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  1. Abstract The spatial organization of genes within plant genomes can drive evolution of specialized metabolic pathways. Terpenoids are important specialized metabolites in plants with diverse adaptive functions that enable environmental interactions. Here, we report the genome assemblies of Prunella vulgaris , Plectranthus barbatus , and Leonotis leonurus . We investigate the origin and subsequent evolution of a diterpenoid biosynthetic gene cluster (BGC) together with other seven species within the Lamiaceae (mint) family. Based on core genes found in the BGCs of all species examined across the Lamiaceae, we predict a simplified version of this cluster evolved in an early Lamiaceae ancestor. The current composition of the extant BGCs highlights the dynamic nature of its evolution. We elucidate the terpene backbones generated by the Callicarpa americana BGC enzymes, including miltiradiene and the terpene (+)-kaurene, and show oxidization activities of BGC cytochrome P450s. Our work reveals the fluid nature of BGC assembly and the importance of genome structure in contributing to the origin of metabolites.
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2024
  2. Abstract Background Transposable elements (TEs) are powerful creators of genotypic and phenotypic diversity due to their inherent mutagenic capabilities and in this way they serve as a deep reservoir of sequences for genomic variation. As agents of genetic disruption, a TE’s potential to impact phenotype is partially a factor of its location in the genome. Previous research has shown TEs’ ability to impact the expression of neighboring genes, however our understanding of this trend is hampered by the exceptional amount of diversity in the TE world, and a lack of publicly available computational methods that quantify the presence of TEs relative to genes. Results Here, we have developed a tool to more easily quantify TE presence relative to genes through the use of only a gene and TE annotation, yielding a new metric we call TE Density. Briefly defined as the proportion of TE-occupied base-pairs relative to a window-size of the genome. This new pipeline reports TE density for each gene in the genome, for each type descriptor of TE (order and superfamily), and for multiple positions and distances relative to the gene (upstream, intragenic, and downstream) over sliding, user-defined windows. In this way, we overcome previous limitations to themore »study of TE-gene relationships by focusing on all TE types present in the genome, utilizing flexible genomic distances for measurement, and reporting a TE presence metric for every gene in the genome. Conclusions Together, this new tool opens up new avenues for studying TE-gene relationships, genome architecture, comparative genomics, and the tremendous diversity present of the TE world. TE Density is open-source and freely available at: .« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2023
  3. Sarrocco, Sabrina (Ed.)
    Harnessing the plant microbiome has the potential to improve agricultural yields and protect plants against pathogens and/or abiotic stresses, while also relieving economic and environmental costs of crop production. While previous studies have gained valuable insights into the underlying genetics facilitating plant-fungal interactions, these have largely been skewed towards certain fungal clades (e.g. arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi). Several different phyla of fungi have been shown to positively impact plant growth rates, including Mortierellaceae fungi. However, the extent of the plant growth promotion (PGP) phenotype(s), their underlying mechanism(s), and the impact of bacterial endosymbionts on fungal-plant interactions remain poorly understood for Mortierellaceae. In this study, we focused on the symbiosis between soil fungus Linnemannia elongata (Mortierellaceae) and Arabidopsis thaliana (Brassicaceae), as both organisms have high-quality reference genomes and transcriptomes available, and their lifestyles and growth requirements are conducive to research conditions. Further, L . elongata can host bacterial endosymbionts related to Mollicutes and Burkholderia . The role of these endobacteria on facilitating fungal-plant associations, including potentially further promoting plant growth, remains completely unexplored. We measured Arabidopsis aerial growth at early and late life stages, seed production, and used mRNA sequencing to characterize differentially expressed plant genes in response to fungal inoculation withmore »and without bacterial endosymbionts. We found that L . elongata improved aerial plant growth, seed mass and altered the plant transcriptome, including the upregulation of genes involved in plant hormones and “response to oxidative stress”, “defense response to bacterium”, and “defense response to fungus”. Furthermore, the expression of genes in certain phytohormone biosynthetic pathways were found to be modified in plants treated with L . elongata . Notably, the presence of Mollicutes- or Burkholderia- related endosymbionts in Linnemannia did not impact the expression of genes in Arabidopsis or overall growth rates. Together, these results indicate that beneficial plant growth promotion and seed mass impacts of L . elongata on Arabidopsis are likely driven by plant hormone and defense transcription responses after plant-fungal contact, and that plant phenotypic and transcriptional responses are independent of whether the fungal symbiont is colonized by Mollicutes or Burkholderia -related endohyphal bacteria.« less
