April 21, 2020  |  

Divergent selection following speciation in two ectoparasitic honey bee mites

Multispecies host-parasite evolution is common, but how parasites evolve after speciating remains poorly understood. Shared evolutionary history and physiology may propel species along similar evolutionary trajectories whereas pursuing different strategies can reduce competition. We test these scenarios in the economically important association between honey bees and ectoparasitic mites by sequencing the genomes of the sister mite species Varroa destructor and Varroa jacobsoni. These genomes were closely related, with 99.7% sequence identity. Among the 9,628 orthologous genes, 4.8% showed signs of positive selection in at least one species. Divergent selective trajectories were discovered in conserved chemosensory gene families (IGR, SNMP), and Halloween genes (CYP) involved in moulting and reproduction. However, there was little overlap in these gene sets and associated GO terms, indicating different selective regimes operating on each of the parasites. Based on our findings, we suggest that species-specific strategies may be needed to combat evolving parasite communities.


April 21, 2020  |  

Morphological and genomic characterisation of the hybrid schistosome infecting humans in Europe reveals a complex admixture between Schistosoma haematobium and Schistosoma bovis parasites

Schistosomes cause schistosomiasis, the worldtextquoterights second most important parasitic disease after malaria. A peculiar feature of schistosomes is their ability to produce viable and fertile hybrids. Originally only present in the tropics, schistosomiasis is now also endemic in Europe. Based on two genetic markers the European species had been identified as a hybrid between the ruminant-infective Schistosoma bovis and the human-infective Schistosoma haematobium.Here we describe for the first time the genomic composition of the European schistosome hybrid (77% of S. haematobium and 23% of S. bovis origins), its morphometric parameters and its compatibility with the European vector snail and intermediate host Compatibility is a key parameter for the parasites life cycle progression. We also show that egg morphology (a classical diagnostic parameter) does not allow for differential diagnosis while genetic tests do so. Additionally, we performed genome assembly improvement and annotation of S. bovis, the parental species for which no satisfactory genome assembly was available.For the first time since the discovery of hybrid schistosomes, these results reveal at the whole genomic level a complex admixture of parental genomes highlighting (i) the high permeability of schistosomes to other speciestextquoteright alleles, and (ii) the importance of hybrid formation for pushing species boundaries not only conceptionally but also geographically.


April 21, 2020  |  

Draft Genome Sequences of Leishmania (Leishmania) amazonensis, Leishmania (Leishmania) mexicana, and Leishmania (Leishmania) aethiopica, Potential Etiological Agents of Diffuse Cutaneous Leishmaniasis.

We present here the draft genome sequences of Leishmania (Leishmania) amazonensis, Leishmania (Leishmania) mexicana, and Leishmania (Leishmania) aethiopica, potential etiological agents of diffuse cutaneous leishmaniasis (DCL). Sequence data were obtained using PacBio and MiSeq platforms. The PacBio assemblies generated using Canu v1.6 are more contiguous than are those in the available data.


April 21, 2020  |  

Whole-genome sequence of the oriental lung fluke Paragonimus westermani.

Foodborne infections caused by lung flukes of the genus Paragonimus are a significant and widespread public health problem in tropical areas. Approximately 50 Paragonimus species have been reported to infect animals and humans, but Paragonimus westermani is responsible for the bulk of human disease. Despite their medical and economic importance, no genome sequence for any Paragonimus species is available.We sequenced and assembled the genome of P. westermani, which is among the largest of the known pathogen genomes with an estimated size of 1.1 Gb. A 922.8 Mb genome assembly was generated from Illumina and Pacific Biosciences (PacBio) sequence data, covering 84% of the estimated genome size. The genome has a high proportion (45%) of repeat-derived DNA, particularly of the long interspersed element and long terminal repeat subtypes, and the expansion of these elements may explain some of the large size. We predicted 12,852 protein coding genes, showing a high level of conservation with related trematode species. The majority of proteins (80%) had homologs in the human liver fluke Opisthorchis viverrini, with an average sequence identity of 64.1%. Assembly of the P. westermani mitochondrial genome from long PacBio reads resulted in a single high-quality circularized 20.6 kb contig. The contig harbored a 6.9 kb region of non-coding repetitive DNA comprised of three distinct repeat units. Our results suggest that the region is highly polymorphic in P. westermani, possibly even within single worm isolates.The generated assembly represents the first Paragonimus genome sequence and will facilitate future molecular studies of this important, but neglected, parasite group.


