Title

Hybrid Genome Assembly of the Gulf Coast Tick Amblyomma maculatum

Description/Abstract/Artist Statement

Amblyomma maculatum, also known as the Gulf Coast tick, is an ectoparasite historically found throughout much of the southeastern United States. Over the past 2 decades, new invasive populations of Gulf Coast ticks have expanded north, including into eastern Virginia. Range expansions of human-biting ticks present serious public health concerns because of the pathogens they can carry. The Gulf Coast tick is a principal vector of Rickettsia parkeri which can cause disease in humans, and Hepatozoon americanum which can infect canines. No genomic resources for the genus Amblyomma are currently available. In this present study, we aimed to sequence and perform hybrid assembly of the entire A. maculatum genome. A genome is the complete set of genes in an organism. The gulf coast tick has 10 autosomal chromosome pairs and 1 sex chromosome, with a total sequence length of around 2.4 billion base pairs. To assemble the complete genome, we utilized Illumina and Nanopore sequencing technologies. We used the longer Nanopore fragments to scaffold the Illumina fragments, which were smaller but offered a much higher accuracy than Nanopore. The completed genome will be foundational for further research regarding the Gulf Coast tick. Scientists can use the genome to better understand gene location, find potential genetic basis for disease transmission, and examine how different gene variants may be selected in new emerging populations. The genome can be used for comparative genomic studies with other tick species, including species outside the Amblyomma genus.

Presenting Author Name/s

Bethany Norris

Faculty Advisor/Mentor

David T. Gauthier

College Affiliation

College of Sciences

Presentation Type

Oral Presentation

Disciplines

Bioinformatics | Genomics

Session Title

Colleges of Sciences UG Research #2

Location

Zoom

Start Date

3-19-2022 2:15 PM

End Date

3-19-2022 3:15 PM

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Mar 19th, 2:15 PM Mar 19th, 3:15 PM

Hybrid Genome Assembly of the Gulf Coast Tick Amblyomma maculatum

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Amblyomma maculatum, also known as the Gulf Coast tick, is an ectoparasite historically found throughout much of the southeastern United States. Over the past 2 decades, new invasive populations of Gulf Coast ticks have expanded north, including into eastern Virginia. Range expansions of human-biting ticks present serious public health concerns because of the pathogens they can carry. The Gulf Coast tick is a principal vector of Rickettsia parkeri which can cause disease in humans, and Hepatozoon americanum which can infect canines. No genomic resources for the genus Amblyomma are currently available. In this present study, we aimed to sequence and perform hybrid assembly of the entire A. maculatum genome. A genome is the complete set of genes in an organism. The gulf coast tick has 10 autosomal chromosome pairs and 1 sex chromosome, with a total sequence length of around 2.4 billion base pairs. To assemble the complete genome, we utilized Illumina and Nanopore sequencing technologies. We used the longer Nanopore fragments to scaffold the Illumina fragments, which were smaller but offered a much higher accuracy than Nanopore. The completed genome will be foundational for further research regarding the Gulf Coast tick. Scientists can use the genome to better understand gene location, find potential genetic basis for disease transmission, and examine how different gene variants may be selected in new emerging populations. The genome can be used for comparative genomic studies with other tick species, including species outside the Amblyomma genus.