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Nucleic Acids Res. 2020 Jan 10;48(1):290-303. doi: 10.1093/nar/gkz1080.

Nanopore sequencing and Hi-C scaffolding provide insight into the evolutionary dynamics of transposable elements and piRNA production in wild strains of Drosophila melanogaster.

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Department of Genetics, Human Genetics Institute of New Jersey, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, Piscataway, NJ, USA.


Illumina sequencing has allowed for population-level surveys of transposable element (TE) polymorphism via split alignment approaches, which has provided important insight into the population dynamics of TEs. However, such approaches are not able to identify insertions of uncharacterized TEs, nor can they assemble the full sequence of inserted elements. Here, we use nanopore sequencing and Hi-C scaffolding to produce de novo genome assemblies for two wild strains of Drosophila melanogaster from the Drosophila Genetic Reference Panel (DGRP). Ovarian piRNA populations and Illumina split-read TE insertion profiles have been previously produced for both strains. We find that nanopore sequencing with Hi-C scaffolding produces highly contiguous, chromosome-length scaffolds, and we identify hundreds of TE insertions that were missed by Illumina-based methods, including a novel micropia-like element that has recently invaded the DGRP population. We also find hundreds of piRNA-producing loci that are specific to each strain. Some of these loci are created by strain-specific TE insertions, while others appear to be epigenetically controlled. Our results suggest that Illumina approaches reveal only a portion of the repetitive sequence landscape of eukaryotic genomes and that population-level resequencing using long reads is likely to provide novel insight into the evolutionary dynamics of repetitive elements.

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