Spatial analyses of mono, di and trinucleotide trends in plant genes

PLoS One. 2011;6(8):e22855. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0022855. Epub 2011 Aug 1.


Genomic DNA sequences display compositional heterogeneity on many scales. In this paper we analyzed tendencies and anomalies in the occurence of mono, di and trinucleotides in structural regions of plant genes. Representation of these trends as a function of position along genic sequences highlighted compositional features peculiar of either monocots or eudicots that were remarkably uniform within these two evolutionary clades. The most evident of these features appeared in the form of gradient of base content along the direction of transcription. The robustness of such a representation was validated in sequences sub-datasets generated considering structural and compositional features such as total length of cds, overall GC content and genic orientation in the genome. Piecewise regression analyses indicated that the gradients could be conveniently approximated to a two segmented model where a first region featuring a steep slope is followed by a second segment fitting a milder variation. In general, monocots species showed steeper segments than eudicots. The guanine gradient was the most distinctive feature between the two evolutionary clades, being moderately increasing in eudicots and firmly decreasing in monocots. Single gene investigation revealed that a high proportion of genes show compositional trends compatible with a segmented model suggesting that these features are essential attributes of gene organization. Dinucleotide and trinucleotide biases were referred to expectation based on a random union of the component elements. The average bias at dinucleotide level identified a significant undererpresentation of some dinucleotide and the overrepresention of others. The bias at trinucleotide level was on average low. Finally, the analysis of bryophyte coding sequences showed mononucleotide, dinucleotide and trinucleotide compositional trends resembling those of higher plants. This finding suggested that the emergenge of compositional bias is an ancient event in evolution which was already present at the time of land conquest by green plants.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Genes, Plant*
  • Nucleotides / analysis*
  • Untranslated Regions


  • Nucleotides
  • Untranslated Regions