, Volume 138, Issue 7, pp 745-756
Date: 13 Apr 2010

Discovery and evaluation of candidate sex-determining genes and xenobiotics in the gonads of lake sturgeon (Acipenser fulvescens)

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Modern pyrosequencing has the potential to uncover many interesting aspects of genome evolution, even in lineages where genomic resources are scarce. In particular, 454 pyrosequencing of nonmodel species has been used to characterize expressed sequence tags, xenobiotics, gene ontologies, and relative levels of gene expression. Herein, we use pyrosequencing to study the evolution of genes expressed in the gonads of a polyploid fish, the lake sturgeon (Acipenser fulvescens). Using 454 pyrosequencing of transcribed genes, we produced more than 125 MB of sequence data from 473,577 high-quality sequencing reads. Sequences that passed stringent quality control thresholds were assembled into 12,791 male contigs and 32,629 female contigs. Average depth of coverage was 4.2 × for the male assembly and 5.5× for the female assembly. Analytical rarefaction indicates that our assemblies include most of the genes expressed in lake sturgeon gonads. Over 86,700 sequencing reads were assigned gene ontologies, many to general housekeeping genes like protein, RNA, and ion binding genes. We searched specifically for sex determining genes and documented significant sex differences in the expression of two genes involved in animal sex determination, DMRT1 and TRA-1. DMRT1 is the master sex determining gene in birds and in medaka (Oryzias latipes) whereas TRA-1 helps direct sexual differentiation in nematodes. We also searched the lake sturgeon assembly for evidence of xenobiotic organisms that may exist as endosymbionts. Our results suggest that exogenous parasites (trematodes) and pathogens (protozoans) apparently have infected lake sturgeon gonads, and the trematodes have horizontally transferred some genes to the lake sturgeon genome.