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  |  

Genome analysis and Hi-C assisted assembly of Elaeagnus angustifolia L., a deciduous tree belonging to Elaeagnaceae

Elaeagnus angustifolia L. is a deciduous tree of the Elaeagnaceae family. It is widely used in the study of abiotic stress tolerance in plants and for the improvement of desertification-affected land due to its characteristics of drought resistance, salt tolerance, cold resistance, wind resistance, and other environmental adaptation. Here, we report the complete genome sequencing using the Pacific Biosciences (PacBio) platform and Hi-C assisted assembly of E. angustifolia. A total of 44.27 Gb raw PacBio sequel reads were obtained after filtering out low-quality data, with an average length of 8.64 Kb. Assembly using Canu gave an assembly length of 781.09 Mb, with a contig N50 of 486.92 Kb. A total of 39.56 Gb of clean reads was obtained, with a sequencing coverage of 75×, and Q30 ratio > 95.46%. The 510.71 Mb genomic sequence was mapped to the chromosome, accounting for 96.94% of the total length of the sequence, and the corresponding number of sequences was 269, accounting for 45.83% of the total number of sequences. The genome sequence study of E. angustifolia can be a valuable source for the comparative genome analysis of the Elaeagnaceae family members, and can help to understand the evolutionary response mechanisms of the Elaeagnaceae to drought, salt, cold and wind resistance, and thereby provide effective theoretical support for the improvement of desertification-affected land.


April 21, 2020  |  

Full-length mRNA sequencing and gene expression profiling reveal broad involvement of natural antisense transcript gene pairs in pepper development and response to stresses.

Pepper is an important vegetable with great economic value and unique biological features. In the past few years, significant development has been made towards understanding the huge complex pepper genome; however, pepper functional genomics has not been well studied. To better understand the pepper gene structure and pepper gene regulation, we conducted full-length mRNA sequencing by PacBio sequencing and obtained 57862 high-quality full-length mRNA sequences derived from 18362 previously annotated and 5769 newly detected genes. New gene models were built that combined the full-length mRNA sequences and corrected approximately 500 fragmented gene models from previous annotations. Based on the full-length mRNA, we identified 4114 and 5880 pepper genes forming natural antisense transcript (NAT) genes in-cis and in-trans, respectively. Most of these genes accumulate small RNAs in their overlapping regions. By analyzing these NAT gene expression patterns in our transcriptome data, we identified many NAT pairs responsive to a variety of biological processes in pepper. Pepper formate dehydrogenase 1 (FDH1), which is required for R-gene-mediated disease resistance, may be regulated by nat-siRNAs and participate in a positive feedback loop in salicylic acid biosynthesis during resistance responses. Several cis-NAT pairs and subgroups of trans-NAT genes were responsive to pepper pericarp and placenta development, which may play roles in capsanthin and capsaicin biosynthesis. Using a comparative genomics approach, the evolutionary mechanisms of cis-NATs were investigated, and we found that an increase in intergenic sequences accounted for the loss of most cis-NATs, while transposon insertion contributed to the formation of most new cis-NATs. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.


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  |  

Plantibacter flavus, Curtobacterium herbarum, Paenibacillus taichungensis, and Rhizobium selenitireducens Endophytes Provide Host-Specific Growth Promotion of Arabidopsis thaliana, Basil, Lettuce, and Bok Choy Plants.

