Detecting Horizontal Gene Transfer between Closely Related Taxa.
ABSTRACT: Horizontal gene transfer (HGT), the transfer of genetic material between organisms, is crucial for genetic innovation and the evolution of genome architecture. Existing HGT detection algorithms rely on a strong phylogenetic signal distinguishing the transferred sequence from ancestral (vertically derived) genes in its recipient genome. Detecting HGT between closely related species or strains is challenging, as the phylogenetic signal is usually weak and the nucleotide composition is normally nearly identical. Nevertheless, there is a great importance in detecting HGT between congeneric species or strains, especially in clinical microbiology, where understanding the emergence of new virulent and drug-resistant strains is crucial, and often time-sensitive. We developed a novel, self-contained technique named Near HGT, based on the synteny index, to measure the divergence of a gene from its native genomic environment and used it to identify candidate HGT events between closely related strains. The method confirms candidate transferred genes based on the constant relative mutability (CRM). Using CRM, the algorithm assigns a confidence score based on "unusual" sequence divergence. A gene exhibiting exceptional deviations according to both synteny and mutability criteria, is considered a validated HGT product. We first employed the technique to a set of three E. coli strains and detected several highly probable horizontally acquired genes. We then compared the method to existing HGT detection tools using a larger strain data set. When combined with additional approaches our new algorithm provides richer picture and brings us closer to the goal of detecting all newly acquired genes in a particular strain.
Project description:Horizontal gene transfer has been occasionally mentioned in eukaryotic genomes, but such events appear much less numerous than in prokaryotes, where they play important functional and evolutionary roles. In yeasts, few independent cases have been described, some of which corresponding to major metabolic functions, but no systematic screening of horizontally transferred genes has been attempted so far. Taking advantage of the synteny conservation among five newly sequenced and annotated genomes of Saccharomycetaceae, we carried out a systematic search for HGT candidates amidst genes present in only one species within conserved synteny blocks. Out of 255 species-specific genes, we discovered 11 candidates for HGT, based on their similarity with bacterial proteins and on reconstructed phylogenies. This corresponds to a minimum of six transfer events because some horizontally acquired genes appear to rapidly duplicate in yeast genomes (e.g. YwqG genes in Kluyveromyces thermotolerans and serine recombinase genes of the IS607 family in Saccharomyces kluyveri). We show that the resulting copies are submitted to a strong functional selective pressure. The mechanisms of DNA transfer and integration are discussed, in relation with the generally small size of HGT candidates. Our results on a limited set of species expand by 50% the number of previously published HGT cases in hemiascomycetous yeasts, suggesting that this type of event is more frequent than usually thought. Our restrictive method does not exclude the possibility that additional HGT events exist. Actually, ancestral events common to several yeast species must have been overlooked, and the absence of homologs in present databases leaves open the question of the origin of the 244 remaining species-specific genes inserted within conserved synteny blocks.
Project description:Phage-mediated horizontal gene transfer (HGT) is common in free-living bacteria, and many transferred genes can play a significant role in their new bacterial hosts. However, there are few reports concerning phage-mediated HGT in endosymbionts (obligate intracellular bacteria within animal or plant hosts), such as Wolbachia. The Wolbachia-infecting temperate phage WO can actively shift among Wolbachia genomes and has the potential to mediate HGT between Wolbachia strains. In the present study, we extend previous findings by validating that the phage WO can mediate transfer of non-phage genes. To do so, we utilized bioinformatic, phylogenetic, and molecular analyses based on all sequenced Wolbachia and phage WO genomes. Our results show that the phage WO can mediate HGT between Wolbachia strains, regardless of whether the transferred genes originate from Wolbachia or other unrelated bacteria.
Project description:We present ModuleMiner, a novel algorithm for computationally detecting cis-regulatory modules (CRMs) in a set of co-expressed genes. ModuleMiner outperforms other methods for CRM detection on benchmark data, and successfully detects CRMs in tissue-specific microarray clusters and in embryonic development gene sets. Interestingly, CRM predictions for differentiated tissues exhibit strong enrichment close to the transcription start site, whereas CRM predictions for embryonic development gene sets are depleted in this region.
