Our pipeline presents a simple and freely accessible software tool for identification of sex chromosome linked genes in species without an existing reference genome. Based on combination of genetic crosses and RNA-Seq data, we have designed a high-throughput, cost-effective approach for a broad community of scientists focused on sex chromosome structure and evolution.
We analysed the size, relative age and chromosomal localization of nuclear sequences of plastid and mitochondrial origin (NUPTs-nuclear plastid DNA and NUMTs-nuclear mitochondrial DNA) in six completely sequenced plant species. We found that the largest insertions showed lower divergence from organelle DNA than shorter insertions in all species, indicating their recent origin. The largest NUPT and NUMT insertions were localized in the vicinity of the centromeres in the small genomes of Arabidopsis and rice. They were also present in other chromosomal regions in the large genomes of soybean and maize. Localization of NUPTs and NUMTs correlated positively with distribution of transposable elements (TEs) in Arabidopsis and sorghum, negatively in grapevine and soybean, and did not correlate in rice or maize. We propose a model where new plastid and mitochondrial DNA sequences are inserted close to centromeres and are later fragmented by TE insertions and reshuffled away from the centromere or removed by ectopic recombination. The mode and tempo of TE dynamism determines the turnover of NUPTs and NUMTs resulting in their species-specific chromosomal distributions.
Sex chromosomes are an ideal system to study processes connected with suppressed recombination. We found evidence of microsatellite expansion, on the relatively young Y chromosome of the dioecious plant sorrel (Rumex acetosa, XY1Y2 system), but no such expansion on the more ancient Y chromosomes of liverwort (Marchantia polymorpha) and human. The most expanding motifs were AC and AAC, which also showed periodicity of array length, indicating the importance of beginnings and ends of arrays. Our data indicate that abundance of microsatellites in genomes depends on the inherent expansion potential of specific motifs, which could be related to their stability and ability to adopt unusual DNA conformations. We also found that the abundance of microsatellites is higher in the neighborhood of transposable elements (TEs) suggesting that microsatellites are probably targets for TE insertions. This evidence suggests that microsatellite expansion is an early event shaping the Y chromosome where this process is not opposed by recombination, while accumulation of TEs and chromosome shrinkage predominate later.