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Trends Plant Sci. 2002 Apr;7(4):175-82.

Does complexity constrain organelle evolution?

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Biology Dept, Concordia University, 1455 Maisonneuve West, Montreal, Quebec, Canada H3G 1M8.


The evolution of eukaryotes was punctuated by invasions of the bacteria that have evolved to mitochondria and plastids. These bacterial endosymbionts founded major eukaryotic lineages by enabling them to carry out aerobic respiration and oxygenic photosynthesis. Yet, having evolved as free-living organisms, they were at first poorly adapted organelles. Although mitochondria and plastids have integrated within the physiology of eukaryotic cells, this integration has probably been constrained by the high level of complexity of their bacterial ancestors and the inability of gradual evolutionary processes to drastically alter complex systems. Here, I review complex processes that directly involve translation of plastid mRNAs and how they could constrain transfer to the nucleus of the genes encoding them.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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