April 21, 2020  |  

Evolutionary superscaffolding and chromosome anchoring to improve Anopheles genome assemblies

Background New sequencing technologies have lowered financial barriers to whole genome sequencing, but resulting assemblies are often fragmented and far from textquoteleftfinishedtextquoteright. Updating multi-scaffold drafts to chromosome-level status can be achieved through experimental mapping or re-sequencing efforts. Avoiding the costs associated with such approaches, comparative genomic analysis of gene order conservation (synteny) to predict scaffold neighbours (adjacencies) offers a potentially useful complementary method for improving draft assemblies.Results We employed three gene synteny-based methods applied to 21 Anopheles mosquito assemblies to produce consensus sets of scaffold adjacencies. For subsets of the assemblies we integrated these with additional supporting data to confirm and complement the synteny-based adjacencies: six with physical mapping data that anchor scaffolds to chromosome locations, 13 with paired-end RNA sequencing (RNAseq) data, and three with new assemblies based on re-scaffolding or Pacific Biosciences long-read data. Our combined analyses produced 20 new superscaffolded assemblies with improved contiguities: seven for which assignments of non-anchored scaffolds to chromosome arms span more than 75% of the assemblies, and a further seven with chromosome anchoring including an 88% anchored Anopheles arabiensis assembly and, respectively, 73% and 84% anchored assemblies with comprehensively updated cytogenetic photomaps for Anopheles funestus and Anopheles stephensi.Conclusions Experimental data from probe mapping, RNAseq, or long-read technologies, where available, all contribute to successful upgrading of draft assemblies. Our comparisons show that gene synteny-based computational methods represent a valuable alternative or complementary approach. Our improved Anopheles reference assemblies highlight the utility of applying comparative genomics approaches to improve community genomic resources.ADADSEQAGOAGOUTI-basedAGOUTIannotated genome optimization using transcriptome information toolALNalignment-basedCAMSAcomparative analysis and merging of scaffold assemblies toolDPdynamic programmingFISHfluorescence in situ hybridizationGAGOS-ASMGOS-ASMGene order scaffold assemblerKbpkilobasepairsMbpmegabasepairsOSORTHOSTITCHPacBioPacific BiosciencesPBPacBio-basedPHYphysical-mapping-basedRNAseqRNA sequencingQTLquantitative trait lociSYNsynteny-based.


April 21, 2020  |  

Early Sex-chromosome Evolution in the Diploid Dioecious Plant Mercurialis annua.

Suppressed recombination allows divergence between homologous sex chromosomes and the functionality of their genes. Here, we reveal patterns of the earliest stages of sex-chromosome evolution in the diploid dioecious herb Mercurialis annua on the basis of cytological analysis, de novo genome assembly and annotation, genetic mapping, exome resequencing of natural populations, and transcriptome analysis. The genome assembly contained 34,105 expressed genes, of which 10,076 were assigned to linkage groups. Genetic mapping and exome resequencing of individuals across the species range both identified the largest linkage group, LG1, as the sex chromosome. Although the sex chromosomes of M. annua are karyotypically homomorphic, we estimate that about a third of the Y chromosome has ceased recombining, containing 568 transcripts and spanning 22.3 cM in the corresponding female map. Nevertheless, we found limited evidence for Y-chromosome degeneration in terms of gene loss and pseudogenization, and most X- and Y-linked genes appear to have diverged in the period subsequent to speciation between M. annua and its sister species M. huetii which shares the same sex-determining region. Taken together, our results suggest that the M. annua Y chromosome has at least two evolutionary strata: a small old stratum shared with M. huetii, and a more recent larger stratum that is probably unique to M. annua and that stopped recombining about one million years ago. Patterns of gene expression within the non-recombining region are consistent with the idea that sexually antagonistic selection may have played a role in favoring suppressed recombination.Copyright © 2019, Genetics.


