Saxitoxin and its derivatives are potent neurotoxins produced by several cyanobacteria and dinoflagellate species. SxtA is the initial enzyme in the biosynthesis of saxitoxin. The dinoflagellate full mRNA and partial genomic sequences have previously been characterized, and it appears that sxtA originated in dinoflagellates through a horizontal gene transfer from a bacterium. So far, little is known about the remaining genes involved in this pathway in dinoflagellates. Here we characterize sxtG, an amidinotransferase enzyme gene that putatively encodes the second step in saxitoxin biosynthesis. In this study, the entire sxtG transcripts from Alexandrium fundyense CCMP1719 and Alexandrium minutum CCMP113 were amplified and sequenced. The transcripts contained typical dinoflagellate spliced leader sequences and eukaryotic poly(A) tails. In addition, partial sxtG transcript fragments were amplified from four additional Alexandrium species and Gymnodinium catenatum. The phylogenetic inference of dinoflagellate sxtG, congruent with sxtA, revealed a bacterial origin. However, it is not known if sxtG was acquired independently of sxtA. Amplification and sequencing of the corresponding genomic sxtG region revealed noncanonical introns. These introns show a high interspecies and low intraspecies variance, suggesting multiple independent acquisitions and losses. Unlike sxtA, sxtG was also amplified from Alexandrium species not known to synthesize saxitoxin. However, amplification was not observed for 22 non-saxitoxin-producing dinoflagellate species other than those of the genus Alexandrium or G. catenatum. This result strengthens our hypothesis that saxitoxin synthesis has been secondarily lost in conjunction with sxtA for some descendant species.
Genes encoding the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) have been thought to play a vital role in the adaptive immune system in all vertebrates. The discovery that Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua) has lost important components of the MHC II pathway, accompanied by an unusually high number of MHC I genes, shed new light on the evolution and plasticity of the immune system of teleosts as well as in higher vertebrates. The overall aim of this study was to further investigate the highly expanded repertoire of MHC I genes using a cDNA approach to obtain sequence information of both the binding domains and the sorting signaling potential in the cytoplasmic tail. Here we report a novel combination of two endosomal sorting motifs, one tyrosine-based associated with exogenous peptide presentation by cross-presenting MHCI molecules, and one dileucine-based associated with normal MHC II functionality. The two signal motifs were identified in the cytoplasmic tail in a subset of the genes. This indicates that these genes have evolved MHC II-like functionality, allowing a more versatile use of MHC I through cross-presentation. Such an alternative immune strategy may have arisen through adaptive radiation and acquisition of new gene function as a response to changes in the habitat of its ancestral lineage.
Numerous species of marine dinoflagellates synthesize the potent environmental neurotoxic alkaloid, saxitoxin, the agent of the human illness, paralytic shellfish poisoning. In addition, certain freshwater species of cyanobacteria also synthesize the same toxic compound, with the biosynthetic pathway and genes responsible being recently reported. Three theories have been postulated to explain the origin of saxitoxin in dinoflagellates: The production of saxitoxin by co-cultured bacteria rather than the dinoflagellates themselves, convergent evolution within both dinoflagellates and bacteria and horizontal gene transfer between dinoflagellates and bacteria. The discovery of cyanobacterial saxitoxin homologs in dinoflagellates has enabled us for the first time to evaluate these theories. Here, we review the distribution of saxitoxin within the dinoflagellates and our knowledge of its genetic basis to determine the likely evolutionary origins of this potent neurotoxin.
cyanobacteria; dinoflagellates; harmful algal blooms (HABs); horizontal gene transfer (HGT); phylogeny; paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP); paralytic shellfish toxin (PST); saxitoxin; STX
Several Planktothrix strains, each producing a distinct oligopeptide profile, have been shown to coexist within Lake Steinsfjorden (Norway). Using nonribosomal peptide synthetase (NRPS) genes as markers, it has been shown that the Planktothrix community comprises distinct genetic variants displaying differences in bloom dynamics, suggesting a Planktothrix subpopulation structure. Here, we investigate the Planktothrix variants inhabiting four lakes in southeast of Norway utilizing both NRPS and non-NRPS genes. Phylogenetic analyses showed similar topologies for both NRPS and non-NRPS genes, and the lakes appear to have similar structuring of Planktothrix genetic variants. The structure of distinct variants was also supported by very low genetic diversity within variants compared to the between-variant diversity. Incongruent topologies and split decomposition revealed recombination events between Planktothrix variants. In several strains the gene variants seem to be a result of recombination. Both NRPS and non-NRPS genes are dominated by purifying selection; however, sites subjected to positive selection were also detected. The presence of similar and well-separated Planktothrix variants with low internal genetic diversity indicates gene flow within Planktothrix populations. Further, the low genetic diversity found between lakes (similar range as within lakes) indicates gene flow also between Planktothrix populations and suggests recent, or recurrent, dispersals. Our data also indicate that recombination has resulted in new genetic variants. Stability within variants and the development of new variants are likely to be influenced by selection patterns and within-variant homologous recombination.
Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua) is a large, cold-adapted teleost that sustains long-standing commercial fisheries and incipient aquaculture1,2. Here we present the genome sequence of Atlantic cod, showing evidence for complex thermal adaptations in its haemoglobin gene cluster and an unusual immune architecture compared to other sequenced vertebrates. The genome assembly was obtained exclusively by 454 sequencing of shotgun and paired-end libraries, and automated annotation identified 22,154 genes. The major histocompatibility complex (MHC) II is a conserved feature of the adaptive immune system of jawed vertebrates3,4, but we show that Atlantic cod has lost the genes for MHCII, CD4 and Ii that are essential for the function of this pathway. Nevertheless, Atlantic cod is not exceptionally susceptible to disease under natural conditions5. We find a highly expanded number of MHCI genes and a unique composition of its Toll-like receptor (TLR) families. This suggests how the Atlantic cod immune system has evolved compensatory mechanisms within both adaptive and innate immunity in the absence of MHCII. These observations affect fundamental assumptions about the evolution of the adaptive immune system and its components in vertebrates.
The dinoflagellates are a diverse lineage of microbial eukaryotes. Dinoflagellate monophyly and their position within the group Alveolata are well established. However, phylogenetic relationships between dinoflagellate orders remain unresolved. To date, only a limited number of dinoflagellate studies have used a broad taxon sample with more than two concatenated markers. This lack of resolution makes it difficult to determine the evolution of major phenotypic characters such as morphological features or toxin production e.g. saxitoxin. Here we present an improved dinoflagellate phylogeny, based on eight genes, with the broadest taxon sampling to date. Fifty-five sequences for eight phylogenetic markers from nuclear and mitochondrial regions were amplified from 13 species, four orders, and concatenated phylogenetic inferences were conducted with orthologous sequences. Phylogenetic resolution is increased with addition of support for the deepest branches, though can be improved yet further. We show for the first time that the characteristic dinoflagellate thecal plates, cellulosic material that is present within the sub-cuticular alveoli, appears to have had a single origin. In addition, the monophyly of most dinoflagellate orders is confirmed: the Dinophysiales, the Gonyaulacales, the Prorocentrales, the Suessiales, and the Syndiniales. Our improved phylogeny, along with results of PCR to detect the sxtA gene in various lineages, allows us to suggest that this gene was probably acquired separately in Gymnodinium and the common ancestor of Alexandrium and Pyrodinium and subsequently lost in some descendent species of Alexandrium.
Interstitial Cystitis (IC) is a chronic inflammatory condition of the bladder with unknown etiology. The aim of this study was to characterize the microbial community present in the urine from IC female patients by 454 high throughput sequencing of the 16S variable regions V1V2 and V6. The taxonomical composition, richness and diversity of the IC microbiota were determined and compared to the microbial profile of asymptomatic healthy female (HF) urine.
The composition and distribution of bacterial sequences differed between the urine microbiota of IC patients and HFs. Reduced sequence richness and diversity were found in IC patient urine, and a significant difference in the community structure of IC urine in relation to HF urine was observed. More than 90% of the IC sequence reads were identified as belonging to the bacterial genus Lactobacillus, a marked increase compared to 60% in HF urine.
The 16S rDNA sequence data demonstrates a shift in the composition of the bacterial community in IC urine. The reduced microbial diversity and richness is accompanied by a higher abundance of the bacterial genus Lactobacillus, compared to HF urine. This study demonstrates that high throughput sequencing analysis of urine microbiota in IC patients is a powerful tool towards a better understanding of this enigmatic disease.
Pockmarks (depressions in the seabed) have been discovered throughout the world’s oceans and are often related to hydrocarbon seepage. Although high concentrations of pockmarks are present in the seabed overlaying the Troll oil and gas reservoir in the northern North Sea, geological surveys have not detected hydrocarbon seepage in this area at the present time. In this study we have used metagenomics to characterize the prokaryotic communities inhabiting the surface sediments in the Troll area in relation to geochemical parameters, particularly related to hydrocarbon presence. We also investigated the possibility of increased potential for methane oxidation related to the pockmarks. Five metagenomes from pockmarks and plain seabed sediments were sequenced by pyrosequencing (Roche/454) technology. In addition, two metagenomes from seabed sediments geologically unlikely to be influenced by hydrocarbon seepage (the Oslofjord) were included. The taxonomic distribution and metabolic potential of the metagenomes were analyzed by multivariate analysis and statistical comparisons to reveal variation within and between the two sampling areas.