April 21, 2020  |  

Rapid antigen diversification through mitotic recombination in the human malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum.

Malaria parasites possess the remarkable ability to maintain chronic infections that fail to elicit a protective immune response, characteristics that have stymied vaccine development and cause people living in endemic regions to remain at risk of malaria despite previous exposure to the disease. These traits stem from the tremendous antigenic diversity displayed by parasites circulating in the field. For Plasmodium falciparum, the most virulent of the human malaria parasites, this diversity is exemplified by the variant gene family called var, which encodes the major surface antigen displayed on infected red blood cells (RBCs). This gene family exhibits virtually limitless diversity when var gene repertoires from different parasite isolates are compared. Previous studies indicated that this remarkable genome plasticity results from extensive ectopic recombination between var genes during mitotic replication; however, the molecular mechanisms that direct this process to antigen-encoding loci while the rest of the genome remains relatively stable were not determined. Using targeted DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) and long-read whole-genome sequencing, we show that a single break within an antigen-encoding region of the genome can result in a cascade of recombination events leading to the generation of multiple chimeric var genes, a process that can greatly accelerate the generation of diversity within this family. We also found that recombinations did not occur randomly, but rather high-probability, specific recombination products were observed repeatedly. These results provide a molecular basis for previously described structured rearrangements that drive diversification of this highly polymorphic gene family.


April 21, 2020  |  

Chromulinavorax destructans, a pathogen of microzooplankton that provides a window into the enigmatic candidate phylum Dependentiae.

Members of the major candidate phylum Dependentiae (a.k.a. TM6) are widespread across diverse environments from showerheads to peat bogs; yet, with the exception of two isolates infecting amoebae, they are only known from metagenomic data. The limited knowledge of their biology indicates that they have a long evolutionary history of parasitism. Here, we present Chromulinavorax destructans (Strain SeV1) the first isolate of this phylum to infect a representative from a widespread and ecologically significant group of heterotrophic flagellates, the microzooplankter Spumella elongata (Strain CCAP 955/1). Chromulinavorax destructans has a reduced 1.2 Mb genome that is so specialized for infection that it shows no evidence of complete metabolic pathways, but encodes an extensive transporter system for importing nutrients and energy in the form of ATP from the host. Its replication causes extensive reorganization and expansion of the mitochondrion, effectively surrounding the pathogen, consistent with its dependency on the host for energy. Nearly half (44%) of the inferred proteins contain signal sequences for secretion, including many without recognizable similarity to proteins of known function, as well as 98 copies of proteins with an ankyrin-repeat domain; ankyrin-repeats are known effectors of host modulation, suggesting the presence of an extensive host-manipulation apparatus. These observations help to cement members of this phylum as widespread and diverse parasites infecting a broad range of eukaryotic microbes.


April 21, 2020  |  

Whole-genome sequence of the bovine blood fluke Schistosoma bovis supports interspecific hybridization with S. haematobium.