April 21, 2020  |  

Finding the needle in a haystack: Mapping antifungal drug resistance in fungal pathogen by genomic approaches.

Fungi are ubiquitous on earth and are essential for the maintenance of the global ecological equilibrium. Despite providing benefits to living organisms, they can also target specific hosts and inflict damage. These fungal pathogens are known to affect, for example, plants and mam- mals and thus reduce crop production necessary to sustain food supply and cause mortality in humans and animals. Designing defenses against these fungi is essential for the control of food resources and human health. As far as fungal pathogens are concerned, the principal option has been the use of antifungal agents, also called fungicides when they are used in the environment.


April 21, 2020  |  

Adaptive Strategies in a Poly-Extreme Environment: Differentiation of Vegetative Cells in Serratia ureilytica and Resistance to Extreme Conditions.

Poly-extreme terrestrial habitats are often used as analogs to extra-terrestrial environments. Understanding the adaptive strategies allowing bacteria to thrive and survive under these conditions could help in our quest for extra-terrestrial planets suitable for life and understanding how life evolved in the harsh early earth conditions. A prime example of such a survival strategy is the modification of vegetative cells into resistant resting structures. These differentiated cells are often observed in response to harsh environmental conditions. The environmental strain (strain Lr5/4) belonging to Serratia ureilytica was isolated from a geothermal spring in Lirima, Atacama Desert, Chile. The Atacama Desert is the driest habitat on Earth and furthermore, due to its high altitude, it is exposed to an increased amount of UV radiation. The geothermal spring from which the strain was isolated is oligotrophic and the temperature of 54°C exceeds mesophilic conditions (15 to 45°C). Although the vegetative cells were tolerant to various environmental insults (desiccation, extreme pH, glycerol), a modified cell type was formed in response to nutrient deprivation, UV radiation and thermal shock. Scanning (SEM) and Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM) analyses of vegetative cells and the modified cell structures were performed. In SEM, a change toward a circular shape with reduced size was observed. These circular cells possessed what appears as extra coating layers under TEM. The resistance of the modified cells was also investigated, they were resistant to wet heat, UV radiation and desiccation, while vegetative cells did not withstand any of those conditions. A phylogenomic analysis was undertaken to investigate the presence of known genes involved in dormancy in other bacterial clades. Genes related to spore-formation in Myxococcus and Firmicutes were found in S. ureilytica Lr5/4 genome; however, these genes were not enough for a full sporulation pathway that resembles either group. Although, the molecular pathway of cell differentiation in S. ureilytica Lr5/4 is not fully defined, the identified genes may contribute to the modified phenotype in the Serratia genus. Here, we show that a modified cell structure can occur as a response to extremity in a species that was previously not known to deploy this strategy. This strategy may be widely spread in bacteria, but only expressed under poly-extreme environmental conditions.


April 21, 2020  |  

Molecular evolutionary trends and feeding ecology diversification in the Hemiptera, anchored by the milkweed bug genome.

The Hemiptera (aphids, cicadas, and true bugs) are a key insect order, with high diversity for feeding ecology and excellent experimental tractability for molecular genetics. Building upon recent sequencing of hemipteran pests such as phloem-feeding aphids and blood-feeding bed bugs, we present the genome sequence and comparative analyses centered on the milkweed bug Oncopeltus fasciatus, a seed feeder of the family Lygaeidae.The 926-Mb Oncopeltus genome is well represented by the current assembly and official gene set. We use our genomic and RNA-seq data not only to characterize the protein-coding gene repertoire and perform isoform-specific RNAi, but also to elucidate patterns of molecular evolution and physiology. We find ongoing, lineage-specific expansion and diversification of repressive C2H2 zinc finger proteins. The discovery of intron gain and turnover specific to the Hemiptera also prompted the evaluation of lineage and genome size as predictors of gene structure evolution. Furthermore, we identify enzymatic gains and losses that correlate with feeding biology, particularly for reductions associated with derived, fluid nutrition feeding.With the milkweed bug, we now have a critical mass of sequenced species for a hemimetabolous insect order and close outgroup to the Holometabola, substantially improving the diversity of insect genomics. We thereby define commonalities among the Hemiptera and delve into how hemipteran genomes reflect distinct feeding ecologies. Given Oncopeltus’s strength as an experimental model, these new sequence resources bolster the foundation for molecular research and highlight technical considerations for the analysis of medium-sized invertebrate genomes.


