Convergent evolution of complex genomic rearrangements in two fungal meiotic drive elements.
ABSTRACT: Meiotic drive is widespread in nature. The conflict it generates is expected to be an important motor for evolutionary change and innovation. In this study, we investigated the genomic consequences of two large multi-gene meiotic drive elements, Sk-2 and Sk-3, found in the filamentous ascomycete Neurospora intermedia. Using long-read sequencing, we generated the first complete and well-annotated genome assemblies of large, highly diverged, non-recombining regions associated with meiotic drive elements. Phylogenetic analysis shows that, even though Sk-2 and Sk-3 are located in the same chromosomal region, they do not form sister clades, suggesting independent origins or at least a long evolutionary separation. We conclude that they have in a convergent manner accumulated similar patterns of tandem inversions and dense repeat clusters, presumably in response to similar needs to create linkage between genes causing drive and resistance.
Project description:Neurospora fungi harbor a group of meiotic drive elements known as Spore killers (Sk). Spore killer-2 (Sk-2) and Spore killer-3 (Sk-3) are two Sk elements that map to a region of suppressed recombination. Although this recombination block is limited to crosses between Sk and Sk-sensitive (Sk(S)) strains, its existence has hindered Sk characterization. Here we report the circumvention of this obstacle by combining a classical genetic screen with next-generation sequencing technology and three-point crossing assays. This approach has allowed us to identify a novel locus called rfk-1, mutation of which disrupts spore killing by Sk-2. We have mapped rfk-1 to a 45-kb region near the right border of the Sk-2 element, a location that also harbors an 11-kb insertion (Sk-2(INS1)) and part of a >220-kb inversion (Sk-2(INV1)). These are the first two chromosome rearrangements to be formally identified in a Neurospora Sk element, providing evidence that they are at least partially responsible for Sk-based recombination suppression. Additionally, the proximity of these chromosome rearrangements to rfk-1 (a critical component of the spore-killing mechanism) suggests that they have played a key role in the evolution of meiotic drive in Neurospora.
Project description:Meiotic drive is a non-Mendelian inheritance phenomenon in which certain selfish genetic elements skew sexual transmission in their own favor. In some cases, progeny or gametes carrying a meiotic drive element can survive preferentially because it causes the death or malfunctioning of those that do not carry it. In Neurospora, meiotic drive can be observed in fungal spore killing. In a cross of Spore killer (Sk) × WT (Sk-sensitive), the ascospores containing the Spore killer allele survive, whereas the ones with the sensitive allele degenerate. Sk-2 and Sk-3 are the most studied meiotic drive elements in Neurospora, and they each theoretically contain two essential components: a killer element and a resistance gene. Here we report the identification and characterization of the Sk resistance gene, rsk (resistant to Spore killer). rsk seems to be a fungal-specific gene, and its deletion in a killer strain leads to self-killing. Sk-2, Sk-3, and naturally resistant isolates all use rsk for resistance. In each killer system, rsk sequences from an Sk strain and a resistant isolate are highly similar, suggesting that they share the same origin. Sk-2, Sk-3, and sensitive rsk alleles differ from each other by their unique indel patterns. Contrary to long-held belief, the killer targets not only late but also early ascospore development. The WT RSK protein is dispensable for ascospore production and is not a target of the spore-killing mechanism. Rather, a resistant version of RSK likely neutralizes the killer element and prevents it from interfering with ascospore development.
