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Open Access Highly Accessed Commentary

Mitochondrial genomes as living ‘fossils’

Ian Small

Author Affiliations

Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence in Plant Energy Biology, Bayliss Building, The University of Western Australia, 35 Stirling Highway, Crawley, WA 6009, Australia

BMC Biology 2013, 11:30  doi:10.1186/1741-7007-11-30

Published: 15 April 2013


The huge variation between mitochondrial genomes makes untangling their evolutionary histories difficult. Richardson et al. report on the remarkably unaltered ‘fossil’ genome of the tulip tree, giving us many clues as to how the mitochondrial genomes of flowering plants have evolved over the last 150 million years, and raising questions about how such extraordinary sequence conservation can be maintained.

See research article webcite.