October 23, 2019  |  

Galactofuranose in Mycoplasma mycoides is important for membrane integrity and conceals adhesins but does not contribute to serum resistance.

Mycoplasma mycoides subsp. capri (Mmc) and subsp. mycoides (Mmm) are important ruminant pathogens worldwide causing diseases such as pleuropneumonia, mastitis and septicaemia. They express galactofuranose residues on their surface, but their role in pathogenesis has not yet been determined. The M.?mycoides genomes contain up to several copies of the glf gene, which encodes an enzyme catalysing the last step in the synthesis of galactofuranose. We generated a deletion of the glf gene in a strain of Mmc using genome transplantation and tandem repeat endonuclease coupled cleavage (TREC) with yeast as an intermediary host for the genome editing. As expected, the resulting YCp1.1-?glf strain did not produce the galactofuranose-containing glycans as shown by immunoblots and immuno-electronmicroscopy employing a galactofuranose specific monoclonal antibody. The mutant lacking galactofuranose exhibited a decreased growth rate and a significantly enhanced adhesion to small ruminant cells. The mutant was also ‘leaking’ as revealed by a ß-galactosidase-based assay employing a membrane impermeable substrate. These findings indicate that galactofuranose-containing polysaccharides conceal adhesins and are important for membrane integrity. Unexpectedly, the mutant strain showed increased serum resistance. © 2015 The Authors. Molecular Microbiology published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


September 22, 2019  |  

The state of play in higher eukaryote gene annotation.

A genome sequence is worthless if it cannot be deciphered; therefore, efforts to describe – or ‘annotate’ – genes began as soon as DNA sequences became available. Whereas early work focused on individual protein-coding genes, the modern genomic ocean is a complex maelstrom of alternative splicing, non-coding transcription and pseudogenes. Scientists – from clinicians to evolutionary biologists – need to navigate these waters, and this has led to the design of high-throughput, computationally driven annotation projects. The catalogues that are being produced are key resources for genome exploration, especially as they become integrated with expression, epigenomic and variation data sets. Their creation, however, remains challenging.


September 22, 2019  |  

The microbiome of the leaf surface of Arabidopsis protects against a fungal pathogen.

We have explored the importance of the phyllosphere microbiome in plant resistance in the cuticle mutants bdg (BODYGUARD) or lacs2.3 (LONG CHAIN FATTY ACID SYNTHASE 2) that are strongly resistant to the fungal pathogen Botrytis cinerea. The study includes infection of plants under sterile conditions, 16S ribosomal DNA sequencing of the phyllosphere microbiome, and isolation and high coverage sequencing of bacteria from the phyllosphere. When inoculated under sterile conditions bdg became as susceptible as wild-type (WT) plants whereas lacs2.3 mutants retained the resistance. Adding washes of its phyllosphere microbiome could restore the resistance of bdg mutants, whereas the resistance of lacs2.3 results from endogenous mechanisms. The phyllosphere microbiome showed distinct populations in WT plants compared to cuticle mutants. One species identified as Pseudomonas sp isolated from the microbiome of bdg provided resistance to B. cinerea on Arabidopsis thaliana as well as on apple fruits. No direct activity was observed against B. cinerea and the action of the bacterium required the plant. Thus, microbes present on the plant surface contribute to the resistance to B. cinerea. These results open new perspectives on the function of the leaf microbiome in the protection of plants.© 2016 The Authors. New Phytologist © 2016 New Phytologist Trust.


