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Sci Adv. 2019 Apr 24;5(4):eaav1110. doi: 10.1126/sciadv.aav1110. eCollection 2019 Apr.

An aerobic eukaryotic parasite with functional mitochondria that likely lacks a mitochondrial genome.

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Alfred-Wegener-Institut, Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung, Bremerhaven, Germany.
Helmholtz Institute for Functional Marine Biodiversity (HIFMB), Oldenburg, Germany.
Leibniz-Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries, Berlin, Germany.
Leibniz Institute on Aging, Fritz Lipmann Institute, Beutenbergstr. 11, Jena, Germany.
Department of Genetics, Evolution and Environment, University College London, Gower Street, London WC1E 6BT, UK.
Singapore Centre for Environmental Life Sciences Engineering, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, Singapore.
Génomique Métabolique, Genoscope, Institut de biologie François Jacob, CEA, CNRS, Univ Evry, Université Paris-Saclay, 91057 Evry, France.
Hochschule Bremerhaven, Bremerhaven, Germany.
CNRS, UMR 7144, Laboratoire Adaptation et Diversité en Milieu Marin, Place Georges Teissier, CS90074, 29688 Roscoff cedex, France.
Sorbonne Universités, Université Pierre et Marie Curie - Paris 6, UMR 7144, Station Biologique de Roscoff, Place Georges Teissier, CS90074, 29688 Roscoff cedex, France.
Botany Department, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada.
Department of Biology and Biotechnology Graduate Program, American University in Cairo, New Cairo 11835, Egypt.
Biochemistry I, Medical Faculty, University of Cologne, Cologne, Germany.


Dinoflagellates are microbial eukaryotes that have exceptionally large nuclear genomes; however, their organelle genomes are small and fragmented and contain fewer genes than those of other eukaryotes. The genus Amoebophrya (Syndiniales) comprises endoparasites with high genetic diversity that can infect other dinoflagellates, such as those forming harmful algal blooms (e.g., Alexandrium). We sequenced the genome (~100 Mb) of Amoebophrya ceratii to investigate the early evolution of genomic characters in dinoflagellates. The A. ceratii genome encodes almost all essential biosynthetic pathways for self-sustaining cellular metabolism, suggesting a limited dependency on its host. Although dinoflagellates are thought to have descended from a photosynthetic ancestor, A. ceratii appears to have completely lost its plastid and nearly all genes of plastid origin. Functional mitochondria persist in all life stages of A. ceratii, but we found no evidence for the presence of a mitochondrial genome. Instead, all mitochondrial proteins appear to be lost or encoded in the A. ceratii nucleus.

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