Phytoplankton pangenome reveals extensive prokaryotic horizontal gene transfer of diverse functions

Xiao Fan, Huan Qiu, Wentao Han, Yitao Wang, Dong Xu, Xiaowen Zhang, Debashish Bhattacharya, Naihao Ye

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


The extent and role of horizontal gene transfer (HGT) in phytoplankton and, more broadly, eukaryotic evolution remain controversial topics. Recent studies substantiate the importance of HGT in modifying or expanding functions such as metal or reactive species detoxification and buttressing halotolerance. Yet, the potential of HGT to significantly alter the fate of species in a major eukaryotic assemblage remains to be established. We provide such an example for the ecologically important lineages encompassed by cryptophytes, rhizarians, alveolates, stramenopiles, and haptophytes (“CRASH” taxa). We describe robust evidence of prokaryotic HGTs in these taxa affecting functions such as polysaccharide biosynthesis. Numbers of HGTs range from 0.16 to 1.44% of CRASH species gene inventories, comparable to the ca. 1% prokaryote-derived HGTs found in the genomes of extremophilic red algae. Our results substantially expand the impact of HGT in eukaryotes and define a set of general principles for prokaryotic gene fixation in phytoplankton genomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbereaba0111
JournalScience Advances
Issue number18
StatePublished - Apr 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General


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