April 21, 2020  |  

Insect genomes: progress and challenges.

In the wake of constant improvements in sequencing technologies, numerous insect genomes have been sequenced. Currently, 1219 insect genome-sequencing projects have been registered with the National Center for Biotechnology Information, including 401 that have genome assemblies and 155 with an official gene set of annotated protein-coding genes. Comparative genomics analysis showed that the expansion or contraction of gene families was associated with well-studied physiological traits such as immune system, metabolic detoxification, parasitism and polyphagy in insects. Here, we summarize the progress of insect genome sequencing, with an emphasis on how this impacts research on pest control. We begin with a brief introduction to the basic concepts of genome assembly, annotation and metrics for evaluating the quality of draft assemblies. We then provide an overview of genome information for numerous insect species, highlighting examples from prominent model organisms, agricultural pests and disease vectors. We also introduce the major insect genome databases. The increasing availability of insect genomic resources is beneficial for developing alternative pest control methods. However, many opportunities remain for developing data-mining tools that make maximal use of the available insect genome resources. Although rapid progress has been achieved, many challenges remain in the field of insect genomics. © 2019 The Royal Entomological Society.


April 21, 2020  |  

Genome assembly and annotation of the Trichoplusia ni Tni-FNL insect cell line enabled by long-read technologies.

Trichoplusiani derived cell lines are commonly used to enable recombinant protein expression via baculovirus infection to generate materials approved for clinical use and in clinical trials. In order to develop systems biology and genome engineering tools to improve protein expression in this host, we performed de novo genome assembly of the Trichoplusiani-derived cell line Tni-FNL.By integration of PacBio single-molecule sequencing, Bionano optical mapping, and 10X Genomics linked-reads data, we have produced a draft genome assembly of Tni-FNL.Our assembly contains 280 scaffolds, with a N50 scaffold size of 2.3 Mb and a total length of 359 Mb. Annotation of the Tni-FNL genome resulted in 14,101 predicted genes and 93.2% of the predicted proteome contained recognizable protein domains. Ortholog searches within the superorder Holometabola provided further evidence of high accuracy and completeness of the Tni-FNL genome assembly.This first draft Tni-FNL genome assembly was enabled by complementary long-read technologies and represents a high-quality, well-annotated genome that provides novel insight into the complexity of this insect cell line and can serve as a reference for future large-scale genome engineering work in this and other similar recombinant protein production hosts.


April 21, 2020  |  

Comparative genomic analysis of eight novel haloalkaliphilic bacteriophages from Lake Elmenteita, Kenya.

We report complete genome sequences of eight bacteriophages isolated from Haloalkaline Lake Elmenteita found on the floor of Kenyan Rift Valley. The bacteriophages were sequenced, annotated and a comparative genomic analysis using various Bioinformatics tools carried out to determine relatedness of the bacteriophages to each other, and to those in public databases. Basic genome properties like genome size, percentage coding density, number of open reading frames, percentage GC content and gene organizations revealed the bacteriophages had no relationship to each other. Comparison to other nucleotide sequences in GenBank database showed no significant similarities hence novel. At the amino acid level, phages of our study revealed mosaicism to genes with conserved domains to already described phages. Phylogenetic analyses of large terminase gene responsible for DNA packaging and DNA polymerase gene for replication further showed diversity among the bacteriophages. Our results give insight into diversity of bacteriophages in Lake Elmenteita and provide information on their evolution. By providing primary sequence information, this study not only provides novel sequences for biotechnological exploitation, but also sets stage for future studies aimed at better understanding of virus diversity and genomes from haloalkaline lakes in the Rift Valley.


April 21, 2020  |  

Application of long read sequencing to determine expressed antigen diversity in Trypanosoma brucei infections.

Antigenic variation is employed by many pathogens to evade the host immune response, and Trypanosoma brucei has evolved a complex system to achieve this phenotype, involving sequential use of variant surface glycoprotein (VSG) genes encoded from a large repertoire of ~2,000 genes. T. brucei express multiple, sometimes closely related, VSGs in a population at any one time, and the ability to resolve and analyse this diversity has been limited. We applied long read sequencing (PacBio) to VSG amplicons generated from blood extracted from batches of mice sacrificed at time points (days 3, 6, 10 and 12) post-infection with T. brucei TREU927. The data showed that long read sequencing is reliable for resolving variant differences between VSGs, and demonstrated that there is significant expressed diversity (449 VSGs detected across 20 mice) and across the timeframe of study there was a clear semi-reproducible pattern of expressed diversity (median of 27 VSGs per sample at day 3 post infection (p.i.), 82 VSGs at day 6 p.i., 187 VSGs at day 10 p.i. and 132 VSGs by day 12 p.i.). There was also consistent detection of one VSG dominating expression across replicates at days 3 and 6, and emergence of a second dominant VSG across replicates by day 12. The innovative application of ecological diversity analysis to VSG reads enabled characterisation of hierarchical VSG expression in the dataset, and resulted in a novel method for analysing such patterns of variation. Additionally, the long read approach allowed detection of mosaic VSG expression from very few reads-the earliest in infection that such events have been detected. Therefore, our results indicate that long read analysis is a reliable tool for resolving diverse gene expression profiles, and provides novel insights into the complexity and nature of VSG expression in trypanosomes, revealing significantly higher diversity than previously shown and the ability to identify mosaic gene formation early during the infection process.


