Population-genomic analyses are essential to understanding factors shaping genomic variation and lineage-specific sequence constraints. The dearth of such analyses for unicellular eukaryotes prompted us to assess genomic variation in Paramecium, one of the most well-studied ciliate genera. The Paramecium aurelia complex consists of ∼15 morphologically indistinguishable species that diverged subsequent to two rounds of whole-genome duplications (WGDs, as long as 320 MYA) and possess extremely streamlined genomes. We examine patterns of both nuclear and mitochondrial polymorphism, by sequencing whole genomes of 10-13 worldwide isolates of each of three species belonging to the P. aurelia complex: P. tetraurelia, P. biaurelia, P. sexaurelia, as well as two outgroup species that do not share the WGDs: P. caudatum and P. multimicronucleatum. An apparent absence of global geographic population structure suggests continuous or recent dispersal of Paramecium over long distances. Intergenic regions are highly constrained relative to coding sequences, especially in P. caudatum and P. multimicronucleatum that have shorter intergenic distances. Sequence diversity and divergence are reduced up to ∼100-150 bp both upstream and downstream of genes, suggesting strong constraints imposed by the presence of densely packed regulatory modules. In addition, comparison of sequence variation at non-synonymous and synonymous sites suggests similar recent selective pressures on paralogs within and orthologs across the deeply diverging species. This study presents the first genome-wide population-genomic analysis in ciliates and provides a valuable resource for future studies in evolutionary and functional genetics in Paramecium.
- Mitochondrial genomic variation
- Population genomics
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Molecular Biology