Molecular genetic evidence that dinoflagellates belonging to the genus Symbiodinium freudenthal are haploid. (73/633)

Microscopic and cytological evidence suggest that many dinoflagellates possess a haploid nuclear phase. However, the ploidy of a number of dinoflagellates remains unknown, and molecular genetic support for haploidy in this group has been lacking. To elucidate the ploidy of symbiotic dinoflagellates belonging to the genus Symbiodinium, we used five polymorphic microsatellites to examine populations harbored by the Caribbean gorgonians Plexaura kuna and Pseudopterogorgia elisabethae; we also studied a series of Symbiodinium cultures. In 690 out of 728 Symbiodinium samples in hospite (95% of the cases) and in all 45 Symbiodinium cultures, only a single allele was recovered per locus. Statistical testing of the Symbiodinium populations harbored by P. elisabethae revealed that the observed genotype frequencies deviate significantly from those expected under Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium. Taken together, our results confirm that, in the vegetative life stage, members of Symbiodinium, both cultured and in hospite, are haploid. Furthermore, based on the phylogenetics of the dinoflagellates, haploidy in vegetative cells appears to be an ancestral trait that extends to all 2,000 extant species of these important unicellular protists.  (+info)

Evolution of the chloroplast genome. (74/633)

We discuss the suggestion that differences in the nucleotide composition between plastid and nuclear genomes may provide a selective advantage in the transposition of genes from plastid to nucleus. We show that in the adenine, thymine (AT)-rich genome of Borrelia burgdorferi several genes have an AT-content lower than the average for the genome as a whole. However, genes whose plant homologues have moved from plastid to nucleus are no less AT-rich than genes whose plant homologues have remained in the plastid, indicating that both classes of gene are able to support a high AT-content. We describe the anomalous organization of dinoflagellate plastid genes. These are located on small circles of 2-3 kbp, in contrast to the usual plastid genome organization of a single large circle of 100-200 kbp. Most circles contain a single gene. Some circles contain two genes and some contain none. Dinoflagellate plastids have retained far fewer genes than other plastids. We discuss a similarity between the dinoflagellate minicircles and the bacterial integron system.  (+info)

Isolation of actin-encoding cDNAs from symbiotic corals. (75/633)

A cDNA (named LGfact) encoding actin was identified in planular larvae of the scleractinian coral Galaxea fascicularis, using the reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) and rapid amplification of cDNA ends (RACE) techniques. RNA from the adult coral that was inhabited by symbiotic dinophytes was subjected to a similar RT-PCR, and a cDNA fragment, named AGfact-p, was found to encode an actin form distinct from LGfact. In an expression study, LGfact transcripts were present at similar levels in asymbiotic larvae and symbiotic adults, indicating that LGfact was expressed by the host. On the other hand, the expression of AGfact-p was detected in adults but not in larvae. Partial cDNA sequences of orthologues of LGfact and AGfact-p were detected in another scleractinian coral, Favites chinensis. A sequence identical to a part of AFcact-p (an AGfact-p orthologue) was amplified from the genomic DNA extracted from asymbiotic larvae of F. chinensis, strongly suggesting that AFcact-p was a coral actin cDNA. Thus, we presume that A Gfact-p encodes an adult-specific form of actin in the host. A partial actin-encoding cDNA sequence (named Syact-p) obtained from Symbiodinium sp. did not exhibit high levels of similarity to the coral actin sequences.  (+info)

Monitoring the prevalence of the parasitic dinoflagellate Hematodinium sp. in snow crabs Chionoecetes opilio from Conception Bay, Newfoundland. (76/633)

Bitter crab disease (BCD) of snow crabs Chionoecetes opilio is caused by a parasitic dinoflagellate, Hematodinium sp. In Newfoundland's commercial fishery, infected snow crabs are identified using visual, macroscopic signs of disease for separation prior to processing. We estimated the sensitivity and specificity of gross, macroscopic diagnosis of Hematodinium sp. by comparing these results with microscopic examination of prepared hemolymph smears. The sensitivity of a diagnostic test is the probability that the test will yield a positive result given that the animal has the disease. The specificity is the probability of a negative result given the animal is not diseased. In October 1998, we conducted a design-based survey using cluster sampling in 2 strata. Over 10 000 snow crabs from pot and trawl surveys were examined macroscopically for BCD. In addition, over 350 crabs were randomly examined microscopically for disease. The double sampling resulted in an estimated sensitivity of 52.7% and an estimated specificity of 100%. That is, a positive result from macroscopic examination is definitive, if the observer is well trained, but macroscopic examination will fail to detect infections in crabs with borderline clinical signs of disease. The prevalence estimated from macroscopic observations (p(st) = 2.24%) was corrected for misclassification by dividing p(st) by the estimated sensitivity (0.527), giving a corrected estimate of 4.25%. The use of double sampling provides for efficient estimation of prevalence in that large numbers of crabs can be quickly examined for gross signs of infection and the results corrected for misclassification based on a limited number of observations with a better, but time-consuming test. In addition, the prevalence of macroscopically infected male crabs was lower in a trap survey (0.57%) compared to a trawl survey (1.59%). In the trawl survey, female crabs had a significantly higher prevalence of macroscopically diagnosed infections than males (6.34%). The prevalence of BCD has shown an alarming increase since it was first detected in Newfoundland during the early 1990s. Transmission and mortality studies are warranted to better understand the effect of the disease on its commercially important host.  (+info)