April 21, 2020  |  

Genomic sequence and copy number evolution during hybrid crop development in sunflowers.

Hybrid crops, an important part of modern agriculture, rely on the development of male and female heterotic gene pools. In sunflowers, heterotic gene pools were developed through the use of crop-wild relatives to produce cytoplasmic male sterile female and branching, fertility restoring male lines. Here, we use genomic data from a diversity panel of male, female, and open-pollinated lines to explore the genetic changes brought during modern improvement. We find the male lines have diverged most from their open-pollinated progenitors and that genetic differentiation is concentrated in chromosomes, 8, 10 and 13, due to introgressions from wild relatives. Ancestral variation from open-pollinated varieties almost universally evolved in parallel for both male and female lines suggesting little or no selection for heterotic overdominance. Furthermore, we show that gene content differs between the male and female lines and that differentiation in gene content is concentrated in high FST regions. This means that the introgressions that brought branching and fertility restoration to the male lines, brought with them different gene content from the ancestral haplotypes, including the removal of some genes. Although we find no evidence that gene complementation genomewide is responsible for heterosis between male and female lines, several of the genes that are largely absent in either the male or female lines are associated with pathogen defense, suggesting complementation may be functionally relevant for crop breeders.


April 21, 2020  |  

Human Migration and the Spread of the Nematode Parasite Wuchereria bancrofti.

The human disease lymphatic filariasis causes the debilitating effects of elephantiasis and hydrocele. Lymphatic filariasis currently affects the lives of 90 million people in 52 countries. There are three nematodes that cause lymphatic filariasis, Brugia malayi, Brugia timori, and Wuchereria bancrofti, but 90% of all cases of lymphatic filariasis are caused solely by W. bancrofti (Wb). Here we use population genomics to reconstruct the probable route and timing of migration of Wb strains that currently infect Africa, Haiti, and Papua New Guinea (PNG). We used selective whole genome amplification to sequence 42 whole genomes of single Wb worms from populations in Haiti, Mali, Kenya, and PNG. Our results are consistent with a hypothesis of an Island Southeast Asia or East Asian origin of Wb. Our demographic models support divergence times that correlate with the migration of human populations. We hypothesize that PNG was infected at two separate times, first by the Melanesians and later by the migrating Austronesians. The migrating Austronesians also likely introduced Wb to Madagascar where later migrations spread it to continental Africa. From Africa, Wb spread to the New World during the transatlantic slave trade. Genome scans identified 17 genes that were highly differentiated among Wb populations. Among these are genes associated with human immune suppression, insecticide sensitivity, and proposed drug targets. Identifying the distribution of genetic diversity in Wb populations and selection forces acting on the genome will build a foundation to test future hypotheses and help predict response to current eradication efforts. © The Author(s) 2019. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail: journals.permissions@oup.com.


April 21, 2020  |  

Genetic basis for the establishment of endosymbiosis in Paramecium.

The single-celled ciliate Paramecium bursaria is an indispensable model for investigating endosymbiosis between protists and green-algal symbionts. To elucidate the mechanism of this type of endosymbiosis, we combined PacBio and Illumina sequencing to assemble a high-quality and near-complete macronuclear genome of P. bursaria. The genomic characteristics and phylogenetic analyses indicate that P. bursaria is the basal clade of the Paramecium genus. Through comparative genomic analyses with its close relatives, we found that P. bursaria encodes more genes related to nitrogen metabolism and mineral absorption, but encodes fewer genes involved in oxygen binding and N-glycan biosynthesis. A comparison of the transcriptomic profiles between P. bursaria with and without endosymbiotic Chlorella showed differential expression of a wide range of metabolic genes. We selected 32 most differentially expressed genes to perform RNA interference experiment in P. bursaria, and found that P. bursaria can regulate the abundance of their symbionts through glutamine supply. This study provides novel insights into Paramecium evolution and will extend our knowledge of the molecular mechanism for the induction of endosymbiosis between P. bursaria and green algae.


