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Concomitant loss of NDH complex-related genes withinchloroplast and nuclear genomes in some orchids

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  • The chloroplast NAD(P)H dehydrogenase-like (NDH) complex consists of about 30 subunits from both thenuclear and chloroplast genomes and is ubiquitous across most land plants. In some orchids, such as Pha-laenopsis equestris, Dendrobium officinale and Dendrobium catenatum, most of the 11 chloroplast genome-encoded ndh genes (cp-ndh) have been lost. Here we investigated whether functional cp-ndh genes havebeen completely lost in these orchids or whether they have been transferred and retained in the nucleargenome. Further, we assessed whether both cp-ndh genes and nucleus-encoded NDH-related genes can belost, resulting in the absence of the NDH complex. Comparative analyses of the genome of Apostasia odor-ata, an orchid species with a complete complement of cp-ndh genes which represents the sister lineage toall other orchids, and three published orchid genome sequences for P. equestris, D. officinale and D. catena-tum, which are all missing cp-ndh genes, indicated that copies of cp-ndh genes are not present in any ofthese four nuclear genomes. This observation suggests that the NDH complex is not necessary for someplants. Comparative genomic/transcriptomic analyses of currently available plastid genome sequences andnuclear transcriptome data showed that 47 out of 660 photoautotrophic plants and all the heterotrophicplants are missing plastid-encoded cp-ndh genes and exhibit no evidence for maintenance of a functionalNDH complex. Our data indicate that the NDH complex can be lost in photoautotrophic plant species. Fur-ther, the loss of the NDH complex may increase the probability of transition from a photoautotrophic to aheterotrophic life history.

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    Attribution 4.0 International