June 1, 2021  |  

Characterizing the pan-genome of maize with PacBio SMRT Sequencing

Maize is an amazingly diverse crop. A study in 20051 demonstrated that half of the genome sequence and one-third of the gene content between two inbred lines of maize were not shared. This diversity, which is more than two orders of magnitude larger than the diversity found between humans and chimpanzees, highlights the inability of a single reference genome to represent the full pan-genome of maize and all its variants. Here we present and review several efforts to characterize the complete diversity within maize using the highly accurate long reads of PacBio Single Molecule, Real-Time (SMRT) Sequencing. These methods provide a framework for a pan-genomic approach that can be applied to studies of a wide variety of important crop species.


April 21, 2020  |  

The bracteatus pineapple genome and domestication of clonally propagated crops.

Domestication of clonally propagated crops such as pineapple from South America was hypothesized to be a ‘one-step operation’. We sequenced the genome of Ananas comosus var. bracteatus CB5 and assembled 513?Mb into 25 chromosomes with 29,412 genes. Comparison of the genomes of CB5, F153 and MD2 elucidated the genomic basis of fiber production, color formation, sugar accumulation and fruit maturation. We also resequenced 89 Ananas genomes. Cultivars ‘Smooth Cayenne’ and ‘Queen’ exhibited ancient and recent admixture, while ‘Singapore Spanish’ supported a one-step operation of domestication. We identified 25 selective sweeps, including a strong sweep containing a pair of tandemly duplicated bromelain inhibitors. Four candidate genes for self-incompatibility were linked in F153, but were not functional in self-compatible CB5. Our findings support the coexistence of sexual recombination and a one-step operation in the domestication of clonally propagated crops. This work guides the exploration of sexual and asexual domestication trajectories in other clonally propagated crops.


April 21, 2020  |  

A robust benchmark for germline structural variant detection

New technologies and analysis methods are enabling genomic structural variants (SVs) to be detected with ever-increasing accuracy, resolution, and comprehensiveness. Translating these methods to routine research and clinical practice requires robust benchmark sets. We developed the first benchmark set for identification of both false negative and false positive germline SVs, which complements recent efforts emphasizing increasingly comprehensive characterization of SVs. To create this benchmark for a broadly consented son in a Personal Genome Project trio with broadly available cells and DNA, the Genome in a Bottle (GIAB) Consortium integrated 19 sequence-resolved variant calling methods, both alignment- and de novo assembly-based, from short-, linked-, and long-read sequencing, as well as optical and electronic mapping. The final benchmark set contains 12745 isolated, sequence-resolved insertion and deletion calls =50 base pairs (bp) discovered by at least 2 technologies or 5 callsets, genotyped as heterozygous or homozygous variants by long reads. The Tier 1 benchmark regions, for which any extra calls are putative false positives, cover 2.66 Gbp and 9641 SVs supported by at least one diploid assembly. Support for SVs was assessed using svviz with short-, linked-, and long-read sequence data. In general, there was strong support from multiple technologies for the benchmark SVs, with 90 % of the Tier 1 SVs having support in reads from more than one technology. The Mendelian genotype error rate was 0.3 %, and genotype concordance with manual curation was >98.7 %. We demonstrate the utility of the benchmark set by showing it reliably identifies both false negatives and false positives in high-quality SV callsets from short-, linked-, and long-read sequencing and optical mapping.


April 21, 2020  |  

The Genome of the Zebra Mussel, Dreissena polymorpha: A Resource for Invasive Species Research

The zebra mussel, Dreissena polymorpha, continues to spread from its native range in Eurasia to Europe and North America, causing billions of dollars in damage and dramatically altering invaded aquatic ecosystems. Despite these impacts, there are few genomic resources for Dreissena or related bivalves, with nearly 450 million years of divergence between zebra mussels and its closest sequenced relative. Although the D. polymorpha genome is highly repetitive, we have used a combination of long-read sequencing and Hi-C-based scaffolding to generate the highest quality molluscan assembly to date. Through comparative analysis and transcriptomics experiments we have gained insights into processes that likely control the invasive success of zebra mussels, including shell formation, synthesis of byssal threads, and thermal tolerance. We identified multiple intact Steamer-Like Elements, a retrotransposon that has been linked to transmissible cancer in marine clams. We also found that D. polymorpha have an unusual 67 kb mitochondrial genome containing numerous tandem repeats, making it the largest observed in Eumetazoa. Together these findings create a rich resource for invasive species research and control efforts.


April 21, 2020  |  

Benchmarking Transposable Element Annotation Methods for Creation of a Streamlined, Comprehensive Pipeline

Sequencing technology and assembly algorithms have matured to the point that high-quality de novo assembly is possible for large, repetitive genomes. Current assemblies traverse transposable elements (TEs) and allow for annotation of TEs. There are numerous methods for each class of elements with unknown relative performance metrics. We benchmarked existing programs based on a curated library of rice TEs. Using the most robust programs, we created a comprehensive pipeline called Extensive de-novo TE Annotator (EDTA) that produces a condensed TE library for annotations of structurally intact and fragmented elements. EDTA is open-source and freely available: https://github.com/oushujun/EDTA.List of abbreviationsTETransposable ElementsLTRLong Terminal RepeatLINELong Interspersed Nuclear ElementSINEShort Interspersed Nuclear ElementMITEMiniature Inverted Transposable ElementTIRTerminal Inverted RepeatTSDTarget Site DuplicationTPTrue PositivesFPFalse PositivesTNTrue NegativeFNFalse NegativesGRFGeneric Repeat FinderEDTAExtensive de-novo TE Annotator


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  |  

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  |  

Pseudomolecule-level assembly of the Chinese oil tree yellowhorn (Xanthoceras sorbifolium) genome.