Project description:Recent horizontal gene transfer (HGT) is crucial for enabling microbes to rapidly adapt to their novel environments without relying upon rare beneficial mutations that arise spontaneously. For several years now, computational approaches have been developed to detect HGT, but they typically lack the sensitivity and ability to detect recent HGT events. Here we introduce a novel strategy, named <i>RecentHGT</i>. The number of genes undergoing recent HGT between two bacterial genomes was estimated by a new algorithm derived from the expectation-maximization algorithm and is based on the theoretical sequence-similarity distribution of orthologous genes. We tested the proposed strategy by applying it to a set of 10 <i>Rhizobium</i> genomes, and detected several large-scale recent HGT events. We also found that our strategy was more sensitive than other available HGT detection methods. These HGT events were mainly mediated by symbiotic plasmids. Our new strategy can provide clear evidence of recent HGT events and thus it brings us closer to the goal of detecting these potentially adaptive evolution processes in rhizobia as well as pathogens.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Genomes of Methanosarcina spp. are among the largest archaeal genomes. One suggested reason for that is massive horizontal gene transfer (HGT) from bacteria. Genes of bacterial origin may be involved in the central metabolism and solute transport, in particular sugar synthesis, sulfur metabolism, phosphate metabolism, DNA repair, transport of small molecules etc. Horizontally transferred (HT) genes are considered to play the key role in the ability of Methanosarcina spp. to inhabit diverse environments. At the moment, genomes of three Methanosarcina spp. have been sequenced, and while these genomes vary in length and number of protein-coding genes, they all have been shown to accumulate HT genes. However, previous estimates had been made when fewer archaeal genomes were known. Moreover, several Methanosarcinaceae genomes from other genera have been sequenced recently. Here, we revise the census of genes of bacterial origin in Methanosarcinaceae. RESULTS:About 5% of Methanosarcina genes have been shown to be horizontally transferred from various bacterial groups to the last common ancestor either of Methanosarcinaceae, or Methanosarcina, or later in the evolution. Simulation of the composition of the NCBI protein non-redundant database for different years demonstrates that the estimates of the HGT rate have decreased drastically since 2002, the year of publication of the first Methanosarcina genome. The phylogenetic distribution of HT gene donors is non-uniform. Most HT genes were transferred from Firmicutes and Proteobacteria, while no HGT events from Actinobacteria to the common ancestor of Methanosarcinaceae were found. About 50% of HT genes are involved in metabolism. Horizontal transfer of transcription factors is not common, while 46% of horizontally transferred genes have demonstrated differential expression in a variety of conditions. HGT of complete operons is relatively infrequent and half of HT genes do not belong to operons. CONCLUSIONS:While genes of bacterial origin are still more frequent in Methanosarcinaceae than in other Archaea, most HGT events described earlier as Methanosarcina-specific seem to have occurred before the divergence of Methanosarcinaceae. Genes horizontally transferred from bacteria to archaea neither tend to be transferred with their regulators, nor in long operons.
Project description:Analysis of the growing number of available fully-sequenced genomes has shown that Horizontal Gene Transfer (HGT) in eukaryotes is more common than previously thought. It has been proposed that genes with certain functions may be more prone to HGT than others, but we still have a very poor understanding of the selective forces driving eukaryotic HGT. Recent work uncovered that d-amino acid racemases have been commonly transferred from bacteria to fungi, but their role in the receiving organisms is currently unknown. Here, we set out to assess whether d-amino acid racemases are commonly transferred to and between eukaryotic groups. For this we performed a global survey that used a novel automated phylogeny-based HGT-detection algorithm (Abaccus). Our results revealed that at least 7.0% of the total eukaryotic racemase repertoire is the result of inter- or intra-domain HGT. These transfers are significantly enriched in plant-associated fungi. For these, we hypothesize a possible role for the acquired racemases allowing to exploit minoritary nitrogen sources in plant biomass, a nitrogen-poor environment. Finally, we performed experiments on a transferred aspartate-glutamate racemase in the fungal human pathogen Candida glabrata, which however revealed no obvious biological role.
Project description:UNLABELLED:A large amount of bacterial biomass is transferred from land to ocean annually. Most transferred bacteria should not survive, but undoubtedly some do. It is unclear what mechanisms these bacteria use in order to survive and even thrive in a new marine environment. Myroides profundi D25(T), a member of the Bacteroidetes phylum, was isolated from deep-sea sediment of the southern Okinawa Trough near the China mainland and had high genomic sequence identity to and synteny with the human opportunistic pathogen Myroides odoratimimus. Phylogenetic and physiological analyses suggested that M. profundi recently transitioned from land to the ocean. This provided an opportunity to explore how a bacterial genome evolved to survive in a novel environment. Changes in the transcriptome were evaluated when both species were cultured under low-salinity conditions and then transferred to high-salinity conditions. Comparative genomic and transcriptomic analyses showed that M. profundi altered transcription regulation in the early stages of survival. In these stages, vertically inherited genes played a key role in the survival of M. profundi. The contribution of M. profundi unique genes, some possibly acquired by horizontal gene transfer (HGT), appeared relatively small, and expression levels of unique genes were diminished under the high-salinity conditions. We postulate that HGT genes might play an important role in longer-term adaptation. These results suggested that some human pathogens might have the ability to survive in and adapt to the marine environment, which may have important implications for public health control in coastal regions. IMPORTANCE:Horizontal gene transfer (HGT) is considered to be important for bacteria to adapt to a different microhabitat. However, our results showed that vertically inherited genes might play more important roles than HGT genes in the nascent adaptation to the marine environment in the bacterium Myroides profundi, which has recently been transferred from land to ocean. M. profundi unique genes had low expression levels and were less regulated under high-salinity conditions, indicating that the contribution of HGT genes to survival of this bacterium under marine high-salinity conditions was limited. In the early adaptation stages, M. profundi apparently survived and adapted mainly by regulating the expression of inherited core genes. These results may explain in part why human pathogens can easily be detected in marine environments.
