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Journal Article

Large-scale gene losses underlie the genome evolution of parasitic plant Cuscuta australis


Baldwin,  Ian Thomas
Department of Molecular Ecology, Prof. I. T. Baldwin, MPI for Chemical Ecology, Max Planck Society;

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Sun, G., Xu, V. Y., Liu, H., Sun, T., Zhang, J., Hettenhausen, C., et al. (2018). Large-scale gene losses underlie the genome evolution of parasitic plant Cuscuta australis. Nature Communications, 9: 2683. doi:10.1038/s41467-018-04721-8.

Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0000-EFEE-8
Dodders (Cuscuta spp., Convolvulaceae) are globally distributed root- and leafless parasitic plants that parasitize a wide range of hosts. The physiology, ecology, and evolution of these obligate parasites are still poorly understood. A high-quality reference genome (size 266.74 Mb and contig N50 of 3.63 Mb) of Cuscuta australis was assembled. Our analyses reveal that Cuscuta experienced accelerated evolution, and Cuscuta and the convolvulaceous morning glory (Ipomoea) shared a common whole-genome triplication event before their divergence. Importantly, C. australis genome harbors only 19805 protein-coding genes, and 11.7% of the conserved orthologs in autotrophic plants are lost in C. australis. Many of these gene loss events likely result from the plant′s parasitic lifestyle and large changes in its body plan. Moreover, comparison of the gene expression patterns in Cuscuta prehaustoria/haustoria and various tissues of closely related autotrophic plants suggests that Cuscuta haustorium genes largely evolved from roots. The C. australis genome provides important resources for studying the evolution of parasitism, regressive evolution, and evo-devo in plant parasites.