Mon 09 February 2015
C. Titus Brown
Here is the top bit of a review I wrote of a very nice paper by
Itai Sharon et al., from Jill Banfield's lab, on using Illumina
TruSeq long reads (a.k.a. Moleculo), to look at complex
The paper is newly available
here (although it is behind a paywall ;(.
Citation: Accurate, multi-kb reads resolve complex populations and
detect rare microorganisms Genome Res. gr.183012.114. Published in
Advance February 9, 2015. doi: 10.1101/gr.183012.114
This is an excellent application of new long-read technology to further
illuminate the characteristics of several medium-to-high complexity
microbial communities. The methods are expert, the results are
fascinating, and the discussion is well done.
test the efficacy of assembling Moleculo reads to improve short-read
evaluate accuracy of curated short-read assemblies;
look at organisms present at very low abundance levels;
evaluate levels of sequence variation & genomic content in strains
that could not otherwise be resolved by short-read assembly;
Long-read data revealed many very abundant organisms...
...that were entirely missed in short-read assemblies.
Genome architecture and metabolic potential were reconstructed using
a new synteny based method.
"Long tail" of low-abundance organisms belong to phyla represented by
highly abundant organisms.
Diversity of closely-related strains & rare organisms account for major
portion of the communities.
The portion of the results that is most novel and most fascinating is
the extensive analysis of rare sequences and the disparity in
observations from Illumina (assemblies) and Moleculo (long reads and
assemblies). The basic results are, on first examination,
counter-intuitive: many long-read sequences are obtained from abundant
organisms that simply don't show up in Illumina short-read assemblies.
The statement is made that this is because of strain variation in the
community, i.e. that Illumina assemblies are fragmented due to strain
variation and this blocks the observation of the majority of the
community. This is to some extent born out by the low mapping
percentages (which is the primary evidence offered by the authors),
and also matches our own observations.
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