Pnina's paper on fire ant speciation and hybridization published

Pnina's paper was published in BMC Evolutionary Biology!

https://bmcevolbiol.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12862-019-1437-9

This is a demographic history study that developed from our collaboration with DeWayne Shoemaker. Pnina used a large dataset of RADseq from 300 population samples from two species of Solenopsis fire ants, from both their native and introduced ranges. The most valuable result is in dating the speciation of the two species, and showing that they did not have any substantial gene flow between them in South America in the past two million generations. This is in contrast to the extensive hybridization between them in the introduced range in the USA.

Tal's paper on haploid genome assembly published

Tal's paper was published in Scientific Reports!

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-019-42795-6

We evaluated the benefit of using a haploid sample in a denovo genome sequencing project. We saw that the scaffolds assembled from a haploid samples were three times longer than those from a diploid sample! We also evaluated the benefit of using the RNA from the same haploid individual for transcriptome sequencing and alignment to the genome for gene annotation, but this did not provide a substential advantage relative to RNA from other samples.

This study can inform future genome projects in Hymenoptera, such as the GAGA project or in bees, wasps, or other haplodiploid species.

Microbiome workshop

Our workshop on "Omics for environmental and host-associated microbiomes" was a smashing success (see the program). With more than 40 participants we could not find one who was not excited and ecstatic about microbiomes and metagenomes. This was the fifth Haifa winter workshop in bioinformatics and genomics. We're now trying to decide the topic for next year...

Microbiome workshop participants

Camponotus mating flight

On the first really hot day of spring Camponotus have their mating flights. Today we collected C. fellah from the population that lives on campus in the Weizmann Institute (because that's where samples for GAGA reference genome sequencing were collected). With the help of Ofer Feinrman and his group we managed to collect very large numbers of males from multiple colonies. We have more than 100 males from a single large colony, which is ideal for our purpose - genomic map construction (as part of our BSF project). The samples will be processed for DNA extraction and RAD-seq library construction by our robot Noah. The sequencing data will be used for genotype calling and linkage map construction. Here are some photos, taken by Pnina obviously:

 

BSF project kick started

We kick started our joint BSF project on genome evolution in ants. Jessica Purcell and Alan Brelsford visited us in Haifa and we started to outline the four year project in detail. We arranged the collection of samples from ten ant genera by GAGA collaborators and us. We planned our methodologies, including sample processing, genomic sequencing, and construction of genomic maps. We're going to use our robot for all the lab work. For the construction of linkage maps, we met with Abraham Korol, our next door neighbour and a leading expert in this field. We started to use the software package that was developed in his lab - MultiPoint. We also started a preliminary comparative analysis - comparing the chromosomes of Formica and Cataglyphis - which revealed some very interesting stuff... We're going to get some great insights into the evolutionary stories of these genomes from such data. Finally, we did a quick tour of the south of Israel, including the Negev desert and the Dead Sea. It was great having you over Jessica and Alan!

Jessica, Alan and Eyal

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