Autonomous retrotransposons lacking long terminal repeats (LTR) account for much of the variation in genome size and structure among vertebrates. Mammalian genomes contain hundreds of thousands of non-LTR retrotransposon copies, mostly resulting from the amplification of a single clade known as L1. The genomes of teleost fish and squamate reptiles contain a much more diverse array of non-LTR retrotransposon families, whereas copy number is relatively low. The majority of non-LTR retrotransposon insertions in nonmammalian vertebrates also appear to be very recent, suggesting strong purifying selection limits the accumulation of non-LTR retrotransposon copies. It is however unclear whether this turnover model, originally proposed in Drosophila, applies to nonmammalian vertebrates. Here, we studied the population dynamics of L1 in the green anole lizard (Anolis carolinensis). We found that although most L1 elements are recent in this genome, truncated insertions accumulate readily, and many are fixed at both the population and species level. In contrast, full-length L1 insertions are found at lower population frequencies, suggesting that the turnover model only applies to longer L1 elements in Anolis. We also found that full-length L1 inserts are more likely to be fixed in populations of small effective size, suggesting that the strength of purifying selection against deleterious alleles is highly dependent on host demographic history. Similar mechanisms seem to be controlling the fate of non-LTR retrotransposons in both Anolis and teleostean fish, which suggests that mammals have considerably diverged from the ancestral vertebrate in terms of how they interact with their intragenomic parasites.
non-LTR retrotransposon; Anolis carolinensis; green anole; population genomics
Many insects rely on bacterial symbionts with tiny genomes specialized for provisioning nutrients lacking in host diets. Xylem sap and phloem sap are both deficient as insect diets, but differ dramatically in nutrient content, potentially affecting symbiont genome evolution. For sap-feeding insects, sequenced symbiont genomes are available only for phloem-feeding examples from the suborder Sternorrhyncha and xylem-feeding examples from the suborder Auchenorrhyncha, confounding comparisons. We sequenced genomes of the obligate symbionts, Sulcia muelleri and Nasuia deltocephalinicola, of the phloem-feeding pest insect, Macrosteles quadrilineatus (Auchenorrhyncha: Cicadellidae). Our results reveal that Nasuia-ALF has the smallest bacterial genome yet sequenced (112 kb), and that the Sulcia-ALF genome (190 kb) is smaller than that of Sulcia in other insect lineages. Together, these symbionts retain the capability to synthesize the 10 essential amino acids, as observed for several symbiont pairs from xylem-feeding Auchenorrhyncha. Nasuia retains genes enabling synthesis of two amino acids, DNA replication, transcription, and translation. Both symbionts have lost genes underlying ATP synthesis through oxidative phosphorylation, possibly as a consequence of the enriched sugar content of phloem. Shared genomic features, including reassignment of the UGA codon from Stop to tryptophan, and phylogenetic results suggest that Nasuia-ALF is most closely related to Zinderia, the betaproteobacterial symbiont of spittlebugs. Thus, Nasuia/Zinderia and Sulcia likely represent ancient associates that have co-resided in hosts since the divergence of leafhoppers and spittlebugs >200 Ma, and possibly since the origin of the Auchenorrhyncha, >260 Ma.
gene loss; genome evolution; leafhopper; nutritional symbioses; Nasuia deltocephalinicola; Sulcia muelleri
Environmental or geological changes can create new niches that drive ecological species divergence without the immediate cessation of gene flow. However, few such cases have been characterized. On a recently formed volcano, Mt. Etna, Senecio aethnensis and S. chrysanthemifolius inhabit contrasting environments of high and low altitude, respectively. They have very distinct phenotypes, despite hybridizing promiscuously, and thus may represent an important example of ecological speciation “in action,” possibly as a response to the rapid geological changes that Mt. Etna has recently undergone. To elucidate the species’ evolutionary history, and help establish the species as a study system for speciation genomics, we sequenced the transcriptomes of the two Etnean species, and the outgroup, S. vernalis, using Illumina sequencing. Despite the species’ substantial phenotypic divergence, synonymous divergence between the high- and low-altitude species was low (dS = 0.016 ± 0.017 [SD]). A comparison of species divergence models with and without gene flow provided unequivocal support in favor of the former and demonstrated a recent time of species divergence (153,080 ya ± 11,470 [SE]) that coincides with the growth of Mt. Etna to the altitudes that separate the species today. Analysis of dN/dS revealed wide variation in selective constraint between genes, and evidence that highly expressed genes, more “multifunctional” genes, and those with more paralogs were under elevated purifying selection. Taken together, these results are consistent with a model of ecological speciation, potentially as a response to the emergence of a new, high-altitude niche as the volcano grew.
