Comparative analyses of Theobroma cacao and T. grandiflorummitogenomes reveal conserved gene content embedded within complex andplastic structures.

de Abreu Vinicius A C et al.

Unlike the chloroplast genomes (ptDNA), the plant mitochondrial genomes (mtDNA) are much more plastic in structure and size but maintain a conserved and essential gene set related to oxidative phosphorylation. Moreover, the plant mitochondrial genes and mtDNA are good markers for phylogenetic, evolutive, and comparative analyses. The two most known species in Theobroma L. (Malvaceae s.l.) genus are T. cacao, and T. grandiflorum. Besides the economic value, both species also show considerable biotechnology potential due to their other derived products, thus, aggregating additional economic value for the agroindustry. Here, we assembled and compared the mtDNA of Theobroma cacao and T. grandiflorum to generate a new genomics resource and unravel evolutionary trends. Graph-based analyses revealed that both mtDNA exhibit multiple alternative arrangements, confirming the dynamism commonly observed in plant mtDNA. The disentangled assembly graph revealed potential predominant circular molecules. The master circle molecules span 543,794 bp for T. cacao and 501,598 bp for T. grandiflorum, showing 98.9\% of average sequence identity. Both mtDNA contains the same set of 39 plant mitochondrial genes, commonly found in other rosid mitogenomes. The main features are a duplicated copy of atp4, the absence of rpl6, rps2, rps8, and rps11, and the presence of two chimeric open-reading frames. Moreover, we detected few ptDNA integrations mainly represented by tRNAs, and no viral sequences were detected. Phylogenomics analyses indicate Theobroma spp. are nested in Malvaceae family. The main mtDNA differences are related to distinct structural rearrangements and exclusive regions associated with relics of Transposable Elements, supporting the hypothesis of dynamic mitochondrial genome maintenance and divergent evolutionary paths and pressures after species differentiation.


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September, 2022


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