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Life in the terrestrial and marine subsurface has adapted and evolved mechanisms to survive under extremes of energy limitation, temperature, pressure, radiation, and/or water availability. New developments in nucleic acid sequencing, high-pressure biochemistry, and high-pressure biophysics have expanded our understanding of the mechanisms used by deep life. This chapter synthesizes these new developments and highlights remaining gaps in understanding.
To identify genetic risk loci for major depressive disorder (MDD), two broad study design approaches have been applied: (1) to maximize sample size by combining data from different phenotype assessment modalities (e.g. clinical interview, self-report questionnaires) and (2) to reduce phenotypic heterogeneity through selecting more homogenous MDD subtypes. The value of these strategies has been debated. In this review, we summarize the most recent findings of large genomic studies that applied these approaches, and we highlight the merits and pitfalls of both approaches with particular attention to methodological and psychometric issues. We also discuss the results of analyses that investigated the heterogeneity of MDD. We conclude that both study designs are essential for further research. So far, increasing sample size has led to the identification of a relatively high number of genomic loci linked to depression. However, part of the identified variants may be related to a phenotype common to internalizing disorders and related traits. As such, samples containing detailed clinical information are needed to dissect depression heterogeneity and enable the potential identification of variants specific to a more restricted MDD phenotype. A balanced portfolio reconciling both study design approaches is the optimal approach to progress further in unraveling the genetic architecture of depression.
The Twins Early Development Study (TEDS) is a longitudinal twin study that recruited over 16,000 twin-pairs born between 1994 and 1996 in England and Wales through national birth records. More than 10,000 of these families are still engaged in the study. TEDS was and still is a representative sample of the population in England and Wales. Rich cognitive and emotional/behavioral data have been collected from the twins from infancy to emerging adulthood, with data collection at first contact and at ages 2, 3, 4, 7, 8, 9, 10, 12, 14, 16, 18 and 21, enabling longitudinal genetically sensitive analyses. Data have been collected from the twins themselves, from their parents and teachers, and from the UK National Pupil Database. Genotyped DNA data are available for 10,346 individuals (who are unrelated except for 3320 dizygotic co-twins). TEDS data have contributed to over 400 scientific papers involving more than 140 researchers in 50 research institutions. TEDS offers an outstanding resource for investigating cognitive and behavioral development across childhood and early adulthood and actively fosters scientific collaborations.
This article involved a broad search of applied sciences for milestone technologies we deem to be the most significant innovations applied by the North American pork industry, during the past 10 to 12 years. Several innovations shifted the trajectory of improvement or resolved significant production limitations. Each is being integrated into practice, with the exception being gene editing technology, which is undergoing the federal approval process. Advances in molecular genomics have been applied to gene editing for control of porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome and to identify piglet genome contributions from each parent. Post-cervical artificial insemination technology is not novel, but this technology is now used extensively to accelerate the rate of genetic progress. A milestone was achieved with the discovery that dietary essential fatty acids, during lactation, were limiting reproduction. Their provision resulted in a dose-related response for pregnancy, pregnancy maintenance and litter size, especially in maturing sows and ultimately resolved seasonal infertility. The benefit of segregated early weaning (12 to 14 days of age) was realized for specific pathogen removal for genetic nucleus and multiplication. Application was premature for commercial practice, as piglet mortality and morbidity increased. Early weaning impairs intestinal barrier and mucosal innate immune development, which coincides with diminished resilience to pathogens and viability later in life. Two important milestones were achieved to improve precision nutrition for growing pigs. The first involved the updated publication of the National Research Council nutrient requirements for pigs, a collaboration between scientists from America and Canada. Precision nutrition advanced further when ingredient description, for metabolically available amino acids and net energy (by source plant), became a private sector nutrition product. The past decade also led to fortuitous discoveries of health-improving components in ingredients (xylanase, soybeans). Finally, two technologies converged to facilitate timely detection of multiple pathogens in a population: oral fluids sampling and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) for pathogen analysis. Most critical diseases in North America are now routinely monitored by oral fluid sampling and prepared for analysis using PCR methods.
