Frequent, Geographically Structured Heteroplasmy in the Mitochondria of a Flowering Plant, Ribwort Plantain (Plantago lanceolata)

N Levsen, Roberta Bergero, Deborah Charlesworth, K. Wolff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Recent research has convincingly documented cases of mitochondrial heteroplasmy in a small set of wild and cultivated plant species. Heteroplasmy is suspected to be common in flowering plants and investigations of additional taxa may help understand the mechanisms generating heteroplasmy as well as its effects on plant phenotypes. The role of mitochondrial heteroplasmy is of particular interest in plants as cytoplasmic male sterility (CMS) is controlled by mitochondrial genotypes, sometimes leading to co-occurring female and hermaphroditic individuals (gynodioecy). Paternal leakage may be important in the evolution of mating systems in such populations. We conducted a genetic survey of the gynodioecious plant Plantago lanceolata, in which heteroplasmy has not previously been reported, and estimated the frequencies of mitochondrial genotypes and heteroplasmy. Sanger sequence genotyping of 179 individuals from 15 European populations for two polymorphic mitochondrial loci, atp6 and rps12, identified 15 heteroplasmic individuals. These were distributed among six of the ten populations that had polymorphisms in the target loci and represented 8% of all sampled individuals and 15% of the individuals in those six populations. The incidence was highest in Northern England and Scotland. Our results are consistent with paternal leakage and/or low rates of nuclear restoration of male fertility differing geographically.

Original languageEnglish
Early online date9 Mar 2016
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 9 Mar 2016

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Cytoplasmic male sterility
  • gynodioecy
  • mitochondrial heteroplasmy
  • mitochondrial recombination
  • paternal leakage
  • Plantago lanceolata (ribwort plantain)


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