Mitochondrial DNA suggests at least 11 origins of parasitism in angiosperms and reveals genomic chimerism in parasitic plants.
ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: Some of the most difficult phylogenetic questions in evolutionary biology involve identification of the free-living relatives of parasitic organisms, particularly those of parasitic flowering plants. Consequently, the number of origins of parasitism and the phylogenetic distribution of the heterotrophic lifestyle among angiosperm lineages is unclear. RESULTS: Here we report the results of a phylogenetic analysis of 102 species of seed plants designed to infer the position of all haustorial parasitic angiosperm lineages using three mitochondrial genes: atp1, coxI, and matR. Overall, the mtDNA phylogeny agrees with independent studies in terms of non-parasitic plant relationships and reveals at least 11 independent origins of parasitism in angiosperms, eight of which consist entirely of holoparasitic species that lack photosynthetic ability. From these results, it can be inferred that modern-day parasites have disproportionately evolved in certain lineages and that the endoparasitic habit has arisen by convergence in four clades. In addition, reduced taxon, single gene analyses revealed multiple horizontal transfers of atp1 from host to parasite lineage, suggesting that parasites may be important vectors of horizontal gene transfer in angiosperms. Furthermore, in Pilostyles we show evidence for a recent host-to-parasite atp1 transfer based on a chimeric gene sequence that indicates multiple historical xenologous gene acquisitions have occurred in this endoparasite. Finally, the phylogenetic relationships inferred for parasites indicate that the origins of parasitism in angiosperms are strongly correlated with horizontal acquisitions of the invasive coxI group I intron. CONCLUSION: Collectively, these results indicate that the parasitic lifestyle has arisen repeatedly in angiosperm evolutionary history and results in increasing parasite genomic chimerism over time.
Project description:BACKGROUND:The phylogenetic relationships among the holoparasites of Rafflesiales have remained enigmatic for over a century. Recent molecular phylogenetic studies using the mitochondrial matR gene placed Rafflesia, Rhizanthes and Sapria (Rafflesiaceae s. str.) in the angiosperm order Malpighiales and Mitrastema (Mitrastemonaceae) in Ericales. These phylogenetic studies did not, however, sample two additional groups traditionally classified within Rafflesiales (Apodantheaceae and Cytinaceae). Here we provide molecular phylogenetic evidence using DNA sequence data from mitochondrial and nuclear genes for representatives of all genera in Rafflesiales. RESULTS:Our analyses indicate that the phylogenetic affinities of the large-flowered clade and Mitrastema, ascertained using mitochondrial matR, are congruent with results from nuclear SSU rDNA when these data are analyzed using maximum likelihood and Bayesian methods. The relationship of Cytinaceae to Malvales was recovered in all analyses. Relationships between Apodanthaceae and photosynthetic angiosperms varied depending upon the data partition: Malvales (3-gene), Cucurbitales (matR) or Fabales (atp1). The latter incongruencies suggest that horizontal gene transfer (HGT) may be affecting the mitochondrial gene topologies. The lack of association between Mitrastema and Ericales using atp1 is suggestive of HGT, but greater sampling within eudicots is needed to test this hypothesis further. CONCLUSIONS:Rafflesiales are not monophyletic but composed of three or four independent lineages (families): Rafflesiaceae, Mitrastemonaceae, Apodanthaceae and Cytinaceae. Long-branch attraction appears to be misleading parsimony analyses of nuclear small-subunit rDNA data, but model-based methods (maximum likelihood and Bayesian analyses) recover a topology that is congruent with the mitochondrial matR gene tree, thus providing compelling evidence for organismal relationships. Horizontal gene transfer appears to be influencing only some taxa and some mitochondrial genes, thus indicating that the process is acting at the single gene (not whole genome) level.
Project description:Orobanchaceae is the largest family among the parasitic angiosperms. It comprises non-parasites, hemi- and holoparasites, making this family an ideal test case for studying the evolution of parasitism. Previous phylogenetic analyses showed that holoparasitism had arisen at least three times from the hemiparasitic taxa in Orobanchaceae. Until now, however, not all known genera of Orobanchaceae were investigated in detail. Among them, the unknown phylogenetic positions of the holoparasites Gleadovia and Phacellanthus are the key to testing how many times holoparasitism evolved. Here, we provide clear evidence for the first time that they are members of the tribe Orobancheae, using sequence data from multiple loci (nuclear genes ITS, PHYA, PHYB, and plastid genes rps2, matK). Gleadovia is an independent lineage whereas Phacellanthus should be merged into genus Orobanche section Orobanche. Our results unambiguously support the hypothesis that there are only three origins of holoparasitism in Orobanchaceae. Divergence dating reveals for the first time that the three origins of holoparasitism were not synchronous. Our findings suggest that holoparasitism can persist in specific clades for a long time and holoparasitism may evolve independently as an adaptation to certain hosts.
