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1.  Mycobacteriophage-drived diversification of Mycobacterium abscessus 
Biology Direct  2014;9:19.
Mycobacterium abscessus is an emerging opportunistic pathogen which diversity was acknowledged by the recent description of two subspecies accommodating M. abscessus, Mycobacterium bolletii and Mycobacterium massiliense isolates.
Here, genome analysis found 1–8 prophage regions in 47/48 M. abscessus genomes ranging from small prophage-like elements to complete prophages. A total of 20,304 viral and phage proteins clustered into 853 orthologous groups. Phylogenomic and phylogenetic analyses based on prophage region homology found three main clusters corresponding to M. abscessus, M. bolletii and M. massiliense. Analysing 135 annotated Tape Measure Proteins found thirteen clusters and four singletons, suggesting that at least 17 mycobacteriophages had infected M. abscessus during its evolution. The evolutionary history of phages differed from that of their mycobacterial hosts. In particular, 33 phage-related proteins have been horizontally transferred within M. abscessus genomes. They comprise of an integrase, specific mycobacteriophage proteins, hypothetical proteins and DNA replication and metabolism proteins. Gene exchanges, loss and gains which occurred in M. abscessus genomes have been driven by several mycobacteriophages.
This analysis of phage-mycobacterium co-evolution suggests that mycobacteriophages are playing a key-role in the on-going diversification of M. abscessus.
This article was reviewed by Eric Bapteste, Patrick Forterre and Eugene Koonin.
PMCID: PMC4172396  PMID: 25224692
Mycobacterium abscessus; Mycobacterium bolletii; Mycobacterium massiliense; Prophages; Mycobacteriophages
2.  The role of duplications in the evolution of genomes highlights the need for evolutionary-based approaches in comparative genomics 
Biology Direct  2011;6:11.
Understanding the evolutionary plasticity of the genome requires a global, comparative approach in which genetic events are considered both in a phylogenetic framework and with regard to population genetics and environmental variables. In the mechanisms that generate adaptive and non-adaptive changes in genomes, segmental duplications (duplication of individual genes or genomic regions) and polyploidization (whole genome duplications) are well-known driving forces. The probability of fixation and maintenance of duplicates depends on many variables, including population sizes and selection regimes experienced by the corresponding genes: a combination of stochastic and adaptive mechanisms has shaped all genomes. A survey of experimental work shows that the distinction made between fixation and maintenance of duplicates still needs to be conceptualized and mathematically modeled. Here we review the mechanisms that increase or decrease the probability of fixation or maintenance of duplicated genes, and examine the outcome of these events on the adaptation of the organisms.
This article was reviewed by Dr. Etienne Joly, Dr. Lutz Walter and Dr. W. Ford Doolittle.
PMCID: PMC3052240  PMID: 21333002
3.  Gene gain and loss events in Rickettsia and Orientia species 
Biology Direct  2011;6:6.
Genome degradation is an ongoing process in all members of the Rickettsiales order, which makes these bacterial species an excellent model for studying reductive evolution through interspecies variation in genome size and gene content. In this study, we evaluated the degree to which gene loss shaped the content of some Rickettsiales genomes. We shed light on the role played by horizontal gene transfers in the genome evolution of Rickettsiales.
Our phylogenomic tree, based on whole-genome content, presented a topology distinct from that of the whole core gene concatenated phylogenetic tree, suggesting that the gene repertoires involved have different evolutionary histories. Indeed, we present evidence for 3 possible horizontal gene transfer events from various organisms to Orientia and 6 to Rickettsia spp., while we also identified 3 possible horizontal gene transfer events from Rickettsia and Orientia to other bacteria. We found 17 putative genes in Rickettsia spp. that are probably the result of de novo gene creation; 2 of these genes appear to be functional. On the basis of these results, we were able to reconstruct the gene repertoires of "proto-Rickettsiales" and "proto-Rickettsiaceae", which correspond to the ancestors of Rickettsiales and Rickettsiaceae, respectively. Finally, we found that 2,135 genes were lost during the evolution of the Rickettsiaceae to an intracellular lifestyle.
Our phylogenetic analysis allowed us to track the gene gain and loss events occurring in bacterial genomes during their evolution from a free-living to an intracellular lifestyle. We have shown that the primary mechanism of evolution and specialization in strictly intracellular bacteria is gene loss. Despite the intracellular habitat, we found several horizontal gene transfers between Rickettsiales species and various prokaryotic, viral and eukaryotic species.
Open peer review
Reviewed by Arcady Mushegian, Eugene V. Koonin and Patrick Forterre. For the full reviews please go to the Reviewers' comments section.
PMCID: PMC3055210  PMID: 21303508
4.  Massive comparative genomic analysis reveals convergent evolution of specialized bacteria 
Biology Direct  2009;4:13.
Genome size and gene content in bacteria are associated with their lifestyles. Obligate intracellular bacteria (i.e., mutualists and parasites) have small genomes that derived from larger free-living bacterial ancestors; however, the different steps of bacterial specialization from free-living to intracellular lifestyle have not been studied comprehensively. The growing number of available sequenced genomes makes it possible to perform a statistical comparative analysis of 317 genomes from bacteria with different lifestyles.
Compared to free-living bacteria, host-dependent bacteria exhibit fewer rRNA genes, more split rRNA operons and fewer transcriptional regulators, linked to slower growth rates. We found a function-dependent and non-random loss of the same 100 orthologous genes in all obligate intracellular bacteria. Thus, we showed that obligate intracellular bacteria from different phyla are converging according to their lifestyle. Their specialization is an irreversible phenomenon characterized by translation modification and massive gene loss, including the loss of transcriptional regulators. Although both mutualists and parasites converge by genome reduction, these obligate intracellular bacteria have lost distinct sets of genes in the context of their specific host associations: mutualists have significantly more genes that enable nutrient provisioning whereas parasites have genes that encode Types II, IV, and VI secretion pathways.
Our findings suggest that gene loss, rather than acquisition of virulence factors, has been a driving force in the adaptation of parasites to eukaryotic cells. This comparative genomic analysis helps to explore the strategies by which obligate intracellular genomes specialize to particular host-associations and contributes to advance our knowledge about the mechanisms of bacterial evolution.
This article was reviewed by Eugene V. Koonin, Nicolas Galtier, and Jeremy Selengut.
PMCID: PMC2688493  PMID: 19361336

Results 1-4 (4)