Background: More than 20% of the world's population is at risk for infection by filarial nematodes and >180 million people worldwide are already infected. Along with infection comes significant morbidity that has a socioeconomic impact. The eight filarial nematodes that infect humans are Wuchereria bancrofti, Brugia malayi, Brugia timori, Onchocerca volvulus, Loa loa, Mansonella perstans, Mansonella streptocerca, and Mansonella ozzardi, of which three have published draft genome sequences. Since all have humans as the definitive host, standard avenues of research that rely on culturing and genetics have often not been possible. Therefore, genome sequencing provides an important window into understanding the biology of these parasites. The need for large amounts of high quality genomic DNA from homozygous, inbred lines; the availability of only short sequence reads from next-generation sequencing platforms at a reasonable expense; and the lack of random large insert libraries has limited our ability to generate high quality genome sequences for these parasites. However, the Pacific Biosciences single molecule, real-time sequencing platform holds great promise in reducing input amounts and generating sufficiently long sequences that bypass the need for large insert paired libraries.
Results: Here, we report on efforts to generate a more complete genome assembly for L. loa using genetically heterogeneous DNA isolated from a single clinical sample and sequenced on the Pacific Biosciences platform. To obtain the best assembly, numerous assemblers and sequencing datasets were analyzed, combined, and compared. Quiver-informed trimming of an assembly of only Pacific Biosciences reads by HGAP2 was selected as the final assembly of 96.4 Mbp in 2,250 contigs. This results in ~9% more of the genome in ~85% fewer contigs from ~80% less starting material at a fraction of the cost of previous Roche 454-based sequencing efforts.
Conclusions: The result is the most complete filarial nematode assembly produced thus far and demonstrates the utility of single molecule sequencing on the Pacific Biosciences platform for genetically heterogeneous metazoan genomes.