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J Eukaryot Microbiol. 2007 Mar-Apr;54(2):146-53.

Mitochondrial genome of a tertiary endosymbiont retains genes for electron transport proteins.

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  • 1Genetics Graduate Program, Department of Botany, University of British Columbia, 3529-6270 University Boulevard, Vancouver, BC, Canada V6T 1Z4.


Mitochondria and plastids originated through endosymbiosis, and subsequently became reduced and integrated with the host in similar ways. Plastids spread between lineages through further secondary or even tertiary endosymbioses, but mitochondria appear to have originated once and have not spread between lineages. Mitochondria are also generally lost in secondary and tertiary endosymbionts, with the single exception of the diatom tertiary endosymbiont of dinoflagellates like Kryptoperidinium foliaceum, where both host and endosymbiont are reported to contain mitochondria. Here we describe the first mitochondrial genes from this system: cytochrome c oxidase 1 (cox1), cytochrome oxidase 3 (cox3), and cytochrome b (cob). Phylogenetic analyses demonstrated that all characterized genes were derived from the pennate diatom endosymbiont, and not the host. We also demonstrated that all three genes are expressed, that cox1 contains spliced group II introns, and that cob and cox3 form an operon, all like their diatom relatives. The endosymbiont mitochondria not only retain a genome, but also express their genes, and are therefore likely involved in electron transport. Ultrastructural examination confirmed the endosymbiont mitochondria retain normal tubular cristae. Overall, these data suggest the endosymbiont mitochondria have not reduced at the genomic or functional level.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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