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Annu Rev Plant Biol. 2017 Apr 28;68:225-252. doi: 10.1146/annurev-arplant-043015-112232. Epub 2017 Feb 9.

Plant Mitochondrial Genomes: Dynamics and Mechanisms of Mutation.

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Institut de Biologie Moléculaire des Plantes, CNRS UPR2357, Université de Strasbourg, 67084 Strasbourg, France; email:
Division of Biological Sciences, University of Missouri, Columbia, Missouri 65211; email:


The large mitochondrial genomes of angiosperms are unusually dynamic because of recombination activities involving repeated sequences. These activities generate subgenomic forms and extensive genomic variation even within the same species. Such changes in genome structure are responsible for the rapid evolution of plant mitochondrial DNA and for the variants associated with cytoplasmic male sterility and abnormal growth phenotypes. Nuclear genes modulate these processes, and over the past decade, several of these genes have been identified. They are involved mainly in pathways of DNA repair by homologous recombination and mismatch repair, which appear to be essential for the faithful replication of the mitogenome. Mutations leading to the loss of any of these activities release error-prone repair pathways, resulting in increased ectopic recombination, genome instability, and heteroplasmy. We review the present state of knowledge of the genes and pathways underlying mitochondrial genome stability.


mitochondria; mtDNA; recombination; repair; segregation

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