speciation genomics; altitude adaptation; ecological speciation; hybrid zone; gene flow; RNA-seq
Expression quantitative trait loci (eQTLs) have been found to be enriched in trait-associated single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). However, whether eQTLs are adaptive to different environmental factors and its relative evolutionary significance compared with nonsynonymous SNPs (NS SNPs) are still elusive. Compiling environmental correlation data from three studies for more than 500,000 SNPs and 42 environmental factors, including climate, subsistence, pathogens, and dietary patterns, we performed a systematic examination of the adaptive patterns of eQTLs to local environment. Compared with intergenic SNPs, eQTLs are significantly enriched in the lower tail of a transformed rank statistic in the environmental correlation analysis, indicating possible adaptation of eQTLs to the majority of 42 environmental factors. The mean enrichment of eQTLs across 42 environmental factors is as great as, if not greater than, that of NS SNPs. The enrichment of eQTLs, although significant across all levels of recombination rate, is inversely correlated with recombination rate, suggesting the presence of selective sweep or background selection. Further pathway enrichment analysis identified a number of pathways with possible environmental adaption from eQTLs. These pathways are mostly related with immune function and metabolism. Our results indicate that eQTLs might have played an important role in recent and ongoing human adaptation and are of special importance for some environmental factors and biological pathways.
eQTLs; environmental adaptation; population genetics
Wolbachia, endosymbiotic bacteria of the order Rickettsiales, are widespread in arthropods but also present in nematodes. In arthropods, A and B supergroup Wolbachia are generally associated with distortion of host reproduction. In filarial nematodes, including some human parasites, multiple lines of experimental evidence indicate that C and D supergroup Wolbachia are essential for the survival of the host, and here the symbiotic relationship is considered mutualistic. The origin of this mutualistic endosymbiosis is of interest for both basic and applied reasons: How does a parasite become a mutualist? Could intervention in the mutualism aid in treatment of human disease? Correct rooting and high-quality resolution of Wolbachia relationships are required to resolve this question. However, because of the large genetic distance between Wolbachia and the nearest outgroups, and the limited number of genomes so far available for large-scale analyses, current phylogenies do not provide robust answers. We therefore sequenced the genome of the D supergroup Wolbachia endosymbiont of Litomosoides sigmodontis, revisited the selection of loci for phylogenomic analyses, and performed a phylogenomic analysis including available complete genomes (from isolates in supergroups A, B, C, and D). Using 90 orthologous genes with reliable phylogenetic signals, we obtained a robust phylogenetic reconstruction, including a highly supported root to the Wolbachia phylogeny between a (A + B) clade and a (C + D) clade. Although we currently lack data from several Wolbachia supergroups, notably F, our analysis supports a model wherein the putatively mutualist endosymbiotic relationship between Wolbachia and nematodes originated from a single transition event.
Wolbachia; phylogenomics; mutualism; Litomosoides sigmodontis; endosymbiosis
Very little is known about genetic factors that regulate life history transitions during ontogeny. Closely related tiger salamanders (Ambystoma species complex) show extreme variation in metamorphic timing, with some species foregoing metamorphosis altogether, an adaptive trait called paedomorphosis. Previous studies identified a major effect quantitative trait locus (met1) for metamorphic timing and expression of paedomorphosis in hybrid crosses between the biphasic Eastern tiger salamander (Ambystoma tigrinum tigrinum) and the paedomorphic Mexican axolotl (Ambystoma mexicanum). We used existing hybrid mapping panels and a newly created hybrid cross to map the met1 genomic region and determine the effect of met1 on larval growth, metamorphic timing, and gene expression in the brain. We show that met1 maps to the position of a urodele-specific chromosome rearrangement on linkage group 2 that uniquely brought functionally associated genes into linkage. Furthermore, we found that more than 200 genes were differentially expressed during larval development as a function of met1 genotype. This list of differentially expressed genes is enriched for proteins that function in the mitochondria, providing evidence of a link between met1, thyroid hormone signaling, and mitochondrial energetics associated with metamorphosis. Finally, we found that met1 significantly affected metamorphic timing in hybrids, but not early larval growth rate. Collectively, our results show that met1 regulates species and morph-specific patterns of brain transcription and life history variation.
