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Chloroplast genome of Calamus tetradactylus revealed rattan phylogeny



Calamus tetradactylus, a species primarily distributed in Vietnam, Laos, and southern China, is highly valued for its utilization as a small-diameter rattan material. While its physical and mechanical properties have been extensively studied, the genomic characteristics of C. tetradactylus remain largely unexplored.


To gain a better understanding of its chloroplast genomic features and evolutionary relationships, we conducted sequencing and assembly of the chloroplast genome of C. tetradactylus. The complete chloroplast genome exhibited the typical highly conserved quartile structure, with specific variable regions identified in the single-copy region (like psbF-psbE, π = 0.10327, ndhF-rpl32, π = 0.10195), as well as genes such as trnT-GGU (π = 0.05764) and ycf1 (π = 0.03345) and others. We propose that these regions and genes hold potential as markers for species identification. Furthermore, phylogenetic analysis revealed that C. tetradactylus formed a distinct clade within the phylogenetic tree, alongside other Calamus species, and C. tetradactylus was most closely related to C. walkeri, providing support for the monophyly of the genus.


The analysis of the chloroplast genome conducted in this study provides valuable insights that can contribute to the improvement of rattan breeding programs and facilitate sustainable development in the future.

Peer Review reports


Chloroplasts in plants result from cyanobacteria and eukaryotic cell symbiosis, converting light energy through photosynthesis. Angiosperms have circular chloroplast genomes containing essential genes for growth. Maternally inherited chloroplast genome has a smaller size and conserved features, facilitating the study of phylogenetics and molecular evolution. Rattan is a climbing plants belonging to the Calamoideae of the Arecaceae family, predominantly found in tropical rainforests [1, 2]. The genus Calamus, the largest within Arecaceae, includes approximately 400 species prominently distributed across the Asia-Pacific region [3]. Rattan cane, a non-timber forest produce, is widely utilized in the production of a variety of craft products and furniture [4]. While there has been extensive research on the physical and mechanical properties of rattan species in Southeast Asia since the 1860s [5,6,7], studies in the field of molecular genetics have been limited. Therefore, genomic information is crucial for improving phylogenetic inference for revealing evolutionary history and genetic relationships. In this study, we applied sequencing technologies to study rattan species of chloroplast genome.

Calamus tetradactylus, a slender rattan species, is mainly found in areas north of 23°30′ N, including Guangdong, Guangxi, Fujian, and Hainan, within the Calamus genus of the Arecaceae family [8]. C. tetradactylus grows over 30 m in height, and it is known for its exceptional quality mechanical strength, making it as one of the most significant commercial rattans [9]. Previous research on C. tetradactylus has primarily focused on optimizing the conditions for cultivation but with limited importance given to molecular characterization. Yao et al. [8] analyzed the phylogenetic relationships of around 180 Arecaceae species using chloroplast genomes. However, it did not reveal any differences between the chloroplast genomes of C. tetradactylus and other closely related species in addition to lack of its evolutionary position within the plant kingdom. This study aims to elucidate the characteristics of the chloroplast genome in C. tetradactylus and highlight its distinctions from other species to provide insights into its taxonomic status within the plant kingdom based on the chloroplast genome.


Features of the chloroplast genomes in C. tetradactylus

Complete genome of chloroplast genome of C. tetradactylus was obtained through sequencing and assembly. It has a length of 157,998 bp with a typical quadripartite structure (Fig. 1). The genome consists of an 85,760 bp Large Single-Copy (LSC) region, a 17,602 bp Short Single-Copy (SSC) region, and two Inverted Repeat (IR) regions (IRa and IRb) spanning 27,318 bp length. The overall GC content is 37.24%. The LSC, SSC and IR regions has a GC content of 35.25, 31.23, and 42.30% respectively. The C. tetradactylus chloroplast genome encodes a total of 132 genes, including 86 protein-coding genes (CDS), 38 transfer RNA genes (tRNA), and eight ribosomal RNA genes (rRNA). The LSC region contains 60 CDS and 21 tRNA genes, while the SSC region contains 12 CDS and a unique tRNA gene (trnL-UAG) (Table 1). Duplicated genes in the IR regions include ndhB, rpl2, rpl23, rps7, rps12, rps19, and ycf2, and all four rRNA genes and eight of the 38 tRNA genes are duplicated in the IR regions (Table 2). Among the 132 genes, 21 contain introns, with 15 genes having one intron (atpF, rps16, rpoC1, rpl2, rpl16, petB, petD, ndhA, ndhB, trnA-UGC, trnG-UCC, trnI-GAU, trnK-UUU, trnL-UAA, trnV-UAC), and two genes containing two introns (ycf3 and clpP) (Supplemental Table 1).

