Dario Isidro Ojeda Alayon

Forsker

(+47) 476 33 227
dario.alayon@nibio.no

Sted
Ås - Bygg H8

Besøksadresse
Høgskoleveien 8, 1433 Ås

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Phylogenomics is increasingly used to infer deep‐branching relationships while revealing the complexity of evolutionary processes such as incomplete lineage sorting, hybridization/introgression and polyploidization. We investigate the deep‐branching relationships among subfamilies of the Leguminosae (or Fabaceae), the third largest angiosperm family. Despite their ecological and economic importance, a robust phylogenetic framework for legumes based on genome‐scale sequence data is lacking. We generated alignments of 72 chloroplast genes and 7621 homologous nuclear‐encoded proteins, for 157 and 76 taxa, respectively. We analysed these with maximum likelihood, Bayesian inference, and a multispecies coalescent summary method, and evaluated support for alternative topologies across gene trees. We resolve the deepest divergences in the legume phylogeny despite lack of phylogenetic signal across all chloroplast genes and the majority of nuclear genes. Strongly supported conflict in the remainder of nuclear genes is suggestive of incomplete lineage sorting. All six subfamilies originated nearly simultaneously, suggesting that the prevailing view of some subfamilies as ‘basal’ or ‘early‐diverging’ with respect to others should be abandoned, which has important implications for understanding the evolution of legume diversity and traits. Our study highlights the limits of phylogenetic resolution in relation to rapid successive speciation.

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Pythium species are ubiquitous organisms known to be pathogens to terrestrial plants and marine algae. While several Pythium species (hereafter, Pythium) are described as pathogens to marine red algae, little is known about the pathogenicity of Pythium on marine green algae. A strain of a Pythium was isolated from a taxonomically unresolved filamentous Ulva collected in an intertidal area of Oslo fjord. Its pathogenicity to a euryhaline Ulva intestinalis collected in the same area was subsequently tested under salinities of 0, 15, and 30 parts per thousand (ppt). The Pythium isolate readily infected U. intestinalis and decimated the filaments at 0 ppt. Mycelium survived on U. intestinalis filaments for at least 2 weeks at 15 and 30 ppt, but the infection did not progress. Sporulation was not observed in the infected algal filaments at any salinity. Conversely, Pythium sporulated on infected grass pieces at 0, 15, and 30 ppt. High salinity retarded sporulation, but did not prevent it. Our Pythium isolate produced filamentous non-inflated sporangia. The sexual stage was never observed and phylogenetic analysis using internal transcribed spacer suggest this isolate belongs to the clade B2. We conclude that the Pythium found in the Oslo fjord was a pathogen of U. intestinalis under low salinity.

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Paleo-environmental data show that the distribution of African rain forests was affected by Quaternary climate changes. In particular, the Dahomey Gap (DG) – a 200 km wide savanna corridor currently separating the West African and Central African rain forest blocks and containing relict rain forest fragments – was forested during the mid-Holocene and possibly during previous interglacial periods, whereas it was dominated by open vegetation (savanna) during glacial periods. Genetic signatures of past population fragmentation and demographic changes have been found in some African forest plant species using nuclear markers, but such events appear not to have been synchronous or shared across species. To better understand the colonization history of the DG by rain forest trees through seed dispersal, the plastid genomes of two widespread African forest legume trees, Anthonotha macrophylla and Distemonanthus benthamianus, were sequenced in 47 individuals for each species, providing unprecedented phylogenetic resolution of their maternal lineages (857 and 115 SNPs, respectively). Both species exhibit distinct lineages separating three regions: 1. Upper Guinea (UG, i.e. the West African forest block), 2. the area ranging from the DG to the Cameroon volcanic line (CVL), and 3. Lower Guinea (LG, the western part of the Central African forest block) where three lineages co-occur. In both species, the DG populations (including southern Nigeria west of Cross River) exhibit much lower genetic diversity than UG and LG populations, and their plastid lineages originate from the CVL, confirming the role of the CVL as an ancient forest refuge. Despite the similar phylogeographic structures displayed by A. macrophylla and D. benthamianus, molecular dating indicates very contrasting ages of lineage divergence (UG diverged from LG since c. 7 Ma and 0.7 Ma, respectively) and DG colonization (probably following the Mid Pleistocene Transition and the Last Glacial Maximum, respectively). The stability of forest refuge areas and repeated similar forest shrinking/expanding events during successive glacial periods might explain why similar phylogeographic patterns can be generated over contrasting timescales.