amphibian; comparative genomics; linkage mapping; microarray; metamorphic timing; QTL
Thanks to the microarray technology, our understanding of transcriptome evolution at the genome level has been considerably advanced in the past decade. Yet, further investigation was challenged by several technical limitations of this technology. Recent innovation of next-generation sequencing, particularly the invention of RNA-seq technology, has shed insightful lights on resolving this problem. Though a number of statistical and computational methods have been developed to analyze RNA-seq data, the analytical framework specifically designed for evolutionary genomics remains an open question. In this article we develop a new method for estimating the genome expression distance from the RNA-seq data, which has explicit interpretations under the model of gene expression evolution. Moreover, this distance measure takes the data overdispersion, gene length variation, and sequencing depth variation into account so that it can be applied to multiple genomes from different species. Using mammalian RNA-seq data as example, we demonstrated that this expression distance is useful in phylogenomic analysis.
transcriptome evolution; RNA-seq; genome expression distance
Organelle DNA is no stranger to palindromic repeats. But never has a mitochondrial or plastid genome been described in which every coding region is part of a distinct palindromic unit. While sequencing the mitochondrial DNA of the nonphotosynthetic green alga Polytomella magna, we uncovered precisely this type of genic arrangement. The P. magna mitochondrial genome is linear and made up entirely of palindromes, each containing 1–7 unique coding regions. Consequently, every gene in the genome is duplicated and in an inverted orientation relative to its partner. And when these palindromic genes are folded into putative stem-loops, their predicted translational start sites are often positioned in the apex of the loop. Gel electrophoresis results support the linear, 28-kb monomeric conformation of the P. magna mitochondrial genome. Analyses of other Polytomella taxa suggest that palindromic mitochondrial genes were present in the ancestor of the Polytomella lineage and lost or retained to various degrees in extant species. The possible origins and consequences of this bizarre genomic architecture are discussed.
Chlamydomonas; inverted repeat; mitochondrial DNA; palindrome; telomere
Sex chromosome divergence, which follows the cessation of recombination and degeneration of the sex-limited chromosome, can cause a reduction in expression level for sex-linked genes in the heterozygous sex, unless some mechanisms of dosage compensation develops to counter the reduction in gene dose. Because large-scale perturbations in expression levels arising from changes in gene dose might have strong deleterious effects, the evolutionary response should be strong. However, in birds and in at least some other female heterogametic organisms, wholesale sex chromosome dosage compensation does not seem to occur. Using RNA-seq of multiple tissues and individuals, we investigated male and female expression levels of Z-linked and autosomal genes in the collared flycatcher, a bird for which a draft genome sequence recently has been reported. We found that male expression of Z-linked genes was on average 50% higher than female expression, although there was considerable variation in the male-to-female ratio among genes. The ratio for individual genes was well correlated among tissues and there was also a correlation in the extent of compensation between flycatcher and chicken orthologs. The relative excess of male expression was positively correlated with expression breadth, expression level, and number of interacting proteins (protein connectivity), and negatively correlated with variance in expression. These observations lead to a model of compensation occurring on a gene-by-gene basis, supported by an absence of clustering of genes on the Z chromosome with respect to the extent of compensation. Equal mean expression level of autosomal and Z-linked genes in males, and 50% higher expression of autosomal than Z-linked genes in females, is compatible with that partial compensation is achieved by hypertranscription from females’ single Z chromosome. A comparison with male-to-female expression ratios in orthologous Z-linked genes of ostriches, where Z–W recombination still occurs, suggests that male-biased expression of Z-linked genes is a derived trait after avian sex chromosome divergence.