Yellowhorn (Xanthoceras sorbifolium) is a species of the Sapindaceae family native to China and is an oil tree that can withstand cold and drought conditions. A pseudomolecule-level genome assembly for this species will not only contribute to understanding the evolution of its genes and chromosomes but also bring yellowhorn breeding into the genomic era.Here, we generated 15 pseudomolecules of yellowhorn chromosomes, on which 97.04% of scaffolds were anchored, using the combined Illumina HiSeq, Pacific Biosciences Sequel, and Hi-C technologies. The length of the final yellowhorn genome assembly was 504.2 Mb with a contig N50 size of 1.04 Mb and a scaffold N50 size of 32.17 Mb. Genome annotation revealed that 68.67% of the yellowhorn genome was composed of repetitive elements. Gene modelling predicted 24,672 protein-coding genes. By comparing orthologous genes, the divergence time of yellowhorn and its close sister species longan (Dimocarpus longan) was estimated at ~33.07 million years ago. Gene cluster and chromosome synteny analysis demonstrated that the yellowhorn genome shared a conserved genome structure with its ancestor in some chromosomes.This genome assembly represents a high-quality reference genome for yellowhorn. Integrated genome annotations provide a valuable dataset for genetic and molecular research in this species. We did not detect whole-genome duplication in the genome. The yellowhorn genome carries syntenic blocks from ancient chromosomes. These data sources will enable this genome to serve as an initial platform for breeding better yellowhorn cultivars. © The Author(s) 2019. Published by Oxford University Press.


April 21, 2020  |  

Chromosome-scale assemblies reveal the structural evolution of African cichlid genomes.

African cichlid fishes are well known for their rapid radiations and are a model system for studying evolutionary processes. Here we compare multiple, high-quality, chromosome-scale genome assemblies to elucidate the genetic mechanisms underlying cichlid diversification and study how genome structure evolves in rapidly radiating lineages.We re-anchored our recent assembly of the Nile tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus) genome using a new high-density genetic map. We also developed a new de novo genome assembly of the Lake Malawi cichlid, Metriaclima zebra, using high-coverage Pacific Biosciences sequencing, and anchored contigs to linkage groups (LGs) using 4 different genetic maps. These new anchored assemblies allow the first chromosome-scale comparisons of African cichlid genomes. Large intra-chromosomal structural differences (~2-28 megabase pairs) among species are common, while inter-chromosomal differences are rare (<10 megabase pairs total). Placement of the centromeres within the chromosome-scale assemblies identifies large structural differences that explain many of the karyotype differences among species. Structural differences are also associated with unique patterns of recombination on sex chromosomes. Structural differences on LG9, LG11, and LG20 are associated with reduced recombination, indicative of inversions between the rock- and sand-dwelling clades of Lake Malawi cichlids. M. zebra has a larger number of recent transposable element insertions compared with O. niloticus, suggesting that several transposable element families have a higher rate of insertion in the haplochromine cichlid lineage.This study identifies novel structural variation among East African cichlid genomes and provides a new set of genomic resources to support research on the mechanisms driving cichlid adaptation and speciation. © The Author(s) 2019. Published by Oxford University Press.


April 21, 2020  |  

A critical comparison of technologies for a plant genome sequencing project.

A high-quality genome sequence of any model organism is an essential starting point for genetic and other studies. Older clone-based methods are slow and expensive, whereas faster, cheaper short-read-only assemblies can be incomplete and highly fragmented, which minimizes their usefulness. The last few years have seen the introduction of many new technologies for genome assembly. These new technologies and associated new algorithms are typically benchmarked on microbial genomes or, if they scale appropriately, on larger (e.g., human) genomes. However, plant genomes can be much more repetitive and larger than the human genome, and plant biochemistry often makes obtaining high-quality DNA that is free from contaminants difficult. Reflecting their challenging nature, we observe that plant genome assembly statistics are typically poorer than for vertebrates.Here, we compare Illumina short read, Pacific Biosciences long read, 10x Genomics linked reads, Dovetail Hi-C, and BioNano Genomics optical maps, singly and combined, in producing high-quality long-range genome assemblies of the potato species Solanum verrucosum. We benchmark the assemblies for completeness and accuracy, as well as DNA compute requirements and sequencing costs.The field of genome sequencing and assembly is reaching maturity, and the differences we observe between assemblies are surprisingly small. We expect that our results will be helpful to other genome projects, and that these datasets will be used in benchmarking by assembly algorithm developers. © The Author(s) 2019. Published by Oxford University Press.


