Signatures of the evolution of parthenogenesis and cryptobiosis in the genomes of panagrolaimid nematodes

Philipp H. Schiffer, Etienne G.j. Danchin, Ann M. Burnell, Christopher J. Creevey, Simon Wong, Ilona Dix, Georgina O'mahony, Bridget A. Culleton, Corinne Rancurel, Gary Stier, Elizabeth A. Martínez-salazar, Aleksandra Marconi, Urmi Trivedi, Michael Kroiher, Michael A.s. Thorne, Einhard Schierenberg, Thomas Wiehe, Mark Blaxter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Most animal species reproduce sexually and fully parthenogenetic lineages are usually short lived in evolution. Still, parthenogenesis may be advantageous as it avoids the cost of sex and permits colonization by single individuals. Panagrolaimid nematodes have colonized environments ranging from arid deserts to Arctic and Antarctic biomes. Many are obligatory meiotic parthenogens, and most have cryptobiotic abilities, being able to survive repeated cycles of complete desiccation and freezing. To identify systems that may contribute to these striking abilities, we sequenced and compared the genomes and transcriptomes of parthenogenetic and outcrossing panagrolaimid species, including cryptobionts and non-cryptobionts. The parthenogens are triploids, most likely originating through hybridization. Adaptation to cryptobiosis shaped the genomes of panagrolaimid nematodes and is associated with the expansion of gene families and signatures of selection on genes involved in cryptobiosis. All panagrolaimids have acquired genes through horizontal gene transfer, some of which are likely to contribute to cryptobiosis.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)587-602
Early online date24 Oct 2019
Publication statusPublished - 22 Nov 2019

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • evolutionary biology
  • phylogenetics
  • transcriptomics


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