Mutualistic symbioses between eukaryotes and beneficial microorganisms of their microbiome play an essential role in nutrition, protection against disease, and development of the host. However, the impact of beneficial symbionts on the evolution of host genomes remains poorly characterized. Here we used the independent loss of the most widespread plant–microbe symbiosis, arbuscular mycorrhization (AM), as a model to address this question. Using a large phenotypic approach and phylogenetic analyses, we present evidence that loss of AM symbiosis correlates with the loss of many symbiotic genes in the Arabidopsis lineage (Brassicales). Then, by analyzing the genome and/or transcriptomes of nine other phylogenetically divergent non-host plants, we show that this correlation occurred in a convergent manner in four additional plant lineages, demonstrating the existence of an evolutionary pattern specific to symbiotic genes. Finally, we use a global comparative phylogenomic approach to track this evolutionary pattern among land plants. Based on this approach, we identify a set of 174 highly conserved genes and demonstrate enrichment in symbiosis-related genes. Our findings are consistent with the hypothesis that beneficial symbionts maintain purifying selection on host gene networks during the evolution of entire lineages.
Lateral Gene Transfer (LGT) has recently gained recognition as an important contributor to some eukaryote proteomes, but the mechanisms of acquisition and fixation in eukaryotic genomes are still uncertain. A previously defined norm for LGTs in microbial eukaryotes states that the majority are genes involved in metabolism, the LGTs are typically localized one by one, surrounded by vertically inherited genes on the chromosome, and phylogenetics shows that a broad collection of bacterial lineages have contributed to the transferome.
Comparative genomic analyses have revealed that genes may arise from ancestrally nongenic sequence. However, the origin and spread of these de novo genes within populations remain obscure. We identified 142 segregating and 106 fixed testis-expressed de novo genes in a population sample of Drosophila melanogaster. These genes appear to derive primarily from ancestral intergenic, unexpressed open reading frames, with natural selection playing a significant role in their spread. These results reveal a heretofore unappreciated dynamism of gene content.
How non-coding DNA gives rise to new protein-coding genes (de novo genes) is not well understood. Recent work has revealed the origins and functions of a few de novo genes, but common principles governing the evolution or biological roles of these genes are unknown. To better define these principles, we performed a parallel analysis of the evolution and function of six putatively protein-coding de novo genes described in Drosophila melanogaster. Reconstruction of the transcriptional history of de novo genes shows that two de novo genes emerged from novel long non-coding RNAs that arose at least 5 MY prior to evolution of an open reading frame. In contrast, four other de novo genes evolved a translated open reading frame and transcription within the same evolutionary interval suggesting that nascent open reading frames (proto-ORFs), while not required, can contribute to the emergence of a new de novo gene. However, none of the genes arose from proto-ORFs that existed long before expression evolved. Sequence and structural evolution of de novo genes was rapid compared to nearby genes and the structural complexity of de novo genes steadily increases over evolutionary time. Despite the fact that these genes are transcribed at a higher level in males than females, and are most strongly expressed in testes, RNAi experiments show that most of these genes are essential in both sexes during metamorphosis. This lethality suggests that protein coding de novo genes in Drosophila quickly become functionally important.
We announce the release of an advanced version of the Molecular Evolutionary Genetics Analysis (MEGA) software, which currently contains facilities for building sequence alignments, inferring phylogenetic histories, and conducting molecular evolutionary analysis. In version 6.0, MEGA now enables the inference of timetrees, as it implements our RelTime method for estimating divergence times for all branching points in a phylogeny. A new Timetree Wizard in MEGA6 facilitates this timetree inference by providing a graphical user interface (GUI) to specify the phylogeny and calibration constraints step-by-step. This version also contains enhanced algorithms to search for the optimal trees under evolutionary criteria and implements a more advanced memory management that can double the size of sequence data sets to which MEGA can be applied. Both GUI and command-line versions of MEGA6 can be downloaded from www.megasoftware.netfree of charge.
Hosts have numerous defenses against parasites, of which behavioral immune responses are an important but underappreciated component. Here we describe a behavioral immune response that Drosophila melanogaster uses against endoparasitoid wasps. We found that when flies see wasps, they switch to laying eggs in alcohol-laden food sources that protect hatched larvae from infection. This change in oviposition behavior, mediated by neuropeptide F, is retained long after wasps are removed. Flies respond to diverse female larval endoparasitoids but not to males or pupal endoparasitoids, showing that they maintain specific wasp search images. Furthermore, the response evolved multiple times across the genus Drosophila. Our data reveal a behavioral immune response based on anticipatory medication of offspring and outline a nonassociative memory paradigm based on innate parasite recognition by the host.
