April 21, 2020  |  

The genomes of polyextremophilic Cyanidiales contain 1% horizontally transferred genes with diverse adaptive functions.

The role and extent of horizontal gene transfer (HGT) in eukaryotes are hotly disputed topics that impact our understanding of the origin of metabolic processes and the role of organelles in cellular evolution. We addressed this issue by analyzing 10 novel Cyanidiales genomes and determined that 1% of their gene inventory is HGT-derived. Numerous HGT candidates share a close phylogenetic relationship with prokaryotes that live in similar habitats as the Cyanidiales and encode functions related to polyextremophily. HGT candidates differ from native genes in GC-content, number of splice sites, and gene expression. HGT candidates are more prone to loss, which may explain the absence of a eukaryotic pan-genome. Therefore, the lack of a pan-genome and cumulative effects fail to provide substantive arguments against our hypothesis of recurring HGT followed by differential loss in eukaryotes. The maintenance of 1% HGTs, even under selection for genome reduction, underlines the importance of non-endosymbiosis related foreign gene acquisition. © 2019, Rossoni et al.


April 21, 2020  |  

A microbial factory for defensive kahalalides in a tripartite marine symbiosis.

Chemical defense against predators is widespread in natural ecosystems. Occasionally, taxonomically distant organisms share the same defense chemical. Here, we describe an unusual tripartite marine symbiosis, in which an intracellular bacterial symbiont (“Candidatus Endobryopsis kahalalidefaciens”) uses a diverse array of biosynthetic enzymes to convert simple substrates into a library of complex molecules (the kahalalides) for chemical defense of the host, the alga Bryopsis sp., against predation. The kahalalides are subsequently hijacked by a third partner, the herbivorous mollusk Elysia rufescens, and employed similarly for defense. “Ca E. kahalalidefaciens” has lost many essential traits for free living and acts as a factory for kahalalide production. This interaction between a bacterium, an alga, and an animal highlights the importance of chemical defense in the evolution of complex symbioses.Copyright © 2019 The Authors, some rights reserved; exclusive licensee American Association for the Advancement of Science. No claim to original U.S. Government Works.


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  |  

Engineering and modification of microbial chassis for systems and synthetic biology.

Engineering and modifying synthetic microbial chassis is one of the best ways not only to unravel the fundamental principles of life but also to enhance applications in the health, medicine, agricultural, veterinary, and food industries. The two primary strategies for constructing a microbial chassis are the top-down approach (genome reduction) and the bottom-up approach (genome synthesis). Research programs on this topic have been funded in several countries. The ‘Minimum genome factory’ (MGF) project was launched in 2001 in Japan with the goal of constructing microorganisms with smaller genomes for industrial use. One of the best examples of the results of this project is E. coli MGF-01, which has a reduced-genome size and exhibits better growth and higher threonine production characteristics than the parental strain [1]. The ‘cell factory’ project was carried out from 1998 to 2002 in the Fifth Framework Program of the EU (European Union), which tried to comprehensively understand microorganisms used in the application field. One of the outstanding results of this project was the elucidation of proteins secreted by Bacillus subtilis, which was summarized as the ‘secretome’ [2]. The GTL (Genomes to Life) program began in 2002 in the United States. In this program, researchers aimed to create artificial cells both in silico and in vitro, such as the successful design and synthesis of a minimal bacterial genome by John Craig Venter’s group [3]. This review provides an update on recent advances in engineering, modification and application of synthetic microbial chassis, with particular emphasis on the value of learning about chassis as a way to better understand life and improve applications.


April 21, 2020  |  

Plastid genomes from diverse glaucophyte genera reveal a largely conserved gene content and limited architectural diversity.