Project description:The rattlesnake fern (Botrychium virginianum (L.) Sw.) is obligately mycotrophic and widely distributed across the northern hemisphere. Three mitochondrial gene regions place this species with other ferns in Ophioglossaceae, while two regions place it as a member of the largely parasitic angiosperm order Santalales (sandalwoods and mistletoes). These discordant phylogenetic placements suggest that part of the genome in B. virginianum was acquired by horizontal gene transfer (HGT), perhaps from root-parasitic Loranthaceae. These transgenes are restricted to B. virginianum and occur across the range of the species. Molecular and life-history traits indicate that the transfer preceded the global expansion of B. virginianum, and that the latter may have happened very rapidly. This is the first report of HGT from an angiosperm to a fern, through either direct parasitism or the mediation of interconnecting fungal symbionts.
Project description:Recent studies have suggested that plant genomes have undergone potentially rampant horizontal gene transfer (HGT), especially in the mitochondrial genome. Parasitic plants have provided the strongest evidence of HGT, which appears to be facilitated by the intimate physical association between the parasites and their hosts. A recent phylogenomic study demonstrated that in the holoparasite Rafflesia cantleyi (Rafflesiaceae), whose close relatives possess the world's largest flowers, about 2.1% of nuclear gene transcripts were likely acquired from its obligate host. Here, we used next-generation sequencing to obtain the 38 protein-coding and ribosomal RNA genes common to the mitochondrial genomes of angiosperms from R. cantleyi and five additional species, including two of its closest relatives and two host species. Strikingly, our phylogenetic analyses conservatively indicate that 24%-41% of these gene sequences show evidence of HGT in Rafflesiaceae, depending on the species. Most of these transgenic sequences possess intact reading frames and are actively transcribed, indicating that they are potentially functional. Additionally, some of these transgenes maintain synteny with their donor and recipient lineages, suggesting that native genes have likely been displaced via homologous recombination. Our study is the first to comprehensively assess the magnitude of HGT in plants involving a genome (i.e., mitochondria) and a species interaction (i.e., parasitism) where it has been hypothesized to be potentially rampant. Our results establish for the first time that, although the magnitude of HGT involving nuclear genes is appreciable in these parasitic plants, HGT involving mitochondrial genes is substantially higher. This may represent a more general pattern for other parasitic plant clades and perhaps more broadly for angiosperms.
Project description:All parasites are thought to have evolved from free-living ancestors. However, the ancestral conditions facilitating the shift to parasitism are unclear, particularly in plants because the phylogenetic position of many parasites is unknown. This is especially true for Rafflesia, an endophytic holoparasite that produces the largest flowers in the world and has defied confident phylogenetic placement since its discovery >180 years ago. Here we present results of a phylogenetic analysis of 95 species of seed plants designed to infer the position of Rafflesia in an evolutionary context using the mitochondrial gene matR (1,806 aligned base pairs). Overall, the estimated phylogenetic tree is highly congruent with independent analyses and provides a strongly supported placement of Rafflesia with the order Malpighiales, which includes poinsettias, violets, and passionflowers. Furthermore, the phylogenetic placement of Mitrastema, another enigmatic, holoparasitic angiosperm with the order Ericales (which includes blueberries and persimmons), was obtained with these data. Although traditionally classified together, Rafflesia and Mitrastema are only distantly related, implying that their endoparasitic habits result from convergent evolution. Our results indicate that the previous significant difficulties associated with phylogenetic placement of holoparasitic plants may be overcome by using mitochondrial DNA so that a broader understanding of the origins and evolution of parasitism may emerge.
Project description:Santalales is a large order, with over 2200 species, most of which are root or aerial (stem) hemiparasites. In this study, we report the newly assembled chloroplast genome of Dendrotrophe varians (140,666 bp) in the family Amphorogynaceae and the cp genomes of Helixanthera parasitica (124,881 bp) and Macrosolen cochinchinensis (122,986 bp), both in the family Loranthaceae. We compared the cp genomes of 11 Santalales including eight currently available cp genomes. Santalales cp genomes are slightly or not reduced in size (119-147 kb), similar to other hemiparasitic species, when compared with typical angiosperm cp genomes (120-170 kb). In a phylogeny examining gene content, the NADH dehydrogenase gene group is the only one among eight functional gene groups that lost complete functionally in all examined Santalales. This supports the idea that the functional loss of ndh genes is the initial stage in the evolution of the plastome of parasitic plants, but the loss has occurred independently multiple times in angiosperms, while they are not found in some parasites. This suggests that the functional loss of ndh genes is not essential for the transition from autotroph to parasite. We additionally examined the correlation between gene content and type of parasitism (obligate/facultative and stem/root parasites) of all hemiparasitic species in which cp genomes have been reported to date. Correlation was not found in any types of parasitism.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Theoretical models and experimental evidence suggest that rates of molecular evolution could be raised in parasitic organisms compared to non-parasitic taxa. Parasitic plants provide an ideal test for these predictions, as there are at least a dozen independent origins of the parasitic lifestyle in angiosperms. Studies of a number of parasitic plant lineages have suggested faster rates of molecular evolution, but the results of some studies have been mixed. Comparative analysis of all parasitic plant lineages, including sequences from all three genomes, is needed to examine the generality of the relationship between rates of molecular evolution and parasitism in plants. RESULTS:We analysed DNA sequence data from the mitochondrial, nuclear and chloroplast genomes for 12 independent evolutionary origins of parasitism in angiosperms. We demonstrated that parasitic lineages have a faster rate of molecular evolution than their non-parasitic relatives in sequences for all three genomes, for both synonymous and nonsynonymous substitutions. CONCLUSIONS:Our results prove that raised rates of molecular evolution are a general feature of parasitic plants, not confined to a few taxa or specific genes. We discuss possible causes for this relationship, including increased positive selection associated with host-parasite arms races, relaxed selection, reduced population size or repeated bottlenecks, increased mutation rates, and indirect causal links with generation time and body size. We find no evidence that faster rates are due to smaller effective populations sizes or changes in selection pressure. Instead, our results suggest that parasitic plants have a higher mutation rate than their close non-parasitic relatives. This may be due to a direct connection, where some aspect of the parasitic lifestyle drives the evolution of raised mutation rates. Alternatively, this pattern may be driven by an indirect connection between rates and parasitism: for example, parasitic plants tend to be smaller than their non-parasitic relatives, which may result in more cell generations per year, thus a higher rate of mutations arising from DNA copy errors per unit time. Demonstration that adoption of a parasitic lifestyle influences the rate of genomic evolution is relevant to attempts to infer molecular phylogenies of parasitic plants and to estimate their evolutionary divergence times using sequence data.