sex chromosomes; dosage compensation; sex-biased gene expression; expression variance; collared flycatcher
Comparative mitochondrial genomics of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) provide new avenues to overcome long-lasting obstacles that have hampered studies aimed at understanding the community structure, diversity, and evolution of these multinucleated and genetically polymorphic organisms. AMF mitochondrial (mt) genomes are homogeneous within isolates, and their intergenic regions harbor numerous mobile elements that have rapidly diverged, including homing endonuclease genes, small inverted repeats, and plasmid-related DNA polymerase genes (dpo), making them suitable targets for the development of reliable strain-specific markers. However, these elements may also lead to genome rearrangements through homologous recombination, although this has never previously been reported in this group of obligate symbiotic fungi. To investigate whether such rearrangements are present and caused by mobile elements in AMF, the mitochondrial genomes from two Glomeraceae members (i.e., Glomus cerebriforme and Glomus sp.) with substantial mtDNA synteny divergence, were sequenced and compared with available glomeromycotan mitochondrial genomes. We used an extensive nucleotide/protein similarity network-based approach to investigate dpo diversity in AMF as well as in other organisms for which sequences are publicly available. We provide strong evidence of dpo-induced inter-haplotype recombination, leading to a reshuffled mitochondrial genome in Glomus sp. These findings raise questions as to whether AMF single spore cultivations artificially underestimate mtDNA genetic diversity. We assessed potential dpo dispersal mechanisms in AMF and inferred a robust phylogenetic relationship with plant mitochondrial plasmids. Along with other indirect evidence, our analyses indicate that members of the Glomeromycota phylum are potential donors of mitochondrial plasmids to plants.
arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi; mitochondrial genome rearrangements; homologous recombination; plasmid-related DNA polymerase genes; short inverted repeats; nucleotide/protein similarity network
Streptococcus dysgalactiae subsp. equisimilis (SDSE) is an emerging human pathogen that causes life-threatening invasive infections such as streptococcal toxic shock syndrome. Recent epidemiological studies reveal that invasive SDSE infections have been increasing in Asia, Europe, and the United States. Almost all SDSE carry Lancefield group G or C antigen. We have determined the complete genome sequence of a human group C SDSE 167 strain. A comparison of its sequence with that of four SDSE strains, three in Lancefield group G and one in Lancefield group A, showed approximately 90% coverage. Most regions showing little or no homology were located in the prophages. There was no evidence of massive rearrangement in the genome of SDSE 167. Bayesian phylogeny using entire genome sequences showed that the most recent common ancestor of the five SDSE strains appeared 446 years ago. Interestingly, we found that SDSE 167 harbors sugar metabolizing enzymes in a unique region and streptodornase in the phage region, which presumably contribute to the degradation of host tissues and the prompted covRS mutation, respectively. A comparison of these five SDSE strains, which differ in Lancefield group antigens, revealed a gene cluster presumably responsible for the synthesis of the antigenic determinant. These results may provide the basis for molecular epidemiological research of SDSE.
Streptococcus dysgalactiae subsp. equisimilis; Lancefield group C; complete genome sequence; Bayesian phylogeny
Mitochondria are intracellular organelles where oxidative phosphorylation is carried out to complete ATP synthesis. Mitochondria have their own genome; in metazoans, this is a small, circular molecule encoding 13 electron transport proteins, 22 tRNAs, and 2 rRNAs. In invertebrates, mitochondrial gene rearrangement is common, and it is correlated with increased substitution rates. In vertebrates, mitochondrial gene rearrangement is rare, and its relationship to substitution rate remains unexplored. Mitochondrial genes can also show spatial variation in substitution rates around the genome due to the mechanism of mtDNA replication, which produces a mutation gradient. To date, however, the strength of the mutation gradient and whether movement along the gradient in rearranged (or otherwise modified) genomes impacts genic substitution rates remain unexplored in the majority of vertebrates. Salamanders include both normal mitochondrial genomes and independently derived rearrangements and expansions, providing a rare opportunity to test the effects of large-scale changes to genome architecture on vertebrate mitochondrial gene sequence evolution. We show that: 1) rearranged/expanded genomes have higher substitution rates; 2) most genes in rearranged/expanded genomes maintain their position along the mutation gradient, substitution rates of the genes that do move are unaffected by their new position, and the gradient in salamanders is weak; and 3) genomic rearrangements/expansions occur independent of levels of selective constraint on genes. Together, our results demonstrate that large-scale changes to genome architecture impact mitochondrial gene evolution in predictable ways; however, despite these impacts, the same functional constraints act on mitochondrial protein-coding genes in both modified and normal genomes.