Host–parasite coevolution is predicted to favour genetic diversity and the underlying mechanisms (e.g. sexual reproduction and, more generally, genetic exchange), because diversity enhances the antagonists' potential for rapid adaptation. To date, this prediction has mainly been tested and confirmed for the host. It should similarly apply to the parasite. Indeed, our previous work demonstrated that experimental coevolution between the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans and its microparasite Bacillus thuringiensis selects for genetic diversity in both antagonists. For the parasite, the previous analysis was based on plasmid-encoded toxin gene markers. Thus, it was restricted to a very small part of the bacterial genome and did not cover the main chromosome, which harbours a large variety of virulence factors. Here, we present new data for chromosomal gene markers of B. thuringiensis and combine this information with the previous results on plasmid-encoded toxins. Our new results demonstrate that, in comparison with the control treatment, coevolution with a host similarly leads to higher levels of genetic diversity in the bacterial chromosome, thus indicating the relevance of chromosomal genes for coevolution. Furthermore, the frequency of toxin gene gain is significantly elevated during coevolution, highlighting the importance of horizontal gene transfer as a diversity-generating mechanism. In conclusion, our study emphasizes the strong influence of antagonistic coevolution on parasite genetic diversity and gene exchange.
Networks allow the investigation of evolutionary relationships that do not fit a tree model. They are becoming a leading tool for describing the evolutionary relationships between organisms, given the comparative complexities among genomes.
In complex multicellular eukaryotes such as animals and plants, horizontal gene transfer is commonly considered rare with very limited evolutionary significance. Here we show that horizontal gene transfer is a dynamic process occurring frequently in the early evolution of land plants. Our genome analyses of the moss Physcomitrella patens identified 57 families of nuclear genes that were acquired from prokaryotes, fungi or viruses. Many of these gene families were transferred to the ancestors of green or land plants. Available experimental evidence shows that these anciently acquired genes are involved in some essential or plant-specific activities such as xylem formation, plant defence, nitrogen recycling as well as the biosynthesis of starch, polyamines, hormones and glutathione. These findings suggest that horizontal gene transfer had a critical role in the transition of plants from aquatic to terrestrial environments. On the basis of these findings, we propose a model of horizontal gene transfer mechanism in nonvascular and seedless vascular plants.
In response to the anthropogenic assault of toxic baits, populations of the German cockroach have rapidly evolved an adaptive behavioral aversion to glucose (a phagostimulant component of baits). We hypothesized that changes in the peripheral gustatory system are responsible for glucose aversion. In both wild-type and glucose-averse (GA) cockroaches, D-fructose and D-glucose stimulated sugar–gustatory receptor neurons (GRNs), whereas the deterrent caffeine stimulated bitter-GRNs. In contrast, in GA cockroaches, D-glucose also stimulated bitter-GRNs and suppressed the responses of sugar-GRNs. Thus, D-glucose is processed as both a phagostimulant and deterrent in GA cockroaches, and this newly acquired peripheral taste sensitivity underlies glucose aversion in multiple GA populations. The rapid emergence of this highly adaptive behavior underscores the plasticity of the sensory system to adapt to rapid environmental change.
Because parasite virulence factors target host immune responses, identification and functional characterization of these factors can provide insight into poorly understood host immune mechanisms. The fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster is a model system for understanding humoral innate immunity, butDrosophila cellular innate immune responses remain incompletely characterized. Fruit flies are regularly infected by parasitoid wasps in nature and, following infection, flies mount a cellular immune response culminating in the cellular encapsulation of the wasp egg. The mechanistic basis of this response is largely unknown, but wasps use a mixture of virulence proteins derived from the venom gland to suppress cellular encapsulation. To gain insight into the mechanisms underlying wasp virulence and fly cellular immunity, we used a joint transcriptomic/proteomic approach to identify venom genes from Ganaspis sp.1 (G1), a previously uncharacterized Drosophila parasitoid species, and found that G1 venom contains a highly abundant sarco/endoplasmic reticulum calcium ATPase (SERCA) pump. Accordingly, we found that fly immune cells termed plasmatocytes normally undergo a cytoplasmic calcium burst following infection, and that this calcium burst is required for activation of the cellular immune response. We further found that the plasmatocyte calcium burst is suppressed by G1 venom in a SERCA-dependent manner, leading to the failure of plasmatocytes to become activated and migrate toward G1 eggs. Finally, by genetically manipulating plasmatocyte calcium levels, we were able to alter fly immune success against G1 and other parasitoid species. Our characterization of parasitoid wasp venom proteins led us to identify plasmatocyte cytoplasmic calcium bursts as an important aspect of fly cellular immunity.
