Orchids make up about 10% of all seed plant species, have great economical value, and are of specific scientific interest because of their renowned flowers and ecological adaptations. Here, we report the first draft genome sequence of a lithophytic orchid, Dendrobium catenatum. We predict 28,910 protein-coding genes, and find evidence of a whole genome duplication shared with Phalaenopsis. We observed the expansion of many resistance-related genes, suggesting a powerful immune system responsible for adaptation to a wide range of ecological niches. We also discovered extensive duplication of genes involved in glucomannan synthase activities, likely related to the synthesis of medicinal polysaccharides. Expansion of MADS-box gene clades ANR1, StMADS11, and MIKC ∗, involved in the regulation of development and growth, suggests that these expansions are associated with the astonishing diversity of plant architecture in the genus Dendrobium. On the contrary, members of the type I MADS box gene family are missing, which might explain the loss of the endospermous seed. The findings reported here will be important for future studies into polysaccharide synthesis, adaptations to diverse environments and flower architecture of Orchidaceae.
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