Duharcourt Lab – Dynamics of gene loss following ancient whole-genome duplication in the cryptic Paramecium complex

The Duharcourt Lab just published in Molecular Biology and Evolution :

Dynamics of gene loss following ancient whole-genome duplication in the cryptic Paramecium complex


Whole-genome duplications (WGDs) have shaped the gene repertoire of many eukaryotic lineages. The redundancy created by WGDs typically results in a phase of massive gene loss. However, some WGD-derived paralogs are maintained over long evolutionary periods, and the relative contributions of different selective pressures to their maintenance is still debated. Previous studies have revealed a history of three successive WGDs in the lineage of the ciliate Paramecium tetraurelia and two of its sister species from the P. aurelia complex. Here, we report the genome sequence and analysis of 10 additional P. aurelia species and one additional outgroup, revealing aspects of post-WGD evolution in 13 species sharing a common ancestral WGD. Contrary to the morphological radiation of vertebrates that putatively followed two WGD events, members of the cryptic P. aurelia complex have remained morphologically indistinguishable after hundreds of millions of years. Biases in gene retention compatible with dosage constraints appear to play a major role opposing post-WGD gene loss across all 13 species. In addition, post-WGD gene loss has been slower in Paramecium than in other species having experienced genome duplication, suggesting that the selective pressures against post-WGD gene loss are especially strong in Paramecium. A near complete lack of recent single-gene duplications in Paramecium provides additional evidence for strong selective pressures against gene-dosage changes. This exceptional dataset of 13 species sharing an ancestral WGD and two closely related outgroup species will be a useful resource for future studies on Paramecium as a major model organism in the evolutionary cell biology.