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    We report cell-to-cell movement of mitochondria through a graft junction. Mitochondrial movement was discovered in an experiment designed to select for chloroplast transfer from Nicotiana sylvestris into Nicotiana tabacum cells. The alloplasmic N. tabacum line we used carries Nicotiana undulata cytoplasmic genomes, and its flowers are male sterile due to the foreign mitochondrial genome. Thus, rare mitochondrial DNA transfer from N. sylvestris to N. tabacum could be recognized by restoration of fertile flower anatomy. Analyses of the mitochondrial genomes revealed extensive recombination, tentatively linking male sterility to orf293, a mitochondrial gene causing homeotic conversion of anthers into petals. Demonstrating cell-to-cell movement of mitochondria reconstructs the evolutionary process of horizontal mitochondrial DNA transfer and enables modification of the mitochondrial genome by DNA transmitted from a sexually incompatible species. Conversion of anthers into petals is a visual marker that can be useful for mitochondrial transformation.


    Csanad Gurdon, Zora Svab, Yaping Feng, Dibyendu Kumar, Pal Maliga. Cell-to-cell movement of mitochondria in plants. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 2016 Mar 22;113(12):3395-400

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    PMID: 26951647

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