Comparative genomic and phylogenetic analyses of Populus section Leuce using complete chloroplast genome sequences
Species of Populus section Leuce are distributed throughout most parts of the Northern Hemisphere and have important economic and ecological significance. However, due to frequent hybridization within Leuce, the phylogenetic relationship between species has not been clarified. The chloroplast (cp) genome is characterized by maternal inheritance and relatively conservative mutation rates; thus, it is a powerful tool for building phylogenetic trees. In this study, we used the PacBio SEQUEL software to determine that the cp genome of Populus tomentosa has a length of 156,558 bp including a long single-copy region (84,717 bp), a small single-copy region (16,555 bp), and a pair of inverted repeat regions (27,643 bp). The cp genome contains 131 unique genes, including 37 transfer RNAs, 8 ribosomal RNAs, and 86 protein-coding genes. We compared the cp genomes of seven species of section Leuce and identified five cp DNA markers with >?1% variable sites. Phylogenetic analyses revealed two evolutionary branches for section Leuce. The species with the closest relationship with P. tomenstosa was P. adenopoda, followed by P. alba. These cp genome data will help to determine the cp evolution of section Leuce and further elucidate the origin of P. tomentosa.