The genome of 'Candidatus Phytoplasma solani' strain SA-1 is highly dynamic and prone to adopting foreign sequences.

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Bacteria of the genus 'Candidatus Phytoplasma' are uncultivated intracellular plant pathogens transmitted by phloem-feeding insects. They have small genomes lacking genes for essential metabolites, which they acquire from either plant or insect hosts. Nonetheless, some phytoplasmas, such as 'Ca. P. solani'have broad plant host range and are transmitted by several polyphagous insect species. To understand better how these obligate symbionts can colonize such a wide range of hosts, the genome of 'Ca. P. solani' strain SA-1 was sequenced from infected periwinkle via a metagenomics approach. The de novo assembly generated a draft genome with 19 contigs totalling 821,322bp, which corresponded to more than 80% of the estimated genome size. Further completion of the genome was challenging due to the high occurrence of repetitive sequences. The majority of repeats consisted of gene arrangements characteristic of phytoplasma potential mobile units (PMUs). These regions showed variation in gene orders intermixed with genes of unknown functions and lack of similarity to other phytoplasma genes, suggesting that they were prone to rearrangements and acquisition of new sequences via recombination. The availability of this high-quality draft genome also provided a foundation for genome-scale genotypic analysis (e.g., average nucleotide identity and average amino acid identity) and molecular phylogenetic analysis. Phylogenetic analyses provided evidence of horizontal transfer for PMU-like elements from various phytoplasmas, including distantly related ones. The 'Ca. P. solani' SA-1 genome also contained putative secreted protein/effector genes, including a homologue of SAP11, found in many other phytoplasma species.