The dark matter of large cereal genomes: long tandem repeats

Kapustová, V., Tulpová, Z., Toegelová, H., Novák, P., Macas, J., Karafiátová, M., Hřibová, E., Doležel, J., Šimková, H.
International Journal of Molecular Sciences


Reference genomes of important cereals, including barley, emmer wheat and bread wheat,were released recently. Their comparison with genome size estimates obtained by flow cytometry indicated that the assemblies represent not more than 88–98% of the complete genome. This work is aimed at identifying the missing parts in two cereal genomes and proposing techniques to make the assemblies more complete. We focused on tandemly organised repetitive sequences, known to be underrepresented in genome assemblies generated from short-read sequence data. Our study found arrays of three tandem repeats with unit sizes of 1242 to 2726 bp present in the bread wheat reference genome generated from short reads. However, this and another wheat genome assembly employing long PacBio reads failed in integrating correctly the 2726-bp repeat in the pseudomolecule context. This suggests that tandem repeats of this size, frequently incorporated in unassigned scafolds, may contribute to shrinking of pseudomolecules without reducing size of the entire assembly. We demonstrate how this missing information may be added to the pseudomolecules with the aid of nanopore sequencing of individual BAC clones and optical mapping. Using the latter technique, we identified and localised a 470-kb long array of 45S ribosomal DNA absent from the reference genome of barley.