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  1. Abstract

    Duckweeds are among the fastest reproducing plants, able to clonally divide at exponential rates. However, the genetic and epigenetic impact of clonality on plant genomes is poorly understood. 5-methylcytosine (5mC) is a modified base often described as necessary for the proper regulation of certain genes and transposons and for the maintenance of genome integrity in plants. However, the extent of this dogma is limited by the current phylogenetic sampling of land plant species diversity. Here we analyzed DNA methylomes, small RNAs, mRNA-seq, and H3K9me2 histone modification for Spirodela polyrhiza. S. polyrhiza has lost highly conserved genes involved in de novo methylation of DNA at sites often associated with repetitive DNA, and within genes, however, symmetrical DNA methylation and heterochromatin are maintained during cell division at certain transposons and repeats. Consequently, small RNAs that normally guide methylation to silence repetitive DNA like retrotransposons are diminished. Despite the loss of a highly conserved methylation pathway, and the reduction of small RNAs that normally target repetitive DNA, transposons have not proliferated in the genome, perhaps due in part to the rapid, clonal growth lifestyle of duckweeds.

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  2. Abstract Background Regulation of chromatin accessibility and transcription are tightly coordinated processes. Studies in yeast and higher eukaryotes have described accessible chromatin regions, but little work has been done in filamentous fungi. Results Here we present a genome-scale characterization of accessible chromatin regions in Neurospora crassa , which revealed characteristic molecular features of accessible and inaccessible chromatin. We present experimental evidence of inaccessibility within heterochromatin regions in Neurospora, and we examine features of both accessible and inaccessible chromatin, including the presence of histone modifications, types of transcription, transcription factor binding, and relative nucleosome turnover rates. Chromatin accessibility is not strictly correlated with expression level. Accessible chromatin regions in the model filamentous fungus Neurospora are characterized the presence of H3K27 acetylation and commonly associated with pervasive non-coding transcription. Conversely, methylation of H3 lysine-36 catalyzed by ASH1 is correlated with inaccessible chromatin within promoter regions. Conclusions: In N. crassa, H3K27 acetylation is the most predictive histone modification for open chromatin. Conversely, our data show that H3K36 methylation is a key marker of inaccessible chromatin in gene-rich regions of the genome. Our data are consistent with an expanded role for H3K36 methylation in intergenic regions of filamentous fungi compared to the model yeasts, S. cerevisiae and S. pombe, which lack homologs of the ASH1 methyltransferase. 
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  3. Wittkopp, Patricia (Ed.)
    Abstract Recent pangenome studies have revealed a large fraction of the gene content within a species exhibits presence-absence variation (PAV). However, coding regions alone provide an incomplete assessment of functional genomic sequence variation at the species level. Little to no attention has been paid to noncoding regulatory regions in pangenome studies, though these sequences directly modulate gene expression and phenotype. To uncover regulatory genetic variation, we generated chromosome-scale genome assemblies for thirty Arabidopsis thaliana accessions from multiple distinct habitats and characterized species level variation in Conserved Noncoding Sequences (CNS). Our analyses uncovered not only PAV and positional variation (PosV) but that diversity in CNS is non-random, with variants shared across different accessions. Using evolutionary analyses and chromatin accessibility data, we provide further evidence supporting roles for conserved and variable CNS in gene regulation. Additionally, our data suggests transposable elements contribute to CNS variation. Characterizing species-level diversity in all functional genomic sequences may later uncover previously unknown mechanistic links between genotype and phenotype. 
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  4. Bomblies, K (Ed.)
    Abstract Transposable elements (TEs) have the potential to create regulatory variation both through the disruption of existing DNA regulatory elements and through the creation of novel DNA regulatory elements. In a species with a large genome, such as maize, many TEs interspersed with genes create opportunities for significant allelic variation due to TE presence/absence polymorphisms among individuals. We used information on putative regulatory elements in combination with knowledge about TE polymorphisms in maize to identify TE insertions that interrupt existing accessible chromatin regions (ACRs) in B73 as well as examples of polymorphic TEs that contain ACRs among four inbred lines of maize including B73, Mo17, W22, and PH207. The TE insertions in three other assembled maize genomes (Mo17, W22, or PH207) that interrupt ACRs that are present in the B73 genome can trigger changes to the chromatin, suggesting the potential for both genetic and epigenetic influences of these insertions. Nearly 20% of the ACRs located over 2 kb from the nearest gene are located within an annotated TE. These are regions of unmethylated DNA that show evidence for functional importance similar to ACRs that are not present within TEs. Using a large panel of maize genotypes, we tested if there is an association between the presence of TE insertions that interrupt, or carry, an ACR and the expression of nearby genes. While most TE polymorphisms are not associated with expression for nearby genes, the TEs that carry ACRs exhibit enrichment for being associated with higher expression of nearby genes, suggesting that these TEs may contribute novel regulatory elements. These analyses highlight the potential for a subset of TEs to rewire transcriptional responses in eukaryotic genomes. 
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  5. The genomic sequences of crops continue to be produced at a frenetic pace. It remains challenging to develop complete annotations of functional genes and regulatory elements in these genomes. Chromatin accessibility assays enable discovery of functional elements; however, to uncover the full portfolio of cis-elements would require profiling of many combinations of cell types, tissues, developmental stages, and environments. Here, we explore the potential to use DNA methylation profiles to develop more complete annotations. Using leaf tissue in maize, we define ∼100,000 unmethylated regions (UMRs) that account for 5.8% of the genome; 33,375 UMRs are found greater than 2 kb from genes. UMRs are highly stable in multiple vegetative tissues, and they capture the vast majority of accessible chromatin regions from leaf tissue. However, many UMRs are not accessible in leaf, and these represent regions with potential to become accessible in specific cell types or developmental stages. These UMRs often occur near genes that are expressed in other tissues and are enriched for binding sites of transcription factors. The leaf-inaccessible UMRs exhibit unique chromatin modification patterns and are enriched for chromatin interactions with nearby genes. The total UMR space in four additional monocots ranges from 80 to 120 megabases, which is remarkably similar considering the range in genome size of 271 megabases to 4.8 gigabases. In summary, based on the profile from a single tissue, DNA methylation signatures provide powerful filters to distill large genomes down to the small fraction of putative functional genes and regulatory elements.

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  6. null (Ed.)
  7. null (Ed.)
    Cotton is an important crop that has made significant gains in production over the last century. Emerging pests such as the reniform nematode have threatened cotton production. The rare African diploid species Gossypium longicalyx is a wild species that has been used as an important source of reniform nematode immunity. While mapping and breeding efforts have made some strides in transferring this immunity to the cultivated polyploid species, the complexities of interploidal transfer combined with substantial linkage drag have inhibited progress in this area. Moreover, this species shares its most recent common ancestor with the cultivated A-genome diploid cottons, thereby providing insight into the evolution of long, spinnable fiber. Here we report a newly generated de novo genome assembly of G. longicalyx . This high-quality genome leveraged a combination of PacBio long-read technology, Hi-C chromatin conformation capture, and BioNano optical mapping to achieve a chromosome level assembly. The utility of the G. longicalyx genome for understanding reniform immunity and fiber evolution is discussed. 
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