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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1995 Dec 5;92(25):11331-8.

Uniparental inheritance of mitochondrial and chloroplast genes: mechanisms and evolution.

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  • Department of Molecular Genetics, Ohio State University, Columbus 43210, USA.


In nearly all eukaryotes, at least some individuals inherit mitochondrial and chloroplast genes from only one parent. There is no single mechanism of uniparental inheritance: organelle gene inheritance is blocked by a variety of mechanisms and at different stages of reproduction in different species. Frequent changes in the pattern of organelle gene inheritance during evolution suggest that it is subject to varying selective pressures. Organelle genes often fail to recombine even when inherited biparentally; consequently, their inheritance is asexual. Sexual reproduction is apparently less important for genes in organelles than for nuclear genes, probably because there are fewer of them. As a result organelle sex can be lost because of selection for special reproductive features such as oogamy or because uniparental inheritance reduces the spread of cytoplasmic parasites and selfish organelle DNA.

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