Characterizing chloroplast genomes and inferring maternal divergence of the Triticum-Aegilops complex.Sci Rep. 2021 07 28; 11(1):15363.SR
The Triticum (wheat)-Aegilops (goatgrass) complex has been extensively studied, but the evolutionary history of polyploid wheats has not been fully elucidated. The chloroplast (cp) with maternal inheritance and homoplasy can simplify the sequence-based evolutionary inferences, but informative inferences would require a complete and accurate cp genome sequence. In this study, 16 cp genomes representing five Aegilops and 11 Triticum species and subspecies were sequenced, assembled and annotated, yielding five novel circular cp genome sequences. Analyzing the assembled cp genomes revealed no marked differences in genome structure and gene arrangement across the assayed species. A polymorphism analysis of 72 published cp genome sequences representing 10 Aegilops and 15 Triticum species and subspecies detected 1183 SNPs and 1881 SSRs. More than 80% SNPs detected resided on the downstream and upstream gene regions and only 2.78% or less SNPs were predicted to be deleterious. The largest nucleotide diversity was observed in the short single-copy genomic region. Relatively weak selection pressure on cp coding genes was detected. Different phylogenetic analyses confirmed that the maternal divergence of the Triticum-Aegilops complex had three deep lineages each representing a diploid species with nuclear A, B, or D genome. Dating the maternal divergence yielded age estimates of divergence that matched well with those reported previously. The divergence between emmer and bread wheats occurred at 8200-11,200 years ago. These findings are useful for further genomic studies, provide insight into cp genome evolvability and allow for better understanding of the maternal divergence of the Triticum-Aegilops complex.