Protein thermodynamics can be predicted directly from biological growth rates.
ABSTRACT: Life on Earth is capable of growing from temperatures well below freezing to above the boiling point of water, with some organisms preferring cooler and others hotter conditions. The growth rate of each organism ultimately depends on its intracellular chemical reactions. Here we show that a thermodynamic model based on a single, rate-limiting, enzyme-catalysed reaction accurately describes population growth rates in 230 diverse strains of unicellular and multicellular organisms. Collectively these represent all three domains of life, ranging from psychrophilic to hyperthermophilic, and including the highest temperature so far observed for growth (122 °C). The results provide credible estimates of thermodynamic properties of proteins and obtain, purely from organism intrinsic growth rate data, relationships between parameters previously identified experimentally, thus bridging a gap between biochemistry and whole organism biology. We find that growth rates of both unicellular and multicellular life forms can be described by the same temperature dependence model. The model results provide strong support for a single highly-conserved reaction present in the last universal common ancestor (LUCA). This is remarkable in that it means that the growth rate dependence on temperature of unicellular and multicellular life forms that evolved over geological time spans can be explained by the same model.
Project description:Mutation has a fundamental influence over evolutionary processes, but how evolutionary processes shape mutation rate remains less clear. In asexual unicellular organism, increased mutation rates have been observed in stressful environments and the reigning paradigm ascribes this increase to selection for evolvability. However, this explanation does not apply in sexually reproducing species, where little is known about how the environment affects mutation rate. Here we challenged experimental lines of seed beetle, evolved at ancestral temperature or under simulated climate warming, to repair induced mutations at ancestral and stressful temperature. Results show that temperature stress causes individuals to pass on a greater mutation load to their grand-offspring. This suggests that stress-induced mutation rates, in unicellular and multicellular organisms alike, can result from compromised germline DNA repair in low condition individuals. Moreover, lines adapted to simulated climate warming had evolved increased longevity at the cost of reproduction, and this allocation decision improved germline repair. These results suggest that mutation rates can be modulated by resource allocation trade-offs encompassing life-history traits and the germline and have important implications for rates of adaptation and extinction as well as our understanding of genetic diversity in multicellular organisms.
Project description:Evolution of complex multicellular life began from the emergence of a life cycle involving the formation of cell clusters. The opportunity for cells to interact within clusters provided them with an advantage over unicellular life forms. However, what kind of interactions may lead to the evolution of multicellular life cycles? Here, we combine evolutionary game theory with a model for the emergence of multicellular groups to investigate how cell interactions can influence reproduction modes during the early stages of the evolution of multicellularity. In our model, the presence of both cell types is maintained by stochastic phenotype switching during cell division. We identify evolutionary optimal life cycles as those which maximize the population growth rate. Among all interactions captured by two-player games, the vast majority promotes two classes of life cycles: (i) splitting into unicellular propagules or (ii) fragmentation into two offspring clusters of equal (or almost equal) size. Our findings indicate that the three most important characteristics, determining whether multicellular life cycles will evolve, are the average performance of homogeneous groups, heterogeneous groups, and solitary cells.
Project description:Reproduction is a defining feature of living systems. To reproduce, aggregates of biological units (e.g., multicellular organisms or colonial bacteria) must fragment into smaller parts. Fragmentation modes in nature range from binary fission in bacteria to collective-level fragmentation and the production of unicellular propagules in multicellular organisms. Despite this apparent ubiquity, the adaptive significance of fragmentation modes has received little attention. Here, we develop a model in which groups arise from the division of single cells that do not separate but stay together until the moment of group fragmentation. We allow for all possible fragmentation patterns and calculate the population growth rate of each associated life cycle. Fragmentation modes that maximise growth rate comprise a restrictive set of patterns that include production of unicellular propagules and division into two similar size groups. Life cycles marked by single-cell bottlenecks maximise population growth rate under a wide range of conditions. This surprising result offers a new evolutionary explanation for the widespread occurrence of this mode of reproduction. All in all, our model provides a framework for exploring the adaptive significance of fragmentation modes and their associated life cycles.
