April 21, 2020  |  

Relative Performance of MinION (Oxford Nanopore Technologies) versus Sequel (Pacific Biosciences) Third-Generation Sequencing Instruments in Identification of Agricultural and Forest Fungal Pathogens.

Culture-based molecular identification methods have revolutionized detection of pathogens, yet these methods are slow and may yield inconclusive results from environmental materials. The second-generation sequencing tools have much-improved precision and sensitivity of detection, but these analyses are costly and may take several days to months. Of the third-generation sequencing techniques, the portable MinION device (Oxford Nanopore Technologies) has received much attention because of its small size and possibility of rapid analysis at reasonable cost. Here, we compare the relative performances of two third-generation sequencing instruments, MinION and Sequel (Pacific Biosciences), in identification and diagnostics of fungal and oomycete pathogens from conifer (Pinaceae) needles and potato (Solanum tuberosum) leaves and tubers. We demonstrate that the Sequel instrument is efficient for metabarcoding of complex samples, whereas MinION is not suited for this purpose due to a high error rate and multiple biases. However, we find that MinION can be utilized for rapid and accurate identification of dominant pathogenic organisms and other associated organisms from plant tissues following both amplicon-based and PCR-free metagenomics approaches. Using the metagenomics approach with shortened DNA extraction and incubation times, we performed the entire MinION workflow, from sample preparation through DNA extraction, sequencing, bioinformatics, and interpretation, in 2.5 h. We advocate the use of MinION for rapid diagnostics of pathogens and potentially other organisms, but care needs to be taken to control or account for multiple potential technical biases.IMPORTANCE Microbial pathogens cause enormous losses to agriculture and forestry, but current combined culturing- and molecular identification-based detection methods are too slow for rapid identification and application of countermeasures. Here, we develop new and rapid protocols for Oxford Nanopore MinION-based third-generation diagnostics of plant pathogens that greatly improve the speed of diagnostics. However, due to high error rate and technical biases in MinION, the Pacific BioSciences Sequel platform is more useful for in-depth amplicon-based biodiversity monitoring (metabarcoding) from complex environmental samples.Copyright © 2019 American Society for Microbiology.


April 21, 2020  |  

Salmonella Genomic Island 3 Is an Integrative and Conjugative Element and Contributes to Copper and Arsenic Tolerance of Salmonella enterica.

Salmonella genomic island 3 (SGI3) was first described as a chromosomal island in Salmonella 4,[5],12:i:-, a monophasic variant of Salmonella enterica subsp. enterica serovar Typhimurium. The SGI3 DNA sequence detected from Salmonella 4,[5],12:i:- isolated in Japan was identical to that of a previously reported one across entire length of 81?kb. SGI3 consists of 86 open reading frames, including a copper homeostasis and silver resistance island (CHASRI) and an arsenic tolerance operon, in addition to genes related to conjugative transfer and DNA replication or partitioning, suggesting that the island is a mobile genetic element. We successfully selected transconjugants that acquired SGI3 after filter-mating experiments using the S. enterica serovars Typhimurium, Heidelberg, Hadar, Newport, Cerro, and Thompson as recipients. Southern blot analysis using I-CeuI-digested genomic DNA demonstrated that SGI3 was integrated into a chromosomal fragment of the transconjugants. PCR and sequencing analysis demonstrated that SGI3 was inserted into the 3′ end of the tRNA genes pheV or pheR The length of the target site was 52 or 55?bp, and a 55-bp attI sequence indicating generation of the circular form of SGI3 was also detected. The transconjugants had a higher MIC against CuSO4 compared to the recipient strains under anaerobic conditions. Tolerance was defined by the cus gene cluster in the CHASRI. The transconjugants also had distinctly higher MICs against Na2HAsO4 compared to recipient strains under aerobic conditions. These findings clearly demonstrate that SGI3 is an integrative and conjugative element and contributes to the copper and arsenic tolerance of S. enterica.Copyright © 2019 American Society for Microbiology.


April 21, 2020  |  

Discovery of tandem and interspersed segmental duplications using high-throughput sequencing.

Several algorithms have been developed that use high-throughput sequencing technology to characterize structural variations (SVs). Most of the existing approaches focus on detecting relatively simple types of SVs such as insertions, deletions and short inversions. In fact, complex SVs are of crucial importance and several have been associated with genomic disorders. To better understand the contribution of complex SVs to human disease, we need new algorithms to accurately discover and genotype such variants. Additionally, due to similar sequencing signatures, inverted duplications or gene conversion events that include inverted segmental duplications are often characterized as simple inversions, likewise, duplications and gene conversions in direct orientation may be called as simple deletions. Therefore, there is still a need for accurate algorithms to fully characterize complex SVs and thus improve calling accuracy of more simple variants.We developed novel algorithms to accurately characterize tandem, direct and inverted interspersed segmental duplications using short read whole genome sequencing datasets. We integrated these methods to our TARDIS tool, which is now capable of detecting various types of SVs using multiple sequence signatures such as read pair, read depth and split read. We evaluated the prediction performance of our algorithms through several experiments using both simulated and real datasets. In the simulation experiments, using a 30× coverage TARDIS achieved 96% sensitivity with only 4% false discovery rate. For experiments that involve real data, we used two haploid genomes (CHM1 and CHM13) and one human genome (NA12878) from the Illumina Platinum Genomes set. Comparison of our results with orthogonal PacBio call sets from the same genomes revealed higher accuracy for TARDIS than state-of-the-art methods. Furthermore, we showed a surprisingly low false discovery rate of our approach for discovery of tandem, direct and inverted interspersed segmental duplications prediction on CHM1 (<5% for the top 50 predictions).TARDIS source code is available at https://github.com/BilkentCompGen/tardis, and a corresponding Docker image is available at https://hub.docker.com/r/alkanlab/tardis/.Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online. © The Author(s) 2019. Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail: journals.permissions@oup.com.