Plastid genome (ptDNA) data of Glaucophyta have been limited for many years to the genus Cyanophora. Here, we sequenced the ptDNAs of Gloeochaete wittrockiana, Cyanoptyche gloeocystis, Glaucocystis incrassata, and Glaucocystis sp. BBH. The reported sequences are the first genome-scale plastid data available for these three poorly studied glaucophyte genera. Although the Glaucophyta plastids appear morphologically “ancestral,” they actually bear derived genomes not radically different from those of red algae or viridiplants. The glaucophyte plastid coding capacity is highly conserved (112 genes shared) and the architecture of the plastid chromosomes is relatively simple. Phylogenomic analyses recovered Glaucophyta as the earliest diverging Archaeplastida lineage, but the position of viridiplants as the first branching group was not rejected by the approximately unbiased test. Pairwise distances estimated from 19 different plastid genes revealed that the highest sequence divergence between glaucophyte genera is frequently higher than distances between species of different classes within red algae or viridiplants. Gene synteny and sequence similarity in the ptDNAs of the two Glaucocystis species analyzed is conserved. However, the ptDNA of Gla. incrassata contains a 7.9-kb insertion not detected in Glaucocystis sp. BBH. The insertion contains ten open reading frames that include four coding regions similar to bacterial serine recombinases (two open reading frames), DNA primases, and peptidoglycan aminohydrolases. These three enzymes, often encoded in bacterial plasmids and bacteriophage genomes, are known to participate in the mobilization and replication of DNA mobile elements. It is therefore plausible that the insertion in Gla. incrassata ptDNA is derived from a DNA mobile element.


April 21, 2020  |  

Genome assembly of Nannochloropsis oceanica provides evidence of host nucleus overthrow by the symbiont nucleus during speciation.

The species of the genus Nannochloropsis are unique in their maintenance of a nucleus-plastid continuum throughout their cell cycle, non-motility and asexual reproduction. These characteristics should have been endorsed in their gene assemblages (genomes). Here we show that N. oceanica has a genome of 29.3?Mb consisting of 32 pseudochromosomes and containing 7,330 protein-coding genes; and the host nucleus may have been overthrown by an ancient red alga symbiont nucleus during speciation through secondary endosymbiosis. In addition, N. oceanica has lost its flagella and abilities to undergo meiosis and sexual reproduction, and adopted a genome reduction strategy during speciation. We propose that N. oceanica emerged through the active fusion of a host protist and a photosynthesizing ancient red alga and the symbiont nucleus became dominant over the host nucleus while the chloroplast was wrapped by two layers of endoplasmic reticulum. Our findings evidenced an alternative speciation pathway of eukaryotes.


April 21, 2020  |  

Genome expansion of an obligate parthenogenesis-associated Wolbachia poses an exception to the symbiont reduction model.

Theory predicts that dependency within host-endosymbiont interactions results in endosymbiont genome size reduction. Unexpectedly, the largest Wolbachia genome was found in the obligate, parthenogenesis-associated wFol. In this study, we investigate possible processes underlying this genome expansion by comparing a re-annotated wFol genome to other Wolbachia genomes. In addition, we also search for candidate genes related to parthenogenesis induction (PI).Within wFol, we found five phage WO regions representing 25.4% of the complete genome, few pseudogenized genes, and an expansion of DNA-repair genes in comparison to other Wolbachia. These signs of genome conservation were mirrored in the wFol host, the springtail F. candida, which also had an expanded DNA-repair gene family and many horizontally transferred genes. Across all Wolbachia genomes, there was a strong correlation between gene numbers of Wolbachia strains and their hosts. In order to identify genes with a potential link to PI, we assembled the genome of an additional PI strain, wLcla. Comparisons between four PI Wolbachia, including wFol and wLcla, and fourteen non-PI Wolbachia yielded a small set of potential candidate genes for further investigation.The strong similarities in genome content of wFol and its host, as well as the correlation between host and Wolbachia gene numbers suggest that there may be some form of convergent evolution between endosymbiont and host genomes. If such convergent evolution would be strong enough to overcome the evolutionary forces causing genome reduction, it would enable expanded genomes within long-term obligate endosymbionts.


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