Whole genome sequencing and assembly of a Caenorhabditis elegans genome with complex genomic rearrangements using the MinION sequencing device
8th January 2017
Advances in 3rd generation sequencing have opened new possibilities for benchtop whole genome sequencing. The MinION is a portable device that uses nanopore technology and can sequence long DNA molecules. MinION long reads are well suited for sequencing and de novo assembly of complex genomes with large repetitive elements. Long reads also facilitate the identification of complex genomic rearrangements such as those observed in tumor genomes. To assess the feasibility of the de novo assembly of large complex genomes using both MinION and Illumina platforms, we sequenced the genome of a Caenorhabditis elegans strain that contains a complex acetaldehyde-induced rearrangement and a biolistic bombardment-mediated insertion of a GFP containing plasmid. Using ~5.8 gigabases of MinION sequence data, we were able to assemble a C. elegans genome containing 145 contigs (N50 contig length = 1.22 Mb) that covered >99% of the 100,286,401 bp reference genome. In contrast, using ~8.04 gigabases of Illumina sequence data, we were able to assemble a C. elegans genome in 38,645 contigs (N50 contig length = ~26 kb) containing 117 Mb. From the MinION genome assembly we identified the complex structures of both the acetaldehyde-induced mutation and the biolistic-mediated insertion. To date, this is the largest genome to be assembled exclusively from MinION data and is the first demonstration that the long reads of MinION sequencing can be used for whole genome assembly of large (100 Mb) genomes and the elucidation of complex genomic rearrangements.