Comparison of Auxenochlorella protothecoides and Chlorella spp. Chloroplast Genomes: Evidence for Endosymbiosis and Horizontal Virus-like Gene Transfer

Sang Hyuck Park, John A. Kyndt, Judith K. Brown

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Resequencing of the chloroplast genome (cpDNA) of Auxenochlorella protothecoides UTEX 25 was completed (GenBank Accession no. KC631634.1), revealing a genome size of 84,576 base pairs and 30.8% GC content, consistent with features reported for the previously sequenced A. protothecoides 0710, (GenBank Accession no. KC843975). The A. protothecoides UTEX 25 cpDNA encoded 78 predicted open reading frames, 32 tRNAs, and 4 rRNAs, making it smaller and more compact than the cpDNA genome of C. variabilis (124,579 bp) and C. vulgaris (150,613 bp). By comparison, the compact genome size of A. protothecoides was attributable primarily to a lower intergenic sequence content. The cpDNA coding regions of all known Chlorella species were found to be organized in conserved colinear blocks, with some rearrangements. The Auxenochlorella and Chlorella species genome structure and composition were similar, and of particular interest were genes influencing photosynthetic efficiency, i.e., chlorophyll synthesis and photosystem subunit I and II genes, consistent with other biofuel species of interest. Phylogenetic analysis revealed that Prototheca cutis is the closest known A. protothecoides relative, followed by members of the genus Chlorella. The cpDNA of A. protothecoides encodes 37 genes that are highly homologous to representative cyanobacteria species, including rrn16, rrn23, and psbA, corroborating a well-recognized symbiosis. Several putative coding regions were identified that shared high nucleotide sequence identity with virus-like sequences, suggestive of horizontal gene transfer. Despite these predictions, no corresponding transcripts were obtained by RT-PCR amplification, indicating they are unlikely to be expressed in the extant lineage.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number458
JournalLife
Volume12
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2022

Keywords

  • Auxenochlorella protothecoides UTEX 25
  • biofuel production
  • chloroplast genome
  • horizontal gene transfer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Palaeontology

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