The main difference identified between the two sampling areas was an overabundance of predominantly autotrophic nitrifiers, especially Nitrosopumilus, and oligotrophic marine Gammaproteobacteria in the Troll metagenomes compared to the Oslofjord. Increased potential for degradation of hydrocarbons, especially aromatic hydrocarbons, was detected in two of the Troll samples: one pockmark sample and one from the plain seabed. Although presence of methanotrophic organisms was indicated in all samples, no overabundance in pockmark samples compared to the Oslofjord samples supports no, or only low level, methane seepage in the Troll pockmarks at the present time.
Given the relatively low content of total organic carbon and great depths of hydrocarbon containing sediments in the Troll area, it is possible that at least part of the carbon source available for the predominantly autotrophic nitrifiers thriving in this area originates from sequential prokaryotic degradation and oxidation of hydrocarbons to CO2. By turning CO2 back into organic carbon this subcommunity could play an important environmental role in these dark oligotrophic sediments. The oxidation of ammonia to nitrite and nitrate in this process could further increase the supply of terminal electron acceptors for hydrocarbon degradation.
When plastids are transferred between eukaryote lineages through series of endosymbiosis, their environment changes dramatically. Comparison of dinoflagellate plastids that originated from different algal groups has revealed convergent evolution, suggesting that the host environment mainly influences the evolution of the newly acquired organelle. Recently the genome from the anomalously pigmented dinoflagellate Karlodinium veneficum plastid was uncovered as a conventional chromosome. To determine if this haptophyte-derived plastid contains additional chromosomal fragments that resemble the mini-circles of the peridin-containing plastids, we have investigated its genome by in-depth sequencing using 454 pyrosequencing technology, PCR and clone library analysis. Sequence analyses show several genes with significantly higher copy numbers than present in the chromosome. These genes are most likely extrachromosomal fragments, and the ones with highest copy numbers include genes encoding the chaperone DnaK(Hsp70), the rubisco large subunit (rbcL), and two tRNAs (trnE and trnM). In addition, some photosystem genes such as psaB, psaA, psbB and psbD are overrepresented. Most of the dnaK and rbcL sequences are found as shortened or fragmented gene sequences, typically missing the 3′-terminal portion. Both dnaK and rbcL are associated with a common sequence element consisting of about 120 bp of highly conserved AT-rich sequence followed by a trnE gene, possibly serving as a control region. Decatenation assays and Southern blot analysis indicate that the extrachromosomal plastid sequences do not have the same organization or lengths as the minicircles of the peridinin dinoflagellates. The fragmentation of the haptophyte-derived plastid genome K. veneficum suggests that it is likely a sign of a host-driven process shaping the plastid genomes of dinoflagellates.
Urine within the urinary tract is commonly regarded as "sterile" in cultivation terms. Here, we present a comprehensive in-depth study of bacterial 16S rDNA sequences associated with urine from healthy females by means of culture-independent high-throughput sequencing techniques.
Sequencing of the V1V2 and V6 regions of the 16S ribosomal RNA gene using the 454 GS FLX system was performed to characterize the possible bacterial composition in 8 culture-negative (<100,000 CFU/ml) healthy female urine specimens. Sequences were compared to 16S rRNA databases and showed significant diversity, with the predominant genera detected being Lactobacillus, Prevotella and Gardnerella. The bacterial profiles in the female urine samples studied were complex; considerable variation between individuals was observed and a common microbial signature was not evident. Notably, a significant amount of sequences belonging to bacteria with a known pathogenic potential was observed. The number of operational taxonomic units (OTUs) for individual samples varied substantially and was in the range of 20 - 500.
Normal female urine displays a noticeable and variable bacterial 16S rDNA sequence richness, which includes fastidious and anaerobic bacteria previously shown to be associated with female urogenital pathology.
Methane oxidizing prokaryotes in marine sediments are believed to function as a methane filter reducing the oceanic contribution to the global methane emission. In the anoxic parts of the sediments, oxidation of methane is accomplished by anaerobic methanotrophic archaea (ANME) living in syntrophy with sulphate reducing bacteria. This anaerobic oxidation of methane is assumed to be a coupling of reversed methanogenesis and dissimilatory sulphate reduction. Where oxygen is available aerobic methanotrophs take part in methane oxidation. In this study, we used metagenomics to characterize the taxonomic and metabolic potential for methane oxidation at the Tonya seep in the Coal Oil Point area, California. Two metagenomes from different sediment depth horizons (0-4 cm and 10-15 cm below sea floor) were sequenced by 454 technology. The metagenomes were analysed to characterize the distribution of aerobic and anaerobic methanotrophic taxa at the two sediment depths. To gain insight into the metabolic potential the metagenomes were searched for marker genes associated with methane oxidation.