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Aim: The Guineo‐Congolian region in Africa constitutes the second largest area of tropical rainforest (TRF) in the world. It covered an estimated 15–22 million km2 during the late Miocene (55–11 Ma) and it has experienced since a declining trend, currently reaching 3.4 million km2, associated with increasing aridification and the replacement of TRF by savanna habitats. Here, we examine whether rainforest area contraction led to a decrease in net diversification rates linked to increasing extinction, or if it is associated with increasing opportunities for allopatric or ecological speciation during periods of forest fragmentation. Location: Tropical Africa, Guineo‐Congolian region. Taxon: Anthonotha, Englerodendron, Berlinia clade (Leguminosae). Methods: We used a target enrichment approach combined with a complete data set representing all genera within the Berlinia clade. We combined phylogenomic, dating estimates, habitat reconstruction and diversification rate analyses to infer the effect of change in rainforest area coverage at two taxonomic levels: among genera, and within Anthonotha and Englerodendron. Results: We recovered fully resolved and well‐supported relationships among all genera and among species within the two genera. Most genera (87.5%) diverged before the Pleistocene, but Anthonotha and Englerodendron diversified recently, during the most recent cycles of forest contraction and expansion of the Pleistocene. Main conclusions: Our results suggest that the Berlinia clade displays an overall trend of accumulation of species over evolutionary time, suggesting the reduction in TRF area has not decreased net diversification rates. Most habitat shifts to savanna occurred in the Miocene, with no major habitat shifts during the most recent phases of forest expansion–contraction in the Pleistocene. Shifts in habitat from lowland forest to savanna did not trigger diversification rates, but habitat fragmentation might have increased diversification rates through allopatric speciation.

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With the ongoing climate change, African rainforests are expected to experience severe drought events in the future. In Africa, the tropical genus Erythrophleum (Fabaceae) includes two forest sister timber tree species displaying contrasting geographical distributions. Erythrophleum ivorense is adapted to wet evergreen Guineo-Congolian forests, whereas E. suaveolens occurs in a wider range of climates, being found in moist dense forests but also in gallery forests under a relatively drier climate. This geographical distribution pattern suggests that the two species might cope differently to drought at the genomic level. Yet, the genetic basis of tolerance response to drought stress in both species is still uncharacterized. To bridge this gap, we performed an RNA-seq approach on seedlings from each species to monitor their transcriptional responses at different levels of drought stress (0, 2 and 6 weeks after stopping watering seedlings). Monitoring of wilting symptoms revealed that E. suaveolens displayed an earlier phenotypic response to drought stress than E. ivorense. At the transcriptomic level, results revealed 2020 (1204 down-regulated/816 up-regulated) and 1495 differentially expressed genes (DEGs) in response to drought stress from a total of 67,432 and 66,605 contigs assembled in E. ivorense and E. suaveolens, respectively. After identifying 30,374 orthologs between species, we found that only 7 of them were DEGs shared between species, while 587 and 458 were differentially expressed only in E. ivorense or E. suaveolens, respectively. GO and KEGG enrichment analysis revealed that the two species differ in terms of significantly regulated pathways as well as the number and expression profile of DEGs (Up/Down) associated with each pathway in the two stress stages. Our results suggested that the two studied species react differently to drought. E. suaveolens seems displaying a prompt response to drought at its early stage strengthened by the down-regulation of many DEGs encoding for signaling and metabolism-related pathways. A considerable up-regulation of these pathways was also found in E. ivorense at the late stage of drought, suggesting this species may be a late responder. Overall, our data may serve as basis for further understanding the genetic control of drought tolerance in tropical trees and favor the selection of crucial genes for genetically enhancing drought resistance.

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Early detection provides the best way to prevent introduction and establishment of alien plant pathogens. Amplification of DNA by PCR has revolutionized the detection and monitoring of plant pathogens. Most of those assays rely on the amplification of a fraction of the genome of the targeted species. With the availability of whole genomes for a growing number of fungi and oomycetes it is becoming possible to compare genomes and discover regions that are unique to a target organism. This study has applied this pipeline to develop a set of hierarchical TaqMan real‐time PCR detection assays targeting DNA of all four Phytophthora ramorum lineages, and a closely related species, P. lateralis. Nine assays were generated: three targeting DNA of all P. ramorum lineages, one for each lineage of P. ramorum, one for P. lateralis and one targeting DNA of P. ramorum and P. lateralis. These assays were very accurate and sensitive, ranging from 98.7% to 100% detection accuracy of 2–10 gene copies of the targeted taxa from pure cultures or inoculated tissues. This level of sensitivity is within the lowest theoretical limit of detection of DNA. It is expected that these assays will be useful because of their high level of specificity and the ease with which they can be multiplexed because of the inherent flexibility in primer and probe design afforded by their lack of conservation in non‐target species.

