Evan McCartney-Melstad, Genevieve G. Mount, H. Bradley Shaffer
Background Gathering genomic-scale data efficiently is challenging for non-model species with large, complex genomes. Transcriptome sequencing is accessible for even large-genome organisms, and sequence capture probes can be designed from such mRNA sequences to enrich and sequence exonic regions. Maximizing enrichment efficiency is important to reduce sequencing costs, but, relatively little data exist for exon capture experiments in large-genome non-model organisms. Here, we conducted a replicated factorial experiment to explore the effects of several modifications to standard protocols that might increase sequence capture efficiency for large-genome amphibians. Methods We enriched 53 genomic libraries from salamanders for a custom set of 8,706 exons under differing conditions. Libraries were prepared using pools of DNA from 3 different salamanders with approximately 30 gigabase genomes: California tiger salamander (Ambystoma californiense), barred tiger salamander (Ambystoma mavortium), and an F1 hybrid between the two. We enriched libraries using different amounts of c0t-1 blocker, individual input DNA, and total reaction DNA. Enriched libraries were sequenced with 150 bp paired-end reads on an Illumina HiSeq 2500, and the efficiency of target enrichment was quantified using unique read mapping rates and average depth across targets. The different enrichment treatments were evaluated to determine if c0t-1 and input DNA significantly impact enrichment efficiency in large-genome amphibians. Results Increasing the amounts of c0t-1 and individual input DNA both reduce the rates of PCR duplication. This reduction led to an increase in the percentage of unique reads mapping to target sequences, essentially doubling overall efficiency of the target capture from 10.4% to nearly 19.9%. We also found that post-enrichment DNA concentrations and qPCR enrichment verification were useful for predicting the success of enrichment. Conclusions Increasing the amount of individual sample input DNA and the amount of c0t-1 blocker both increased the efficiency of target capture in large-genome salamanders. By reducing PCR duplication rates, the number of unique reads mapping to targets increased, making target capture experiments more efficient and affordable. Our results indicate that target capture protocols can be modified to efficiently screen large-genome vertebrate taxa including amphibians.