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  |  

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.

February 5, 2021  |  

PAG Conference: Dawn of the crop pangenome era

To make improvements to crops like corn, soybeans, and canola, scientists at Corteva are building a compendium of crop genomics resources to provide actionable sequence info for genetic discovery, gene-editing,…

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  |  

The Chinese chestnut genome: a reference for species restoration

Forest tree species are increasingly subject to severe mortalities from exotic pests, diseases, and invasive organisms, accelerated by climate change. Forest health issues are threatening multiple species and ecosystem sustainability globally. While sources of resistance may be available in related species, or among surviving trees, introgression of resistance genes into threatened tree species in reasonable time frames requires genome-wide breeding tools. Asian species of chestnut (Castanea spp.) are being employed as donors of disease resistance genes to restore native chestnut species in North America and Europe. To aid in the restoration of threatened chestnut species, we present the assembly of a reference genome with chromosome-scale sequences for Chinese chestnut (C. mollissima), the disease-resistance donor for American chestnut restoration. We also demonstrate the value of the genome as a platform for research and species restoration, including new insights into the evolution of blight resistance in Asian chestnut species, the locations in the genome of ecologically important signatures of selection differentiating American chestnut from Chinese chestnut, the identification of candidate genes for disease resistance, and preliminary comparisons of genome organization with related species.

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  |  

Genomics-informed molecular detection of Xanthomonas vasicola pv. vasculorum strains causing severe bacterial leaf streak of corn.

Xanthomonas vasicola pv. vasculorum (syn. X. campestris pv. vasculorum) was initially identified as the causal agent of bacterial leaf streak of corn in South Africa. The pathovar vasculorum causes disease on sugarcane and corn, but a subset of these strains was noted for its increased disease severity in corn. This subset was re-classified as Xanthomonas campestris pv. zeae in the early 1990s and was found to have slightly different biochemical and genetic properties than isolates from sugarcane. There has been an emergence of X. campestris pv. zeae-like strains of X. vasicola pv. vasculorum in both the United States and Argentina since 2010. We performed whole genome sequencing on U.S. isolates to confirm their identity. Informed by comparative genomics, we then developed specific TaqMan qPCR and loop-mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP) assays for the detection of this specific subset of X. vasicola pv. vasculorum strains. The qPCR 4909 assay was tested against 27 xanthomonads (diverse representation), 32 DNA extractions from corn leaves confirmed as positive or negative for the bacterium, 41 X. vasicola pv. vasculorum isolates from corn in the United States and Argentina, and 31 additional bacteria associated with corn, sugarcane, or sorghum. In all cases the assay was shown to be specific for the X. vasicola pv. vasculorum isolates that cause more severe disease on corn. We then tested the LAMP 166 assay against the 27 xanthomonads and 32 corn leaf DNA samples, and we found this assay was also specific for this subset of X. vasicola pv. vasculorum isolates. We also developed a live/dead cells distinction protocol using propidium monoazide prior to DNA extraction for analyzing seed washes using these assays. These two detection assays can be useful for both diagnosticians and researchers to specifically identify the X. vasicola pv. vasculorum isolates that cause more severe symptoms on corn.

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  |  

Whole Genome Sequencing and Analysis of Chlorimuron-Ethyl Degrading Bacteria Klebsiella pneumoniae 2N3.

Klebsiella pneumoniae 2N3 is a strain of gram-negative bacteria that can degrade chlorimuron-ethyl and grow with chlorimuron-ethyl as the sole nitrogen source. The complete genome of Klebsiella pneumoniae 2N3 was sequenced using third generation high-throughput DNA sequencing technology. The genomic size of strain 2N3 was 5.32 Mb with a GC content of 57.33% and a total of 5156 coding genes and 112 non-coding RNAs predicted. Two hydrolases expressed by open reading frames (ORFs) 0934 and 0492 were predicted and experimentally confirmed by gene knockout to be involved in the degradation of chlorimuron-ethyl. Strains of ?ORF 0934, ?ORF 0492, and wild type (WT) reached their highest growth rates after 8-10 hours in incubation. The degradation rates of chlorimuron-ethyl by both ?ORF 0934 and ?ORF 0492 decreased in comparison to the WT during the first 8 hours in culture by 25.60% and 24.74%, respectively, while strains ?ORF 0934, ?ORF 0492, and the WT reached the highest degradation rates of chlorimuron-ethyl in 36 hours of 74.56%, 90.53%, and 95.06%, respectively. This study provides scientific evidence to support the application of Klebsiella pneumoniae 2N3 in bioremediation to control environmental pollution.

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  |  

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  |  

Stout camphor tree genome fills gaps in understanding of flowering plant genome evolution.

We present reference-quality genome assembly and annotation for the stout camphor tree (Cinnamomum kanehirae (Laurales, Lauraceae)), the first sequenced member of the Magnoliidae comprising four orders (Laurales, Magnoliales, Canellales and Piperales) and over 9,000 species. Phylogenomic analysis of 13 representative seed plant genomes indicates that magnoliid and eudicot lineages share more recent common ancestry than monocots. Two whole-genome duplication events were inferred within the magnoliid lineage: one before divergence of Laurales and Magnoliales and the other within the Lauraceae. Small-scale segmental duplications and tandem duplications also contributed to innovation in the evolutionary history of Cinnamomum. For example, expansion of the terpenoid synthase gene subfamilies within the Laurales spawned the diversity of Cinnamomum monoterpenes and sesquiterpenes.

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.

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