Negative correlation between rates of molecular evolution and flowering cycles in temperate woody bamboos revealed by plastid phylogenomics

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Abstract

Background: Heterogeneous rates of molecular evolution are universal across the tree of life, posing challenges for phylogenetic inference. The temperate woody bamboos (tribe Arundinarieae, Poaceae) are noted for their extremely slow molecular evolutionary rates, supposedly caused by their mysterious monocarpic reproduction. However, the correlation between substitution rates and flowering cycles has not been formally tested. Results: Here we present 15 newly sequenced plastid genomes of temperate woody bamboos, including the first genomes ever sequenced from Madagascar representatives. A data matrix of 46 plastid genomes representing all 12 lineages of Arundinarieae was assembled for phylogenetic and molecular evolutionary analyses. We conducted phylogenetic analyses using different sequences (e.g., coding and noncoding) combined with different data partitioning schemes, revealing conflicting relationships involving internodes among several lineages. A great difference in branch lengths were observed among the major lineages, and topological inconsistency could be attributed to long-branch attraction (LBA). Using clock model-fitting by maximum likelihood and Bayesian approaches, we furthermore demonstrated extensive rate variation among these major lineages. Rate accelerations mainly occurred for the isolated lineages with limited species diversification, totaling 11 rate shifts during the tribe's evolution. Using linear regression analysis, we found a negative correlation between rates of molecular evolution and flowering cycles for Arundinarieae, notwithstanding that the correlation maybe insignificant when taking the phylogenetic structure into account. Conclusions: Using the temperate woody bamboos as an example, we found further evidence that rate heterogeneity is universal in plants, suggesting that this will pose a challenge for phylogenetic reconstruction of bamboos. The bamboos with longer flowering cycles tend to evolve more slowly than those with shorter flowering cycles, in accordance with a putative generation time effect.

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Ma, P. F., Vorontsova, M. S., Nanjarisoa, O. P., Razanatsoa, J., Guo, Z. H., Haevermans, T., & Li, D. Z. (2017). Negative correlation between rates of molecular evolution and flowering cycles in temperate woody bamboos revealed by plastid phylogenomics. BMC Plant Biology, 17(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12870-017-1199-8

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