Joint assembly and genetic mapping of the Atlantic horseshoe crab genome reveals ancient whole genome duplication

Joint assembly and genetic mapping of the Atlantic horseshoe crab genome reveals ancient whole genome duplication
Carlos Nossa, Paul Havlak, Jia-Xing Yue, Jie Lv, Kim Vincent, H Jane Brockmann, Nicholas H Putnam
(Submitted on 28 Sep 2013)

Horseshoe crabs are marine arthropods with a fossil record extending back approximately 450 million years. They exhibit remarkable morphological stability over their long evolutionary history, retaining a number of ancestral arthropod traits, and are often cited as examples of “living fossils.” As arthropods, they belong to the Ecdysozoa}, an ancient super-phylum whose sequenced genomes (including insects and nematodes) have thus far shown more divergence from the ancestral pattern of eumetazoan genome organization than cnidarians, deuterostomes, and lophotrochozoans. However, much of ecdysozoan diversity remains unrepresented in comparative genomic analyses. Here we use a new strategy of combined de novo assembly and genetic mapping to examine the chromosome-scale genome organization of the Atlantic horseshoe crab Limulus polyphemus. We constructed a genetic linkage map of this 2.7 Gbp genome by sequencing the nuclear DNA of 34 wild-collected, full-sibling embryos and their parents at a mean redundancy of 1.1x per sample. The map includes 84,307 sequence markers and 5,775 candidate conserved protein coding genes. Comparison to other metazoan genomes shows that the L. polyphemus genome preserves ancestral bilaterian linkage groups, and that a common ancestor of modern horseshoe crabs underwent one or more ancient whole genome duplications (WGDs) ~ 300 MYA, followed by extensive chromosome fusion.

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