Why does biparental plastid inheritance revive in angiosperms?
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It is widely believed that plastid and mitochondrial genomes are inherited through the maternal parent. In plants, however, paternal transmission of these genomes is frequently observed, especially for the plastid genome. A male gametic trait, called potential biparental plastid inheritance (PBPI), occurs in up to 20% of angiosperm genera, implying a strong tendency for plastid transmission from the male lineage. Why do plants receive organelles from the male parents? Are there clues in plastids that will help to elucidate the evolution of plants? Reconstruction of the ancestral state of plastid inheritance patterns in a phylogenetic context provides insights into these questions. In particular, a recent report demonstrated the unilateral occurrence of PBPI in angiosperms. This result implies that nuclear cytoplasmic conflicts, a basic driving force for altering the mode of organelle inheritance, might have arisen specifically in angiosperms. Based on existing evidence, it is likely that biparental inheritance may have occurred to rescue angiosperm species with defective plastids.
KeywordsAngiosperm Biparental inheritance Evolution Maternal inheritance Plastid
This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Creative Research Group Program, no. 30421004; Key Program, no. 30430040) and the National Basic Research Program of China (Program 973, no. 2007CB108700).
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