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Background: The nematode Pristionchus pacificus is an established model organism for comparative studies with Caenorhabditis elegans. Over the past years, it developed into an independent animal model organism for elucidating the genetic basis of phenotypic plasticity. Community-based curations were employed recently to improve the quality of gene annotations of P. pacificus and to more easily facilitate reverse genetic studies using candidate genes from C. elegans. Results: Here, I demonstrate that the reannotation of phylogenomic data from nine related nematode species using the community-curated P. pacificus gene set as homology data substantially improves the quality of gene annotations. Benchmarking of universal single copy orthologs (BUSCO) estimates a median completeness of 84% which corresponds to a 9% increase over previous annotations. Nevertheless, the ability to infer gene models based on homology already drops beyond the genus level reflecting the rapid evolution of nematode lineages. This also indicates that the highly curated C. elegans genome is not optimally suited for annotating non-Caenorhabditis genomes based on homology. Furthermore, comparative genomic analysis of apparently missing BUSCO genes indicates a failure of ortholog detection by the BUSCO pipeline due to the insufficient sample size and phylogenetic breadth of the underlying OrthoDB data set. As a consequence, the quality of multiple divergent nematode genomes might be underestimated. Conclusions: This study highlights the need for optimizing gene annotation protocols and it demonstrates the benefit of a high quality genome for phylogenomic data of related species.
Rödelsperger, C. (2021). The community-curated Pristionchus pacificus genome facilitates automated gene annotation improvement in related nematodes. BMC Genomics, 22(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12864-021-07529-x