Polyploidy of Endosymbiotically Derived Genomes in Complex Algae

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Chlorarachniophyte and cryptophyte algae have complex plastids that were acquired by the uptake of a green or red algal endosymbiont via secondary endosymbiosis. The plastid is surrounded by four membranes, and a relict nucleus, called the nucleomorph, remains in the periplastidal compartment that is the remnant cytoplasm of the endosymbiont. Thus, these two algae possess four different genomes in a cell: Nuclear, nucleomorph, plastid, and mitochondrial. Recently, sequencing of the nuclear genomes of the chlorarachniophyte Bigelowiella natans and the cryptophyte Guillardia theta has been completed, and all four genomes have been made available. However, the copy number of each genome has never been investigated. It is important to know the actual DNA content of each genome, especially the highly reduced nucleomorph genome, for studies on genome evolution. In this study, we calculated genomic copy numbers in B. natans and G. theta using a real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction approach. The nuclear genomes were haploid in both species, whereas the nucleomorph genomes were estimated to be diploid and tetraploid, respectively. Mitochondria and plastids contained a large copy number of genomic DNA in each cell. In the secondary endosymbioses of chlorarachniophytes and cryptophytes, the endosymbiont nuclear genomes were highly reduced in size and in the number of coding genes, whereas the chromosomal copy number was increased, as in bacterial endosymbiont genomes. This suggests that polyploidization is a general characteristic of highly reduced genomes in broad prokaryotic and eukaryotic endosymbionts.


  • Genome biology and evolution

    Genome biology and evolution 6(4), 974-980, 2014-04

    Oxford University Press



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