Jelena Repar, Fran Supek, Tin Klanjscek, Tobias Warnecke, Ksenija Zahradka, and Davor Zahradka
Genetics March 2017 205:1677-1689; early online February 10, 2017, doi:10.1534/genetics.116.196154
GENOME AND SYSTEM BIOLOGY
A number of bacterial, archaeal, and eukaryotic species are known for their resistance to ionizing radiation. One of the challenges these species face is a potent environmental source of DNA double-strand breaks, potential drivers of genome structure evolution. Efficient and accurate DNA double-strand break repair systems have been demonstrated in several unrelated radiation-resistant species and are putative adaptations to the DNA damaging environment. Such adaptations are expected to compensate for the genome-destabilizing effect of environmental DNA damage and may be expected to result in a more conserved gene order in radiation-resistant species. However, here we show that rates of genome rearrangements, measured as loss of gene order conservation with time, are higher in radiation-resistant species in multiple, phylogenetically independent groups of bacteria. Comparison of indicators of selection for genome organization between radiation-resistant and phylogenetically matched, nonresistant species argues against tolerance to disruption of genome structure as a strategy for radiation resistance. Interestingly, an important mechanism affecting genome rearrangements in prokaryotes, the symmetrical inversions around the origin of DNA replication, shapes genome structure of both radiation-resistant and nonresistant species. In conclusion, the opposing effects of environmental DNA damage and DNA repair result in elevated rates of genome rearrangements in radiation-resistant bacteria.