November 2022

Join us this November 09th at 4:30pm to listen to Dre Kristina Gagalova who did her Ph.D. in Bioinformatics at the University of British Columbia, Canada’s Michael Smith Genome Sciences Centre in Vancouver and currently bioinformatician at Willow Biosciences Inc.

Comparative genomics of keystone species in the Canadian forests: a study of spruce and spruce weevil complex genomes.

Resume :
Advancements in whole-genome sequencing technologies have opened the use of genomic approaches to study a variety of organisms and allowed studies at the whole-genome scale in non-model organisms. Genome annotation is a fundamental step to extract diverse biological information from sequences that are otherwise strings of characters incomprehensible to humans.
Spruces (gen. Picea) are keystone species of many boreal and mountain ecosystems, with considerable economic significance for countries at higher northern latitudes, such as Canada. Genomics has been key to understanding the evolutionary biology of spruces and characterizing their genetic diversity. The spruce genomes have a large genome size and high repetitiveness, limiting the generation of high-quality genome assemblies and gene annotations. The genome annotations of four spruce taxa, Picea engelmannii (Engelmann spruce), Picea sitchensis (Sitka spruce), Picea glauca (white spruce), and a naturally occurring introgress of these three species, interior spruce, have been recently released. This unique data set allows the study of the phylogenomic relationship among the North American spruces, which was not previously possible without a reference genome. We identified several genes under positive selection and rapidly expanding gene families. These analyses strengthen our understanding of conifer genome evolution as their comparison offers clues into the genetic basis of adaptation and ecology of conifers.
The highly diverse insect family of true weevils, Curculionidae, includes many agricultural and forest pests. Pissodes strobi, commonly known as the spruce weevil, is a significant pest of spruce forests in North America. Spruce weevil larvae feed on the apical shoots of young trees, causing stunted growth and can destroy regenerating spruce forests. We report the assemblies and annotations of the spruce weevil genomes and the genome of an apparent Wolbachia endosymbiont. Compared to existing genomic resources for closely related species, the spruce weevil genome is complex, highly heterozygous, repeat-rich, and significantly larger than other sequenced forest pests. Further studies can allow us to better understand the weevil genomics features that influence its disruption potential against spruce forests in North America.

Research area :

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See you soon!

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