Highly accurate long reads are crucial for realizing the potential of biodiversity genomics
BMC Genomics, March 2023
Scott Hotaling, Edward R. Wilcox, Jacqueline Heckenhauer, Russell J. Stewart, Paul B. Frandsen
Generating the most contiguous, accurate genome assemblies given available sequencing technologies is a long-standing challenge in genome science. With the rise of long-read sequencing, assembly challenges have shifted from merely increasing contiguity to correctly assembling complex, repetitive regions of interest, ideally in a phased manner. At present, researchers largely choose between two types of long read data: longer, but less accurate sequences, or highly accurate, but shorter reads (i.e., >Q20 or 99% accurate). To better understand how these types of long-read data as well as scale of data (i.e., mean length and sequencing depth) influence genome assembly outcomes, we compared genome assemblies for a caddisfly, Hesperophylax magnus, generated with longer, but less accurate, Oxford Nanopore (ONT) R9.4.1 and highly accurate PacBio HiFi (HiFi) data. Next, we expanded this comparison to consider the influence of highly accurate long-read sequence data on genome assemblies across 6750 plant and animal genomes. For this broader comparison, we used HiFi data as a surrogate for highly accurate long-reads broadly as we could identify when they were used from GenBank metadata. HiFi reads outperformed ONT reads in all assembly metrics tested for the caddisfly data set and allowed for accurate assembly of the repetitive ~ 20 Kb H-fibroin gene. Across plants and animals, genome assemblies that incorporated HiFi reads were also more contiguous. For plants, the average HiFi assembly was 501% more contiguous (mean contig N50 = 20.5 Mb) than those generated with any other long-read data (mean contig N50 = 4.1 Mb). For animals, HiFi assemblies were 226% more contiguous (mean contig N50 = 20.9 Mb) versus other long-read assemblies (mean contig N50 = 9.3 Mb). In plants, we also found limited evidence that HiFi may offer a unique solution for overcoming genomic complexity that scales with assembly size. Highly accurate long-reads generated with HiFi or analogous technologies represent a key tool for maximizing genome assembly quality for a wide swath of plants and animals. This finding is particularly important when resources only allow for one type of sequencing data to be generated. Ultimately, to realize the promise of biodiversity genomics, we call for greater uptake of highly accurate long-reads in future studies.
|Members of the public||38||45%|
|Science communicators (journalists, bloggers, editors)||1||1%|
|Practitioners (doctors, other healthcare professionals)||1||1%|