Metchnikovellidae are a group of unusual microsporidians that lack some of the defining ultrastructural features characteristic of derived Microsporidia and are thought to be one of their earliest-branching lineages. The basal position of metchnikovellids was never confirmed by molecular phylogeny in published research, and thus far no genomic data for this group were available. In this work, we obtain a partial genome of metchnikovellid Amphiamblys sp. using multiple displacement amplification, next-generation sequencing, and metagenomic binning approaches. The partial genome, which we estimate to be close to 90% complete, displays genome compaction on par with gene-dense microsporidian genomes, but contains an unusual repertoire of unique repeat elements. Phylogenetic analyses of multigene datasets place Amphiamblys sp. as the first branch of the microsporidian lineage following the divergence of a mitochondriate microsporidian Mitosporidium. We find evidence for a mitochondrial remnant presumably functionally equivalent to a mitosome in Amphiamblys sp. and the common enzymatic complement for microsporidian anaerobic metabolism. Comparative genomic analyses identify the conservation of components for clathrin vesicle formation as one of the key features distinguishing the metchnikovellid from its highly derived relatives. The presented data confirm the notion of Metchnikovellidae as a less derived microsporidian group, and provide an additional stepping stone for reconstruction of an evolutionary transition from the early diverging parasitic fungi to derived Microsporidia.
Keywords: Metchnikovellidae; Microsporidia; comparative genomics; genome evolution; phylogenomics; phylogeny.
© The Author(s) 2016. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution.