John M. Archibald's research while affiliated with Dalhousie University and other places

Publications (402)

Article
Many tools have been developed to measure the degree of similarity between gene duplicates within and between species. Here, we present HSDecipher, a bioinformatics pipeline to assist users in the analysis and visualization of highly similar duplicate genes (HSDs). We describe the steps for analysis of HSDs statistics, expanding HSD gene sets, and...
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The filamentous and unicellular algae of the class Zygnematophyceae are the closest algal relatives of land plants. Inferring the properties of the last common ancestor shared by these algae and land plants allows us to identify decisive traits that enabled the conquest of land by plants. We sequenced four genomes of filamentous Zygnematophyceae (t...
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Background Cryptophytes are ecologically important algae of interest to evolutionary cell biologists because of the convoluted history of their plastids and nucleomorphs, which are derived from red algal secondary endosymbionts. To better understand the evolution of the cryptophyte nucleomorph, we sequenced nucleomorph genomes from two photosynthet...
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The unicellular amoeba Acanthamoeba castellanii is ubiquitous in aquatic environments, where it preys on bacteria. The organism also hosts bacterial endosymbionts, some of which are parasitic, including human pathogens such as Chlamydia and Legionella spp. Here we report complete, high-quality genome sequences for two extensively studied A. castell...
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The streptophyte algal class Zygnematophyceae is the closest algal sister lineage to land plants. In nature, Zygnematophyceae can grow in both terrestrial and freshwater habitats and how they do this is an important unanswered question. Here, we studied what happens to the zygnematophyceaen alga Mougeotia sp., which usually occurs in permanent and...
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The evolution of streptophytes had a profound impact on life on Earth. They brought forth those photosynthetic eukaryotes that today dominate the macroscopic flora: the land plants (Embryophyta).¹ There is convincing evidence that the unicellular/filamentous Zygnematophyceae—and not the morphologically more elaborate Coleochaetophyceae or Charophyc...
Preprint
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The evolution of streptophytes had a profound impact on life on Earth. They brought forth those photosynthetic eukaryotes that today dominate the macroscopic flora: the land plants (Embryophyta) [1]. There is convincing evidence that the unicellular/filamentous Zygnematophyceae--and not the morphologically more elaborate Coleochaetophyceae or Charo...
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The Raphidophyceae is an ecologically important eukaryotic lineage of primary producers and predators that inhabit marine and freshwater environments worldwide. These organisms are of great evolutionary interest because their plastids are the product of eukaryote-eukaryote endosymbiosis. To obtain deeper insight into the evolutionary history of rap...
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Various bioinformatics protocols have been developed for trimming the number of operational taxonomic units (OTUs) in phylogenetic datasets, but they typically require significant manual intervention. Here we present TreeTuner, a semiautomated pipeline that allows both coarse and fine-scale tuning of large protein sequence phylogenetic datasets via...
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A global international initiative, such as the Earth BioGenome Project (EBP), requires both agreement and coordination on standards to ensure that the collective effort generates rapid progress toward its goals. To this end, the EBP initiated five technical standards committees comprising volunteer members from the global genomics scientific commun...
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November 2020 marked 2 y since the launch of the Earth BioGenome Project (EBP), which aims to sequence all known eukaryotic species in a 10-y timeframe. Since then, significant progress has been made across all aspects of the EBP roadmap, as outlined in the 2018 article describing the project’s goals, strategies, and challenges (1). The launch phas...
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Life on Earth has evolved from initial simplicity to the astounding complexity we experience today. Bacteria and archaea have largely excelled in metabolic diversification, but eukaryotes additionally display abundant morphological innovation. How have these innovations come about and what constraints are there on the origins of novelty and the con...
Preprint
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The unicellular amoeba Acanthamoeba castellanii is ubiquitous in aquatic environments, where it preys on bacteria. The organism also hosts bacterial endosymbionts, some of which are parasitic, including human pathogens such as Chlamydia and Legionella spp. Here we report complete, high quality genome sequences for two extensively studied A. castell...
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Full-text available
Cells replicate and segregate their DNA with precision. Previous studies showed that these regulated cell-cycle processes were present in the last eukaryotic common ancestor and that their core molecular parts are conserved across eukaryotes. However, some metamonad parasites have secondarily lost components of the DNA processing and segregation ap...
Article
We present the Aquatic Symbiosis Genomics Project, a global collaboration to generate high quality genome sequences for a wide range of eukaryotes and their microbial symbionts. Launched under the Symbiosis in Aquatic Systems Initiative of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, the ASG Project brings together researchers from across the globe who h...
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Background: The lace plant (Aponogeton madagascariensis) is an aquatic monocot that develops leaves with uniquely formed perforations through the use of a developmentally regulated process called programmed cell death (PCD). The process of perforation formation in lace plant leaves is subdivided into several developmental stages: pre-perforation,...
