Group II introns as phylogenetic tools: structure, function, and evolutionary constraints.


Group II introns comprise the majority of noncoding DNA in many plant chloroplast genomes and include the commonly sequenced regions trnK/matK, the rps16 intron, and the rpl16 intron. As demand increases for nucleotide characters at lower taxonomic levels, chloroplast introns may come to provide the bulk of plastome sequence data for assessment of evolutionary relationships in infrageneric, intergeneric, and interfamilial studies. Group II introns have many attractive properties for the molecular systematist: they are confined to organellar genomes in eukaryotes and the majority are single-copy; they share a well-defined and empirically tested secondary and tertiary structure; and many are easily amplified due to highly conserved sequence in flanking exons. However, structure-linked mutation patterns in group II intron sequences are more complex than generally supposed and have important implications for aligning nucleotides, assessing mutational biases in the data, and selecting appropriate models of character evolution for phylogenetic analysis. This paper presents a summary of group II intron function and structure, reviews the link between that structure and specific mutational constraints in group II intron sequences, and discusses strategies for accommodating the resulting complex mutational patterns in subsequent phylogenetic analyses.

DOI: 10.3732/ajb.89.10.1651
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@article{Kelchner2002GroupII, title={Group II introns as phylogenetic tools: structure, function, and evolutionary constraints.}, author={Scot A. Kelchner}, journal={American journal of botany}, year={2002}, volume={89 10}, pages={1651-69} }