The complete chloroplast genome sequence of the chlorophycean green alga Scenedesmus obliquus reveals a compact gene organization and a biased distribution of genes on the two DNA strands
Département de biochimie et de microbiologie, Université Laval, Québec, Canada
BMC Evolutionary Biology 2006, 6:37 doi:10.1186/1471-2148-6-37Published: 25 April 2006
The phylum Chlorophyta contains the majority of the green algae and is divided into four classes. While the basal position of the Prasinophyceae is well established, the divergence order of the Ulvophyceae, Trebouxiophyceae and Chlorophyceae (UTC) remains uncertain. The five complete chloroplast DNA (cpDNA) sequences currently available for representatives of these classes display considerable variability in overall structure, gene content, gene density, intron content and gene order. Among these genomes, that of the chlorophycean green alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii has retained the least ancestral features. The two single-copy regions, which are separated from one another by the large inverted repeat (IR), have similar sizes, rather than unequal sizes, and differ radically in both gene contents and gene organizations relative to the single-copy regions of prasinophyte and ulvophyte cpDNAs. To gain insights into the various changes that underwent the chloroplast genome during the evolution of chlorophycean green algae, we have sequenced the cpDNA of Scenedesmus obliquus, a member of a distinct chlorophycean lineage.
The 161,452 bp IR-containing genome of Scenedesmus features single-copy regions of similar sizes, encodes 96 genes, i.e. only two additional genes (infA and rpl12) relative to its Chlamydomonas homologue and contains seven group I and two group II introns. It is clearly more compact than the four UTC algal cpDNAs that have been examined so far, displays the lowest proportion of short repeats among these algae and shows a stronger bias in clustering of genes on the same DNA strand compared to Chlamydomonas cpDNA. Like the latter genome, Scenedesmus cpDNA displays only a few ancestral gene clusters. The two chlorophycean genomes share 11 gene clusters that are not found in previously sequenced trebouxiophyte and ulvophyte cpDNAs as well as a few genes that have an unusual structure; however, their single-copy regions differ considerably in gene content.
Our results underscore the remarkable plasticity of the chlorophycean chloroplast genome. Owing to this plasticity, only a sketchy portrait could be drawn for the chloroplast genome of the last common ancestor of Scenedesmus and Chlamydomonas.