Blast searches followed by taxonomic binning in MEGAN revealed aerobic methanotrophs of the genus Methylococcus to be overrepresented in the 0-4 cm metagenome compared to the 10-15 cm metagenome. In the 10-15 cm metagenome, ANME of the ANME-1 clade, were identified as the most abundant methanotrophic taxon with 8.6% of the reads. Searches for particulate methane monooxygenase (pmoA) and methyl-coenzyme M reductase (mcrA), marker genes for aerobic and anaerobic oxidation of methane respectively, identified pmoA in the 0-4 cm metagenome as Methylococcaceae related. The mcrA reads from the 10-15 cm horizon were all classified as originating from the ANME-1 clade.
Most of the taxa detected were present in both metagenomes and differences in community structure and corresponding metabolic potential between the two samples were mainly due to abundance differences.
The results suggests that the Tonya Seep sediment is a robust methane filter, where taxa presently dominating this process could be replaced by less abundant methanotrophic taxa in case of changed environmental conditions.
The phylogenies of allopolyploids take the shape of networks and cannot be adequately represented as bifurcating trees. Especially for high polyploids (i.e., organisms with more than six sets of nuclear chromosomes), the signatures of gene homoeolog loss, deep coalescence, and polyploidy may become confounded, with the result that gene trees may be congruent with more than one species network. Herein, we obtained the most parsimonious species network by objective comparison of competing scenarios involving polyploidization and homoeolog loss in a high-polyploid lineage of violets (Viola, Violaceae) mostly or entirely restricted to North America, Central America, or Hawaii. We amplified homoeologs of the low-copy nuclear gene, glucose-6-phosphate isomerase (GPI), by single-molecule polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and the chloroplast trnL-F region by conventional PCR for 51 species and subspecies. Topological incongruence among GPI homoeolog subclades, owing to deep coalescence and two instances of putative loss (or lack of detection) of homoeologs, were reconciled by applying the maximum tree topology for each subclade. The most parsimonious species network and the fossil-based calibration of the homoeolog tree favored monophyly of the high polyploids, which has resulted from allodecaploidization 9–14 Ma, involving sympatric ancestors from the extant Viola sections Chamaemelanium (diploid), Plagiostigma (paleotetraploid), and Viola (paleotetraploid). Although two of the high-polyploid lineages (Boreali-Americanae, Pedatae) remained decaploid, recurrent polyploidization with tetraploids of section Plagiostigma within the last 5 Ma has resulted in two 14-ploid lineages (Mexicanae, Nosphinium) and one 18-ploid lineage (Langsdorffianae). This implies a more complex phylogenetic and biogeographic origin of the Hawaiian violets (Nosphinium) than that previously inferred from rDNA data and illustrates the necessity of considering polyploidy in phylogenetic and biogeographic reconstruction.
Allopolyploidy; BEAST; homoeolog loss; low-copy nuclear gene; PADRE; single-molecule PCR; species network; Viola
Saxitoxin is a potent neurotoxin that occurs in aquatic environments worldwide.
Ingestion of vector species can lead to paralytic shellfish poisoning, a severe
human illness that may lead to paralysis and death. In freshwaters, the toxin is
produced by prokaryotic cyanobacteria; in marine waters, it is associated with
eukaryotic dinoflagellates. However, several studies suggest that saxitoxin is
not produced by dinoflagellates themselves, but by co-cultured bacteria. Here,
we show that genes required for saxitoxin synthesis are encoded in the nuclear
genomes of dinoflagellates. We sequenced >1.2×106 mRNA
transcripts from the two saxitoxin-producing dinoflagellate strains
Alexandrium fundyense CCMP1719 and A.
minutum CCMP113 using high-throughput sequencing technology. In
addition, we used in silico transcriptome analyses, RACE, qPCR
and conventional PCR coupled with Sanger sequencing. These approaches
successfully identified genes required for saxitoxin-synthesis in the two
transcriptomes. We focused on sxtA, the unique starting gene of
saxitoxin synthesis, and show that the dinoflagellate transcripts of
sxtA have the same domain structure as the cyanobacterial
sxtA genes. But, in contrast to the bacterial homologs, the
dinoflagellate transcripts are monocistronic, have a higher GC content, occur in
multiple copies, contain typical dinoflagellate spliced-leader sequences and
eukaryotic polyA-tails. Further, we investigated 28 saxitoxin-producing and
non-producing dinoflagellate strains from six different genera for the presence
of genomic sxtA homologs. Our results show very good agreement
between the presence of sxtA and saxitoxin-synthesis, except in
three strains of A. tamarense, for which we amplified
sxtA, but did not detect the toxin. Our work opens for
possibilities to develop molecular tools to detect saxitoxin-producing
dinoflagellates in the environment.
