Linkage of 35S and 5S rRNA genes in Artemisia (family Asteraceae): first evidence from angiosperms
Typically in plants, the 5S and 35S ribosomal DNA (rDNA) encoding two major ribosomal RNA species occur at separate loci. However, in some algae, bryophytes and ferns, they are at the same locus (linked arranged). Southern blot hybridisation, polymerase chain reactions (PCR), fluorescent in situ hybridisation, cloning and sequencing were used to reveal 5S and 35S rDNA genomic organisation in Artemisia. We observed thousands of rDNA units at two-three loci containing 5S rDNA in an inverted orientation within the inter-genic spacer (IGS) of 35S rDNA. The sequenced clones of 26-18S IGS from Artemisia absinthium appeared to contain a conserved 5S gene insertion proximal to the 26S gene terminus (5S rDNA-1) and a second less conserved 5S insertion (5S rDNA-2) further downstream. Whilst the 5S rDNA-1 showed all the structural features of a functional gene, the 5S-rDNA-2 had a deletion in the internal promoter and probably represents a pseudogene. The linked arrangement probably evolved before the divergence of Artemisia from the rest of Asteraceae (>10 Myrs). This arrangement may have involved retrotransposons and once formed spread via mechanisms of concerted evolution. Heterogeneity in unit structure may reflect ongoing homogenisation of variant unit types without fixation for any particular variant.