April 21, 2020  |  

The Modern View of B Chromosomes Under the Impact of High Scale Omics Analyses.

Supernumerary B chromosomes (Bs) are extra karyotype units in addition to A chromosomes, and are found in some fungi and thousands of animals and plant species. Bs are uniquely characterized due to their non-Mendelian inheritance, and represent one of the best examples of genomic conflict. Over the last decades, their genetic composition, function and evolution have remained an unresolved query, although a few successful attempts have been made to address these phenomena. A classical concept based on cytogenetics and genetics is that Bs are selfish and abundant with DNA repeats and transposons, and in most cases, they do not carry any function. However, recently, the modern quantum development of high scale multi-omics techniques has shifted B research towards a new-born field that we call “B-omics”. We review the recent literature and add novel perspectives to the B research, discussing the role of new technologies to understand the mechanistic perspectives of the molecular evolution and function of Bs. The modern view states that B chromosomes are enriched with genes for many significant biological functions, including but not limited to the interesting set of genes related to cell cycle and chromosome structure. Furthermore, the presence of B chromosomes could favor genomic rearrangements and influence the nuclear environment affecting the function of other chromatin regions. We hypothesize that B chromosomes might play a key function in driving their transmission and maintenance inside the cell, as well as offer an extra genomic compartment for evolution.


April 21, 2020  |  

Hidden genomic evolution in a morphospecies-The landscape of rapidly evolving genes in Tetrahymena.

A morphospecies is defined as a taxonomic species based wholly on morphology, but often morphospecies consist of clusters of cryptic species that can be identified genetically or molecularly. The nature of the evolutionary novelty that accompanies speciation in a morphospecies is an intriguing question. Morphospecies are particularly common among ciliates, a group of unicellular eukaryotes that separates 2 kinds of nuclei-the silenced germline nucleus (micronucleus [MIC]) and the actively expressed somatic nucleus (macronucleus [MAC])-within a common cytoplasm. Because of their very similar morphologies, members of the Tetrahymena genus are considered a morphospecies. We explored the hidden genomic evolution within this genus by performing a comprehensive comparative analysis of the somatic genomes of 10 species and the germline genomes of 2 species of Tetrahymena. These species show high genetic divergence; phylogenomic analysis suggests that the genus originated about 300 million years ago (Mya). Seven universal protein domains are preferentially included among the species-specific (i.e., the youngest) Tetrahymena genes. In particular, leucine-rich repeat (LRR) genes make the largest contribution to the high level of genome divergence of the 10 species. LRR genes can be sorted into 3 different age groups. Parallel evolutionary trajectories have independently occurred among LRR genes in the different Tetrahymena species. Thousands of young LRR genes contain tandem arrays of exactly 90-bp exons. The introns separating these exons show a unique, extreme phase 2 bias, suggesting a clonal origin and successive expansions of 90-bp-exon LRR genes. Identifying LRR gene age groups allowed us to document a Tetrahymena intron length cycle. The youngest 90-bp exon LRR genes in T. thermophila are concentrated in pericentromeric and subtelomeric regions of the 5 micronuclear chromosomes, suggesting that these regions act as genome innovation centers. Copies of a Tetrahymena Long interspersed element (LINE)-like retrotransposon are very frequently found physically adjacent to 90-bp exon/intron repeat units of the youngest LRR genes. We propose that Tetrahymena species have used a massive exon-shuffling mechanism, involving unequal crossing over possibly in concert with retrotransposition, to create the unique 90-bp exon array LRR genes.


April 21, 2020  |  

Effector gene reshuffling involves dispensable mini-chromosomes in the wheat blast fungus.

Newly emerged wheat blast disease is a serious threat to global wheat production. Wheat blast is caused by a distinct, exceptionally diverse lineage of the fungus causing rice blast disease. Through sequencing a recent field isolate, we report a reference genome that includes seven core chromosomes and mini-chromosome sequences that harbor effector genes normally found on ends of core chromosomes in other strains. No mini-chromosomes were observed in an early field strain, and at least two from another isolate each contain different effector genes and core chromosome end sequences. The mini-chromosome is enriched in transposons occurring most frequently at core chromosome ends. Additionally, transposons in mini-chromosomes lack the characteristic signature for inactivation by repeat-induced point (RIP) mutation genome defenses. Our results, collectively, indicate that dispensable mini-chromosomes and core chromosomes undergo divergent evolutionary trajectories, and mini-chromosomes and core chromosome ends are coupled as a mobile, fast-evolving effector compartment in the wheat pathogen genome.


April 21, 2020  |  

Finding the needle in a haystack: Mapping antifungal drug resistance in fungal pathogen by genomic approaches.

Fungi are ubiquitous on earth and are essential for the maintenance of the global ecological equilibrium. Despite providing benefits to living organisms, they can also target specific hosts and inflict damage. These fungal pathogens are known to affect, for example, plants and mam- mals and thus reduce crop production necessary to sustain food supply and cause mortality in humans and animals. Designing defenses against these fungi is essential for the control of food resources and human health. As far as fungal pathogens are concerned, the principal option has been the use of antifungal agents, also called fungicides when they are used in the environment.


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