Background and Aims
Consensus higher-level molecular phylogenies present a compelling case that an ancient divergence separates eukaryotic green algae into two major monophyletic lineages, Chlorophyta and Streptophyta, and a residuum of green algae, which have been referred to prasinophytes or micromonadophytes. Nuclear DNA content estimates have been published for less than 1% of the described green algal members of Chlorophyta, which includes multicellular green marine algae and freshwater flagellates (e.g. Chlamydomonas and Volvox). The present investigation summarizes the state of our knowledge and adds substantially to our database of C-values, especially for the streptophyte charophycean lineage which is the sister group of the land plants. A recent list of 2C nuclear DNA contents for isolates and species of green algae is expanded by 72 to 157.
The DNA-localizing fluorochrome DAPI (4′,6-diamidino-2-phenylindole) and red blood cell (chicken erythrocytes) standard were used to estimate 2C values with static microspectrophotometry.
In Chlorophyta, including Chlorophyceae, Prasinophyceae, Trebouxiophyceae and Ulvophyceae, 2C DNA estimates range from 0·01 to 5·8 pg. Nuclear DNA content variation trends are noted and discussed for specific problematic taxon pairs, including Ulotrichales–Ulvales, and Cladophorales–Siphonocladales. For Streptophyta, 2C nuclear DNA contents range from 0·2 to 6·4 pg, excluding the highly polyploid Charales and Desmidiales, which have genome sizes of up to 14·8 and 46·8 pg, respectively. Nuclear DNA content data for Streptophyta superimposed on a contemporary molecular phylogeny indicate that early diverging lineages, including some members of Chlorokybales, Coleochaetales and Klebsormidiales, have genomes as small as 0·1–0·5 pg. It is proposed that the streptophyte ancestral nuclear genome common to both the charophyte and the embryophyte lineages can be characterized as 1C = 0·2 pg and 1n = 6.
These data will help pre-screen candidate species for the on-going construction of bacterial artificial chromosome nuclear genome libraries for land plant ancestors. Data for the prasinophyte Mesostigma are of particular interest as this alga reportedly most closely resembles the ‘ancestral green flagellate’. Both mechanistic and ecological processes are discussed that could have produced the observed C-value increase of >100-fold in the charophyte green algae whereas the ancestral genome was conserved in the embryophytes.
‘Ancestral green flagellate’ (AGF); C-value enigma; chlorophyta; DNA C-values; nuclear genome size; Streptophyta
The chromalveolate “supergroup” is of key interest in contemporary phycology, as it contains the overwhelming majority of extant algal species, including several phyla of key importance to oceanic net primary productivity such as diatoms, kelps, and dinoflagellates. There is also intense current interest in the exploitation of these algae for industrial purposes, such as biodiesel production. However, the evolution of the constituent species, and in particular the origin and radiation of the chloroplast genomes, remains poorly understood. In this review, we discuss current theories of the origins of the extant red alga-derived chloroplast lineages in the chromalveolates and the potential ramifications of the recent discovery of large numbers of green algal genes in chromalveolate genomes. We consider that the best explanation for this is that chromalveolates historically possessed a cryptic green algal endosymbiont that was subsequently replaced by a red algal chloroplast. We consider how changing selective pressures acting on ancient chromalveolate lineages may have selectively favored the serial endosymbioses of green and red algae and whether a complex endosymbiotic history facilitated the rise of chromalveolates to their current position of ecological prominence.
Heterokont algae, together with cryptophytes, haptophytes and some alveolates, possess red-algal derived plastids. The chromalveolate hypothesis proposes that the red-algal derived plastids of all four groups have a monophyletic origin resulting from a single secondary endosymbiotic event. However, due to incongruence between nuclear and plastid phylogenies, this controversial hypothesis remains under debate. Large-scale genomic analyses have shown to be a powerful tool for phylogenetic reconstruction but insufficient sequence data have been available for red-algal derived plastid genomes.
The chloroplast genomes of two brown algae, Ectocarpus siliculosus and Fucus vesiculosus, have been fully sequenced. These species represent two distinct orders of the Phaeophyceae, which is a major group within the heterokont lineage. The sizes of the circular plastid genomes are 139,954 and 124,986 base pairs, respectively, the size difference being due principally to the presence of longer inverted repeat and intergenic regions in E. siliculosus. Gene contents of the two plastids are similar with 139-148 protein-coding genes, 28-31 tRNA genes, and 3 ribosomal RNA genes. The two genomes also exhibit very similar rearrangements compared to other sequenced plastid genomes. The tRNA-Leu gene of E. siliculosus lacks an intron, in contrast to the F. vesiculosus and other heterokont plastid homologues, suggesting its recent loss in the Ectocarpales. Most of the brown algal plastid genes are shared with other red-algal derived plastid genomes, but a few are absent from raphidophyte or diatom plastid genomes. One of these regions is most similar to an apicomplexan nuclear sequence. The phylogenetic relationship between heterokonts, cryptophytes and haptophytes (collectively referred to as chromists) plastids was investigated using several datasets of concatenated proteins from two cyanobacterial genomes and 18 plastid genomes, including most of the available red algal and chromist plastid genomes.
