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  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 31, 2024
  2. Free, publicly-accessible full text available September 1, 2024
  3. Qu, Li-Jia (Ed.)

    Pleiotropy—when a single gene controls two or more seemingly unrelated traits—has been shown to impact genes with effects on flowering time, leaf architecture, and inflorescence morphology in maize. However, the genome-wide impact of biological pleiotropy across all maize phenotypes is largely unknown. Here, we investigate the extent to which biological pleiotropy impacts phenotypes within maize using GWAS summary statistics reanalyzed from previously published metabolite, field, and expression phenotypes across the Nested Association Mapping population and Goodman Association Panel. Through phenotypic saturation of 120,597 traits, we obtain over 480 million significant quantitative trait nucleotides. We estimate that only 1.56–32.3% of intervals show some degree of pleiotropy. We then assess the relationship between pleiotropy and various biological features such as gene expression, chromatin accessibility, sequence conservation, and enrichment for gene ontology terms. We find very little relationship between pleiotropy and these variables when compared to permuted pleiotropy. We hypothesize that biological pleiotropy of common alleles is not widespread in maize and is highly impacted by nuisance terms such as population structure and linkage disequilibrium. Natural selection on large standing natural variation in maize populations may target wide and large effect variants, leaving the prevalence of detectable pleiotropy relatively low.

     
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  4. Abstract Background

    Crop improvement through cross-population genomic prediction and genome editing requires identification of causal variants at high resolution, within fewer than hundreds of base pairs. Most genetic mapping studies have generally lacked such resolution. In contrast, evolutionary approaches can detect genetic effects at high resolution, but they are limited by shifting selection, missing data, and low depth of multiple-sequence alignments. Here we use genomic annotations to accurately predict nucleotide conservation across angiosperms, as a proxy for fitness effect of mutations.

    Results

    Using only sequence analysis, we annotate nonsynonymous mutations in 25,824 maize gene models, with information from bioinformatics and deep learning. Our predictions are validated by experimental information: within-species conservation, chromatin accessibility, and gene expression. According to gene ontology and pathway enrichment analyses, predicted nucleotide conservation points to genes in central carbon metabolism. Importantly, it improves genomic prediction for fitness-related traits such as grain yield, in elite maize panels, by stringent prioritization of fewer than 1% of single-site variants.

    Conclusions

    Our results suggest that predicting nucleotide conservation across angiosperms may effectively prioritize sites most likely to impact fitness-related traits in crops, without being limited by shifting selection, missing data, and low depth of multiple-sequence alignments. Our approach—Prediction of mutation Impact by Calibrated Nucleotide Conservation (PICNC)—could be useful to select polymorphisms for accurate genomic prediction, and candidate mutations for efficient base editing. The trained PICNC models and predicted nucleotide conservation at protein-coding SNPs in maize are publicly available in CyVerse (https://doi.org/10.25739/hybz-2957).

     
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  5. Core Ideas Cross‐species models of chromatin state from sequence are comparable or superior to within‐species models. Model performance is highest on accessible regions open in many tissues. Transcription factor motifs can be ranked by importance to each species and chromatin state. 
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  6. Abstract

    Poa pratensis, commonly known as Kentucky bluegrass, is a popular cool-season grass species used as turf in lawns and recreation areas globally. Despite its substantial economic value, a reference genome had not previously been assembled due to the genome’s relatively large size and biological complexity that includes apomixis, polyploidy, and interspecific hybridization. We report here a fortuitous de novo assembly and annotation of a P. pratensis genome. Instead of sequencing the genome of a C4 grass, we accidentally sampled and sequenced tissue from a weedy P. pratensis whose stolon was intertwined with that of the C4 grass. The draft assembly consists of 6.09 Gbp with an N50 scaffold length of 65.1 Mbp, and a total of 118 scaffolds, generated using PacBio long reads and Bionano optical map technology. We annotated 256K gene models and found 58% of the genome to be composed of transposable elements. To demonstrate the applicability of the reference genome, we evaluated population structure and estimated genetic diversity in P. pratensis collected from three North American prairies, two in Manitoba, Canada and one in Colorado, USA. Our results support previous studies that found high genetic diversity and population structure within the species. The reference genome and annotation will be an important resource for turfgrass breeding and study of bluegrasses.