Mesenteric infection by the parasitic blood fluke Schistosoma bovis is a common veterinary problem in Africa and the Middle East and occasionally in the Mediterranean Region. The species also has the ability to form interspecific hybrids with the human parasite S. haematobium with natural hybridisation observed in West Africa, presenting possible zoonotic transmission. Additionally, this exchange of alleles between species may dramatically influence disease dynamics and parasite evolution. We have generated a 374 Mb assembly of the S. bovis genome using Illumina and PacBio-based technologies. Despite infecting different hosts and organs, the genome sequences of S. bovis and S. haematobium appeared strikingly similar with 97% sequence identity. The two species share 98% of protein-coding genes, with an average sequence identity of 97.3% at the amino acid level. Genome comparison identified large continuous parts of the genome (up to several 100 kb) showing almost 100% sequence identity between S. bovis and S. haematobium. It is unlikely that this is a result of genome conservation and provides further evidence of natural interspecific hybridization between S. bovis and S. haematobium. Our results suggest that foreign DNA obtained by interspecific hybridization was maintained in the population through multiple meiosis cycles and that hybrids were sexually reproductive, producing viable offspring. The S. bovis genome assembly forms a highly valuable resource for studying schistosome evolution and exploring genetic regions that are associated with species-specific phenotypic traits.


April 21, 2020  |  

Draft Genome Sequence of Trypanosoma equiperdum Strain IVM-t1.

Trypanosoma equiperdum primarily parasitizes the genital organs and causes dourine in equidae. We isolated a new T. equiperdum strain, T. equiperdum IVM-t1, from the urogenital tract of a horse definitively diagnosed as having dourine in Mongolia. Here, we report the whole-genome sequence, the predicted gene models, and their annotations.


April 21, 2020  |  

An improved genome assembly of the fluke Schistosoma japonicum.

Schistosoma japonicum is a parasitic flatworm that causes human schistosomiasis, which is a significant cause of morbidity in China and the Philippines. A single draft genome was available for S. japonicum, yet this assembly is very fragmented and only covers 90% of the genome, which make it difficult to be applied as a reference in functional genome analysis and genes discovery.In this study, we present a high-quality assembly of the fluke S. japonicum genome by combining 20 G (~53X) long single molecule real time sequencing reads with 80 G (~ 213X) Illumina paired-end reads. This improved genome assembly is approximately 370.5 Mb, with contig and scaffold N50 length of 871.9 kb and 1.09 Mb, representing 142.4-fold and 6.2-fold improvement over the released WGS-based assembly, respectively. Additionally, our assembly captured 85.2% complete and 4.6% partial eukaryotic Benchmarking Universal Single-Copy Orthologs. Repetitive elements account for 46.80% of the genome, and 10,089 of the protein-coding genes were predicted from the improved genome, of which 96.5% have been functionally annotated. Lastly, using the improved assembly, we identified 20 significantly expanded gene families in S. japonicum, and those genes were primarily enriched in functions of proteolysis and protein glycosylation.Using the combination of PacBio and Illumina Sequencing technologies, we provided an improved high-quality genome of S. japonicum. This improved genome assembly, as well as the annotation, will be useful for the comparative genomics of the flukes and more importantly facilitate the molecular studies of this important parasite in the future.


April 21, 2020  |  

Leishmania tarentolae: Taxonomic classification and its application as a promising biotechnological expression host.

In this review, we summarize the current knowledge concerning the eukaryotic protozoan parasite Leishmania tarentolae, with a main focus on its potential for biotechnological applications. We will also discuss the genus, subgenus, and species-level classification of this parasite, its life cycle and geographical distribution, and similarities and differences to human-pathogenic species, as these aspects are relevant for the evaluation of biosafety aspects of L. tarentolae as host for recombinant DNA/protein applications. Studies indicate that strain LEM-125 but not strain TARII/UC of L. tarentolae might also be capable of infecting mammals, at least transiently. This could raise the question of whether the current biosafety level of this strain should be reevaluated. In addition, we will summarize the current state of biotechnological research involving L. tarentolae and explain why this eukaryotic parasite is an advantageous and promising human recombinant protein expression host. This summary includes overall biotechnological applications, insights into its protein expression machinery (especially on glycoprotein and antibody fragment expression), available expression vectors, cell culture conditions, and its potential as an immunotherapy agent for human leishmaniasis treatment. Furthermore, we will highlight useful online tools and, finally, discuss possible future applications such as the humanization of the glycosylation profile of L. tarentolae or the expression of mammalian recombinant proteins in amastigote-like cells of this species or in amastigotes of avirulent human-pathogenic Leishmania species.


