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.
Journal: Communications biology