Novel Hydrogenosomes in the Microaerophilic Jakobid Stygiella incarcerata

Mol Biol Evol. 2016 Sep;33(9):2318-36. doi: 10.1093/molbev/msw103. Epub 2016 Jun 8.


Mitochondrion-related organelles (MROs) have arisen independently in a wide range of anaerobic protist lineages. Only a few of these organelles and their functions have been investigated in detail, and most of what is known about MROs comes from studies of parasitic organisms such as the parabasalid Trichomonas vaginalis Here, we describe the MRO of a free-living anaerobic jakobid excavate, Stygiella incarcerata We report an RNAseq-based reconstruction of S. incarcerata's MRO proteome, with an associated biochemical map of the pathways predicted to be present in this organelle. The pyruvate metabolism and oxidative stress response pathways are strikingly similar to those found in the MROs of other anaerobic protists, such as Pygsuia and Trichomonas This elegant example of convergent evolution is suggestive of an anaerobic biochemical 'module' of prokaryotic origins that has been laterally transferred among eukaryotes, enabling them to adapt rapidly to anaerobiosis. We also identified genes corresponding to a variety of mitochondrial processes not found in Trichomonas, including intermembrane space components of the mitochondrial protein import apparatus, and enzymes involved in amino acid metabolism and cardiolipin biosynthesis. In this respect, the MROs of S. incarcerata more closely resemble those of the much more distantly related free-living organisms Pygsuia biforma and Cantina marsupialis, likely reflecting these organisms' shared lifestyle as free-living anaerobes.

Keywords: anaerobic metabolism.; excavates; jakobids; mitochondria; mitochondrion-related organelles.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anaerobiosis
  • Biological Evolution
  • Eukaryota / genetics*
  • Eukaryota / metabolism
  • Evolution, Molecular
  • Intracellular Membranes / metabolism
  • Mitochondria / metabolism
  • Organelles / metabolism*
  • Phylogeny
  • Proteome
  • Protozoan Proteins / genetics
  • Sequence Analysis, RNA / methods
  • Sulfolobaceae / genetics


  • Proteome
  • Protozoan Proteins