Construction of Red Fox Chromosomal Fragments from the Short-Read Genome Assembly.
ABSTRACT: The genome of a red fox (Vulpes vulpes) was recently sequenced and assembled using next-generation sequencing (NGS). The assembly is of high quality, with 94X coverage and a scaffold N50 of 11.8 Mbp, but is split into 676,878 scaffolds, some of which are likely to contain assembly errors. Fragmentation and misassembly hinder accurate gene prediction and downstream analysis such as the identification of loci under selection. Therefore, assembly of the genome into chromosome-scale fragments was an important step towards developing this genomic model. Scaffolds from the assembly were aligned to the dog reference genome and compared to the alignment of an outgroup genome (cat) against the dog to identify syntenic sequences among species. The program Reference-Assisted Chromosome Assembly (RACA) then integrated the comparative alignment with the mapping of the raw sequencing reads generated during assembly against the fox scaffolds. The 128 sequence fragments RACA assembled were compared to the fox meiotic linkage map to guide the construction of 40 chromosomal fragments. This computational approach to assembly was facilitated by prior research in comparative mammalian genomics, and the continued improvement of the red fox genome can in turn offer insight into canid and carnivore chromosome evolution. This assembly is also necessary for advancing genetic research in foxes and other canids.
Project description:While the number of mammalian genome assemblies has proliferated, Y-chromosome assemblies have lagged behind. This discrepancy is caused by biological features of the Y-chromosome, such as its high repeat content, that present challenges to assembly with short-read, next-generation sequencing technologies. Partial Y-chromosome assemblies have been developed for the cat (Felis catus), dog (Canis lupus familiaris), and grey wolf (Canis lupus lupus), providing the opportunity to examine the red fox (Vulpes vulpes) Y-chromosome in the context of closely related species. Here we present a data-driven approach to identifying Y-chromosome sequence among the scaffolds that comprise the short-read assembled red fox genome. First, scaffolds containing genes found on the Y-chromosomes of cats, dogs, and wolves were identified. Next, analysis of the resequenced genomes of 15 male and 15 female foxes revealed scaffolds containing male-specific k-mers and patterns of inter-sex copy number variation consistent with the heterogametic chromosome. Analyzing variation across these two metrics revealed 171 scaffolds containing 3.37 Mbp of putative Y-chromosome sequence. The gene content of these scaffolds is consistent overall with that of the Y-chromosome in other carnivore species, though the red fox Y-chromosome carries more copies of BCORY2 and UBE1Y than has been reported in related species and fewer copies of SRY than in other canids. The assignment of these scaffolds to the Y-chromosome serves to further characterize the content of the red fox draft genome while providing resources for future analyses of canid Y-chromosome evolution.
Project description:One of the most difficult problems in modern genomics is the assembly of full-length chromosomes using next generation sequencing (NGS) data. To address this problem, we developed "reference-assisted chromosome assembly" (RACA), an algorithm to reliably order and orient sequence scaffolds generated by NGS and assemblers into longer chromosomal fragments using comparative genome information and paired-end reads. Evaluation of results using simulated and real genome assemblies indicates that our approach can substantially improve genomes generated by a wide variety of de novo assemblers if a good reference assembly of a closely related species and outgroup genomes are available. We used RACA to reconstruct 60 Tibetan antelope (Pantholops hodgsonii) chromosome fragments from 1,434 SOAPdenovo sequence scaffolds, of which 16 chromosome fragments were homologous to complete cattle chromosomes. Experimental validation by PCR showed that predictions made by RACA are highly accurate. Our results indicate that RACA will significantly facilitate the study of chromosome evolution and genome rearrangements for the large number of genomes being sequenced by NGS that do not have a genetic or physical map.
