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  1. Seadragons are a remarkable lineage of teleost fishes in the family Syngnathidae, renowned for having evolved male pregnancy. Comprising three known species, seadragons are widely recognized and admired for their fantastical body forms and coloration, and their specific habitat requirements have made them flagship representatives for marine conservation and natural history interests. Until recently, a gap has been the lack of significant genomic resources for seadragons. We have produced gene-annotated, chromosome-scale genome models for the leafy and weedy seadragon to advance investigations of evolutionary innovation and elaboration of morphological traits in seadragons as well as their pipefish and seahorse relatives. We identified several interesting features specific to seadragon genomes, including divergent noncoding regions near a developmental gene important for integumentary outgrowth, a high genome-wide density of repetitive DNA, and recent expansions of transposable elements and a vesicular trafficking gene family. Surprisingly, comparative analyses leveraging the seadragon genomes and additional syngnathid and outgroup genomes revealed striking, syngnathid-specific losses in the family of fibroblast growth factors (FGFs), which likely involve reorganization of highly conserved gene regulatory networks in ways that have not previously been documented in natural populations. The resources presented here serve as important tools for future evolutionary studies of developmentalmore »processes in syngnathids and hold value for conservation of the extravagant seadragons and their relatives.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available June 28, 2023
  2. Abstract The fish order Syngnathiformes has been referred to as a collection of misfit fishes, comprising commercially important fish such as red mullets as well as the highly diverse seahorses, pipefishes, and seadragons—the well-known family Syngnathidae, with their unique adaptations including male pregnancy. Another ornate member of this order is the species mandarinfish. No less than two types of chromatophores have been discovered in the spectacularly colored mandarinfish: the cyanophore (producing blue color) and the dichromatic cyano-erythrophore (producing blue and red). The phylogenetic position of mandarinfish in Syngnathiformes, and their promise of additional genetic discoveries beyond the chromatophores, made mandarinfish an appealing target for whole-genome sequencing. We used linked sequences to create synthetic long reads, producing a highly contiguous genome assembly for the mandarinfish. The genome assembly comprises 483 Mbp (longest scaffold 29 Mbp), has an N50 of 12 Mbp, and an L50 of 14 scaffolds. The assembly completeness is also high, with 92.6% complete, 4.4% fragmented, and 2.9% missing out of 4584 BUSCO genes found in ray-finned fishes. Outside the family Syngnathidae, the mandarinfish represents one of the most contiguous syngnathiform genome assemblies to date. The mandarinfish genomic resource will likely serve as a high-quality outgroup to syngnathid fish,more »and furthermore for research on the genomic underpinnings of the evolution of novel pigmentation.« less
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  4. Abstract

    Single-cell RNA sequencing is a powerful technique that continues to expand across various biological applications. However, incomplete 3′-UTR annotations can impede single-cell analysis resulting in genes that are partially or completely uncounted. Performing single-cell RNA sequencing with incomplete 3′-UTR annotations can hinder the identification of cell identities and gene expression patterns and lead to erroneous biological inferences. We demonstrate that performing single-cell isoform sequencing in tandem with single-cell RNA sequencing can rapidly improve 3′-UTR annotations. Using threespine stickleback fish (Gasterosteus aculeatus), we show that gene models resulting from a minimal embryonic single-cell isoform sequencing dataset retained 26.1% greater single-cell RNA sequencing reads than gene models from Ensembl alone. Furthermore, pooling our single-cell sequencing isoforms with a previously published adult bulk Iso-Seq dataset from stickleback, and merging the annotation with the Ensembl gene models, resulted in a marginal improvement (+0.8%) over the single-cell isoform sequencing only dataset. In addition, isoforms identified by single-cell isoform sequencing included thousands of new splicing variants. The improved gene models obtained using single-cell isoform sequencing led to successful identification of cell types and increased the reads identified of many genes in our single-cell RNA sequencing stickleback dataset. Our work illuminates single-cell isoform sequencing as amore »cost-effective and efficient mechanism to rapidly annotate genomes for single-cell RNA sequencing.

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