Journal of Molecular Evolution

, Volume 70, Issue 2, pp 149-166

First online:

Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

Implications of the Plastid Genome Sequence of Typha (Typhaceae, Poales) for Understanding Genome Evolution in Poaceae

  • Mary M. GuisingerAffiliated withSection of Integrative Biology, University of Texas Email author 
  • , Timothy W. ChumleyAffiliated withSection of Integrative Biology, University of TexasDepartment of Biological Sciences, Central Washington University
  • , Jennifer V. KuehlAffiliated withDOE Joint Genome Institute and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
  • , Jeffrey L. BooreAffiliated withDOE Joint Genome Institute and Lawrence Berkeley National LaboratoryGenome Project SolutionsUniversity of California Berkeley
  • , Robert K. JansenAffiliated withSection of Integrative Biology, University of Texas


Plastid genomes of the grasses (Poaceae) are unusual in their organization and rates of sequence evolution. There has been a recent surge in the availability of grass plastid genome sequences, but a comprehensive comparative analysis of genome evolution has not been performed that includes any related families in the Poales. We report on the plastid genome of Typha latifolia, the first non-grass Poales sequenced to date, and we present comparisons of genome organization and sequence evolution within Poales. Our results confirm that grass plastid genomes exhibit acceleration in both genomic rearrangements and nucleotide substitutions. Poaceae have multiple structural rearrangements, including three inversions, three genes losses (accD, ycf1, ycf2), intron losses in two genes (clpP, rpoC1), and expansion of the inverted repeat (IR) into both large and small single-copy regions. These rearrangements are restricted to the Poaceae, and IR expansion into the small single-copy region correlates with the phylogeny of the family. Comparisons of 73 protein-coding genes for 47 angiosperms including nine Poaceae genera confirm that the branch leading to Poaceae has significantly accelerated rates of change relative to other monocots and angiosperms. Furthermore, rates of sequence evolution within grasses are lower, indicating a deceleration during diversification of the family. Overall there is a strong correlation between accelerated rates of genomic rearrangements and nucleotide substitutions in Poaceae, a phenomenon that has been noted recently throughout angiosperms. The cause of the correlation is unknown, but faulty DNA repair has been suggested in other systems including bacterial and animal mitochondrial genomes.


Plastid genomics Molecular evolution Poales Poaceae Grass genomes Typha latifolia