A collection of bacterial endophytes isolated from stem tissues of plants growing in soils highly contaminated with petroleum hydrocarbons were screened for plant growth-promoting capabilities. Twenty-seven endophytic isolates significantly improved the growth of Arabidopsis thaliana plants in comparison to that of uninoculated control plants. The five most beneficial isolates, one strain each of Curtobacterium herbarum, Paenibacillus taichungensis, and Rhizobium selenitireducens and two strains of Plantibacter flavus were further examined for growth promotion in Arabidopsis, lettuce, basil, and bok choy plants. Host-specific plant growth promotion was observed when plants were inoculated with the five bacterial strains. P. flavus strain M251 increased the total biomass and total root length of Arabidopsis plants by 4.7 and 5.8 times, respectively, over that of control plants and improved lettuce and basil root growth, while P. flavus strain M259 promoted Arabidopsis shoot and root growth, lettuce and basil root growth, and bok choy shoot growth. A genome comparison between P. flavus strains M251 and M259 showed that both genomes contain up to 70 actinobacterial putative plant-associated genes and genes involved in known plant-beneficial pathways, such as those for auxin and cytokinin biosynthesis and 1-aminocyclopropane-1-carboxylate deaminase production. This study provides evidence of direct plant growth promotion by Plantibacter flavusIMPORTANCE The discovery of new plant growth-promoting bacteria is necessary for the continued development of biofertilizers, which are environmentally friendly and cost-efficient alternatives to conventional chemical fertilizers. Biofertilizer effects on plant growth can be inconsistent due to the complexity of plant-microbe interactions, as the same bacteria can be beneficial to the growth of some plant species and neutral or detrimental to others. We examined a set of bacterial endophytes isolated from plants growing in a unique petroleum-contaminated environment to discover plant growth-promoting bacteria. We show that strains of Plantibacter flavus exhibit strain-specific plant growth-promoting effects on four different plant species.Copyright © 2019 American Society for Microbiology.


April 21, 2020  |  

The genomes of pecan and Chinese hickory provide insights into Carya evolution and nut nutrition.

Pecan (Carya illinoinensis) and Chinese hickory (C. cathayensis) are important commercially cultivated nut trees in the genus Carya (Juglandaceae), with high nutritional value and substantial health benefits.We obtained >187.22 and 178.87 gigabases of sequence, and ~288× and 248× genome coverage, to a pecan cultivar (“Pawnee”) and a domesticated Chinese hickory landrace (ZAFU-1), respectively. The total assembly size is 651.31 megabases (Mb) for pecan and 706.43 Mb for Chinese hickory. Two genome duplication events before the divergence from walnut were found in these species. Gene family analysis highlighted key genes in biotic and abiotic tolerance, oil, polyphenols, essential amino acids, and B vitamins. Further analyses of reduced-coverage genome sequences of 16 Carya and 2 Juglans species provide additional phylogenetic perspective on crop wild relatives.Cooperative characterization of these valuable resources provides a window to their evolutionary development and a valuable foundation for future crop improvement. © The Author(s) 2019. Published by Oxford University Press.


April 21, 2020  |  

Intercellular communication is required for trap formation in the nematode-trapping fungus Duddingtonia flagrans.

Nematode-trapping fungi (NTF) are a large and diverse group of fungi, which may switch from a saprotrophic to a predatory lifestyle if nematodes are present. Different fungi have developed different trapping devices, ranging from adhesive cells to constricting rings. After trapping, fungal hyphae penetrate the worm, secrete lytic enzymes and form a hyphal network inside the body. We sequenced the genome of Duddingtonia flagrans, a biotechnologically important NTF used to control nematode populations in fields. The 36.64 Mb genome encodes 9,927 putative proteins, among which are more than 638 predicted secreted proteins. Most secreted proteins are lytic enzymes, but more than 200 were classified as small secreted proteins (< 300 amino acids). 117 putative effector proteins were predicted, suggesting interkingdom communication during the colonization. As a first step to analyze the function of such proteins or other phenomena at the molecular level, we developed a transformation system, established the fluorescent proteins GFP and mCherry, adapted an assay to monitor protein secretion, and established gene-deletion protocols using homologous recombination or CRISPR/Cas9. One putative virulence effector protein, PefB, was transcriptionally induced during the interaction. We show that the mature protein is able to be imported into nuclei in Caenorhabditis elegans cells. In addition, we studied trap formation and show that cell-to-cell communication is required for ring closure. The availability of the genome sequence and the establishment of many molecular tools will open new avenues to studying this biotechnologically relevant nematode-trapping fungus.