Project description:Sk-2 is a meiotic drive element that was discovered in wild populations of Neurospora fungi over 40 years ago. While early studies quickly determined that Sk-2 transmits itself through sexual reproduction in a biased manner via spore killing, the genetic factors responsible for this phenomenon have remained mostly unknown. Here, we identify and characterize rfk-1, a gene required for Sk-2-based spore killing. The rfk-1 gene contains four exons, three introns, and two stop codons, the first of which undergoes RNA editing to a tryptophan codon during sexual development. Translation of an unedited rfk-1 transcript in vegetative tissue is expected to produce a 102-amino acid protein, whereas translation of an edited rfk-1 transcript in sexual tissue is expected to produce a protein with 130 amino acids. These findings indicate that unedited and edited rfk-1 transcripts exist and that these transcripts could have different roles with respect to the mechanism of meiotic drive by spore killing. Regardless of RNA editing, spore killing only succeeds if rfk-1 transcripts avoid silencing caused by a genome defense process called meiotic silencing by unpaired DNA (MSUD). We show that rfk-1's MSUD avoidance mechanism is linked to the genomic landscape surrounding the rfk-1 gene, which is located near the Sk-2 border on the right arm of chromosome III. In addition to demonstrating that the location of rfk-1 is critical to spore-killing success, our results add to accumulating evidence that MSUD helps protect Neurospora genomes from complex meiotic drive elements.
Project description:Neurospora intermedia is a heterothallic filamentous ascomycete. In this study we use microarray technology to study the difference in gene expression between vegetative growth and early reproductive development. Overall design: Neurospora intermedia FGSC#8882 mat-A and FGSC#8782 mat-a. Solid synthetic crossing medium (SCM) was used as a nutrient regime before sampling and processing. Two different conditions were sampled: vegetative mycelial tissue and young reproductive mycelial tissue.
Project description:Neurospora intermedia is a heterothallic filamentous ascomycete. In this study we use microarray technology to study the difference in gene expression between vegetative growth and early reproductive development. Neurospora intermedia FGSC#8882 mat-A and FGSC#8782 mat-a. Solid synthetic crossing medium (SCM) was used as a nutrient regime before sampling and processing. Two different conditions were sampled: vegetative mycelial tissue and young reproductive mycelial tissue.
Project description:BACKGROUND: The broadly accepted pattern of rapid evolution of reproductive genes is primarily based on studies of animal systems, although several examples of rapidly evolving genes involved in reproduction are found in diverse additional taxa. In fungi, genes involved in mate recognition have been found to evolve rapidly. However, the examples are too few to draw conclusions on a genome scale. RESULTS: In this study, we performed microarray hybridizations between RNA from sexual and vegetative tissues of two strains of the heterothallic (self-sterile) filamentous ascomycete Neurospora intermedia, to identify a set of sex-associated genes in this species. We aligned Expressed Sequence Tags (ESTs) from sexual and vegetative tissue of N. intermedia to orthologs from three closely related species: N. crassa, N. discreta and N. tetrasperma. The resulting four-species alignments provided a dataset for molecular evolutionary analyses. Our results confirm a general pattern of rapid evolution of fungal sex-associated genes, compared to control genes with constitutive expression or a high relative expression during vegetative growth. Among the rapidly evolving sex-associated genes, we identified candidates that could be of importance for mating or fruiting-body development. Analyses of five of these candidate genes from additional species of heterothallic Neurospora revealed that three of them evolve under positive selection. CONCLUSIONS: Taken together, our study represents a novel finding of a genome-wide pattern of rapid evolution of sex-associated genes in the fungal kingdom, and provides a list of candidate genes important for reproductive isolation in Neurospora.
Project description:The isolation and characterization of the circular mitochondrial plasmid pUG1 from the ascomycete Cryphonectria parasitica is described. The entire sequence (4182 bp) was obtained and high similarities to DNA-dependent DNA polymerases were revealed. Strikingly common features with the DNA polymerases encoded by the Neurospora intermedia plasmids Fiji and LaBelle, such as matches to the conserved motifs A and B and the presence of TTD instead of DTD in motif C, were found, suggesting the existence of a distinct group of members of the B DNA family polymerases. These strong similarities between the plasmids might suggest a common origin of the C.parasitica and the Neurospora plasmids.
