Journal of Molecular Evolution 67(6) , 696-704 (Dec 2008)
The plastid genome of Trifolium subterraneum is 144,763 bp, about 20 kb longer than those of closely related legumes, which also lost one copy of the large inverted repeat (IR). The genome has undergone extensive genomic reconfiguration, including the loss of six genes (accD, infA, rpl22, rpsl6; rpsl8, and ycfl) and two introns (clpP and rpsl2) and numerous gene order changes, attributable to 14-18 inversions. All endpoints of rearranged gene clusters are flanked by repeated sequences, tRNAs, or pseudogenes. One unusual feature of the Trifolium subterraneum genome is the large number of dispersed repeats, which comprise 19.5% (ca. 28 kb) of the genome (versus about 4% for other angiosperms) and account for part of the increase in genome size. Nine genes (psbT, rbcL, clpP, rps3, rpl23, atpB, psbN, tntl-cau, and ycf3) have also been duplicated either partially or completely. 17)123 is the most highly duplicated gene, with portions of this gene duplicated six times. Comparisons of the Trifolium plastid genome with the Plant Repeat Database and searches for flanking inverted repeats suggest that the high incidence of dispersed repeats and rearrangements is not likely the result of transposition. Trifolium has 19.5 kb of unique DNA distributed among 160 fragments ranging in size from 30 to 494 bp, greatly surpassing the other five sequenced legume plastid genomes in novel DNA content. At least some of this unique DNA may represent horizontal transfer from bacterial genomes. These unusual features provide direction for the development of more complex models of plastid genome evolution.