Comparative genomics and repetitive sequence divergence in the species of diploid Nicotiana section Alatae
Combining phylogenetic reconstructions of species relationships with comparative genomic approaches is a powerful way to decipher evolutionary events associated with genome divergence. Here, we reconstruct the history of karyotype and tandem repeat evolution in species of diploid Nicotiana section Alatae. By analysis of plastid DNA, we resolved two clades with high bootstrap support, one containing N. alata, N. langsdorffii, N. forgetiana and N. bonariensis (called the n = 9 group) and another containing N. plumbaginifolia and N. longiflora (called the n = 10 group). Despite little plastid DNA sequence divergence, we observed, via fluorescent in situ hybridization, substantial chromosomal repatterning, including altered chromosome numbers, structure and distribution of repeats. Effort was focussed on 35S and 5S nuclear ribosomal DNA (rDNA) and the HRS60 satellite family of tandem repeats comprising the elements HRS60, NP3R and NP4R. We compared divergence of these repeats in diploids and polyploids of Nicotiana. There are dramatic shifts in the distribution of the satellite repeats and complete replacement of intergenic spacers (IGSs) of 35S rDNA associated with divergence of the species in section Alatae. We suggest that sequence homogenization has replaced HRS60 family repeats at sub-telomeric regions, but that this process may not occur, or occurs more slowly, when the repeats are found at intercalary locations. Sequence homogenization acts more rapidly (at least two orders of magnitude) on 35S rDNA than 5S rDNA and sub-telomeric satellite sequences. This rapid rate of divergence is analogous to that found in polyploid species, and is therefore, in plants, not only associated with polyploidy.