The phylogenetic studies using concatenated plastid proteins still do not resolve the question of the monophyly of all chromist plastids. However, these results support both the monophyly of heterokont plastids and that of cryptophyte and haptophyte plastids, in agreement with nuclear phylogenies.
Analyses of the red algal Cyanidioschyzon genome identified 37 genes that were acquired from non-organellar sources prior to the split of red algae and green plants.
Horizontal gene transfer occurs frequently in prokaryotes and unicellular eukaryotes. Anciently acquired genes, if retained among descendants, might significantly affect the long-term evolution of the recipient lineage. However, no systematic studies on the scope of anciently acquired genes and their impact on macroevolution are currently available in eukaryotes.
Analyses of the genome of the red alga Cyanidioschyzon identified 37 genes that were acquired from non-organellar sources prior to the split of red algae and green plants. Ten of these genes are rarely found in cyanobacteria or have additional plastid-derived homologs in plants. These genes most likely provided new functions, often essential for plant growth and development, to the ancestral plant. Many remaining genes may represent replacements of endogenous homologs with a similar function. Furthermore, over 78% of the anciently acquired genes are related to the biogenesis and functionality of plastids, the defining character of plants.
Our data suggest that, although ancient horizontal gene transfer events did occur in eukaryotic evolution, the number of acquired genes does not predict the role of horizontal gene transfer in the adaptation of the recipient organism. Our data also show that multiple independently acquired genes are able to generate and optimize key evolutionary novelties in major eukaryotic groups. In light of these findings, we propose and discuss a general mechanism of horizontal gene transfer in the macroevolution of eukaryotes.
Algae are a large group of aquatic, typically photosynthetic, eukaryotes that include species from very diverse phylogenetic lineages, from those similar to land plants to those related to protist parasites. The recent sequencing of several algal genomes has provided insights into the great complexity of these organisms. Genomic information has also emphasized our lack of knowledge of the functions of many predicted genes, as well as the gene regulatory mechanisms in algae. Core components of the machinery for RNA-mediated silencing show widespread distribution among algal lineages, but they also seem to have been lost entirely from several species with relatively small nuclear genomes. Complex sets of endogenous small RNAs, including candidate microRNAs and small interfering RNAs, have now been identified by high-throughput sequencing in green, red, and brown algae. However, the natural roles of RNA-mediated silencing in algal biology remain poorly understood. Limited evidence suggests that small RNAs may function, in different algae, in defense mechanisms against transposon mobilization, in responses to nutrient deprivation and, possibly, in the regulation of recently evolved developmental processes. From a practical perspective, RNA interference (RNAi) is becoming a promising tool for assessing gene function by sequence-specific knockdown. Transient gene silencing, triggered with exogenously synthesized nucleic acids, and/or stable gene repression, involving genome-integrated transgenes, have been achieved in green algae, diatoms, yellow-green algae, and euglenoids. The development of RNAi technology in conjunction with system level “omics” approaches may provide the tools needed to advance our understanding of algal physiological and metabolic processes.
The recently published genome of the unicellular red alga Porphyridium purpureum revealed a gene-rich, intron-poor species, which is surprising for a free-living mesophile. Of the 8,355 predicted protein-coding regions, up to 773 (9.3%) were implicated in horizontal genetic transfer (HGT) events involving other prokaryote and eukaryote lineages. A much smaller number, up to 174 (2.1%) showed unambiguous evidence of vertical inheritance. Together with other red algal genomes, nearly all published in 2013, these data provide an excellent platform for studying diverse aspects of algal biology and evolution. This novel information will help investigators test existing hypotheses about the impact of endosymbiosis and HGT on algal evolution and enable comparative analysis within a more-refined, hypothesis-driven framework that extends beyond HGT. Here we explore the impacts of this infusion of red algal genome data on addressing questions regarding the complex nature of algal evolution and highlight the need for scalable phylogenomic approaches to handle the forthcoming deluge of sequence information.
