Functional repertoire convergence of distantly related eukaryotic plankton lineages abundant in the sunlit ocean

Elsevier, Cell Genomics, Volume 2, 11 May 2022
Delmont T.O., Gaia M., Hinsinger D.D., Fremont P., Vanni C., Fernandez-Guerra A. et al.

Marine planktonic eukaryotes play critical roles in global biogeochemical cycles and climate. However, their poor representation in culture collections limits our understanding of the evolutionary history and genomic underpinnings of planktonic ecosystems. Here, we used 280 billion Tara Oceans metagenomic reads from polar, temperate, and tropical sunlit oceans to reconstruct and manually curate more than 700 abundant and widespread eukaryotic environmental genomes ranging from 10 Mbp to 1.3 Gbp. This genomic resource covers a wide range of poorly characterized eukaryotic lineages that complement long-standing contributions from culture collections while better representing plankton in the upper layer of the oceans. We performed the first, to our knowledge, comprehensive genome-wide functional classification of abundant unicellular eukaryotic plankton, revealing four major groups connecting distantly related lineages. Neither trophic modes of plankton nor its vertical evolutionary history could completely explain the functional repertoire convergence of major eukaryotic lineages that coexisted within oceanic currents for millions of years.