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Detarioideae is well known for its high diversity of floral traits, including flower symmetry, number of organs, and petal size and morphology. This diversity has been characterized and studied at higher taxonomic levels, but limited analyses have been performed among closely related genera with contrasting floral traits due to the lack of fully resolved phylogenetic relationships. Here, we used four representative transcriptomes to develop an exome capture (target enrichment) bait for the entire subfamily and applied it to the Anthonotha clade using a complete data set (61 specimens) representing all extant floral diversity. Our phylogenetic analyses recovered congruent topologies using ML and Bayesian methods. Anthonotha was recovered as monophyletic contrary to the remaining three genera (Englerodendron, Isomacrolobium and Pseudomacrolobium), which form a monophyletic group sister to Anthonotha. We inferred a total of 35 transitions for the seven floral traits (pertaining to flower symmetry, petals, stamens and staminodes) that we analyzed, suggesting that at least 30% of the species in this group display transitions from the ancestral condition reconstructed for the Anthonotha clade. The main transitions were towards a reduction in the number of organs (petals, stamens and staminodes). Despite the high number of transitions, our analyses indicate that the seven characters are evolving independently in these lineages. Petal morphology is the most labile floral trait with a total of seven independent transitions in number and seven independent transitions to modification in petal types. The diverse petal morphology along the dorsoventral axis of symmetry within the flower is not associated with differences at the micromorphology of petal surface, suggesting that in this group all petals within the flower might possess the same petal identity at the molecular level. Our results provide a solid evolutionary framework for further detailed analyses of the molecular basis of petal identity.

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On the basis of a new phylogeny of the Detarioideae, with a particular focus on Englerodendron Harms, Anthonotha P.Beauv. and related genera, the possible options for delimiting monophyletic genera are discussed. As a result, Isomacrolobium Aubrév. & Pellegr. and Pseudomacrolobium Hauman are synonymised under Englerodendron. The following 12 new combinations are formed within the expanded Englerodendron: E. brachyrhachis (Breteler) Estrella & Ojeda, E. explicans (Baill.) Estrella & Ojeda, E. graciliflorum (Harms) Estrella & Ojeda, E. hallei (Aubrév.) Estrella & Ojeda, E. isopetalum (Harms) Breteler & Wieringa, E. lebrunii (J.Léonard) Estrella & Ojeda, E. leptorrhachis (Harms) Estrella & Ojeda, E. mengei (De Wild.) Estrella & Ojeda, E. nigericum (Baker f.) Estrella & Ojeda, E. obanense (Baker f.) Estrella & Ojeda, E. triplisomere (Pellegr.) Estrella & Ojeda and E. vignei (Hoyle) Estrella & Ojeda. A key to identification of the 17 species now recognised within Englerodendron is presented.

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Compared to angiosperms, gymnosperms lag behind in the availability of assembled and annotated genomes. Most genomic analyses in gymnosperms, especially conifer tree species, rely on the use of de novo assembled transcriptomes. However, the level of allelic redundancy and transcript fragmentation in these assembled transcriptomes, and their effect on downstream applications have not been fully investigated. Here, we assessed three assembly strategies for short-reads data, including the utility of haploid megagametophyte tissue during de novo assembly as single-allele guides, for six individuals and five different tissues in Pinus sylvestris. We then contrasted haploid and diploid tissue genotype calls obtained from the assembled transcriptomes to evaluate the extent of paralog mapping. The use of the haploid tissue during assembly increased its completeness without reducing the number of assembled transcripts. Our results suggest that current strategies that rely on available genomic resources as guidance to minimize allelic redundancy are less effective than the application of strategies that cluster redundant assembled transcripts. The strategy yielding the lowest levels of allelic redundancy among the assembled transcriptomes assessed here was the generation of SuperTranscripts with Lace followed by CD-HIT clustering. However, we still observed some levels of heterozygosity (multiple gene fragments per transcript reflecting allelic redundancy) in this assembled transcriptome on the haploid tissue, indicating that further filtering is required before using these assemblies for downstream applications. We discuss the influence of allelic redundancy when these reference transcriptomes are used to select regions for probe design of exome capture baits and for estimation of population genetic diversity.