The power of eukaryote genomics relies strongly on taxon sampling. This point was underlined in a recent analysis of red algal genome evolution in which we tested the Plantae hypothesis that posits the monophyly of red, green (including plants) and glaucophyte algae. The inclusion of novel genome data from two mesophilic red algae enabled us to robustly demonstrate the sisterhood of red and green algae in the tree of life. Perhaps more exciting was the finding that >1,800 putative genes in the unicellular red alga Porphyridium cruentum showed evidence of gene-sharing with diverse lineages of eukaryotes and prokaryotes. Here we assessed the correlation between the putative functions of these shared genes and their susceptibility to transfer. It turns out that genes involved in complex interactive networks such as biological regulation and transcription/translation are less susceptible to endosymbiotic or horizontal gene transfer, when compared to genes with metabolic and transporter functions.
Keywords: endosymbiosis; expressed sequence tag; horizontal gene transfer; phylogenomics; plantae monophyly; porphyridium; red algae; transcriptome.