April 21, 2020  |  

A chromosomal-scale genome assembly of Tectona grandis reveals the importance of tandem gene duplication and enables discovery of genes in natural product biosynthetic pathways.

Teak, a member of the Lamiaceae family, produces one of the most expensive hardwoods in the world. High demand coupled with deforestation have caused a decrease in natural teak forests, and future supplies will be reliant on teak plantations. Hence, selection of teak tree varieties for clonal propagation with superior growth performance is of great importance, and access to high-quality genetic and genomic resources can accelerate the selection process by identifying genes underlying desired traits.To facilitate teak research and variety improvement, we generated a highly contiguous, chromosomal-scale genome assembly using high-coverage Pacific Biosciences long reads coupled with high-throughput chromatin conformation capture. Of the 18 teak chromosomes, we generated 17 near-complete pseudomolecules with one chromosome present as two chromosome arm scaffolds. Genome annotation yielded 31,168 genes encoding 46,826 gene models, of which, 39,930 and 41,155 had Pfam domain and expression evidence, respectively. We identified 14 clusters of tandem-duplicated terpene synthases (TPSs), genes central to the biosynthesis of terpenes, which are involved in plant defense and pollinator attraction. Transcriptome analysis revealed 10 TPSs highly expressed in woody tissues, of which, 8 were in tandem, revealing the importance of resolving tandemly duplicated genes and the quality of the assembly and annotation. We also validated the enzymatic activity of four TPSs to demonstrate the function of key TPSs.In summary, this high-quality chromosomal-scale assembly and functional annotation of the teak genome will facilitate the discovery of candidate genes related to traits critical for sustainable production of teak and for anti-insecticidal natural products. © The Author(s) 2019. Published by Oxford University Press.

April 21, 2020  |  

A chromosome-level sequence assembly reveals the structure of the Arabidopsis thaliana Nd-1 genome and its gene set.

In addition to the BAC-based reference sequence of the accession Columbia-0 from the year 2000, several short read assemblies of THE plant model organism Arabidopsis thaliana were published during the last years. Also, a SMRT-based assembly of Landsberg erecta has been generated that identified translocation and inversion polymorphisms between two genotypes of the species. Here we provide a chromosome-arm level assembly of the A. thaliana accession Niederzenz-1 (AthNd-1_v2c) based on SMRT sequencing data. The best assembly comprises 69 nucleome sequences and displays a contig length of up to 16 Mbp. Compared to an earlier Illumina short read-based NGS assembly (AthNd-1_v1), a 75 fold increase in contiguity was observed for AthNd-1_v2c. To assign contig locations independent from the Col-0 gold standard reference sequence, we used genetic anchoring to generate a de novo assembly. In addition, we assembled the chondrome and plastome sequences. Detailed analyses of AthNd-1_v2c allowed reliable identification of large genomic rearrangements between A. thaliana accessions contributing to differences in the gene sets that distinguish the genotypes. One of the differences detected identified a gene that is lacking from the Col-0 gold standard sequence. This de novo assembly extends the known proportion of the A. thaliana pan-genome.

April 21, 2020  |  

The Reference Genome Sequence of Scutellaria baicalensis Provides Insights into the Evolution of Wogonin Biosynthesis.

Scutellaria baicalensis Georgi is important in Chinese traditional medicine where preparations of dried roots, “Huang Qin,” are used for liver and lung complaints and as complementary cancer treatments. We report a high-quality reference genome sequence for S. baicalensis where 93% of the 408.14-Mb genome has been assembled into nine pseudochromosomes with a super-N50 of 33.2 Mb. Comparison of this sequence with those of closely related species in the order Lamiales, Sesamum indicum and Salvia splendens, revealed that a specialized metabolic pathway for the synthesis of 4′-deoxyflavone bioactives evolved in the genus Scutellaria. We found that the gene encoding a specific cinnamate coenzyme A ligase likely obtained its new function following recent mutations, and that four genes encoding enzymes in the 4′-deoxyflavone pathway are present as tandem repeats in the genome of S. baicalensis. Further analyses revealed that gene duplications, segmental duplication, gene amplification, and point mutations coupled to gene neo- and subfunctionalizations were involved in the evolution of 4′-deoxyflavone synthesis in the genus Scutellaria. Our study not only provides significant insight into the evolution of specific flavone biosynthetic pathways in the mint family, Lamiaceae, but also will facilitate the development of tools for enhancing bioactive productivity by metabolic engineering in microbes or by molecular breeding in plants. The reference genome of S. baicalensis is also useful for improving the genome assemblies for other members of the mint family and offers an important foundation for decoding the synthetic pathways of bioactive compounds in medicinal plants.Copyright © 2019 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

April 21, 2020  |  

Genome of the Komodo dragon reveals adaptations in the cardiovascular and chemosensory systems of monitor lizards.

Monitor lizards are unique among ectothermic reptiles in that they have high aerobic capacity and distinctive cardiovascular physiology resembling that of endothermic mammals. Here, we sequence the genome of the Komodo dragon Varanus komodoensis, the largest extant monitor lizard, and generate a high-resolution de novo chromosome-assigned genome assembly for V. komodoensis using a hybrid approach of long-range sequencing and single-molecule optical mapping. Comparing the genome of V. komodoensis with those of related species, we find evidence of positive selection in pathways related to energy metabolism, cardiovascular homoeostasis, and haemostasis. We also show species-specific expansions of a chemoreceptor gene family related to pheromone and kairomone sensing in V. komodoensis and other lizard lineages. Together, these evolutionary signatures of adaptation reveal the genetic underpinnings of the unique Komodo dragon sensory and cardiovascular systems, and suggest that selective pressure altered haemostasis genes to help Komodo dragons evade the anticoagulant effects of their own saliva. The Komodo dragon genome is an important resource for understanding the biology of monitor lizards and reptiles worldwide.

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