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Genome Biology and Evolution


Lateral gene transfer (LGT) has impacted the evolutionary history of eukaryotes, though to a lesser extent than in bacteria and archaea. Detecting LGT and distinguishing it from single gene tree artifacts is difficult, particularly when considering very ancient events (i.e., over hundreds of millions of years). Here, we use two independent lines of evidence - A taxon-rich phylogenetic approach and an assessment of the patterns of gene presence/absence- to evaluate the extent of LGT in the parasitic amoebozoan genus Entamoeba. Previous work has suggested that a number of genes in the genome of Entamoeba spp. were acquired by LGT. Our approach, using an automated phylogenomic pipeline to build taxon-rich gene trees, suggests that LGT is more extensive than previously thought. Our analyses reveal that genes have frequently entered the Entamoeba genome via nonvertical events, including at least 116 genes acquired directly from bacteria or archaea, plus an additional 22 genes in which Entamoeba plus one other eukaryote are nested among bacteria and/or archaea. These genes may make good candidates for novel therapeutics, as drugs targeting these genes are less likely to impact the human host. Although we recognize the challenges of inferring intradomain transfers given systematic errors in gene trees, we find 109 genes supporting LGT from a eukaryote to Entamoeba spp., and 178 genes unique to Entamoeba spp. And one other eukaryotictaxon (i.e., presence/absence data). Inspection of these intradomain LGTs provide evidence of a common sister relationship between genes of Entamoeba (Amoebozoa) and parabasalids (Excavata). We speculate that this indicates a past close relationship (e.g., symbiosis) between ancestors of these extant lineages.


HGT, Horizontal gene transfer, LGT, Microbial eukaryotes, Parasites, Trichomonas vaginalis





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Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License


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