Molecular Investigation of the Ciliate Spirostomum semivirescens, with First Transcriptome and New Geographical Records

Hunter N. Hines, Henning Onsbring, Thijs J.G. Ettema, Genoveva F. Esteban

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The ciliate Spirostomum semivirescens is a large freshwater protist densely packed with endosymbiotic algae and capable of building a protective coating from surrounding particles. The species has been rarely recorded and it lacks any molecular investigations. We obtained such data from S. semivirescens isolated in the UK and Sweden. Using single-cell RNA sequencing of isolates from both countries, the transcriptome of S. semivirescens was generated. A phylogenetic analysis identified S. semivirescens as a close relative to S. minus. Additionally, rRNA sequence analysis of the green algal endosymbiont revealed that it is closely related to Chlorella vulgaris. Along with the molecular species identification, an analysis of the ciliates’ stop codons was carried out, which revealed a relationship where TGA stop codon frequency decreased with increasing gene expression levels. The observed codon bias suggests that S. semivirescens could be in an early stage of reassigning the TGA stop codon. Analysis of the transcriptome indicates that S. semivirescens potentially uses rhodoquinol-dependent fumarate reduction to respire in the oxygen-depleted habitats where it lives. The data also shows that despite large geographical distances (over 1,600 km) between the sampling sites investigated, a morphologically-identical species can share an exact molecular signature, suggesting that some ciliate species, even those over 1 mm in size, could have a global biogeographical distribution.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)875-886
Number of pages12
JournalProtist
Volume169
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2018
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • anaerobic respiration
  • Heterotrich.
  • Protist
  • RNA-seq
  • stop codon
  • symbiotic algae

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