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Nature. 2006 Sep 28;443(7110):E8; discussion E8-9.

Plant genetics: increased outcrossing in hothead mutants.

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Howard Hughes Medical Institute, University of California, Los Angeles, California 90095, USA.


Arising from: S. J. Lolle, J. L. Victor, J. M. Young & R. E. Pruitt 434, 505-509 (2005); Lolle et al. reply. Lolle et al. report that loss-of-function alleles of the HOTHEAD (HTH) gene in Arabidopsis thaliana are genetically unstable, giving rise to wild-type revertants. On the basis of the reversion of many other genetic markers in hth plants, they suggested a model in which a cache of extragenomic information could cause genes to revert to the genotype of previous generations. In our attempts to reproduce this phenomenon, we discovered that hth mutants show a marked tendency to outcross (unlike wild-type A. thaliana, which is almost exclusively self-fertilizing). Moreover, when hth plants are grown in isolation, their genetic inheritance is completely stable. These results may provide an alternative explanation for the genome wide non-mendelian inheritance reported by Lolle et al.

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