Fundamental Research Division
The DRF at the CEA assemble approximately 6,000 scientists since January 2016.
Scientific result | Genomics | Biodiversity
Researchers from INRA, Université Côte d'Azur, Genoscope (CEA) and CNRS have set out to understand what causes this unexpected success. They have highlighted notable differences between the genomes of nematodes multiplying strictly asexually, and those of others. The genomes of the former were found to be three to five times larger than that of the nematodes that reproduce sexually—between 185 and 300 megabases (Mb) instead of 50 to 60 Mb.
The same cell contains several copies of these genomes (three to four copies) with very strong divergence. The analysis of the evolutionary history of these genome copies shows that they are a result of hybridization events. Unlike the high divergence in the nuclear genome within a single species, there is low divergence in the mitochondrial genome between different nematode species. This finding suggests that these hybrids share a recent common maternal ancestor.
By exploring the functional consequences of the hybrid origin of nematodes reproducing asexually, the team of scientists has shown that the structure of their genome may have a significant functional impact, potentially contributing to their success: in these nematodes, more than 60% of the copies of genes present in the duplicated regions exhibit different expression profiles for proteins whose biochemical functions are different.
Where the sexuated species have two almost identical alleles of the same gene, the asexual species generally have three to four copies that are very divergent in terms of sequence, and potentially, in terms of function. Moreover, half of their genomes is composed of transposable elements—repeated mobile DNA sequences capable of generating mutations by shifting and, consequently, strongly contributing to the modifications undergone by the genome, compared to only one third for that of the nematodes that can reproduce sexually.
This result was the subject of a press release.
Hybridization and polyploidy enable genomic plasticity without sex in the most devastating plant-parasitic nematodes | PLoS Genetics
CEA is a French government-funded technological research organisation in four main areas: low-carbon energies, defense and security, information technologies and health technologies. A prominent player in the European Research Area, it is involved in setting up collaborative projects with many partners around the world.