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Data from: Metatranscriptomics yields new genomic resources and sensitive detection of infections for diverse blood parasites

Citation

Galen, Spencer et al. (2019), Data from: Metatranscriptomics yields new genomic resources and sensitive detection of infections for diverse blood parasites, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.2646vp0

Abstract

Metatranscriptomics is a powerful method for studying the composition and function of complex microbial communities. The application of metatranscriptomics to multi-species parasite infections is of particular interest, as research on parasite evolution and diversification has been hampered by technical challenges to genome-scale DNA sequencing. In particular, blood parasites of vertebrates are abundant and diverse though they often occur at low infection intensities and exist as multi-species infections, rendering the isolation of genomic sequence data challenging. Here, we use birds and their diverse haemosporidian parasites to illustrate the potential for metatranscriptome sequencing to generate large quantities of genome-wide sequence data from multiple blood parasite species simultaneously. We used RNA-Seq on 24 blood samples from songbirds in North America to show that metatranscriptomes can yield large proportions of haemosporidian protein-coding gene repertoires even when infections are low-intensity (<0.1% red blood cells infected) and consist of multiple parasite taxa. By bioinformatically separating host and parasite transcripts and assigning them to the haemosporidian genus of origin, we found that transcriptomes detected ~23% more total parasite infections across all samples than were identified using microscopy and DNA barcoding. For single-species infections, we obtained data for upwards of 1,300 loci from samples with as low as 0.03% parasitemia, with the number of loci increasing with infection intensity. In total, we provide data for 1,502 single-copy orthologous loci from a phylogenetically-diverse set of 33 haemosporidian mitochondrial lineages. The metatranscriptomic approach described here has the potential to accelerate ecological and evolutionary research on haemosporidians and other diverse parasites.

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New York
New Mexico
Alaska