Molecular evolution and phylogeny of the atpB-rbcL spacer of chloroplast DNA in the true mosses

Tzen Yuh Chiang, Barbara A. Schaal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


The nucleotide variation of a noncoding region between the atpB and rbcL genes of the chloroplast genome was used to estimate the phylogeny of 11 species of true mosses (subclass Bryidae). The A+T rich (82.6%) spacer sequence is conserved with 48% of bases showing no variation between the ingroup and outgroup. Rooted at liverworts, Marchantia and Bazzania, the monophyly of true mosses was supported cladistically and statistically. A nonparametric Wilcoxon Signed-Ranks test Ts statistic for testing the taxonomic congruence showed no significant differences between gene trees and organism trees as well as between parsimony trees and neighbor-joining trees. The reconstructed phylogeny based on the atpB-rbcL spacer sequences indicated the validity of the division of acrocarpous and pleurocarpous mosses. The size of the chloroplast spacer in mosses fits into an evolutionary trend of increasing spacer length from liverworts through ferns to seed plants. According to the relative rate tests, the hypothesis of a molecular clock was supported in all species except for Thuidium, which evolved relatively fast. The evolutionary rate of the chloroplast DNA spacer in mosses was estimated to be (1.12 ± 0.019) x 10-10 nucleotides per site per year, which is close to the nonsynonymous substitution rates of the rbcL gene in the vascular plants. The constrained molecular evolution (total nucleotide substitutions, K ≃ 0.0248) of the chloroplast DNA spacer is consistent with the slow evolution in morphological traits of mosses. Based on the calibrated evolutionary rate, the time of the divergence of true mosses was estimated to have been as early as 220 million years ago.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)417-426
Number of pages10
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2000

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biotechnology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics


Dive into the research topics of 'Molecular evolution and phylogeny of the atpB-rbcL spacer of chloroplast DNA in the true mosses'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this