Comparative analysis of morabine grasshopper genomes reveals highly abundant transposable elements and rapidly proliferating satellite DNA repeats

Octavio M. Palacios-Gimenez, Julia Koelman, Marc Palmada-Flores, Tessa M. Bradford, Karl K. Jones, Steven J. B. Cooper, Takeshi Kawakami, Alexander Suh

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Abstract

Background

Repetitive DNA sequences, including transposable elements (TEs) and tandemly repeated satellite DNA (satDNAs), collectively called the “repeatome”, are found in high proportion in organisms across the Tree of Life. Grasshoppers have large genomes, averaging 9 Gb, that contain a high proportion of repetitive DNA, which has hampered progress in assembling reference genomes. Here we combined linked-read genomics with transcriptomics to assemble, characterize, and compare the structure of repetitive DNA sequences in four chromosomal races of the morabine grasshopper Vandiemenella viatica species complex and determine their contribution to genome evolution.
Results

We obtained linked-read genome assemblies of 2.73–3.27 Gb from estimated genome sizes of 4.26–5.07 Gb DNA per haploid genome of the four chromosomal races of V. viatica. These constitute the third largest insect genomes assembled so far. Combining complementary annotation tools and manual curation, we found a large diversity of TEs and satDNAs, constituting 66 to 75% per genome assembly. A comparison of sequence divergence within the TE classes revealed massive accumulation of recent TEs in all four races (314–463 Mb per assembly), indicating that their large genome sizes are likely due to similar rates of TE accumulation. Transcriptome sequencing showed more biased TE expression in reproductive tissues than somatic tissues, implying permissive transcription in gametogenesis. Out of 129 satDNA families, 102 satDNA families were shared among the four chromosomal races, which likely represent a diversity of satDNA families in the ancestor of the V. viatica chromosomal races. Notably, 50 of these shared satDNA families underwent differential proliferation since the recent diversification of the V. viatica species complex.
Conclusion

This in-depth annotation of the repeatome in morabine grasshoppers provided new insights into the genome evolution of Orthoptera. Our TEs analysis revealed a massive recent accumulation of TEs equivalent to the size of entire Drosophila genomes, which likely explains the large genome sizes in grasshoppers. Despite an overall high similarity of the TE and satDNA diversity between races, the patterns of TE expression and satDNA proliferation suggest rapid evolution of grasshopper genomes on recent timescales.
Original languageEnglish
Article number199
JournalBMC Biology
Volume18
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 21 Dec 2020

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