The dinoflagellates have repeatedly replaced their ancestral peridinin-plastid by plastids derived from a variety of algal lineages ranging from green algae to diatoms. Here, we have characterized the genome of a dinoflagellate plastid of tertiary origin in order to understand the evolutionary processes that have shaped the organelle since it was acquired as a symbiont cell. To address this, the genome of the haptophyte-derived plastid in Karlodinium veneficum was analyzed by Sanger sequencing of library clones and 454 pyrosequencing of plastid enriched DNA fractions. The sequences were assembled into a single contig of 143 kb, encoding 70 proteins, 3 rRNAs and a nearly full set of tRNAs. Comparative genomics revealed massive rearrangements and gene losses compared to the haptophyte plastid; only a small fraction of the gene clusters usually found in haptophytes as well as other types of plastids are present in K. veneficum. Despite the reduced number of genes, the K. veneficum plastid genome has retained a large size due to expanded intergenic regions. Some of the plastid genes are highly diverged and may be pseudogenes or subject to RNA editing. Gene losses and rearrangements are also features of the genomes of the peridinin-containing plastids, apicomplexa and Chromera, suggesting that the evolutionary processes that once shaped these plastids have occurred at multiple independent occasions over the history of the Alveolata.
The vertebrate globin genes encoding the α- and β-subunits of the tetrameric hemoglobins are clustered at two unlinked loci. The highly conserved linear order of the genes flanking the hemoglobins provides a strong anchor for inferring common ancestry of the globin clusters. In fish, the number of α-β-linked globin genes varies considerably between different sublineages and seems to be related to prevailing physico-chemical conditions. Draft sequences of the Atlantic cod genome enabled us to determine the genomic organization of the globin repertoire in this marine species that copes with fluctuating environments of the temperate and Arctic regions.
The Atlantic cod genome was shown to contain 14 globin genes, including nine hemoglobin genes organized in two unlinked clusters designated β5-α1-β1-α4 and β3-β4-α2-α3-β2. The diverged cod hemoglobin genes displayed different expression levels in adult fish, and tetrameric hemoglobins with or without a Root effect were predicted. The novel finding of maternally inherited hemoglobin mRNAs is consistent with a potential role played by fish hemoglobins in the non-specific immune response. In silico analysis of the six teleost genomes available showed that the two α-β globin clusters are flanked by paralogs of five duplicated genes, in agreement with the proposed teleost-specific duplication of the ancestral vertebrate globin cluster. Screening the genome of extant urochordate and cephalochordate species for conserved globin-flanking genes revealed linkage of RHBDF1, MPG and ARHGAP17 to globin genes in the tunicate Ciona intestinalis, while these genes together with LCMT are closely positioned in amphioxus (Branchiostoma floridae), but seem to be unlinked to the multiple globin genes identified in this species.
The plasticity of Atlantic cod to variable environmental conditions probably involves the expression of multiple globins with potentially different properties. The interspecific difference in number of fish hemoglobin genes contrasts with the highly conserved synteny of the flanking genes. The proximity of globin-flanking genes in the tunicate and amphioxus genomes resembles the RHBDF1-MPG-α-globin-ARHGAP17-LCMT linked genes in man and chicken. We hypothesize that the fusion of the three chordate linkage groups 3, 15 and 17 more than 800 MYA led to the ancestral vertebrate globin cluster during a geological period of increased atmospheric oxygen content.
Plastid replacements through secondary endosymbioses include massive transfer of genes from the endosymbiont to the host nucleus and require a new targeting system to enable transport of the plastid-targeted proteins across 3-4 plastid membranes. The dinoflagellates are the only eukaryotic lineage that has been shown to have undergone several plastid replacement events, and this group is thus highly relevant for studying the processes involved in plastid evolution. In this study, we analyzed the phylogenetic origin and N-terminal extensions of plastid-targeted proteins from Lepidodinium chlorophorum, a member of the only dinoflagellate genus that harbors a green secondary plastid rather than the red algal-derived, peridinin-containing plastid usually found in photosynthetic dinoflagellates.
We sequenced 4,746 randomly picked clones from a L. chlorophorum cDNA library. 22 of the assembled genes were identified as genes encoding proteins functioning in plastids. Some of these were of green algal origin. This confirms that genes have been transferred from the plastid to the host nucleus of L. chlorophorum and indicates that the plastid is fully integrated as an organelle in the host. Other nuclear-encoded plastid-targeted protein genes, however, are clearly not of green algal origin, but have been derived from a number of different algal groups, including dinoflagellates, streptophytes, heterokonts, and red algae. The characteristics of N-terminal plastid-targeting peptides of all of these genes are substantially different from those found in peridinin-containing dinoflagellates and green algae.
