There is a misinterpretation in the literature regarding the variable orientation of the small single copy region of plastid genomes (plastomes). The common phenomenon of small and large single copy inversion, hypothesized to occur through intramolecular recombination between inverted repeats (IR) in a circular, single unit-genome, in fact, more likely occurs through recombination-dependent replication (RDR) of linear plastome templates. If RDR can be primed through both intra- and intermolecular recombination, then this mechanism could not only create inversion isomers of so-called single copy regions, but also an array of alternative sequence arrangements.We used Illumina paired-end and PacBio single-molecule real-time (SMRT) sequences to characterize repeat structure in the plastome of Monsonia emarginata (Geraniaceae). We used OrgConv and inspected nucleotide alignments to infer ancestral nucleotides and identify gene conversion among repeats and mapped long (>1 kb) SMRT reads against the unit-genome assembly to identify alternative sequence arrangements.Although M. emarginata lacks the canonical IR, we found that large repeats (>1 kilobase; kb) represent ~22% of the plastome nucleotide content. Among the largest repeats (>2 kb), we identified GC-biased gene conversion and mapping filtered, long SMRT reads to the M. emarginata unit-genome assembly revealed alternative, substoichiometric sequence arrangements.We offer a model based on RDR and gene conversion between long repeated sequences in the M. emarginata plastome and provide support that both intra-and intermolecular recombination between large repeats, particularly in repeat-rich plastomes, varies unit-genome structure while homogenizing the nucleotide sequence of repeats.© 2017 Botanical Society of America.
Journal: American journal of botany