Original Articles

Current Genetics

, Volume 24, Issue 1, pp 171-176

First online:

A large deletion in the plastid DNA of the holoparasitic flowering plant Cuscuta reflexa concerning two ribosomal proteins (rpl2, rpl23), one transfer RNA (trnI) and an ORF 2280 homologue

  • Dagmar BömmerAffiliated withInstitut für Pflanzenphysiologie, Justus-Liebig-Universität
  • , Gerd HaberhausenAffiliated withInstitut für Pflanzenphysiologie, Justus-Liebig-Universität
  • , Klaus ZetscheAffiliated withInstitut für Pflanzenphysiologie, Justus-Liebig-Universität

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We have determined the nucleotide sequence of a 5.3-kb region of the plastid DNA (ptDNA) from the heterotrophic holoparasitic plant Cuscuta reflexa. The cloned area contains genes for the D1-protein (32-kDa protein; psbA), tRNAHis (trnH), ORF 740 (homologous to ORF 2280 from Nicotiana tabacum), ORF 77 (homologous to ORF 70), tRNALeu (trnL) and a hypothetical ORF 55 which has no homology to any known gene among higher plants. This 5.3-kb area is colinear with a 12.4-kb region of tobacco ptDNA and has therefore undergone several deletions totalling 7.1 kb. Most of the missing nucleotides belong to one large deletion in the ptDNA of C. reflexa of approximately 6.5 kb. This deletion involves two ribosomal protein genes, rpl2 and rpl23, as well as the transfer RNA for Isoleucin (trnI) and a region encoding 1540 amino-acid residues of an ORF 2280 homologue, as compared to tobacco chloroplast DNA. This is remarkable since the remaining genes, especially the psbA gene, are highly conserved in C. reflexa. Furthermore, we found that the expression of the psbA gene is in the same range as in the autotrophic Ipomoea purpurea which belongs to the same family as Cuscuta (Convolvulaceae). Here we hypothesize a total loss of rpl2 and rpl23 in the entire genome of C. reflexa. The phylogenetic position of, and the evolutionary change of ptDNA from, Cuscuta are discussed.

Key words

Cuscuta Parasitic plant Chloroplast genome Plastid evolution psbA Gene expression