Fig. 1
figure 1

Circular map of chloroplast genome of Calamus tetradactylus with annotated genes. The different functional genes groups are shown in different colors, which are shown on the bottom left. The genes transcribed in clockwise and counterclockwise are shown inside and outside of the external circle, respectively. The inner circle represents that the quadripartite structure contains two copies of the inverted repeat (IR) region (IRA and IRB), which separate large single copy (LSC) and small single copy (SSC) region. The dark gray color of inner circle shows the GC content, and AT content in light gray

Table 1 Chloroplast genome composition of C. tetradactylus
Table 2 Genes in the chloroplast genome of C. tetradactylus

Phylogeny revealed through chloroplast genome comparison

The chloroplast genome, one of the three genetic systems in green plants, has gained significant attention in evolutionary studies due to its maternal inheritance with relatively lower mutation rate. Chloroplast genome can yield more reliable results for determining phylogenetic relationships among green plants, thus complete chloroplast genomes hold great value in determining the phylogenetic relationships among closely related taxa and enhancing our understanding of genetic evolution of plant species. Thus, we conducted a detailed study that involved the selection of 41 diverse plant species representing major clades of land plants (Fig. 2). This study also aimed to construct a highly informative phylogenetic tree based on the meticulous analysis of chloroplast gene sequences. To achieve this, we incorporated a wide range of taxa, consisting of one representative from Gymnospermae, two from ANA grade, one from Magnoliids, 10 from Eudicots, and 27 species from Monocots. By including such a diverse array of taxa, we aimed to capture the full spectrum of plant diversity to understand the evolutionary relationships within and between different clades. The resulting phylogenetic tree revealed a remarkable pattern of distinct clades, each representing a unique evolutionary lineage. Notably, the prominent Arecaceae family was found to be clustered within the Monocots clade. Delving deeper into the Arecaceae clade, we observed the formation of two separate clades, one of which included Calameae and other tribes. Our analysis supported the hypothesis that C. tetradactylus shares a close evolutionary relationship with other monocots. In fact, our phylogenetic tree unequivocally positioned C. tetradactylus as a sister species to the rest of the monocots, reinforcing the notion of shared ancestry and providing compelling evidence for its placement within the broader monocot lineage (Fig. 2). These results are generally consistent with the previous study [8].

Fig. 2
figure 2

Phylogenetic tree based on the chloroplast gene sequences of 42 plant species. The species with red star marks are selected for the comparison of IR/SC boundary regions in Fig. 3. The genbank accession number are listed in Supplemental Table 3

In addition, our phylogenetic tree includes four species from the Calaminae subfamily, allowing us to uncover their close relationship and identify C. tetradactylus as the species most closely related to C. walkeri (Fig. 2). This finding aligns with the results obtained from morphological classification [10]. Notably, we observed differences in the ycf1 gene within the JSB region between C. tetradactylus and Elaeis guineensis, reflecting their evolutionary divergence (Fig. 3). Furthermore, variations in the rps3 gene within the LSC region and the rps19 gene at the IR-LSC boundary revealed the genetic relationship between C. tetradactylus, Trachycarpus martianus, and Chuniophoenix suoitienensis. These findings lay the foundation for further investigations into the intriguing evolutionary history of plants and provide valuable insights into the genetic diversity and adaptation of C. tetradactylus and other related monocot species.

Fig. 3
figure 3

The comparison of IR/SC boundary regions of chloroplast genomes. The thin vertical lines represent the junction of each region, and the map displays information about the genes near the junction. LSC, Large single copy; SSC, Small single copy; IRa and IRb, inverted repeats. JLB, junction between LSC and IRb; JSB, junction between SSC and IRb; JSA, junction between SSC and IRa; JLA, junction between LSC and IRa