Rapid advances in ‘omics’ technologies have paved the way forward to an era where more ‘precise’ approaches – ‘precision’ nutrition – which leverage data on genetic variability alongside the traditional indices, have been put forth as the state-of-the-art solution to redress the effects of malnutrition across the life course. We purport that this inference is premature and that it is imperative to first review and critique the existing evidence from large-scale epidemiological findings. We set out to provide a critical evaluation of findings from genome-wide association studies (GWAS) in the roadmap to precision nutrition, focusing on GWAS of micronutrient disposition. We found that a large number of loci associated with biomarkers of micronutrient status have been identified. Mean estimates of heritability of micronutrient status ranged between 20 and 35 % for minerals, 56–59 % for water-soluble and 30–70 % for fat-soluble vitamins. With some exceptions, the majority of the identified genetic variants explained little of the overall variance in status for each micronutrient, ranging between 1·3 and 8 % (minerals), <0·1–12 % (water-soluble) and 1·7–2·3 % for (fat-soluble) vitamins. However, GWAS have provided some novel insight into mechanisms that underpin variability in micronutrient status. Our findings highlight obvious gaps that need to be addressed if the full scope of precision nutrition is ever to be realised, including research aimed at (i) dissecting the genetic basis of micronutrient deficiencies or ‘response’ to intake/supplementation (ii) identifying trans-ethnic and ethnic-specific effects (iii) identifying gene–nutrient interactions for the purpose of unravelling molecular ‘behaviour’ in a range of environmental contexts.
This research paper addresses the hypothesis that comparative genomics can give a new insight into the functionality of casein genes with respect to the casein micelle. Comparative genomics is a rapidly emerging field in computational biology whereby two or more genomes are compared in order to obtain a global view on genomes as well as assigning previously unknown functions for genes. Casein genes are among the most rapidly evolving mammalian genes, with the gene products mainly grouped into four types (αs1-, αs2-, β- and κ-casein). Functionally, casein genes are central to the casein micelle, the exact structure of which is still a subject of intense debate. Moreover, and adding to this complexity, some mammals lack some of the casein genes, although casein micelles have been observed in their milk. This observation has prompted an investigation into the distribution of casein genes across a host of mammalian species. It was apparent from this study that casein gene sequences are very diverse from each other and we confirmed that many mammalian species lack one or more of the casein genes. The genes encoding β- and κ-caseins are present in most mammals whereas α-casein encoding genes are less represented. This suggests different mechanisms for casein micelle formation in different species as well as the functions that are assigned to each individual casein.
New technological methods, such as rapidly developing molecular approaches, often provide new tools for scientific advances. However, these new tools are often not utilized equally across different research areas, possibly leading to disparities in progress between these areas. Here, we use empirical evidence from the scientific literature to test for potential discrepancies in the use of genetic tools to study parasitic vs non-parasitic organisms across three distinguishable molecular periods, the allozyme, nucleotide and genomics periods. Publications on parasites constitute only a fraction (<5%) of the total research output across all molecular periods and are dominated by medically relevant parasites (especially protists), particularly during the early phase of each period. Our analysis suggests an increasing complexity of topics and research questions being addressed with the development of more sophisticated molecular tools, with the research focus between the periods shifting from predominantly species discovery to broader theory-focused questions. We conclude that both new and older molecular methods offer powerful tools for research on parasites, including their diverse roles in ecosystems and their relevance as human pathogens. While older methods, such as barcoding approaches, will continue to feature in the molecular toolbox of parasitologists for years to come, we encourage parasitologists to be more responsive to new approaches that provide the tools to address broader questions.
The expansion of genetic and genomic testing in clinical practice and research and the growing market for at home personal genome testing has led to increased awareness about the impact of this form of testing on insurance. Genetic or genomic information can be requested by providers of mutually rated insurance products, who may then use it when setting premiums or determining eligibility for cover under a particular product. Australian insurers are subject to relevant legislation and an industry standard that was updated in late 2016. In 2018, the Human Genetics Society of Australasia updated its position statement on genetic testing and life insurance to account for these changes and to increase the scope of the statement to include a wider scope of insurance products that are not rated according to community risk, such as life, critical care, and income protection products. Recommendations include that providers of professional education involving genetics should include ethical, legal, and social aspects of insurance discrimination in their curricula; that the Australian government take a more active role in regulating use of genetic information in personal insurance, including enacting a moratorium on use of genetic test results; that information obtained in the course of a research project be excluded; and that there is improved engagement between the insurance industry, regulators, and the genetics profession.
