Key words: Evolution —Chlamydomonas — Mitochondria — Ribosomal RNA genes
Springer Online Journal Archives 1860-2000
Abstract. The fragmented mitochondrial ribosomal RNAs (rRNAs) of the green algae Chlamydomonas eugametos and Chlamydomonas reinhardtii are discontinuously encoded in subgenic modules that are scrambled in order and interspersed with protein coding and tRNA genes. The mitochondrial rRNA genes of these two algae differ, however, in both the distribution and organization of rRNA coding information within their respective genomes. The objectives of this study were (1) to examine the phylogenetic relationships between the mitochondrial rRNA gene sequences of C. eugametos and C. reinhardtii and those of the conventional mitochondrial rRNA genes of the green alga, Prototheca wickerhamii, and land plants and (2) to attempt to deduce the evolutionary pathways that gave rise to the unusual mitochondrial rRNA gene structures in the genus Chlamydomonas. Although phylogenetic analysis revealed an affiliation between the mitochondrial rRNA gene sequences of the two Chlamydomonas taxa to the exclusion of all other mitochondrial rRNA gene sequences tested, no specific affiliation was noted between the Chlamydomonas sequences and P. wickerhamii or land plants. Calculations of the minimal number of transpositions required to convert hypothetical ancestral rRNA gene organizations to the arrangements observed for C. eugametos and C. reinhardtii mitochondrial rRNA genes, as well as a limited survey of the size of mitochondrial rRNAs in other members of the genus, lead us to propose that the last common ancestor of Chlamydomonas algae contained fragmented mitochondrial rRNA genes that were nearly co-linear with conventional rRNA genes.
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