Development and Application of Genomic Resources in Non-model Bird Species
Abstract: Understanding the genetic basis of biological processes is a fundamental component of modern ecology and evolutionary biology studies. With the recent advent of next generation sequencing (NGS) technologies, it is now possible to perform large genome and transcriptome projects for ecologically important non-model species. In this thesis, I focused on the development and application of genomic resources of two non-model bird species, the black grouse (Tetrao tetrix) and the great snipe (Gallinago media). Using the chicken genome as a reference, I developed a reference guided NGS pipeline to assemble the complete draft genome of black grouse. The draft genome has a good coverage of the main 29 chromosomes of the chicken genome. The genome was used to develop a vast number of genetic markers. Comparing this genome with that of other species, I identified the genomic regions which were important for the lineage specific evolution of black grouse. I also sequenced and characterised the spleen transcriptome of the black grouse. I identified and validated a large number of gene-based microsatellite markers from the transcriptome and identified and confirmed the expression of immune related genes. Using a similar RNA-Seq approach, I also sequenced the blood transcriptomes of 14 great snipe males with different mating success. I identified genes and single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) which might be related to male mating success in this species, both in terms of gene expression levels and genetic variation structure. For the immunologically important major histocompatibility complex (MHC) gene region of black grouse, I constructed a fosmid library and used it to sequence the complete core MHC region of this species. This resource allowed me to perform a comprehensive comparative genomics analysis of the galliform MHC, by which I found that some genes in this region were affected by selective forces. I was also able to develop a single locus genotyping protocol for the duplicated MHC BLB (class IIB) genes and found that the two black grouse BLB loci followed different evolutionary trajectories. This thesis set an example of developing genomic resources in non-model species and applying them in addressing questions relevant to ecology and evolutionary biology.
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