Mitochondrial DNA Study of Hawthorn Species in Northeast Region

Jenn Hoskins
4th June, 2024

Mitochondrial DNA Study of Hawthorn Species in Northeast Region

Image Source: Natural Science News, 2024

Key Findings

  • Researchers from Shenyang Agricultural University studied the mitochondrial genomes of five Crataegus species from northeastern China
  • They found genome sizes ranging from 245,907 to 410,837 base pairs and identified 45-55 genes, including tRNA, rRNA, and protein-coding genes
  • Seven divergent hotspot regions were discovered, which are crucial for understanding the genetic diversity and evolutionary history of these species
Hawthorn (Crataegus spp.) plants are well-known for their health benefits and medicinal properties, with 20 species and seven variations found in China. A recent study by Shenyang Agricultural University has made significant strides in understanding the mitochondrial genomes of five Crataegus species from northeastern China[1]. The study's findings could have important implications for the taxonomy and species identification of this genus. The researchers sequenced and annotated the mitochondrial genomes of these five Crataegus species, discovering that the genome sizes ranged from 245,907 base pairs (bp) to 410,837 bp. They identified a total of 45-55 genes, which included 12-19 transfer RNA (tRNA) genes, three ribosomal RNA (rRNA) genes, and 29-33 protein-coding genes (PCGs). Seven divergent hotspot regions were found through comparative analyses: atp6, nad3, ccmFN, matR, nad1, nad5, and rps1. These regions could be crucial for understanding the genetic diversity and evolutionary history of these species. The study also highlighted the most conserved genes among the Crataegus species: nad1, matR, nad5, ccmFN, cox1, nad4, trnQ-TTG, trnK-TTT, trnE-TTC, and trnM-CAT. This conservation suggests that these genes play essential roles in the mitochondrial function and stability of Crataegus plants. Moreover, the researchers found that horizontal gene transfer between organellar genomes is common in Crataegus plants, which could contribute to their genetic diversity and adaptability. Phylogenetic analysis of the mitochondrial PCGs revealed that C. maximowiczii, C. maximowiczii var. ninganensis, and C. bretschneideri share similar maternal relationships. This finding aligns with previous research on the genomic evolution of Crataegus species. For instance, a study using specific locus amplified fragment sequencing (SLAF-seq) identified that C. bretschneideri might have a hybrid origin, suggesting complex evolutionary pathways for these species[2]. The new mitochondrial data further support these insights and enhance our understanding of Crataegus taxonomy. The significance of this study lies in its potential applications. By improving the mitochondrial genome resources for Crataegus species, the research offers valuable tools for species identification and taxonomy. This is particularly important given the medicinal and economic value of hawthorn plants. Previous studies have shown that hawthorn fruits contain numerous compounds with broad pharmacological effects, such as flavonoids, triterpenoids, and organic acids[3]. These compounds have been used to treat various conditions, including cardiovascular and digestive disorders. Additionally, understanding the genetic makeup of Crataegus species can aid in the development of more effective medicinal products. For example, a study comparing the antibacterial activity of hawthorn extracts found that methanol extracts exhibited strong activity against Staphylococcus aureus, a common pathogen[4]. Knowing the genetic basis of these beneficial properties could lead to the identification of new bioactive compounds and the development of targeted therapies. Furthermore, the preservation of antioxidant compounds in hawthorn fruits during processing is crucial for maintaining their health benefits. Research has shown that different drying methods can significantly affect the levels of polyphenols, flavonoids, and triterpenoid acids in hawthorn slices[5]. By understanding the genetic factors that influence these compounds, it may be possible to optimize processing techniques to preserve their beneficial properties. In summary, the recent study by Shenyang Agricultural University provides important insights into the mitochondrial genomes of Crataegus species from northeastern China. By identifying conserved genes and understanding the genetic relationships among these species, the research enhances our knowledge of Crataegus taxonomy and species identification. This, in turn, can support the development of more effective medicinal products and optimize processing methods to preserve the health benefits of hawthorn fruits.

GeneticsBiochemPlant Science


Main Study

1) Comparative genomic and phylogenetic analyses of mitochondrial genomes of hawthorn (Crataegus spp.) in Northeast China.

Published 1st June, 2024

Related Studies

2) Molecular Analysis of Evolution and Origins of Cultivated Hawthorn (Crataegus spp.) and Related Species in China.

3) Crataegus pinnatifida: chemical constituents, pharmacology, and potential applications.

4) Chemical composition, antibacterial activity and action mechanism of different extracts from hawthorn (Crataegus pinnatifida Bge.).

5) Effect of dehydration techniques on bioactive compounds in hawthorn slices and their correlations with antioxidant properties.

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