Genome-scale transfer of mitochondrial DNA from legume hosts to the holoparasite Lophophytum mirabile (Balanophoraceae)
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Angiosperm mitochondrial horizontal gene transfer (HGT) has been widely reported during the past decades. With a few exceptions, foreign sequences are mitochondrial genes or intronic regions from other plants, indicating that HGT has played a major role in shaping mitochondrial genome evolution. Host-parasite relationships are a valuable system to study this phenomenon due to the high frequency of HGT. In particular, the interaction between mimosoid legumes and holoparasites of the genus Lophophytum represents an outstanding opportunity to discern HGT events. The mitochondrial genome of the holoparasite L. mirabile has remarkable properties, the most extraordinary of which is the presence of 34 out of 43 mitochondrial protein genes acquired from its legume host, with the stunning replacement of up to 26 native homologs. However, the origin of the intergenic sequences that represent the majority (>90%) of the L. mirabile mtDNA remains largely unknown. The lack of mitochondrial sequences available from the donor angiosperm lineage (mimosoid legumes) precluded a large-scale evolutionary study. We sequenced and assembled the mitochondrial genome of the mimosoid Acacia ligulata and performed genome wide comparisons with L. mirabile. The A. ligulata mitochondrial genome is almost 700 kb in size, encoding 60 genes. About 60% of the L. mirabile mtDNA had greatest affinity to members of the family Fabaceae (~49% to mimosoids in particular) with an average sequence identity of ~96%, including genes but mostly intergenic regions. These findings strengthen the mitochondrial fusion compatibility model for angiosperm mitochondrion-to-mitochondrion HGT.
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