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  1. Abstract Biological introductions are unintended “natural experiments” that provide unique insights into evolutionary processes. Invasive phytophagous insects are of particular interest to evolutionary biologists studying adaptation, as introductions often require rapid adaptation to novel host plants. However, adaptive potential of invasive populations may be limited by reduced genetic diversity—a problem known as the “genetic paradox of invasions”. One potential solution to this paradox is if there are multiple invasive waves that bolster genetic variation in invasive populations. Evaluating this hypothesis requires characterizing genetic variation and population structure in the invaded range. To this end, we assemble a reference genome and describe patterns of genetic variation in the introduced white pine sawfly, Diprion similis. This species was introduced to North America in 1914, where it has rapidly colonized the thin-needled eastern white pine (Pinus strobus), making it an ideal invasion system for studying adaptation to novel environments. To evaluate evidence of multiple introductions, we generated whole-genome resequencing data for 64 D. similis females sampled across the North American range. Both model-based and model-free clustering analyses supported a single population for North American D. similis. Within this population, we found evidence of isolation-by-distance and a pattern of declining heterozygosity with distance frommore »the hypothesized introduction site. Together, these results support a single-introduction event. We consider implications of these findings for the genetic paradox of invasion and discuss priorities for future research in D. similis, a promising model system for invasion biology.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available February 24, 2024
  2. The phylum Arthropoda includes species crucial for ecosystem stability, soil health, crop production, and others that present obstacles to crop and animal agriculture. The United States Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service initiated the Ag100Pest Initiative to generate reference genome assemblies of arthropods that are (or may become) pests to agricultural production and global food security. We describe the project goals, process, status, and future. The first three years of the project were focused on species selection, specimen collection, and the construction of lab and bioinformatics pipelines for the efficient production of assemblies at scale. Contig-level assemblies of 47 species are presented, all of which were generated from single specimens. Lessons learned and optimizations leading to the current pipeline are discussed. The project name implies a target of 100 species, but the efficiencies gained during the project have supported an expansion of the original goal and a total of 158 species are currently in the pipeline. We anticipate that the processes described in the paper will help other arthropod research groups or other consortia considering genome assembly at scale.
  3. Abstract Taro (Colocasia esculenta) is a food staple widely cultivated in the humid tropics of Asia, Africa, Pacific and the Caribbean. One of the greatest threats to taro production is Taro Leaf Blight caused by the oomycete pathogen Phytophthora colocasiae. Here we describe a de novo taro genome assembly and use it to analyze sequence data from a Taro Leaf Blight resistant mapping population. The genome was assembled from linked-read sequences (10x Genomics; ∼60x coverage) and gap-filled and scaffolded with contigs assembled from Oxford Nanopore Technology long-reads and linkage map results. The haploid assembly was 2.45 Gb total, with a maximum contig length of 38 Mb and scaffold N50 of 317,420 bp. A comparison of family-level (Araceae) genome features reveals the repeat content of taro to be 82%, >3.5x greater than in great duckweed (Spirodela polyrhiza), 23%. Both genomes recovered a similar percent of Benchmarking Universal Single-copy Orthologs, 80% and 84%, based on a 3,236 gene database for monocot plants. A greater number of nucleotide-binding leucine-rich repeat disease resistance genes were present in genomes of taro than the duckweed, ∼391 vs. ∼70 (∼182 and ∼46 complete). The mapping population data revealed 16 major linkage groups with 520 markers, and 10more »quantitative trait loci (QTL) significantly associated with Taro Leaf Blight disease resistance. The genome sequence of taro enhances our understanding of resistance to TLB, and provides markers that may accelerate breeding programs. This genome project may provide a template for developing genomic resources in other understudied plant species.« less