gene rearrangement; genome expansion; substitution rates; selective constraint
Populations of widely distributed species encounter and must adapt to local environmental conditions. However, comprehensive characterization of the genetic basis of adaptation is demanding, requiring genome-wide genotype data, multiple sampled populations, and an understanding of population structure and potential selection pressures. Here, we used single-nucleotide polymorphism genotyping and data on numerous environmental variables to describe the genetic basis of local adaptation in 21 populations of teosinte, the wild ancestor of maize. We found complex hierarchical genetic structure created by altitude, dispersal events, and admixture among subspecies, which complicated identification of locally beneficial alleles. Patterns of linkage disequilibrium revealed four large putative inversion polymorphisms showing clinal patterns of frequency. Population differentiation and environmental correlations suggest that both inversions and intergenic polymorphisms are involved in local adaptation.
Zea mays; parviglumis; mexicana; inversion; population structure; admixture
The control of RNA splicing is often modulated by exonic motifs near splice sites. Chief among these are exonic splice enhancers (ESEs). Well-described ESEs in mammals are purine rich and cause predictable skews in codon and amino acid usage toward exonic ends. Looking across species, those with relatively abundant intronic sequence are those with the more profound end of exon skews, indicative of exonization of splice site recognition. To date, the only intron-rich species that have been analyzed are mammals, precluding any conclusions about the likely ancestral condition. Here, we examine the patterns of codon and amino acid usage in the vicinity of exon–intron junctions in the brown alga Ectocarpus siliculosus, a species with abundant large introns, known SR proteins, and classical splice sites. We find that amino acids and codons preferred/avoided at both 3′ and 5′ ends in Ectocarpus, of which there are many, tend, on average, to also be preferred/avoided at the same exon ends in humans. Moreover, the preferences observed at the 5′ ends of exons are largely the same as those at the 3′ ends, a symmetry trend only previously observed in animals. We predict putative hexameric ESEs in Ectocarpus and show that these are purine rich and that there are many more of these identified as functional ESEs in humans than expected by chance. These results are consistent with deep phylogenetic conservation of SR protein binding motifs. Assuming codons preferred near boundaries are “splice optimal” codons, in Ectocarpus, unlike Drosophila, splice optimal and translationally optimal codons are not mutually exclusive. The exclusivity of translationally optimal and splice optimal codon sets is thus not universal.
ESE; Ectocarpus; splicing; translational selection
The study of genetic and phenotypic variation is fundamental for understanding the dynamics of bacterial genome evolution and untangling the evolution and epidemiology of bacterial pathogens. Neisseria meningitidis (Nm) is among the most intriguing bacterial pathogens in genomic studies due to its dynamic population structure and complex forms of pathogenicity. Extensive genomic variation within identical clonal complexes (CCs) in Nm has been recently reported and suggested to be the result of homologous recombination, but the extent to which recombination contributes to genomic variation within identical CCs has remained unclear. In this study, we sequenced two Nm strains of identical serogroup (C) and multi-locus sequence type (ST60), and conducted a systematic analysis with an additional 34 Nm genomes. Our results revealed that all gene content variation between the two ST60 genomes was introduced by homologous recombination at the conserved flanking genes, and 94.25% or more of sequence divergence was caused by homologous recombination. Recombination was found in genes associated with virulence factors, antigenic outer membrane proteins, and vaccine targets, suggesting an important role of homologous recombination in rapidly altering the pathogenicity and antigenicity of Nm. Recombination was also evident in genes of the restriction and modification systems, which may undermine barriers to DNA exchange. In conclusion, homologous recombination can drive both gene content variation and sequence divergence in Nm. These findings shed new light on the understanding of the rapid pathoadaptive evolution of Nm and other recombinogenic bacterial pathogens.