L. chlorophorum expresses plastid-targeted proteins with a range of different origins, which probably arose through endosymbiotic gene transfer (EGT) and horizontal gene transfer (HGT). The N-terminal extension of the genes is different from the extensions found in green alga and other dinoflagellates (peridinin- and haptophyte plastids). These modifications have likely enabled the mosaic proteome of L. chlorophorum.
Recent surveys of eukaryote 18S rDNA diversity in marine habitats have uncovered worldwide distribution of the heterotrophic eukaryote phylum Telonemia. Here we investigate the diversity and geographic distribution of Telonemia sequences by in-depth sequencing of several new 18S rDNA clone libraries from both marine and freshwater sites by using a Telonemia-specific PCR strategy.
In contrast to earlier studies that have employed eukaryote-wide PCR design, we identified a large and unknown diversity of phylotypes and the first rigorous evidence for several freshwater species, altogether comprising 91 unique sequences. Phylogenies of these and publicly available sequences showed 20 statistically supported sub-clades as well as several solitary phylotypes with no clear phylogenetic affiliation. Most of these sub-clades were composed of phylotypes from different geographic regions.
By using specific PCR primers we reveal a much larger diversity of Telonemia from environmental samples than previously uncovered by eukaryote-wide primers. The new data substantially diminish the geographic structuring of clades identified in earlier studies. Nevertheless, since these clades comprise several distinct phylotypes we cannot exclude endemicity at species level. We identified two freshwater clades and a few solitary phylotypes, implying that Telonemia have colonized freshwater habitats and adapted to the different environmental and ecological conditions at independent occasions.
Integration of ultrastructural and molecular sequence data has revealed six supergroups of eukaryote organisms (excavates, Rhizaria, chromalveolates, Plantae, Amoebozoa and opisthokonts), and the root of the eukaryote evolutionary tree is suggested to lie between unikonts (Amoebozoa, opisthokonts) and bikonts (the other supergroups). However, some smaller lineages remain of uncertain affinity. One of these unassigned taxa is the anaerobic, free-living, amoeboid flagellate Breviata anathema, which is of key significance as it is unclear whether it is a unikont (i.e. possibly the deepest branching amoebozoan) or a bikont. To establish its evolutionary position, we sequenced thousands of Breviata genes and calculated trees using 78 protein sequences. Our trees and specific substitutions in the 18S RNA sequence indicate that Breviata is related to other Amoebozoa, thereby significantly increasing the cellular diversity of this phylum and establishing Breviata as a deep-branching unikont. We discuss the implications of these results for the ancestral state of Amoebozoa and eukaryotes generally, demonstrating that phylogenomics of phylogenetically ‘nomadic’ species can elucidate key questions in eukaryote evolution. Furthermore, mitochondrial genes among the Breviata ESTs demonstrate that Breviata probably contains a modified anaerobic mitochondrion. With these findings, remnants of mitochondria have been detected in all putatively deep-branching amitochondriate organisms.
Breviata anathema; bikont; unikont; amoebozoa; excavates; phylogenomics
DNA-dependent RNA polymerase IV and V (Pol IV and V) are multi-subunit enzymes occurring in plants. The origin of Pol V, specific to angiosperms, from Pol IV, which is present in all land plants, is linked to the duplication of the gene encoding the largest subunit and the subsequent subneofunctionalization of the two paralogs (NRPD1 and NRPE1). Additional duplication of the second-largest subunit, NRPD2/NRPE2, has happened independently in at least some eudicot lineages, but its paralogs are often subject to concerted evolution and gene death and little is known about their evolution nor their affinity with Pol IV and Pol V.
We sequenced a ~1500 bp NRPD2/E2-like fragment from 18 Viola species, mostly paleopolyploids, and 6 non-Viola Violaceae species. Incongruence between the NRPD2/E2-like gene phylogeny and species phylogeny indicates a first duplication of NRPD2 relatively basally in Violaceae, with subsequent sorting of paralogs in the descendants, followed by a second duplication in the common ancestor of Viola and Allexis. In Viola, the mutation pattern suggested (sub-) neofunctionalization of the two NRPD2/E2-like paralogs, NRPD2/E2-a and NRPD2/E2-b. The dN/dS ratios indicated that a 54 bp region exerted strong positive selection for both paralogs immediately following duplication. This 54 bp region encodes a domain that is involved in the binding of the Nrpd2 subunit with other Pol IV/V subunits, and may be important for correct recognition of subunits specific to Pol IV and Pol V. Across all Viola taxa 73 NRPD2/E2-like sequences were obtained, of which 23 (32%) were putative pseudogenes - all occurring in polyploids. The NRPD2 duplication was conserved in all lineages except the diploid MELVIO clade, in which NRPD2/E2-b was lost, and its allopolyploid derivates from hybridization with the CHAM clade, section Viola and section Melanium, in which NRPD2/E2-a occurred in multiple copies while NRPD2/E2-b paralogs were either absent or pseudogenized.