red algae; phylogenomics; horizontal genetic transfer; endosymbiosis; algal evolution
The power of eukaryote genomics relies strongly on taxon sampling. This point was underlined in a recent analysis of red algal genome evolution in which we tested the Plantae hypothesis that posits the monophyly of red, green (including plants) and glaucophyte algae. The inclusion of novel genome data from two mesophilic red algae enabled us to robustly demonstrate the sisterhood of red and green algae in the tree of life. Perhaps more exciting was the finding that >1,800 putative genes in the unicellular red alga Porphyridium cruentum showed evidence of gene-sharing with diverse lineages of eukaryotes and prokaryotes. Here we assessed the correlation between the putative functions of these shared genes and their susceptibility to transfer. It turns out that genes involved in complex interactive networks such as biological regulation and transcription/translation are less susceptible to endosymbiotic or horizontal gene transfer, when compared to genes with metabolic and transporter functions.
red algae; transcriptome; expressed sequence tag; phylogenomics; horizontal gene transfer; endosymbiosis; plantae monophyly; porphyridium
The limited knowledge we have about red algal genomes comes from the highly specialized extremophiles, Cyanidiophyceae. Here, we describe the first genome sequence from a mesophilic, unicellular red alga, Porphyridium purpureum. The 8,355 predicted genes in P. purpureum, hundreds of which are likely to be implicated in a history of horizontal gene transfer, reside in a genome of 19.7 Mbp with 235 spliceosomal introns. Analysis of light-harvesting complex proteins reveals a nuclear-encoded phycobiliprotein in the alga. We uncover a complex set of carbohydrate-active enzymes, identify the genes required for the methylerythritol phosphate pathway of isoprenoid biosynthesis, and find evidence of sexual reproduction. Analysis of the compact, function-rich genome of P. purpureum suggests that ancestral lineages of red algae acted as mediators of horizontal gene transfer between prokaryotes and photosynthetic eukaryotes, thereby significantly enriching genomes across the tree of photosynthetic life.
Red algae form one of the most ancient eukaryotic lineages, and have undergone multiple symbioses. Here, Price et al. report the first genome sequence for a mesophilic red alga, and reveal significant differences between these organisms and hyperthermopilic algae.
The Hawaiian red algal flora is diverse, isolated, and well studied from a morphological and anatomical perspective, making it an excellent candidate for assessment using a combination of traditional taxonomic and molecular approaches. Acquiring and making these biodiversity data freely available in a timely manner ensures that other researchers can incorporate these baseline findings into phylogeographic studies of Hawaiian red algae or red algae found in other locations.
A total of 1,946 accessions are represented in the collections from 305 different geographical locations in the Hawaiian archipelago. These accessions represent 24 orders, 49 families, 152 genera and 252 species/subspecific taxa of red algae. One order of red algae (the Rhodachlyales) was recognized in Hawaii for the first time and 196 new island distributional records were determined from the survey collections. One family and four genera are reported for the first time from Hawaii, and multiple species descriptions are in progress for newly discovered taxa. A total of 2,418 sequences were generated for Hawaiian red algae in the course of this study - 915 for the nuclear LSU marker, 864 for the plastidial UPA marker, and 639 for the mitochondrial COI marker. These baseline molecular data are presented as neighbor-joining trees to illustrate degrees of divergence within and among taxa. The LSU marker was typically most conserved, followed by UPA and COI. Phylogenetic analysis of a set of concatenated LSU, UPA and COI sequences recovered a tree that broadly resembled the current understanding of florideophyte red algal relationships, but bootstrap support was largely absent above the ordinal level. Phylogeographic trends are reported here for some common taxa within the Hawaiian Islands and include examples of those with, as well as without, intraspecific variation.
The UPA and COI markers were determined to be the most useful of the three and are recommended for inclusion in future algal biodiversity surveys. Molecular data for the survey provide the most extensive assessment of Hawaiian red algal diversity and, in combination with the morphological/anatomical and distributional data collected as part of the project, provide a solid baseline data set for future studies of the flora. The data are freely available via the Hawaiian Algal Database (HADB), which was designed and constructed to accommodate the results of the project. We present the first DNA sequence reference collection for a tropical Pacific seaweed flora, whose value extends beyond Hawaii since many Hawaiian taxa are shared with other tropical areas.