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Background The marine diatoms Thalassiosira pseudonana and Phaeodactylum tricornutum are valuable model organisms for exploring the evolution, diversity and ecology of this important algal group. Their reference genomes, published in 2004 and 2008, respectively, were the product of traditional Sanger sequencing. In the case of T. pseudonana , optic...
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The advent of comparative genomics in the late 1990s led to the discovery of extensive lateral gene transfer in prokaryotes. The resulting debate over whether life as a whole is best represented as a tree or a network has since given way to a general consensus in which trees and networks co-exist rather than stand in opposition. Embracing this cons...
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Cells must replicate and segregate their DNA with precision. In eukaryotes, these processes are part of a regulated cell-cycle that begins at S-phase with the replication of DNA and ends after M-phase. Previous studies showed that these processes were present in the last eukaryotic common ancestor and the core parts of their molecular systems are c...
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The Pelagophyceae are marine stramenopile algae that include Aureoumbra lagunensis and Aureococcus anophagefferens, two microbial species notorious for causing harmful algal blooms. Despite their ecological significance, relatively few genomic studies of pelagophytes have been carried out. To improve understanding of the biology and evolution of pe...
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A new metagenomics study has shown that marine viruses recently acquired genes encoding light-gated ion channels from green algae. These so-called channelrhodopsin genes may allow the viruses to manipulate the swimming behavior of the algae they infect.
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John Archibald introduces cryptomonads, an important group of protists.
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Oomycetes include many devastating plant pathogens. Across oomycete diversity, plant-infecting lineages are interspersed by non-pathogenic ones. Unfortunately, our understanding of the evolution of lifestyle switches is hampered by a scarcity of data on the molecular biology of saprotrophic oomycetes, ecologically important primary colonizers of de...
Article
Lateral gene transfer (LGT) is well known as an important driver of genome evolution in bacteria and archaea, but its importance in eukaryote evolution has yet to be fully elucidated. There is now abundant evidence indicating that LGT has played a role in the adaptation of eukaryotes to new environments and conditions, including host–parasite inter...
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The origin of plastids (chloroplasts) by endosymbiosis stands as one of the most important events in the history of eukaryotic life. The genetic, biochemical, and cell biological integration of a cyanobacterial endosymbiont into a heterotrophic host eukaryote more than a billion years ago paved the way for the evolution of diverse algal groups in a...
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All land plants (embryophytes) share a common ancestor that likely evolved from a filamentous freshwater alga. Elucidating the transition from algae to embryophytes—and the eventual conquering of Earth’s surface—is one of the most fundamental questions in plant evolutionary biology. Here, we investigated one of the organismal properties that might...
Article
Phagocytosis – cell ingestion – is an important process confined to eukaryotes. Or is it? Shiratori et al. have discovered the existence of phagocytosis in a planctomycete bacterium, raising new questions about the significance of phagotrophy beyond the realm of eukaryotic life.
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Loss of photosynthesis is a recurring theme in eukaryotic evolution. In organisms that have lost the ability to photosynthesize, non-photosynthetic plastids are retained because they play essential roles in processes other than photosynthesis. The unicellular algal genus Cryptomonas contains both photosynthetic and non-photosynthetic members, the l...
Article
A lineage of predatory, non-photosynthetic protists related to red algae has been discovered, changing the way we think about the biology of the first photosynthetic eukaryotes.
Preprint
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Oomycetes include many well-studied, devastating plant pathogens. Across oomycete diversity, plant-infecting lineages are interspersed by non-pathogenic ones. Unfortunately, our understanding of the evolution of lifestyle switches is hampered by a scarcity of data on the molecular biology of saprotrophic oomycetes, ecologically important primary co...
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Full-text available
The regulation of gene expression and RNA maturation underlies fundamental processes such as cell homeostasis, development, and stress acclimation. The biogenesis and modification of RNA is tightly controlled by an array of regulatory RNAs and nucleic acid-binding proteins. While the role of small RNAs (sRNAs) in gene expression has been studied in...
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Chlorarachniophyte and cryptophyte algae are unique among plastid-containing species in that they have a nucleomorph genome: a compact, highly reduced nuclear genome from a photosynthetic eukaryotic endosymbiont. Despite their independent origins, the nucleomorph genomes of these two lineages have similar genomic architectures, but little is known...
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Background The process of gene fusion involves the formation of a single chimeric gene from multiple complete or partial gene sequences. Gene fusion is recognized as an important mechanism by which genes and their protein products can evolve new functions. The presence-absence of gene fusions can also be useful characters for inferring evolutionary...
