Annals of Botany

Do sequence repeats undermine plastid genome stability?

Although a few plant lineages have lost one copy of the plastid genome (plastome) inverted repeat (IR), its near ubiquity among streptophytes has fostered speculation about its functional role and consequent evolutionary significance. To evaluate hypotheses of its persistence, Blazier et al. sequenced plastomes of Erodium (Geraniaceae), where several species have lost the IR structure and found that the plastomes of one derived clade surprisingly contained a large IR.

Erodium crinitum
Erodium crinitum. Image Harry rose / Flickr.

Comparative analyses across the genus suggest that the IR per se does not stabilize plastome structure but rather, like bacterial endosymbiont genomes, increased proportions of non-IR recombinogenic repeats likely contribute to genomic instability in Erodium.