, Volume 26, Issue 3, pp 256-262

Genes for components of the chloroplast translational apparatus are conserved in the reduced 73-kb plastid DNA of the nonphotosynthetic euglenoid flagellate Astasia longa

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The colourless, nonphotosynthetic protist Astasia longa is phylogenetically related to Euglena gracilis. The 73-kb plastid DNA (ptDNA) of A. longa is about half the size of most chloroplast DNAs (cpDNAs). More than 38 kb of the Astasia ptDNA sequence has been determined. No genes for photosynthetic function have been found except for rbcL. Identified genes include rpoB, tufA, and genes coding for three rRNAs, 17 tRNAs, and 13 ribosomal proteins. Not only is the nucleotide sequence of these genes highly conserved between A. longa and E. gracilis, but a number of these genes are clustered in a similar fashion and have introns in the same positions in both species. The results further support the idea that photosynthetic genes normally encoded in cpDNA have been preferentially lost in Astasia, but that the chloroplast genes coding for components of the plastid translational apparatus have been maintained. This apparatus might be needed for the expression of rbcL and also for that of still unidentified nonphotosynthetic genes of Astasia ptDNA.

These sequence data will appear in the EMBL/Gen Bank/DDBJ nucleotide sequence data base under accession numbers X75651, X75652 and X75653