September 22, 2019  |  

Genomics and host specialization of honey bee and bumble bee gut symbionts.

Gilliamella apicola and Snodgrassella alvi are dominant members of the honey bee (Apis spp.) and bumble bee (Bombus spp.) gut microbiota. We generated complete genomes of the type strains G. apicola wkB1(T) and S. alvi wkB2(T) (isolated from Apis), as well as draft genomes for four other strains from Bombus. G. apicola and S. alvi were found to occupy very different metabolic niches: The former is a saccharolytic fermenter, whereas the latter is an oxidizer of carboxylic acids. Together, they may form a syntrophic network for partitioning of metabolic resources. Both species possessed numerous genes [type 6 secretion systems, repeats in toxin (RTX) toxins, RHS proteins, adhesins, and type IV pili] that likely mediate cell-cell interactions and gut colonization. Variation in these genes could account for the host fidelity of strains observed in previous phylogenetic studies. Here, we also show the first experimental evidence, to our knowledge, for this specificity in vivo: Strains of S. alvi were able to colonize their native bee host but not bees of another genus. Consistent with specific, long-term host association, comparative genomic analysis revealed a deep divergence and little or no gene flow between Apis and Bombus gut symbionts. However, within a host type (Apis or Bombus), we detected signs of horizontal gene transfer between G. apicola and S. alvi, demonstrating the importance of the broader gut community in shaping the evolution of any one member. Our results show that host specificity is likely driven by multiple factors, including direct host-microbe interactions, microbe-microbe interactions, and social transmission.


September 22, 2019  |  

Functional mitochondria in health and disease.

The ability to rapidly adapt cellular bioenergetic capabilities to meet rapidly changing environmental conditions is mandatory for normal cellular function and for cancer progression. Any loss of this adaptive response has the potential to compromise cellular function and render the cell more susceptible to external stressors such as oxidative stress, radiation, chemotherapeutic drugs, and hypoxia. Mitochondria play a vital role in bioenergetic and biosynthetic pathways and can rapidly adjust to meet the metabolic needs of the cell. Increased demand is met by mitochondrial biogenesis and fusion of individual mitochondria into dynamic networks, whereas a decrease in demand results in the removal of superfluous mitochondria through fission and mitophagy. Effective communication between nucleus and mitochondria (mito-nuclear cross talk), involving the generation of different mitochondrial stress signals as well as the nuclear stress response pathways to deal with these stressors, maintains bioenergetic homeostasis under most conditions. However, when mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) mutations accumulate and mito-nuclear cross talk falters, mitochondria fail to deliver critical functional outputs. Mutations in mtDNA have been implicated in neuromuscular and neurodegenerative mitochondriopathies and complex diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, gastrointestinal disorders, skin disorders, aging, and cancer. In some cases, drastic measures such as acquisition of new mitochondria from donor cells occurs to ensure cell survival. This review starts with a brief discussion of the evolutionary origin of mitochondria and summarizes how mutations in mtDNA lead to mitochondriopathies and other degenerative diseases. Mito-nuclear cross talk, including various stress signals generated by mitochondria and corresponding stress response pathways activated by the nucleus are summarized. We also introduce and discuss a small family of recently discovered hormone-like mitopeptides that modulate body metabolism. Under conditions of severe mitochondrial stress, mitochondria have been shown to traffic between cells, replacing mitochondria in cells with damaged and malfunctional mtDNA. Understanding the processes involved in cellular bioenergetics and metabolic adaptation has the potential to generate new knowledge that will lead to improved treatment of many of the metabolic, degenerative, and age-related inflammatory diseases that characterize modern societies.


September 22, 2019  |  

First draft genome of an iconic clownfish species (Amphiprion frenatus).

