Dissipating excess energy of light is critical for photosynthetic organisms to keep the photosynthetic apparatus functional and less harmful under stressful environmental conditions. In the green alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, efficient energy dissipation is achieved by a process called non-photochemical quenching (NPQ), in which a distinct member of light harvesting complex, LHCSR, is known to play a key role. Although it has been known that two very closely related genes (LHCSR3.1 and LHCSR3.2) encoding LHCSR3 protein and another paralogous gene LHCSR1 are present in the C. reinhardtii genome, it is unclear how these isoforms are differentiated in terms of transcriptional regulation and functionalization. Here, we show that transcripts of both of the isoforms, LHCSR3.1 and LHCSR3.2, are accumulated under high light stress. Reexamination of the genomic sequence and gene models along with survey of sequence motifs suggested that these two isoforms shared an almost identical but still distinct promoter sequence and a completely identical polypeptide sequence, with more divergent 3'-untranscribed regions. Transcriptional induction under high light condition of both isoforms was suppressed by treatment with a photosystem II inhibitor, 3-(3,4-dichlorophenyl)-1,1-dimethylurea (DCMU), and a calmodulin inhibitor W7. Despite a similar response to high light, the inhibitory effects of DCMU and W7 to the LHCSR1 transcript accumulation were limited compared to LHCSR3 genes. These results suggest that the transcription of LHCSR paralogs in C. reinhardtii are regulated by light signal and differentially modulated via photosynthetic electron transfer and calmodulin-mediated calcium signaling pathway(s).
Plastid establishment involves the transfer of endosymbiotic genes to the host nucleus, a process known as endosymbiotic gene transfer (EGT). Large amounts of EGT have been shown in several photosynthetic lineages but also in present-day plastid-lacking organisms, supporting the notion that endosymbiotic genes leave a substantial genetic footprint in the host nucleus. Yet, the extent of this genetic relocation remains debated, largely because the long period of time that has passed since most plastids originated has erased many of the clues to how this process unfolded. Among the dinoflagellates, however, the ancestral peridinin-containing plastid has been replaced by tertiary plastids on several more recent occasions, giving us a less ancient window to examine plastid origins. Here, we evaluated the endosymbiotic contribution to the host genome in two dinoflagellate lineages with tertiary plastids. We generated the first nuclear transcriptome datasets for the dinotoms, which harbor diatom-derived plastids, and analyzed these data in combination with the available transcriptomes for kareniaceans, which harbor haptophyte-derived plastids. We found low level of detectable EGT in both dinoflagellate lineages, with only 9 genes and 90 genes of possible tertiary endosymbiotic origin in dinotoms and kareniaceans, respectively, suggesting that tertiary endosymbioses did not heavily impact the host dinoflagellate genomes.
With rapid advances in genome sequencing and bioinformatics, it is now possible to generate phylogenetic trees containing thousands of operational taxonomic units (OTUs) from a wide range of organisms. However, use of rigorous tree-building methods on such large datasets is prohibitive and manual pruning of sequence alignments is time consuming and raises concerns over reproducibility. There is a need for bioinformatic tools with which to objectively carry out such pruning procedures.
Green algae, land plants, and other photosynthetic eukaryotes possess plastids, such as chloroplasts, which have evolved from cyanobacterial ancestors via endosymbiosis. An early evolutionary merger between heterotrophic eukaryotes and cyanobacteria called primary endosymbiosis gave rise to the first photosynthetic eukaryotes. A series of plastid acquisitions involving engulfment of eukaryotic phototrophs, known as secondary or tertiary endosymbiosis, followed. Through these repeated symbiotic events, photosynthesis spread across a number of eukaryotic lineages. While the origin of eukaryotic photosynthesis was undoubtedly a fundamentally important evolutionary event in Earths history, without which much of the modern marine phytoplankton would not exist, the cellular processes that shaped this initial plastid genesis remain largely unknown. Here, we report ultrastructural evidence for bacterial phagocytosis in a primary plastid-bearing alga. This mixotrophic green alga utilizes a mouth-like opening, a tubular channel, and a large permanent vacuole to engulf, transport, and digest bacterial cells. This mode of phagocytosis, likely inherited from its plastid-lacking ancestor, differs from those displayed by many other eukaryotes, including animals, amoebas, and ciliates. These results provide insight into the key phagocytosis step during the origin of the first photosynthetic eukaryotes.
One of the ultimate goals of plant science is to test a hypothesis obtained by basic science and to apply it to agriculture and industry. A plant factory is one of the ideal systems for this trial. Environmental factors affect both plant yield and the accumulation of recombinant proteins for industrial applications within transgenic plants. However, there have been few reports studying plant productivity for recombinant protein in closed cultivation systems called plant factories. To investigate the effects of photosynthetic photon flux (PPF) on tomato fruit yield and the accumulation of recombinant miraculin, a taste-modifying glycoprotein, in transgenic tomato fruits, plants were cultivated at various PPFs from 100 to 400 (µmol m(-2) s(-)1) in a plant factory. Miraculin production per unit of energy used was highest at PPF100, although miraculin production per unit area was highest at PPF300. The commercial productivity of recombinant miraculin in transgenic tomato fruits largely depended on light conditions in the plant factory. Our trial will be useful to consider the trade-offs between the profits from production of high-value materials in plants and the costs of electricity.