April 21, 2020  |  

Genome Sequence of the Black Yeast Exophiala lecanii-corni.

The genome sequence of Exophiala lecanii-corni, a melanized dimorphic fungus with the capability of degrading several volatile organic compounds, was sequenced using PacBio single-molecule real-time (SMRT) sequencing to assist with understanding the molecular basis of its uncommon morphological and metabolic characteristics. The assembled draft genome is presented here.


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  |  

Genomic and transcriptomic insights into the survival of the subaerial cyanobacterium Nostoc flagelliforme in arid and exposed habitats.

The cyanobacterium Nostoc flagelliforme is an extremophile that thrives under extraordinary desiccation and ultraviolet (UV) radiation conditions. To investigate its survival strategies, we performed whole-genome sequencing of N. flagelliforme CCNUN1 and transcriptional profiling of its field populations upon rehydration in BG11 medium. The genome of N. flagelliforme is 10.23 Mb in size and contains 10 825 predicted protein-encoding genes, making it one of the largest complete genomes of cyanobacteria reported to date. Comparative genomics analysis among 20 cyanobacterial strains revealed that genes related to DNA replication, recombination and repair had disproportionately high contributions to the genome expansion. The ability of N. flagelliforme to thrive under extreme abiotic stresses is supported by the acquisition of genes involved in the protection of photosynthetic apparatus, the formation of monounsaturated fatty acids, responses to UV radiation, and a peculiar role of ornithine metabolism. Transcriptome analysis revealed a distinct acclimation strategy to rehydration, including the strong constitutive expression of genes encoding photosystem I assembly factors and the involvement of post-transcriptional control mechanisms of photosynthetic resuscitation. Our results provide insights into the adaptive mechanisms of subaerial cyanobacteria in their harsh habitats and have important implications to understand the evolutionary transition of cyanobacteria from aquatic environments to terrestrial ecosystems. © 2019 Society for Applied Microbiology and John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


April 21, 2020  |  

De novo genome assembly of the stress tolerant forest species Casuarina equisetifolia provides insight into secondary growth.

Casuarina equisetifolia (C. equisetifolia), a conifer-like angiosperm with resistance to typhoon and stress tolerance, is mainly cultivated in the coastal areas of Australasia. C. equisetifolia, making it a valuable model to study secondary growth associated genes and stress-tolerance traits. However, the genome sequence is unavailable and therefore wood-associated growth rate and stress resistance at the molecular level is largely unexplored. We therefore constructed a high-quality draft genome sequence of C. equisetifolia by a combination of Illumina second-generation sequencing reads and Pacific Biosciences single-molecule real-time (SMRT) long reads to advance the investigation of this species. Here, we report the genome assembly, which contains approximately 300 megabases (Mb) and scaffold size of N50 is 1.06 Mb. Additionally, gene annotation, assisted by a combination of prediction and RNA-seq data, generated 29 827 annotated protein-coding genes and 1983 non-coding genes, respectively. Furthermore, we found that the total number of repetitive sequences account for one-third of the genome assembly. Here we also construct the genome-wide map of DNA modification, such as two novel forms N6 -adenine (6mA) and N4-methylcytosine (4mC) at the level of single-nucleotide resolution using single-molecule real-time (SMRT) sequencing. Interestingly, we found that 17% of 6mA modification genes and 15% of 4mC modification genes also included alternative splicing events. Finally, we investigated cellulose, hemicellulose, and lignin-related genes, which were associated with secondary growth and contained different DNA modifications. The high-quality genome sequence and annotation of C. equisetifolia in this study provide a valuable resource to strengthen our understanding of the diverse traits of trees. © 2018 The Authors The Plant Journal © 2018 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


April 21, 2020  |  

Genetic variation in the conjugative plasmidome of a hospital effluent multidrug resistant Escherichia coli strain.