  4. Morrell, P (Ed.)
    Abstract By modeling the homoeologous gene losses that occurred in 50 genomes deriving from ten distinct polyploidy events, we show that the evolutionary forces acting on polyploids are remarkably similar, regardless of whether they occur in flowering plants, ciliates, fishes, or yeasts. We show that many of the events show a relative rate of duplicate gene loss before the first postpolyploidy speciation that is significantly higher than in later phases of their evolution. The relatively weak selective constraint experienced by the single-copy genes these losses produced leads us to suggest that most of the purely selectively neutral duplicate gene losses occur in the immediate postpolyploid period. Nearly all of the events show strong evidence of biases in the duplicate losses, consistent with them being allopolyploidies, with 2 distinct progenitors contributing to the modern species. We also find ongoing and extensive reciprocal gene losses (alternative losses of duplicated ancestral genes) between these genomes. With the exception of a handful of closely related taxa, all of these polyploid organisms are separated from each other by tens to thousands of reciprocal gene losses. As a result, it is very unlikely that viable diploid hybrid species could form between these taxa, since matings betweenmore »such hybrids would tend to produce offspring lacking essential genes. It is, therefore, possible that the relatively high frequency of recurrent polyploidies in some lineages may be due to the ability of new polyploidies to bypass reciprocal gene loss barriers.« less
  5. Summary

    Allopolyploids result from hybridization between different evolutionary lineages coupled with genome doubling. Homoeologous chromosomes (chromosomes with common shared ancestry) may undergo recombination immediately after allopolyploid formation and continue over successive generations. The outcome of this meiotic pairing behavior is dynamic and complex. Homoeologous exchanges (HEs) may lead to the formation of unbalanced gametes, reduced fertility, and selective disadvantage. By contrast, HEs could act as sources of novel evolutionary substrates, shifting the relative dosage of parental gene copies, generating novel phenotypic diversity, and helping the establishment of neo‐allopolyploids. However, HE patterns vary among lineages, across generations, and even within individual genomes and chromosomes. The causes and consequences of this variation are not fully understood, though interest in this evolutionary phenomenon has increased in the last decade. Recent technological advances show promise in uncovering the mechanistic basis of HEs. Here, we describe recent observations of the common patterns among allopolyploid angiosperm lineages, underlying genomic and epigenomic features, and consequences of HEs. We identify critical research gaps and discuss future directions with far‐reaching implications in understanding allopolyploid evolution and applying them to the development of important phenotypic traits of polyploid crops.

    Free, publicly-accessible full text available April 3, 2024
  6. Abstract The crop wild relative Fragaria nilgerrensis is adapted to a variety of diverse habitats across its native range in China. Thus, discoveries made in this species could serve as a useful guide in the development of new superior strawberry cultivars that are resilient to new or variable environments. However, the genetic diversity and genetic architecture of traits in this species underlying important adaptive traits remain poorly understood. Here, we used whole-genome resequencing data from 193 F. nilgerrensis individuals spanning the distribution range in China to investigate the genetic diversity, population structure and genomic basis of local adaptation. We identified four genetic groups, with the western group located in Hengduan Mountains exhibiting the highest genetic diversity. Redundancy analysis suggested that both environment and geographic variables shaped a significant proportion of the genomic variation. Our analyses revealed that the environmental difference explains more of the observed genetic variation than geographic distance. This suggests that adaptation to distinct habitats, which present a unique combination of abiotic factors, likely drove genetic differentiation. Lastly, by implementing selective sweep scans and genome–environment association analysis throughout the genome, we identified the genetic variation associated with local adaptation and investigated the functions of putative candidate genes inmore »F. nilgerrensis.« less