Biparental inheritance of organelles in Pelargonium: evidence for intergenomic recombination of mitochondrial DNA
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While uniparental transmission of mtDNA is widespread and dominating in eukaryotes leaving mutation as the major source of genotypic diversity, recently, biparental inheritance of mitochondrial genes has been demonstrated in reciprocal crosses of Pelargonium zonale and P. inquinans. The thereby arising heteroplasmy carries the potential for recombination between mtDNAs of different descent, i.e. between the parental mitochondrial genomes. We have analyzed these Pelargonium hybrids for mitochondrial intergenomic recombination events by examining differences in DNA blot hybridization patterns of the mitochondrial genes atp1 and cob. Further investigation of these genes and their flanking regions using nucleotide sequence polymorphisms and PCR revealed DNA segments in the progeny, which contained both P. zonale and P. inquinans sequences suggesting an intergenomic recombination in hybrids of Pelargonium. This turns Pelargonium into an interesting subject for studies of recombination and evolutionary dynamics of mitochondrial genomes.
KeywordsBiparental inheritance Heteroplasmy Intergenomic recombination Mitochondria Pelargonium Sublimons
The excellent technical assistance of Cornelia Stock is gratefully acknowledged.