The two-speed genomes of filamentous pathogens: waltz with plants

The two-speed genomes of filamentous pathogens: waltz with plants

Suomeng Dong, Sylvain Raffaele, Sophien Kamoun

Fungi and oomycetes include deep and diverse lineages of eukaryotic plant pathogens. The last 10 years have seen the sequencing of the genomes of a multitude of species of these so-called filamentous plant pathogens. Already, fundamental concepts have emerged. Filamentous plant pathogen genomes tend to harbor large repertoires of genes encoding virulence effectors that modulate host plant processes. Effector genes are not randomly distributed across the genomes but tend to be associated with compartments enriched in repetitive sequences and transposable elements. These findings have led to the “two-speed genome” model in which filamentous pathogen genomes have a bipartite architecture with gene sparse, repeat rich compartments serving as a cradle for adaptive evolution. Here, we review this concept and discuss how plant pathogens are great model systems to study evolutionary adaptations at multiple time scales. We will also introduce the next phase of research on this topic.

SimPhy: Phylogenomic Simulation of Gene, Locus and Species Trees

SimPhy: Phylogenomic Simulation of Gene, Locus and Species Trees
Diego Mallo, Leonardo de Oliveira Martins, David Posada
We present here a fast and flexible software–SimPhy–for the simulation of multiple gene families evolving under incomplete lineage sorting, gene duplication and loss, horizontal gene transfer—all three potentially leading to the species tree/gene tree discordance—and gene conversion. SimPhy implements a hierarchical phylogenetic model in which the evolution of species, locus and gene trees is governed by global and local parameters (e.g., genome-wide, species-specific, locus-specific), that can be fixed or be sampled from a priori statistical distributions. SimPhy also incorporates comprehensive models of substitution rate variation among lineages (uncorrelated relaxed clocks) and the capability of simulating partitioned nucleotide, codon and protein multilocus sequence alignments under a plethora of substitution models using the program INDELible. We validate SimPhy’s output using theoretical expectations and other programs, and show that it scales extremely well with complex models and/or large trees, being an order of magnitude faster than the most similar program (DLCoal-Sim). In addition, we demonstrate how SimPhy can be useful to understand interactions among different evolutionary processes, conducting a simulation study to characterize the systematic overestimation of the duplication time when using standard reconciliation methods. SimPhy is available at, where users can find the source code, pre-compiled executables, a detailed manual and example cases.

Mendelian randomization: a premature burial?

Mendelian randomization: a premature burial?
George Davey Smith
Mendelian randomization is a promising approach to help improve causal inference in observational studies, with widespread potential applications, including to prioritization of pharmacotherapeutic targets for evaluation in RCTs. From its initial proposal the limitations of Mendelian randomization approaches have been widely recognised and discussed, and recently Pickrell has reiterated these1. However this critique did not acknowledge recent developments in both methodological and empirical research, nor did it recognise many future opportunities for application of the Mendelian randomization approach. These issues are briefly reviewed here.

Evolution in spatial and spatiotemporal variable metapopulations changes a herbivore’s host plant range

Evolution in spatial and spatiotemporal variable metapopulations changes a herbivore’s host plant rangeAnnelies De Roissart, Nicky Wybouw, David Renault, Thomas Van Leeuwen, Dries Bonte

The persistence and dynamics of populations largely depends on the way they are configured and integrated into space and the ensuing eco-evolutionary dynamics. We manipulated spatial and temporal variation in patch size in replicated experimental metapopulations of the herbivore mite Tetranychus urticae. Evolution over approximately 30 generations in the spatially and spatiotemporally variable metapopulations induced a significant divergence in life history traits, physiological endpoints and gene expression, but also a remarkable convergence relative to the stable reference patchy metapopulation in traits related to size and fecundity and in its transcriptional regulation. The observed evolutionary dynamics are tightly linked to demographic changes, more specifically frequent episodes of resource shortage, and increased the reproductive performance of mites on tomato, a challenging host plant. This points towards a general, adaptive stress response in stable spatial variable and spatiotemporal variable metapopulations that pre-adapts a herbivore arthropod to novel environmental stressors.

Evolution of organismal stoichiometry in a 50,000-generation experiment with Escherichia coli

Evolution of organismal stoichiometry in a 50,000-generation experiment with Escherichia coli
Caroline B. Turner, Brian D. Wade, Justin R. Meyer, Richard E. Lenski

Organismal stoichiometry refers to the relative proportion of chemical elements in the biomass of organisms, and it can have important effects on ecological interactions from population to ecosystem scales. Although stoichiometry has been studied extensively from an ecological perspective, little is known about rates and directions of evolutionary changes in elemental composition in response to nutrient limitation. We measured carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus content of Escherichia coli evolved under controlled carbon-limited conditions for 50,000 generations. The bacteria evolved higher relative nitrogen and phosphorus content, consistent with selection for increased use of the more abundant elements. Total carbon assimilated also increased, indicating more efficient use of the limiting element. Altogether, our study shows that stoichiometry evolved over a relatively short time-period, and that it did so in a predictable direction given the carbon-limiting environment.

The power of single molecule real-time sequencing technology in the de novo assembly of a eukaryotic genome

The power of single molecule real-time sequencing technology in the de novo assembly of a eukaryotic genomeHiroaki Sakai, Naito Ken, Eri Ogiso-Tanaka, Yu Takahashi, Kohtaro Iseki, Chiaki Muto, Kazuhito Satou, Kuniko Teruya, Akino Shiroma, Makiko Shimoji, Takashi Hirano, Takeshi Itoh, Akito Kaga, Norihiko Tomooka

Second-generation sequencers (SGS) have been game-changing, achieving cost-effective whole genome sequencing in many non-model organisms. However, a large portion of the genomes still remains unassembled. We reconstructed azuki bean (Vigna angularis) genome using single molecule real-time (SMRT) sequencing technology and achieved the best contiguity and coverage among currently assembled legume crops. The SMRT-based assembly produced 100 times longer contigs with 100 times smaller amount of gaps compared to the SGS-based assemblies. A detailed comparison between the assemblies revealed that the SMRT-based assembly enabled a more comprehensive gene annotation than the SGS-based assemblies where thousands of genes were missing or fragmented. A chromosome-scale assembly was generated based on the high-density genetic map, covering 86% of the azuki bean genome. We demonstrated that SMRT technology, though still needed to be assisted by SGS data, can achieve a near-complete assembly of a eukaryotic genome.

BGT: efficient and flexible genotype query across many samples

BGT: efficient and flexible genotype query across many samples Heng Li
Subjects: Genomics (q-bio.GN)

Summary: BGT is a compact format, a fast command line tool and a simple web application for efficient and convenient query of whole-genome genotypes and frequencies across tens to hundreds of thousands of samples. On real data, it encodes the haplotypes of 32,488 samples across 39.2 million SNPs into a 7.4GB database and decodes a couple of hundred million genotypes per CPU second. The high performance enables real-time responses to complex queries.
Availability and implementation: