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Trends Ecol Evol. 1994 Nov;9(11):431-5. doi: 10.1016/0169-5347(94)90126-0.

Cytoplasmic male sterility in plants: molecular evidence and the nucleocytoplasmic conflict.

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Laboratoire de Génetique et Evolution des Populations Végétales, URA CNRS 11855 Université de Lille 1, F-59655 Villeneuve d'Ascq CEDEX, France.


A much-debated issue in plant evolutionary biology concerns the maintenance of a high frequency of male sterility in natural populations. For the past decade, a theoretical framework has been provided by the concept of nucleocytoplasmic conflict. Recent molecular studies on cytoplasmic male sterility indicate that novel chimeric genes, resulting from duplications and rearrangements of mitochondrial DNA sequences, are involved In its control. Thus, male sterility, which is phenotypically the loss of the male function, is encoded by a new mitochondrial function at the molecular level. Molecular data are in agreement with theoretical models that consider cytoplasmic male sterility as a stage in the coevolution between nucleus and mitochondria, and not simply as a deleterious mitochondrial mutation.

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