The success of radiation therapy for cancer patients is dependent on the ability to deliver a total tumouricidal radiation dose capable of eradicating all cancer cells within the clinical target volume, however, the radiation dose tolerance of the surrounding healthy tissues becomes the main dose-limiting factor. The normal tissue adverse effects following radiotherapy are common and significantly impact the quality of life of patients. The likelihood of developing these adverse effects following radiotherapy cannot be predicted based only on the radiation treatment parameters. However, there is evidence to suggest that some common genetic variants are associated with radiotherapy response and the risk of developing adverse effects. Radiation genomics is a field that has evolved in recent years investigating the association between patient genomic data and the response to radiation therapy. This field aims to identify genetic markers that are linked to individual radiosensitivity with the potential to predict the risk of developing adverse effects due to radiotherapy using patient genomic information. It also aims to determine the relative radioresponse of patients using their genetic information for the potential prediction of patient radiation treatment response.
Methods and materials
This paper reports on a review of recent studies in the field of radiation genomics investigating the association between genomic data and patients response to radiation therapy, including the investigation of the role of genetic variants on an individual’s predisposition to enhanced radiotherapy radiosensitivity or radioresponse.
The potential for early prediction of treatment response and patient outcome is critical in cancer patients to make decisions regarding continuation, escalation, discontinuation, and/or change in treatment options to maximise patient survival while minimising adverse effects and maintaining patients’ quality of life.
In this review, we describe how the interplay among science, technology and community interests contributed to the evolution of four structural biology data resources. We present the method by which data deposited by scientists are prepared for worldwide distribution, and argue that data archiving in a trusted repository must be an integral part of any scientific investigation.
Africa may be heading for an era of genomics medicine. There are also expectations that genomics may play a role in reducing global health inequities. However, the near lack of genomics studies on African populations has led to concerns that genomics may widen, rather than close, the global health inequity gap. To prevent a possible genomics divide, the genomics ‘revolution’ has been extended to Africa. This is motivated, in part, by Africa's rich genetic diversity and high disease burden. What remains unclear, however, are the prospects of using genomics technology for healthcare in Africa. In this qualitative study, we explored the views of 17 genomics researchers in Africa on the prospects and challenges of genomics medicine in Africa. Interviewees were researchers in Africa who were involved in genomics research projects in Africa. Analysis of in-depth interviews suggest that genomics medicine may have an impact on disease surveillance, diagnosis, treatment and prevention. However, Africa's capacity for genomics medicine, current research priorities in genomics and the translation of research findings will be key defining factors impacting on the ability of genomics medicine to improve healthcare in Africa.
Protected designation of origin dry-cured hams are obtained from heavy pigs (slaughtered at about 160 kg of live weight). A specific breeding program designed to improve meat quality for this production has included as key traits the level of intermuscular fat between the leg muscles and ham weight loss during the seasoning period together with a balance between fat and lean cuts. In this study we carried out genome-wide association studies for seven traits used in the genetic merit of Italian Duroc heavy pigs, five related to meat and carcass quality traits (visible intermuscular fat, ham weight loss at first salting, backfat thickness, ham weight and lean cuts), and two related to performance and efficiency traits (average daily gain and feed : gain ratio). A total of 573 performance-tested pigs were genotyped with the Illumina PorcineSNP60 BeadChip and genome-wide association analyses were carried out using the Bayes B approach with the 1 Mb window option of GenSel and random residuals for each of the seven traits. Detected windows were supported by independent single nucleotide polymorphism analyses with a linear mixed model (LMM) approach on the same animals for the same traits. A total of 30 windows identifying different quantitative trait loci (QTL) were detected and among those, 27 were confirmed by LMM in one of these traits. Among the confirmed windows, three QTL were reported for visible intermuscular fat, seven for ham weight loss at first salting and five and four for backfat thickness and lean cut, respectively. A total of eight QTL were detected for the other production traits. No overlapping QTL were reported except for one window on porcine chromosome 10 between lean cuts and ham weight that contained the CACNB2 gene that has been already associated with loin marbling score in other Duroc pigs. Several regions contained genes that have been already associated with production traits in other pig breeds, including Duroc lines, related to fat deposition or muscle structure. This work reports, for the first time, genome-wide association study results for several traits in Italian Duroc heavy pigs. These results will be useful to dissect the genetic basis for dry-cured ham production traits that determine the total genetic merit index of Italian Duroc pigs.
