Phylogenomics reveals an extensive history of genome duplication in diatoms (Bacillariophyta)

Am J Bot. 2018 Mar;105(3):330-347. doi: 10.1002/ajb2.1056. Epub 2018 Apr 17.


Premise of the study: Diatoms are one of the most species-rich lineages of microbial eukaryotes. Similarities in clade age, species richness, and primary productivity motivate comparisons to angiosperms, whose genomes have been inordinately shaped by whole-genome duplication (WGD). WGDs have been linked to speciation, increased rates of lineage diversification, and identified as a principal driver of angiosperm evolution. We synthesized a large but scattered body of evidence that suggests polyploidy may be common in diatoms as well.

Methods: We used gene counts, gene trees, and distributions of synonymous divergence to carry out a phylogenomic analysis of WGD across a diverse set of 37 diatom species.

Key results: Several methods identified WGDs of varying age across diatoms. Determining the occurrence, exact number, and placement of events was greatly impacted by uncertainty in gene trees. WGDs inferred from synonymous divergence of paralogs varied depending on how redundancy in transcriptomes was assessed, gene families were assembled, and synonymous distances (Ks) were calculated. Our results highlighted a need for systematic evaluation of key methodological aspects of Ks-based approaches to WGD inference. Gene tree reconciliations supported allopolyploidy as the predominant mode of polyploid formation, with strong evidence for ancient allopolyploid events in the thalassiosiroid and pennate diatom clades.

Conclusions: Our results suggest that WGD has played a major role in the evolution of diatom genomes. We outline challenges in reconstructing paleopolyploid events in diatoms that, together with these results, offer a framework for understanding the impact of genome duplication in a group that likely harbors substantial genomic diversity.

Keywords: diatoms; gene tree; genome duplication; paleopolyploidy; polyploidy; synonymous divergence.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Diatoms / genetics*
  • Evolution, Molecular*
  • Gene Duplication*
  • Genes, Plant*
  • Genome*
  • Genomics / methods
  • Phylogeny*
  • Polyploidy*
  • Transcriptome