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Evidence of horizontal gene transfer between obligate leaf nodule symbionts


Pinto-Carbó, Marta; Sieber, Simon; Dessein, Steven; Wicker, Thomas; Verstraete, Brecht; Gademann, Karl; Eberl, Leo; Carlier, Aurelien (2016). Evidence of horizontal gene transfer between obligate leaf nodule symbionts. The ISME journal, 10(9):2092-2105.

Abstract

Bacteria of the genus Burkholderia establish an obligate symbiosis with plant species of the Rubiaceae and Primulaceae families. The bacteria, housed within the leaves, are transmitted hereditarily and have not yet been cultured. We have sequenced and compared the genomes of eight bacterial leaf nodule symbionts of the Rubiaceae plant family. All of the genomes exhibit features consistent with genome erosion. Genes potentially involved in the biosynthesis of kirkamide, an insecticidal C7N aminocyclitol, are conserved in most Rubiaceae symbionts. However, some have partially lost the kirkamide pathway due to genome erosion and are unable to synthesize the compound. Kirkamide synthesis is therefore not responsible for the obligate nature of the symbiosis. More importantly, we find evidence of intra-clade horizontal gene transfer (HGT) events affecting genes of the secondary metabolism. This indicates that substantial gene flow can occur at the early stages following host restriction in leaf nodule symbioses. We propose that host-switching events and plasmid conjugative transfers could have promoted these HGTs. This genomic analysis of leaf nodule symbionts gives, for the first time, new insights in the genome evolution of obligate symbionts in their early stages of the association with plants.

Abstract

Bacteria of the genus Burkholderia establish an obligate symbiosis with plant species of the Rubiaceae and Primulaceae families. The bacteria, housed within the leaves, are transmitted hereditarily and have not yet been cultured. We have sequenced and compared the genomes of eight bacterial leaf nodule symbionts of the Rubiaceae plant family. All of the genomes exhibit features consistent with genome erosion. Genes potentially involved in the biosynthesis of kirkamide, an insecticidal C7N aminocyclitol, are conserved in most Rubiaceae symbionts. However, some have partially lost the kirkamide pathway due to genome erosion and are unable to synthesize the compound. Kirkamide synthesis is therefore not responsible for the obligate nature of the symbiosis. More importantly, we find evidence of intra-clade horizontal gene transfer (HGT) events affecting genes of the secondary metabolism. This indicates that substantial gene flow can occur at the early stages following host restriction in leaf nodule symbioses. We propose that host-switching events and plasmid conjugative transfers could have promoted these HGTs. This genomic analysis of leaf nodule symbionts gives, for the first time, new insights in the genome evolution of obligate symbionts in their early stages of the association with plants.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Department of Chemistry
07 Faculty of Science > Department of Plant and Microbial Biology
Dewey Decimal Classification:580 Plants (Botany)
Language:English
Date:2016
Deposited On:13 Feb 2017 13:02
Last Modified:13 Feb 2017 13:04
Publisher:Nature Publishing Group
ISSN:1751-7362
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1038/ismej.2016.27
PubMed ID:26978165

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