Clownfishes (or anemonefishes) form an iconic group of coral reef fishes, principally known for their mutualistic interaction with sea anemones. They are characterized by particular life history traits, such as a complex social structure and mating system involving sequential hermaphroditism, coupled with an exceptionally long lifespan. Additionally, clownfishes are considered to be one of the rare groups to have experienced an adaptive radiation in the marine environment. Here, we assembled and annotated the first genome of a clownfish species, the tomato clownfish (Amphiprion frenatus). We obtained 17,801 assembled scaffolds, containing a total of 26,917 genes. The completeness of the assembly and annotation was satisfying, with 96.5% of the Actinopterygii Benchmarking Universal Single-Copy Orthologs (BUSCOs) being retrieved in A. frenatus assembly. The quality of the resulting assembly is comparable to other bony fish assemblies. This resource is valuable for advancing studies of the particular life history traits of clownfishes, as well as being useful for population genetic studies and the development of new phylogenetic markers. It will also open the way to comparative genomics. Indeed, future genomic comparison among closely related fishes may provide means to identify genes related to the unique adaptations to different sea anemone hosts, as well as better characterize the genomic signatures of an adaptive radiation.© 2018 The Authors. Molecular Ecology Resources Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


September 22, 2019  |  

Transposon-associated lincosamide resistance lnu(C) gene identified in Brachyspira hyodysenteriae ST83.

Treatment of Swine Dysentery (SD) caused by Brachyspira hyodysenteriae (B. hyodysenteriae) is carried out using antimicrobials such as macrolides, lincosamides and pleuromutilins leading to the selection of resistant strains. Whole genome sequencing of a multidrug-resistant B. hyodysenteriae strain called BH718 belonging to sequence type (ST) 83 revealed the presence of the lincosamide resistance gene lnu(C) on the small 1724-bp transposon MTnSag1. The strain also contains an A to T substitution at position 2058 (A2058T) in the 23S rRNA gene which is known to be associated with macrolide and lincosamide resistance in B. hyodysenteriae. Testing of additional strains showed that those containing lnu(C) exhibited a higher minimal inhibitory concentration (MIC) of lincomycin (MIC?=?64?mg/L) compared to strains lacking lnu(C), even if they also harbor the A2058T mutation. Resistance to pleuromutilins could not be explained by the presence of already reported mutations in the 23S rRNA gene and in the ribosomal protein L3. This study shows that B. hyodysenteriae has the ability to acquire mobile genetic elements conferring resistance to antibiotics. Copyright © 2017 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


September 22, 2019  |  

Blood CXCR3+CD4 T cells are enriched in inducible replication competent HIV in aviremic antiretroviral therapy-treated individuals.

We recently demonstrated that lymph nodes (LNs) PD-1+/T follicular helper (Tfh) cells from antiretroviral therapy (ART)-treated HIV-infected individuals were enriched in cells containing replication competent virus. However, the distribution of cells containing inducible replication competent virus has been only partially elucidated in blood memory CD4 T-cell populations including the Tfh cell counterpart circulating in blood (cTfh). In this context, we have investigated the distribution of (1) total HIV-infected cells and (2) cells containing replication competent and infectious virus within various blood and LN memory CD4 T-cell populations of conventional antiretroviral therapy (cART)-treated HIV-infected individuals. In the present study, we show that blood CXCR3-expressing memory CD4 T cells are enriched in cells containing inducible replication competent virus and contributed the most to the total pool of cells containing replication competent and infectious virus in blood. Interestingly, subsequent proviral sequence analysis did not indicate virus compartmentalization between blood and LN CD4 T-cell populations, suggesting dynamic interchanges between the two compartments. We then investigated whether the composition of blood HIV reservoir may reflect the polarization of LN CD4 T cells at the time of reservoir seeding and showed that LN PD-1+CD4 T cells of viremic untreated HIV-infected individuals expressed significantly higher levels of CXCR3 as compared to CCR4 and/or CCR6, suggesting that blood CXCR3-expressing CD4 T cells may originate from LN PD-1+CD4 T cells. Taken together, these results indicate that blood CXCR3-expressing CD4 T cells represent the major blood compartment containing inducible replication competent virus in treated aviremic HIV-infected individuals.