Multiple protein phylogenies show that Oxyrrhis marina and Perkinsus marinus are early branches of the dinoflagellate lineage. (77/633)

Oxyrrhis marina and Perkinsus marinus are two alveolate species of key taxonomic position with respect to the divergence of apicomplexans and dinoflagellates. New sequences from Oxyrrhis, Perkinsus and a number of dinoflagellates were added to datasets of small-subunit (SSU) rRNA, actin, alpha-tubulin and beta-tubulin sequences, as well as to a combined dataset of all three protein-coding genes, and phylogenetic trees were inferred. The parasitic Perkinsus marinus branches at the base of the dinoflagellate clade with high support in most of the individual gene trees and in the combined analysis, strongly confirming the position originally suggested in previous SSU rRNA and actin phylogenies. The SSU rRNA from Oxyrrhis marina is extremely divergent, and it typically branches with members of the Gonyaulacales, a dinoflagellate order where SSU rRNA sequences are also divergent. Conversely, none of the three protein-coding genes of Oxyrrhis is noticeably divergent and, in trees based on all three proteins individually and in combination, Oxyrrhis branches at the base of the dinoflagellate clade, typically with high bootstrap support. In some trees, Oxyrrhis and Perkinsus are sisters, but most analyses indicate that Perkinsus diverged prior to Oxyrrhis. Morphological characters have previously pointed to Oxyrrhis as an early branch in the dinoflagellate lineage; our data support this suggestion and significantly bolster the molecular data that support a relationship between Perkinsus and dinoflagellates. Together, these two organisms can be instrumental in reconstructing the early evolution of dinoflagellates and apicomplexans by helping to reveal aspects of the ancestors of both groups.  (+info)

Cellulose synthesis is coupled to cell cycle progression at G1 in the dinoflagellate Crypthecodinium cohnii. (78/633)

Cellulosic deposition in alveolar vesicles forms the "internal cell wall" in thecated dinoflagellates. The availability of synchronized single cells, the lack of secondary deposition, and the absence of cellulosic cell plates at division facilitate investigation of the possible roles of cellulose synthesis (CS) in the entire cell cycle. Flow cytograms of cellulosic contents revealed a stepwise process of CS in the dinoflagellate cell cycle, with the highest rate occurring at G(1). A cell cycle delay in G(1), but not G(2)/M, was observed after inhibition of CS. A cell cycle inhibitor of G(1)/S, but not G(2)/M, was able to delay cell cycle progression with a corresponding reduction of CS. The increase of cellulose content in the cell cycle corresponded well to the expected increase of surface area. No differences were observed in the cellulose to surface area ratio between normal and fast-growing G(1) cells, implicating the significance of surface area in linking CS to the coupling of cell growth with cell cycle progression. The coupling of CS to G(1) implicates a novel link between CS and cell cycle control, and we postulate that the coupling mechanism might integrate cell wall integrity to the cell size checkpoint.  (+info)

Isolation of symbiotically expressed genes from the dinoflagellate symbiont of the solitary radiolarian Thalassicolla nucleata. (79/633)

Symbiotic associations are fundamental to the survival of many organisms on Earth. The ability of the symbiont to perform key biochemical functions often allows the host to occupy environments that it would otherwise find inhospitable. This can have profound impacts upon the diversification and distribution of the host. Cellular organelles (chloroplasts and mitochondria) represent the final stages of integration of endosymbionts. These organelles were of critical importance to the evolution and success of eukaryotic lineages on our planet because they allowed the host cells to harness light energy and to thrive in the presence of oxygen. The marine photosymbiotic associations that we study represent an earlier stage in the process of symbiont integration-one in which the photobiont can still be removed from the host and exist on its own. These systems are of interest to us for two reasons. First, they are ecologically important in the marine environment where they occur. These organisms form zones of photosynthetic production in oceanic regions typically low in nutrients. Second, investigation of these interactions may shed light on the molecular and evolutionary mechanisms involved in the integration of cells and their genomes.  (+info)

The application of a molecular clock based on molecular sequences and the fossil record to explain biogeographic distributions within the Alexandrium tamarense "species complex" (Dinophyceae). (80/633)

The cosmopolitan dinoflagellate genus Alexandrium, and especially the A. tamarense species complex, contain both toxic and nontoxic strains. An understanding of their evolution and paleogeography is a necessary precursor to unraveling the development and spread of toxic forms. The inclusion of more strains into the existing phylogenetic trees of the Alexandrium tamarense species complex from large subunit rDNA sequences has confirmed that geographic distribution is consistent with the molecular clades but not with the three morphologically defined species that constitute the complex. In addition, a new clade has been discovered, representing Mediterranean nontoxic strains. The dinoflagellates fossil record was used to calibrate a molecular clock: key dates used in this calibration are the origins of the Peridiniales (estimated at 190 MYA), Gonyaulacaceae (180 MYA), and Ceratiaceae (145 MYA). Based on the data set analyzed, the origin of the genus Alexandrium was estimated to be around late Cretaceous (77 MYA), with its earliest possible origination in the mid Cretaceous (119 MYA). The A. tamarense species complex potentially diverged around the early Neogene (23 MYA), with a possible first appearance in the late Paleogene (45 MYA). A paleobiogeographic scenario for Alexandrium is based on (1) the calculated possible ages of origination for the genus and its constituent groups; (2) paleogeographic events determined by plate movements, changing ocean configurations and currents, as well as climatic fluctuations; and (3) the present geographic distribution of the various clades of the Alexandrium tamarense species complex.  (+info)