     
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  7. The 5 ′ untranslated region (UTR) sequence of eukaryotic mRNAs may contain upstream open reading frames (uORFs), which can regulate translation of the main ORF (mORF). The current model of translational regulation by uORFs posits that when a ribosome scans a mRNA and encounters an uORF, translation of that uORF can prevent ribosomes from reaching the mORF and cause decreased mORF translation. In this study, we first observed that rare variants in the 5 ′ UTR dysregulate maize ( Zea mays L. ) protein abundance. Upon further investigation, we found that rare variants near the start codon of uORFs can repress or derepress mORF translation, causing allelic changes in protein abundance. This finding holds for common variants as well, and common variants that modify uORF start codons also contribute disproportionately to metabolic and whole-plant phenotypes, suggesting that translational regulation by uORFs serves an adaptive function. These results provide evidence for the mechanisms by which natural sequence variation modulates gene expression, and ultimately, phenotype. 
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  8. Millions of species are currently being sequenced, and their genomes are being compared. Many of them have more complex genomes than model systems and raise novel challenges for genome alignment. Widely used local alignment strategies often produce limited or incongruous results when applied to genomes with dispersed repeats, long indels, and highly diverse sequences. Moreover, alignment using many-to-many or reciprocal best hit approaches conflicts with well-studied patterns between species with different rounds of whole-genome duplication. Here, we introduce Anchored Wavefront alignment (AnchorWave), which performs whole-genome duplication–informed collinear anchor identification between genomes and performs base pair–resolved global alignment for collinear blocks using a two-piece affine gap cost strategy. This strategy enables AnchorWave to precisely identify multikilobase indels generated by transposable element (TE) presence/absence variants (PAVs). When aligning two maize genomes, AnchorWave successfully recalled 87% of previously reported TE PAVs. By contrast, other genome alignment tools showed low power for TE PAV recall. AnchorWave precisely aligns up to three times more of the genome as position matches or indels than the closest competitive approach when comparing diverse genomes. Moreover, AnchorWave recalls transcription factor–binding sites at a rate of 1.05- to 74.85-fold higher than other tools with significantly lower false-positive alignments. AnchorWave complements available genome alignment tools by showing obvious improvement when applied to genomes with dispersed repeats, active TEs, high sequence diversity, and whole-genome duplication variation. 
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  9. Hake, Sarah (Ed.)

    Genomic prediction typically relies on associations between single-site polymorphisms and traits of interest. This representation of genomic variability has been successful for predicting many complex traits. However, it usually cannot capture the combination of alleles in haplotypes and it has generated little insight about the biological function of polymorphisms. Here we present a novel and cost-effective method for imputingcishaplotype associated RNA expression (HARE), studied their transferability across tissues, and evaluated genomic prediction models within and across populations. HARE focuses on tightly linkedcisacting causal variants in the immediate vicinity of the gene, while excludingtranseffects from diffusion and metabolism. Therefore, HARE estimates were more transferrable across different tissues and populations compared to measured transcript expression. We also showed that HARE estimates captured one-third of the variation in gene expression. HARE estimates were used in genomic prediction models evaluated within and across two diverse maize panels–a diverse association panel (Goodman Association panel) and a large half-sib panel (Nested Association Mapping panel)–for predicting 26 complex traits. HARE resulted in up to 15% higher prediction accuracy than control approaches that preserved haplotype structure, suggesting that HARE carried functional information in addition to information about haplotype structure. The largest increase was observed when the model was trained in the Nested Association Mapping panel and tested in the Goodman Association panel. Additionally, HARE yielded higher within-population prediction accuracy as compared to measured expression values. The accuracy achieved by measured expression was variable across tissues, whereas accuracy by HARE was more stable across tissues. Therefore, imputing RNA expression of genes by haplotype is stable, cost-effective, and transferable across populations.

     
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