Comparison of C. tetradactylus chloroplast genome

The chloroplast genome of C. tetradactylus exhibits a typical quadripartite structure with four borders, including the JLB and JLA, which is the junction between LSC and IRb or IRa, the JSB and JSA, which is the junction between SSC and IRb or IRa. In our study, we compared the conserved regions of the chloroplast genome of C. tetradactylus with eight other species, including four species of Arecaceae, three species of Poaceae, and Arabidopsis thaliana (Fig. 3). Compared to the other species, the chloroplast genome of C. tetradactylus is similar to that of the four Arecaceae species, but larger than that of Poaceae species (Hordeum vulgare, Oryza sativa, Zea mays) and A. thaliana. Notably, the LSC region of C. tetradactylus, with a length of 85,760 bp, is longer than that of most other plants with a sequence length (80,592 bp ~ 85,556 bp), except for T. martianus (86,627 bp). Additionally, the IR regions of C. tetradactylus have greater length of 27,318 bp compared to the other eight species. The SSC region of C. tetradactylus, with 17,602 bp, is smaller than that of E. guineensis (17,639 bp) and A. thaliana (17,780 bp), but longer than that of the other six species. The gene content and arrangement in the Arecaceae species are similar across the four regions. The LSC region contains the rpl22 and psbA genes, while the rps19 and rpl2 genes are distributed in the IR region. The JSB and JSA regions are spanned by the ndhF and ycf1 genes, respectively, and their lengths reflect variations in these regions. In comparison, the rps19 gene of H. vulgare is in the LSC region, but in A. thaliana, it spans the JLB region. The ndhF genes of H. vulgare and O. sativa are much smaller than those of C. tetradactylus and are only found in the SSC region. The locations of ndhA, ndhH, and rps15 genes in Poaceae species (H. vulgare, O. sativa, Z. mays) correspond to the position of the ycf1 gene in C. tetradactylus (Fig. 3). In summary, C. tetradactylus has a unique chloroplast genome with distinct borders and larger size compared to other species. It shares similarities with Arecaceae species but differs in gene locations and lengths.

Sequence variations in regions and genes

Although chloroplast genomes are generally conserved among different species, they generally exhibit sequence variations that may hold a variety of biological significances [11]. These variations are effectively utilized as genetic markers to distinguish between different species [12, 13]. Thus we compared the C. tetradactylus chloroplast genome to those of the related species to identify the sequence variations. The chloroplast genomes of 18 Arecaceae species, including species from Calamoideae, Nypoideae, Coryphoideae, and Elaeidinae subfamilies, were compared with the C. tetradactylus chloroplast genome as the reference (Fig. 4). While we observed only a few minor variations in the coding sequences (i.e., accD, ycf2 and ycf1), a substantial number of divergences were detected in the conserved non-coding sequence (CNS) regions. Interestingly, the IR region exhibited the lowest degree of variation, indicating its high evolutionary conservation. In contrast, the LSC region displayed the highest variation across the chloroplast genome suggesting it to be more dynamic. Among the different gene types, tRNA/rRNA genes were found to be the most conserved, as no significant variations were observed (Fig. 4). To measure the variation of nucleotide sequences among different species, we calculated the nucleotide diversity (π) values (Fig. 5). Highly variable regions can serve as potential DNA markers for population genetics studies. In a global comparison of homologous genes from different species, we found that the nucleotide diversity in the LSC and SSC regions was higher compared to the IR regions. Specifically, the trnT-GGU gene in the LSC region exhibited the highest diversity, with a maximum π value of 0.0575 (Fig. 5A). The trnT-GGU gene with high diversity was also found in Geraniaceae, which may be related to pseudogenization associated with an insertion event in the 5′ acceptor stem [14]. In the SSC region, the ycf1 gene displayed the largest diversity, with a π value of 0.0335 (Fig. 5A). The section of ycf1 in the SSC region has been predicted to have high nucleotide diversity and has been used in molecular systematics at the species level in angiosperm [15, 16].

Fig. 4
figure 4

Visualized alignment of the C. tetradactylus chloroplast genome sequences with annotations using mVISTA. Each horizontal lane displays the percent of conservation identify with C. tetradactylus as reference. The x-axis represents the aligned base sequences, and y-axis represents percent pairwise identity within 50–100%

Fig. 5
figure 5

The nucleotide diversity (π) values of chloroplast genome. A The Pi value of different genes in LSC, SSC and IR regions. B The Pi value of non-coding region. The x-axis represents the name of gene (A) or non-coding region (B). The y-axis represents the value of Pi

Furthermore, through alignment of the non-coding regions, we identified 12 highly variant regions (π > 0.05) that were identified as the main divergent regions (Fig. 5B). These regions include rpl22-rps19, psbF-psbE, ndhF-rpl32, psbC-trnS-UGA, rpoA-rps11, psbI-trnS-GCU, ndhG-ndhI, rps15-ycf1, atpA-atpF-2, trnR-UCU-atpA, trnL-UAG-ccsA, and rps16–1-trnQ-UUG. Detailed information can be found in Supplemental Table 2. Highly variable loci as SNPs in the chloroplast genome can be used as DNA barcodes for identifying plants. The comparison of the whole chloroplast genome among Bambusa species has found that the rpl16 gene and psbA-trnH region could be used to identify Bambusa subgenera [17]. DNA derived from the chloroplast genome can be used to identify similar species and is also valuable to enhance the transfer of useful traits [18]. In our study, the previously mentioned nine highly variable genes could be used as potential DNA markers for taxonomic studies of Calamus.

