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Chromosome Res. 2014 Jun;22(2):191-201. doi: 10.1007/s10577-014-9415-y.

DNA recombination in somatic plant cells: mechanisms and evolutionary consequences.

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Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Botanical Institute II, Hertzstr. 16, 76187, Karlsruhe, Germany.


In somatic cells, recombination is a means of DNA damage repair. The most severe type of damage in nuclear DNA is double-strand breaks (DSBs) which may be repaired via either non-homologous end joining (NHEJ) or homologous recombination (HR). In this review, we will summarize the basic features, the mechanisms, and the key players of both repair modes in plants with a focus on the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana. NHEJ may result in insertion of sequences from elsewhere in the genome but is much more often associated with deletions. If more than one DSB is processed simultaneously via NHEJ, besides deletions, inversions or translocations may also arise. As the germ line is only set aside late in plant development, somatic changes may be transferred to the next generation. Thus, NHEJ might influence the evolution of plant genomes and indeed seems to be an important factor of genome shrinking. Deletions may also be due to DSB-induced recombination between tandem duplicated homologous sequences by single-strand annealing (SSA). Moreover, conservative HR using the synthesis-dependent strand annealing (SDSA) mechanism operates in somatic plant cells. The efficiency of SDSA is dependent on the genomic template used as matrix for the repair of the DSB. Besides DSBs, stalled replication forks may also be processed via HR. Several DNA processing enzymes are involved in the regulation of replication initiated HR, mostly in its suppression, and we summarize the current knowledge of these processes in plants.

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