Disentangling the impact of environmental and phylogenetic constraints on prokaryotic within-species diversity.
Microbial organisms inhabit virtually all environments and encompass a vast biological diversity. The pangenome concept aims to facilitate an understanding of diversity within defined phylogenetic groups. Hence, pangenomes are increasingly used to characterize the strain diversity of prokaryotic species. To understand the interdependence of pangenome features (such as the number of core and accessory genes) and to study the impact of environmental and phylogenetic constraints on the evolution of conspecific strains, we computed pangenomes for 155 phylogenetically diverse species (from ten phyla) using 7,000 high-quality genomes to each of which the respective habitats were assigned. Species habitat ubiquity was associated with several pangenome features. In particular, core-genome size was more important for ubiquity than accessory genome size. In general, environmental preferences had a stronger impact on pangenome evolution than phylogenetic inertia. Environmental preferences explained up to 49% of the variance for pangenome features, compared with 18% by phylogenetic inertia. This observation was robust when the dataset was extended to 10,100 species (59 phyla). The importance of environmental preferences was further accentuated by convergent evolution of pangenome features in a given habitat type across different phylogenetic clades. For example, the soil environment promotes expansion of pangenome size, while host-associated habitats lead to its reduction. Taken together, we explored the global principles of pangenome evolution, quantified the influence of habitat, and phylogenetic inertia on the evolution of pangenomes and identified criteria governing species ubiquity and habitat specificity.