De novo transcriptome assembly for a non-model species, the blood-sucking bug Triatoma brasiliensis, a vector of Chagas disease

A Marchant, F Mougel, C Almeida, E Jacquin-Joly, J Costa, M Harry
Genetica 2015, 143 (2): 225-39
High throughput sequencing (HTS) provides new research opportunities for work on non-model organisms, such as differential expression studies between populations exposed to different environmental conditions. However, such transcriptomic studies first require the production of a reference assembly. The choice of sampling procedure, sequencing strategy and assembly workflow is crucial. To develop a reliable reference transcriptome for Triatoma brasiliensis, the major Chagas disease vector in Northeastern Brazil, different de novo assembly protocols were generated using various datasets and software. Both 454 and Illumina sequencing technologies were applied on RNA extracted from antennae and mouthparts from single or pooled individuals. The 454 library yielded 278 Mb. Fifteen Illumina libraries were constructed and yielded nearly 360 million RNA-seq single reads and 46 million RNA-seq paired-end reads for nearly 45 Gb. For the 454 reads, we used three assemblers, Newbler, CAP3 and/or MIRA and for the Illumina reads, the Trinity assembler. Ten assembly workflows were compared using these programs separately or in combination. To compare the assemblies obtained, quantitative and qualitative criteria were used, including contig length, N50, contig number and the percentage of chimeric contigs. Completeness of the assemblies was estimated using the CEGMA pipeline. The best assembly (57,657 contigs, completeness of 80 %, <1 % chimeric contigs) was a hybrid assembly leading to recommend the use of (1) a single individual with large representation of biological tissues, (2) merging both long reads and short paired-end Illumina reads, (3) several assemblers in order to combine the specific advantages of each.

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