horizontal gene transfer; homologous recombination; clonal complex; MLST; nonvertical gene; restriction modification systems
Vaults are very large oligomeric ribonucleoproteins conserved among a variety of species. The rat vault 3D structure shows an ovoid oligomeric particle, consisting of 78 major vault protein monomers, each of approximately 861 amino acids. Vaults are probably the largest ribonucleoprotein structures in eukaryote cells, being approximately 70 nm in length with a diameter of 40 nm—the size of three ribosomes and with a lumen capacity of 50 million Å3. We use both protein sequences and inferred ancestral sequences for in silico virtual resurrection of tertiary and quaternary structures to search for vaults in a wide variety of eukaryotes. We find that the vault’s phylogenetic distribution is widespread in eukaryotes, but is apparently absent in some notable model organisms. Our conclusion from the distribution of vaults is that they were present in the last eukaryote common ancestor but they have apparently been lost from a number of groups including fungi, insects, and probably plants. Our approach of inferring ancestral 3D and quaternary structures is expected to be useful generally.
vault ribonucleoprotein; ancestral reconstruction (ASR); BLAST; I-TASSER; RosettaDock; last eukaryotic common ancestor
The predicted effect of effective population size on the distribution of fitness effects and substitution rate is critically dependent on the relationship between sequence and fitness. This highlights the importance of using models that are informed by the molecular biology, biochemistry, and biophysics of the evolving systems. We describe a computational model based on fundamental aspects of biophysics, the requirement for (most) proteins to be thermodynamically stable. Using this model, we find that differences in population size have minimal impact on the distribution of population-scaled fitness effects, as well as on the rate of molecular evolution. This is because larger populations result in selection for more stable proteins that are less affected by mutations. This reduction in the magnitude of the fitness effects almost exactly cancels the greater selective pressure resulting from the larger population size. Conversely, changes in the population size in either direction cause transient increases in the substitution rate. As differences in population size often correspond to changes in population size, this makes comparisons of substitution rates in different lineages difficult to interpret.
nearly neutral theory; effective population size; substitution rate; protein stability; epistasis; population bottleneck
Reasons for the rising clinical impact of the bacterium Enterococcus faecium include the species’ rapid acquisition of adaptive genetic elements. Here, we focused on the impact of recombination on the evolution of E. faecium. We used the recently developed BratNextGen algorithm to detect recombinant regions in the core genome of 34 E. faecium strains, including three newly sequenced clinical strains. Recombination was found to have a significant impact on the E. faecium genome: of the original 1.2 million positions in the core genome, 0.5 million were predicted to have been affected by recombination in at least one strain. Importantly, strains in one of the two major E. faecium clades (clade B), which contains most of the E. faecium human gut commensals, formed the most important reservoir for donating foreign DNA to the second major E. faecium clade (clade A), which contains most of the clinical isolates. Also, several genomic regions were found to mainly recombine in specific hospital-associated E. faecium strains. One of these regions (the epa-like locus) likely encodes the biosynthesis of cell wall polysaccharides. These findings suggest a crucial role for recombination in the emergence of E. faecium as a successful hospital-associated pathogen.
BratNextGen; comparative genomics; phylogenomics; whole-genome sequencing; nosocomial pathogen; antibiotic resistance
Despite its functional conservation, the mitochondrial genome (mtDNA) presents strikingly different features among eukaryotes, such as size, rearrangements, and amount of intergenic regions. Nonadaptive processes such as random genetic drift and mutation rate play a fundamental role in shaping mtDNA: the mitochondrial bottleneck and the number of germ line replications are critical factors, and different patterns of germ line differentiation could be responsible for the mtDNA diversity observed in eukaryotes. Among metazoan, bivalve mollusc mtDNAs show unusual features, like hypervariable gene arrangements, high mutation rates, large amount of intergenic regions, and, in some species, an unique inheritance system, the doubly uniparental inheritance (DUI). The DUI system offers the possibility to study the evolutionary dynamics of mtDNAs that, despite being in the same organism, experience different genetic drift and selective pressures. We used the DUI species Ruditapes philippinarum to study intergenic mtDNA functions, mitochondrial transcription, and polymorphism in gonads. We observed: 1) the presence of conserved functional elements and novel open reading frames (ORFs) that could explain the evolutionary persistence of intergenic regions and may be involved in DUI-specific features; 2) that mtDNA transcription is lineage-specific and independent from the nuclear background; and 3) that male-transmitted and female-transmitted mtDNAs have a similar amount of polymorphism but of different kinds, due to different population size and selection efficiency. Our results are consistent with the hypotheses that mtDNA evolution is strongly dependent on the dynamics of germ line formation, and that the establishment of a male-transmitted mtDNA lineage can increase male fitness through selection on sperm function.
