, Volume 79, Issue 1, pp 17-27

Recombination of Chlamydomonas chloroplast DNA occurs more frequently in the large inverted repeat sequence than in the single-copy regions

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It is well documented that chloroplast DNA (cpDNA) recombination occurs at a relatively high frequency during sexual reproduction of unicellular green algae from the Chlamydomonas genus. Like the cpDNAs of most land plants, those of Chlamydomonas species are divided into two single-copy regions by a large inverted repeat sequence, part of which encodes the chloroplast rRNA genes. In the present study, we scored the inheritance of polymorphic loci spanning the entire chloroplast genome in hybrids recovered from reciprocal interspecific and F1 crosses between Chlamydomonas eugametes and C. moewusii, and from these data, estimated the density of recombination junctions within each region of recombinant cpDNAs. Our results indicate that recombination junctions occur at highly variable frequencies across the three main domains of the chloroplast genome. The large inverted repeat sequence was found to exhibit at least a five-fold higher density of recombination junctions compared to one of the singlecopy regions, whereas junctions in the latter region were five-fold more abundant relative to those in the other single-copy region. This marked difference in the densities of recombination junctions implies that the extent of genetic linkage between two given chloroplast loci will depend not only on their physical distance, but also on their locations within the genome.

Communicated by R. Hagemann