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Genes 2017, 8(7), 186; doi:10.3390/genes8070186

Evolutionary Significance of Wolbachia-to-Animal Horizontal Gene Transfer: Female Sex Determination and the f Element in the Isopod Armadillidium vulgare

Laboratoire Ecologie et Biologie des Interactions, Equipe Ecologie Evolution Symbiose, Université de Poitiers, UMR CNRS 7267, Bât. B8, 5 rue Albert Turpin, TSA 51106, 86073 Poitiers CEDEX 9, France
Present address: Laboratoire Evolution, Génomes, Comportement, Écologie, UMR 9191 CNRS, UMR 247 IRD, Université Paris-Sud, 91198 Gif-sur-Yvette, France.
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Academic Editors: John Jones and Etienne G.J. Danchin
Received: 12 May 2017 / Revised: 17 July 2017 / Accepted: 17 July 2017 / Published: 21 July 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Horizontal Gene Transfer)
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Abstract

An increasing number of horizontal gene transfer (HGT) events from bacteria to animals have been reported in the past years, many of which involve Wolbachia bacterial endosymbionts and their invertebrate hosts. Most transferred Wolbachia genes are neutrally-evolving fossils embedded in host genomes. A remarkable case of Wolbachia HGT for which a clear evolutionary significance has been demonstrated is the “f element”, a nuclear Wolbachia insert involved in female sex determination in the terrestrial isopod Armadillidium vulgare. The f element represents an instance of bacteria-to-animal HGT that has occurred so recently that it was possible to infer the donor (feminizing Wolbachia closely related to the wVulC Wolbachia strain of A. vulgare) and the mechanism of integration (a nearly complete genome inserted by micro-homology-mediated recombination). In this review, we summarize our current knowledge of the f element and discuss arising perspectives regarding female sex determination, unstable inheritance, population dynamics and the molecular evolution of the f element. Overall, the f element unifies three major areas in evolutionary biology: symbiosis, HGT and sex determination. Its characterization highlights the tremendous impact sex ratio distorters can have on the evolution of sex determination mechanisms and sex chromosomes in animals and plants. View Full-Text
Keywords: horizontal gene transfer (HGT); terrestrial isopod; Wolbachia; bacterial endosymbiont; selfish genetic element; sex ratio distorter; feminization; sex determination; sex chromosome horizontal gene transfer (HGT); terrestrial isopod; Wolbachia; bacterial endosymbiont; selfish genetic element; sex ratio distorter; feminization; sex determination; sex chromosome
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Cordaux, R.; Gilbert, C. Evolutionary Significance of Wolbachia-to-Animal Horizontal Gene Transfer: Female Sex Determination and the f Element in the Isopod Armadillidium vulgare. Genes 2017, 8, 186.

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