Red algae have the most gene-rich plastid genomes known, but despite their evolutionary importance these genomes remain poorly sampled. Here we characterize three complete and one partial plastid genome from a diverse range of florideophytes. By unifying annotations across all available red algal plastid genomes we show they all share a highly compact and slowly-evolving architecture and uniquely rich gene complements. Both chromosome structure and gene content have changed very little during red algal diversification, and suggest that plastid-to nucleus gene transfers have been rare. Despite their ancient character, however, the red algal plastids also contain several unprecedented features, including a group II intron in a tRNA-Met gene that encodes the first example of red algal plastid intron maturase – a feature uniquely shared among florideophytes. We also identify a rare case of a horizontally-acquired proteobacterial operon, and propose this operon may have been recruited for plastid function and potentially replaced a nucleus-encoded plastid-targeted paralogue. Plastid genome phylogenies yield a fully resolved tree and suggest that plastid DNA is a useful tool for resolving red algal relationships. Lastly, we estimate the evolutionary rates among more than 200 plastid genes, and assess their usefulness for species and subspecies taxonomy by comparison to well-established barcoding markers such as cox1 and rbcL. Overall, these data demonstrates that red algal plastid genomes are easily obtainable using high-throughput sequencing of total genomic DNA, interesting from evolutionary perspectives, and promising in resolving red algal relationships at evolutionarily-deep and species/subspecies levels.
Diatoms and other chlorophyll-c containing, or chromalveolate, algae are among the most productive and diverse phytoplankton in the ocean. Evolutionarily, chlorophyll-c algae are linked through common, although not necessarily monophyletic, acquisition of plastid endosymbionts of red as well as most likely green algal origin. There is also strong evidence for a relatively high level of lineage-specific bacterial gene acquisition within chromalveolates. Therefore, analyses of gene content and derivation in chromalveolate taxa have indicated particularly diverse origins of their overall gene repertoire. As a single group of functionally related enzymes spanning two distinct gene families, fructose 1,6-bisphosphate aldolases (FBAs) illustrate the influence on core biochemical pathways of specific evolutionary associations among diatoms and other chromalveolates with various plastid-bearing and bacterial endosymbionts. Protein localization and activity, gene expression, and phylogenetic analyses indicate that the pennate diatom Phaeodactylum tricornutum contains five FBA genes with very little overall functional overlap. Three P. tricornutum FBAs, one class I and two class II, are plastid localized, and each appears to have a distinct evolutionary origin as well as function. Class I plastid FBA appears to have been acquired by chromalveolates from a red algal endosymbiont, whereas one copy of class II plastid FBA is likely to have originated from an ancient green algal endosymbiont. The other copy appears to be the result of a chromalveolate-specific gene duplication. Plastid FBA I and chromalveolate-specific class II plastid FBA are localized in the pyrenoid region of the chloroplast where they are associated with β-carbonic anhydrase, which is known to play a significant role in regulation of the diatom carbon concentrating mechanism. The two pyrenoid-associated FBAs are distinguished by contrasting gene expression profiles under nutrient limiting compared with optimal CO2 fixation conditions, suggestive of a distinct specialized function for each. Cytosolically localized FBAs in P. tricornutum likely play a role in glycolysis and cytoskeleton function and seem to have originated from the stramenopile host cell and from diatom-specific bacterial gene transfer, respectively.
carbon concentrating mechanism (CCM); carbon metabolism; carbonic anhydrase; diatom; fructose bisphosphate aldolase; pyrenoid
Cells with polyploid nuclei are generally larger than cells of the same organism or species with nonpolyploid nuclei. However, no such change of cell size with ploidy level is observed in those red algae which alternate isomorphic haploid with diploid generations. The results of this investigation reveal the explanation. Nuclear DNA content and other parameters were measured in cells of the filamentous red alga Griffithsia pacifica. Nuclei of the diploid generation contain twice the DNA content of those of the haploid generation. However, all cells except newly formed reproductive cells are multinucleate. The nuclei are arranged in a nearly perfect hexagonal array just beneath the cell surface. When homologous cells of the two generations are compared, although the cell size is nearly identical, each nucleus of the diploid cell is surrounded by a region of cytoplasm (a "domain") nearly twice that surrounding a haploid nucleus. Cytoplasmic domains associated with a diploid nucleus contain twice the number of plastids, and consequently twice the amount of plastid DNA, than is associated with the domain of a haploid nucleus. Thus, doubling of ploidy is reflected in doubling of the size and organelle content of the domain associated with each nucleus. However, cell size does not differ between homologous cells of the two generations, because total nuclear DNA (sum of the DNA in all nuclei in a cell) per cell does not differ. This is the solution to the cytological paradox of isomorphy.
