Current Genetics

, Volume 37, Issue 5, pp 304–314

Phage T4-like intermediates of DNA replication and recombination in the mitochondria of the higher plant Chenopodium album (L.)

  • Steffen Backert
  • Thomas Börner

DOI: 10.1007/s002940050532

Cite this article as:
Backert, S. & Börner, T. Curr Genet (2000) 37: 304. doi:10.1007/s002940050532


We have studied intermediates of the recombination and replication of chromosomal mitochondrial (mt) DNA prepared from suspension cultured cells of Chenopodium album (L.) by electron microscopy during the whole growth cycle. We identified several types of potential recombination and replication intermediates including rosette-like structures, as well as other branched and sigma-like molecules. The absolute and relative amounts of these structures changed dramatically during the growth cycle, indicating high dynamics in the structural organization of the mt genome. The rosette-like molecules had sizes of 2–5 genome units and were found to contain putative replication forks and `Holliday'-junctions known from recombination intermediates. The high number of rosettes during the first days of culture, and their drastic reduction in the stationary growth stage, were found to be inversely related to changes in the quantity of linear molecules of 40–200 kb. This observation suggests that linear molecules participate in the formation of giant branched rosette-like structures. Most linear molecules were previously found to have at least one single-stranded end, which may allow recombinative invasion of other double-stranded molecules. Thus, recombination events may lead to the formation of more complex molecules and initiate replication similar to phage T4. We propose the coexistence of a recombination-dependent mode of replication with a presumably recombination-independent rolling-circle mode of replication in the mitochondria of C. album.

Key words InvasionMitochondrial genomePlasmidRecombinationRecombination-dependent replicationRolling-circle

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Steffen Backert
    • 1
  • Thomas Börner
    • 1
  1. 1.Institut für Biologie, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Chausseestrasse 117, D-10115 Berlin, Germany e-mail: Tel.: +49-30-28460420; Fax: +49-30-28460401DE