Trochodendron aralioides, the first chromosome-level draft genome in Trochodendrales and a valuable resource for basal eudicot research
Background The wheel tree (Trochodendron aralioides) is one of only two species in the basal eudicot order Trochodendrales. Together with Tetracentron sinense, the family is unique in having secondary xylem without vessel elements, long considered to be a primitive character also found in Amborella and Winteraceae. Recent studies however have shown that Trochodendraceae belong to basal eudicots and demonstrate this represents an evolutionary reversal for the group. Trochodendron aralioides is widespread in cultivation and popular for use in gardens and parks. Findings We assembled the T. aralioides genome using a total of 679.56 Gb of clean reads that were generated using both PacBio and Illumina short-reads in combination with 10XGenomics and Hi-C data. Nineteen scaffolds corresponding to 19 chromosomes were assembled to a final size of 1.614 Gb with a scaffold N50 of 73.37 Mb in addition to 1,534 contigs. Repeat sequences accounted for 64.226% of the genome, and 35,328 protein-coding genes with an average of 5.09 exons per gene were annotated using de novo, RNA-seq, and homology-based approaches. According to a phylogenetic analysis of protein-coding genes, T. aralioides diverged in a basal position relatively to core eudicots, approximately 121.8-125.8 million years ago. Conclusions Trochodendron aralioides is the first chromosome-scale genome assembled in the order Trochodendrales. It represents the largest genome assembled to date in the basal eudicot grade, as well as the closest order relative to the core-eudicots, as the position of Buxales remains unresolved. This genome will support further studies of wood morphology and floral evolution, and will be an essential resource for understanding rapid changes that took place at the base of the Eudicot tree. Finally, it can serve as a valuable source to aid both the acceleration of genome-assisted improvement for cultivation and conservation efforts of the wheel tree.