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Open Access Research article

Insights into the genome structure and copy-number variation of Eimeria tenella

Lik-Sin Lim12, Yea-Ling Tay12, Halimah Alias1, Kiew-Lian Wan12* and Paul H Dear3*

Author Affiliations

1 School of Biosciences and Biotechnology, Faculty of Science and Technology, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, 43600, UKM Bangi, Selangor DE, Malaysia

2 Malaysia Genome Institute, Jalan Bangi, 43000, Kajang, Selangor DE, Malaysia

3 MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Hills Road, Cambridge, CB2 0QH, United Kingdom

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BMC Genomics 2012, 13:389  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-13-389

Published: 13 August 2012

Abstract

Background

Eimeria is a genus of parasites in the same phylum (Apicomplexa) as human parasites such as Toxoplasma, Cryptosporidium and the malaria parasite Plasmodium. As an apicomplexan whose life-cycle involves a single host, Eimeria is a convenient model for understanding this group of organisms. Although the genomes of the Apicomplexa are diverse, that of Eimeria is unique in being composed of large alternating blocks of sequence with very different characteristics - an arrangement seen in no other organism. This arrangement has impeded efforts to fully sequence the genome of Eimeria, which remains the last of the major apicomplexans to be fully analyzed. In order to increase the value of the genome sequence data and aid in the effort to gain a better understanding of the Eimeria tenella genome, we constructed a whole genome map for the parasite.

Results

A total of 1245 contigs representing 70.0% of the whole genome assembly sequences (Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute) were selected and subjected to marker selection. Subsequently, 2482 HAPPY markers were developed and typed. Of these, 795 were considered as usable markers, and utilized in the construction of a HAPPY map. Markers developed from chromosomally-assigned genes were then integrated into the HAPPY map and this aided the assignment of a number of linkage groups to their respective chromosomes. BAC-end sequences and contigs from whole genome sequencing were also integrated to improve and validate the HAPPY map. This resulted in an integrated HAPPY map consisting of 60 linkage groups that covers approximately half of the estimated 60 Mb genome. Further analysis suggests that the segmental organization first seen in Chromosome 1 is present throughout the genome, with repeat-poor (P) regions alternating with repeat-rich (R) regions. Evidence of copy-number variation between strains was also uncovered.

Conclusions

This paper describes the application of a whole genome mapping method to improve the assembly of the genome of E. tenella from shotgun data, and to help reveal its overall structure. A preliminary assessment of copy-number variation (extra or missing copies of genomic segments) between strains of E. tenella was also carried out. The emerging picture is of a very unusual genome architecture displaying inter-strain copy-number variation. We suggest that these features may be related to the known ability of this parasite to rapidly develop drug resistance.