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The genome of the mustard leaf beetle encodes two active xylanases originally acquired from bacteria through horizontal gene transfer.

ABSTRACT: The primary plant cell wall comprises the most abundant polysaccharides on the Earth and represents a rich source of energy for organisms which have evolved the ability to digest them. Enzymes able to degrade plant cell wall polysaccharides are widely distributed in micro-organisms but are generally absent in animals, although their presence in insects, especially phytophagous beetles from the superfamilies Chrysomeloidea and Curculionoidea, has recently begun to be appreciated. The observed patchy distribution of endogenous genes encoding these enzymes in animals has raised questions about their evolutionary origins. Recent evidence suggests that endogenous plant cell wall degrading enzymes-encoding genes have been acquired by animals through a mechanism known as horizontal gene transfer (HGT). HGT describes how genetic material is moved by means other than vertical inheritance from a parent to an offspring. Here, we provide evidence that the mustard leaf beetle, Phaedon cochleariae, possesses in its genome genes encoding active xylanases from the glycoside hydrolase family 11 (GH11). We also provide evidence that these genes were originally acquired by P. cochleariae from a species of gammaproteobacteria through HGT. This represents the first example of the presence of genes from the GH11 family in animals.


PROVIDER: S-EPMC3774241 | BioStudies | 2013-01-01


REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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