We investigated species diversity and distribution patterns of the marine red alga Portieria in the Philippine archipelago. Species boundaries were tested based on mitochondrial, plastid and nuclear encoded loci, using a general mixed Yule-coalescent (GMYC) model-based approach and a Bayesian multilocus species delimitation method. The outcome of the GMYC analysis of the mitochondrial encoded cox2-3 dataset was highly congruent with the multilocus analysis. In stark contrast with the current morphology-based assumption that the genus includes a single, widely distributed species in the Indo-West Pacific (Portieria hornemannii), DNA-based species delimitation resulted in the recognition of 21 species within the Philippines. Species distributions were found to be highly structured with most species restricted to island groups within the archipelago. These extremely narrow species ranges and high levels of intra-archipelagic endemism contrast with the wide-held belief that marine organisms generally have large geographical ranges and that endemism is at most restricted to the archipelagic level. Our results indicate that speciation in the marine environment may occur at spatial scales smaller than 100 km, comparable with some terrestrial systems. Our finding of fine-scale endemism has important consequences for marine conservation and management.
biodiversity; Coral Triangle; cryptic species; Indo-West Pacific; marine biogeography; species delimitation
The multicellular green alga Volvox carteri and its morphologically diverse close relatives (the volvocine algae) are well suited for the investigation of the evolution of multicellularity and development. We sequenced the 138–mega–base pair genome of V. carteri and compared its ~14,500 predicted proteins to those of its unicellular relative Chlamydomonas reinhardtii. Despite fundamental differences in organismal complexity and life history, the two species have similar protein-coding potentials and few species-specific protein-coding gene predictions. Volvox is enriched in volvocine-algal–specific proteins, including those associated with an expanded and highly compartmentalized extracellular matrix. Our analysis shows that increases in organismal complexity can be associated with modifications of lineage-specific proteins rather than large-scale invention of protein-coding capacity.
Euglenophytes are a group of photosynthetic flagellates possessing a plastid derived from a green algal endosymbiont, which was incorporated into an ancestral host cell via secondary endosymbiosis. However, the impact of endosymbiosis on the euglenophyte nuclear genome is not fully understood due to its complex nature as a 'hybrid' of a non-photosynthetic host cell and a secondary endosymbiont.
We analyzed an EST dataset of the model euglenophyte Euglena gracilis using a gene mining program designed to detect laterally transferred genes. We found E. gracilis genes showing affinity not only with green algae, from which the secondary plastid in euglenophytes evolved, but also red algae and/or secondary algae containing red algal-derived plastids. Phylogenetic analyses of these 'red lineage' genes suggest that E. gracilis acquired at least 14 genes via eukaryote-to-eukaryote lateral gene transfer from algal sources other than the green algal endosymbiont that gave rise to its current plastid. We constructed an EST library of the aplastidic euglenid Peranema trichophorum, which is a eukaryovorous relative of euglenophytes, and also identified 'red lineage' genes in its genome.
Our data show genome mosaicism in E. gracilis and P. trichophorum. One possible explanation for the presence of these genes in these organisms is that some or all of them were independently acquired by lateral gene transfer and contributed to the successful integration and functioning of the green algal endosymbiont as a secondary plastid. Alternative hypotheses include the presence of a phagocytosed alga as the single source of those genes, or a cryptic tertiary endosymbiont harboring secondary plastid of red algal origin, which the eukaryovorous ancestor of euglenophytes had acquired prior to the secondary endosymbiosis of a green alga.
The evolution of microbial eukaryotes, in particular of photosynthetic lineages, is complicated by multiple instances of endosymbiotic and horizontal gene transfer (E/HGT) resulting from plastid origin(s). Our recent analysis of diatom membrane transporters provides evidence of red and/or green algal origins of 172 of the genes encoding these proteins (ca. 25% of the examined phylogenies), with the majority putatively derived from green algae. These data suggest that E/HGT has been an important driver of evolutionary innovation among diatoms (and likely other stramenopiles), and lend further support to the hypothesis of an ancient, cryptic green algal endosymbiosis in “chromalveolate” lineages. Here, we discuss the implications of our findings on the understanding of eukaryote evolution and inference of the tree of life.
horizontal gene transfer; endosymbiotic gene transfer; diatoms; membrane transporters; eukaryote evolution; tree of life
A fundamental step in evolution was the transition from unicellular to differentiated, multicellular organisms. Volvocine algae have been used for several decades as a model lineage to investigate the evolutionary aspects of multicellularity and cellular differentiation. There are two well-studied volvocine species, a unicellular alga (Chlamydomonas reinhardtii) and a multicellular alga with differentiated cell types (Volvox carteri). Species with intermediate characteristics also exist, which blur the boundaries between unicellularity and differentiated multicellularity. These species include the globular alga Eudorina elegans, which is composed of 16–32 cells. However, detailed molecular analyses of E. elegans require genetic manipulation. Unfortunately, genetic engineering has not yet been established for Eudorina, and only limited DNA and/or protein sequence information is available.
