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Horizontal Gene Transfer and Introgression: key mechanisms of adaptation of yeast to its ecological niches

  • Galeote, Virginie
  • Legras, Jean Luc
  • MARSIT, Souhir
  • Bigey, Frederic
  • Camarasa, Carole
  • Couloux, Arnaud
  • Guy, Julie
  • Franco-Duarte, Ricardo
  • Schuller, Dorit
  • Sampaio, José Paulo
  • Dequin, Sylvie
Publication Date
Aug 19, 2018
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Horizontal gene transfer (HGT) and introgression are increasingly recognized as a prominent source of adaptation in eukaryotes. Over the past decade, several cases of HGT from prokaryotes to the yeast Saccharomyces strains have been demonstrated. In addition, we have recently identified eukaryote-to-eukaryote gene transfers and some of them have been shown to be involved in the adaptation of the yeast S. cerevisiae to environmental conditions (1;2;3). Three large genomic regions, (A, B and C), were acquired by wine yeasts strains from more distant yeast species (1;3). The yeasts Zygosaccharomyces bailii and Torulaspora microellipsoides, species found in wine fermentations, were identified as the donors of regions B and C, respectively (1;3). We obtained evidence for the amplification of the region B (17 kb) in the genome of S. cerevisiae wine strains (4). The organization of this region differ considerably between strains and the identification of an autonomously replicating sequence functional in S. cerevisiae strongly suggest an expansion mechanism in yeast genomes involving an extrachromosomal circular DNA molecule. We also showed that region C have undergone several rearrangements and carries genes playing a key role in the adaptation of wine yeasts to the nitrogen-limited wine fermentation environment (3). The analysis of 82 S. cerevisiae strains from various ecological origins allowed identification of 33 HGT or introgression for which we have proposed potential donors using phylogenetic topology test. Among these events, we observed, the replacement of a GAL cluster in cheese strains which enables a faster switch from glucose to galactose and improves growth speed in a media containing a mix of the two hexoses such as fermented milk products. These data support the vision of customized yeast genomes associated to specific ecological niches and highlight the key role of HGT in the adaptation of fungal species to their environments.1. Novo et al. 2009, PNAS, 106: 16333-16338.2. Damon et al 2011, ISME Journal 9: 67.3. Marsit et al 2015, Mol. Biol. Evol., 32:1695–1707 4. Galeote et al 2011, PLoS One 6: e17872.

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