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Title: Beyond the Powerhouse: Integrating Mitonuclear Evolution, Physiology, and Theory in Comparative Biology

Eukaryotes are the outcome of an ancient symbiosis and as such, eukaryotic cells fundamentally possess two genomes. As a consequence, gene products encoded by both nuclear and mitochondrial genomes must interact in an intimate and precise fashion to enable aerobic respiration in eukaryotes. This genomic architecture of eukaryotes is proposed to necessitate perpetual coevolution between the nuclear and mitochondrial genomes to maintain coadaptation, but the presence of two genomes also creates the opportunity for intracellular conflict. In the collection of papers that constitute this symposium volume, scientists working in diverse organismal systems spanning vast biological scales address emerging topics in integrative, comparative biology in light of mitonuclear interactions.

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Award ID(s):
1839203 1738378 1736150 1453784
Publication Date:
Journal Name:
Integrative and Comparative Biology
Page Range or eLocation-ID:
p. 856-863
Oxford University Press
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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  1. Oxidative phosphorylation, the primary source of cellular energy in eukaryotes, requires gene products encoded in both the nuclear and mitochondrial genomes. As a result, functional integration between the genomes is essential for efficient adenosine triphosphate (ATP) generation. Although within populations this integration is presumably maintained by coevolution, the importance of mitonuclear coevolution in key biological processes such as speciation and mitochondrial disease has been questioned. In this study, we crossed populations of the intertidal copepodTigriopus californicusto disrupt putatively coevolved mitonuclear genotypes in reciprocal F2hybrids. We utilized interindividual variation in developmental rate among these hybrids as a proxy for fitness to assess the strength of selection imposed on the nuclear genome by alternate mitochondrial genotypes. Developmental rate varied among hybrid individuals, and in vitro ATP synthesis rates of mitochondria isolated from high-fitness hybrids were approximately two-fold greater than those of mitochondria isolated from low-fitness individuals. We then used Pool-seq to compare nuclear allele frequencies for high- or low-fitness hybrids. Significant biases for maternal alleles were detected on 5 (of 12) chromosomes in high-fitness individuals of both reciprocal crosses, whereas maternal biases were largely absent in low-fitness individuals. Therefore, the most fit hybrids were those with nuclear alleles that matched their mitochondrialmore »genotype on these chromosomes, suggesting that mitonuclear effects underlie individual-level variation in developmental rate and that intergenomic compatibility is critical for high fitness. We conclude that mitonuclear interactions can have profound impacts on both physiological performance and the evolutionary trajectory of the nuclear genome.

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  2. Purugganan, Michael (Ed.)
    Abstract In most eukaryotes, transfer RNAs (tRNAs) are one of the very few classes of genes remaining in the mitochondrial genome, but some mitochondria have lost these vestiges of their prokaryotic ancestry. Sequencing of mitogenomes from the flowering plant genus Silene previously revealed a large range in tRNA gene content, suggesting rapid and ongoing gene loss/replacement. Here, we use this system to test longstanding hypotheses about how mitochondrial tRNA genes are replaced by importing nuclear-encoded tRNAs. We traced the evolutionary history of these gene loss events by sequencing mitochondrial genomes from key outgroups (Agrostemma githago and Silene [=Lychnis] chalcedonica). We then performed the first global sequencing of purified plant mitochondrial tRNA populations to characterize the expression of mitochondrial-encoded tRNAs and the identity of imported nuclear-encoded tRNAs. We also confirmed the utility of high-throughput sequencing methods for the detection of tRNA import by sequencing mitochondrial tRNA populations in a species (Solanum tuberosum) with known tRNA trafficking patterns. Mitochondrial tRNA sequencing in Silene revealed substantial shifts in the abundance of some nuclear-encoded tRNAs in conjunction with their recent history of mt-tRNA gene loss and surprising cases where tRNAs with anticodons still encoded in the mitochondrial genome also appeared to be imported. Thesemore »data suggest that nuclear-encoded counterparts are likely replacing mitochondrial tRNAs even in systems with recent mitochondrial tRNA gene loss, and the redundant import of a nuclear-encoded tRNA may provide a mechanism for functional replacement between translation systems separated by billions of years of evolutionary divergence.« less
  3. Mitochondrial (mt) respiration depends on proteins encoded both by the mitochondrial and nuclear genomes. Variation in mt-DNA mutation rates exists across eukaryotes, although the functional consequences of elevated mt mutation rates in some lineages remain underexplored. In the angiosperm genus Silene , closely related, ecologically similar species have either ‘fast' or ‘slow' mt-DNA mutation rates. Here, we investigated the functional consequences of elevated mt-DNA mutation rates on mt respiration profiles of Silene mitochondria. Overall levels of respiration were similar among Species. Fast species had lower respiration efficiency than slow species and relied up to 48% more on nuclear-encoded respiratory enzymes alternative oxidase (AOX) and accessory dehydrogenases (DHex), which participate in stress responses in plants. However, not all fast species showed these trends. Respiratory profiles of some enzymes were correlated, most notably AOX and DHex. We conclude that subtle differences in mt physiology among Silene lineages with dramatically different mt mutation rates may underly similar phenotypes at higher levels of biological organization, betraying the consequences of mt mutations.
  4. Abstract

    The mitonuclear species concept hypothesizes that incompatibilities between interacting gene products of the nuclear and mitochondrial genomes are a major factor establishing and maintaining species boundaries. However, most of the data available to test this concept come from studies of genetic variation in mitochondrial DNA, and clines in the mitochondrial genome across contact zones can be produced by a variety of forces. Here, we show that using a combination of population genomic analyses of the nuclear and mitochondrial genomes and studies of mitochondrial function can provide insight into the relative roles of neutral processes, adaptive evolution, and mitonuclear incompatibility in establishing and maintaining mitochondrial clines, using Atlantic killifish (Fundulus heteroclitus) as a case study. There is strong evidence for a role of secondary contact following the last glaciation in shaping a steep mitochondrial cline across a contact zone between northern and southern subspecies of killifish, but there is also evidence for a role of adaptive evolution in driving differentiation between the subspecies in a variety of traits from the level of the whole organism to the level of mitochondrial function. In addition, studies are beginning to address the potential for mitonuclear incompatibilities in admixed populations. However, population genomic studiesmore »have failed to detect evidence for a strong and pervasive influence of mitonuclear incompatibilities, and we suggest that polygenic selection may be responsible for the complex patterns observed. This case study demonstrates that multiple forces can act together in shaping mitochondrial clines, and illustrates the challenge of disentangling their relative roles.

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  5. Abstract

    The mitochondrial genomes (mitogenomes) of bilaterian animals are highly conserved structures that usually consist of a single circular chromosome. However, several species of parasitic lice (Insecta: Phthiraptera) possess fragmented mitogenomes, where the mitochondrial genes are present on separate, circular chromosomes. Nevertheless, the extent, causes, and consequences of this structural variation remain poorly understood. Here, we combined new and existing data to better understand the evolution of mitogenome fragmentation in major groups of parasitic lice. We found strong evidence that fragmented mitogenomes evolved many times within parasitic lice and that the level of fragmentation is highly variable, including examples of heteroplasmic arrangements. We also found a significant association between mitochondrial fragmentation and signatures of relaxed selection. Mitochondrial fragmentation was also associated with changes to a lower AT%, possibly due to differences in mutation biases. Together, our results provide a significant advance in understanding the process of mitogenome fragmentation and provide an important perspective on mitochondrial evolution in eukaryotes.