First ever gene sequencing of the ‘super spider family’

Spider, endemic
Miquel Arnedo, UB-IRBio

A research team from the Biodiversity Research Institute of the University of Barcelona has sequence the genome of an endemic species of spider living in the Canary Islands.

The Dysdera silvatica spider lives in the laurel forests of the islands of La Gomera, La Palma, and El Hierro in the Canary Islands in spain.

The study has revealed the first ever genome sequence of the arthropod. The Dysdera genus includes more than 250 Mediterranean spider species. The Macaronesian archipelagos represents the western limits of the distribution of the genus which reached a significant diversification in the Canary Islands.

“One of these species is Dysdera silvatica, integrated in an evolutionary lineage that became one of the main predators –both in abundance and diversity- in the insular terrestrial invertebrate trophic networks”, notes Professor Miquel Arnedo, from the Department of Evolutionary Biology, Ecology and Environmental Sciences of the Faculty of Biology and the Biodiversity Research Institute (IRBio) of the University of Barcelona.

“The species D. silvatica is a generalist predator. Unlike other spider groups, the Dysdera includes experts on hunting and consumption of terrestrial isopods. All these species live in the Canary Islands, where the crustacean trophic specialisation seems to have evolved independently several times”, adds the researcher, head of the research group on Arthropod Systematics and Animal Evolution of the University of Barcelona.

According to Professor Julio Rozas, who co-led the study together with Alejandro Sánchez-Garcia, “Within this study, we created a 1.4 Gb genomic sequencing assembly, 54 % of which is built by repetitive elements.”

“We identified and characterised a total of 36,000 protein-coding gens”, notes Professor Julio Rozas.

The research team gathered the data with PacBio and Nanopore single molecule sequencing techniques, “more expensive but more efficient methodologies to obtain larger genome sequencing, and provide a quality genomic assembly using the hybrid assembly strategy, combining data from the obtained sequencing through different technologies”, notes José Francisco Sánchez-Herrero, member of the Department of Genetics, Microbiology and Statistics of IRBio and first author of the article.

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