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Francis, Warren R.; Wörheide, Gert ORCID: 0000-0002-6380-7421 (2017): Similar Ratios of Introns to Intergenic Sequence across Animal Genomes. In: Genome Biology and Evolution, Vol. 9, No. 6: pp. 1582-1598
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One central goal of genome biology is to understand how the usage of the genome differs between organisms. Our knowledge of genome composition, needed for downstream inferences, is critically dependent on gene annotations, yet problems associated with gene annotation and assembly errors are usually ignored in comparative genomics. Here, we analyze the genomes of 68 species across 12 animal phyla and some single-cell eukaryotes for general trends in genome composition and transcription, taking into account problems of gene annotation. We show that, regardless of genome size, the ratio of introns to intergenic sequence is comparable across essentially all animals, with nearly all deviations dominated by increased intergenic sequence. Genomes of model organisms have ratios much closer to 1: 1, suggesting that the majority of published genomes of nonmodel organisms are under-annotated and consequently omit substantial numbers of genes, with likely negative impact on evolutionary interpretations. Finally, our results also indicate that most animals transcribe half or more of their genomes arguing against differences in genome usage between animal groups, and also suggesting that the transcribed portion is more dependent on genome size than previously thought.