Bacteria harboring conjugative plasmids have the potential for spreading antibiotic resistance through horizontal gene transfer. It is described that the selection and dissemination of antibiotic resistance is enhanced by stressors, like metals or antibiotics, which can occur as environmental contaminants. This study aimed at unveiling the composition of the conjugative plasmidome of a hospital effluent multidrug resistant Escherichia coli strain (H1FC54) under different mating conditions. To meet this objective, plasmid pulsed field gel electrophoresis, optical mapping analyses and DNA sequencing were used in combination with phenotype analysis. Strain H1FC54 was observed to harbor five plasmids, three of which were conjugative and two of these, pH1FC54_330 and pH1FC54_140, contained metal and antibiotic resistance genes. Transconjugants obtained in the absence or presence of tellurite (0.5?µM or 5?µM), arsenite (0.5?µM, 5?µM or 15?µM) or ceftazidime (10?mg/L) and selected in the presence of sodium azide (100?mg/L) and tetracycline (16?mg/L) presented distinct phenotypes, associated with the acquisition of different plasmid combinations, including two co-integrate plasmids, of 310 kbp and 517 kbp. The variable composition of the conjugative plasmidome, the formation of co-integrates during conjugation, as well as the transfer of non-transferable plasmids via co-integration, and the possible association between antibiotic, arsenite and tellurite tolerance was demonstrated. These evidences bring interesting insights into the comprehension of the molecular and physiological mechanisms that underlie antibiotic resistance propagation in the environment. Copyright © 2019 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


April 21, 2020  |  

Genome of Crucihimalaya himalaica, a close relative of Arabidopsis, shows ecological adaptation to high altitude.

Crucihimalaya himalaica, a close relative of Arabidopsis and Capsella, grows on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau (QTP) about 4,000 m above sea level and represents an attractive model system for studying speciation and ecological adaptation in extreme environments. We assembled a draft genome sequence of 234.72 Mb encoding 27,019 genes and investigated its origin and adaptive evolutionary mechanisms. Phylogenomic analyses based on 4,586 single-copy genes revealed that C. himalaica is most closely related to Capsella (estimated divergence 8.8 to 12.2 Mya), whereas both species form a sister clade to Arabidopsis thaliana and Arabidopsis lyrata, from which they diverged between 12.7 and 17.2 Mya. LTR retrotransposons in C. himalaica proliferated shortly after the dramatic uplift and climatic change of the Himalayas from the Late Pliocene to Pleistocene. Compared with closely related species, C. himalaica showed significant contraction and pseudogenization in gene families associated with disease resistance and also significant expansion in gene families associated with ubiquitin-mediated proteolysis and DNA repair. We identified hundreds of genes involved in DNA repair, ubiquitin-mediated proteolysis, and reproductive processes with signs of positive selection. Gene families showing dramatic changes in size and genes showing signs of positive selection are likely candidates for C. himalaica’s adaptation to intense radiation, low temperature, and pathogen-depauperate environments in the QTP. Loss of function at the S-locus, the reason for the transition to self-fertilization of C. himalaica, might have enabled its QTP occupation. Overall, the genome sequence of C. himalaica provides insights into the mechanisms of plant adaptation to extreme environments.Copyright © 2019 the Author(s). Published by PNAS.


April 21, 2020  |  

Complete genome sequences of a H2O2-resistant psychrophilic bacterium Colwellia sp. Arc7-D isolated from Arctic Ocean sediment

Colwellia sp. Arc7-D, a psychrophilic H2O2-resisitant bacterium, was isolated from Arctic Ocean sediment. Here we describe the complete genome of Colwellia sp. Arc7-D. The genome has one circular chromosome of 4,305,442?bp (37.67?mol%?G?+?C content), consisting of 3526 coding genes, 77 tRNA genes, as well as five rRNA operons as 16S–23S-5S rRNA and one rRNA operon as 16S-23S-5S-5S. According to KEGG analysis, strain Arc7-D encodes 23 genes related with antioxidant activity including superoxide dismutase, glutathione peroxidase, glutathione reductase and catalase. However, many additional genes affiliated with anti-oxidative stress were also identified, such as aconitase, thioredoxin and ascorbic acid.


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