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J Mol Evol. 2009 Jun;68(6):603-15. doi: 10.1007/s00239-009-9224-7. Epub 2009 May 29.

On the brink of holoparasitism: plastome evolution in dwarf mistletoes (Arceuthobium, Viscaceae).

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Department of Plant Biology, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, IL 62901-6509, USA.


Chloroplast sequences spanning rps7 to 23S rDNA in Arceuthobium campylopodum and A. pendens were generated and compared to Arabidopsis and seven other parasitic plants. Pseudogenes for trnV, trnI (GAU), and trnA (UGC) were seen in both Arceuthobium species, paralleling the situation in the holoparasite Epifagus (Orobanchaceae). These tRNA genes were intact, however, in two other members of Santalales (Ximenia and Phoradendron). The 16S-23S rDNA intergenic spacer was sequenced for 13 additional species of Arceuthobium representing both Old and New World taxa. All species examined had pseudogenes for trnI and trnA, however, deletions in these tRNAs have occurred in different regions among various lineages of the genus. The aligned 16S-23S rDNA intergenic spacer was analyzed using maximum parsimony and compared with nuclear ITS rDNA using a similar suite of species. Overall species relationships were generally congruent, although two cases of potential lineage sorting or chloroplast capture were detected. Arceuthobium is a valuable genetic model to contrast with holoparasites because, despite significant alteration and truncation of its plastome, it still maintains photosynthetic function.

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