Project description:Group I introns are mobile, self-splicing genetic elements found principally in organellar genomes and nuclear rRNA genes. The only group I intron known from mitochondrial genomes of vascular plants is located in the cox1 gene of Peperomia, where it is thought to have been recently acquired by lateral transfer from a fungal donor. Southern-blot surveys of 335 diverse genera of land plants now show that this intron is in fact widespread among angiosperm cox1 genes, but with an exceptionally patchy phylogenetic distribution. Four lines of evidence-the intron's highly disjunct distribution, many incongruencies between intron and organismal phylogenies, and two sources of evidence from exonic coconversion tracts-lead us to conclude that the 48 angiosperm genera found to contain this cox1 intron acquired it by 32 separate horizontal transfer events. Extrapolating to the over 13,500 genera of angiosperms, we estimate that this intron has invaded cox1 genes by cross-species horizontal transfer over 1,000 times during angiosperm evolution. This massive wave of lateral transfers is of entirely recent occurrence, perhaps triggered by some key shift in the intron's invasiveness within angiosperms.
Project description:Horizontal gene transfer is surprisingly common among plant mitochondrial genomes. The first well-established case involves a homing group I intron in the mitochondrial cox1 gene shown to have been frequently acquired via horizontal transfer in angiosperms. Here, we report extensive additional sampling of angiosperms, including 85 newly sequenced introns from 30 families. Analysis of all available data leads us to conclude that, among the 640 angiosperms (from 212 families) whose cox1 intron status has been characterized thus far, the intron has been acquired via roughly 70 separate horizontal transfer events. We propose that the intron was originally seeded into angiosperms by a single transfer from fungi, with all subsequent inferred transfers occurring from one angiosperm to another. The pattern of angiosperm-to-angiosperm transfer is biased toward exchanges between plants belonging to the same family. Illegitimate pollination is proposed as one potential factor responsible for this pattern, given that aberrant, cross-species pollination is more likely between close relatives. Other potential factors include shared vectoring agents or common geographic locations. We report the first apparent cases of loss of the cox1 intron; losses are accompanied by retention of the exonic coconversion tract, which is located immediately downstream of the intron and which is a product of the intron's self-insertion mechanism. We discuss the many reasons why the cox1 intron is so frequently and detectably transferred, and rarely lost, and conclude that it should be regarded as the "canary in the coal mine" with respect to horizontal transfer in angiosperm mitochondria.
Project description:Plant parasitism has arisen time and again in multiple phyla, including bacteria, fungi, insects and nematodes. In most of these organismal groups, the overwhelming diversity hampers a robust reconstruction of the origins and diversification patterns of this trophic lifestyle. Being a moderately diversified phylum with ? 4,100 plant parasites (15% of total biodiversity) subdivided over four independent lineages, nematodes constitute a major organismal group for which the genesis of plant parasitism could be mapped. Since substantial crop losses worldwide have been attributed to less than 1% of these plant parasites, research efforts are severely biased towards this minority. With the first molecular characterisation of numerous basal and supposedly harmless plant parasites as well as their non-parasitic relatives, we were able to generate a comprehensive molecular framework that allows for the reconstruction of trophic diversification for a complete phylum. In each lineage plant parasites reside in a single taxonomic grouping (family or order), and by taking the coverage of the next lower taxonomic level as a measure for representation, 50, 67, 100 and 85% of the known diversity was included. We revealed distinct gain and loss patterns with regard to plant parasitism per se as well as host exploitation strategies between these lineages. Our map of parasitic nematode biodiversity also revealed an unanticipated time reversal in which the two most ancient lineages showed the lowest level of ecological diversification and vice versa.