April 21, 2020  |  

Genome and transcriptome analyses of Leishmania spp.: opening Pandora’s box.

In the last 30 years, significant advances in genetic manipulation tools along with complete genome and transcriptome sequencing have advanced our understanding of the biology of Leishmania parasites and their interplay with the sand fly and mammalian hosts. High-throughput sequencing in association with CRISPR/Cas9 have prepared the ground for significant advances. Given the richness of the progress made over the last decade, in this article, we focused on the most recent contributions of genome-wide and transcriptome analyses of Leishmania spp., which permit the comparison of life cycle stages, the evaluation of different strains and species in their natural niches and in the field and the simultaneously comparison of the gene expression profiles of parasites and hosts.Copyright © 2019. Published by Elsevier Ltd.


April 21, 2020  |  

Nephromyces encodes a urate metabolism pathway and predicted peroxisomes, demonstrating that these are not ancient losses of apicomplexans.

The phylum Apicomplexa is a quintessentially parasitic lineage, whose members infect a broad range of animals. One exception to this may be the apicomplexan genus Nephromyces, which has been described as having a mutualistic relationship with its host. Here we analyze transcriptome data from Nephromyces and its parasitic sister taxon, Cardiosporidium, revealing an ancestral purine degradation pathway thought to have been lost early in apicomplexan evolution. The predicted localization of many of the purine degradation enzymes to peroxisomes, and the in silico identification of a full set of peroxisome proteins, indicates that loss of both features in other apicomplexans occurred multiple times. The degradation of purines is thought to play a key role in the unusual relationship between Nephromyces and its host. Transcriptome data confirm previous biochemical results of a functional pathway for the utilization of uric acid as a primary nitrogen source for this unusual apicomplexan.


April 21, 2020  |  

In-depth analysis of the genome of Trypanosoma evansi, an etiologic agent of surra.

Trypanosoma evansi is the causative agent of the animal trypanosomiasis surra, a disease with serious economic burden worldwide. The availability of the genome of its closely related parasite Trypanosoma brucei allows us to compare their genetic and evolutionarily shared and distinct biological features. The complete genomic sequence of the T. evansi YNB strain was obtained using a combination of genomic and transcriptomic sequencing, de novo assembly, and bioinformatic analysis. The genome size of the T. evansi YNB strain was 35.2 Mb, showing 96.59% similarity in sequence and 88.97% in scaffold alignment with T. brucei. A total of 8,617 protein-coding genes, accounting for 31% of the genome, were predicted. Approximately 1,641 alternative splicing events of 820 genes were identified, with a majority mediated by intron retention, which represented a major difference in post-transcriptional regulation between T. evansi and T. brucei. Disparities in gene copy number of the variant surface glycoprotein, expression site-associated genes, microRNAs, and RNA-binding protein were clearly observed between the two parasites. The results revealed the genomic determinants of T. evansi, which encoded specific biological characteristics that distinguished them from other related trypanosome species.


April 21, 2020  |  

Effective approaches to study the plant-root knot nematode interaction.

Plant-parasitic nematodes cause major agricultural losses worldwide. Examining the molecular mechanisms underlying plant-nematode interactions and how plants respond to different invading pathogens is attracting major attention to reduce the expanding gap between agricultural production and the needs of the growing world population. This review summarizes the most recent developments in plant-nematode interactions and the diverse approaches used to improve plant resistance against root knot nematode (RKN). We will emphasize the recent rapid advances in genome sequencing technologies, small interfering RNA techniques (RNAi) and targeted genome editing which are contributing to the significant progress in understanding the plant-nematode interaction mechanisms. Also, molecular approaches to improve plant resistance against nematodes are considered.Copyright © 2019 Elsevier Masson SAS. All rights reserved.


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