Leafy spurge (Euphorbia esula L.) is an invasive perennial weed infesting range and recreational lands of North America. Previous research and omics projects with E. esula have helped develop it as a model for studying many aspects of perennial plant development and response to abiotic stress. However, the lack of an assembled genome for E. esula has limited the power of previous transcriptomics studies to identify functional promoter elements and transcription factor binding sites. An assembled genome for E. esula would enhance our understanding of signaling processes controlling plant development and responses to environmental stress and provide a better understanding of genetic factors impacting weediness traits, evolution, and herbicide resistance. A comprehensive transcriptome database would also assist in analyzing future RNA-seq studies and is needed to annotate and assess genomic sequence assemblies. Here, we assembled and annotated 56,234 unigenes from an assembly of 589,235 RNA-seq-derived contigs and a previously published Sanger-sequenced expressed sequence tag collection. The resulting data indicate that we now have sequence for >90% of the expressed E. esula protein-coding genes. We also assembled the gene space of E. esula by using a limited coverage (18X) genomic sequence database. In this study, the programs Velvet and Trinity produced the best gene-space assemblies based on representation of expressed and conserved eukaryotic genes. The results indicate that E. esula contains as much as 23% repetitive sequences, of which 11% are unique. Our sequence data were also sufficient for assembling a full chloroplast and partial mitochondrial genome. Further, marker analysis identified more than 150,000 high-quality variants in our E. esula L-RNA–scaffolded, whole-genome, Trinity-assembled genome. Based on these results, E. esula appears to have limited heterozygosity. This study provides a blueprint for low-cost genomic assemblies in weed species and new resources for identifying conserved and novel promoter regions among coordinately expressed genes of E. esula.
The free-living nematode Caenorhabditis elegans is the simplest animal model organism to work with. Substantial knowledge and tools have accumulated over 50 years of C. elegans research. The use of C. elegans relating to parasitic nematodes from a basic biology standpoint or an applied perspective has increased in recent years. The wealth of information gained on the model organism, the use of the powerful approaches and technologies that have advanced C. elegans research to parasitic nematodes and the enormous success of the omics fields have contributed to bridge the divide between C. elegans and parasite nematode researchers. We review key fields, such as genomics, drug discovery and genetics, where C. elegans and nematode parasite research have convened. We advocate the use of C. elegans as a model to study helminth metabolism, a neglected area ready to advance. How emerging technologies being used in C. elegans can pave the way for parasitic nematode research is discussed.
Epstein Barr virus (EBV) infects 95% of the global population and is associated with up to 2% of cancers globally. Immunoglobulin G (IgG) antibody levels to EBV have been shown to be heritable and associated with developing malignancies. We, therefore, performed a pilot genome-wide association analysis of anti-EBV IgG traits in an African population, using a combined approach including array genotyping, whole-genome sequencing and imputation to a panel with African sequence data. In 1562 Ugandans, we identify a variant in human leukocyte antigen (HLA)-DQA1, rs9272371 (p = 2.6 × 10−17) associated with anti-EBV nuclear antigen-1 responses. Trans-ancestry meta-analysis and fine-mapping with European-ancestry individuals suggest the presence of distinct HLA class II variants driving associations in Uganda. In addition, we identify four putative, novel, very rare African-specific loci with preliminary evidence for association with anti-viral capsid antigen IgG responses which will require replication for validation. These findings reinforce the need for the expansion of such studies in African populations with relevant datasets to capture genetic diversity.
Historically, community engagement (CE) in research has been implemented in the fields of public health, education and agricultural development. In recent years, international discussions on the ethical and practical goals of CE have been extended to human genomic research and biobanking, particularly in the African context. While there is some consensus on the goals and value of CE generally, questions remain about the effectiveness of CE practices and how to evaluate this. Under the auspices of the Human Heredity and Health in Africa Initiative (H3Africa), the H3Africa CE working group organized a workshop in Stellenbosch, South Africa in March 2016 to explore the extent to which communities should be involved in genomic research and biobanking and to examine various methods of evaluating the effectiveness of CE. In this paper, we present the key themes that emerged from the workshop and make a case for the development of a rigorous application, evaluation and learning around approaches for CE that promote a more systematic process of engaging relevant communities. We highlight the key ways in which CE should be embedded into genomic research and biobanking projects.