Euglenophytes are a group of photosynthetic flagellates possessing a plastid derived from a green algal endosymbiont, which was incorporated into an ancestral host cell via secondary endosymbiosis. However, the impact of endosymbiosis on the euglenophyte nuclear genome is not fully understood due to its complex nature as a hybrid of a non-photosynthetic host cell and a secondary endosymbiont.
Euglenophyta and Chlorarachniophyta are groups of photosynthetic eukaryotes harboring secondary plastids of distinct green algal origins. Although previous phylogenetic analyses of genes encoding Calvin cycle enzymes demonstrated the presence of genes apparently not derived from green algal endosymbionts in the nuclear genomes of Euglena gracilis (Euglenophyta) and Bigelowiella natans (Chlorarachniophyta), the origins of these "non-green" genes in "green" secondary phototrophs were unclear due to the limited taxon sampling.
Horizontal gene transfer has been postulated to occur between crops to co-occurring parasitic plants, but empirical evidence has been lacking. We present evidence that an HGT event moved a nuclear monocot gene into the genome of the eudicot parasite witchweed (Striga hermonthica), which infects many grass species in Africa. Analysis of expressed sequence tags revealed that the genome of S. hermonthica contains a nuclear gene that is widely conserved among grass species but is not found in other eudicots. Phylogenetically, this gene clusters with sorghum genes, the monocot host of the parasitic weed, suggesting that nuclear genes can be captured by parasitic weeds in nature.
Cyanidioschyzon merolae is a unicellular red alga living in acid hot springs, which is able to grow on ammonium, as well as nitrate as sole nitrogen source. Based on the complete genome sequence, proteins for nitrate utilization, nitrate transporter (NRT) and nitrate reductase (NR), were predicted to be encoded by the neighboring nuclear genes CMG018C and CMG019C, respectively, but no typical nitrite reductase (NiR) gene was found by similarity searches. On the other hand, two candidate genes for sulfite reductase (SiR) were found, one of which (CMG021C) is located next to the above-noted nitrate-related genes. Given that transcripts of CMG018C, CMG019C and CMG021C accumulate in nitrate-containing media, but are repressed by ammonium, and that SiR and NiR are structurally related enzymes, we hypothesized that the CMG021C gene product functions as an NiR in C. merolae. To test this hypothesis, we developed a method for targeted gene disruption in C. merolae. In support of our hypothesis, we found that a CMG021G null mutant in comparison with the parental strain showed decreased cell growth in nitrate-containing but not in ammonium-containing media. Furthermore, expression of CMG021C in the nirA mutant of a cyanobacterium, Leptolyngbya boryana (formerly Plectonema boryanum), could genetically complement the NiR defect. Immunofluorescent analysis indicated the localization of CMG021C in chloroplasts, and hence we propose an overall scheme for nitrate assimilation in C. merolae.
To understand the cell cycle, we must understand not only mitotic division but also organelle division cycles. Plant and animal cells contain many organelles which divide randomly; therefore, it has been difficult to elucidate these organelle division cycles. We used the primitive red alga Cyanidioschyzon merolae, as it contains a single mitochondrion and plastid per cell, and organelle division can be highly synchronized by a light/dark cycle. We demonstrated that mitochondria and plastids multiplied by independent division cycles (organelle G1, S, G2 and M phases) and organelle division occurred before cell-nuclear division. Additionally, organelle division was found to be dependent on microtubules as well as cell-nuclear division. We have observed five stages of microtubule dynamics: (1) the microtubule disappears during the G1 phase; (2) alpha-tubulin is dispersed within the cytoplasm without forming microtubules during the S phase; (3) alpha-tubulin is assembled into spindle poles during the G2 phase; (4) polar microtubules are organized along the mitochondrion during prophase; and (5) mitotic spindles in cell nuclei are organized during the M phase. Microfluorometry demonstrated that the intensity peak of localization of alpha-tubulin changed in the order to spindle poles, mitochondria, spindle poles, and central spindle area, but total fluorescent intensity did not change remarkably throughout mitotic phases suggesting that division and separation of the cell nucleus and mitochondrion is mediated by spindle pole bodies. Inhibition of microtubule organization induced cell-nuclear division, mitochondria separation, and division of a single membrane-bound microbody, suggesting that similar to cell-nuclear division, mitochondrion separation and microbody division are dependent on microtubules.
