Shining the spotlight on the neglected: new high-quality genome assemblies as a gateway to understanding the evolution of Trypanosomatidae

  • Amanda T.S. Albanaz (Creator)
  • Mark Carrington (Creator)
  • Alexander O. Frolov (Creator)
  • Anna I. Ganyukova (Creator)
  • Evgeny S. Gerasimov (Creator)
  • Alexei Y. Kostygov (Creator)
  • Julius Lukeš (Creator)
  • Marina N. Malysheva (Creator)
  • Jan Votýpka (Creator)
  • Alexandra Zakharova (Creator)
  • Kristína Záhonová (Creator)
  • Sara L Zimmer (Creator)
  • Vyacheslav Yurchenko (Creator)
  • Anzhelika Butenko (Creator)



Abstract Background Protists of the family Trypanosomatidae (phylum Euglenozoa) have gained notoriety as parasites affecting humans, domestic animals, and agricultural plants. However, the true extent of the group's diversity spreads far beyond the medically and veterinary relevant species. We address several knowledge gaps in trypanosomatid research by undertaking sequencing, assembly, and analysis of genomes from previously overlooked representatives of this protistan group. Results We assembled genomes for twenty-one trypanosomatid species, with a primary focus on insect parasites and Trypanosoma spp. parasitizing non-human hosts. The assemblies exhibit sizes consistent with previously sequenced trypanosomatid genomes, ranging from approximately 18 Mb for Obscuromonas modryi to 35 Mb for Crithidia brevicula and Zelonia costaricensis. Despite being the smallest, the genome of O. modryi has the highest content of repetitive elements, contributing nearly half of its total size. Conversely, the highest proportion of unique DNA is found in the genomes of Wallacemonas spp., with repeats accounting for less than 8% of the assembly length. The majority of examined species exhibit varying degrees of aneuploidy, with trisomy being the most frequently observed condition after disomy. Conclusions The genome of Obscuromonas modryi represents a very unusual, if not unique, example of evolution driven by two antidromous forces: i) increasing dependence on the host leading to genomic shrinkage and ii) expansion of repeats causing genome enlargement. The observed variation in somy within and between trypanosomatid genera suggests that these flagellates are largely predisposed to aneuploidy and, apparently, exploit it to gain a fitness advantage. High heterogeneity in the genome size, repeat content, and variation in chromosome copy numbers in the newly-sequenced species highlight the remarkable genome plasticity exhibited by trypanosomatid flagellates. These new genome assemblies are a robust foundation for future research on the genetic basis of life cycle changes and adaptation to different hosts in the family Trypanosomatidae.
Date made available2023

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