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Open Access Short Report

Evolution of small putative group I introns in the SSU rRNA gene locus of Phialophora species

Lorena B Harris12 and Scott O Rogers1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Biological Sciences, Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, OH 43403, USA

2 Department of Biology University of South Florida, 4202 E. Fowler Avenue, SCA110, Tampa, Florida 33602, USA

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BMC Research Notes 2011, 4:258  doi:10.1186/1756-0500-4-258

Published: 22 July 2011

Abstract

Background

Group I introns (specifically subgroup IC1) are common in the nuclear ribosomal RNA genes of fungi. While most range in length from more than 200 to nearly 1800 nucleotides (nt) in length, several small putative (or degenerate) group I introns have been described that are between 56 and 81 nt. Although small, previously we demonstrated that the PaSSU intron in the rRNA small subunit gene of Phialophora americana isolate Wang 1046 is capable of in vitro splicing using a standard group I intron pathway, thus qualifying it as a functional ribozyme.

Findings

Here, we describe eight short putative group I introns, ranging in length from 63 to 75 nt, in the rRNA small subunit genes of Phialophora isolates, a fungal genus that ranges from saprobic to pathogenic on plants and animals. All contain putative pairing regions P1, P7, and P10, as well as a pairing region formed between the middle of the intron and part of the 3' exon. The other pairing regions common in the core of standard group I introns are absent. However, parts of the 3' exon may aid in the stabilization of these small introns. Although the eight putative group I introns were from at least three species of Phialophora, phylogenetic analysis indicated that the eight are monophyletic. They are also monophyletic with the small introns of two lichen-forming fungi, Porpidia crustulata and Arthonia lapidicola.

Conclusions

The small putative group I introns in Phialophora have common features that may represent group I introns at their minima. They appear to have a single origin as indicated by their monophyly in phylogenetic analyses.

Keywords:
Ribosomal RNA genes; Phialophora; Intron; group IC1