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Abstract Detail

Genetics Section

Zhang, Yan [1], McNeal, Joel R. [2], Smith, Alan R. [3], Kuehl, Jennifer V. [4], Boore, Jeffrey L. [4], dePamphilis, Claude W. [1].

Striking convergence of plastid genomes in independent nonphotosynthetic lineages.

PARASITIC plants are valuable models for studying gene and genome evolution in the absence of photosynthesis. Under relaxed functional constraints, the plastid genomes of some parasitic plant have experienced great reductions in gene content and accelerated rates of evolution for the remaining genes. For example, the fully sequenced plastid genome of Epifagus virginiana (Orobanchaceae) displays extreme genome reduction; it lacks functional copies of all photosynthetic and ndh genes, all four RNA polymerase genes, almost half of the tRNAs, and one third of the ribosomal protein genes. Accelerated evolution is observed in Epifagus, a result of both relaxed selection and an increase in the neutral rate of base substitution. To understand whether genome evolution is similar in independent lineages of nonphotosynthetic plants, the plastid genome of the holoparasite Pholisma arenarium (Lennoaceae/Boraginaceae) was cloned into fosmid vectors, sequenced, and analyzed. The plastid genome of Pholisma shows a pattern of gene loss that is strikingly similar to that observed in Epifagus. All of the photosynthetic genes (with the notable exception of rbcL) and ndh genes are lost, as are the RNA polymerase genes and some components of the translation apparatus. The gene losses in Pholisma are a perfect subset of those observed in Epifagus, and the remaining genes are also evolving at an accelerated rate. The results indicate parallel and convergent evolution of the two independent lineages of nonphotosynthetic plants and also suggest that photosynthesis has been lost more recently in the lineage including Pholisma.

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1 - Pennsylvania State University, Department of Biology, Institute of Molecular Evolutionary Genetics, and The Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences, University Park, Pennsylvania, 16802, USA
2 - Harvard University, Arnold Arboretum, Harvard University Herbaria, 22 Divinity Avenue, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 02138, USA
3 - Lee University, Department of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, Cleveland, Tennesee, 37311, USA
4 - DOE Joint Genome Institute, Department of Evolutionary Genomics, 2800 Mitchell Drive, Walnut Creek, California, 94598, USA

nonphotosynthetic plant
plastid genome
Genome Evolution.

Presentation Type: Oral Paper:Papers for Sections
Session: 55-4
Location: 268/Holt
Date: Tuesday, August 1st, 2006
Time: 2:45 PM
Abstract ID:677

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