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Pushing the limits of de novo genome assembly for complex prokaryotic genomes harboring very long, near identical repeats

By Michael Schmid, Daniel Frei, Andrea Patrignani, Diogo Pratas, J├╝rg E. Frey, Mitja Nandi Paul Remus-Emsermann, Christian H. Ahrens

Posted 12 Apr 2018
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/300186 (published DOI: 10.1093/nar/gky726)

Generating a complete, de novo genome assembly for prokaryotes is often considered a solved problem. However, we here show that Pseudomonas koreensis P19E3 harbors multiple, near identical repeat pairs up to 70 kilobase pairs in length. Beyond long repeats, the P19E3 assembly was further complicated by a shufflon region. Its complex genome could not be de novo assembled with long reads produced by Pacific Biosciences technology, but required very long reads from the Oxford Nanopore Technology. Another important factor for a full genomic resolution was the choice of assembly algorithm. Importantly, a repeat analysis indicated that very complex bacterial genomes represent a general phenomenon beyond Pseudomonas. Roughly 10% of 9331 complete bacterial and a handful of 293 complete archaeal genomes represented this dark matter for de novo genome assembly of prokaryotes. Several of these dark matter genome assemblies contained repeats far beyond the resolution of the sequencing technology employed and likely contain errors, other genomes were closed employing labor-intense steps like cosmid libraries, primer walking or optical mapping. Using very long sequencing reads in combination with assemblers capable of resolving long, near identical repeats will bring most prokaryotic genomes within reach of fast and complete de novo genome assembly.

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