Following the relatively recent split of Pol IV and Pol V, our data indicate that these two multi-subunit enzymes are still in the process of specialization and each acquiring fully subfunctionalized copies of their subunit genes. Even after specialization, the NRPD2/E2-like paralogs are prone to pseudogenization and gene conversion and NRPD2 and NRPE2 copy number is a highly dynamic process modulated by allopolyploidy and gene death.
Marine dinoflagellates are the single most important group of algae that produce toxins, which have a global impact on human activities. The toxins are chemically diverse, and include macrolides, cyclic polyethers, spirolides and purine alkaloids. Whereas there is a multitude of studies describing the pharmacology of these toxins, there is limited or no knowledge regarding the biochemistry and molecular genetics involved in their biosynthesis. Recently, however, exciting advances have been made. Expressed sequence tag sequencing studies have revealed important insights into the transcriptomes of dinoflagellates, whereas other studies have implicated polyketide synthase genes in the biosynthesis of cyclic polyether toxins, and the molecular genetic basis for the biosynthesis of paralytic shellfish toxins has been elucidated in cyanobacteria. This review summarises the recent progress that has been made regarding the unusual genomes of dinoflagellates, the biosynthesis and molecular genetics of dinoflagellate toxins. In addition, the evolution of these metabolic pathways will be discussed, and an outlook for future research and possible applications is provided.
polyketides; polyether toxins; alkaloids; molecular genetics; genomics; biosynthesis
To conduct phylogeographic or population genetic studies, an adequate number of DNA markers for the focal species are required. Due to severe unavailability of genotype markers of any kind for the species Eurasian minnow (Phoxinus phoxinus L.) and rudd (Scardinius erythrophthalmus L.), we set out to attempt cross-amplification of a set of microsatellite loci from related species.
We tested 36 cyprinid microsatellite loci for cross-species amplification in minnow and rudd. Fifteen species-locus combinations produced amplifications in minnow, seven being polymorphic, while 18 combinations amplified in rudd, nine of these being polymorphic.
The positive cross-species amplifications present potential contributions to the establishment of genetic marker sets for population genetics studies of the two focal species.
Cyanobacteria often produce several different oligopeptides, with unknown biological functions, by nonribosomal peptide synthetases (NRPS). Although some cyanobacterial NRPS gene cluster types are well described, the entire NRPS genomic content within a single cyanobacterial strain has never been investigated. Here we have combined a genome-wide analysis using massive parallel pyrosequencing ("454") and mass spectrometry screening of oligopeptides produced in the strain Planktothrix rubescens NIVA CYA 98 in order to identify all putative gene clusters for oligopeptides.
Thirteen types of oligopeptides were uncovered by mass spectrometry (MS) analyses. Microcystin, cyanopeptolin and aeruginosin synthetases, highly similar to already characterized NRPS, were present in the genome. Two novel NRPS gene clusters were associated with production of anabaenopeptins and microginins, respectively. Sequence-depth of the genome and real-time PCR data revealed three copies of the microginin gene cluster. Since NRPS gene cluster candidates for microviridin and oscillatorin synthesis could not be found, putative (gene encoded) precursor peptide sequences to microviridin and oscillatorin were found in the genes mdnA and oscA, respectively. The genes flanking the microviridin and oscillatorin precursor genes encode putative modifying enzymes of the precursor oligopeptides. We therefore propose ribosomal pathways involving modifications and cyclisation for microviridin and oscillatorin. The microviridin, anabaenopeptin and cyanopeptolin gene clusters are situated in close proximity to each other, constituting an oligopeptide island.
Altogether seven nonribosomal peptide synthetase (NRPS) gene clusters and two gene clusters putatively encoding ribosomal oligopeptide biosynthetic pathways were revealed. Our results demonstrate that whole genome shotgun sequencing combined with MS-directed determination of oligopeptides successfully can identify NRPS gene clusters and the corresponding oligopeptides. The analyses suggest independent evolution of all NRPS gene clusters as functional units. Our data indicate that the Planktothrix genome displays evolution of dual pathways (NRPS and ribosomal) for production of oligopeptides in order to maximize the diversity of oligopeptides with similar but functional discrete bioactivities.
