Plastid genomes from museum collections

Natural history collections offer a unique opportunity to study the organellar genome compartments preserved in specimens.

The history of plants on Earth may be traced back to a single green cell. A microscopic alga that swallowed a cyanobacterium thousands of years ago and transformed it into an internal solar power plant is responsible for the world's extraordinary diversity of photosynthesizers, which range from towering trees to ubiquitous diatoms. Chloroplasts (and plastids as a whole) are extraordinary eukaryotic organelles that serve as the centres of several vital biological processes as well as the source for photosynthesis. Their pigments alone give the world many of its lovely and harmonious colours, not to mention their clever and vital ability to use a quantum mechanical process to change carbon dioxide and water into oxygen and sugar. Yes! Nature has included quantum effects into its arsenal to improve life and supply the oxygen we breathe. Additionally, plastids are the main producers of the grains, fruits, and vegetables that we consume. The clouds that provide us rain are also being seeded by creatures that carry plastid. Emiliania huxleyi, a single-celled alga that is one of the most prevalent microorganisms in the ocean, offers the surface on which water vapour may condense to form droplets, which then generate clouds. The long-term preservation of these small cellular organelles in dried plant material (herbaria) enables us to study crucial evolutionary biology questions. Our research focuses on understanding the complexity of these genomic structures and their unique architecture. 


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Sablok G, Amiryousefi A, He X, Hyvönen J, Poczai P (2019) Sequencing the plastid genome of giant ragweed (Ambrosia trifida, Asteraceae) from a herbarium specimen. Frontiers in Plant Science 10: 218

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Amiryousefi A, Hyvönen J, Poczai P (2018) The chloroplast genome sequence of bittersweet (Solanum dulcamara): plastid genome structure evolution in Solanaceae. PLoS ONE 13: e0196069