Here, we describe the stable nuclear transformation of E. elegans by particle bombardment using both a chimeric selectable marker and reporter genes from different heterologous sources. Transgenic algae resistant to paromomycin were achieved using the aminoglycoside 3′-phosphotransferase VIII (aphVIII) gene of Streptomyces rimosus, an actinobacterium, under the control of an artificial promoter consisting of two V. carteri promoters in tandem. Transformants exhibited an increase in resistance to paromomycin by up to 333-fold. Co-transformation with non-selectable plasmids was achieved with a rate of 50 - 100%. The luciferase (gluc) gene from the marine copepod Gaussia princeps, which previously was engineered to match the codon usage of C. reinhardtii, was used as a reporter gene. The expression of gluc was mediated by promoters from C. reinhardtii and V. carteri. Heterologous heat shock promoters induced an increase in luciferase activity (up to 600-fold) at elevated temperatures. Long-term stability and both constitutive and inducible expression of the co-bombarded gluc gene was demonstrated by transcription analysis and bioluminescence assays.
Heterologous flanking sequences, including promoters, work in E. elegans and permit both constitutive and inducible expression of heterologous genes. Stable nuclear transformation of E. elegans is now routine. Thus, we show that genetic engineering of a species is possible even without the resources of endogenous genes and promoters.
Co-transformation; Gaussia princeps luciferase gene; Genetic engineering; Green algae; Heterologous expression; Reporter genes; Selectable markers; Streptomyces rimosus aphVIII gene; Volvocaceae; Volvocine algae
Rubisco, the most abundant enzyme on the Earth and responsible for all photosynthetic carbon fixation, is often thought of as a highly conserved and sluggish enzyme. Yet, different algal Rubiscos demonstrate a range of kinetic properties hinting at a history of evolution and adaptation. Here, we show that algal Rubisco has indeed evolved adaptively during ancient and distinct geological periods. Using DNA sequences of extant marine algae of the red and Chromista lineage, we define positive selection within the large subunit of Rubisco, encoded by rbcL, to occur basal to the radiation of modern marine groups. This signal of positive selection appears to be responding to changing intracellular concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2) triggered by physiological adaptations to declining atmospheric CO2. Within the ecologically important Haptophyta (including coccolithophores) and Bacillariophyta (diatoms), positive selection occurred consistently during periods of falling Phanerozoic CO2 and suggests emergence of carbon-concentrating mechanisms. During the Proterozoic, a strong signal of positive selection after secondary endosymbiosis occurs at the origin of the Chromista lineage (approx. 1.1 Ga), with further positive selection events until 0.41 Ga, implying a significant and continuous decrease in atmospheric CO2 encompassing the Cryogenian Snowball Earth events. We surmise that positive selection in Rubisco has been caused by declines in atmospheric CO2 and hence acts as a proxy for ancient atmospheric CO2.
Rubisco; adaptive evolution; algae; palaeoclimate; carbon dioxide
Plastids (photosynthetic organelles of plants and algae) are known to have spread between eukaryotic lineages by secondary endosymbiosis, that is, by the uptake of a eukaryotic alga by another eukaryote. But the number of times this has taken place is controversial. This is particularly so in the case of eukaryotes with plastids derived from red algae, which are numerous and diverse. Despite their diversity, it has been suggested that all these eukaryotes share a recent common ancestor and that their plastids originated in a single endosymbiosis, the so-called “chromalveolate hypothesis.” Here we describe a novel molecular character that supports the chromalveolate hypothesis. Fructose-1,6-bisphosphate aldolase (FBA) is a glycolytic and Calvin cycle enzyme that exists as two nonhomologous types, class I and class II. Red algal plastid-targeted FBA is a class I enzyme related to homologues from plants and green algae, and it would be predicted that the plastid-targeted FBA from algae with red algal secondary endosymbionts should be related to this class I enzyme. However, we show that plastid-targeted FBA of heterokonts, cryptomonads, haptophytes, and dinoflagellates (all photosynthetic chromalveolates) are class II plastid-targeted enzymes, completely unlike those of red algal plastids. The chromalveolate enzymes form a strongly supported group in FBA phylogeny, and their common possession of this unexpected plastid characteristic provides new evidence for their close relationship and a common origin for their plastids.
