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A near complete haplotype-phased genome of the dikaryotic wheat stripe rust fungus Puccinia striiformis f. sp. tritici reveals high inter-haplotype diversity

By Benjamin Schwessinger, Jana Sperschneider, William Cuddy, Diana P. Garnica, Marisa E. Miller, Jennifer M Taylor, Peter Dodds, Melania Figueroa, Park F. Robert, John Rathjen

Posted 22 Sep 2017
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/192435 (published DOI: 10.1128/mBio.02275-17)

A long-standing biological question is how evolution has shaped the genomic architecture of dikaryotic fungi. To answer this, high quality genomic resources that enable haplotype comparisons are essential. Short-read genome assemblies for dikaryotic fungi are highly fragmented and lack haplotype-specific information due to the high heterozygosity and repeat content of these genomes. Here we present a diploid-aware assembly of the wheat stripe rust fungus Puccinia striiformis f. sp. tritici based on long-reads using the FALCON-Unzip assembler. RNA-seq datasets were used to infer high quality gene models and identify virulence genes involved in plant infection referred to as effectors. This represents the most complete Puccinia striiformis f. sp. tritici genome assembly to date (83 Mb, 156 contigs, N50 1.5 Mb) and provides phased haplotype information for over 92% of the genome. Comparisons of the phase blocks revealed high inter-haplotype diversity of over 6%. More than 25% of all genes lack a clear allelic counterpart. When investigating genome features that potentially promote the rapid evolution of virulence, we found that candidate effector genes are spatially associated with conserved genes commonly found in basidiomycetes. Yet candidate effectors that lack an allelic counterpart are more distant from conserved genes than allelic candidate effectors, and are less likely to be evolutionarily conserved within the P. striiformis species complex and Pucciniales. In summary, this haplotype-phased assembly enabled us to discover novel genome features of a dikaryotic plant pathogenic fungus previously hidden in collapsed and fragmented genome assemblies.

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