Human milk covers the infant’s nutrient requirements during the first 6 months of life. The composition of human milk progressively changes during lactation and it is influenced by maternal nutritional factors. Nowadays, it is well known that nutrients have the ability to interact with genes and modulate molecular mechanisms impacting physiological functions. This has led to a growing interest among researchers in exploring nutrition at a molecular level and to the development of two fields of study: nutrigenomics, which evaluates the influence of nutrients on gene expression, and nutrigenetics, which evaluates the heterogeneous individual response to nutrients due to genetic variation. Fatty acids are one of the nutrients most studied in relation to lactation given their biologically important roles during early postnatal life. Fatty acids modulate transcription factors involved in the regulation of lipid metabolism, which in turn causes a variation in the proportion of lipids in milk. This review focuses on understanding, on the one hand, the gene transcription mechanisms activated by maternal dietary fatty acids and, on the other hand, the interaction between dietary fatty acids and genetic variation in genes involved in lipid metabolism. Both of these mechanisms affect the fatty acid composition of human milk.
Growing evidence demonstrates that bacterial species diversity is substantial, and many of these species are pathogenic in some contexts or hosts. At the same time, laboratories and museums have collected valuable animal tissue and ectoparasite samples that may contain substantial novel information on bacterial prevalence and diversity. However, the identification of bacterial species is challenging, partly due to the difficulty in culturing many microbes and the reliance on molecular data. Although the genomics revolution will surely add to our knowledge of bacterial systematics, these approaches are not accessible to all researchers and rely predominantly on cultured isolates. Thus, there is a need for comprehensive molecular analyses capable of accurately genotyping bacteria from animal tissues or ectoparasites using common methods that will facilitate large-scale comparisons of species diversity and prevalence. To illustrate the challenges of genotyping bacteria, we focus on the genus Bartonella, vector-borne bacteria common in mammals. We highlight the value and limitations of commonly used techniques for genotyping bartonellae and make recommendations for researchers interested in studying the diversity of these bacteria in various samples. Our recommendations could be applicable to many bacterial taxa (with some modifications) and could lead to a more complete understanding of bacterial species diversity.
Genome assemblies can form the basis of comparative analyses fostering insight into the evolutionary genetics of a parasite's pathogenicity, host–pathogen interactions, environmental constraints and invasion biology; however, the length and complexity of many parasite genomes has hampered the development of well-resolved assemblies. In order to improve Trichinella genome assemblies, the genome of the sylvatic encapsulated species Trichinella murrelli was sequenced using third-generation, long-read technology and, using syntenic comparisons, scaffolded to a reference genome assembly of Trichinella spiralis, markedly improving both. A high-quality draft assembly for T. murrelli was achieved that totalled 63·2 Mbp, half of which was condensed into 26 contigs each longer than 571 000 bp. When compared with previous assemblies for parasites in the genus, ours required 10-fold fewer contigs, which were five times longer, on average. Better assembly across repetitive regions also enabled resolution of 8 Mbp of previously indeterminate sequence. Furthermore, syntenic comparisons identified widespread scaffold misassemblies in the T. spiralis reference genome. The two new assemblies, organized for the first time into three chromosomal scaffolds, will be valuable resources for future studies linking phenotypic traits within each species to their underlying genetic bases.
Several lineages of endoparasitoid wasps, which develop inside the body of other insects, have domesticated viruses, used as delivery tools of essential virulence factors for the successful development of their progeny. Virus domestications are major evolutionary transitions in highly diverse parasitoid wasps. Much progress has recently been made to characterize the nature of these ancestrally captured endogenous viruses that have evolved within the wasp genomes. Virus domestication from different viral families occurred at least three times in parasitoid wasps. This evolutionary convergence led to different strategies. Polydnaviruses (PDVs) are viral gene transfer agents and virus-like particles of the wasp Venturia canescens deliver proteins. Here, we take the standpoint of parasitoid wasps to review current knowledge on virus domestications by different parasitoid lineages. Then, based on genomic data from parasitoid wasps, PDVs and exogenous viruses, we discuss the different evolutionary steps required to transform viruses into vehicles for the delivery of the virulence molecules that we observe today. Finally, we discuss how endoparasitoid wasps manipulate host physiology and ensure parasitism success, to highlight the possible advantages of viral domestication as compared with other virulence strategies.