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The small molecules that mediate chemical communication between nematodes-so-called 'nematode-derived-modular-metabolites' (NDMMs)-are of major interest because of their ability to regulate development, behavior, and life-history. Pristionchus pacificus nematodes produce an impressive diversity of structurally complex NDMMs, some of which act as primer pheromones that are capable of triggering irreversible developmental switches. Many of these NDMMs have only ever been found in P. pacificus but no attempts have been made to study their evolution by profiling closely related species. This study brings a comparative perspective to the biochemical study of NDMMs through the systematic MS/MS- and NMR-based analysis of exo-metabolomes from over 30 Pristionchus species. We identified 36 novel compounds and found evidence for the convergent evolution of complex NDMMs in separate branches of the Pristionchus phylogeny. Our results demonstrate that biochemical innovation is a recurrent process in Pristionchus nematodes, a pattern that is probably typical across the animal kingdom. © 2020, Dong et al.


Chuanfu Dong, Cameron J Weadick, Vincent Truffault, Ralf J Sommer. Convergent evolution of small molecule pheromones in Pristionchus nematodes. eLife. 2020 Apr 27;9

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PMID: 32338597

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