Authors: Kyalo, Cornelius M.; Li, Zhi-Zhong; Mkala, Elijah M.; Malombe, Itambo; Hu, Guang-Wan; Wang, Qing-Feng
Publication: Plants
Year: 2020
Genera: Saintpaulia

Streptocarpus ionanthus (Gesneriaceae) comprise nine herbaceous subspecies, endemic to Kenya and Tanzania. The evolution of Str. ionanthus is perceived as complex due to morphological heterogeneity and unresolved phylogenetic relationships. Our study seeks to understand the molecular variation within Str. ionanthus using a phylogenomic approach. We sequence the chloroplast genomes of five subspecies of Str. ionanthus, compare their structural features and identify divergent regions. The five genomes are identical, with a conserved structure, a narrow size range (170 base pairs (bp)) and 115 unique genes (80 protein-coding, 31 tRNAs and 4 rRNAs). Genome alignment exhibits high synteny while the number of Simple Sequence Repeats (SSRs) are observed to be low (varying from 37 to 41), indicating high similarity. We identify ten divergent regions, including five variable regions (psbM, rps3, atpF-atpH, psbC-psbZ and psaA-ycf3) and five genes with a high number of polymorphic sites (rps16, rpoC2, rpoB, ycf1 and ndhA) which could be investigated further for phylogenetic utility in Str. ionanthus. Phylogenomic analyses here exhibit low polymorphism within Str. ionanthus and poor phylogenetic separation, which might be attributed to recent divergence. The complete chloroplast genome sequence data concerning the five subspecies provides genomic resources which can be expanded for future elucidation of Str. ionanthus phylogenetic relationships.