Under the rug: Abandoning persistent misconceptions that obfuscate organelle evolution


The advent and advance of next generation sequencing over the past two decades made it possible to accumulate large quantities of sequence reads that could be used to assemble complete or nearly complete organelle genomes (plastome or mitogenome). The result has been an explosive increase in the availability of organelle genome sequences with over 4000 different species of green plants currently available on GenBank. During the same time period, plant molecular biologists greatly enhanced the understanding of the structure, repair, replication, recombination, transcription and translation, and inheritance of organelle DNA. Unfortunately many plant evolutionary biologists are unaware of or have overlooked this knowledge, resulting in misrepresentation of several phenomena that are critical for phylogenetic and evolutionary studies using organelle genomes. We believe that confronting these misconceptions about organelle genome organization, composition, and inheritance will improve our understanding of the evolutionary processes that underly organelle evolution. Here we discuss four misconceptions that can limit evolutionary biology studies and lead to inaccurate phylogenies and incorrect structure of the organellar DNA used to infer organelle evolution.

Publication Title

Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution