Red and green algal origin of diatom membrane transporters: insights into environmental adaptation and cell evolution.
PLoS One. 2011;6(12):e29138
Authors: Chan CX, Reyes-Prieto A, Bhattacharya D
Membrane transporters (MTs) facilitate the movement of molecules between cellular compartments. The evolutionary history of these key components of eukaryote genomes remains unclear. Many photosynthetic microbial eukaryotes (e.g., diatoms, haptophytes, and dinoflagellates) appear to have undergone serial endosymbiosis and thereby recruited foreign genes through endosymbiotic/horizontal gene transfer (E/HGT). Here we used the diatoms Thalassiosira pseudonana and Phaeodactylum tricornutum as models to examine the evolutionary origin of MTs in this important group of marine primary producers. Using phylogenomics, we used 1,014 diatom MTs as query against a broadly sampled protein sequence database that includes novel genome data from the mesophilic red algae Porphyridium cruentum and Calliarthron tuberculosum, and the stramenopile Ectocarpus siliculosus. Our conservative approach resulted in 879 maximum likelihood trees of which 399 genes show a non-lineal history between diatoms and other eukaryotes and prokaryotes (at the bootstrap value ≥70%). Of the eukaryote-derived MTs, 172 (ca. 25% of 697 examined phylogenies) have members of both red/green algae as sister groups, with 103 putatively arising from green algae, 19 from red algae, and 50 have an unresolved affiliation to red and/or green algae. We used topology tests to analyze the most convincing cases of non-lineal gene history in which red and/or green algae were nested within stramenopiles. This analysis showed that ca. 6% of all trees (our most conservative estimate) support an algal origin of MTs in stramenopiles with the majority derived from green algae. Our findings demonstrate the complex evolutionary history of photosynthetic eukaryotes and indicate a reticulate origin of MT genes in diatoms. We postulate that the algal-derived MTs acquired via E/HGT provided diatoms and other related microbial eukaryotes the ability to persist under conditions of fluctuating ocean chemistry, likely contributing to their great success in marine environments.
PMID: 22195008 [PubMed – in process]