Heredity (Edinb) (Mar 10 2018)
Terpenes are economically and ecologically important phytochemicals. Their synthesis is controlled by the terpene synthase (TPS) gene family, which is highly diversified throughout the plant kingdom. The plant family Myrtaceae are characterised by especially high terpene concentrations, and considerable variation in terpene profiles. Many Myrtaceae are grown commercially for terpene products including the eucalypts Corymbia and Eucalyptus. Eucalyptus grandis has the largest TPS gene family of plants currently sequenced, which is largely conserved in the closely related E. globulus. However, the TPS gene family has been well studied only in these two eucalypt species. The recent assembly of two Corymbia citriodora subsp. variegata genomes presents an opportunity to examine the conservation of this important gene family across more divergent eucalypt lineages. Manual annotation of the TPS gene family in C. citriodora subsp. variegata revealed a similar overall number, and relative subfamily representation, to that previously reported in E. grandis and E. globulus. Many of the TPS genes were in physical clusters that varied considerably between Eucalyptus and Corymbia, with several instances of translocation, expansion/contraction and loss. Notably, there was greater conservation in the subfamilies involved in primary metabolism than those involved in secondary metabolism, likely reflecting different selective constraints. The variation in cluster size within subfamilies and the broad conservation between the eucalypts in the face of this variation are discussed, highlighting the potential contribution of selection, concerted evolution and stochastic processes. These findings provide the foundation to better understand terpene evolution within the ecologically and economically important Myrtaceae.