Project description:Recent comparative genomics studies have suggested that horizontal gene transfer (HGT) is one of the major processes in bacterial evolution. In this study, HGT events of 64 Chlamydia strains were investigated based on the pipeline employed in HGTree database constructed in our recent study. Tree reconciliation method was applied in order to calculate feasible HGT events. Following initial detection and an evaluation procedure, evidence of the HGT was identified in 548 gene families including 42 gene families transferred from outside of Chlamydiae phylum with high reliability. The donor species of inter-phylum HGT consists of 12 different bacterial and archaeal phyla, suggesting that Chlamydia might have even more various host range than in previous reports. In addition, each species of Chlamydia showed varying preference towards HGT, and genes engaged in HGT within Chlamydia and between other species showed different functional distribution. Also, examination of individual gene flows of niche-specific genes suggested that many of such genes are transferred mainly within Chlamydia genus. Our results uncovered novel features of HGT acting on Chlamydia genome evolution, and it would be also strong evidence that HGT is an ongoing process for intracellular pathogens. We expect that the results provide more insight into lineage- and niche-specific adaptations regarding their infectivity and pathogenicity.
Project description:Although prevalent in prokaryotes, horizontal gene transfer (HGT) is rarer in multicellular eukaryotes. Bdelloid rotifers are microscopic animals that contain a higher proportion of horizontally transferred, non-metazoan genes in their genomes than typical of animals. It has been hypothesized that bdelloids incorporate foreign DNA when they repair their chromosomes following double-strand breaks caused by desiccation. HGT might thereby contribute to species divergence and adaptation, as in prokaryotes. If so, we expect that species should differ in their complement of foreign genes, rather than sharing the same set of foreign genes inherited from a common ancestor. Furthermore, there should be more foreign genes in species that desiccate more frequently. We tested these hypotheses by surveying HGT in four congeneric species of bdelloids from different habitats: two from permanent aquatic habitats and two from temporary aquatic habitats that desiccate regularly.Transcriptomes of all four species contain many genes with a closer match to non-metazoan genes than to metazoan genes. Whole genome sequencing of one species confirmed the presence of these foreign genes in the genome. Nearly half of foreign genes are shared between all four species and an outgroup from another family, but many hundreds are unique to particular species, which indicates that HGT is ongoing. Using a dated phylogeny, we estimate an average of 12.8 gains versus 2.0 losses of foreign genes per million years. Consistent with the desiccation hypothesis, the level of HGT is higher in the species that experience regular desiccation events than those that do not. However, HGT still contributed hundreds of foreign genes to the species from permanently aquatic habitats. Foreign genes were mainly enzymes with various annotated functions that include catabolism of complex polysaccharides and stress responses. We found evidence of differential loss of ancestral foreign genes previously associated with desiccation protection in the two non-desiccating species.Nearly half of foreign genes were acquired before the divergence of bdelloid families over 60 Mya. Nonetheless, HGT is ongoing in bdelloids and has contributed to putative functional differences among species. Variation among our study species is consistent with the hypothesis that desiccating habitats promote HGT.
Project description:Horizontal gene transfer (HGT) is relatively common in plant mitochondrial genomes but the mechanisms, extent and consequences of transfer remain largely unknown. Previous results indicate that parasitic plants are often involved as either transfer donors or recipients, suggesting that direct contact between parasite and host facilitates genetic transfer among plants.In order to uncover the mechanistic details of plant-to-plant HGT, the extent and evolutionary fate of transfer was investigated between two groups: the parasitic genus Cuscuta and a small clade of Plantago species. A broad polymerase chain reaction (PCR) survey of mitochondrial genes revealed that at least three genes (atp1, atp6 and matR) were recently transferred from Cuscuta to Plantago. Quantitative PCR assays show that these three genes have a mitochondrial location in the one species line of Plantago examined. Patterns of sequence evolution suggest that these foreign genes degraded into pseudogenes shortly after transfer and reverse transcription (RT)-PCR analyses demonstrate that none are detectably transcribed. Three cases of gene conversion were detected between native and foreign copies of the atp1 gene. The identical phylogenetic distribution of the three foreign genes within Plantago and the retention of cytidines at ancestral positions of RNA editing indicate that these genes were probably acquired via a single, DNA-mediated transfer event. However, samplings of multiple individuals from two of the three species in the recipient Plantago clade revealed complex and perplexing phylogenetic discrepancies and patterns of sequence divergence for all three of the foreign genes.This study reports the best evidence to date that multiple mitochondrial genes can be transferred via a single HGT event and that transfer occurred via a strictly DNA-level intermediate. The discovery of gene conversion between co-resident foreign and native mitochondrial copies suggests that transferred genes may be evolutionarily important in generating mitochondrial genetic diversity. Finally, the complex relationships within each lineage of transferred genes imply a surprisingly complicated history of these genes in Plantago subsequent to their acquisition via HGT and this history probably involves some combination of additional transfers (including intracellular transfer), gene duplication, differential loss and mutation-rate variation. Unravelling this history will probably require sequencing multiple mitochondrial and nuclear genomes from Plantago. See Commentary: http://www.biomedcentral.com/1741-7007/8/147.