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The genome of Schmidtea mediterranea and the evolution of core cellular mechanisms

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journal contribution
posted on 05.08.2020 by Markus Alexander Grohme, Siegfried Schloissnig, Andrei Rozanski, Martin Pippel, George Robert Young, Sylke Winkler, Holger Brandl, Ian Henry, Andreas Dahl, Sean Powell, Michael Hiller, Eugene Myers, Jochen Christian Rink
The planarian Schmidtea mediterranea is an important model for stem cell research and regeneration, but adequate genome resources for this species have been lacking. Here we report a highly contiguous genome assembly of S. mediterranea, using long-read sequencing and a de novo assembler (MARVEL) enhanced for low-complexity reads. The S. mediterranea genome is highly polymorphic and repetitive, and harbours a novel class of giant retroelements. Furthermore, the genome assembly lacks a number of highly conserved genes, including critical components of the mitotic spindle assembly checkpoint, but planarians maintain checkpoint function. Our genome assembly provides a key model system resource that will be useful for studying regeneration and the evolutionary plasticity of core cell biological mechanisms.