Understanding the early evolution and diversification of eukaryotes relies on a fully resolved phylogenetic tree. In recent years, most eukaryotic diversity has been assigned to six putative supergroups, but the evolutionary origin of a few major “orphan” lineages remains elusive. Two ecologically important orphan groups are the heterotrophic Telonemia and Centroheliozoa. Telonemids have been proposed to be related to the photosynthetic cryptomonads or stramenopiles and centrohelids to haptophytes, but molecular phylogenies have failed to provide strong support for any phylogenetic hypothesis. Here, we investigate the origins of Telonema subtilis (a telonemid) and Raphidiophrys contractilis (a centrohelid) by large-scale 454 pyrosequencing of cDNA libraries and including new genomic data from two cryptomonads (Guillardia theta and Plagioselmis nannoplanctica) and a haptophyte (Imantonia rotunda). We demonstrate that 454 sequencing of cDNA libraries is a powerful and fast method of sampling a high proportion of protist genes, which can yield ample information for phylogenomic studies. Our phylogenetic analyses of 127 genes from 72 species indicate that telonemids and centrohelids are members of an emerging major group of eukaryotes also comprising cryptomonads and haptophytes. Furthermore, this group is possibly closely related to the SAR clade comprising stramenopiles (heterokonts), alveolates, and Rhizaria. Our results link two additional heterotrophic lineages to the predominantly photosynthetic chromalveolate supergroup, providing a new framework for interpreting the evolution of eukaryotic cell structures and the diversification of plastids.
Telonemia; Centroheliozoa; SAR; CCTH; chromalveolates; plastid evolution
Cyanobacteria produce a wealth of secondary metabolites, including the group of small cyclic heptapeptide hepatotoxins that constitutes the microcystin family. The enzyme complex that directs the biosynthesis of microcystin is encoded in a single large gene cluster (mcy). mcy genes have a widespread distribution among cyanobacteria and are likely to have an ancient origin. The notable diversity within some of the Mcy modules is generated through various recombination events including horizontal gene transfer.
A comparative analysis of the adenylation domains from the first module of McyB (McyB1) and McyC in the microcystin synthetase complex was performed on a large number of microcystin-producing strains from the Anabaena, Microcystis and Planktothrix genera. We found no decisive evidence for recombination between strains from different genera. However, we detected frequent recombination events in the mcyB and mcyC genes between strains within the same genus. Frequent interdomain recombination events were also observed between mcyB and mcyC sequences in Anabaena and Microcystis. Recombination and mutation rate ratios suggest that the diversification of mcyB and mcyC genes is driven by recombination events as well as point mutations in all three genera. Sequence analysis suggests that generally the adenylation domains of the first domain of McyB and McyC are under purifying selection. However, we found clear evidence for positive selection acting on a number of amino acid residues within these adenylation domains. These include residues important for active site selectivity of the adenylation domain, strongly suggesting selection for novel microcystin variants.
We provide the first clear evidence for positive selection acting on amino acid residues involved directly in the recognition and activation of amino acids incorporated into microcystin, indicating that the microcystin complement of a given strain may influence the ability of a particular strain to interact with its environment.
Cyanopeptolins are nonribosomally produced heptapetides showing a highly variable composition. The cyanopeptolin synthetase operon has previously been investigated in three strains from the genera Microcystis, Planktothrix and Anabaena. Cyanopeptolins are displaying protease inhibitor activity, but the biological function(s) is (are) unknown. Cyanopeptolin gene cluster variability and biological functions of the peptide variants are likely to be interconnected.
We have investigated two cyanopeptolin gene clusters from highly similar, but geographically remote strains of the same genus. Sequencing of a nonribosomal peptide synthetase (NRPS) cyanopeptolin gene cluster from the Japanese strain Planktothrix NIES 205 (205-oci), showed the 30 kb gene cluster to be highly similar to the oci gene cluster previously described in Planktothrix NIVA CYA 116, isolated in Norway. Both operons contained seven NRPS modules, a sulfotransferase (S) and a glyceric acid loading (GA)-domain. Sequence analyses showed a high degree of conservation, except for the presence of an epimerase domain in NIES 205 and the regions around the epimerase, showing high substitution rates and Ka/Ks values above 1. The two strains produce almost identical cyanopeptolins, cyanopeptolin-1138 and oscillapeptin E respectively, but with slight differences regarding the production of minor cyanopeptolin variants. These variants may be the result of relaxed adenylation (A)-domain specificity in the nonribosomal enzyme complex. Other genetic markers (16S rRNA, ntcA and the phycocyanin cpcBA spacer) were identical, supporting that these geographically separated Planktothrix strains are closely related.
A horizontal gene transfer event resulting in exchange of a whole module-encoding region was observed. Nucleotide statistics indicate that both purifying selection and positive selection forces are operating on the gene cluster. The positive selection forces are acting within and around the epimerase insertion while purifying selection conserves the remaining (major) part of the gene cluster. The presence of an epimerase in the gene cluster is in line with the D-configuration of Htyr, determined experimentally in oscillapeptin E in a previous study.