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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. Jun 1988; 85(11): 3898–3902.
PMCID: PMC280327

Chloroplast genomes of two conifers lack a large inverted repeat and are extensively rearranged.


Chloroplast genomes of Douglas-fir [Pseudotsuga menziesii (Mirb.) Franco] and radiata (Monterey) pine [Pinus radiata D. Don], two conifers from the widespread Pinaceae, were mapped and their genomes were compared to other land plants. Douglas-fir and radiata pine lack the large (20-25 kilobases) inverted repeat that characterizes most land plants. To our knowledge, this is only the second recorded loss of this ancient and highly conserved inverted repeat among all lineages of land plants thus far examined. Loss of the repeat largely accounts for the small size of the conifer genome, 120 kilobase, versus 140-160 kilobases in most land plants. Douglas-fir possesses a major inversion of 40-50 kilobases relative to radiata pine and nonconiferous plants. Nucleotide sequence differentiation between Douglas-fir and radiata pine was estimated to be 3.8%. Both conifer genomes possess a number of rearrangements relative to Osmunda, a fern, Ginkgo, a gymnosperm, and Petunia, an angiosperm. Among land plants, structural changes of this degree have occurred primarily within tribes of the legume family (Fabaceae) that have also lost the inverted repeat. These results support the hypothesis that the presence of the large inverted repeat stabilizes the chloroplast genome against major structural rearrangements.

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Selected References

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