April 21, 2020  |  

Hidden genomic evolution in a morphospecies-The landscape of rapidly evolving genes in Tetrahymena.

A morphospecies is defined as a taxonomic species based wholly on morphology, but often morphospecies consist of clusters of cryptic species that can be identified genetically or molecularly. The nature of the evolutionary novelty that accompanies speciation in a morphospecies is an intriguing question. Morphospecies are particularly common among ciliates, a group of unicellular eukaryotes that separates 2 kinds of nuclei-the silenced germline nucleus (micronucleus [MIC]) and the actively expressed somatic nucleus (macronucleus [MAC])-within a common cytoplasm. Because of their very similar morphologies, members of the Tetrahymena genus are considered a morphospecies. We explored the hidden genomic evolution within this genus by performing a comprehensive comparative analysis of the somatic genomes of 10 species and the germline genomes of 2 species of Tetrahymena. These species show high genetic divergence; phylogenomic analysis suggests that the genus originated about 300 million years ago (Mya). Seven universal protein domains are preferentially included among the species-specific (i.e., the youngest) Tetrahymena genes. In particular, leucine-rich repeat (LRR) genes make the largest contribution to the high level of genome divergence of the 10 species. LRR genes can be sorted into 3 different age groups. Parallel evolutionary trajectories have independently occurred among LRR genes in the different Tetrahymena species. Thousands of young LRR genes contain tandem arrays of exactly 90-bp exons. The introns separating these exons show a unique, extreme phase 2 bias, suggesting a clonal origin and successive expansions of 90-bp-exon LRR genes. Identifying LRR gene age groups allowed us to document a Tetrahymena intron length cycle. The youngest 90-bp exon LRR genes in T. thermophila are concentrated in pericentromeric and subtelomeric regions of the 5 micronuclear chromosomes, suggesting that these regions act as genome innovation centers. Copies of a Tetrahymena Long interspersed element (LINE)-like retrotransposon are very frequently found physically adjacent to 90-bp exon/intron repeat units of the youngest LRR genes. We propose that Tetrahymena species have used a massive exon-shuffling mechanism, involving unequal crossing over possibly in concert with retrotransposition, to create the unique 90-bp exon array LRR genes.

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  |  

A New Species of the ?-Proteobacterium Francisella, F. adeliensis Sp. Nov., Endocytobiont in an Antarctic Marine Ciliate and Potential Evolutionary Forerunner of Pathogenic Species.

The study of the draft genome of an Antarctic marine ciliate, Euplotes petzi, revealed foreign sequences of bacterial origin belonging to the ?-proteobacterium Francisella that includes pathogenic and environmental species. TEM and FISH analyses confirmed the presence of a Francisella endocytobiont in E. petzi. This endocytobiont was isolated and found to be a new species, named F. adeliensis sp. nov.. F. adeliensis grows well at wide ranges of temperature, salinity, and carbon dioxide concentrations implying that it may colonize new organisms living in deeply diversified habitats. The F. adeliensis genome includes the igl and pdp gene sets (pdpC and pdpE excepted) of the Francisella pathogenicity island needed for intracellular growth. Consistently with an F. adeliensis ancient symbiotic lifestyle, it also contains a single insertion-sequence element. Instead, it lacks genes for the biosynthesis of essential amino acids such as cysteine, lysine, methionine, and tyrosine. In a genome-based phylogenetic tree, F. adeliensis forms a new early branching clade, basal to the evolution of pathogenic species. The correlations of this clade with the other clades raise doubts about a genuine free-living nature of the environmental Francisella species isolated from natural and man-made environments, and suggest to look at F. adeliensis as a pioneer in the Francisella colonization of eukaryotic organisms.

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  |  

Genetic basis for the establishment of endosymbiosis in Paramecium.

The single-celled ciliate Paramecium bursaria is an indispensable model for investigating endosymbiosis between protists and green-algal symbionts. To elucidate the mechanism of this type of endosymbiosis, we combined PacBio and Illumina sequencing to assemble a high-quality and near-complete macronuclear genome of P. bursaria. The genomic characteristics and phylogenetic analyses indicate that P. bursaria is the basal clade of the Paramecium genus. Through comparative genomic analyses with its close relatives, we found that P. bursaria encodes more genes related to nitrogen metabolism and mineral absorption, but encodes fewer genes involved in oxygen binding and N-glycan biosynthesis. A comparison of the transcriptomic profiles between P. bursaria with and without endosymbiotic Chlorella showed differential expression of a wide range of metabolic genes. We selected 32 most differentially expressed genes to perform RNA interference experiment in P. bursaria, and found that P. bursaria can regulate the abundance of their symbionts through glutamine supply. This study provides novel insights into Paramecium evolution and will extend our knowledge of the molecular mechanism for the induction of endosymbiosis between P. bursaria and green algae.

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