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Genetics. 2001 Sep; 159(1): 317–328.
PMCID: PMC1461790

Small, repetitive DNAs contribute significantly to the expanded mitochondrial genome of cucumber.


Closely related cucurbit species possess eightfold differences in the sizes of their mitochondrial genomes. We cloned mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) fragments showing strong hybridization signals to cucumber mtDNA and little or no signal to watermelon mtDNA. The cucumber mtDNA clones carried short (30-53 bp), repetitive DNA motifs that were often degenerate, overlapping, and showed no homology to any sequences currently in the databases. On the basis of dot-blot hybridizations, seven repetitive DNA motifs accounted for >13% (194 kb) of the cucumber mitochondrial genome, equaling >50% of the size of the Arabidopsis mitochondrial genome. Sequence analysis of 136 kb of cucumber mtDNA revealed only 11.2% with significant homology to previously characterized mitochondrial sequences, 2.4% to chloroplast DNA, and 15% to the seven repetitive DNA motifs. The remaining 71.4% of the sequence was unique to the cucumber mitochondrial genome. There was <4% sequence colinearity surrounding the watermelon and cucumber atp9 coding regions, and the much smaller watermelon mitochondrial genome possessed no significant amounts of cucumber repetitive DNAs. Our results demonstrate that the expanded cucumber mitochondrial genome is in part due to extensive duplication of short repetitive sequences, possibly by recombination and/or replication slippage.

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Selected References

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