September 22, 2019  |  

Genetic separation of Listeria monocytogenes causing central nervous system infections in animals.

Listeria monocytogenes is a foodborne pathogen that causes abortion, septicemia, gastroenteritis and central nervous system (CNS) infections in ruminants and humans. L. monocytogenes strains mainly belong to two distinct phylogenetic groups, named lineages I and II. In general, clinical cases in humans and animals, in particular CNS infections, are caused by lineage I strains, while most of the environmental and food strains belong to lineage II. Little is known about why lineage I is more virulent than lineage II, even though various molecular factors and mechanisms associated with pathogenesis are known. In this study, we have used a variety of whole genome sequence analyses and comparative genomic tools in order to find characteristics that distinguish lineage I from lineage II strains and CNS infection strains from non-CNS strains. We analyzed 225 strains and identified single nucleotide variants between lineages I and II, as well as differences in the gene content. Using a novel approach based on Reads Per Kilobase per Million Mapped (RPKM), we identified 167 genes predominantly absent in lineage II but present in lineage I. These genes are mostly encoding for membrane-associated proteins. Additionally, we found 77 genes that are largely absent in the non-CNS associated strains, while 39 genes are especially lacking in our defined “non-clinical” group. Based on the RPKM analysis and the metadata linked to the L. monocytogenes strains, we identified 6 genes potentially associated with CNS cases, which include a transcriptional regulator, an ABC transporter and a non-coding RNA. Although there is not a clear separation between pathogenic and non-pathogenic strains based on phylogenetic lineages, the presence of the genes identified in our study reveals potential pathogenesis traits in ruminant L. monocytogenes strains. Ultimately, the differences that we have found in our study will help steer future studies in understanding the virulence mechanisms of the most pathogenic L. monocytogenes strains.


September 22, 2019  |  

In vitro culture of the insect endosymbiont Spiroplasma poulsonii highlights bacterial genes involved in host-symbiont interaction.

Endosymbiotic bacteria associated with eukaryotic hosts are omnipresent in nature, particularly in insects. Studying the bacterial side of host-symbiont interactions is, however, often limited by the unculturability and genetic intractability of the symbionts. Spiroplasma poulsonii is a maternally transmitted bacterial endosymbiont that is naturally associated with several Drosophila species. S. poulsonii strongly affects its host’s physiology, for example by causing male killing or by protecting it against various parasites. Despite intense work on this model since the 1950s, attempts to cultivate endosymbiotic Spiroplasma in vitro have failed so far. Here, we developed a method to sustain the in vitro culture of S. poulsonii by optimizing a commercially accessible medium. We also provide a complete genome assembly, including the first sequence of a natural plasmid of an endosymbiotic Spiroplasma species. Last, by comparing the transcriptome of the in vitro culture to the transcriptome of bacteria extracted from the host, we identified genes putatively involved in host-symbiont interactions. This work provides new opportunities to study the physiology of endosymbiotic Spiroplasma and paves the way to dissect insect-endosymbiont interactions with two genetically tractable partners.IMPORTANCE The discovery of insect bacterial endosymbionts (maternally transmitted bacteria) has revolutionized the study of insects, suggesting novel strategies for their control. Most endosymbionts are strongly dependent on their host to survive, making them uncultivable in artificial systems and genetically intractable. Spiroplasma poulsonii is an endosymbiont of Drosophila that affects host metabolism, reproduction, and defense against parasites. By providing the first reliable culture medium that allows a long-lasting in vitro culture of Spiroplasma and by elucidating its complete genome, this work lays the foundation for the development of genetic engineering tools to dissect endosymbiosis with two partners amenable to molecular study. Furthermore, the optimization method that we describe can be used on other yet uncultivable symbionts, opening new technical opportunities in the field of host-microbes interactions. Copyright © 2018 Masson et al.


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