Plant Mitochondrial Mutations

  • Susan Gabay-Laughnan
  • Kathleen J. Newton
Part of the Advances in Photosynthesis and Respiration book series (AIPH, volume 35)


The complex mitochondrial genomes of angiosperms tend to rearrange, leading to rapid structural evolution and to visible mutations. The observed mutations include those affecting growth and morphology, as well as male fertility. The abnormal growth mutations are usually associated with defects in essential mitochondrial genes. In contrast, cytoplasmic male sterility (CMS) usually results from the de novo expression of chimeric open reading frames (ORFs) in rearranged mitochondrial genomes. The expression of the CMS-chimeric ORFs can be modified by nuclear restorer-of-fertility (Rf) genes. Most of the Rf genes described to date are rapidly evolving members of a class of genes encoding pentatricopeptide repeat (PPR) proteins. Plants may also revert to fertility following mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) rearrangements that disrupt the sterility-associated region. Alternatively, subgenomes containing a CMS-ORF may be lost or highly suppressed. In many cases, the mtDNA rearrangements that lead to phenotypic changes are mediated by events involving short or microhomologous repeats. In this chapter, we emphasize work on cytoplasmic male sterility, including cytoplasmic reversion to fertility and nuclear restoration of fertility.


Mitochondrial Genome Cytoplasmic Male Sterility Restorer Gene Illegitimate Recombination Plant Mitochondrial Genome 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



Gene encoding a subunit of ATPase;


Base pairs;


Cytoplasmic male sterility;


ORFs usually chimeric, associated with CMS;


Gene encoding a subunit of cytochrome oxidase;


Homologous recombination;




Maternal distorted leaf;


Modifier of mitochondrial transcripts;


Paternally transmitted mosaic;


Mitochondrial DNA;


MutS homolog;


Gene encoding a subunit of the Complex I NADH dehydrogenase;


Nonchromo­somal stripe;


Open reading frame;


Organellar single-stranded DNA binding protein;


Pentatricopeptide repeat;


Restorer of fertility;


RNA interference;


Substoichiometric shifting;


Teosinte-cytoplasm miniature;


Terminal inverted repeats



Work from the authors’ laboratories was funded by grants from the U.S. National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. We thank I. Small, H. Millar, J. Whelan and their group members at the Plant Energy Biology Centre in Perth, Australia for helpful discussions with KJN. We thank T. Langewisch, A. Lough, J. Flynn and M. Green for help with manuscript preparation.


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Plant BiologyUniversity of IllinoisUrbanaUSA
  2. 2.Division of Biological SciencesUniversity of MissouriColumbiaUSA

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