The chicken or the egg? Plastome evolution and an independent loss of the inverted repeat in papilionoid legumes

Chaehee Lee, In Su Choi, Domingos Cardoso, Haroldo C. de Lima, Luciano P. de Queiroz, Martin F. Wojciechowski, Robert K. Jansen, Tracey A. Ruhlman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


The plastid genome (plastome), while surprisingly constant in gene order and content across most photosynthetic angiosperms, exhibits variability in several unrelated lineages. During the diversification history of the legume family Fabaceae, plastomes have undergone many rearrangements, including inversions, expansion, contraction and loss of the typical inverted repeat (IR), gene loss and repeat accumulation in both shared and independent events. While legume plastomes have been the subject of study for some time, most work has focused on agricultural species in the IR-lacking clade (IRLC) and the plant model Medicago truncatula. The subfamily Papilionoideae, which contains virtually all of the agricultural legume species, also comprises most of the plastome variation detected thus far in the family. In this study three non-papilioniods were included among 34 newly sequenced legume plastomes, along with 33 publicly available sequences, to assess plastome structural evolution in the subfamily. In an effort to examine plastome variation across the subfamily, approximately 20% of the sampling represents the IRLC with the remainder selected to represent the early-branching papilionoid clades. A number of IR-related and repeat-mediated changes were identified and examined in a phylogenetic context. Recombination between direct repeats associated with ycf2 resulted in intraindividual plastome heteroplasmy. Although loss of the IR has not been reported in legumes outside of the IRLC, one genistoid taxon was found to completely lack the typical plastome IR. The role of the IR and non-IR repeats in the progression of plastome change is discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)861-875
Number of pages15
JournalPlant Journal
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 2021


  • IRLC
  • Leguminosae
  • plastid genome
  • recombination
  • repeat accumulation
  • ycf

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Plant Science
  • Cell Biology


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