The ndh genes, which encode subunits of NADH dehydrogenase involved in photosynthesis, play a crucial role in chloroplast function. These ndh proteins assemble into the photosystem I complex, facilitating electron transport within chloroplasts and promoting chlorophyll respiration. In our study, we identified three highly variable ndh genes (ndhf, ndhG, and ndhD) with π values exceeding 0.15 (Supplemental Table 2). It is worth noting that the composition of chloroplast ndh genes can differ among autotrophic plants, impacting their function [19,20,21,22,23]. Additionally, we observed significant variability in certain genes within the rpl gene family (rpl32, rpl22, rpl16, and rpl33) and rps gene family (rps15, rps11, rps3, rps8, and rps14) (Supplemental Table 2). These highly variable sequences can serve as DNA markers for genetic diversity analysis and provide essential DNA barcoding information for species identification. Overall, our findings revealed high levels of genetic diversity and evolutionary dynamics of Arecaceae species, particularly among ndh gene family, as well as certain genes within the rpl and rps gene families.


The chloroplast genome structure, length, and gene content are typical and highly conserved among most terrestrial plants. In our study, we successfully assembled the complete chloroplast genome of C. tetradactylus, which spans 157.998 kb and closely resembles that of its closely related species, C. walkeri (Fig. 2). However, notable differences were observed between the chloroplast genome of C. tetradactylus and other selected species (Figs. 1 and 3). A previous study on five Epimedium species also reported variations in chloroplast genome length among species, attributing these differences could be due to contraction and expansion of genes at the boundaries of the inverted repeat (IR) and small single-copy (SSC) regions [24]. Our findings also indicate that the primary reason for variation in length in the chloroplast genome is the contraction and extension of the IR-LSC and IR-SSC boundaries as reported in many angiosperms [25, 26]. Interestingly, despite C. tetradactylus and other Poaceae species (H. vulgare, O. sativa, and Z. mays) belonging to the Monocots group, significant differences in gene length, structure, and genotype were observed in both the junction of the small single-copy region and the junction of the inverted repeat region. The junction of the small single-copy region (JSA) exhibited greater variability, indicating the highest variation in genotype across the chloroplast genomes between C. tetradactylus and Poaceae species. The alterations in ndhF and ycf1 sequences may be attributed to the expansion and contraction of the junction of the small single-copy region and the junction of the inverted repeat region in plants, respectively (Fig. 3) [27, 28]. Using the complete chloroplast genome of C. tetradactylus that we assembled, we conducted an analysis to determine the phylogenetic relationships among closely related species of C. tetradactylus (Figs. 4 and 5). In particularly, we identified specific regions and genes, such as ycf1, rps3, and rps19, that are associated with species divergence. We propose that these regions and genes be further utilized for more detailed phylogenetic analysis, among closely related species and also within populations of a single species. While the current chloroplast genome provides valuable genetic resources for understanding the ecologically and economically important C. tetradactylus species, future studies focusing on establishing the complete nuclear genome would greatly enhance our understanding, applications, and advancements related to genetics and molecular breeding of C. tetradactylus.


In this study, we report the complete sequence, assembly, and annotation of the chloroplast genome of C. tetradactylus. Our study also reveals the complete chloroplast structure, sequence length variations of the inverted repeat (IR) boundary, single nucleotide polymorphism in addition to elucidation of phylogenetic relationships across the plant kingdom using representative species. Through genome annotation analysis, we confirmed that the chloroplast genome of C. tetradactylus follows the typical quadripartite structure as reported in other species. Additionally, we identified several variable regions that hold possible applications as molecular markers. The constructed phylogenetic tree, utilizing 41 chloroplast genomes, provided clear insights into the genetic and evolutionary relationships. Our findings are expected to contribute to future endeavors such as species identification, construction of evolutionary relationships, breeding programs, and sustainable development initiatives in genetic improvement of C. tetradactylus.

Materials and methods

Experimental materials and sequencing

C. tetradactylus plant is grown in the plantation of International Center for Bamboo and Rattan, located in Beijing. Fresh leaves, without signs of pests and disease, were collected and snap-frozen in liquid nitrogen, then stored at − 80 °C until DNA extraction. Total DNA was extracted by the modified CTAB method [29]. DNA quality was measured using a Nanodrop spectrophotometer, and DNA integrity was detected by agarose gel electrophoresis. This study utilized Single-Tube Long Fragment Reads (stLFR) technology to sequence the genome of C. tetradactylus [30]. The libraries of stLFR were constructed following the protocol of the MGIEasy stLFR Library Prep Kit (MGI, Shenzhen, China), and then sequenced on MGISEQ-2000 (MGI, Shenzhen, China) at the Beijing Genomics Institution (BGI, Shenzhen, China).