Project description:Fusarium verticillioides is an agriculturally important fungus because of its association with maize and its propensity to contaminate grain with toxic compounds. Some isolates of the fungus harbor a meiotic drive element known as Spore killer (Sk(K)) that causes nearly all surviving meiotic progeny from an Sk(K) × Spore killer-susceptible (Sk(S)) cross to inherit the Sk(K) allele. Sk(K) has been mapped to chromosome V but the genetic element responsible for meiotic drive has yet to be identified. In this study, we used cleaved amplified polymorphic sequence markers to genotype individual progeny from an Sk(K) × Sk(S) mapping population. We also sequenced the genomes of three progeny from the mapping population to determine their single nucleotide polymorphisms. These techniques allowed us to refine the location of Sk(K) to a contiguous 102 kb interval of chromosome V, herein referred to as the Sk region. Relative to Sk(S) genotypes, Sk(K) genotypes have one extra gene within this region for a total of 42 genes. The additional gene in Sk(K) genotypes, herein named SKC1 for Spore Killer Candidate 1, is the most highly expressed gene from the Sk region during early stages of sexual development. The Sk region also has three hyper-variable regions, the longest of which includes SKC1 The possibility that SKC1, or another gene from the Sk region, is an essential component of meiotic drive and spore killing is discussed.
Project description:We combined gene divergence data, classical genetics, and phylogenetics to study the evolution of the mating-type chromosome in the filamentous ascomycete Neurospora tetrasperma. In this species, a large non-recombining region of the mating-type chromosome is associated with a unique fungal life cycle where self-fertility is enforced by maintenance of a constant state of heterokaryosis. Sequence divergence between alleles of 35 genes from the two single mating-type component strains (i.e. the homokaryotic mat A or mat a-strains), derived from one N. tetrasperma heterokaryon (mat A+mat a), was analyzed. By this approach we were able to identify the boundaries and size of the non-recombining region, and reveal insight into the history of recombination cessation. The non-recombining region covers almost 7 Mbp, over 75% of the chromosome, and we hypothesize that the evolution of the mating-type chromosome in this lineage involved two successive events. The first event was contemporaneous with the split of N. tetrasperma from a common ancestor with its outcrossing relative N. crassa and suppressed recombination over at least 6.6 Mbp, and the second was confined to a smaller region in which recombination ceased more recently. In spite of the early origin of the first "evolutionary stratum", genealogies of five genes from strains belonging to an additional N. tetrasperma lineage indicate independent initiations of suppressed recombination in different phylogenetic lineages. This study highlights the shared features between the sex chromosomes found in the animal and plant kingdoms and the fungal mating-type chromosome, despite fungi having no separate sexes. As is often found in sex chromosomes of plants and animals, recombination suppression of the mating-type chromosome of N. tetrasperma involved more than one evolutionary event, covers the majority of the mating-type chromosome and is flanked by distal regions with obligate crossovers.
Project description:The significance of introgression as an evolutionary force shaping natural populations is well established, especially in animal and plant systems. However, the abundance and size of introgression tracts, and to what degree interspecific gene flow is the result of adaptive processes, are largely unknown. In this study, we present medium coverage genomic data from species of the filamentous ascomycete Neurospora, and we use comparative genomics to investigate the introgression landscape at the genomic level in this model genus. We revealed one large introgression tract in each of the three investigated phylogenetic lineages of Neurospora tetrasperma (sizes of 5.6 Mbp, 5.2 Mbp, and 4.1 Mbp, respectively). The tract is located on the chromosome containing the locus conferring sexual identity, the mating-type (mat) chromosome. The region of introgression is confined to the region of suppressed recombination and is found on one of the two mat chromosomes (mat a). We used Bayesian concordance analyses to exclude incomplete lineage sorting as the cause for the observed pattern, and multilocus genealogies from additional species of Neurospora show that the introgression likely originates from two closely related, freely recombining, heterothallic species (N. hispaniola and N. crassa/N. perkinsii). Finally, we investigated patterns of molecular evolution of the mat chromosome in Neurospora, and we show that introgression is correlated with reduced level of molecular degeneration, consistent with a shorter time of recombination suppression. The chromosome specific (mat) and allele specific (mat a) introgression reported herein comprise the largest introgression tracts reported to date from natural populations. Furthermore, our data contradicts theoretical predictions that introgression should be less likely on sex-determining chromosomes. Taken together, the data presented herein advance our general understanding of introgression as a force shaping eukaryotic genomes.