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  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available July 1, 2023
  2. In less than 25 y, the field of animal genome science has transformed from a discipline seeking its first glimpses into genome sequences across the Tree of Life to a global enterprise with ambitions to sequence genomes for all of Earth’s eukaryotic diversity [H. A. Lewin et al. , Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 115, 4325–4333 (2018)]. As the field rapidly moves forward, it is important to take stock of the progress that has been made to best inform the discipline’s future. In this Perspective, we provide a contemporary, quantitative overview of animal genome sequencing. We identified the best available genome assemblies in GenBank, the world’s most extensive genetic database, for 3,278 unique animal species across 24 phyla. We assessed taxonomic representation, assembly quality, and annotation status for major clades. We show that while tremendous taxonomic progress has occurred, stark disparities in genomic representation exist, highlighted by a systemic overrepresentation of vertebrates and underrepresentation of arthropods. In terms of assembly quality, long-read sequencing has dramatically improved contiguity, whereas gene annotations are available for just 34.3% of taxa. Furthermore, we show that animal genome science has diversified in recent years with an ever-expanding pool of researchers participating. However, the field still appearsmore »to be dominated by institutions in the Global North, which have been listed as the submitting institution for 77% of all assemblies. We conclude by offering recommendations for improving genomic resource availability and research value while also broadening global representation.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 28, 2022
  3. Free, publicly-accessible full text available January 1, 2023
  4. null (Ed.)
  5. Hoffmann, Federico (Ed.)
    Abstract The first insect genome assembly (Drosophila melanogaster) was published two decades ago. Today, nuclear genome assemblies are available for a staggering 601 insect species representing 20 orders. In this study, we analyzed the most-contiguous assembly for each species and provide a “state-of-the-field” perspective, emphasizing taxonomic representation, assembly quality, gene completeness, and sequencing technologies. Relative to species richness, genomic efforts have been biased toward four orders (Diptera, Hymenoptera, Collembola, and Phasmatodea), Coleoptera are underrepresented, and 11 orders still lack a publicly available genome assembly. The average insect genome assembly is 439.2 Mb in length with 87.5% of single-copy benchmarking genes intact. Most notable has been the impact of long-read sequencing; assemblies that incorporate long reads are ∼48× more contiguous than those that do not. We offer four recommendations as we collectively continue building insect genome resources: 1) seek better integration between independent research groups and consortia, 2) balance future sampling between filling taxonomic gaps and generating data for targeted questions, 3) take advantage of long-read sequencing technologies, and 4) expand and improve gene annotations.
  6. Environmental factors can promote phenotypic variation through alterations in the epigenome and facilitate adaptation of an organism to the environment. Although hydrogen sulfide is toxic to most organisms, the fish Poecilia mexicana has adapted to survive in environments with high levels that exceed toxicity thresholds by orders of magnitude. Epigenetic changes in response to this environmental stressor were examined by assessing DNA methylation alterations in red blood cells, which are nucleated in fish. Males and females were sampled from sulfidic and nonsulfidic natural environments; individuals were also propagated for two generations in a nonsulfidic laboratory environment. We compared epimutations between the sexes as well as field and laboratory populations. For both the wild-caught (F0) and the laboratory-reared (F2) fish, comparing the sulfidic and nonsulfidic populations revealed evidence for significant differential DNA methylation regions (DMRs). More importantly, there was over 80% overlap in DMRs across generations, suggesting that the DMRs have stable generational inheritance in the absence of the sulfidic environment. This is an example of epigenetic generational stability after the removal of an environmental stressor. The DMR-associated genes were related to sulfur toxicity and metabolic processes. These findings suggest that adaptation of P. mexicana to sulfidic environments in southern Mexicomore »may, in part, be promoted through epigenetic DNA methylation alterations that become stable and are inherited by subsequent generations independent of the environment.« less
  7. Aquatic insects comprise 10% of all insect diversity, can be found on every continent except Antarctica, and are key components of freshwater ecosystems. However, aquatic insect genome biology lags dramatically behind that of terrestrial insects. If genomic effort was spread evenly, one aquatic insect genome would be sequenced for every ~9 terrestrial insect genomes. Instead, ~24 terrestrial insect genomes have been sequenced for every aquatic insect genome. This discrepancy is even more dramatic if the quality of genomic resources is considered; for instance, while no aquatic insect genome has been assembled to the chromosome level, 29 terrestrial insect genomes spanning four orders have. We argue that a lack of aquatic insect genomes is not due to any underlying difficulty (e.g., small body sizes or unusually large genomes), yet it is severely hampering aquatic insect research at both fundamental and applied scales. By expanding the availability of aquatic insect genomes, we will gain key insight into insect diversification and empower future research for a globally important taxonomic group.
  8. Koepfli, Klaus-Peter (Ed.)
    Abstract A current challenge in the fields of evolutionary, ecological, and conservation genomics is balancing production of large-scale datasets with additional training often required to handle such datasets. Thus, there is an increasing need for conservation geneticists to continually learn and train to stay up-to-date through avenues such as symposia, meetings, and workshops. The ConGen meeting is a near-annual workshop that strives to guide participants in understanding population genetics principles, study design, data processing, analysis, interpretation, and applications to real-world conservation issues. Each year of ConGen gathers a diverse set of instructors, students, and resulting lectures, hands-on sessions, and discussions. Here, we summarize key lessons learned from the 2019 meeting and more recent updates to the field with a focus on big data in conservation genomics. First, we highlight classical and contemporary issues in study design that are especially relevant to working with big datasets, including the intricacies of data filtering. We next emphasize the importance of building analytical skills and simulating data, and how these skills have applications within and outside of conservation genetics careers. We also highlight recent technological advances and novel applications to conservation of wild populations. Finally, we provide data and recommendations to support ongoing effortsmore »by ConGen organizers and instructors—and beyond—to increase participation of underrepresented minorities in conservation and eco-evolutionary sciences. The future success of conservation genetics requires both continual training in handling big data and a diverse group of people and approaches to tackle key issues, including the global biodiversity-loss crisis.« less