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Sequencing and Analysis of Plastid Genome in Mycoheterotrophic Orchid Neottia nidus-avis

Genome Biology and Evolution
Oxford University Press
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1093/gbe/evr102
  • Genome Report
  • Biology


Plastids are the semiautonomous organelles that possess their own genome inherited from the cyanobacterial ancestor. The primary function of plastids is photosynthesis so the structure and evolution of plastid genomes are extensively studied in photosynthetic plants. In contrast, little is known about the plastomes of nonphotosynthetic species. In higher plants, plastid genome sequences are available for only three strictly nonphotosynthetic species, the liverwort Aneura mirabilis and two flowering plants, Epifagus virginiana and Rhizanthella gardneri. We report here the complete sequence of a plastid genome of nonphotosynthetic mycoheterotrophic orchid Neottia nidus-avis, determined using 454 pyrosequencing technology. It was found to be reduced in both genome size and gene content; this reduction is however not as drastic as in the other nonphotosynthetic orchid, R. gardneri. Neottia plastome lacks all genes encoding photosynthetic proteins, RNA polymerase subunits but retains most genes of translational apparatus. Those genes that are retained have an increased rate of both synonymous and nonsynonymous substitutions but do not exhibit relaxation of purifying selection either in Neottia or in Rhizanthella.

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