Complete mitochondrial genome of a gymnosperm, Sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis), indicates a complex physical structure

Plant mitochondrial genomes vary widely in size. Although many plant mitochondrial genomes have been sequenced and assembled, the vast majority are of angiosperms, and few are of gymnosperms. Most plant mitochondrial genomes are smaller than a megabase, with a few notable exceptions. We have sequenced and assembled the complete 5.5-Mb mitochondrial genome of Sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis), to date, one of the largest mitochondrial genomes of a gymnosperm.

We sequenced the whole genome using Oxford Nanopore MinION, and then identified contigs of mitochondrial origin assembled from these long reads based on sequence homology to the white spruce mitochondrial genome. The assembly graph shows a multipartite genome structure, composed of one smaller 168-kb circular segment of DNA, and a larger 5.4-Mb single component with a branching structure. The assembly graph gives insight into a putative complex physical genome structure, and its branching points may represent active sites of recombination.

Authors: Shaun D Jackman, Lauren Coombe, René L Warren, Heather Kirk, Eva Trinh, Tina MacLeod, Stephen Pleasance, Pawan Pandoh, Yongjun Zhao, Robin J Coope, Jean Bousquet, Joerg Bohlmann, Steven J M Jones, Inanc Birol