Project description:The temperature-size Rule (TSR) states that there is a negative relationship between ambient temperature and body size. This rule has been independently evaluated for different phases of the life cycle in multicellular eukaryotes, but mostly for the average population in unicellular organisms. We acclimated two model marine cyanobacterial strains (Prochlorococcus marinus MIT9301 and Synechococcus sp. RS9907) to a gradient of temperatures and measured the changes in population age-structure and cell size along their division cycle. Both strains displayed temperature-dependent diel changes in cell size, and as a result, the relationship between temperature and average cell size varied along the day. We computed the mean cell size of new-born cells in order to test the prediction of the TSR on a single-growth stage. Our work reconciles previous inconsistent results when testing the TSR on unicellular organisms, and shows that when a single-growth stage is considered the predicted negative response to temperature is revealed.
Project description:The transition to multicellularity enabled the evolution of large, complex organisms, but early steps in this transition remain poorly understood. Here we show that multicellular complexity, including development from a single cell, can evolve rapidly in a unicellular organism that has never had a multicellular ancestor. We subject the alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii to conditions that favour multicellularity, resulting in the evolution of a multicellular life cycle in which clusters reproduce via motile unicellular propagules. While a single-cell genetic bottleneck during ontogeny is widely regarded as an adaptation to limit among-cell conflict, its appearance very early in this transition suggests that it did not evolve for this purpose. Instead, we find that unicellular propagules are adaptive even in the absence of intercellular conflict, maximizing cluster-level fecundity. These results demonstrate that the unicellular bottleneck, a trait essential for evolving multicellular complexity, can arise rapidly via co-option of the ancestral unicellular form.
Project description:There have been over 25 independent unicellular to multicellular evolutionary transitions, which have been transformational in the complexity of life. All of these transitions likely occurred in communities numerically dominated by unicellular organisms, mostly bacteria. Hence, it is reasonable to expect that bacteria were involved in generating the ecological conditions that promoted the stability and proliferation of the first multicellular forms as protective units. In this study, we addressed this problem by analyzing the occurrence of multicellularity in an experimental phylogeny of yeasts (Sacharomyces cerevisiae) a model organism that is unicellular but can generate multicellular clusters under some conditions. We exposed a single ancestral population to periodic divergences, coevolving with a cocktail of environmental bacteria that were inoculated to the environment of the ancestor, and compared to a control (no bacteria). We quantified culturable microorganisms to the level of genera, finding up to 20 taxa (all bacteria) that competed with the yeasts during diversification. After 600 generations of coevolution, the yeasts produced two types of multicellular clusters: clonal and aggregative. Whereas clonal clusters were present in both treatments, aggregative clusters were only present under the bacteria treatment and showed significant phylogenetic signal. However, clonal clusters showed different properties if bacteria were present as follows: They were more abundant and significantly smaller than in the control. These results indicate that bacteria are important modulators of the occurrence of multicellularity, providing support to the idea that they generated the ecological conditions-promoting multicellularity.
Project description:The monosaccharide N-acetylglucosamine (GlcNAc) is a major component of microbial cell walls and is ubiquitous in the environment. GlcNAc stimulates developmental pathways in the fungal pathogen Candida albicans, which is a commensal organism that colonizes the mammalian gut and causes disease in the setting of host immunodeficiency. Here we investigate GlcNAc signaling in thermally dimorphic human fungal pathogens, a group of fungi that are highly evolutionarily diverged from C. albicans and cause disease even in healthy individuals. These soil organisms grow as polarized, multicellular hyphal filaments that transition into a unicellular, pathogenic yeast form when inhaled by a human host. Temperature is the primary environmental cue that promotes reversible cellular differentiation into either yeast or filaments; however, a shift to a lower temperature in vitro induces filamentous growth in an inefficient and asynchronous manner. We found GlcNAc to be a potent and specific inducer of the yeast-to-filament transition in two thermally dimorphic fungi, Histoplasma capsulatum and Blastomyces dermatitidis. In addition to increasing the rate of filamentous growth, micromolar concentrations of GlcNAc induced a robust morphological transition of H. capsulatum after temperature shift that was independent of GlcNAc catabolism, indicating that fungal cells sense GlcNAc to promote filamentation. Whole-genome expression profiling to identify candidate genes involved in establishing the filamentous growth program uncovered two genes encoding GlcNAc transporters, NGT1 and NGT2, that were necessary for H. capsulatum cells to robustly filament in response to GlcNAc. Unexpectedly, NGT1 and NGT2 were important for efficient H. capsulatum yeast-to-filament conversion in standard glucose medium, suggesting that Ngt1 and Ngt2 monitor endogenous levels of GlcNAc to control multicellular filamentous growth in response to temperature. Overall, our work indicates that GlcNAc functions as a highly conserved cue of morphogenesis in fungi, which further enhances the significance of this ubiquitous sugar in cellular signaling in eukaryotes.