doubly uniparental inheritance; mitochondrial intergenic regions; novel mitochondrial ORFs; germ line mitochondria; mitochondrial polymorphism; CORR
Along the green lineage (Chlorophyta and Streptophyta), mitochondria and chloroplast are mainly uniparentally transmitted and their evolution is thus clonal. The mode of organellar inheritance in their ancestor is less certain. The inability to make clear phylogenetic inference is partly due to a lack of information for deep branching organisms in this lineage. Here, we investigate organellar evolution in the early branching green alga Ostreococcus tauri using population genomics data from the complete mitochondrial and chloroplast genomes. The haplotype structure is consistent with clonal evolution in mitochondria, while we find evidence for recombination in the chloroplast genome. The number of recombination events in the genealogy of the chloroplast suggests that recombination, and thus biparental inheritance, is not rare. Consistent with the evidence of recombination, we find that the ratio of the number of nonsynonymous to the synonymous polymorphisms per site is lower in chloroplast than in the mitochondria genome. We also find evidence for the segregation of two selfish genetic elements in the chloroplast. These results shed light on the role of recombination and the evolutionary history of organellar inheritance in the green lineage.
organellar inheritance; population genomics; recombination; effective population size; picoeukaryotes; large indel polymorphisms
Mosquitoes are hosts of several Spiroplasma species that belong to different serogroups. To investigate the genetic mechanisms that may be involved in the utilization of similar hosts in these phylogenetically distinct bacteria, we determined the complete genome sequences of Spiroplasma diminutum and S. taiwanense for comparative analysis. The genome alignment indicates that their chromosomal organization is highly conserved, which is in sharp contrast to the elevated genome instabilities observed in other Spiroplasma lineages. Examination of the substrate utilization strategies revealed that S. diminutum can use a wide range of carbohydrates, suggesting that it is well suited to living in the gut (and possibly the circulatory system) of its mosquito hosts. In comparison, S. taiwanense has lost several carbohydrate utilization genes and acquired additional sets of oligopeptide transporter genes through tandem duplications, suggesting that proteins from digested blood meal or lysed host cells may be an important nutrient source. Moreover, one glycerol-3-phosphate oxidase gene (glpO) was found in S. taiwanense but not S. diminutum. This gene is linked to the production of reactive oxygen species and has been shown to be a major virulence factor in Mycoplasma mycoides. This finding may explain the pathogenicity of S. taiwanense observed in previous artificial infection experiments, while no apparent effect was found for S. diminutum. To infer the gene content evolution at deeper divergence levels, we incorporated other Mollicutes genomes for comparative analyses. The results suggest that the losses of biosynthetic pathways are a recurrent theme in these host-associated bacteria.
Mollicutes; Spiroplasma diminutum; Spiroplasma taiwanense; genome; mosquito; virulence factor
Gene context determines gene expression, with local chromosomal environment most influential. Comparative genomic analysis is often limited in scope to conserved or divergent gene and protein families, and fungi are well suited to this approach with low functional redundancy and relatively streamlined genomes. We show here that one aspect of gene context, the amount of potential upstream regulatory sequence maintained through evolution, is highly predictive of both molecular function and biological process in diverse fungi. Orthologs with large upstream intergenic regions (UIRs) are strongly enriched in information processing functions, such as signal transduction and sequence-specific DNA binding, and, in the genus Aspergillus, include the majority of experimentally studied, high-level developmental and metabolic transcriptional regulators. Many uncharacterized genes are also present in this class and, by implication, may be of similar importance. Large intergenic regions also share two novel sequence characteristics, currently of unknown significance: they are enriched for plus-strand polypyrimidine tracts and an information-rich, putative regulatory motif that was present in the last common ancestor of the Pezizomycotina. Systematic consideration of gene UIR in comparative genomics, particularly for poorly characterized species, could help reveal organisms’ regulatory priorities.
genome architecture; gene regulation; comparative genomics; regulatory complexity; fungi; polypyrimidine