Chloroplast genomes provide a wealth of information for evolutionary and population genetic studies. Chloroplasts play a particularly important role in the adaption for aquatic plants because they float on water and their major surface is exposed continuously to sunlight. The subfamily of Lemnoideae represents such a collection of aquatic species that because of photosynthesis represents one of the fastest growing plant species on earth.
We sequenced the chloroplast genomes from three different genera of Lemnoideae, Spirodela polyrhiza, Wolffiella lingulata and Wolffia australiana by high-throughput DNA sequencing of genomic DNA using the SOLiD platform. Unfractionated total DNA contains high copies of plastid DNA so that sequences from the nucleus and mitochondria can easily be filtered computationally. Remaining sequence reads were assembled into contiguous sequences (contigs) using SOLiD software tools. Contigs were mapped to a reference genome of Lemna minor and gaps, selected by PCR, were sequenced on the ABI3730xl platform.
This combinatorial approach yielded whole genomic contiguous sequences in a cost-effective manner. Over 1,000-time coverage of chloroplast from total DNA were reached by the SOLiD platform in a single spot on a quadrant slide without purification. Comparative analysis indicated that the chloroplast genome was conserved in gene number and organization with respect to the reference genome of L. minor. However, higher nucleotide substitution, abundant deletions and insertions occurred in non-coding regions of these genomes, indicating a greater genomic dynamics than expected from the comparison of other related species in the Pooideae. Noticeably, there was no transition bias over transversion in Lemnoideae. The data should have immediate applications in evolutionary biology and plant taxonomy with increased resolution and statistical power.