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J Hered. 2009 Sep-Oct;100(5):582-90. doi: 10.1093/jhered/esp055. Epub 2009 Jul 17.

Going, going, not quite gone: nucleomorphs as a case study in nuclear genome reduction.

Author information

1
Canadian Institute for Advanced Research, Integrated Microbial Biodiversity Program, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia B3H 1X5, Canada. john.archibald@dal.ca

Abstract

Nucleomorphs are the relic nuclei of algal endosymbionts that became permanent fixtures inside nonphotosynthetic eukaryotic host cells. These unusual organelles exist in only 2 lineages, the cryptophytes, which possess nucleomorphs and plastids (chloroplasts) derived from the uptake of a red algal endosymbiont, and the chlorarachniophytes, which harbor green algal derived nucleomorphs and plastids. Despite having evolved independently of one another, the nucleomorph genomes of cryptophytes and chlorarachniophytes are strikingly similar in size and basic structure. Both are <1 Mbp in size-the smallest nuclear genomes known-and are composed of only 3 chromosomes, each with its own subtelomeric rDNA repeats. Nucleomorph-containing algae thus represent an interesting system in which to study genome and chromosome evolution in eukaryotes. Here, we provide an overview of nucleomorph genome biology and focus on new information gleaned from comparisons of complete nucleomorph genome sequences, both within and between cryptophytes and chlorarachniophytes. Such comparisons provide fascinating insight into the evolution of these highly derived organelles and, more generally, the potential causes and consequences of genome reduction in eukaryotes.

PMID:
19617523
DOI:
10.1093/jhered/esp055
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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