Chinese fir (Cunninghamia lanceolata (Lamb.) Hook) is an important coniferous tree species for timber production, which accounts for ~40% of log supply from plantations in southern China. Chloroplast genetic engineering is an exciting field to engineer several valuable tree traits. In this study, we revisited the published complete Chinese fir (NC_021437) and four other coniferous species chloroplast genome sequence in Taxodiaceae. Comparison of their chloroplast genomes revealed three unique inversions found in the downstream of the gene clusters and evolutionary divergence were found, although overall the chloroplast genomic structure of the Cupressaceae linage was conserved. We also investigated the phylogenetic position of Chinese fir among conifers by examining gene functions, selection forces, substitution rates, and the full chloroplast genome sequence. Consistent with previous molecular systematics analysis, the results provided a well-supported phylogeny framework for the Cupressaceae that strongly confirms the "basal" position of Cunninghamia lanceolata. The structure of the Cunninghamia lanceolata chloroplast genome showed a partial lack of one IR copy, rearrangements clearly occurred and slight evolutionary divergence appeared among the cp genome of C. lanceolata, Taiwania cryptomerioides, Taiwania flousiana, Calocedrus formosana and Cryptomeria japonica. The information from sequence divergence and length variation of genes could be further considered for bioengineering research.
Zheng, W., Chen, J., Hao, Z., & Shi, J. (2016). Comparative analysis of the chloroplast genomic information of Cunninghamia lanceolata (Lamb.) hook with sibling species from the genera Cryptomeria D. Don, Taiwania Hayata, and Calocedrus Kurz. International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 17(7). https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms17071084