The phylogenetic relationships of bacterial symbionts from three gall-bearing species in the marine red algal genus Prionitis (Rhodophyta) were inferred from 16S rDNA sequence analysis and compared to host phylogeny also inferred from sequence comparisons (nuclear ribosomal internal-transcribed-spacer region). Gall formation has been described previously on two species of Prionitis, P. lanceolata (from central California) and P. decipiens (from Peru). This investigation reports gall formation on a third related host, Prionitis filiformis. Phylogenetic analyses based on sequence comparisons place the bacteria as a single lineage within the Roseobacter grouping of the α subclass of the division Proteobacteria (99.4 to 98.25% sequence identity among phylotypes). Comparison of symbiont and host molecular phylogenies confirms the presence of three gall-bearing algal lineages and is consistent with the hypothesis that these red seaweeds and their bacterial symbionts are coevolving. The species specificity of these associations was investigated in nature by whole-cell hybridization of gall bacteria and in the laboratory by using cross-inoculation trials. Whole-cell in situ hybridization confirmed that a single bacterial symbiont phylotype is present in galls on each host. In laboratory trials, bacterial symbionts were incapable of inducing galls on alternate hosts (including two non-gall-bearing species). Symbiont-host specificity in Prionitis gall formation indicates an effective ecological separation between these closely related symbiont phylotypes and provides an example of a biological context in which to consider the organismic significance of 16S rDNA sequence variation.
The current consensus for the eukaryote tree of life consists of several large assemblages (supergroups) that are hypothesized to describe the existing diversity. Phylogenomic analyses have shed light on the evolutionary relationships within and between supergroups as well as placed newly sequenced enigmatic species close to known lineages. Yet, a few eukaryote species remain of unknown origin and could represent key evolutionary forms for inferring ancient genomic and cellular characteristics of eukaryotes. Here, we investigate the evolutionary origin of the poorly studied protist Collodictyon (subphylum Diphyllatia) by sequencing a cDNA library as well as the 18S and 28S ribosomal DNA (rDNA) genes. Phylogenomic trees inferred from 124 genes placed Collodictyon close to the bifurcation of the “unikont” and “bikont” groups, either alone or as sister to the potentially contentious excavate Malawimonas. Phylogenies based on rDNA genes confirmed that Collodictyon is closely related to another genus, Diphylleia, and revealed a very low diversity in environmental DNA samples. The early and distinct origin of Collodictyon suggests that it constitutes a new lineage in the global eukaryote phylogeny. Collodictyon shares cellular characteristics with Excavata and Amoebozoa, such as ventral feeding groove supported by microtubular structures and the ability to form thin and broad pseudopods. These may therefore be ancient morphological features among eukaryotes. Overall, this shows that Collodictyon is a key lineage to understand early eukaryote evolution.
18S and 28S rDNA; Collodictyon; Diphyllatia; tree of life; phylogenomics; cDNA, pyrosequencing
Marine macroalgae, especially the Rhodophyta, can be notoriously difficult to identify owing to their relatively simple morphology and anatomy, convergence, rampant phenotypic plasticity, and alternation of heteromorphic generations. It is thus not surprising that algal systematists have come to rely heavily on genetic tools for molecular assisted alpha taxonomy. Unfortunately the number of suitable marker systems in the three available genomes is enormous and, although most workers have settled on one of three or four models, the lack of an accepted standard hinders the comparison of results between laboratories. The advantages of a standard system are obvious for practical purposes of species discovery and identification; as well, compliance with a universal marker, such as cox1 being developed under the label ‘DNA barcode’, would allow algal systematists to benefit from the rapidly emerging technologies. Novel primers were developed for red algae to PCR amplify and sequence the 5′ cox1 ‘barcode’ region and were used to assess three known species-complex questions: (i) Mazzaella species in the Northeast Pacific; (ii) species of the genera Dilsea and Neodilsea in the Northeast Pacific; and (iii) Asteromenia peltata from three oceans. These models were selected because they have all caused confusion with regards to species number, distribution, and identification in the field, and because they have all been studied with molecular tools. In all cases the DNA barcode resolved accurately and unequivocally species identities and, with the enhanced sampling here, turned up a variety of novel observations in need of further taxonomic investigation.
cox1; cryptic species; DNA barcode; Florideophyceae; mitochondrial DNA; Rhodophyta
Light, the driving force of photosynthesis, can be harmful when present in excess; therefore, any light harvesting system requires photoprotection. Members of the extended light-harvesting complex (LHC) protein superfamily are involved in light harvesting as well as in photoprotection and are found in the red and green plant lineages, with a complex distribution pattern of subfamilies in the different algal lineages.
