Heteroplasmy due to chloroplast paternal leakage: another insight into Phragmites haplotypic diversity in North America.
Chloroplasts contain several copies of their DNA, and intra-individual haplotypic variation (heteroplasmy) is common in plants, but unexplored in the cosmopolitan genus Phragmites. The aims of this study were to assess if heteroplasmy due to paternal leakage of the chloroplast occurs in Phragmites and which new insights into the evolutionary history of Phragmitesaustralis in North America can be identified from the heteroplasmic variation. Eight non-native P. australis haplotypes occur in North America and can interbreed with P. australis ssp. americanus and P. australis var. berlandieri, creating opportunities for biparental inheritance of distinctive haplotypes. The polymorphism in the trnT-trnL sequence length revealed seventeen cases of heteroplasmy worldwide, in contact zones of distantly related haplotypes and in known hybrid populations, nine of which occurred in North America. In America, the cloned sequences, combined with nuclear markers, identified recombined haplotypes between native P. australis ssp. americanus and invasive P. australis haplotype M, and between the species P. mauritianus and P. australis, due to chloroplast paternal leakage. The occurrence of heteroplasmy and recombined haplotypes suggest a local origin for some of the rare non-native haplotypes occurring in North America, and plastid leakage events in the evolutionary histories of P. australis ssp. americanus and P. australis var. berlandieri.