Chemically defended plant tissues present formidable barriers to herbivores. Although mechanisms to resist plant defenses have been identified in ancient herbivorous lineages, adaptations to overcome plant defenses during transitions to herbivory remain relatively unexplored. The fly genus Scaptomyza is nested within the genusDrosophila and includes species that feed on the living tissue of mustard plants (Brassicaceae), yet this lineage is derived from microbe-feeding ancestors. We found that mustard-feeding Scaptomyza species and microbe-feeding Drosophila melanogaster detoxify mustard oils, the primary chemical defenses in the Brassicaceae, using the widely conserved mercapturic acid pathway. This detoxification strategy differs from other specialist herbivores of mustard plants, which possess derived mechanisms to obviate mustard oil formation. To investigate whether mustard feeding is coupled with evolution in the mercapturic acid pathway, we profiled functional and molecular evolutionary changes in the enzyme glutathione S-transferase D1 (GSTD1), which catalyzes the first step of the mercapturic acid pathway and is induced by mustard defense products in Scaptomyza. GSTD1 acquired elevated activity against mustard oils in one mustard-feeding Scaptomyzaspecies in which GstD1 was duplicated. Structural analysis and mutagenesis revealed that substitutions at conserved residues within and near the substrate-binding cleft account for most of this increase in activity against mustard oils. Functional evolution of GSTD1 was coupled with signatures of episodic positive selection in GstD1 after the evolution of herbivory. Overall, we found that preexisting functions of generalized detoxification systems, and their refinement by natural selection, could play a central role in the evolution of herbivory.
DNA transposons are primitive genetic elements which have colonized living organisms from plants to bacteria and mammals. Through evolution such parasitic elements have shaped their host genomes by replicating and relocating between chromosomal loci in processes catalyzed by the transposase proteins encoded by the elements themselves. DNA transposable elements are constantly adapting to life in the genome, and self-suppressive regulation as well as defensive host mechanisms may assist in buffering ‘cut-and-paste’ DNA mobilization until accumulating mutations will eventually restrict events of transposition. With the reconstructed Sleeping Beauty DNA transposon as a powerful engine, a growing list of transposable elements with activity in human cells have moved into biomedical experimentation and preclinical therapy as versatile vehicles for delivery and genomic insertion of transgenes. In this review, we aim to link the mechanisms that drive transposon evolution with the realities and potential challenges we are facing when adapting DNA transposons for gene transfer. We argue that DNA transposon-derived vectors may carry inherent, and potentially limiting, traits of their mother elements. By understanding in detail the evolutionary journey of transposons, from host colonization to element multiplication and inactivation, we may better exploit the potential of distinct transposable elements. Hence, parallel efforts to investigate and develop distinct, but potent, transposon-based vector systems will benefit the broad applications of gene transfer. Insight and clever optimization have shaped new DNA transposon vectors, which recently debuted in the first DNA transposon-based clinical trial. Learning from an evolutionary drive may help us create gene vehicles that are safer, more efficient, and less prone for suppression and inactivation.
We report the complete mitochondrial genome sequence of the flowering plant Amborella trichopoda. This enormous, 3.9-megabase genome contains six genome equivalents of foreign mitochondrial DNA, acquired from green algae, mosses, and other angiosperms. Many of these horizontal transfers were large, including acquisition of entire mitochondrial genomes from three green algae and one moss. We propose a fusion-compatibility model to explain these findings, with Amborella capturing whole mitochondria from diverse eukaryotes, followed by mitochondrial fusion (limited mechanistically to green plant mitochondria) and then genome recombination. Amborella’s epiphyte load, propensity to produce suckers from wounds, and low rate of mitochondrial DNA loss probably all contribute to the high level of foreign DNA in its mitochondrial genome.
High-throughput sequencing technologies are revolutionizing the life sciences. The past 12 months have seen a burst of genome sequences from non-model organisms, in each case representing a fundamental source of data of significant importance to biological research. This has bearing on several aspects of evolutionary biology, and we are now beginning to see patterns emerging from these studies. These include significant heterogeneity in the rate of recombination that affects adaptive evolution and base composition, the role of population size in adaptive evolution, and the importance of expansion of gene families in lineage-specific adaptation. Moreover, resequencing of population samples (population genomics) has enabled the identification of the genetic basis of critical phenotypes and cast light on the landscape of genomic divergence during speciation.
Gene duplication supplies the raw materials for novel gene functions and many gene families arisen from duplication experience adaptive evolution. Most studies of young duplicates have focused on mammals, especially humans, whereas reports describing their genome-wide evolutionary patterns across the closely related Drosophila species are rare. The sequenced 12 Drosophila genomes provide the opportunity to address this issue.
