Response to Signorovitch et al.

Research output: Contribution to journalLetterpeer-review


Signorovitch et al. [1] comment that an Oenothera-like meiosis [2] could produce a pattern similar to what we observed in our study of natural isolates of the bdelloid rotifer Adineta vaga, which we attributed to horizontal gene transfers (HGTs) [3]. Indeed, our HGT hypothesis appears at first sight difficult to conciliate with their observation of a congruent pattern of allele sharing at four large loci possibly located on different chromosomes [4]. However, one might imagine conditions under which massive horizontal gene transfer between bdelloid individuals could produce such a pattern, notably if the individuals involved had previously lost most of their heterozygosity because of their exposure to frequent desiccation (which produces DNA double-strand breaks [5]). In the published A. vaga genome the loss of heterozygosity due to large-scale gene conversion events or break-induced replication covers only about 10% of the genome [6], but this percentage may be much higher in environmental isolates that often experience dessication. Besides, if an Oenothera-like mode of meiosis occurs in bdelloids frequently enough to be detected in a single sampling of 29 individuals (as in [4]), one would expect males and meiosis to be observed at least occasionally, and instances of congruent allele sharing across loci should turn up frequently in genetic surveys. This was not the case in [3]: among the 82 A. vaga individuals sequenced for four nuclear markers, no trio of individuals presented congruent patterns of shared sequences at different loci. For these reasons, and in the absence of any direct evidence for an Oenothera-like meiosis in bdelloids, we still consider inter-bdelloid HGTs a more parsimonious explanation for our results.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)R755
JournalCurrent Biology
Issue number16
Publication statusPublished - 22 Aug 2016


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