Sizing up the genomic footprint of endosymbiosis

Authors

  • Marek Elias,

    1. Faculty of Science, Department of Botany, Charles University in Prague, Benatska 2, Prague, Czech Republic
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  • John M. Archibald

    Corresponding author
    1. Integrated Microbial Biodiversity Program, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, The Canadian Institute for Advanced Research, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
    • The Canadian Institute for Advanced Research, Integrated Microbial Biodiversity Program, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada B3H 1X5.
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Abstract

A flurry of recent publications have challenged consensus views on the tempo and mode of plastid (chloroplast) evolution in eukaryotes and, more generally, the impact of endosymbiosis in the evolution of the nuclear genome. Endosymbiont-to-nucleus gene transfer is an essential component of the transition from endosymbiont to organelle, but the sheer diversity of algal-derived genes in photosynthetic organisms such as diatoms, as well as the existence of genes of putative plastid ancestry in the nuclear genomes of plastid-lacking eukaryotes such as ciliates and choanoflagellates, defy simple explanation. Collectively, these papers underscore the power of comparative genomics and, at the same time, reveal how little we know with certainty about the earliest stages of the evolution of photosynthetic eukaryotes.

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Early steps in plastid evolution: current ideas and controversiesAbstract

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