April 21, 2020  |  

The role of genomic structural variation in the genetic improvement of polyploid crops

Many of our major crop species are polyploids, containing more than one genome or set of chromosomes. Polyploid crops present unique challenges, including difficulties in genome assembly, in discriminating between multiple gene and sequence copies, and in genetic mapping, hindering use of genomic data for genetics and breeding. Polyploid genomes may also be more prone to containing structural variation, such as loss of gene copies or sequences (presence–absence variation) and the presence of genes or sequences in multiple copies (copy-number variation). Although the two main types of genomic structural variation commonly identified are presence–absence variation and copy-number variation, we propose that homeologous exchanges constitute a third major form of genomic structural variation in polyploids. Homeologous exchanges involve the replacement of one genomic segment by a similar copy from another genome or ancestrally duplicated region, and are known to be extremely common in polyploids. Detecting all kinds of genomic structural variation is challenging, but recent advances such as optical mapping and long-read sequencing offer potential strategies to help identify structural variants even in complex polyploid genomes. All three major types of genomic structural variation (presence–absence, copy-number, and homeologous exchange) are now known to influence phenotypes in crop plants, with examples of flowering time, frost tolerance, and adaptive and agronomic traits. In this review, we summarize the challenges of genome analysis in polyploid crops, describe the various types of genomic structural variation and the genomics technologies and data that can be used to detect them, and collate information produced to date related to the impact of genomic structural variation on crop phenotypes. We highlight the importance of genomic structural variation for the future genetic improvement of polyploid crops.


April 21, 2020  |  

Genome assembly of a tropical maize inbred line provides insights into structural variation and crop improvement.

Maize is one of the most important crops globally, and it shows remarkable genetic diversity. Knowledge of this diversity could help in crop improvement; however, gold-standard genomes have been elucidated only for modern temperate varieties. Here, we present a high-quality reference genome (contig N50 of 15.78?megabases) of the maize small-kernel inbred line, which is derived from a tropical landrace. Using haplotype maps derived from B73, Mo17 and SK, we identified 80,614 polymorphic structural variants across 521 diverse lines. Approximately 22% of these variants could not be detected by traditional single-nucleotide-polymorphism-based approaches, and some of them could affect gene expression and trait performance. To illustrate the utility of the diverse SK line, we used it to perform map-based cloning of a major effect quantitative trait locus controlling kernel weight-a key trait selected during maize improvement. The underlying candidate gene ZmBARELY ANY MERISTEM1d provides a target for increasing crop yields.


April 21, 2020  |  

Wild relatives of maize

Crop domestication changed the course of human evolution, and domestication of maize (Zea mays L. subspecies mays), today the world’s most important crop, enabled civilizations to flourish and has played a major role in shaping the world we know today. Archaeological and ethnobotanical research help us understand the development of the cultures and the movements of the peoples who carried maize to new areas where it continued to adapt. Ancient remains of maize cobs and kernels have been found in the place of domestication, the Balsas River Valley (~9,000 years before present era), and the cultivation center, the Tehuacan Valley (~5,000 years before present era), and have been used to study the process of domestication. Paleogenomic data showed that some of the genes controlling the stem and inflorescence architecture were comparable to modern maize, while other genes controlling ear shattering and starch biosynthesis retain high levels of variability, similar to those found in the wild relative teosinte. These results indicate that the domestication process was both gradual and complex, where different genetic loci were selected at different points in time, and that the transformation of teosinte to maize was completed in the last 5,000 years. Mesoamerican native cultures domesticated teosinte and developed maize from a 6 cm long, popping-kernel ear to what we now recognize as modern maize with its wide variety in ear size, kernel texture, color, size, and adequacy for diverse uses and also invented nixtamalization, a process key to maximizing its nutrition. Used directly for human and animal consumption, processed food products, bioenergy, and many cultural applications, it is now grown on six of the world’s seven continents. The study of its evolution and domestication from the wild grass teosinte helps us understand the nature of genetic diversity of maize and its wild relatives and gene expression. Genetic barriers to direct use of teosinte or Tripsacum in maize breeding have challenged our ability to identify valuable genes and traits, let alone incorporate them into elite, modern varieties. Genomic information and newer genetic technologies will facilitate the use of wild relatives in crop improvement; hence it is more important than ever to ensure their conservation and availability, fundamental to future food security. In situ conservation efforts dedicated to preserving remnant populations of wild relatives in Mexico are key to safeguarding the genetic diversity of maize and its genepool, as well as enabling these species to continue to adapt to dynamic climate and environmental changes. Genebank ex situ efforts are crucial to securely maintain collected wild relative resources and to provide them for gene discovery and other research efforts.


April 21, 2020  |  

Chromosome-level assembly of the water buffalo genome surpasses human and goat genomes in sequence contiguity.

Rapid innovation in sequencing technologies and improvement in assembly algorithms have enabled the creation of highly contiguous mammalian genomes. Here we report a chromosome-level assembly of the water buffalo (Bubalus bubalis) genome using single-molecule sequencing and chromatin conformation capture data. PacBio Sequel reads, with a mean length of 11.5?kb, helped to resolve repetitive elements and generate sequence contiguity. All five B. bubalis sub-metacentric chromosomes were correctly scaffolded with centromeres spanned. Although the index animal was partly inbred, 58% of the genome was haplotype-phased by FALCON-Unzip. This new reference genome improves the contig N50 of the previous short-read based buffalo assembly more than a thousand-fold and contains only 383 gaps. It surpasses the human and goat references in sequence contiguity and facilitates the annotation of hard to assemble gene clusters such as the major histocompatibility complex (MHC).


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