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Findzx: an automated pipeline for detecting and visualising sex chromosomes using whole-genome sequencing data.

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  • Additional Information
    • Abstract:
      Background: Sex chromosomes have evolved numerous times, as revealed by recent genomic studies. However, large gaps in our knowledge of sex chromosome diversity across the tree of life remain. Filling these gaps, through the study of novel species, is crucial for improved understanding of why and how sex chromosomes evolve. Characterization of sex chromosomes in already well-studied organisms is also important to avoid misinterpretations of population genomic patterns caused by undetected sex chromosome variation. Results: Here we present findZX, an automated Snakemake-based computational pipeline for detecting and visualizing sex chromosomes through differences in genome coverage and heterozygosity between any number of males and females. A main feature of the pipeline is the option to perform a genome coordinate liftover to a reference genome of another species. This allows users to inspect sex-linked regions over larger contiguous chromosome regions, while also providing important between-species synteny information. To demonstrate its effectiveness, we applied findZX to publicly available genomic data from species belonging to widely different taxonomic groups (mammals, birds, reptiles, and fish), with sex chromosome systems of different ages, sizes, and levels of differentiation. We also demonstrate that the liftover method is robust over large phylogenetic distances (> 80 million years of evolution). Conclusions: With findZX we provide an easy-to-use and highly effective tool for identification of sex chromosomes. The pipeline is compatible with both Linux and MacOS systems, and scalable to suit different computational platforms. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]