Project description:The de novo assembly of the red fox (Vulpes vulpes) genome has facilitated the development of genomic tools for the species. Efforts to identify the population history of red foxes in North America have previously been limited by a lack of information about the red fox Y-chromosome sequence. However, a megabase of red fox Y-chromosome sequence was recently identified over 2 scaffolds in the reference genome. Here, these scaffolds were scanned for repeated motifs, revealing 194 likely microsatellites. Twenty-three of these loci were selected for primer development and, after testing, produced a panel of 11 novel markers that were analyzed alongside 2 markers previously developed for the red fox from dog Y-chromosome sequence. The markers were genotyped in 76 male red foxes from 4 populations: 7 foxes from Newfoundland (eastern Canada), 12 from Maryland (eastern United States), and 9 from the island of Great Britain, as well as 48 foxes of known North American origin maintained on an experimental farm in Novosibirsk, Russia. The full marker panel revealed 22 haplotypes among these red foxes, whereas the 2 previously known markers alone would have identified only 10 haplotypes. The haplotypes from the 4 populations clustered primarily by continent, but unidirectional gene flow from Great Britain and farm populations may influence haplotype diversity in the Maryland population. The development of new markers has increased the resolution at which red fox Y-chromosome diversity can be analyzed and provides insight into the contribution of males to red fox population diversity and patterns of phylogeography.
Project description:High-quality sequencing of the dog (Canis lupus familiaris) genome has enabled enormous progress in genetic mapping of canine phenotypic variation. The red fox (Vulpes vulpes), another canid species, also exhibits a wide range of variation in coat color, morphology, and behavior. Although the fox genome has not yet been sequenced, canine genomic resources have been used to construct a meiotic linkage map of the red fox genome and begin genetic mapping in foxes. However, a more detailed gene-specific comparative map between the dog and fox genomes is required to establish gene order within homologous regions of dog and fox chromosomes and to refine breakpoints between homologous chromosomes of the 2 species. In the current study, we tested whether canine-derived gene-containing bacterial artificial chromosome (BAC) clones can be routinely used to build a gene-specific map of the red fox genome. Forty canine BAC clones were mapped to the red fox genome by fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH). Each clone was uniquely assigned to a single fox chromosome, and the locations of 38 clones agreed with cytogenetic predictions. These results clearly demonstrate the utility of FISH mapping for construction of a whole-genome gene-specific map of the red fox. The further possibility of using canine BAC clones to map genes in the American mink (Mustela vison) genome was also explored. Much lower success was obtained for this more distantly related farm-bred species, although a few BAC clones were mapped to the predicted chromosomal locations.
Project description:The bat-eared fox, <i>Otocyon megalotis,</i> is the only member of its genus and is thought to occupy a basal position within the dog family. These factors can lead to challenges in complete mitochondrial reconstructions and accurate phylogenetic positioning. Here, we present the first complete mitochondrial genome of the bat-eared fox recovered using shotgun sequencing and iterative mapping to three distantly related species. Phylogenetic analyses placed the bat-eared fox basal in the Canidae family within the clade including true foxes (<i>Vulpes</i>) and the raccoon dog (<i>Nyctereutes</i>) with high support values. This position is in good agreement with previously published results based on short fragments of mitochondrial and nuclear genes, therefore adding more support to the basal positioning of the bat-eared fox within Canidae.
Project description:The dromedary camel is an economically and socially important species of livestock in many parts of the world, being used for transport and the production of milk and meat. Much like cattle and horses, the camel may be found in industrial farming conditions as well as used in sporting. Camel racing is a multi-million dollar industry, with some specimens being valued at upward of 9.5 million USD. Despite its apparent value to humans, the dromedary camel is a neglected species in genomics. While cattle and other domesticated species have had much attention in terms of genome assembly, the camel has only been assembled to scaffold level, which does not give a clear indication of the order or chromosomal location of sequenced fragments. In this study, the Reference Assistant Chromosome Assembly (RACA) algorithm was implemented to use read-pair information of camel scaffolds, aligned with the cattle and human genomes in order to organize and orient these scaffolds in a near-chromosome level assembly. This method generated 72 large size fragments (N50 54.36 Mb). These predicted chromosome fragments (PCFs) were then compared with comparative maps of camel and cytogenetic map of alpaca chromosomes, allowing us to further upgrade the assembly. This dromedary camel assembly will be an invaluable tool to verify future camel assemblies generated with chromatin conformation or/and long read technologies. This study provides the first near-chromosome assembly of the dromedary camel, thus adding this economically important species to a growing pool of knowledge regarding the genome structure of domesticated livestock.
