A high-quality, long-read De Novo genome assembly to aid conservation of Hawaii’s last remaining crow species

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Abstract

Genome-level data can provide researchers with unprecedented precision to examine the causes and genetic consequences of population declines, which can inform conservation management. Here, we present a high-quality, long-read, de novo genome assembly for one of the world’s most endangered bird species, the ‘Alalā (Corvus hawaiiensis; Hawaiian crow). As the only remaining native crow species in Hawai’i, the ‘Alalā survived solely in a captive-breeding program from 2002 until 2016, at which point a long-term reintroduction program was initiated. The highquality genome assembly was generated to lay the foundation for both comparative genomics studies and the development of population-level genomic tools that will aid conservation and recovery efforts. We illustrate how the quality of this assembly places it amongst the very best avian genomes assembled to date, comparable to intensively studied model systems. We describe the genome architecture in terms of repetitive elements and runs of homozygosity, and we show that compared with more outbred species, the ‘Alalā genome is substantially more homozygous. We also provide annotations for a subset of immunity genes that are likely to be important in conservation management, and we discuss how this genome is currently being used as a roadmap for downstream conservation applications.

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Sutton, J. T., Helmkampf, M., Steiner, C. C., Bellinger, M. R., Korlach, J., Hall, R., … Ryder, O. A. (2018). A high-quality, long-read De Novo genome assembly to aid conservation of Hawaii’s last remaining crow species. Genes, 9(8). https://doi.org/10.3390/genes9080393

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