April 21, 2020  |  

A global survey of full-length transcriptome of Ginkgo biloba reveals transcript variants involved in flavonoid biosynthesis

Ginkgo biloba, which contains flavonoids as bioactive components, is widely used in traditional Chinese medicine. Increasing the flavonoid production of medicinal plants through genetic engineering generally focuses on the key genes involved in flavonoid biosynthesis. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying such biosynthesis are not yet well understood. To understand these mechanisms, a combination of second-generation sequencing (SGS) and single-molecule real-time (SMRT) sequencing was applied to G. biloba. Eight tissues were sampled for SMRT sequencing to generate a high-quality, full-length transcriptome database. From 23.36 Gb clean reads, 12,954 alternative polyadenylation events, 12,290 alternative splicing events, 929 fusion transcripts, 2,286 novel transcripts, and 1,270 lncRNAs were predicted by removing redundant reads. Further studies reveal that 7 AS, 5 lncRNA, and 6 fusion gene events were identified in flavonoid biosynthesis. A total of 12 gene modules were revealed to be involved in flavonoid metabolism structural genes and transcription factors by constructing co-expression networks. Weighted gene coexpression network analysis (WGCNA) analysis reveals that some hub genes operate during the biosynthesis by identifying transcription factors (TFs) and structure genes. Seven key hub genes were also identified by analyzing the correlation between gene expression level and flavonoids content. The results highlight the importance of SMRT sequencing of the full-length transcriptome in improving genome annotation and elucidating the gene regulation of flavonoid biosynthesis in G. biloba by providing a comprehensive set of reference transcripts.


April 21, 2020  |  

Comparative genome analysis provides novel insight into the interaction of Aquimarina sp. AD1, BL5 and AD10 with their macroalgal host.

The Aquimarina genus is widely distributed throughout the marine environment, however little is understood regarding its ecological role, particularly when in association with eukaryotic hosts. Here, we examine the genomes of two opportunistic pathogens, Aquimarina sp. AD1 and BL5, and a non-pathogenic strain Aquimarina sp. AD10, that were isolated from diseased individuals of the red alga Delisea pulchra. Each strain encodes multiple genes for the degradation of marine carbohydrates and vitamin biosynthesis. These traits are hypothesised to promote nutrient exchange between the Aquimarina strains and their algal host, facilitating a close symbiotic relationship. Moreover, each strain harbours the necessary genes for the assembly of a Type 9 Secretion System (T9SS) and the associated gliding motility apparatus. In addition to these common features, pathogenic strains AD1 and BL5, encode genes for the production of flexirubin type pigments and a number of unique non-ribosomal peptide synthesis (NRPS) gene clusters, suggesting a role for these uncharacterised traits in virulence. This study provides valuable insight into the potential ecological role of Aquimarina in the marine environment and the complex factors driving pathogenesis and symbiosis in this genus.Copyright © 2019 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


April 21, 2020  |  

Comparative Genomics of Marine Sponge-Derived Streptomyces spp. Isolates SM17 and SM18 With Their Closest Terrestrial Relatives Provides Novel Insights Into Environmental Niche Adaptations and Secondary Metabolite Biosynthesis Potential.

The emergence of antibiotic resistant microorganisms has led to an increased need for the discovery and development of novel antimicrobial compounds. Frequent rediscovery of the same natural products (NPs) continues to decrease the likelihood of the discovery of new compounds from soil bacteria. Thus, efforts have shifted toward investigating microorganisms and their secondary metabolite biosynthesis potential, from diverse niche environments, such as those isolated from marine sponges. Here we investigated at the genomic level two Streptomyces spp. strains, namely SM17 and SM18, isolated from the marine sponge Haliclona simulans, with previously reported antimicrobial activity against clinically relevant pathogens; using single molecule real-time (SMRT) sequencing. We performed a series of comparative genomic analyses on SM17 and SM18 with their closest terrestrial relatives, namely S. albus J1074 and S. pratensis ATCC 33331 respectively; in an effort to provide further insights into potential environmental niche adaptations (ENAs) of marine sponge-associated Streptomyces, and on how these adaptations might be linked to their secondary metabolite biosynthesis potential. Prediction of secondary metabolite biosynthetic gene clusters (smBGCs) indicated that, even though the marine isolates are closely related to their terrestrial counterparts at a genomic level; they potentially produce different compounds. SM17 and SM18 displayed a better ability to grow in high salinity medium when compared to their terrestrial counterparts, and further analysis of their genomes indicated that they possess a pool of 29 potential ENA genes that are absent in S. albus J1074 and S. pratensis ATCC 33331. This ENA gene pool included functional categories of genes that are likely to be related to niche adaptations and which could be grouped based on potential biological functions such as osmotic stress, defense; transcriptional regulation; symbiotic interactions; antimicrobial compound production and resistance; ABC transporters; together with horizontal gene transfer and defense-related features.


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