Most plastid genome sequences are assembled from short-read whole-genome sequencing data, yet the impact that sequencing coverage and the choice of assembly software can have on the accuracy of the resulting assemblies is poorly understood. In this study, we test the impact of both factors on plastid genome assembly in the threatened and rare endemic shrub Calligonum bakuense. We aim to characterize the differences across plastid genome assemblies generated by different assembly software tools and levels of sequencing coverage and to determine if these differences are large enough to affect the phylogenetic position inferred for C. bakuense compared to congeners. Four assembly software tools (FastPlast, GetOrganelle, IOGA, and NOVOPlasty) and seven levels of sequencing coverage across the plastid genome (original sequencing depth, 2,000x, 1,000x, 500x, 250x, 100x, and 50x) are compared in our analyses. The resulting assemblies are evaluated with regard to reproducibility, contig number, gene complement, inverted repeat length, and computation time; the impact of sequence differences on phylogenetic reconstruction is assessed. Our results show that software choice can have a considerable impact on the accuracy and reproducibility of plastid genome assembly and that GetOrganelle produces the most consistent assemblies for C. bakuense. Moreover, we demonstrate that a sequencing coverage between 500x and 100x can reduce both the sequence variability across assembly contigs and computation time. When comparing the most reliable plastid genome assemblies of C. bakuense, a sequence difference in only three nucleotide positions is detected, which is less than the difference potentially introduced through software choice.

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Frontiers in Plant Science


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