Here, we demonstrate that the recently discovered “red lineage chlorophyll a/b-binding-like proteins” (RedCAPs) form a monophyletic family within this protein superfamily. The occurrence of RedCAPs was found to be restricted to the red algal lineage, including red algae (with primary plastids) as well as cryptophytes, haptophytes and heterokontophytes (with secondary plastids of red algal origin). Expression of a full-length RedCAP:GFP fusion construct in the diatom Phaeodactylum tricornutum confirmed the predicted plastid localisation of RedCAPs. Furthermore, we observed that similarly to the fucoxanthin chlorophyll a/c-binding light-harvesting antenna proteins also RedCAP transcripts in diatoms were regulated in a diurnal way at standard light conditions and strongly repressed at high light intensities.
The absence of RedCAPs from the green lineage implies that RedCAPs evolved in the red lineage after separation from the the green lineage. During the evolution of secondary plastids, RedCAP genes therefore must have been transferred from the nucleus of the endocytobiotic alga to the nucleus of the host cell, a process that involved complementation with pre-sequences allowing import of the gene product into the secondary plastid bound by four membranes. Based on light-dependent transcription and on localisation data, we propose that RedCAPs might participate in the light (intensity and quality)-dependent structural or functional reorganisation of the light-harvesting antennae of the photosystems upon dark to light shifts as regularly experienced by diatoms in nature. Remarkably, in plastids of the red lineage as well as in green lineage plastids, the phycobilisome based cyanobacterial light harvesting system has been replaced by light harvesting systems that are based on members of the extended LHC protein superfamily, either for one of the photosystems (PS I of red algae) or for both (diatoms). In their proposed function, the RedCAP protein family may thus have played a role in the evolutionary structural remodelling of light-harvesting antennae in the red lineage.
Complex plastids; Diatoms; Chloroplast; Gene transfer; Light-harvesting antenna proteins; Red lineage chlorophyll a/b-binding-like proteins
The assembly of the tree of life has seen significant progress in recent years but algae and protists have been largely overlooked in this effort. Many groups of algae and protists have ancient roots and it is unclear how much data will be required to resolve their phylogenetic relationships for incorporation in the tree of life. The red algae, a group of primary photosynthetic eukaryotes of more than a billion years old, provide the earliest fossil evidence for eukaryotic multicellularity and sexual reproduction. Despite this evolutionary significance, their phylogenetic relationships are understudied. This study aims to infer a comprehensive red algal tree of life at the family level from a supermatrix containing data mined from GenBank. We aim to locate remaining regions of low support in the topology, evaluate their causes and estimate the amount of data required to resolve them.
Phylogenetic analysis of a supermatrix of 14 loci and 98 red algal families yielded the most complete red algal tree of life to date. Visualization of statistical support showed the presence of five poorly supported regions. Causes for low support were identified with statistics about the age of the region, data availability and node density, showing that poor support has different origins in different parts of the tree. Parametric simulation experiments yielded optimistic estimates of how much data will be needed to resolve the poorly supported regions (ca. 103 to ca. 104 nucleotides for the different regions). Nonparametric simulations gave a markedly more pessimistic image, some regions requiring more than 2.8 105 nucleotides or not achieving the desired level of support at all. The discrepancies between parametric and nonparametric simulations are discussed in light of our dataset and known attributes of both approaches.
Our study takes the red algae one step closer to meaningful inclusion in the tree of life. In addition to the recovery of stable relationships, the recognition of five regions in need of further study is a significant outcome of this work. Based on our analyses of current availability and future requirements of data, we make clear recommendations for forthcoming research.
Despite the fact that brown algae are critical components of marine ecosystems around the world only one species has had its genome sequenced. To facilitate genome studies in the class we report data for 12 of the 19 recognized orders.
Background and aims
Brown algae are critical components of marine ecosystems around the world. However, the genome of only one species of the class has so far been sequenced. This contrasts with numerous sequences available for model organisms such as higher plants, flies or worms. The present communication expands our coverage of DNA content information to 98 species of brown algae with a view to facilitating further genomic investigations of the class.
The DNA-localizing fluorochrome DAPI (4′,6-diamidino-2-phenylindole) and the red blood cell (chicken erythrocyte) standard were used to estimate 2C values by static microspectrophotometry.
2C DNA contents are reported for 98 species of brown algae, almost doubling the number of estimates available for the class. The present results also expand the reported DNA content range to 0.2–3.6 pg, with several species of Fucales and Laminariales containing apparent polyploid genomes with 2C = 1.8–3.6 pg.
The data provide DNA content values for 12 of the 19 recognized orders of brown algae spanning the breadth of the class. Despite earlier contentions concerning DNA content and the presence of oogamy, the present results do not support a correlation between phylogenetic placement and genome size. The closest sister groups to the brown algae have genome sizes on the order of 0.3 pg (e.g. Schizocladiophyceae), suggesting that this may be the ancestral genome size. However, DNA content ranges widely across the class.