome conformation capture (Hi-C) technology serves as a robust tool to dramatically advance chromosome scaffolding; however, existing approaches are mostly designed for diploid genomes and often with the aim of reconstructing a haploid representation, thereby having limited power to reconstruct chromosomes for autopolyploid genomes. We developed a novel algorithm (ALLHiC) that is capable of building allele-aware, chromosomal-scale assembly for autopolyploid genomes using Hi-C paired-end reads with innovative ‘prune’ and ‘optimize’ steps. Application on simulated data showed that ALLHiC can phase allelic contigs and substantially improve ordering and orientation when compared to other mainstream Hi-C assemblers. We applied ALLHiC on an autotetraploid and an autooctoploid sugar-cane genome and successfully constructed the phased chromosomal-level assemblies, revealing allelic variations present in these two genomes. The ALLHiC pipeline enables de novo chromosome-level assembly of autopolyploid genomes, separating each allele. Haplotype chromosome-level assembly of allopolyploid and heterozygous diploid genomes can be achieved using ALLHiC, overcoming obstacles in assembling complex genomes.


April 21, 2020  |  

Tools and Strategies for Long-Read Sequencing and De Novo Assembly of Plant Genomes.

The commercial release of third-generation sequencing technologies (TGSTs), giving long and ultra-long sequencing reads, has stimulated the development of new tools for assembling highly contiguous genome sequences with unprecedented accuracy across complex repeat regions. We survey here a wide range of emerging sequencing platforms and analytical tools for de novo assembly, provide background information for each of their steps, and discuss the spectrum of available options. Our decision tree recommends workflows for the generation of a high-quality genome assembly when used in combination with the specific needs and resources of a project.Copyright © 2019 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


April 21, 2020  |  

Applying the latest advances in genomics and phenomics for trait discovery in polyploid wheat.

Improving traits in wheat has historically been challenging due to its large and polyploid genome, limited genetic diversity and in-field phenotyping constraints. However, within recent years many of these barriers have been lowered. The availability of a chromosome-level assembly of the wheat genome now facilitates a step-change in wheat genetics and provides a common platform for resources, including variation data, gene expression data and genetic markers. The development of sequenced mutant populations and gene-editing techniques now enables the rapid assessment of gene function in wheat directly. The ability to alter gene function in a targeted manner will unmask the effects of homoeolog redundancy and allow the hidden potential of this polyploid genome to be discovered. New techniques to identify and exploit the genetic diversity within wheat wild relatives now enable wheat breeders to take advantage of these additional sources of variation to address challenges facing food production. Finally, advances in phenomics have unlocked rapid screening of populations for many traits of interest both in greenhouses and in the field. Looking forwards, integrating diverse data types, including genomic, epigenetic and phenomics data, will take advantage of big data approaches including machine learning to understand trait biology in wheat in unprecedented detail. © 2018 The Authors. The Plant Journal published by Society for Experimental Biology and John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


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