De Novo Gene Birth, Horizontal Gene Transfer, and Gene Duplication as Sources of new Gene Families Associated with the Origin of Symbiosis in Amanita
Wang, Y.-W.; Hess, J.; Slot, J.C.; Pringle, A.
Genome Biology and Evolution 12(11): 2168-2182
By introducing novel capacities and functions, new genes and gene families may play a crucial role in ecological transitions. Mechanisms generating new gene families include de novo gene birth, horizontal gene transfer, and neofunctionalization following a duplication event. The ectomycorrhizal (ECM) symbiosis is a ubiquitous mutualism and the association has evolved repeatedly and independently many times among the fungi, but the evolutionary dynamics enabling its emergence remain elusive. We developed a phylogenetic workflow to first understand if gene families unique to ECM Amanita fungi and absent from closely related asymbiotic species are functionally relevant to the symbiosis, and then to systematically infer their origins. We identified 109 gene families unique to ECM Amanita species. Genes belonging to unique gene families are under strong purifying selection and are upregulated during symbiosis, compared with genes of conserved or orphan gene families. The origins of seven of the unique gene families are strongly supported as either de novo gene birth (two gene families), horizontal gene transfer (four), or gene duplication (one). An additional 34 families appear new because of their selective retention within symbiotic species. Among the 109 unique gene families, the most upregulated gene in symbiotic cultures encodes a 1-aminocyclopropane-1-carboxylate deaminase, an enzyme capable of downregulating the synthesis of the plant hormone ethylene, a common negative regulator of plant-microbial mutualisms.