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This article is part of the supplement: Selected articles from the 7th International Symposium on Bioinformatics Research and Applications (ISBRA'11)

Open Access Proceedings

Gene order in rosid phylogeny, inferred from pairwise syntenies among extant genomes

Chunfang Zheng and David Sankoff*

Author Affiliations

Department of Mathematics and Statistics, University of Ottawa, Canada

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BMC Bioinformatics 2012, 13(Suppl 10):S9  doi:10.1186/1471-2105-13-S10-S9

Published: 25 June 2012



Ancestral gene order reconstruction for flowering plants has lagged behind developments in yeasts, insects and higher animals, because of the recency of widespread plant genome sequencing, sequencers' embargoes on public data use, paralogies due to whole genome duplication (WGD) and fractionation of undeleted duplicates, extensive paralogy from other sources, and the computational cost of existing methods.


We address these problems, using the gene order of four core eudicot genomes (cacao, castor bean, papaya and grapevine) that have escaped any recent WGD events, and two others (poplar and cucumber) that descend from independent WGDs, in inferring the ancestral gene order of the rosid clade and those of its main subgroups, the fabids and malvids. We improve and adapt techniques including the OMG method for extracting large, paralogy-free, multiple orthologies from conflated pairwise synteny data among the six genomes and the PATHGROUPS approach for ancestral gene order reconstruction in a given phylogeny, where some genomes may be descendants of WGD events. We use the gene order evidence to evaluate the hypothesis that the order Malpighiales belongs to the malvids rather than as traditionally assigned to the fabids.


Gene orders of ancestral eudicot species, involving 10,000 or more genes can be reconstructed in an efficient, parsimonious and consistent way, despite paralogies due to WGD and other processes. Pairwise genomic syntenies provide appropriate input to a parameter-free procedure of multiple ortholog identification followed by gene-order reconstruction in solving instances of the "small phylogeny" problem.