Implications of mutation of organelle genomes for organelle function and evolution

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Journal Article
Journal of Experimental Botany, 2015, 66 (19), pp. 5639 - 5650
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© 2015 The Author. Organelle genomes undergo more variation, including that resulting from damage, than eukaryotic nuclear genomes, or bacterial genomes, under the same conditions. Recent advances in characterizing the changes to genomes of chloroplasts and mitochondria of Zea mays should, when applied more widely, help our understanding of how damage to organelle genomes relates to how organelle function is maintained through the life of individuals and in succeeding generations. Understanding of the degree of variation in the changes to organelle DNA and its repair among photosynthetic organisms might help to explain the variations in the rate of nucleotide substitution among organelle genomes. Further studies of organelle DNA variation, including that due to damage and its repair might also help us to understand why the extent of DNA turnover in the organelles is so much greater than that in their bacterial (cyanobacteria for chloroplasts, proteobacteria for mitochondria) relatives with similar rates of production of DNA-damaging reactive oxygen species. Finally, from the available data, even the longest-lived organelle-encoded proteins, and the RNAs needed for their synthesis, are unlikely to maintain organelle function for much more than a week after the complete loss of organelle DNA.
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