June 1, 2021  |  

Near perfect de novo assemblies of eukaryotic genomes using PacBio long read sequencing.

Third generation single molecule sequencing technology from Pacific Biosciences, Moleculo, Oxford Nanopore, and other companies are revolutionizing genomics by enabling the sequencing of long, individual molecules of DNA and RNA. One major advantage of these technologies over current short read sequencing is the ability to sequence much longer molecules, thousands or tens of thousands of nucleotides instead of mere hundreds. This capacity gives researchers substantially greater power to probe into microbial, plant, and animal genomes, but it remains unknown on how to best use these data. To answer this, we systematically evaluated the human genome and 25 other important genomes across the tree of life ranging in size from 1Mbp to 3Gbp in an attempt to answer how long the reads need to be and how much coverage is necessary to completely assemble their chromosomes with single molecule sequencing. We also present a novel error correction and assembly algorithm using a combination of PacBio and pre-assembled Illumina sequencing. This new algorithm greatly outperforms other published hybrid algorithms.


June 1, 2021  |  

SMRT Sequencing solutions for plant genomes and transcriptomes

Single Molecule, Real-Time (SMRT) Sequencing provides efficient, streamlined solutions to address new frontiers in plant genomes and transcriptomes. Inherent challenges presented by highly repetitive, low-complexity regions and duplication events are directly addressed with multi- kilobase read lengths exceeding 8.5 kb on average, with many exceeding 20 kb. Differentiating between transcript isoforms that are difficult to resolve with short-read technologies is also now possible. We present solutions available for both reference genome and transcriptome research that best leverage long reads in several plant projects including algae, Arabidopsis, rice, and spinach using only the PacBio platform. Benefits for these applications are further realized with consistent use of size-selection of input sample using the BluePippin™ device from Sage Science. We will share highlights from our genome projects using the latest P5- C3 chemistry to generate high-quality reference genomes with the highest contiguity, contig N50 exceeding 1 Mb, and average base quality of QV50. Additionally, the value of long, intact reads to provide a no-assembly approach to investigate transcript isoforms using our Iso-Seq protocol will be presented for full transcriptome characterization and targeted surveys of genes with complex structures. PacBio provides the most comprehensive assembly with annotation when combining offerings for both genome and transcriptome research efforts. For more focused investigation, PacBio also offers researchers opportunities to easily investigate and survey genes with complex structures.


June 1, 2021  |  

Rapid full-length Iso-Seq cDNA sequencing of rice mRNA to facilitate annotation and identify splice-site variation.

PacBio’s new Iso-Seq technology allows for rapid generation of full-length cDNA sequences without the need for assembly steps. The technology was tested on leaf mRNA from two model O. sativa ssp. indica cultivars – Minghui 63 and Zhenshan 97. Even though each transcriptome was not exhaustively sequenced, several thousand isoforms described genes over a wide size range, most of which are not present in any currently available FL cDNA collection. In addition, the lack of an assembly requirement provides direct and immediate access to complete mRNA sequences and rapid unraveling of biological novelties.


June 1, 2021  |  

Old school/new school genome sequencing: One step backward — a quantum leap forward.

As the costs for genome sequencing have decreased the number of “genome” sequences have increased at a rapid pace. Unfortunately, the quality and completeness of these so–called “genome” sequences have suffered enormously. We prefer to call such genome assemblies as “gene assembly space” (GAS). We believe it is important to distinguish GAS assemblies from reference genome assemblies (RGAs) as all subsequent research that depends on accurate genome assemblies can be highly compromised if the only assembly available is a GAS assembly.


June 1, 2021  |  

De novo assembly of a complex panicoid grass genome using ultra-long PacBio reads with P6C4 chemistry

Drought is responsible for much of the global losses in crop yields and understanding how plants naturally cope with drought stress is essential for breeding and engineering crops for the changing climate. Resurrection plants desiccate to complete dryness during times of drought, then “come back to life” once water is available making them an excellent model for studying drought tolerance. Understanding the molecular networks governing how resurrection plants handle desiccation will provide targets for crop engineering. Oropetium thomaeum (Oro) is a resurrection plant that also has the smallest known grass genome at 250 Mb compared to Brachypodium distachyon (300 Mb) and rice (350 Mb). Plant genomes, especially grasses, have complex repeat structures such as telomeres, centromeres, and ribosomal gene cassettes, and high heterozygosity, which makes them difficult to assembly using short read next generation sequencing technologies. Ultra-long PacBio reads using the new P6C4 chemistry and the latest 15kb Blue Pippin size-selection protocol to generate 20kb insert libraries that yielded an average read length of 12kb providing ~72X coverage, and 10X coverage with reads over 20kb. The HGAP assembly covers 98% of the genome with a contig N50 of 2.4 Mb, which makes it one of the highest quality and most complete plant genomes assembled to date. Oro has a compact genome structure compared to other grasses with only 16% repeat sequences but has very good collinearity with other grasses. Understanding the genomic mechanisms of extreme desiccation tolerance in resurrection plants like Oro will provide insights for engineering and intelligent breeding of improved food, fuel, and fiber crops.


