DOI: 10.1101/454272Oct 29, 2018Paper

Reticulate evolution in eukaryotes: origin and evolution of the nitrate assimilation pathway

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
Eduard Ocaña-PallarèsIñaki Ruiz-Trillo


Genes and genomes can evolve through interchanging genetic material, this leading to reticular evolutionary patterns. However, the importance of reticulate evolution in eukaryotes, and in particular of horizontal gene transfer (HGT), remains controversial. Given that metabolic pathways with taxonomically-patchy distributions can be indicative of HGT events, the eukaryotic nitrate assimilation pathway is an ideal object of investigation, as previous results revealed a patchy distribution and suggested one crucial HGT event. We studied the evolution of this pathway through both multi-scale bioinformatic and experimental approaches. Our taxon-rich genomic screening shows this pathway to be present in more lineages than previously proposed and that nitrate assimilation is restricted to autotrophs and to distinct osmotrophic groups. Our phylogenies show a pervasive role of HGT, with three bacterial transfers contributing to the pathway origin, and at least seven well-supported transfers between eukaryotes. Our results, based on a larger dataset, differ from the previously proposed transfer of a nitrate assimilation cluster from Oomycota (Stramenopiles) to Dikarya (Fungi, Opisthokonta). We propose a complex HGT path involving at leas...Continue Reading

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