Embryogenesis is an essential and stereotypic process that nevertheless evolves among species. Its essentiality may favor the accumulation of cryptic genetic variation (CGV) that has no effect in the wild-type but that enhances or suppresses the effects of rare disruptions to gene function. Here, we adapted a classical modifier screen to interrogate the alleles segregating in natural populations of C. elegans: we induced gene knockdowns and used quantitative genetic methodology to examine how segregating variants modify the penetrance of embryonic lethality. Each perturbation revealed CGV, indicating that wild-type genomes harbor myriad genetic modifiers that may have little effect individually but which in aggregate can dramatically influence penetrance. Phenotypes were mediated by many modifiers, indicating high polygenicity, but the alleles tend to act very specifically, indicating low pleiotropy. Our findings demonstrate the extent of conditional functionality in complex trait architecture.
- Jonathan Flint, Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics, United Kingdom
© 2015, Paaby et al.
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Plasmids enable the dissemination of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in common Enterobacterales pathogens, representing a major public health challenge. However, the extent of plasmid sharing and evolution between Enterobacterales causing human infections and other niches remains unclear, including the emergence of resistance plasmids. Dense, unselected sampling is essential to developing our understanding of plasmid epidemiology and designing appropriate interventions to limit the emergence and dissemination of plasmid-associated AMR. We established a geographically and temporally restricted collection of human bloodstream infection (BSI)-associated, livestock-associated (cattle, pig, poultry, and sheep faeces, farm soils) and wastewater treatment work (WwTW)-associated (influent, effluent, waterways upstream/downstream of effluent outlets) Enterobacterales. Isolates were collected between 2008 and 2020 from sites <60 km apart in Oxfordshire, UK. Pangenome analysis of plasmid clusters revealed shared ‘backbones’, with phylogenies suggesting an intertwined ecology where well-conserved plasmid backbones carry diverse accessory functions, including AMR genes. Many plasmid ‘backbones’ were seen across species and niches, raising the possibility that plasmid movement between these followed by rapid accessory gene change could be relatively common. Overall, the signature of identical plasmid sharing is likely to be a highly transient one, implying that plasmid movement might be occurring at greater rates than previously estimated, raising a challenge for future genomic One Health studies.
Microbial plankton play a central role in marine biogeochemical cycles, but the timing in which abundant lineages diversified into ocean environments remains unclear. Here, we reconstructed the timeline in which major clades of bacteria and archaea colonized the ocean using a high-resolution benchmarked phylogenetic tree that allows for simultaneous and direct comparison of the ages of multiple divergent lineages. Our findings show that the diversification of the most prevalent marine clades spans throughout a period of 2.2 Ga, with most clades colonizing the ocean during the last 800 million years. The oldest clades – SAR202, SAR324, Ca. Marinimicrobia, and Marine Group II – diversified around the time of the Great Oxidation Event, during which oxygen concentration increased but remained at microaerophilic levels throughout the Mid-Proterozoic, consistent with the prevalence of some clades within these groups in oxygen minimum zones today. We found the diversification of the prevalent heterotrophic marine clades SAR11, SAR116, SAR92, SAR86, and Roseobacter as well as the Marine Group I to occur near to the Neoproterozoic Oxygenation Event (0.8–0.4 Ga). The diversification of these clades is concomitant with an overall increase of oxygen and nutrients in the ocean at this time, as well as the diversification of eukaryotic algae, consistent with the previous hypothesis that the diversification of heterotrophic bacteria is linked to the emergence of large eukaryotic phytoplankton. The youngest clades correspond to the widespread phototrophic clades Prochlorococcus, Synechococcus, and Crocosphaera, whose diversification happened after the Phanerozoic Oxidation Event (0.45–0.4 Ga), in which oxygen concentrations had already reached their modern levels in the atmosphere and the ocean. Our work clarifies the timing at which abundant lineages of bacteria and archaea colonized the ocean, thereby providing key insights into the evolutionary history of lineages that comprise the majority of prokaryotic biomass in the modern ocean.