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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

A pilot study for channel catfish whole genome sequencing and de novo assembly

Yanliang Jiang1, Jianguo Lu1, Eric Peatman1, Huseyin Kucuktas1, Shikai Liu1, Shaolin Wang12, Fanyue Sun1 and Zhanjiang Liu1*

Author Affiliations

1 The Fish Molecular Genetics and Biotechnology Laboratory, Department of Fisheries and Allied Aquacultures, Program of Cell and Molecular Biosciences, Aquatic Genomics Unit, 203 Swingle Hall, Auburn University, Auburn, AL 36849, USA

2 Department of Psychiatry and Neurobiology Science, University of Virginia, 1670 Discovery Dr. Suite 110, Charlottesville, VA 22911, USA

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BMC Genomics 2011, 12:629  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-12-629

Published: 22 December 2011



Recent advances in next-generation sequencing technologies have drastically increased throughput and significantly reduced sequencing costs. However, the average read lengths in next-generation sequencing technologies are short as compared with that of traditional Sanger sequencing. The short sequence reads pose great challenges for de novo sequence assembly. As a pilot project for whole genome sequencing of the catfish genome, here we attempt to determine the proper sequence coverage, the proper software for assembly, and various parameters used for the assembly of a BAC physical map contig spanning approximately a million of base pairs.


A combination of low sequence coverage of 454 and Illumina sequencing appeared to provide effective assembly as reflected by a high N50 value. Using 454 sequencing alone, a sequencing depth of 18 X was sufficient to obtain the good quality assembly, whereas a 70 X Illumina appeared to be sufficient for a good quality assembly. Additional sequencing coverage after 18 X of 454 or after 70 X of Illumina sequencing does not provide significant improvement of the assembly. Considering the cost of sequencing, a 2 X 454 sequencing, when coupled to 70 X Illumina sequencing, provided an assembly of reasonably good quality. With several software tested, Newbler with a seed length of 16 and ABySS with a K-value of 60 appear to be appropriate for the assembly of 454 reads alone and Illumina paired-end reads alone, respectively. Using both 454 and Illumina paired-end reads, a hybrid assembly strategy using Newbler for initial 454 sequence assembly, Velvet for initial Illumina sequence assembly, followed by a second step assembly using MIRA provided the best assembly of the physical map contig, resulting in 193 contigs with a N50 value of 13,123 bp.


A hybrid sequencing strategy using low sequencing depth of 454 and high sequencing depth of Illumina provided the good quality assembly with high N50 value and relatively low cost. A combination of Newbler, Velvet, and MIRA can be used to assemble the 454 sequence reads and the Illumina reads effectively. The assembled sequence can serve as a resource for comparative genome analysis. Additional long reads using the third generation sequencing platforms are needed to sequence through repetitive genome regions that should further enhance the sequence assembly.