About 85% of the maize genome consists of highly repetitive sequences that are interspersed by low-copy, gene-coding sequences. The maize community has dealt with this genomic complexity by the construction of an integrated genetic and physical map (iMap), but this resource alone was not sufficient for ensuring the quality of the current sequence build. For this purpose, we constructed a genome-wide, high-resolution optical map of the maize inbred line B73 genome containing >91,000 restriction sites (averaging 1 site/∼23 kb) accrued from mapping genomic DNA molecules. Our optical map comprises 66 contigs, averaging 31.88 Mb in size and spanning 91.5% (2,103.93 Mb/∼2,300 Mb) of the maize genome. A new algorithm was created that considered both optical map and unfinished BAC sequence data for placing 60/66 (2,032.42 Mb) optical map contigs onto the maize iMap. The alignment of optical maps against numerous data sources yielded comprehensive results that proved revealing and productive. For example, gaps were uncovered and characterized within the iMap, the FPC (fingerprinted contigs) map, and the chromosome-wide pseudomolecules. Such alignments also suggested amended placements of FPC contigs on the maize genetic map and proactively guided the assembly of chromosome-wide pseudomolecules, especially within complex genomic regions. Lastly, we think that the full integration of B73 optical maps with the maize iMap would greatly facilitate maize sequence finishing efforts that would make it a valuable reference for comparative studies among cereals, or other maize inbred lines and cultivars.
The maize genome contains abundant repeats interspersed by low-copy, gene-coding sequences that make it a challenge to sequence; consequently, current BAC sequence assemblies average 11 contigs per clone. The iMap deals with such complexity by the judicious integration of IBM genetic and B73 physical maps, but the B73 genome structure could differ from the IBM population because of genetic recombination and subsequent rearrangements. Accordingly, we report a genome-wide, high-resolution optical map of maize B73 genome that was constructed from the direct analysis of genomic DNA molecules without using genetic markers. The integration of optical and iMap resources with comparisons to FPC maps enabled a uniquely comprehensive and scalable assessment of a given BAC's sequence assembly, its placement within a FPC contig, and the location of this FPC contig within a chromosome-wide pseudomolecule. As such, the overall utility of the maize optical map for the validation of sequence assemblies has been significant and demonstrates the inherent advantages of single molecule platforms. Construction of the maize optical map represents the first physical map of a eukaryotic genome larger than 400 Mb that was created de novo from individual genomic DNA molecules.