Chloroplast genome assembly and annotation

In order to acquire clean data, the raw data were then trimmed and filtered using SOAPnuke v2.0 with the parameters -q 33 -y -p -M 2 -f − 1 -Q 10 [31]. Then, the chloroplast DNA was assembled to a circular genome using the organelle genome assembly program GetOrganelle v1.7.7 with the parameters -R 15 -k 21, 45, 65, 85 -F embplant pt. [32]. Geneious v8.0.4 was used to manually edit the assembled genomes for sequence improvement [33], after the genomes were automatically annotated using the online program CPGAVAS2, the previous C. tetradactylus chloroplast genome (ON248740) was used as a reference sequence ( [34]. The online program OGDRAW v1.3.1 ( was used to create the chloroplast genome maps [35], and tRNAscan-SE 2.0 ( was used to confirm the correctness of tRNA annotations with default search mode [36].

Phylogenetic analysis

We acquired 41 chloroplast genomes from NCBI in order to better comprehend the evolutionary structure of the C. tetradactylus (see Supplemental Table 3 for a detailed information list). This study included a total of 41 species, comprising 33 additional species and 8 species from the Calaminae family. The HomBlocks workflow was used to align the chloroplast genome sequences, and Maximum Likelihood (ML) were used for the phylogenomic study [37]. ModelFinder determined that GTR + F + I + I + R3 was the best-fit nucleotide substitution model [38]. IQ-TREE v2.0.5 was used to reconstruct the ML tree [39]. With 1000 ultrafast bootstrap repetitions, the ML tree’s branch support was evaluated. The online tools iTOL ( was used to visualize the phylogenetic relationships [40].

Sequence alignment analysis

To ascertain the genomic structure, gene content, genome size, and repeat variations, we compared eight species of Calaminae and 10 other species, including both monocots and dicots. First, the chloroplast genome sequences were aligned using the shuffle-LAGAN mode in mVISTA ( [41], with C. tetradactylus as the reference. Subsequently, the LSC, SSC, and IR boundaries genes of the chloroplast genomes of two Calaminae species and six common monocot and dicot plant species were analyzed and visualized using IRscope software ( [42].

Sequence polymorphism analysis

In order to explore the extent of sequence variation in genes and intergenic regions, we compared sequence polymorphism of 18 species in Fig. 4. The sequences of genes and intergenic regions, and all homologous genes were extracted using Python scripts. Then the sequences of homologous genes from different species were aligned globally using Mafft (v7.505) by automatic mode [43]. Finally, the software DnaSP6 [44] was used to compare the aligned sequences for the calculation of nucleic acid diversity and to obtain the value of π.

Availability of data and materials

The datasets analyzed in this article are available in the GenBank of NCBI, and the complete chloroplast genome sequence of C. tetradactylus is deposited in CNGB Sequence Archive (CNSA) of China National GenBank DataBase (CNGBdb) with accession number CNA0072950. The other accession numbers for the remaining datasets analyzed in this study are listed in the Supplemental Table 3.



Kilo-base pairs


Inverted repeat regions


Large single-copy region


Small single-copy region


Ribosomal RNAs


Transfer RNAs


Single-Tube Long Fragment Reads




Maximum likelihood


Protein-coding genes


Junction between LSC and IRb


Junction between SSC and IRb


Junction between SSC and IRa


Junction between LSC and IRa


Conserved non-coding sequence


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This work was supported by the Key Laboratory of Genomics, Ministry of Agriculture, BGI-Shenzhen, Shenzhen 518120, China. This work is part of the 10KP project ( We would like to thank Sibo Wang and Hongli Wang for helping us complete chloroplast genome sequencing.


This work was supported by the National Key Research and Development Program of China, grant number 2021YFD2200502.

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X.L. and Y.Z. designed this project. H.Z. and P.L. analyzed the data and wrote the manuscript. X.L. and Y.Z. revised the manuscirpt. Y.W. conducted literature research. H.S and Z.G. collected samples. All authors have directly contributed to this manuscript.

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Correspondence to Haibo Zhang or Xin Liu.

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Zhang, H., Liu, P., Zhang, Y. et al. Chloroplast genome of Calamus tetradactylus revealed rattan phylogeny. BMC Genom Data 25, 34 (2024).

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