In our study, 3,647 young duplicate gene families were identified across the 12 Drosophila species and three types of expansions, species-specific, lineage-specific and complex expansions, were detected in these gene families. Our data showed that the species-specific young duplicate genes predominated (86.6%) over the other two types. Interestingly, many independent species-specific expansions in the same gene family have been observed in many species, even including 11 or 12 Drosophila species. Our data also showed that the functional bias observed in these young duplicate genes was mainly related to responses to environmental stimuli and biotic stresses.
This study reveals the evolutionary patterns of young duplicates across 12 Drosophila species on a genomic scale. Our results suggest that convergent evolution acts on young duplicate genes after the species differentiation and adaptive evolution may play an important role in duplicate genes for adaption to ecological factors and environmental changes in Drosophila.
The term exaptation was introduced to encourage biologists to consider alternatives to adaptation to explain the origins of traits. Here, we discuss why exaptation has proved more successful in technological than biological contexts, and propose a revised definition of exaptation applicable to both genetic and cultural evolution.
Ya, I agree partially with this point of view. I agreed that it should be very difficult to differentiate adaptation of exaptation in complex morphological structures. However, for TEs it is quite clear that this parasites were exapted in some cases because now they are key componets of the host genome machinery but they did not evolved in response to host fitness selection, in fact they evolved for TEs fitness selection...
So, I think this term still can be very useful in many ways in biology because we can just decondider a term because it is difficult to study!
The only currently unresolved portion of the backbone phylogeny of the vertebrates involves the relationships among coelacanths, lungfishes, and tetrapods. Despite active research on this question over the past three decades, it is still difficult to determine statistically whether lungfishes alone or both lungfishes and coelacanths together are closely related to tetrapods. To resolve this controversy, we assembled a data set comprising 1,290 nuclear genes encoding 690,838 amino acid residues by analyzing available genome and transcriptome data. Phylogenetic analyses of this data set provided overwhelming evidence that the lungfishes are the closest living relatives of the land vertebrates. This result is strongly supported by high bootstrap values from maximum likelihood and maximum parsimony analyses, Bayesian posterior probabilities of CAT model analysis, and topological tests. Additionally, a species tree analysis without data concatenation also strongly supported this result.
Despite playing a crucial role in germline-soma differentiation, the evolutionary significance of developmentally regulated genome rearrangements (DRGRs) has received scant attention. An example of DRGR is DNA splicing, a process that removes segments of DNA interrupting genic and/or intergenic sequences. Perhaps best known for shaping immune-system genes in vertebrates, DNA splicing plays a central role in the life of ciliated protozoa, where thousands of germline DNA segments are eliminated after sexual reproduction to regenerate a functional somatic genome. Here, we identify and chronicle the properties of 5,286 sequences that putatively undergo DNA splicing (i.e., Internal Eliminated Sequences or IESs) across the genomes of three closely related species of the ciliate Paramecium (P. tetraurelia, P. biaurelia, and P. sexaurelia). The study reveals that these putative IESs share several physical characteristics. While our results are consistent with excision events being largely conserved between species, episodes of differential IES retention/excision occur, may have a recent origin, and frequently involve coding regions. Our findings indicate interconversion between somatic—often coding—DNA sequences and noncoding IESs, and provide insights into the role of DNA splicing in creating potentially functional genetic innovation.
Bioinformatics and functional screens identified a group of Family A-type DNA Polymerase (polA) genes encoded by viruses inhabiting circumneutral and alkaline hot springs in Yellowstone National Park and the US Great Basin. The proteins encoded by these viral polA genes (PolAs) shared no significant sequence similarity with any known viral proteins but were remarkably similar to PolAs encoded by two of three families of the bacterial phylum Aquificae and by several apicoplast-targeted PolA-like proteins found in the eukaryotic phylum Apicomplexa, which includes the obligate parasites Plasmodium, Babesia, andToxoplasma. The viral gene products share signature elements previously associated only with Aquificae and Apicomplexa PolA-like proteins and were similar to proteins encoded by prophage elements of a variety of otherwise unrelated Bacteria, each of which additionally encoded a prototypical bacterial PolA. Unique among known viral DNA polymerases, the viral PolA proteins of this study share with the Apicomplexa proteins large amino-terminal domains with putative helicase/primase elements but low primary sequence similarity. The genomic context and distribution, phylogeny, and biochemistry of these PolA proteins suggest that thermophilic viruses transferred polA genes to the Apicomplexa, likely through secondary endosymbiosis of a virus-infected proto-apicoplast, and to the common ancestor of two of three Aquificae families, where they displaced the orthologous cellular polA gene. On the basis of biochemical activity, gene structure, and sequence similarity, we speculate that the xenologous viral-type polA genes may have functions associated with diversity-generating recombination in both Bacteria and Apicomplexa.