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Plant Mol Biol. 2004 Nov;56(5):811-20. Epub 2005 Mar 24.

A fragment of chloroplast DNA was transferred horizontally, probably from non-eudicots, to mitochondrial genome of Phaseolus.

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Institute of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Department of Cell Molecular Biology, University of Wroclaw, Wroclaw, Poland.


The mitochondrial genomes of some Phaseolus species contain a fragment of chloroplast trnA gene intron, named pvs-trnA for its location within the Phaseolus vulgaris sterility sequence (pvs). The purpose of this study was to determine the type of transfer (intracellular or horizontal) that gave rise to pvs-trnA. Using a PCR approach we could not find the respective portion of the trnA gene as a part of pvs outside the Phaseolus genus. However, a BLAST search revealed longer fragments of trnA present in the mitochondrial genomes of some Citrus species, Helianthus annuus and Zea mays. Basing on the identity or near-identity between these mitochondrial sequences and their chloroplast counterparts we concluded that they had relocated from chloroplasts to mitochondria via recent, independent, intracellular DNA transfers. In contrast, pvs-trnA displayed a relatively higher sequence divergence when compared with its chloroplast counterpart from Phaseolus vulgaris. Alignment of pvs-trnA with corresponding trnA fragments from 35 plant species as well as phylogenetic analysis revealed that pvs-trnA grouped with non-eudicot sequences and was well separated from all Fabales sequences. In conclusion, we propose that pvs-trnA arose via horizontal transfer of a trnA intron fragment from chloroplast of a non-eudicot plant to Phaseolus mitochondria. This is the first example of horizontal transfer of a chloroplast sequence to the mitochondrial genome in higher plants.

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