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Mol Gen Genet. 1990 Jul;222(2-3):425-30.

Structure of the Rubisco operon from the unicellular red alga Cyanidium caldarium: evidence for a polyphyletic origin of the plastids.

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  • 1Institut für Pflanzenphysiologie, Justus-Liebig-Universität, Giessen, Federal Republic of Germany.


The genes for both subunits of ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate-carboxylase/oxygenase (Rubisco) were located on the plastid DNA (ptDNA) of the unicellular red alga Cyanidium caldarium. Both genes are organized together in an operon. The sequence homology of both genes to the corresponding genes from the unicellular red alga Porphyridium aerugineum is remarkably high, whereas homology to Rubisco genes from chloroplasts and two recent cyanobacteria is significantly lower. These data provide strong evidence for a polyphyletic origin of chloroplasts and rhodoplasts. In addition the genes for the small subunit of Rubisco (rbcS) from red algae show about 60% homology to rbcS genes from cryptophytes and chromophytes. Thus, homologies in the rbcS gene indicate a close phylogenetic relationship between rhodoplasts and the plastids of Chromophyta.

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