Terpenes are economically and ecologically important phytochemicals. Their synthesis is controlled by the terpene synthase (TPS) gene family, which is highly diversified throughout the plant kingdom. The plant family Myrtaceae are characterised by especially high terpene concentrations, and considerable variation in terpene profiles. Many Myrtaceae are grown commercially for terpene products including the eucalypts Corymbia and Eucalyptus. Eucalyptus grandis has the largest TPS gene family of plants currently sequenced, which is largely conserved in the closely related E. globulus. However, the TPS gene family has been well studied only in these two eucalypt species. The recent assembly of two Corymbia citriodora subsp. variegata genomes presents an opportunity to examine the conservation of this important gene family across more divergent eucalypt lineages. Manual annotation of the TPS gene family in C. citriodora subsp. variegata revealed a similar overall number, and relative subfamily representation, to that previously reported in E. grandis and E. globulus. Many of the TPS genes were in physical clusters that varied considerably between Eucalyptus and Corymbia, with several instances of translocation, expansion/contraction and loss. Notably, there was greater conservation in the subfamilies involved in primary metabolism than those involved in secondary metabolism, likely reflecting different selective constraints. The variation in cluster size within subfamilies and the broad conservation between the eucalypts in the face of this variation are discussed, highlighting the potential contribution of selection, concerted evolution and stochastic processes. These findings provide the foundation to better understand terpene evolution within the ecologically and economically important Myrtaceae.

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The research presented here is part of a larger project working towards the creation of a reference genome for Corymbia, please see http://scu.edu.au/scps/index.php/137 for more information. The germplasm used to create the genomes referenced in this study was provided by the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF). The authors thank John Oostenbrink (DAF) for his work to produce the hybrid families, Valerie Hecht (University of Tasmania) for valuable advice regarding the creation of the phylogenies and Agnelo Furtado (University of Queensland) for consultation regarding the Corymbia genome project. This work was supported by the Australian Research Council (grant numbers DP140102552, DP110101621), and an Australian Government Research Training Program Scholarship. Sequencing and assembly data carried out by EMBRAPA as part of the Corymbia genome project was supported by FAPDF grant “Nextree” 193.000.570/2009. For the portion of the work conducted by the Joint Genome Institute and the Joint BioEnergy Institute, support was provided by the Office of Science of the U.S. Department of Energy under Contract No. DE-AC02-05CH11231.

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  1. School of Natural Sciences, University of Tasmania, Hobart, TAS, 7001, Australia

    • Jakob B. Butler
    • , Jules S. Freeman
    • , Brad M. Potts
    •  & René E. Vaillancourt
  2. ARC Training Centre for Forest Value, University of Tasmania, Hobart, TAS, 7001, Australia

    • Brad M. Potts
    •  & René E. Vaillancourt
  3. EMBRAPA Genetic Resources and Biotechnology, EPqB Final W5 Norte, Brasilia, 70770-917, Brazil

    • Dario Grattapaglia
    •  & Orzenil B. Silva-Junior
  4. DOE Joint Bioenergy Institute, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley, CA, USA

    • Blake A. Simmons
    •  & Adam L. Healey
  5. Hudson-Alpha Institute for Biotechnology, Huntsville, AL, USA

    • Jeremy Schmutz
  6. DOE Joint Genome Institute, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Walnut Creek, CA, USA

    • Jeremy Schmutz
    •  & Kerrie W. Barry
  7. Forest Industries Research Centre, University of the Sunshine Coast, Maroochydore DC, QLD, 4558, Australia

    • David J. Lee
  8. University of Queensland/QAAFI, Brisbane, QLD, 4072, Australia

    • Robert J. Henry
  9. Southern Cross Plant Science, Southern Cross University, Lismore, NSW, 2480, Australia

    • Graham J. King
    • , Abdul Baten
    •  & Mervyn Shepherd


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