Convergent evolution of small molecule pheromones in Pristionchus nematodes

  1. Chuanfu Dong
  2. Cameron J Weadick
  3. Vincent Truffault
  4. Ralf J Sommer  Is a corresponding author
  1. Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology, Germany
  2. University of Exeter, United Kingdom

Abstract

The small molecules that mediate chemical communication between nematodes—so-called 'nematode-derived-modular-metabolites' (NDMMs)—are of major interest due to their ability to regulate development, behavior, and life-history. Pristionchus pacificus nematodes produce an impressive diversity of structurally complex NDMMs, some of which act as primer pheromones capable of triggering irreversible developmental switches. Many of these NDMMs have only ever been found in P. pacificus but no attempts had been made to study their evolution by profiling closely related species. This study was designed to bring a comparative perspective to the biochemical study of NDMMs via the systematic MS/MS and NMR-based analysis of exo-metabolomes from over 30 Pristionchus species. We identified 36 novel compounds and found evidence for the convergent evolution of complex NDMMs in separate branches of the Pristionchus phylogeny. Our results demonstrate that biochemical innovation is a recurrent process in Pristionchus nematodes, a pattern likely typical across the animal kingdom.

Data availability

All data generated during this study are included in the manuscript and supporting files. Source data files have been provided.

Article and author information

Author details

  1. Chuanfu Dong

    Department for Integrative Evolutionary Biology, Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology, Tübingen, Germany
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0003-3043-7257
  2. Cameron J Weadick

    Department of Biosciences, University of Exeter, Exeter, United Kingdom
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0001-8022-1783
  3. Vincent Truffault

    Department for Evolutionary Biology, Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology, Tübingen, Germany
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  4. Ralf J Sommer

    Department for Evolutionary Biology, Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology, Tübingen, Germany
    For correspondence
    ralf.sommer@tuebingen.mpg.de
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0003-1503-7749

Funding

Max-Planck-Gesellschaft

  • Ralf J Sommer

The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.

Reviewing Editor

  1. Jon Clardy, Harvard Medical School, United States

Version history

  1. Received: February 3, 2020
  2. Accepted: April 24, 2020
  3. Accepted Manuscript published: April 27, 2020 (version 1)
  4. Version of Record published: May 14, 2020 (version 2)

Copyright

© 2020, Dong et al.

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.

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  1. Chuanfu Dong
  2. Cameron J Weadick
  3. Vincent Truffault
  4. Ralf J Sommer
(2020)
Convergent evolution of small molecule pheromones in Pristionchus nematodes
eLife 9:e55687.
https://doi.org/10.7554/eLife.55687

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https://doi.org/10.7554/eLife.55687