Plant Science Innovation, Center for


Date of this Version



Scientific Reports, 6:36285


This document is published under a Creative Commons/Open Access license.


In parasitic plants, the reduction in plastid genome (plastome) size and content is driven predominantly by the loss of photosynthetic genes. The first completed mitochondrial genomes (mitogenomes) from parasitic mistletoes also exhibit significant degradation, but the generality of this observation for other parasitic plants is unclear. We sequenced the complete mitogenome and plastome of the hemiparasite Castilleja paramensis (Orobanchaceae) and compared them with additional holoparasitic, hemiparasitic and nonparasitic species from Orobanchaceae. Comparative mitogenomic analysis revealed minimal gene loss among the seven Orobanchaceae species, indicating the retention of typical mitochondrial function among Orobanchaceae species. Phylogenetic analysis demonstrated that the mobile cox1 intron was acquired vertically from a nonparasitic ancestor, arguing against a role for Orobanchaceae parasites in the horizontal acquisition or distribution of this intron. The C. paramensis plastome has retained nearly all genes except for the recent pseudogenization of four subunits of the NAD(P)H dehydrogenase complex, indicating a very early stage of plastome degradation. These results lend support to the notion that loss of ndh gene function is the first step of plastome degradation in the transition to a parasitic lifestyle.