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A high-quality Genome and Comparison of Short versus Long Read Transcriptome of the Palaearctic duck Aythya fuligula (Tufted Duck)

By Ralf C. Mueller, Patrik Ellström, Kerstin Howe, Marcela Uliano-Silva, Richard I. Kuo, Katarzyna Miedzinska, Amanda Warr, Olivier Fedrigo, Bettina Haase, Jacquelyn Mountcastle, William Chow, James Torrance, Jonathan Wood, Josef D Järhult, Mahmoud M. Naguib, Björn Olsen, Erich J Jarvis, Jacqueline Smith, Lél Eöry, Robert H.S. Kraus

Posted 25 Feb 2021
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2021.02.24.432697

BackgroundThe tufted duck is a non-model organism that suffers high mortality in highly pathogenic avian influenza out-breaks. It belongs to the same bird family (Anatidae) as the mallard, one of the best-studied natural hosts of low-pathogenic avian influenza viruses. Studies in non-model bird species are crucial to disentangle the role of the host response in avian influenza virus infection in the natural reservoir. Such endeavour requires a high-quality genome assembly and transcriptome. ResultsThis study presents the first high-quality, chromosome-level reference genome assembly of the tufted duck using the Vertebrate Genomes Project pipeline. We sequenced RNA (cDNA) from brain, ileum, lung, ovary, spleen and testis using Illumina short-read and PacBio long-read sequencing platforms, which was used for annotation. We found 34 autosomes plus Z and W sex chromosomes in the curated genome assembly, with 99.6% of the sequence assigned to chromosomes. Functional annotation revealed 14,099 protein-coding genes that generate 111,934 transcripts, which implies an average of 7.9 isoforms per gene. We also identified 246 small RNA families. ConclusionsThis annotated genome contributes to continuing research into the host response in avian influenza virus infections in a natural reservoir. Our findings from a comparison between short-read and long-read reference transcriptomics contribute to a deeper understanding of these competing options. In this study, both technologies complemented each other. We expect this annotation to be a foundation for further comparative and evolutionary genomic studies, including many waterfowl relatives with differing susceptibilities to the avian influenza virus.

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