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Background The Synurophyceae is one of most important photosynthetic stramenopile algal lineages in freshwater ecosystems. They are characterized by siliceous scales covering the cell or colony surface and possess plastids of red-algal secondary or tertiary endosymbiotic origin. Despite their ecological and evolutionary significance, the relationsh...
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Background: The evolution of photosynthesis has been a major driver in eukaryotic diversification. Eukaryotes have acquired plastids (chloroplasts) either directly via the engulfment and integration of a photosynthetic cyanobacterium (primary endosymbiosis) or indirectly by engulfing a photosynthetic eukaryote (secondary or tertiary endosymbiosis)....
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The mitochondrial DNA of diplonemid and kinetoplastid protists is known for its suite of bizarre features, including the presence of concatenated circular molecules, extensive trans‐splicing and various forms of RNA editing. Here we report on the existence of another remarkable characteristic: hyper‐inflated DNA content. We estimated the total amou...
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John Archibald praises a compelling guide to the past 3 billion years — and its molecular historians. John Archibald praises a compelling guide to the past 3 billion years — and its molecular historians. Carl Woese looks up towards the camera from a lightbox.
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All land plants must cope with phytopathogens. Algae face pathogens, too, and it is reasonable to assume that some of the strategies for dealing with pathogens evolved prior to the origin of embryophytes – plant terrestrialization simply changed the nature of the plant-pathogen interactions. Here we highlight that many potential components of the a...
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Background: Cryptophytes are an ecologically important group of algae comprised of phototrophic, heterotrophic and osmotrophic species. This lineage is of great interest to evolutionary biologists because their plastids are of red algal secondary endosymbiotic origin. Cryptophytes have a clear phylogenetic affinity to heterotrophic eukaryotes and...
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de Vries and Archibald introduce the topic of plastid genomes - prokaryotic genomes housed within eukaryotic algae and plants.
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Significance The evolution of land plants from algae is an age-old question in biology. The entire terrestrial flora stems from a grade of algae, the streptophyte algae. Recent phylogenomic studies have pinpointed the Zygnematophyceae as the modern-day streptophyte algal lineage that is most closely related to the algal land plant ancestor. Here, w...
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Understanding plant evolution and diversity in a phylogenomic context is an enormous challenge, due in part to limited availability of genome-scale data across phylodiverse species. The 10KP (10,000 Plants) Genome Sequencing Project will sequence and characterize representative genomes from every major clade of embryophytes, green algae, and protis...
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The concept of symbiosis - defined in 1879 by de Bary as 'the living together of unlike organisms' - has a rich and convoluted history in biology. In part, because it questioned the concept of the individual, symbiosis fell largely outside mainstream science and has traditionally received less attention than other research disciplines. This is grad...
Article
Paramoebae are enigmatic single-celled eukaryotes that can be opportunistic pathogens of marine animals. For example, amoebic gill disease ravages farmed salmonids worldwide, causing tens of millions of dollars in losses annually. Although paramoebae can be found associated with animals ranging from fish and lobster to molluscs and sea urchins, how...
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Conclusions: a streptophyte algal perspective on land plant trait evolution 1432 Acknowledgements 1432 ORCID 1433 References 1433 SUMMARY: Photosynthetic eukaryotes thrive anywhere there is sunlight and water. But while such organisms are exceptionally diverse in form and function, only one phototrophic lineage succeeded in rising above its substr...
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Endosymbiotic relationships between eukaryotic and prokaryotic cells are common in nature. Endosymbioses between two eukaryotes are also known; cyanobacterium-derived plastids have spread horizontally when one eukaryote assimilated another. A unique instance of a non-photosynthetic, eukaryotic endosymbiont involves members of the genus Paramoeba, a...
Data
Sequence logo of signal peptides in 89 Blastocystis ST1 secreted proteins. (DOCX)
Data
Presence of components of the membrane-trafficking machinery in Blastocystis ST1, ST4, and ST7 compared with the last eukaryotic common ancestor (LECA). The numbers within the pie slices indicate the number of isoforms. (DOCX)
Article
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Blastocystis is the most prevalent eukaryotic microbe colonizing the human gut, infecting approximately 1 billion individuals worldwide. Although Blastocystis has been linked to intestinal disorders, its pathogenicity remains controversial because most carriers are asymptomatic. Here, the genome sequence of Blastocystis subtype (ST) 1 is presented...
Data
Distribution of read depth along the nondisomic scaffold 113. Y-axis corresponds to read depth, x-axis shows scaffold position. Upper bar denotes median read depth for scaffold 113 (213), while lower bar indicates median read depth (113) of all scaffolds over 10,000 bps. (DOCX)
Data
Median sequence identity of matching regions of orthologous proteins from pairs of protozoan pathogens. (DOCX)
Data