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  1. VITTE, Clémentine (Ed.)

    Structural differences between genomes are a major source of genetic variation that contributes to phenotypic differences. Transposable elements, mobile genetic sequences capable of increasing their copy number and propagating themselves within genomes, can generate structural variation. However, their repetitive nature makes it difficult to characterize fine-scale differences in their presence at specific positions, limiting our understanding of their impact on genome variation. Domesticated maize is a particularly good system for exploring the impact of transposable element proliferation as over 70% of the genome is annotated as transposable elements. High-quality transposable element annotations were recently generated forde novogenome assemblies of 26 diverse inbred maize lines. We generated base-pair resolved pairwise alignments between the B73 maize reference genome and the remaining 25 inbred maize line assemblies. From this data, we classified transposable elements as either shared or polymorphic in a given pairwise comparison. Our analysis uncovered substantial structural variation between lines, representing both simple and complex connections between TEs and structural variants. Putative insertions in SNP depleted regions, which represent recently diverged identity by state blocks, suggest some TE families may still be active. However, our analysis reveals that within these recently diverged genomic regions, deletions of transposable elements likely account for more structural variation events and base pairs than insertions. These deletions are often large structural variants containing multiple transposable elements. Combined, our results highlight how transposable elements contribute to structural variation and demonstrate that deletion events are a major contributor to genomic differences.

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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 22, 2024
  2. Free, publicly-accessible full text available September 1, 2024
  3. 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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  4. null (Ed.)
  5. Abstract

    Alignments of multiple genomes are a cornerstone of comparative genomics, but generating these alignments remains technically challenging and often impractical. We developed themsa_pipelineworkflow ( to allow practical and sensitive multiple alignment of diverged plant genomes and calculation of conservation scores with minimal user inputs. As high repeat content and genomic divergence are substantial challenges in plant genome alignment, we also explored the effect of different masking approaches and parameters of the LAST aligner using genome assemblies of 33 grass species. Compared with conventional masking with RepeatMasker, a masking approach based onk‐mers (nucleotide sequences ofklength) increased the alignment rate of coding sequence and noncoding functional regions by 25 and 14%, respectively. We further found that default alignment parameters generally perform well, but parameter tuning can increase the alignment rate for noncoding functional regions by over 52% compared with default LAST settings. Finally, by increasing alignment sensitivity from the default baseline, parameter tuning can increase the number of noncoding sites that can be scored for conservation by over 76%. Overall, tuning of masking and alignment parameters can generate optimized multiple alignments to drive biological discovery in plants.

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