Population genomics reveals the origin and asexual evolution of human infective trypanosomes

Weir, W. et al. (2016) Population genomics reveals the origin and asexual evolution of human infective trypanosomes. eLife, 5, e11473. (doi:10.7554/eLife.11473) (PMID:26809473) (PMCID:PMC4739771)

Weir, W. et al. (2016) Population genomics reveals the origin and asexual evolution of human infective trypanosomes. eLife, 5, e11473. (doi:10.7554/eLife.11473) (PMID:26809473) (PMCID:PMC4739771)

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Abstract

Evolutionary theory predicts that the lack of recombination and chromosomal re-assortment in strictly asexual organisms results in homologous chromosomes irreversibly accumulating mutations and thus evolving independently of each other, a phenomenon termed the Meselson effect. We apply a population genomics approach to examine this effect in an important human pathogen, Trypanosoma brucei gambiense. We determine that T.b. gambiense is evolving strictly asexually and is derived from a single progenitor, which emerged within the last 10,000 years. We demonstrate the Meselson effect for the first time at the genome-wide level in any organism and show large regions of loss of heterozygosity, which we hypothesise to be a short-term compensatory mechanism for counteracting deleterious mutations. Our study sheds new light on the genomic and evolutionary consequences of strict asexuality, which this pathogen uses as it exploits a new biological niche, the human population.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:MacLeod, Professor Annette and Capewell, Dr Paul and Weir, Dr William and Pountain, Andrew and Cooper, Dr Anneli and Veitch, Dr Nicola and Clucas, Dr Caroline
Authors: Weir, W., Capewell, P., Foth, B., Clucas, C., Pountain, A., Steketee, P., Veitch, N., Koffi, M., De Meeûs, T., Kaboré, J., Camara, M., Cooper, A., Tait, A., Jamonneau, V., Bucheton, B., Berriman, M., and MacLeod, A.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Biodiversity Animal Health and Comparative Medicine
College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Life Sciences
Journal Name:eLife
Publisher:eLife Sciences Publications
ISSN:2050-084X
ISSN (Online):2045-5267
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2016 Weir et al.
First Published:First published in eLife 5:e11473
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
558211The origins and mechanisms of human infectivity in African trypanosomes.Annette MacLeodWellcome Trust (WELLCOME)095201/Z/10/ZRI BIODIVERSITY ANIMAL HEALTH & COMPMED
558212The origins and mechanisms of human infectivity in African trypanosomes.Annette MacLeodWellcome Trust (WELLCOME)095201/Z/10/ZRI BIODIVERSITY ANIMAL HEALTH & COMPMED
371796The Wellcome Centre for Molecular Parasitology ( Core Support )Andrew WatersWellcome Trust (WELLCOME)085349/Z/08/ZIII - PARASITOLOGY
371798The Wellcome Centre for Molecular Parasitology ( Core Support )Andrew WatersWellcome Trust (WELLCOME)085349/B/08/ZIII - PARASITOLOGY