June 1, 2021  |  

The resurgence of reference quality genome sequence.

Since the advent of Next-Generation Sequencing (NGS), the cost of de novo genome sequencing and assembly have dropped precipitately, which has spurred interest in genome sequencing overall. Unfortunately the contiguity of the NGS assembled sequences, as well as the accuracy of these assemblies have suffered. Additionally, most NGS de novo assemblies leave large portions of genomes unresolved, and repetitive regions are often collapsed. When compared to the reference quality genome sequences produced before the NGS era, the new sequences are highly fragmented and often prove to be difficult to properly annotate. In some cases the contiguous portions are smaller than the average gene size making the sequence not nearly as useful for biologists as the earlier reference quality genomes including of Human, Mouse, C. elegans, or Drosophila. Recently, new 3rd generation sequencing technologies, long-range molecular techniques, and new informatics tools have facilitated a return to high quality assembly. We will discuss the capabilities of the technologies and assess their impact on assembly projects across the tree of life from small microbial and fungal genomes through large plant and animal genomes. Beyond improvements to contiguity, we will focus on the additional biological insights that can be made with better assemblies, including more complete analysis genes in their flanking regulatory context, in-depth studies of transposable elements and other complex gene families, and long-range synteny analysis of entire chromosomes. We will also discuss the need for new algorithms for representing and analyzing collections of many complete genomes at once.


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.


June 1, 2021  |  

Structural variant detection in crops using low-fold coverage long-read sequencing

Genomics studies have shown that the insertions, deletions, duplications, translocations, inversions, and tandem repeat expansions in the structural variant (SV) size range (>50 bp) contribute to the evolution of traits and often have significant associations with agronomically important phenotypes. However, most SVs are too small to detect with array comparative genomic hybridization and too large to reliably discover with short-read DNA sequencing. While de novo assembly is the most comprehensive way to identify variants in a genome, recent studies in human genomes show that PacBio SMRT Sequencing sensitively detects structural variants at low coverage. Here we present SV characterization in the major crop species Oryza sativa subsp. indica (rice) with low-fold coverage of long reads. In addition, we provide recommendations for sequencing and analysis for the application of this workflow to other important agricultural species.


June 1, 2021  |  

Beyond Contiguity: Evaluating the accuracy of de novo genome assemblies

HiFi reads (>99% accurate, 15-20 kb) from the PacBio Sequel II System consistently provide complete and contiguous genome assemblies. In addition to completeness and contiguity, accuracy is of critical importance, as assembly errors complicate downstream analysis, particularly by disrupting gene frames. Metrics used to assess assembly accuracy include: 1) in-frame gene count, 2) kmer consistency, and 3) concordance to a benchmark, where discordances are interpreted as assembly errors. Genome in a Bottle (GIAB) provides a benchmark for the human genome with estimated accuracy of 99.9999% (Q60). Concordance for human HiFi assemblies exceeds Q50, which provides excellent genomes for downstream analysis, but presents a challenge that any new benchmark must significantly exceed Q50 or the discordance will represent the error rate of the benchmark. To establish benchmarks for Oryza sativa and Drosophila melanogaster, we collected draft references, Illumina short reads, and PacBio HiFi reads. By species, the benchmark was defined as regions of normal coverage that are not within 5 bp of a small variant or 50 bp of a structural variant. For both species, the benchmark regions span around 60% of the genome and HiFi assemblies achieve Q50 accuracy, which is notably more accurate than assemblies with other technologies and meets typical standards for a finished, reference-grade assembly. Here we present a protocol to generate benchmarks for any sample that rival the GIAB benchmark in accuracy. These benchmarks allow the comparison and improvement of genome assemblies and highlight the superior accuracy of assemblies generated with PacBio HiFi reads.


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