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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Determination of the melon chloroplast and mitochondrial genome sequences reveals that the largest reported mitochondrial genome in plants contains a significant amount of DNA having a nuclear origin

Luis Rodríguez-Moreno1, Víctor M González2, Andrej Benjak3, M Carmen Martí1, Pere Puigdomènech2, Miguel A Aranda1 and Jordi Garcia-Mas3*

Author affiliations

1 Departamento de Biología del Estrés y Patología Vegetal, Centro de Edafología y Biología Aplicada del Segura (CEBAS)-CSIC, 30100 Espinardo (Murcia), Spain

2 Department of Molecular Genetics, Centre for Research in Agricultural Genomics CSIC-IRTA-UAB, UAB Campus, Edifici CRAG, 08193 Bellaterra (Barcelona), Spain

3 IRTA, Centre for Research in Agricultural Genomics CSIC-IRTA-UAB, Campus UAB, Edifici CRAG, 08193 Bellaterra, (Barcelona), Spain

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Citation and License

BMC Genomics 2011, 12:424  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-12-424

Published: 20 August 2011

Abstract

Background

The melon belongs to the Cucurbitaceae family, whose economic importance among vegetable crops is second only to Solanaceae. The melon has a small genome size (454 Mb), which makes it suitable for molecular and genetic studies. Despite similar nuclear and chloroplast genome sizes, cucurbits show great variation when their mitochondrial genomes are compared. The melon possesses the largest plant mitochondrial genome, as much as eight times larger than that of other cucurbits.

Results

The nucleotide sequences of the melon chloroplast and mitochondrial genomes were determined. The chloroplast genome (156,017 bp) included 132 genes, with 98 single-copy genes dispersed between the small (SSC) and large (LSC) single-copy regions and 17 duplicated genes in the inverted repeat regions (IRa and IRb). A comparison of the cucumber and melon chloroplast genomes showed differences in only approximately 5% of nucleotides, mainly due to short indels and SNPs. Additionally, 2.74 Mb of mitochondrial sequence, accounting for 95% of the estimated mitochondrial genome size, were assembled into five scaffolds and four additional unscaffolded contigs. An 84% of the mitochondrial genome is contained in a single scaffold. The gene-coding region accounted for 1.7% (45,926 bp) of the total sequence, including 51 protein-coding genes, 4 conserved ORFs, 3 rRNA genes and 24 tRNA genes. Despite the differences observed in the mitochondrial genome sizes of cucurbit species, Citrullus lanatus (379 kb), Cucurbita pepo (983 kb) and Cucumis melo (2,740 kb) share 120 kb of sequence, including the predicted protein-coding regions. Nevertheless, melon contained a high number of repetitive sequences and a high content of DNA of nuclear origin, which represented 42% and 47% of the total sequence, respectively.

Conclusions

Whereas the size and gene organisation of chloroplast genomes are similar among the cucurbit species, mitochondrial genomes show a wide variety of sizes, with a non-conserved structure both in gene number and organisation, as well as in the features of the noncoding DNA. The transfer of nuclear DNA to the melon mitochondrial genome and the high proportion of repetitive DNA appear to explain the size of the largest mitochondrial genome reported so far.