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>The evolution of multicellular motile organisms from unicellular ancestors required the utilization of previously evolved tactic behavior in a multicellular context. Volvocine green algae are uniquely suited for studying tactic responses during the transition to multicellularity because they range in complexity from unicellular to multicellular genera. Phototactic responses are essential for these flagellates because they need to orientate themselves to receive sufficient light for photosynthesis, but how does a multicellular organism accomplish phototaxis without any known direct communication among cells? Several aspects of the photoresponse have previously been analyzed in volvocine algae, particularly in the unicellular alga Chlamydomonas.<h4>Results</h4>In this study, the phototactic behavior in the spheroidal, multicellular volvocine green alga Volvox rousseletii (Volvocales, Chlorophyta) was analyzed. In response to light stimuli, not only did the flagella waveform and beat frequency change, but the effective stroke was reversed. Moreover, there was a photoresponse gradient from the anterior to the posterior pole of the spheroid, and only cells of the anterior hemisphere showed an effective response. The latter caused a reverse of the fluid flow that was confined to the anterior hemisphere. The responsiveness to light is consistent with an anterior-to-posterior size gradient of eyespots. At the posterior pole, the eyespots are tiny or absent, making the corresponding cells appear to be blind. Pulsed light stimulation of an immobilized spheroid was used to simulate the light fluctuation experienced by a rotating spheroid during phototaxis. The results demonstrated that in free-swimming spheroids, only those cells of the anterior hemisphere that face toward the light source reverse the beating direction in the presence of illumination; this behavior results in phototactic turning. Moreover, positive phototaxis is facilitated by gravitational forces. Under our conditions, V. rousseletii spheroids showed no negative phototaxis.<h4>Conclusions</h4>On the basis of our results, we developed a mechanistic model that predicts the phototactic behavior in V. rousseletii. The model involves photoresponses, periodically changing light conditions, morphological polarity, rotation of the spheroid, two modes of flagellar beating, and the impact of gravity. Our results also indicate how recently evolved multicellular organisms adapted the phototactic capabilities of their unicellular ancestors to multicellular life.
Project description:The Streptophyta include unicellular and multicellular charophyte green algae and land plants. Colonization of the terrestrial habitat by land plants was a major evolutionary event that has transformed our planet. So far lack of genome information on unicellular charophyte algae hinders our understanding of the origin and the evolution from unicellular to multicellular life in Streptophyta. This work reports the high-quality reference genome and transcriptome of Mesostigma viride, a single-celled charophyte alga with a position at the base of Streptophyta. There are abundant segmental duplications and transposable elements in M. viride, which contribute to a relatively large genome with high gene content compared to other algae and early diverging land plants. This work identifies the origin of genetic tools that multicellular Streptophyta have inherited and key genetic innovations required for evolution of land plants from unicellular aquatic ancestors. The findings shed light on the age-old questions of the evolution of multicellularity and the origin of land plants. Overall design: RNA-seq in different temperature, light and pH conditions with two replicates.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>Mathematical models exist that quantify the effect of temperature on poikilotherm growth rate. One family of such models assumes a single rate-limiting 'master reaction' using terms describing the temperature-dependent denaturation of the reaction's enzyme. We consider whether such a model can describe growth in each domain of life.<h4>Methodology/principal findings</h4>A new model based on this assumption and using a hierarchical Bayesian approach fits simultaneously 95 data sets for temperature-related growth rates of diverse microorganisms from all three domains of life, Bacteria, Archaea and Eukarya. Remarkably, the model produces credible estimates of fundamental thermodynamic parameters describing protein thermal stability predicted over 20 years ago.<h4>Conclusions/significance</h4>The analysis lends support to the concept of universal thermodynamic limits to microbial growth rate dictated by protein thermal stability that in turn govern biological rates. This suggests that the thermal stability of proteins is a unifying property in the evolution and adaptation of life on earth. The fundamental nature of this conclusion has importance for many fields of study including microbiology, protein chemistry, thermal biology, and ecological theory including, for example, the influence of the vast microbial biomass and activity in the biosphere that is poorly described in current climate models.