Repeatome-Based Phylogenetics in Pelargonium Section Ciconium (Sweet) Harvey

Floris C. Breman, Guangnan Chen, Ronald C. Snijder, Eric Schranz, Freek T. Bakker*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The repetitive part of the genome (the repeatome) contains a wealth of often overlooked information that can be used to resolve phylogenetic relationships and test evolutionary hypotheses for clades of related plant species such as Pelargonium. We have generated genome skimming data for 18 accessions of Pelargonium section Ciconium and one outgroup. We analyzed repeat abundancy and repeat similarity in order to construct repeat profiles and then used these for phylogenetic analyses. We found that phylogenetic trees based on read similarity were largely congruent with previous work based on morphological and chloroplast sequence data. For example, results agreed in identifying a "Core Ciconium" group which evolved after the split with P. elongatum. We found that this group was characterized by a unique set of repeats, which confirmed currently accepted phylogenetic hypotheses. We also found four species groups within P. sect. Ciconium that reinforce previous plastome-based reconstructions. A second repeat expansion was identified in a subclade which contained species that are considered to have dispersed from Southern Africa into Eastern Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. We speculate that the Core Ciconium repeat set correlates with a possible WGD event leading to this branch.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberevab269
JournalGenome Biology and Evolution
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021


  • Pelargonium
  • evolution
  • phylogeny
  • repeatome
  • speciation


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