Frequent, independent transfers of a catabolic gene from bacteria to contrasted filamentous eukaryotes

Proceedings. Biological Sciences
Maxime BrutoDaniel Muller

Abstract

Even genetically distant prokaryotes can exchange genes between them, and these horizontal gene transfer events play a central role in adaptation and evolution. While this was long thought to be restricted to prokaryotes, certain eukaryotes have acquired genes of bacterial origin. However, gene acquisitions in eukaryotes are thought to be much less important in magnitude than in prokaryotes. Here, we describe the complex evolutionary history of a bacterial catabolic gene that has been transferred repeatedly from different bacterial phyla to stramenopiles and fungi. Indeed, phylogenomic analysis pointed to multiple acquisitions of the gene in these filamentous eukaryotes-as many as 15 different events for 65 microeukaryotes. Furthermore, once transferred, this gene acquired introns and was found expressed in mRNA databases for most recipients. Our results show that effective inter-domain transfers and subsequent adaptation of a prokaryotic gene in eukaryotic cells can happen at an unprecedented magnitude.

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