Transfer RNA (tRNA) is a central genetic element in the decoding of genome information for all of Earths life forms. Nevertheless, there are a great number of missing tRNAs that have been left without examination, especially in microbial genomes. Two tRNA gene families remarkable in their structure and expression mechanism have been reported: split and permuted tRNAs. Split tRNAs in archaea are encoded on the genome as two or three fragmented genes and then processed into single tRNA molecules. Permuted tRNAs are organized with the 5 and 3 halves of the gene positioned in reverse on the genome and hitherto have been found only in one tiny red alga. Here we reveal a wide-ranging distribution of permuted tRNA genes in the genomes of photosynthetic eukaryotes. This includes in the smallest eukaryotic genome known to date, the nucleomorph genome of the chlorarachniophyte alga Bigelowiella natans. Comparison between cDNA and genomic DNA sequences of two nucleomorph-encoded tRNA(Ser) genes confirms that precursors are circularized and processed into mature tRNA molecules in vivo. In the tRNA(Ser)(AGA), adenine at the wobble position of the codon is likely modified to inosine to expand capacity of the codon recognition. We also show the presence of permuted tRNAs in the ultrasmall free-living green algae Ostreococcus and Micromonas, which are closely related to the B. natans nucleomorph. Conserved intron/leader sequence structures in the intron-containing and permuted tRNAs suggest the ancient origin of the splicing machinery in the common ancestor of eukaryotes and archaea. Meanwhile, a wide but patchy distribution of permuted tRNA genes in the photosynthetic eukaryotes implies that extant permuted tRNAs might have emerged multiple times. Taken together, our data demonstrate that permuted tRNA is an evolutionarily conserved and fundamental element in tiny eukaryotic genomes.
Eukaryotic genes with cyanobacterial ancestry in plastid-lacking protists have been regarded as important evolutionary markers implicating the presence of plastids in the early evolution of eukaryotes. Although recent genomic surveys demonstrated the presence of cyanobacterial and algal ancestry genes in the genomes of plastid-lacking protists, comparative analyses on the origin and distribution of those genes are still limited.
The phylogenetic positions of the primary photosynthetic eukaryotes, or Archaeplastida (green plants, red algae, and glaucophytes) and the secondary photosynthetic chromalveolates, Haptophyta, vary depending on the data matrices used in the previous nuclear multigene phylogenetic studies. Here, we deduced the phylogeny of three groups of Archaeplastida and Haptophyta on the basis of sequences of the multiple slowly evolving nuclear genes and reduced the gaps or missing data, especially in glaucophyte operational taxonomic units (OTUs). The present multigene phylogenetic analyses resolved that Haptophyta and two other groups of Chromalveolata, stramenopiles and Alveolata, form a monophyletic group that is sister to the green plants and that the glaucophytes and red algae are basal to the clade composed of green plants and Chromalveolata. The bootstrap values supporting these phylogenetic relationships increased with the exclusion of long-branched OTUs. The close relationship between green plants and Chromalveolata is further supported by the common replacement in two plastid-targeted genes.
Recent multigene phylogenetic analyses have contributed much to our understanding of eukaryotic phylogeny. However, the phylogenetic positions of various lineages within the eukaryotes have remained unresolved or in conflict between different phylogenetic studies. These phylogenetic ambiguities might have resulted from mixtures or integration from various factors including limited taxon sampling, missing data in the alignment, saturations of rapidly evolving genes, mixed analyses of short- and long-branched operational taxonomic units (OTUs), intracellular endoparasite and ciliate OTUs with unusual substitution etc. In order to evaluate the effects from intracellular endoparasite and ciliate OTUs co-analyzed on the eukaryotic phylogeny and simplify the results, we here used two different sets of data matrices of multiple slowly evolving genes with small amounts of missing data and examined the phylogenetic position of the secondary photosynthetic chromalveolates Haptophyta, one of the most abundant groups of oceanic phytoplankton and significant primary producers. In both sets, a robust sister relationship between Haptophyta and SAR (stramenopiles, alveolates, rhizarians, or SA [stramenopiles and alveolates]) was resolved when intracellular endoparasite/ciliate OTUs were excluded, but not in their presence. Based on comparisons of character optimizations on a fixed tree (with a clade composed of haptophytes and SAR or SA), disruption of the monophyly between haptophytes and SAR (or SA) in the presence of intracellular endoparasite/ciliate OTUs can be considered to be a result of multiple evolutionary reversals of character positions that supported the synapomorphy of the haptophyte and SAR (or SA) clade in the absence of intracellular endoparasite/ciliate OTUs.
Cryptophyte and chlorarachniophyte algae are transitional forms in the widespread secondary endosymbiotic acquisition of photosynthesis by engulfment of eukaryotic algae. Unlike most secondary plastid-bearing algae, miniaturized versions of the endosymbiont nuclei (nucleomorphs) persist in cryptophytes and chlorarachniophytes. To determine why, and to address other fundamental questions about eukaryote-eukaryote endosymbiosis, we sequenced the nuclear genomes of the cryptophyte Guillardia theta and the chlorarachniophyte Bigelowiella natans. Both genomes have >21,000?protein genes and are intron rich, and B. natans exhibits unprecedented alternative splicing for a single-celled organism. Phylogenomic analyses and subcellular targeting predictions reveal extensive genetic and biochemical mosaicism, with both host- and endosymbiont-derived genes servicing the mitochondrion, the host cell cytosol, the plastid and the remnant endosymbiont cytosol of both algae. Mitochondrion-to-nucleus gene transfer still occurs in both organisms but plastid-to-nucleus and nucleomorph-to-nucleus transfers do not, which explains why a small residue of essential genes remains locked in each nucleomorph.
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