Complete Plastome Sequence of Thalictrum Coreanum (Ranunculaceae) and Transfer of the rpl32 Gene to the Nucleus in the Ancestor of the Subfamily Thalictroideae
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Plastids originated from cyanobacteria and the majority of the ancestral genes were lost or functionally transferred to the nucleus after endosymbiosis. Comparative genomic investigations have shown that gene transfer from plastids to the nucleus is an ongoing evolutionary process but molecular evidence for recent functional gene transfers among seed plants have only been documented for the four genes accD, infA, rpl22, and rpl32. Results: The complete plastid genome of Thalictrum coreanum, the first from the subfamily Thalictroideae (Ranunculaceae), was sequenced and revealed the losses of two genes, infA and rpl32. The functional transfer of these two genes to the nucleus in Thalictrum was verified by examination of nuclear transcriptomes. A survey of the phylogenetic distribution of the rpl32 loss was performed using 17 species of Thalictrum and representatives of related genera in the subfamily Thalictroideae. The plastid-encoded rpl32 gene is likely nonfunctional in members of the subfamily Thalictroideae (Aquilegia, Enemion, Isopyrum, Leptopyrum, Paraquilegia, and Semiaquilegia) including 17 Thalictrum species due to the presence of indels that disrupt the reading frame. A nuclear-encoded rpl32 with high sequence identity was identified in both Thalictrum and Aquilegia. The phylogenetic distribution of this gene loss/transfer and the high level of sequence similarity in transit peptides suggest a single transfer of the plastid-encoded rpl32 to the nucleus in the ancestor of the subfamily Thalictroideae approximately 20-32 Mya. Conclusions: The genome sequence of Thalictrum coreanum provides valuable information for improving the understanding of the evolution of plastid genomes within Ranunculaceae and across angiosperms. Thalictrum is unusual among the three sequenced Ranunculaceae plastid genomes in the loss of two genes infA and rpl32, which have been functionally transferred to the nucleus. In the case of rpl32 this represents the third documented independent transfer from the plastid to the nucleus with the other two transfers occurring in the unrelated angiosperm families Rhizophoraceae and Salicaceae. Furthermore, the transfer of rpl32 provides additional molecular evidence for the monophyly of the subfamily Thalictroideae.