Project description:Two strains of the silver fox (Vulpes vulpes), with markedly different behavioral phenotypes, have been developed by long-term selection for behavior. Foxes from the tame strain exhibit friendly behavior towards humans, paralleling the sociability of canine puppies, whereas foxes from the aggressive strain are defensive and exhibit aggression to humans. To understand the genetic differences underlying these behavioral phenotypes fox-specific genomic resources are needed.cDNA from mRNA from pre-frontal cortex of a tame and an aggressive fox was sequenced using the Roche 454 FLX Titanium platform (> 2.5 million reads & 0.9 Gbase of tame fox sequence; >3.3 million reads & 1.2 Gbase of aggressive fox sequence). Over 80% of the fox reads were assembled into contigs. Mapping fox reads against the fox transcriptome assembly and the dog genome identified over 30,000 high confidence fox-specific SNPs. Fox transcripts for approximately 14,000 genes were identified using SwissProt and the dog RefSeq databases. An at least 2-fold expression difference between the two samples (p < 0.05) was observed for 335 genes, fewer than 3% of the total number of genes identified in the fox transcriptome.Transcriptome sequencing significantly expanded genomic resources available for the fox, a species without a sequenced genome. In a very cost efficient manner this yielded a large number of fox-specific SNP markers for genetic studies and provided significant insights into the gene expression profile of the fox pre-frontal cortex; expression differences between the two fox samples; and a catalogue of potentially important gene-specific sequence variants. This result demonstrates the utility of this approach for developing genomic resources in species with limited genomic information.
Project description:Red foxes (Vulpes vulpes) are the most abundant carnivore species in the Northern Hemisphere. Since their populations are well established in peri-urban and urban areas, they represent a potential reservoir of viruses that transmit from wildlife to humans or domestic animals. In this study, we evaluated the faecal virome of juvenile and adult foxes from peri-urban areas in central Croatia. The dominating mammalian viruses were fox picobirnavirus and parvovirus. The highest number of viral reads (N=1412) was attributed to a new fox circovirus and complete viral genome was de novo assembled from the high-throughput sequencing data. Fox circovirus is highly similar to dog circoviruses identified in diseased dogs in USA and Italy, and to a recently discovered circovirus of foxes with neurologic disease from the United Kingdom. Our fox picobirnavirus was more closely related to the porcine and human picobirnaviruses than to known fox picobirnaviruses.
Project description:Accurate reference genome sequences provide the foundation for modern molecular biology and genomics as the interpretation of sequence data to study evolution, gene expression, and epigenetics depends heavily on the quality of the genome assembly used for its alignment. Correctly organising sequenced fragments such as contigs and scaffolds in relation to each other is a critical and often challenging step in the construction of robust genome references. We previously identified misoriented regions in the mouse and human reference assemblies using Strand-seq, a single cell sequencing technique that preserves DNA directionality Here we demonstrate the ability of Strand-seq to build and correct full-length chromosomes by identifying which scaffolds belong to the same chromosome and determining their correct order and orientation, without the need for overlapping sequences. We demonstrate that Strand-seq exquisitely maps assembly fragments into large related groups and chromosome-sized clusters without using new assembly data. Using template strand inheritance as a bi-allelic marker, we employ genetic mapping principles to cluster scaffolds that are derived from the same chromosome and order them within the chromosome based solely on directionality of DNA strand inheritance. We prove the utility of our approach by generating improved genome assemblies for several model organisms including the ferret, pig, Xenopus, zebrafish, Tasmanian devil and the Guinea pig.
Project description:Strains of red fox (Vulpes vulpes) with markedly different behavioural phenotypes have been developed in the famous long-term selective breeding programme known as the Russian farm-fox experiment. Here we sequenced and assembled the red fox genome and re-sequenced a subset of foxes from the tame, aggressive and conventional farm-bred populations to identify genomic regions associated with the response to selection for behaviour. Analysis of the re-sequenced genomes identified 103 regions with either significantly decreased heterozygosity in one of the three populations or increased divergence between the populations. A strong positional candidate gene for tame behaviour was highlighted: SorCS1, which encodes the main trafficking protein for AMPA glutamate receptors and neurexins and suggests a role for synaptic plasticity in fox domestication. Other regions identified as likely to have been under selection in foxes include genes implicated in human neurological disorders, mouse behaviour and dog domestication. The fox represents a powerful model for the genetic analysis of affiliative and aggressive behaviours that can benefit genetic studies of behaviour in dogs and other mammals, including humans.