Two different high throughput sequencing approaches identify thousands of de novo genomic markers for the genetically depleted bornean elephant.

Sharma R, Goossens B, Kun-Rodrigues C, Teixeira T, Othman N, Boone JQ, Jue NK, Obergfell C, O'Neill RJ, Chikhi L

High throughput sequencing technologies are being applied to an increasing number of model species with a high-quality reference genome. The application and analyses of whole-genome sequence data in non-model species with no prior genomic information are currently under way. Recent sequencing technologies provide new opportunities for gathering genomic data in natural populations, laying the empirical foundation for future research in the field of conservation and population genomics. Here we present the case study of the Bornean elephant, which is the most endangered subspecies of Asian elephant and exhibits very low genetic diversity. We used two different sequencing platforms, the Roche 454 FLX (shotgun) and Illumina, GAIIx (Restriction site associated DNA, RAD) to evaluate the feasibility of the two methodologies for the discovery of de novo markers (single nucleotide polymorphism, SNPs and microsatellites) using low coverage data. Approximately, 6,683 (shotgun) and 14,724 (RAD) SNPs were detected within our elephant sequence dataset. Genotyping of a representative sample of 194 SNPs resulted in a SNP validation rate of ∼ 83 to 94% and 17% of the loci were polymorphic with a low diversity (H(o) = 0.057). Different numbers of microsatellites were identified through shotgun (27,226) and RAD (868) techniques. Out of all di-, tri-, and tetra-microsatellite loci, 1,706 loci had sufficient flanking regions (shotgun) while only 7 were found with RAD. All microsatellites were monomorphic in the Bornean but polymorphic in another elephant subspecies. Despite using different sample sizes, and the well known differences in the two platforms used regarding sequence length and throughput, the two approaches showed high validation rate. The approaches used here for marker development in a threatened species demonstrate the utility of high throughput sequencing technologies as a starting point for the development of genomic tools in a non-model species and in particular for a species with low genetic diversity.

DNA shearing

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November, 2012



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